A fine treatment by Dr. Christopher West. See also his: - John Paul II's Theology of the Body: Key to an Authentic Marital & Family Spirituality - What the Church Really Teaches about Responsible Parenthood - The Theology of the Body & The New Evangelization - A Response to Luke Timothy Johnson's Critique of John Paul II's "Disembodied" Theology of the Body; for Johnson's critique, see here - In-Vitro Fertilization and the Hermeneutic of the Gift
An inspiring and insightful set of meditations by St. Josemaria Escriva. From his book, In Love With the Church.
Cistercian Father Roch Kereszty sees the Eucharist as the continual reenactment of God's self-emptying love.
By St. Thomas More. A short piece composed in the Tower of London in 1534, the year before his martyrdom.
A good introduction to the Mass from a Byzantine Catholic perpsective. See also: - Comments on the Divine Liturgy
The liturgical tradition of Egypt, which tradition holds was first evangelized by St. Mark who became the first bishop of Alexandria. The Liturgy of St. Mark is still the basis for the modern liturgies of the Churches of the Alexandrian tradition. Eastern Catholic Churches in the Alexandrian tradition include: - Coptic Catholic Church - Ge'ez Ethiopian Catholic Church For the liturgical tradition of the Alexandrian Catholic Churches: - The Divine Liturgy of St. Mark
A Lectionary used in the Jerusalem Church, circa 417-439 A.D. As with all the ancient Lectionaries, there is much to be learned by studying how the early Church leaders matched up readings from the Old and New Testaments. For another example from the Jerusalem Church, see: - Another Early Armenian Lectionary
The Scripture readings you would have heard at Mass in Eastern Syria in the sixth century. For other options: - Lectionary of the East Syrian Monaryer of Mar Aziza - East Syrian Lectionary of the Church of the Forty Martyrs
A good meditation. By Father William Saunders.
Antioch is where believers were first called "Christians" (see Acts 11:26) and St. Ignatius, the bishop-martyr of Antioch was credited with first using the term "Catholic" to describe the Church in 110 A.D. The Liturgy in this tradition is based on the ancient Liturgy of St. James. Eastern Catholic Churches in the Antiochian tradition include: - Syro-Malankara Catholic Church - Maronite Catholic Church - Syrian Catholic Church For the liturgical tradition of the Antiochean Catholic Churches: - Liturgy of Jerusalem (St. James) - The Divine Liturgy of St. James - West Syrian Rite (Antioch)
The Armenian liturgical tradition draws on elements of the Syriac, Jerusalem and Byzantine rites. It uses a liturgy attributed to St. Basil. For the liturgical tradition of the Armenian Catholic Churches: - The Liturgy of St. Basil - Coptic Liturgy of St. Basil - Liturgy of St. Basil (Modern)
An excellent consideration by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on the meaning of Christian art and its relationship with worship. He surveys the origin of images used for worship from Old Testament times through the first millennium of the Church. See also, Cardinal Ratzinger's: - Art, Image and Artists
Looks at the role played by the visual arts in both Catholic and Orthodox liturgies throughout history. By Catholic artist, H. Reed Armstrong.
An amazing collection of links. Some of particular interest: - Paleo-Christian Art - Early Christian Art and More Early Christian Art - Medieval and Early Christian Art - Early Christian Architecture - Book of Kells and The Four Evangelists from the Book of Kells - Carolingian Era - Middle Ages - Art for the Christian Liturgy in the Middle Ages - The Cult of the Virgin - Death in the Middle Ages - Icons and Iconoclasm in the Byzantium - Private Devotion in Medieval Christianity - Monasticism in Medieval Christianity - Relics and Reliquaries in Medieval Christianity - Stained Glass in Medieval Christianity - The Last Things in Medieval French Art - Veneration of the Saints in Medieval French Art - 15th-Century Art in Northern Europe & Spain - 15th-Century Italian Art: Early Renaissance - 16th-Century Art in Italy: The Renaissance - 16th-century Art: Northern Europe and Spain - 17th-Century Baroque Art
An excellent guide by Father Felix Just, S.J.
The largest of the Eastern rites, the Byzantine tradition descends from the ancient Church of Constantinople. Its Liturgy is based on the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, patriarch of Constantinople. Eastern Catholic Churches in the Byzantine tradition include: - Albanian Catholic Church - Bulgarian Catholic Church - Belarusan Catholic Church - Croatian Catholic Church - Greek Catholic Church - Hungarian Catholic Church - Melkite Greek Catholic Church - Romanian Greek Catholic Church - Russian Catholic Church - Ruthenian Catholic Church - Slovak Catholic Church - Ukranian Greek Catholic Church For the liturgical tradition of the Byzantine Catholic Churches: - Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (Modern) - Greek Rites - Ruthenian Rite
A fine meditation by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.
An index of chants used in the Church's liturgical office. For advanced-levl scholars only.
Examples from churches around the country. For other sources, see: - Sources for Sunday Homilies
Also called East Syrian Catholics, this liturgical tradition descends from the ancient rites used in Persia and Syria. Eastern Catholic Churches in the Chaldean tradition include: - Chaldean Catholic Church - Syro-Malabar Catholic Church For the liturgical tradition of the Chaldean Catholic Churches: - Chaldean Mass (Modern) - East Syrian Rite (Chaldean) - St. Thomas or Malabar Christians - Selections from the Assyrian Liturgy
A fine meditation by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. on Catholic marriage and family life.
Although written in a 1933 edition of the Catholic journal, Orates Fratres, offers history and principles for sacred music that remain relevant. - Part 2
Documents illustrating the practice of Confirmation/Chrismation.
Texts that show that the early Church believed in the sacramental nature of the anointing of the sick.
A collection of texts that shows the early belief that Christ elevated marriage to a sacrament.
These texts show the Church Fathers' assumption that Christ wanted a ministerial priesthood.
Some statements illustrating the practice of auricular confession. See also, a short analysis: - Sacrament of Penance in the Early Church
Detailed tables compare the selection of readings in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer (listed in blue), the Roman Catholic Lectionary for Mass (red) and the Revised Common Lectionaries (green). Divided according to: - First Readings - Psalms - Second Readings - Gospel Readings
From The Catholic Encyclopedia.
The divine liturgies and hymns of the five Eastern Catholic rites in MIDI form.
An in-depth look from The Catholic Encyclopedia. For good overviews and background, see also: - Rites - The Eastern Rites Today - Catholic Eastern Churches - The Five Eastern Rites - The Formation of the Eastern Rites - Eastern Rite Catholic Churches (Listing by Patriarchate) - Eastern Rites: A Family Tree - Rites in the United States - Eastern Catholics in American (U.S. Bishops)
From the Catholic Encyclopedia. See also: - Music of the Mass - Liturgical Chant - Gregorian Chant - Plain Chant - Congregational Singing - Musical Instruments in Church Services - Music of Vespers - Passion Music
From The Catholic Encyclopedia. See also: - The Blessed Eucharist as a Sacrament - The Blessed Eucharist as a Sacrifice - Early Symbols of the Eucharist - Real Presence - Holy Communion - Liturgy - Liturgy of the Mass (Roman) - Ambrosian Liturgy (St. Ambrose) - Celtic Rite (Ireland, Britain) - Sarum Rite (England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales) - Gallican Rite (France) - Mozarabic (Spain, Portugal) - Frequent Communion - Communion under Both Kinds - Communion of Children - Communion of the Sick - Viaticum
Frank Sheed's classic explanation, from Theology for Beginners.
On the "transformative" power of the Sacrament. By Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. Also highly recommended are Cardinal Ratzinger's: - The Greatest Mystery - The Theology of Kneeling
From the Catechetical Instructions of St. Thomas Aquinas.
An insightful reflection by Cardinal John Wright, the late Prefect of the Vatican's Sacred Congregation for the Clergy.
A good historical study by Father Cassian Folsom, O.S.B. Originally published in Adoremus Bulletin.
A fascinating comparison of 13 lectionaries from France, dating between the sixth and eighth centuries.
(Byzantine Catholic) By Khaled Anatolios. A quote: "The Byzantine liturgy is always concerned to proclaim that by the power of the Holy Spirit space, time, and even human sinfulness are transformed and integrated into the union of earth and heaven accomplished by the unsurpassable self-offering of Christ....Ultimately the Byzantine liturgy is about the startling good news that once we were lost on earth and in bondage to sin and death, but now earth itself is lost in heaven, in thrall to the love and beauty of the triune God."
Fully searchable collection of nearly 150 sites with 1500 photos of the Holy Land. To browse: - Site List Other sources for photos related to biblical scenes: - Bible Places - Virtual Travel Through the Holy Places - Christian Sanctuaries of the Holy Land - Biblical Excursions in the Holy Land - The Holy Land of the First Crusaders
A beautiful meditation by the great Catholic novelist, Francois Mauriac.
Learn from one of the best - the official preacher for the papal household of Pope John Paul II.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on the role of music in the encounter with the divine in the "cosmic liturgy." See also by Cardinal Ratzinger: - "In the Presence of Angels I Will Sing Your Praise" - Cardinal Ratzinger On Liturgical Music "The Cultural Challenge vs. The Biblical Culture Of Faith" "The Sociological Challenge vs. True Christian Anthropology" "The 'Postconciliar' Challenge vs. The Cosmic Liturgy"
An excellent resource. The hymns included are from many Christian denominations, but the collection provides an excellent way to study the biblical foundations and assocations in worship music. See also: - Cyber Hymnal™
Examines the history of the use of instruments in Church music, from the first century through the pontificate of Pope Pius XII.
Examines the use of instrumental music in the sacred ceremonies of the Old Law, and the way in which it came to form an integral part of Catholic worship.
A study of the Biblical idea of priesthood and its relationship to the New Testament understanding of Jesus' high priestly role. By Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis.
A good short introduction to Lectionaries, the name broadly given to collections of Scripture readings intended to be read during Mass. Also helpful is the General Instruction on the Roman Missal which explains that the readings for the Sunday celebration of the Mass are intended to demonstrate "the unity of each Testament and of the history of salvation." - An Overview of the Lectionary
Not really a lectionary but a list of Scripture references culled from Ambrose's sermons. Still an interesting reflection of how the Scripture was used in the litrugy and in preaching in the early Church.
Not a complete lectionary, but a list of readings compiled from the sermons of St. Augustine. Suggestive of how the Bible was used in the liturgy in North Africa in the fourth and fifth centuries. The association of New and Old Testament texts and Psalms is instructive, too, for insights into how Augustine and his contemporaries interpreted the Bible. For another set of liturgical readings culled from Augustine's sermons, see: - Undated Scripture References in the Preaching of St. Augustine
A short meditation by St. Peter Julian Eymard.
An excellent consideration by a top moral theologian, William May. Also by May, see: - Marriage: A Person-Affirming, Love-Enabling, Life-Giving and Sanctifying Reality - Marriage: A Common Endeavor - Contraception, Gateway to the Culture of - The Mission of Fatherhood - Begetting vs. Making Babies
A very interesting collection of paintings. Includes such topics as: The Seven Corporal Works of Mercy, The Seven Deadly Sins, the Passion, the Tree of Jesse, the Suicide of Judas.
As The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "Religious worship is not directed to images in themselves, considered as mere things, but under their distinctive aspect as images leading us on to God incarnate" (no. 2129). This site provides depictions of classic Catholic art, along with meditations.
By Father Romano Guardini, one of the pioneers of authentic liturgical reform in the 20th century.
A good treatment by Walter Maier, a Lutheran scholar. A quote: "Worship deals with the changeless God who has acted in the past, who continues to act in the present, and who will act in the future, as His Word makes clear."
A good historical overview.
(Byzantine Catholic) A fine treatment of the various parts of the Mass, written from a Melkite Catholic perspective. See also from the same perspective: - Come Let Us Worship Christ Our God: Introduction to the Theology of the Divine Liturgy
A practical guide to beginning Eucharistic Adoration in your local parish.
Though written from a Protestant perspective, there is much to be learned here about the need for preaching to reflect a biblical theology that provides a unified vision of the Christian mystery. Keep in mind that, in contrast to the emphasis here, good Catholic biblical theology always sees the culmination of the Bible's unified vision in the Church and the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. See also: - Building the Biblical Theological Sermon (Part 1) - Building the Biblical Theological Sermon (Part 2) - The Relationship Between Exegesis and Expository Preaching (.pdf files, requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader.) - Guidelines for Understanding and Proclaiming Old Testament Narratives
An abridged essay on the book of the same title by Father Thomas McGovern. For individual chapters, see: - Preface - Introduction: I and II - Celibacy - A Historical Perspective: I, II, III - Development of a Christian Anthropology
An excellent, practical reflection by Father Ronald Lawler, O.F.M. Cap.
Dominican Father Aidan Nichols, compares Pope John Paul II'ss encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia with the eucharistic writings of St. Thomas Aquinas.
A database of information about worship books printed before 1601. Includes nearly 14,000 titles from Catholic, Protestant and Jewish traditions.
An extremely helpful resource created by Father Felix Just, S.J. of Loyola Marymount University. In addition to various articles that analyze and compare various versions of the Lectionary, the site includes: - Calendar of Lectionary Cycles and Moveable Liturgical Feasts 1969-2050 - The Lectionary for Mass (1998) - The Lectionary for Mass (1970) - The Roman Missal (1570) - An Overview of the Gospel Readings during the Sundays of Ordinary Time - An Overview of the Sunday Readings from the New Testament Acts and Epistles - An Overview of Common Responsorial Psalms and Alleluia Verses - John's Gospel used on Sundays and Major Feasts - John's Gospel used on Weekdays and Special Masses - Texts of John's Gospel Not used in the Lectionary for Mass - Johannine Epistles used on Sundays, Weekdays, and Special Masses
A good introduction.
From The Catholic Encyclopedia. See also: - Moral and Canonical Aspect of Marriage - History of Marriage - Ritual of Marriage - Putative Marriage - Divorce (in Moral Theology) and Divorce (in Civil Jurisprudence) - Mixed Marriage - Civil Marriage - Validation of Marriage - Banns of Marriage - Betrothal
A good essay on the sacred function of the church building and theological principles for good church architecture.
By Father Romano Guardini, this little book looks at "sacramentals" and other signs that open up the spiritual core of the Liturgy. Included: the Sign of the Cross; Kneeling; Standing; Striking the Breast; Candles; Holy Water; Bells; and more.
"Active participation" and the meaning of bodily gestures required in the Liturgy. By Father Cassian Folsom, O.S.B.
A good collection of short quotations.
A good short study by Father William Most.
A good meditation on the need to recover the sense of awe and mystery at the Mass. By Father Ralph Wright, O.S.B.
Written for the official Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, in 1978, by Cardinal John Wright, then-Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy. A quote: "One hears this idea of militancy sometimes soft-toned in these days of dreams and programs of peace, but the Christian life remains a battle from the beginning to the end, and Confirmation provides the special grace to wage that battle and to remain faithful to the graces of the other Sacraments."
A good theological reflection by Father J. Brian Bransfield.
Excellent, detailed studies of the readings for each Sunday of the liturgical year. (.pdf files, requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader).
An illustrated dictionary of Christian symbolism.
Father Arthur Tonne's 1950 book explains 60 common sacramentals.
The akathist is one of the most ancient ornces or collection of prayers in the Byzantine Church. It is a prayer of veneration, thanksgiving and petition. "Akathist" means standing because it is an expression of profound joy in recognizing the honor being paid to Our Lord, Our Lady, or the saint who is being venerated.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger makes the case for reconsidering the direction the priest faces during the celebration of Mass - toward the liturgical East ("ad orientem").
Although more than 100 years old, still a good look at the evidence in the language of the ancient liturgies of the Church.
A splendid collection of artists including Raphael, Caravaggio, Cimabue, Rembrandt, Bellini and more. Also includes a special collection of Paintings of Angels. See also: - Sacred Art by Giotto (d. 1337) - The Book of Hours of Jean, Duke of Berry (the greatest of illuminated manuscripts, ca. 1485) - The Jacques Maritain Center Art Gallery - The Catacombs of Saint Callixtus - Breviary of Chertsey Abbey (ca. 1307) - Life and Death and Miracles of St. Jerome (Images) - Iconography of St. Sebastian - Thais 1200 Years of Italian Sculpture
A description of the modern order of the Mass as celebrated in the Byzantine Rite of the Catholic Church.
A good, short collection of texts and interpretations.
A quote: "From ancient biblical times the sacred union of covenant was constituted by means of a sacrifice and/or a sacred banquet. The Lord Jesus used these familiar methods at the Last Supper to establish God's New and Everlasting Covenant. To establish this Covenant, Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which He made both a sacrifice and a sacred meal...By establishing the New Covenant through the Eucharist, Jesus made His Spouse the Church to be a Eucharistic People by reason of her very origin." By Msgr. Anthony A. La Femina.
Father Jerome Gassner, O.S.B. looks at this ancient prayer that serves as a prelude to the Easter solemnities. The Exsultet is â€œa majestic proclamation of the Resurrection of Christ, a dramatic invitation to heaven and earth to join with the Church in joy and jubilation.
The Lectionary in use in Jerusalem, circa 700 A.D.
The Lectionary used in the modern Greek Orthodox Church, but which has remained almost exactly the same since the seventh century.
A liturgy dating back to 1067 Spain. This page includes readings for a two-year cycle of liturgies and - rare among ancient liturgies - includes explicit use of the Book of Revelation.
A good introduction to this devotion.
An excellent summary of the purpose and various methods of preaching. From The Catholic Encyclopedia.
As considered in The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Francis de Sales.
Presents of a chart of Scripture readings for the daily Masses at the Cathedral of Milan, as found in the ancient Ambrosian Missal, said to have originated with the great fourth-century bishop, St. Ambrose of Milan. By studying how this ancient Missal puts together Old Testament and New Testament readings, we gain a better understanding of how the early Church interpreted the Old Testament in light of the New Testament and the New Testament in light of the Old.
Cardinal Charles Journet shows the gulf between Catholic belief in the Real Presence with Lutheran and Calvinist doctrines. A quote: "The Catholic Church will never accept the essential equivalence between the doctrine of the Council of Trent and the conflicting doctrines - at variance also with each other - of Luther and of Calvin. The day on which the Church were to accept it, she would cease to exist, she would become Protestant."
A brief history of the origin of hymns, showing their origin in the memory and custom of Jewish ritual. Includes consideration of the Divine Office and Breviary and the hymns of St. Ambrose, St. Gregory the Great and St. Thomas Aquinas.
A thoughtful reflection by Msgr. M. Francis Mannion.
An extraordinary article by Cardinal Jean Danielou, S.J. on the connection between the sacraments and the marvelous works wrought by God in the Old and New Testaments. A quote: "The sacraments are conceived in relation to the acts of God in the Old Testament and the New. God acts in the world; His actions are the mirabilia, the deeds that are His alone. God creates, judges, makes a covenant, is present, makes holy, delivers. These same acts are carried out in the different phases of the history of salvation....The sacraments are simply the continuation in the era of the Church of God's acts in the Old Testament and the New. This is the proper significance of the relationship between the Bible and the liturgy. The Bible is a sacred history; the liturgy is a sacred history." Must reading.
On the critical importance of understanding the Mass as sacrifice. A quote: "Jesus transformed the Passover meal of the Old Covenant with Israel into the Eucharist of His New Covenant with His new Israel, His Church." By Msgr. Peter Elliot. - Part 2
A good reflection by Father Thomas Dailey, O.S.F.S. Writing to fellow priests, he says: " Our congregations need direct reference to the persuasive element that links truth and response in our homilies.
From Solesemes Abbey, France. Also includes examples of the various chants for the Mass and the Divine Office: - The Musical Forms of Gregorian Chant For more background, see: - The Chant in Latin - Chants for the Mass - Chants for the Divine Office
A master of biblical theology.
A good history not only of the tabernacle, but of the practice of reserving the Holy Eucharist in it.
Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, O.P. explores the ancient image of Mother Church, Mater Ecclesia, and "the Church as the maternal place, the source of all that is living and thus the source of art as well."
An excellent collection of music (in Latin and English) and examples of traditional Catholic hymns in the MIDI format.
Download mp3s of sacred and classical music played by teachers and students of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music. Includes selections from Masses, from various seasons of the liturgical year and from classical composers.
Father Jerry Pokorsky says that "like the sacred vessels at Mass, we were made to receive Christ."
By N.T. Wright, top Scripture scholar and Anglican bishop of Durham, England. For other sermons by Bishop Wright: - The Vine and the Branches (5th Sunday of Easter) - New Law, New Temple, New World (Pentecost) - True and False Comfort (Isaiah 40:1-11) - The God of Love and Peace (Trinity Sunday) - God's Richly Varied Wisdom (Joshua 1:1-9 and Ephesians 3:1-13)
What it is and why it's important, according to the writings of St. Bonaventure.
Horace D. Hummel's contribution to a symposium on worship hosted by the Lutheran Concordia Theological Seminary. A quote: "The prayers introducing the Sanctus emphasize that, if the angels praise God without ceasing, what they do is the telos toward which everything else tends. Singing the Sanctus will not someday be replaced by something else. They are words on loan from the heavenly choirs, and give us a sampling of what will occupy us throughout eternity. But already now they allow us to discern the intimate link between the worship we offer and the liturgy of eternity. Our present worship is a sort of apprenticeship for what is to come. Our faces are turned toward God, not toward society. Any instrumental approach to the liturgy, e.g., for outreach or for catechesis, misunderstands the doxological essence of what a vertical typology can teach us, that it is not primarily intended to edify man but to contemplate and thank the Triune God and what the Son came down to do 'for us men and for our salvation.'" (pdf files, requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader.)
A virtual museum and searchable database of European painting and sculpture of the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods (1150-1800), currently containing over 11,600 reproductions. Commentaries on pictures, biographies of artists are available.