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Please! A Simple Version of the Anglican Ordinariate Office for Lay People

Here is a both a request and proposal for the Anglican Ordinariate, if I may be so bold.

Can you produce a version that can be reduced to a short booklet that contains the psalter and the unchanging prayers? If in addition to that we can find a way for the changing parts to be supplied by smart phone then I think that you will have something that will really catch on. It will be simple to use and cheap.

If the Ordinariate would produce something like this, then I for one would use it and promote it tirelessly. I know of several others who would be just as enthusiastic to see such a thing. Furthermore, I am ready to create online courses at Pontifex University that teach the singing of the Office in the home, and this would be my prefered option to recommend to families and lay people.

The Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham is wonderful but complicated to use and I’m never quite sure if I am getting those parts proper to the day right – and I am reasonable adept at breviary navigation. I have spoken to a number of lay people who bought it and gave up. This would work well for religious and those especially devoted to the Office who are likely to take the time to work out what

I am a great fan of the Divine Office as given to us by the Ordinariate because I think that it creates the possibility of greater take up of the praying of the Office by lay people. It offers the chance of praying the full psalter (ie no missing cursing psalms) in English in a translation that is both poetic and accessible. I have written about this in previous articles, such as this one here: The Anglican Ordinariate Divine Office – A Wonderful Gift for Lay People and a Source of Hope for the Transformation of Western Culture. (And incidentally, if you think I was resorting to hyperbole in the title of that article, I wasn’t. I really to do believe that it has this potential.)

Looking at the general guide for Morning and Evening Prayer for the Personal Ordinariates (which consitutes a recitation of the full Office), and drawing on its application in the Customary, I think that I can get the psalms for the day and all that is specified in the table below from the St Dunstans Psalter. I would prefer to be using something similar that came with an endorsement from the Ordinariate.

What is missing in the St Dunstan’s Psalter are the readings and collect for the day. I can get most of this from via my smart phone. The morning readings are the same as those that are in the Office of Readings. What I don’t have is a readily accessible source for the Old and New Testament Lesson for Evening Prayer which is according to an established lectionary – can anyone tell me a website or other source where I might get this easily?

Although the hymn is not mandatory, if I want to use a traditional Office hymn for the day I always go to the Illuminare Publications hymnal.

The other request relates to the way that the psalms are set out. My goal is to sing everything. So please point the psalms so that the natural emphasis of speech is pointed. Then people will compose psalm tones, ideally based upon the traditional gregorian tones, that will conform to this method. If this becomes standard, then there will be the following advantages:

Every psalm tone can be applied to any psalm. That means that for people who are just learning, all they need to know is one psalm tone and they can sing the whole psalter. If they gradually learn two, three or more psalm tones then they can use those too and quickly it become interesting enough for them to be likely to keep doing it. In this system, people can learn many tones and still use this psalter – ie it allows for those with the knowledge of just one tone or those who wish to use 120 tones to have the same psalter. Also, if this pointing method becomes standard, then many people will start to compose, and as new and better tones are developed, they can easily be adopted. This allows for the possibility of chant for the vernacular as a living tradition which steadily improves and develops and really starts to connect with people.

When I sing tones to the St Dunstan’s Psalter, I ignore the pointing and the tones they give, and I have pointed the text myself according to this method and then I sing tones develop as above. This allows me to teach people to sing it very quickly and I have a regular mens group consisting mostly of people who have never sung the Office before, who are now enthusiastically singing it each Wednesday evening!

This would be in contrast to nearly every other psalter that I have seen in which even if there is some accomodation for singing, the psalm is pointed to fit a particular melody – such as the Mundelein Psalter. The disadvantage of this is that unless you know every tone already, or are musically literate enough to be able to sight read chant, you cannot sing the whole psalter. So beginners tend not to persevere. At the other end of the spectrum, those who are experienced with chant find it too dull. There are only eight or so tones, and this becomes boring very quickly. Furthermore, there is no scope for development of new tones that can be used with this psalter, as every psalm is pointed to fit a particular melody. The result is that you use their tones or nothing, and if you don’t like them you’re stuck with them.

fyi the first week of the Pontifex University free Advent meditation has a class on singing the Office complete with a description of how to point the psalms and apply our psalm tones.


Pontifex University Faculty to Lead Byzantine Liturgy on UC Berkeley Campus

Pontifex faculty member,  Fr Sebastian Carnazzo, pastor of St Elias Melkite Catholic Church, Los Gatos, CA has instituted an ‘Outreach Divine Liturgy on the campus of University of California, Berkeley. Celebrating with Fr Carnazzo will be Fr Christopher Hadley. It is taking place this Saturday at 5pm at the Gesu Chapel at the Jesuit School of Theology, 1735 Le roay Ave., Berkeley, CA 94709.

An Outreach Divine Liturgy is the first stage to the establishment of a weekly mission. Please pray for this endeavor and if you are able to, make plans to attend. Dinner will be provided afterwards.

I shall be attending myself, singing the drone (eison) with the choir. We would love to see you there, especially any UC Berkeley students and professors!

Aside from teaching theology for Pontifex University on the Masters of Sacred Arts program, Fr Carnazzo is offering our Advent and Christmas meditation, which is offered free. You can sign up anytime and join in what is a wonderful to deepen your participation in this great season in sacred time.


Advent and Christmas Meditation on Art and Scripture

Pontifex University is now offering a free short course, An Advent and Christmas Seasonal Meditation as a promotion for its new Masters in Sacred Arts. It is a meditation in art and scripture for these seasons through to Epiphany It is taught by Fr Sebastian Carnazzo and myself using a method that we have developed for the scripture classes in the MSA program.

Each day, Fr Carnazzo, an experienced scripture scholar who, for example, spent several years teaching FSSP seminarians in their seminary in Nebraska, gives a short meditation on the gospel account of the nativity.

Fr Carnazzo, who is also pastor at the Melkite Church of St Elias, in Los Gatos, also has a deep knowledge of the icons. So he connects the scripture with the traditional iconography of the Church. I offer additional ‘artistic sidebars’ on certain feast days during this season and on major feast days we discuss the art together. As a result, this is simultaneously a scripture class that uses beautiful art to communicate truths beyond words and so increase our grasp of the Word; and an art class that explains the scriptural roots of the icons of the Church.

Most importantly, we connect all of this to the worship of God in the sacred liturgy where, one hopes it will deepen our encounter with Him during this wonderful time in the Church year. It includes an encouragement to pray the Liturgy of the Hours in your domestic church and even offers suggestions on how families can sing the psalms as they do so.

Question: why would we be considering the Baptism of the Lord during this seasonal meditation? And who are these figures on fish in the Jordan? And the significance of the rock that Christ is standing on? Answers can be found for free…if you sign up for the course! To go to the MSA catalog page and sign up for the free course: An Advent and Christmas Seasonal Meditation

Gerrit van Honthorst, 17th century, Dutch. The Adoration of the Shepherds.

What We in the Roman Rite Should Take From the Iconographic Tradition: Some Thoughts

Using the example of the School of St Albans, I have been discussing how one might re-establish a tradition of sacred art for the Roman Rite in such a way that it might have the same success as that of the re-establishment of the iconographic tradition in the Eastern Church in the mid-twentieth century.

Stylistically, I have opted for something based upon the St Albans school, but for a canon of imagery I would look first to that of the iconographic tradition. This is because so much of the hard work has already been done. The figures of last century catalogues the a series of images that are rooted in scripture and related directly to the liturgy. So many of the great feasts have their own icons and we can re appropriate this for our own imagery. I say ‘so many’ because there are occasional differences between the feasts of the Roman and Byzantine Rites; so we might have to look to past examples in others styles as a source for content for these, and perhaps even in some cases develop a new iconography drawing upon the magisterium, scripture and tradition.

An example of this, I would be the Immaculate Conception which began, as I understand it, as a celebration of the Conception of the Mother of God on December 9th but was moved when adopted by the Western Church to December 8th in the latter part of the first millennium.

The familiar iconography of the Immaculate Conception is particular to the Roman Church and was developed in Spain in the 17th century and so is not part of the iconographic tradition. Francisco Pacheco (1564-1644) who was the teacher of Spanish baroque masters Alonso Cano and Velazquez (he was also Velazquez’s father-in-law), described the iconography of the Immaculate Conception in his influential book, The Art of Painting (Arte de la Pintura) published posthumously in 1649. I have written about this in some detail in my book, the Way of Beauty. The example below is by the great 18th century Italian painter Gianbattista Tiepolo.

So in my new style, I would adopt the content of the above picture, while trying to paint it in the style of the School of St Albans.

Iconographic or Gothic?

For ease of consistency as the tradition develops (being optimistic about it catching on!) I would stick to the principles of the iconographic prototype. Again this is something that is well thought out and can be a useful guideline. So for example, I would I would make sure that the compositions do not having saints in profile, and take care to eliminate depth so that the action, so to speak, takes place in the plane of the painting.

It can be surprising, sometimes, how following the principles can dictate how you design an image. For example, if every saint is to have a halo, then it is difficult to have images arranged packed together one behind the other as we see here:

In the following painting of the Last Supper, the artist Duccio wanted the viewer to be able to see the artifacts on the table, so omitted the halos in the figures in the lower part of the painting:

The iconographic prototype would not permit this so the artist below, in a modern icon, has arranged the figures so that none obscure the table.

Similarly, I would not want figures in profile. In the painting below, Duccio, again wants the central figure at the bottom, St John, to be looking up Christ and so has had to turn his head around.

In the traditional icon the central figure is always shown with his face towards us, dazzled by the light.

In this 12th century icon from Mt Sinai, two figures are facing away from Christ, dazzled by the light:

In the following 15th century Russian icon the central figure is prostrated:

Book suggestions:

Books that I would start with for information on the iconography (ie symbolic content) of sacred art are a series published by the Getty Museum. They are not exhaustive, but are a good starting point:
Icons and Saints of the Orthodox Church for the canon of iconography.

Old Testament Figures in Art and Gospel Figures in Art and Saints in Art for western images that are not in the iconographic canon too. These books give a pretty thorough description of the meaning of the content of images they contain.

Occasionally use the different sorts of perspective that you get in iconography.

November Adoremus Bulletin Out Now

Here is the online edition of the Adoremus Bulletin. There are articles by Denis McNamara, Adam Bartlett and editors Chris Carstens and Joseph O’Brien.

Christ Carstens, who is a highly respected authority on the liturgy of the Roman Rite, will be offering a class on the meaning of Mass  for Pontifex University, based upon his book Mystical Body, Mystical Voice: Encountering Christ in the Words of the Mass. It will be offered in the Spring semester.

I have listed what I consider to be the highlights below:



News and views

Motu Proprio Harmonizes East and West on Sacraments The Editors

Cardinal Sarah Talks Liturgical Silence The Editors


The Power of the Knee in Catholic Liturgy Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

A Liturgical Year of Mercy – Three Priests from Around the World Recall Pope Francis’s Extraordinary Jubilee Joseph O’Brien

Ever Ancient—Ever New: Implementing Musicam Sacram Today Adam Bartlett

The Ambo: Launch Platform for the Word Denis R. McNamara

Questions of Faith

The Rite Questions: What is “Intinction,” and is it Allowed? Christopher Carstens

On True Devotion to Mary

On this day of the Presentation of Mary here is something from Blessed Paul VI to think about. It is from the Apostolic Exhortation,  Marialis CultusFor the Right Ordering and Development of Devotion to Mary:

The development, desired by us, of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is an indication of the Church’s genuine piety. This devotion fits-as we have indicated above-into the only worship that is rightly called “Christian,” because it takes its origin and effectiveness from Christ, finds its complete expression in Christ, and leads through Christ in the Spirit to the Father. In the sphere of worship this devotion necessarily reflects God’s redemptive plan, in which a special form of veneration is appropriate to the singular place which Mary occupies in that plan.(4) Indeed every authentic development of Christian worship is necessarily followed by a fitting increase of veneration for the Mother of the Lord. Moreover, the history of piety shows how “the various forms of devotion towards the Mother of God that the Church has approved within the limits of wholesome and orthodox doctrine”(5) have developed in harmonious subordination to the worship of Christ, and have gravitated towards this worship as to their natural and necessary point of reference.

He is telling us that devotion to Mary is most fruitful and properly ordered when it is derived from and directing us to the worship of the God in the liturgy, which is the worship of the Father, through the Son in the Spirit. This is why, other things being equal, the praying of the rosary, while commendable, is neither so powerful or effective as devotion to Mary as expressed within the context of the liturgy. Devotional practices such as the rosary are   a necessary part of a well balanced prayer life, of course, but are most fruitful when they are understood in their place, as subordinate to, but in harmony with the worship of God.


The painting above is a 19th century German representation of the Presentation of Blessed Virgin by St Anne and St Joachim her parents. I like this painting, it has the feel of a 17th century Rembrandt to me!

Can Small-Scale Illumination Be Adapted for Large-Scale Liturgical Art?

In response to a recent article in which I proposed the English gothic style of the School of St Albans as a possible model for today one reader asked what I felt was a perceptive question. He wondered if this style, which had been done in miniature in the pages of a book could be adapted into large scale works.

I think that it was a fair point to raise. In all the examples I gave, there was an intimate feel to the compositions that one could imagine being in a psalter but not necessarily 10ft long behind the high altar! Also, the narrative style of some the compositions, for example this one of the papal legate at work, is different to most large scale works.

In response to the reader, I do think that the School of St Albans can be adaped to a full liturgical style. I think that what our questioner is seeing in the examples I showed is not so much as a result of the style, as it is a reflection of the composition. These pictures were designed by Matthew Paris to speak to a text which is close by; and relate to the viewer in an intimate way, because he knows that the viewer’s nose is just a few inches away.

In contrast, when the artist is painting on a large scale and knows that most people will be seeing it from a distance he will alter the composition accordingly. Also, any good artists will consider the setting for his work and try to make it speak appropriately to other pictures and the general architecture around it. That means that an illustration in a book is very different from an altarpiece in design.

I will try to illustrate with examples that I have created from illuminations how I have approached this problem. Not all are in the St Albans style, but I hope they illustrate the points I am making. This has been a process of learning for me. I have been discovering these principles as I have been going along, and please bear in mind that as I look at them now, I don’t think that all of the following are perfectly successful by any means, but at least you can see what I am trying to do. As an artist I try to be critical of what I do so that I can improve. (On that point, I am different from many artists. I don’t agonise over how bad my work is. When I first complete a work I am almost always pleased with it. It’s only as time progresses that I start to see my flaws!).

So here’s the first example. I saw the following image of St Michael and the devil, which is from an German early-gothic psalter. I decided to adapt it for a large scale work to go in Thomas More College chapel. The image I created is 6ft x 3ft and hangs high up on the wall behind the altar. The bottom of it is perhaps 10ft from the ground. I have deliberately made my composition less busy so that it will have an impact at a distance. In the development of the underlying line drawing I deliberately made the figures slightly more naturalistic in style, because I felt that these would connect with the contemporary viewer more easily. I looked to Greek style icons from the same period for inspiration here, especially in the drawing of St. Michael.

Similarly, the following is an image from the Westminster Psalter, so is a page from an illumination from the St Albans period. In composition, this is more devotional and less of an ‘illustration’ with a more modelled, colored-in approach. I’m guessing that this isn’t by the hand of Matthew Paris, but by another artist. So, here it is, Christ in majesty. I don’t know precisely how big it is, but it is a single page in a book. Certainly not altarpiece size.

I based my Christ in majesty on this, and painted it on a wooden panel, slightly bigger than the St Michael, about 6.5 ft long.

Again, in the drawing stage, I made the drawing slightly more naturalistic. In the coloration, I looked to the style of 20th century Russian iconographer called Gregory Kroug. The way I have painted the blue robe of Christ is based on him. I added the green and red angels after seeing this in a 16th century Christ in Majesty in the Russian Icon Museum in Clinton, Massachussetts. This was a large wooden panel of similar size so I felt happy that it would work in a design for a large piece of liturgical art. I felt that it wouldn’t look too busy to have all this detail in these read and green areas because at a distance each colored area looks like a shimmering single mass of bodies – they are so strongly bound together by the common colour.

The following is another page from the Westminster Psalter.

It is King David, with the harp, the author of many of the psalms. This is a devotional piece and meant to be more intimate than a large piece hanging on the wall of a church. The version I did is was about 10 inches by 8 inches. I painted it on paper in egg tempera. I did simplify some areas a little, but for the most part in design terms left it pretty much the same as the original.

Now here is a different point. The coloration of the Matthew Paris works is very controlled, typically light washes with minimal modelling, and often the ground, in this case parchment is visible. Is there any precedent for this light ethereal touch in a liturgical setting?

I think there is. It is in the Russian style of icongraphy from the classic period around the 15th and 16th centuries.

In contrast to the highly modelled Greek style, which we might see if we visited Mt Athos or Mt Sinai, the Russian style of the period, epitomised in the work of Andrei Rublev or Dionysius, relies on line to describe form. The coloration is flat color achieved with washes and the modelling is minimal – just a light sparkling highlight in most cases.

You can see two examples below. In other respects these are not like the Paris drawings, which are more naturalistic in style, but the restraint used in painting is similar, I suggest.

When commentators describe these Russian icons, they feel that this is a less-is-more approach. What appears shallower physically draws us into something deeper spiritually. My thinking – only time will tell if I am right – is that this is what we can hope to replicate in looking to the School of St Albans too.

Here is an example of a Matthew Paris painting:

Based upon this, I painted my chivalrous Knight of the New Evangelation. like the David, I created this as a devotional piece, egg tempera on paper. I didn’t want to leave the paper as plain white (which would have been too sterile, I thought) so to give interest, I painted a ground with several very light mottled washes of grey-blue and a pale earth red.

In doing the above, I found it difficult to be restrained in the painting. It is very hard to know how to do so little painting and description of form in color well. I always want to give more visual information when I am painting and I had to force myself to stop. It does mean that what detail is in there, has to be absolutely right. If the features of the face, however sparsely reprented are not absolutely accurate then our mind’s eye interpolates gross distortion from them.

There are some modern iconographers who are creating work with similar restraint today and creating liturgical works. There is one point in there approach that I would adopt in my adaptation of the St Albans style to large scale works. Rather that leaving the ground bare, I would introduce interest by putting the line and light washes on carefully selected colored grounds. Notice how in the following examples, the base color can be quite strong, but it is usually mottled. This is an influence of 20th century art, I suggest that works very well in this context.

The paintings above is by Irena Gorbunova-Lomax, a Russian icon painter who lives and teaches in Belgium. In my St Albans work, I plan on using this approach, but have slightly paler ground colors and even more restrained modelling, so that the line dominates more.

This painting below is by an unknown Russian painter. Neither of these are on a large scale but they are liturgical in form and I think that compositionly these can be adapted to large scale work in the way I described at the very beginning of this piece.

It is is in the line drawing that so much will hinge if this is to succeed. This is where individual styles will come through and the most successful ones will be those that connect with people today. My personal inclination is to look to the traditional canon of iconographic images and to make the drawing conform to the iconographic prototype, albeit in a Western, naturalistic way (a sort of updated Romanesque, influenced by Matthew Paris).

In the examples below you can see drawings that I have created that come originally from different stylistic sources. It will be the common approach to painting such images that will give a unity to them as part of a characteristic tradition.

And as a final example, here is another devotional work on paper, based upon an image from the Westminster Psalter. Something else that I would add everytime, is the ornate Romanesque style patterned border, which is not so common in Eastern iconographic styles.

Can We Be Sure That the Eagle Represents St John? Perhaps not….

I’m guessing that many of you know that the four faces from Ezekial are by tradition interpreted as symbols of the four evangelists?

But which is which? I freely admit I can never remember and when I want to know I always have to look them up (ie google them) in order to find out. I have tried to develop a mnemonic to help me remember; but the justifictions never seem very clear to me and I can’t think of a good mnemonic. For example, I just about remember how the power of John’s theology soaring like the eagle utterly convincing, but I get confused when we get onto tales of the dumb ox…is that even the right allusion? As a result I always find that the next time I try remember which one is which, I have even forgotten the mnemonic I was supposed to remember.

This version of Christ in Majesty from the Westminster Psalter is very helpful, because unlike many, the artists told us in writing which one is which. So we have John as the eagle; Mark as the Lion; Luke as the Ox and by default, Matthew as the man.

But where does this tradition come from?

Wikipedia tells us its St Jerome. But in fact, I found out in a recent scripture class, (the Old Testament in Words and Images taught by Fr Sebastian Carnazzo for the Master in Sacred Arts program at Pontifex.University) that even the Church Fathers weren’t in complete agreement.

First of all, Fr Carnazzo pointed out that the two sources don’t give identical descriptions. In Ezekial, 1:10, the description is of a single creature with four faces; while in Revelation 4:7 it is of four creatures around the throne, and the order in which they is presented is different. In Ezekial it is Man, Lion, Ox, Eagle; while in Revelation it is Lion, Ox, Man, Eagle.

And there are different interpretations as to which is which:

St Irenaeus (c. 130-200) says in Adversus Haereses (3.11.8) that it is as follows: Lion-John; Ox-Luke; Man-Matthew; Eagle-Mark

St Augustine (354-430) says in De Consensu Evangelistarum (1.6.9 and 4.10.11) that its Lion-Matthew; Ox-Luke; Man-Mark; Eagle-John.

St Victorinus (c. 280); Com. Revelation, and so St Jerome (c. 347-420) who referred to Victorinus in his Prologus quattuor Evangeliorum had it Lion-Mark, Man-Matthew, Ox-Luke; Eagle-John

While Pseudo-Athanasius Man-Matthew Ox-Mark Lion-Luke Eagle-John.

I feel better now about not being sure. And if I ever I get it wrong and am corrected, I’ll cite the Church Father who agrees with me and try to look clever!

Do wonder how long it took for the Jerome interpretation to dominate. So when we see an early depiction in which the symbolism is not made explecit, can we be sure of the artist’s intentions? This relief carving is 11th centure Italian.

When I did a version, I wrote out the names in English because I knew that people would otherwise ask me which was which, and I didn’t want to be embarrassed when I couldn’t remember the answer. I’m doubly glad I did now. I think in future I will stick to the habit.

Interesting to see that Jerome and Augustine disagreed on this as on other things. This is one interpretation in which Jerome seems to have won the battle!

Fr Sebastian Carnazzo who teaches for Pontifex University is pastor at St Elias Melkite Catholic Church in Los Gatos, CA.

Anthony Visco, Catholic Artist and Pontifex University Teacher on His Vocation

Here is a great little video by Anthony Visco in which he discusses his personal vocation as a painter and sculptor of sacred art.


Anthony will be teaching practical classes for us at Pontifex. He is the founder of the Atelier for Sacred Arts, where he teaches and does his work, which is in Philadelphia. His website is The sculpture above is a relief sculpture for a series commissioned by Old St Joseph’s Church, also in Philadelphia.

Should It Be Curtains for Rood Screens?

I hope so! But in a good way. Two commentators have brought to my notice the fact that there were probably curtains on the rood screen. As one reader, DW, noted (you know who you are!):

If you consult Eamon Duffy’s The Stripping of the Altars you will note that an integral part of the pre-reformation rood screen was the curtain. During various parts of the liturgy this was opened and closed, thus revealing and hiding the liturgical action at the altar.

Note the similarity here with the Royal Doors of the iconostasis! The only picture I could find of a rood screen with curtains was used by the Orthodox Western Rite.

Of course, we should remember why the rood screen fell away in the 16th and 17th century in the Roman Rite – it was in response to the Council of Trent, which while not mandating their removal did ask for greater visibility. It’s a judgement call!

Anyway, our commentator gooes on:

This is not surprising when one recalls that in the English Church in the pre-Great Schismatic era there were many Byzantine influences. Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, was a monk of the Eastern rite sent by the Pope to be Archbishop of Canterbury – he brought with him his ecclesiastical household. Four hundred or so years later look at the Bayeux tapestry, the Archbishop of Canterbury is portrayed in Eastern rite vestments rather than those of the Latin West!