Vespers of All Hallows

The world has gone a long way in its parallel history for Christian celebrations. The Evil One has succeeded in producing thought-provoking “evidences” that make alternative histories delectable enough to send proponents of a Church-less faith-less religion-less society into an ideological orgasm. We then understand how appropriate it is for the Devil to appoint a secular feast for him and his minions. Schedule it on the day before the feast of the Church Triumphant no less! On Halloween! But Halloween is Catholic. It was, it is, and always will be. A refresher on its history, as well as its outstanding observances, is in order. Below, moreover, is the etymology.

CGSCOX - Halloween

The origin of the term is rather straightforward. Break down Halloween into hallow and e’en. Hallow descended from the Middle English halwe (saint), itself descended from the Old English hālga (saint). A related word in German is Heilige (saint). E’en, on the other hand, a contraction of even, descended from the Middle English even (evening), itself descended from the Old English ǣfen (evening). Its related word in German is Abend. It is evening and saints, evening and saints. No sprightly tricksters whatsoever.

And for us who serve in the choral office, it is even more compelling, for in Old English, ǣfen is linked not only to evening, but to the canonical hour of vespers. How is it that the Eve of All Hallows is observed on 31 October, not on 1 November itself? After all, 1 November still has an evening, right? Well, it is because feasts in Christendom always began with first vespers (ǣfen ǣrest in Old English). It was not until the Johannine reforms that the ancient reckoning of feasts beginning with first vespers was confined only to great and solemn feasts, and the vesperal celebration of lesser feasts shifted emphasis to the day itself.

Before we end, here are some more on vespers connection in Old English: the hour of vespers is ǣfentīd (vespertina hora in Latin); the time of vespers is ǣfentīma (vespertinum tempus in Latin); the office of vespers is ǣfengebēd or ǣfenþeо̄wdо̄m (both vespertinum officium in Latin); and the chant at vespers is ǣfendreām or ǣfenleо̄þ or ǣfensang (all vespertinus cantus in Latin). Though this will never catch on, calling Halloween the Vespers of All Hallows would be one way of asserting the Catholicity of a Catholic observance.

Ut omnibus, cunctis sanctis Dei intercedentibus pro nobis, laudetur Dominus.

Recording of the Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel

Last month, we shared two settings of the prayer to Saint Michael, one of which came from Heiligenkreuz.

Saint Michael (fragment)
San Miguel y San Francisco (fragmento) | Juan de Flandes | c. 1505–1509

Now, the good chaps of Sancrucensis recently uploaded a recording of this setting, and we cannot resist sharing it. It is beautiful!

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.

Litany for the Clergy

In the wake of the grave scandal that finally erupted in the past weeks, Catholics throughout the world called for devout acts and exercises to repair for the outrage. Around two months ago, we published an act of reparation we composed for private recitation. We now share a Latin translation set to chant of the Litany for the Clergy first published in Vultus Christi.

La misa de pontifical
La misa de pontifical | Marceliano Santa María Sedaño | 1890

We have modified the structure of the Litany (click on the subheading below to open the booklet) to facilitate chanting: first, the Precious Blood is invoked thrice after every set of petitions, instead of after every petition; second, the triple Agnus is preserved with its traditional responses, with the proper responses reassigned to the triple invocation of the Precious Blood.

(pro privato usu)

Kýrie, eléison. Kýrie, eléison.
Christe, eléison.
Christe, eléison.
Kýrie, eléison.
Kýrie, eléison.
Christe, audi nos.
Christe, audi nos.
Christe, exáudi nos.
Christe, exáudi nos.

Pater, ex quo omnis patérnitas in cœlis et in terra nominátur, Deus,
          miserére nobis.
Fili, Ætérne Póntifex, Summe Rex, Deus,
miserere nobis.
Spíritus Sancte, sanctitátis Fons, pastórum Rector, Deus,
miserére nobis.
Sancta Trínitas, unus Deus,
miserére nobis.
Continue reading “Litany for the Clergy”


Someone came up with a snarky take on the history of pews amongst Christians. Pews came very late in the Philippines. As late as 1925, the church of Guimba in Iloilo, for instance, still had no pews. And participants of the First National Eucharistic Congress gathered inside the Cathedral of Manila relieved their knees and backs by sitting on wicker chairs, the ubiquitous sillas de anea of old. The Cathedral of Jaro in 1929, likewise, still had no pews, possessing instead rows of wicker chairs. And, lest we forget, until recently, Saint Peter’s basilica herself still had no pews, while up to this point, other basilicas in Rome only have chairs.

Pews were fixtures necessitated by heresy. To subvert and demonise the True Faith, preachers had to indoctrinate the faithful constantly and frequently. Emphasis on these sermons, the engine of heretical indoctrination, gave rise to long and organised benches that we now call pews. Catholics adopted the pew quite late, so late no dedicated Latin word exists for it until now! (Well, Spaniards sometimes use escaño, so we probably can back-translate to scamnum.) Adopting it seems to never cross the Orthodox mind. If the thought crosses, it is immediately perished. These differing attitudes have inspired witty creatures to assign these three largest Christian confessions to a posture that is dominant in their respective liturgies, something which engenders a classification parallel to the three realms of the Church. So now the Orthodox form the Ecclesia adstans, the Church standing; Catholics, the Ecclesia flectens, the Church kneeling; Protestants, the Ecclesia sedens, the Church sitting.

We live in an era when liturgical postures are purposely and deliberately linked to ideologies that do not necessarily respect the organic development of these postures. Our Catholic experience allows us to conclude that the prevailing attitude tends towards the gradual eradication of kneeling. To us Catholics, the most important part of the pew is neither the seat nor the back support. It is the kneeler. This is because we had to subject furniture that we adopt from others to the sensus fidelium. And our sensus fidelium is neither to lounge or slouch inside the consecrated edifice. Once people realised that we have developed dependence on pews for kneeling, discouraging this posture became easier. Remove the kneelers from the pews, and people will be weaned from kneeling.

The absence of pews in the early Church has been cited time and again by those in favour of standing as an incontrovertible evidence that kneeling was not an ancient posture. No pews mean no kneelers. No kneelers mean no kneeling. This is an old canard that has been debunked elsewhere. That people should banish kneeling with this logic, but leave sitting untouched, is always a funny factoid. Let us always remember that throughout the course of the liturgical year, there are only two postural imperatives that the congregation hears from the altar. In certain times, such as during the Easter Vigil, we hear the deacon chant Flectamus genua, which translates to Let us bend our knees. Afterwards, we hear the deacon bid the people Levate, which translates to Rise. There is no historical liturgical command that we know of enjoining anyone to sit for prayer. Thus, while pews have entered currency, while some of us somehow harbour the faint hope of returning to pewless churches, let us stand, sit, and kneel as our ancestors have done throughout the ages, not as how professional and wannabe worship pundits would like us to believe. Custom (not a newfangled practice desperately clawing its way to becoming a custom) is the best interpreter of the law.

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.

Mother and modesty

In today’s fourth lesson at Matins, we read from Saint Leo the Great that the Deipara was chosen a Virgin from the royal house of David, and “lest, unaware of heavenly counsel, she should be scared of these unwonted events, the future Mother of God learned from an angelic announcement what was to be wrought in her by the Holy Ghost, and did not suffer loss of modesty”. It is amazing how great a value is placed on modesty in this text, and how trivial we treat it nowadays.

Bouguereau - Chant des anges
Chant des anges (fragment) | William-Adolphe Bouguereau | 1881

While we understand that modesty, first and foremost, is an interior disposition, a spiritual intention, we also acknowledge that the most visible indicator of modesty is clothing. Satan acknowledges this as well, and so has set his efforts at perverting the use of clothing, first by elevating it above its intrinsic usefulness and setting it upon the throne of luxury, creating modern-day idols called fashion and couture. Then followed the painful whittling down of clothes. Quite literally! As the years shouldered on, hunkered on the back of ever-developing tastes, clothes covered a smaller and smaller surface area of the average human skin. The operative principle is quantum exiguius, quantum tenuius, tantum melius. The skimpier, the flimsier, the better.

Just when we thought clerical vesture is immune from this depravity, often disguised as art to soften the impact, mollify the scandalised, and desensitise the indifferent, a high-profile event earlier this year just successfully staged one such vestural sacrilege, abetted by certain church dignities. Wannabes then took the cue, and parroted the perversion, this time, upping the ante, by debasing Catholic Christological iconography. (We refuse to link to these crazy antics, so they receive no satisfaction from our grievance.)

Puccinelli - La moda
La moda | Antonio Puccinelli | 1870

Let us remember these sacrileges on this feast of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin, and prepare ourselves to renew, together with Catholic womankind, our promise every 8 December, when we consecrate once again ourselves and the entire Philippine Islands to the Immaculate Mother of God, “to remove far from the defiling hand of materialism, which hath degraded the use of clothing into an incentive of sin”.

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.

Praying the Rosary in October

On the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel, Pope Francis, through a communiqué from the Holy See Press Office, invited all Catholics to pray the Rosary daily throughout the month of October, as well as the earliest antiphon of the Blessed Virgin, Sub tuum præsidium, and the prayer to Saint Michael, Sancte Michaël Archangele.


Praying the Rosary daily throughout the month of October is a traditional devotion certainly not foreign to the lives of Catholics. In the Philippines, in fact, old ordines direct the faithful to recite the Rosary from 1 October until 2 November, inclusive, not only in private, but most especially in common. This said, we would like to add that the prayer to Saint Joseph, Ad te, beate Ioseph, is likewise to be added, according to the Leonine encyclical Quamquam pluries issued on 15 August 1889.

As is the custom in many places, the Litany of Loreto is added at the end of the Rosary. In the Philippines, and in many Hispanophone places, after the invocation Mater intemerata, the invocation Mater immaculata is added—notwithstanding the latter invocation Regina sine labe originali concepta—by virtue of the Clementine brief Eximia pietas issued on 14 March 1767, a tradition which the First Plenary Council of the Philippine upheld.

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.