Una Voce Des Moines

Promoting the Traditional Latin Mass in Central Iowa

Ember Days: The Four Seasons Fast

The ember days – Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday – were prescribed for the Church by Pope Gregory VII as days of prayer and fasting for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy.  (See  “The Catholic Encyclopedia“)

Ember Days occur four times a year, corresponding to the four seasons.  The winter Ember Days occur on the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday following the Feast of St. Lucy on December 13.  The Spring Ember Days follow Ash Wednesday.  The Fall Ember Days follow the Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross on September 14.  The Summer Ember Days follow Pentecost, and begin Wednesday, June 7th.

These dates are given in the following Latin mnemonic:

          Dant Crux, Lucia, Cineres, Charismata Dia
          Ut sit in angariâ quarta sequens feria

Or in an old English rhyme

“Fasting days and Emberings be
Lent, Whitsun, Holyrood, and Lucie.”

Jacobus de Voragine tells us that we fast on Ember Days in part to atone for faults that correspond to the character of the seasons:

“Spring is warm and humid, summer hot and dry, autumn cool and dry, winter cold and wet.  Therefore we fast in the spring to control the harmful fluid of voluptuousness in us; in summer, to allay the noxious heat of avarice; in autumn, to temper the aridity of pride; in winter, to overcome the coldness of malice and lack of faith.”  Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend.  

The Code of Canon Law of 1983 no longer requires the observance of the Ember Days fast, and the reform of the Roman Calendar in 1969 left them to the discretion of local ordinaries.  Nevertheless, personal observance of Ember Days in Catholic homes, especially in an agricultural state like Iowa, helps to connect us with the rich liturgical tradition of the Church.

The Latin Mass or the Extraordinary Form: A Little History & Context

St. Anthony’s Catholic Church is fortunate to celebrate Mass according to both the 1962 and 2002 editions of the Roman Missal.  The 1962 edition is what is properly called the “Extraordinary Form” of the Roman Rite and popularly known as the “Tridentine Mass” or “Traditional Latin Mass”.  The 2002 edition is known as the “Ordinary Form” of the Roman Rite or the “Novus Ordo Missae” (New Order of the Mass), and is the form of Mass celebrated in most Roman Catholic parishes today.

The Tridentine Mass, which was promulgated in 1570 by Pope St. Pius V after the Council of Trent (“Tridentine” means “pertaining to Trent”), underwent a number of minor revisions through the years.  As celebrated today, the Tridentine Mass follows the edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope St. John XXIII in 1962.  After the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), a much more thorough revision of the Roman Missal was completed in 1970.  This revision implemented many changes in the way Mass was celebrated.

While many Catholics embraced these changes enthusiastically, some preferred the beauty, reverence, liturgical poetry, and profound expressions of holy truths of the usus antiquior (ancient rite), and so Pope St. John Paul II gave permission in 1984 — and widened this permission in 1988 — for it to be celebrated in those dioceses whose bishop permitted it.

On July 7, 2007, in the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI widened permission for the Latin Mass to be offered by parish priests for any stable group within the Church requesting worship according to the 1962 Missal.  This letter replaces the Apostolic Letter Ecclesia Dei of 1988, and its issuance is a most encouraging development i the liturgical life of the Church.

In July 2007, Msgr. Frank Chiodo, pastor at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, began celebrated the Extraordinary Form and has celebrated it weekly ever since.  Additionally, on certain feasts, he also celebrates the Mass which he holds near and dear to his heart.


Why is Latin the Church’s official language?

When the apostles first carried Christ’s Good News to the world, they traveled throughout the Roman Empire, which governed most of the lands around the Mediterranean Sea and in western Europe.  Since the Romans spoke Latin, this language was once used by many people at that time, much as today many people in the world know English because it is economically and socially advantageous.  As the Roman Empire disintegrated in the 4th and 5th centuries, the emerging Church, led by the Bishop of Rome, stepped in to provide a stabilizing cultural force, and through the centuries has retained the use of Latin in official communications as a means to unity.

The Latin language is the national property of no one people, yet, through learning, can be common to all.  This feature makes it especially appropriate for a universal Church.  The use of Latin by the Church started as a happenstance of history and geography, but has enabled the Church to maintain unity amidst the disciples she has made of all nations.

(Excerpts taken and adapted from Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Indianapolis, IN)

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2017.04.General Brochure

Feast of the Ascension

Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord
Thursday, May 25th
Extraordinary Form
Latin Sung Mass

St. Anthony’s Catholic Church
15 Indianola Road
Des Moines, IA  50315

A Little While: a reflection on the 3rd Sunday after Easter

A little while, and now you shall not see Me:  and again a little while, and you shall see Me (Jn 16:16).  According to St. Augustine, in this Gospel passage, Jesus speaks about the whole time from the resurrection to the end of the world, and he calls this “a little while.”  In fact, Sacred Scripture speaks often in this way.  That which seems like a long period of time for us is called short.  St. Paul says “tempus breviatum est”, which means, the appointed time has grown very short (1 Cor 7:29), and St. John says that it is the last hour.  And St. Paul says again in Romans:  Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep; For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand (Rom 13:11-12).

Why this sense of urgency?  People live to be seventy or eighty years old, or even older.  So, this attitude might seem a bit exaggerated.  Perhaps someone will respond to St. Paul, “the time doesn’t seem all that short to me; on the contrary, it seems long.”  And we see that nearly 2000 years have passed since St. Paul and the others said such things.  Therefore, this urgency not only seems exaggerated, but also wrong.  In fact, we might say:  “There’s no hurry; there’s plenty of time.”

On the other hand, we often say that we don’t have time for someone.  We haven’t read that book, and we say so because we don’t have enough time.  We haven’t responded to this letter or that email because we don’t have enough time.  Or worse—and often enough—someone will say that he goes to Holy Mass when he can, but he doesn’t have time to go every Sunday, even if there are 168 hours in a week, and only one of these is necessary for Holy Mass.  All of this is common enough, but it is rare that someone says that they have too much time.  So, in this way, we realize that we don’t have much time…it seems that Jesus, St. Paul and St. John are right.

Let’s look at this again.  How much time do we have in a week, in a year, in our lifetime?  Even though sometimes we say that other people have more time than us, in reality, there are only seven days in the week, and this time is the same for all.  Besides, each one of these days has twenty-four hours, and this interval of time is the same for all.  There is only one way in which we can have more time or less time than another person and that is if we consider our lifetime, since each person either lives longer or shorter than another.  But we do not know how long we’ll live, and, therefore, in each particular moment, we have the same time as everyone else does.

And this time which we all have:  is it short or long?  As we’ve said, St. Paul emphasizes the fact that our salvation is nearer to us (Rom 13:11).  Each and every moment of the day “our salvation is nearer to us” inasmuch as we are closer to our death, when a person is ultimately saved or damned forever.  We know that in the end we will be judged by our lives, by our love for God and our neighbor.  Not even the little things will be excluded:  Jesus says that we will be judged by every idle word (cf. Mt 12:36), and that whoever gives even a cup of cold water to his neighbor will not lose his reward (cf. Mt 10:42).

Now we begin to see why time is short:  each moment of our life can have an infinite effect.  With a single act of charity now, I will have more love, more grace, and more glory in heaven for the rest of eternity.  And if I omit the act, then I will have less.  But, it could be worse:  if I have gravely sinned, I will be eternally lost, if I have not repented, and the time for this repentance is limited, even if I don’t know exactly how much time remains.  Therefore, we can see the weight and the great importance of time!

Thus, we need to do all that we can with the time we have.  Let’s try not to lose it!  Every moment is extremely precious!  As St. Benedict says in the Prologue to his Rule:  Run whilst you have the light of life, that the darkness of death overtake you not (Jn 12:35)”.  As St. Paul says, It is full time now to wake from sleep (Rm 13:11).  Truly, then, the time is short.

(Homily taken from a Benedictine Monk in Norcia, Italy.)

Marian Antiphons: Regina Caeli

Throughout the year, the Church prays different Marian Antiphons based on the proper liturgical season.  We’ll post the current Antiphon throughout the year:

Advent/Christmas:  Alma Redemptoris Mater
Lent:  Ave Regina Caelorum
Easter: Regina Caeli
Pentecost:  Salve Regina

Here’s a great article about the different seasons, highlighting the Regina Caeli, which is sung through the Octave of Pentecost.

The four Marian Antiphons have traditionally been sung at the end of Compline – each one during a particular season of the Church Year.  Regina Caeli is sung from Easter Eve until Pentecost.

Here’s the antiphon sung to the Simple Tone by the Benedictine monks of Santo Domingo de Silos. Chant score from the Liber Usualis (1961), p.278.    (English translation below.)

Here’s the chant score of the Simple Tone version, from the Liber Usualis:

Here it is sung to the Solemn Tone, by the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of Saint Maurice et Saint Maur de Clervaux. (Chant score from the Liber Usualis (1961), p. 275.)

Read more here.

Holy Week Traditional Liturgical Schedule

We’re fortunate to have two traditional liturgies at St. Anthony’s during the Triduum and on Easter Sunday.

2017.04.03.Triduum Schedule

Combating Temptations with Prayers, Fasting, and Almsgiving

The Temptation in the Wilderness 1824 John St John Long 1798-1834


According to an ancient tradition, on the first Sunday of Lent we listen to the story about the temptation of Jesus in the desert. But we can ask ourselves, why do we begin Lent this way with the story of the temptations? According to the Curé of Ars, the reason for this is to show us that one of the purposes of Lent is to give us a time to combat evil more than we usually do. In a similar way, St. Benedict, in his Rule for monasteries, says that the entire life of the monk should be a sort of Lent, but because we don’t have the strength to do it , then it’s necessary to compensate for our carelessness during the rest of the year during the actual season of Lent.

But now, let’s analyze the Gospel passage in a more detailed way. Three temptations are presented. The Gospel describes the first temptation: “And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards He was hungry. And the tempter coming said to Him: ‘If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread’” (Mt 4:2-3). This temptation is easily understood. Jesus was hungry, and the devil wanted him to work a miracle to satisfy his hunger. In fact, in another place, Jesus performs the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and of the fish, apparently to satisfy the crowd’s hunger. Thus, it might seem that there would be nothing wrong if he performed such a miracle for himself. But the devil wanted to lead Christ by his natural desire of food to abuse his power of performing miracles, that is, by performing a wonder without a proportionate reason.

The second temptation seems less understandable, and the thing which the devil suggests is worse. “If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down” (Mt 4:6). The idea is that he will be miraculously saved, and this will show more clearly that He is the Son of God. It’s obvious, however, that there isn’t a true reason to do such a thing, and therefore the temptation makes even less sense.

The third temptation is even worse, even if the devil promises the greatest result. “All these”, that is all the kingdoms in the world, “will I give Thee, if falling down Thou wilt adore me” (Mt 4:9). The devil knows that there is no reason to adore him, and therefore he must offer everything in order to convince a person to do so.

The Temptations of Christ, 12th century mosaic at St Mark’s Basilica, Venice

We can compare these temptations with the traditional good works of Lent, that is, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. With fasting, we are able to curb the appetite for food, working against the first temptation. With prayer, we recognize our dependence on God, but without presumption, working against the second temptation. The relationship between almsgiving and the third temptation is perhaps less evident, but looking at almsgiving as a result of charity, which is the love of God, then we see that the thing which is most contrary to charity, and in this sense, to almsgiving, is precisely adoring the devil. In this way, from the temptations themselves we can understand the means to combat them, that is, with the works of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

And in conclusion, in today’s text we find another suggestion on how to live a fruitful Lent. Jesus responds to every temptation with a citation from Sacred Scripture. From this we can understand the importance that Sacred Scripture assumes in our personal conflict against temptation. We monks have Lectio Divina, and during Lent, we are called to dedicate ourselves even more fully to this practice. For other people, for example, for those who are not used to reading Sacred Scripture regularly, it would be a great idea to begin doing this during this season of Lent this year, maybe even reading for fifteen minutes a day, and thus find a way to help in the practice of virtue and in the struggle against temptation. At any rate, in all of our Lenten practices, let us ask for God’s help to persevere and bring them to completion.

Homily from a Benedictine monk in Norcia, Italy.

Septuagesima: Preparation for the Preparation

Every night, before going to sleep, the monks read a passage from St. Peter: be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goes about seeking whom he may devour: whom resist ye, strong in faith (1 Pet 5:8-9) and every morning during the year, the monks read a passage from St. Paul, Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong (1 Cor 16:13). The monk, then, is called to a continual vigilance. In fact, the ancient monks tried to follow this principle to the point of never even sleeping. As an older monk once said: “It’s enough for a true monk to sleep only one hour.”

Even if this extreme vigilance seems out of our reach, the monastic tradition has always placed it as a fundamental attitude. And all of us can understand this from the ordinary experience of everyday life. In being vigilant, it prepares us for something that might (or will) happen. For example, if someone must take a difficult math exam, he has many books to study. But this student is also married with two children and works as a bartender to earn extra money on the side. Before studying for the exam, he’ll need to create some space. He will ask for four weeks off from work, and he’ll need to find a room in his house where the children won’t be able to disturb him. And, once all of this preparation is completed, then he’ll be able to start studying.

These experiences help us to understand today’s liturgy, called Septuagesima. When we came into Church, and saw the violet vestments, maybe some of you thought that there was a funeral or maybe you thought of Lent. Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima form, not only the traditional time for the carnival, but a small period of preparation for Lent. As we all know, Lent is the time for preparation for Easter. These three Sundays of Septuagesima, then, become a preparation for the preparation.

The concept of preparing for Lent might seem absurd. Isn’t Lent itself a preparation for Easter? Wouldn’t this mean giving a somewhat exaggerated emphasis on corporal fasting and penance? Certainly, if we think of Lent always in negative terms, the time of Septuagesima will have a dark and somber character. But, if we look at the time of Lent, which will arrive in three weeks, as a time to listen and to grow in the love of God, then the three Sundays of Septuagesima will make more sense. If we look at Lent with the analogy of the exam, then God will be able to speak to and with us during Lent. Are we ready to listen?

Today’s Gospel presented for Septuagesima demonstrates the same point. The parable of Jesus turns human logic upside down. Five workers begin working at five different hours, and receive the same stipend. But the workers who worked the entire day were upset for what they considered a lack of justice. Wouldn’t we be upset, too, if a prostitute or a thief were to enter heaven before us? Are we prepared for this message? The gospel touches the heart of our Faith, that is, the gratuitousness of Redemption. It can’t be earned. Yet we’re still sleeping.

Maybe during this Lent, God will ask something great of us. Maybe he will ask us for a great sacrifice of charity or of forgiveness. Maybe he will ask us to suffer an injustice. Maybe he will ask us for a great humiliation or a painful disease. Maybe he will ask us for our very life. The time of preparation during Septuagesima is an opportunity to clean our rooms, to throw out the trash, to put our lives in order to be prepared to listen, prepared to grow with God. If our hearts are full of the music of our personal tragedy, it will be difficult to do very much from Ash Wednesday onwards.

Today’s Gospel says that the workers began working at five different hours. In these different hours, we see the analogy for Septuagesima, Sexagesima, Quinquagesima, Lent, and in the end, the Holy Triduum itself. Certainly, all have been paid. It’s possible to wait. But if we don’t get prepared now, how do we know that afterward, or even later, we will get prepared? It’s always easier to say, “well, I just can’t do it this year. Maybe next year”. It’s important to remember the last phrase of the Gospel: for many are called, but few chosen (Mt 20:16).

If we want to experience real fruit during Lent, then we should pull out the weeds from our garden now, and take advantage of these three weeks. Lent will be short and maybe difficult. Let’s roll up our sleeves now, and prepare for Lent. Run whilst you have the light of life, that the darkness of death shall not overtake you (Jn 12:35) (Rule, Prologue)

[A homily given by a Benedictine monk of Norcia, Italy]

Merry Christmas!

Christmas 2016

Monsignor Frank Chiodo celebrated the Second Mass of Christmas in the Extraordinary Form at St. Anthony.

Seminarians for the Dioceses of Des Moines and Davenport served at the Altar along with the altar boys, .

Lux fulgebit hodie super nos, quia natus est nobis Dominus!

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2016 Una Voce Des Moines