Thursday, July 26, 2007


a. Amice
*Formerly worn on the head (symbolizing a helmet protecting against Satan's assaults)
*A priest briefly places it on his head, says a prayer and then wears it on his shoulders
**Prayer said: "Place, O Lord, the helmet of salvation on my head to resist the attacks of the devil."

b. Alb
*The alb is white to symbolize the purity in body and soul for which he prays
*The priest prays for purity as he puts on the linen, usually laced, garment
**Prayer said: "Make me white, O Lord, and purify my heart, so that being made white in the Blood of the Lamb, I may deserve an eternal reward."

c. Cincture
*Symbolizes continence (purity in thoughts and motives)
*'Binds' the alb and spiritually the concupiscence of the priest
**Prayer said: "Gird me, O Lord, with the cinture of purity and extinguish in my heart the fire of concupiscence so that, the virtue of continence and chastity always abiding in my heart, I may better serve Thee."

d. Maniple
*From 'manipulum' (something carried, handkerchief, sheaf)
*Worn on the left arm, symbolic of good works
**Prayer said: "May I deserve, O Lord, to carry this maniple of sorrow and penance so that I may one day enjoy the reward of all my labors."

e. Biretta
*Worn when the priest goes to and from the altar in the Tridentine Rite
*Ridges on the top are for convenience in removing it
*There is no particular meaning or symbolism, and it is not a formal 'vestment'

f. Papal Tiara
*Popes since Pope Paul VI have not worn the tiara
***Prayer: “Receive the tiara adorned with three crowns and know that thou art Father of princes and kings, Ruler of the world, Vicar of our Savior Jesus Christ”
g. Mitre
*A design of Oriental (Persia/Assyrian) origin; general use @ AD 1100
*The two points symbolize the Old and New Testaments of which the bishop is teacher
*Worn by the Pope, bishops and cardinals

h. Crosier
*From Latin 'crocia' ('crook or bend')
*An ornate version of the shepherd's staff from the 5th century
*Symbolizes the guiding and restraining authority of the bishop as shepherd of the flock of God

i. Humeral Veil
*From Latin 'humerus' or 'shoulder'
*Worn by the priest when carrying/giving Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament
*Formerly worn by the priest carrying viaticum and the subdeacon when handling sacred vessels

j. Stole
*Originally a small robe, but reduced in size with time
*Worn by priests (ends down in front) and deacons (diagonally)
*Derived from the court uniform of Roman judges denoting authority
*Symbolizes immortality and the yoke of obedience of the ordained
**Prayer said: "Restore unto me, O Lord, the stole of immortality which I lost through the sin of my first parents and, although unworthy to approach Thy sacred Mystery, may I nevertheless attain to joy eternal."
k. Chasuble
*From the Latin 'casula' or 'little house'
*Symbolizes protection and preservation from evil (spiritual suit of armor)
*Matches the proper liturgical color, and often very ornamented with a cross on back
**Prayer said: "O Lord, Who hast said, 'My yoke is sweet and My burden light,' grant that I may so carry it as to merit Thy grace."

l. Surplice
*Originally a white garment worn 'over furs' ('superpellicium') of monks in the Middle Ages.
*Widely used in Mass by everyone from altar boys to priests
m. Cassock
*Traditional garment (not vestment) of the priest similar to a Roman tunic
*Black symbolizes death: the priest is 'dead to the world' after Holy Order
*The Pope's cassock is white, a bishop's violet and a cardinal's red

n. Cope
*Worn by the priest during the Asperges in the Tridentine Rite
*Its original use was an outer garment for processions (a 'raincoat')



Cappa Magna

Sedie gestatorie

Coronation Celebration of Pope Leo

His Holiness Pope Pius XI, sitting in the Sedia Gestatoria, being carried in procession after the joint recognition agreement between the Church and the State of Italy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Fraternal Charity

How far should our love go -that love which enshrines everything contained in God's law? "If a man boasts of loving God, while he hates his own brother, he is a liar." --(1 John 4,20). The love we have for our neighbor, therefore, is the hallmark and gauge of our love for God. And, on the contrary, without this love for our neighbor our love for God is false. There is falsehood and delusion and vain observance -religio vana- in that so-called love and worship of God, in those devotions and prayers of ours, if we lean on them and think to find in them support for despising and judging rashly and slandering or criticising with venom and mercilessly hurting our neighbor by crushing him in his weakness or ignoring him callously in his griefs and losses, no matter what his race, his nationality, his position, or even his morals and beliefs.

God so loved the world! (John iii, 16). -- But how can I, who believe in the love God has for man, refuse to love whom God has loved so exceedingly? And why should I wonder, Lord, that Thou art so exacting in demanding of me, with threats of lightning Wrath, that I too love my fellow men out of regard for Thy incomprehensible Love?

In this precept God shows Himself exacting: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself (Matt. xix, 8). Self-love is the standard and a high one it is. In the human heart is lodged no affection more widespread, more profound, more unquenchable and ready to serve than the love of self. If we analyse ourselves carefully, if we take apart this complicated machinery of human nature, we shall find that our whole being, our whole life, with all its variety of phenomena and manifestations, with all its long list of appetites and tendencies, comes down to but one thing: that boundless, limitless love we have for ourselves. According to that model, then, I am commanded by My Lord and God to love others: thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. And that there might be no mistake about it, God, in His ten commandments, has devoted seven of them to the various works of love towards my neighbor; three for Himself, seven for man. So jealous is He of the honour and welfare of the children of Adam that He does not leave a single human value without a wall of defence, without the shield and flashing sword of a divine precept: Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, etc., etc.

The driving force behind true Christian charity towards all men --for it embraces everyone without any possible exception-- is the supreme fact that they were created by God, endowed with an immortal soul, made into God's image and likeness, raised to the supernatural level, and are destined for eternal happiness through the redeeming Blood of Jesus Christ.

"Little children... a new commandment I give to you: that you love one another as I have loved you... By this shall all men know that you are my disciples..." The distinctive feature, the hallmark, the unmistakable sign of discipleship of Christ is going to be, not so much faith or miracles or even martyrdom for Christ, as their love for one another. The precept is new by reason of the manner and author of its promulgation; not Jehova, at whose touch the mountain-tops burst into angry flames; but the Word, made flesh and blood for our sakes, who took upon Himself, as it were, our common touch, our own gentle mode of human speech. It is new, by reason of the place where the precept was given: not the wild rugged peaks of Sinai wrapped in lightning and thunder, but the familiar and heart-to-heart talk of a father among his children after supper; not Jaweh in glorious pomp and splendour, but Jesus of Nazareth, girded with a towel, like a slave, on His knees at Judas's feet, washing and kissing them. The command of love issues from under the feet of the man consumed with fiendish rancour! It is also new in the preamble introducing the command; not the solemn, awe-inspiring I am the Lord thy God (Ex. xx, 2), but that most tender: Filioli mei! my darling children!

New also is the standard model of our love for our neighbor. Formerly it was: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself; now it is: love one another as I have loved you. Love for myself, self-love, which is so liable to delusion and perversity, and which I must renounce if I am to become a true disciple of Christ is not sufficient a model for other loves; I must take my standard from the incomparably wise, unconquerable, disinterested, infinite love with which the Good Shepherd feels for His sheep.

~ Fr. Escribano

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Grandeur of the Mass

Hoc est Corpus Meum; Hic est Sanguis Meus.
Hoc fácite in meam commemoratiónem.
O the grandeur and simplicity of the Mass of the Divine Power! With words so brief and so unostentatious Our Lord gave fulfillment to one of the solemnest of prophecies:
“From the rising of the sun even to the going down, My Name is great among the Gentiles: and in every place there is Sacrifice and there is offered to My Name a Clean Oblation. For My Name is great among the Gentiles” (Malach. 1:2).

The glory of God’s Name and knowledge of It spread throughout the world: these are the fruits of the Holy Sacrifice of the New Covenant. It is the divine bestowal in answer to the first petition of the Our Father: Hallowed be Thy Name. How often of my Jesus, I have felt ashamed of the fruitlessness of my priesthood! I made a sad mistake. With just the daily celebration of the Mass I co-operate to bring about the greatest good of God and of creatures: the furtherance of the glory of the Lord.

To consecrate the Body and Blood of Christ is the Church’s mightiest exercise of power. To approach with imperiousness, with three words, the Right Hand of God, the Bosom of the Father, and there to lay hold, in a certain sense, on the Only-Begotten Son and bring Him down to earth; to renew each day, each hour, each moment, over the face of the earth, the most glorious, the most meritorious feat of the Word of God, His Sacrifice; to earn, to seek, and find, for all Her countless children their daily Bread, and to feed them with It… almost force It upon them, lest they hunger, faint and die. O Lord! For this alone Thy Church is worthy to be named mankind’s chief Benefactress, and this our priestly dignity, the greatest and holiest power for good on earth.

The Holy Mass, besides being the chief act of adoration and submission to God, and therefore the primary expression of worship, is the most effectual of supplication. It has been the Church’s tactics in every age to put before the eyes of God the Name of His own Son; She has never dared to pray without this recommendation: per Dóminum nostrum Jesum Christum Fílium Tuum. How much greater, then, will Her appeal be in the sight of the Father when She presents to Him not merely the Name and remembrance of His Son but the very Son in Person, real and consubstantial with Him, seated on His Right Hand and likewise offering Himself on Calvary!

Such is the grandeur of the August Sacrifice of Our Altars that God has brought the downfall of every other religious sacrifice in Its trail. Polytheistic religions fell, and with them their sacrifices, human sacrifices very often as in ancient America. The new religions appearing after Christ, even heterodox Christian cults, are without sacrifice and sacrificer. But in Thy Church, O Lord, Thou hast wished to perpetuate the Offering of the Pure and Only Victim, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world.

Pope St. Gregory says: “Who will doubt that at the moment of the Immolation the Heavens open? Or that the Angelic choirs are in attendance at this Mystery of Jesus Christ? And that the highest and the lowest, the visible and invisible, become one thing? Et summa et ima sociáre unúmque ex invisibílibus et visibílibus fíeri? St. John Chrysostom, Augustine, and other Fathers expound the same ideas. According to them, during the Holy Sacrifice, the Altar is surrounded by legions of glorious spirits. What wonder that Angels should attend, and attend with infinite self-abasement, where the very Lord of the heavenly choirs stoops to such depths of infinite condescension! I quite believe it. What I find difficult to believe is that a worm of the earth like me should be invested with such an awe-inspiring dignity, and that in my hands should become incarnate, as it were, the “full of grace and of truth,” the Only-Begotten of the Womb of the Virgin Mary.

Let us consider the tremendous respect with which the Church, in Her Liturgy, surrounds the Celebrant. He can be the humblest of priests, an unknown chaplain or curate, one lacking in virtue and learning and without social standing; but scarcely has he reached the Altar to say Mass, when he is given all the honors and preferences. Would Jesus Christ Himself be given better treatment were He to appear in Person as Sacrificer, robed in the Sacred Vestments? All the faithful, without exception: kings, princes, bishops, and even the Roman Pontiff, if present, will remain on bended knees while the Celebrant stands; and in reciting the Confíteor, the Pope himself will bow towards him and say: Et tibi, Pater… et te, Pater, and will prostrate to receive his blessings. How clearly the rubrics and ceremonies give to understand that during the most Holy Sacrifice only two persons demand attention and supreme respect: Jesus Christ, under the Sacramental Species, and the Priest, whose voice is instrumental of Christ’s Presence!

The Mass is the very Immolation of Calvary, and therefore, the goal of Christ’s coming to the world and living in mortal flesh. And in the Mass, the same as on Golgotha, there can intervene, at least attend, a great variety of people in a variety of roles. What is the role of the Priest when celebrating? Will he be one of Christ’s executioners? One of the soldiers offering the Victim gall and vinegar? One of those cruel adversaries who mock at His sorrows and blaspheme? One of the crowds of the merely inquisitive who get a thrill from the tragic details of an execution? Or will he be found among those good souls who believe in Christ and accompany Him in His prayer and Agony? Will he stand between the Mother and the beloved Disciple? NO. My place and role, when saying Mass, is pre-eminent: I have identified myself with the Divine Victim and Sacrificer, with the Lamb of God and the Eternal Priest Who immolates It; through my lips speak the lips, the Omnipotence, and the Heart of Christ: Hoc est Corpus Meum; Hic est Sanguis Meus.

1) I promise my Lord, and I promise myself, in my great representative capacity at the Altar, at least a profound interior respect. And exteriorly, I shall see to it that wherever the Mass is concerned there shall be absolute conformity with the prescriptions [Rubrics] of the Liturgy, especially in connection with the cleanliness of vestments, sacred vessels, altar clothes, corporals, purificators, etc.; and also in the tidy appearance of the church and its Altars. I shall bear out the truth of my daily declaration: Dómine, diléxi decórum domus tuæ (Ps. 21:8).

2) And since the veneration which the Mass inspires the faithful depends, in no small measure, upon the priest’s pious observance of the rubrics, I propose to revise the ceremonies of the Missal, so that in all earnestness, and as soon as possible, I may examine my conscience on how I abide by them.

I desire, for the Savior’s sake, to win the compliment paid to St. Vincent de Paul: “There indeed you have a priest who says Mass well!”

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Summórum Pontíficum Cura

Agimus Tibi gratias, Omnípotens Deus, pro univérsis benefíciis Tuis.

"...So our Mass goes back, without essential change, to the age when it first developed out of the oldest Liturgy of all. It is still redolent of that Liturgy of the days when Cæsar ruled the world and thought he could stamp out the Faith of Christ, when our fathers met together before dawn and sang a hymn to Christ as to a God. The final result of our enquiry is that, in spite of unsolved problems, in spite of later changes, there is not in Christendom another Rite so venerable as ours." ~Fr. Adrian Fortescue, The Mass

Monday, July 2, 2007

Rendido a Vuestros piés, Oh Jesús mío, considerando las inefables muestras de amor que me habéis dado, y las sublimes lecciones que me enseña de continuo Vuestro adorabilísimo Corazón, Os pido humildemente la gracia de conoceros, amaros y serviros como fiel discípulo Vuestro para hacerme digno de las mercedes y bendiciones que generoso concedéis a los que de veras os conocen aman y sirven. Mirad que soy muy podre dulcísimo Jesús y necesito de Vos como el mendigo de la limosna que el rico le ha de dar; mirad que soy muy rudo O Soberano Maestro y necesito de Vuestras divinas enseñanzas para luz y guía de mi ignorancia; mirad que soy my débil O poderosísimo amparo de los frágiles y caigo a cada paso y necesito apoyarme en vos para no desfallecer. Sedlo todo para mi Sagrado Corazón: socorro de mi miseria, lumbre de mis ojos, báculo de mis pasos, remedio de mis males, auxilio de toda necesidad. De Vos lo espera todo mi pobre corazón. Vos lo alentasteis y convidasteis cuando con tan tiernos acentos dijiste repetidas veces en Vuestro Evangelio: "venid a Mí, aprended de Mí, pedid, llamad". A las puertas de Vuestro Corazón vengo pues hoy, y llamo, y pido, y espero. Del mío os hago, Oh Señor, firme, formal y decidida entrega, tomadlo Vos y dadme en cambio lo que sabéis me ha de ser bueno en la tierra y dichoso en la eternidad. Amén.

Sunday, July 1, 2007


God brought all creatures out of nothing by His impersonal command: Let there be light, let there be a firmament, let there earth bring forth, etc. But when creating man, He begins with Let us make, not let there be; and, with Himself as Model – to Our Image and Likeness. But man is not yet, not even after that ample phrase so full of power and majesty. God bends His Heavenly Might, no, not to touch the summits of lofty mountains, but down to the depths where, from the slime of the earth, He fashions the body of Adam… This indeed was something beautiful, but lifeless. God contemplated the work of His hands with delight and, bending over it He breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul – (Gen. ii, 7) ~Fr. Escribano

My spirit is not, like the Heavens, the work of God’s Fingers – ópera digitórum tuórum – my soul cannot say to its Maker, like the body: Manus tuæ plasmavérunt me: my spirit God breathed into me from the depths of His own Being, like a breath that I exhale from the recesses of my lungs; that is what my soul is: spíritus, spiráculum, the Breath of God. Has anything more mysterious, more profound and beautiful ever been said about the nature of my soul? Is it possible to go further without touching pantheism? … Recognise, my soul, thy dignity; regret having trailed thy mantle of glory through earthly mire. ~Fr. Escribano

To the foregoing proofs of ineffable love on the part of God, there is another, tenderer still. More than a hundred years ago, more than a thousand, a million, a thousand million… how will my imagination encompass the thought, the magnificent reality?... From all eternity… God thinks of me… Before the first break of the first dawn; before the coverlet of the skies was spread, God thought of me! ~Fr. Escribano

I have learnt that Thou, my God and my Father, though in need of nought that is mine – quia bonórum meórum non eges (Ps. xv, 2) – has nevertheless a longing for something which only I can give, just one small thing: my love, my heart; and Thou dost long for this with such intensity as to stoop down and beg it of me… ~Fr. Escrbano