DIY Missal and Hymnal

Photo from the Campion MissalCorpus Christi watershed have unveiled plans for their new St Edmund Campion Missal and Hymnal for the Extraordinary form of the Mass.

It is a great idea – an all in one pew book with everything you need to join in all the parts of the Latin Mass that people are supposed to – singing the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei. Yes, you guys in the pews are supposed to be singing along. As well as that it has all the propers so people can follow all the parts that change from day to day – praying with understanding!

After all that the hymns section is like icing on the cake.

What a great idea! In fact, such a great idea that here’s one I prepared earlier. I call it Congregavit nos in unum, or the Draft Traditional Hymnbook. Okay, it’s not quite so swish, it has no colour pages, the kyriale is abridged (leaving out Masses 3,5,6,14,15), and instead of the entire propers it only has the epistle and gospel of each Sunday and Feast Day. But it’s cheaper and the source code is available so it can be customised to suit your local circumstances.

But with all that, the Campion Missal still comes out ahead. With the advantage of a large scale project you can have finer paper in a hard cover to last longer. They are also working to keep the price down to make it affordable for parishes to purchase in quantity.

But the Campion Missal is not ready yet. You can get a copy of my pale imitation Congregavit nos in unum via Lulu right now. Printed and shipped from a country near you (Australian orders are processed in Melbourne). As I write this it is still at cost price, I don’t get a cut yet until I’m sure it’s all fine and hopefully it will one day have an Imprimatur and be all finished and stuff. It’s still a useful book as is, and you can check this all out by downloading the pdf version from the sourceforge page.

How to sew a cassock

Model aged 4 wearing protoype cassock It’s an exciting time here. One boy is preparing for first Holy Communion. Two older boys are learning how to serve Mass, the first altar boys in the family for who knows how long. Then there’s the one in the picture who is helping me learn how to sew a cassock.

Back view of small prototype cassockFirst I bought two secondhand patterns from Etsy. McCalls 2079 and Butterick 6765. Neither were anywhere near the size I needed, but the instructions were good. I kept reading them for 3 weeks before actually settling down to measure my sons and start drawing with chalk on the black fabric.

The fabric came from a vegan friend who was passing on fabric, much of it beautiful wool. I think its a lightweight wool blend. There’s only a very little bit left.

Another help was a book called “Principles of Garment Cutting” by E L G Gough. I referred most to this to draft the two piece sleeve. I think I will be referring to this a lot more to make the proper cassocks.

The final cassock is much more like the McCalls pattern. It was the simpler of the two with a zip front and just one box pleat in the back. Butterick’s pattern had something like a princess-line back with three box pleats.

Here I put fairly low res photos of what I am going from. If McCalls and/or Butterick object I can take them down again. Maybe they can make new patterns in size 8-10. That would make this so much easier! But drafting your own patterns is very rewarding and I’m learning lots.

For the final run I’m thinking of using Admiral Gaberdine from Lincraft and poly poplin for the surplice. Do you think a wool blend would be more breathable?

All the best in your endeavours!

UPDATE: see the finished products here

Next, to write up the instructions.

Classical Liberal Arts Academy

The Classical Liberal Arts Academy was started in 2008 by a classical academic turned teacher with a young family of his own. It claims to be the only school providing a real classical liberal arts education. It is definitely unique.

For those not familiar with the concept of liberal arts, here’s a brief run-down. There’s the Trivium and the Quadrivium. The Trivium is a bit like English and the Quadrivium is a bit like Maths. The Trivium goes Grammar then Dialectic then Rhetoric. The Quadrivium goes Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, Astronomy. You might see these terms decorating various centres of learning (like the Great Hall at USyd).

So what are the differences?

Their pre-readers’ course teaches Latin before English.

The first lesson in Arithmetic contains no numerical puzzles but bids the student memorise a catechism beginning with “What is Mathematics? Mathematics is the study of Quantity.” The catechism unfolds a categorisation of quantity that is just begging to be drawn on a white board with big curly braces like Alice Nelson and all the Doc Woodbury afficionados did in the Thomistic Sydney Underground.

The Grammar course plunges into John’s Gospel. The website contains sample translations written by the hand of a five and a seven year old.

There is no grade by age. A student starts at the beginning and works through at his own pace (I’ll use the male pronoun since I have all boys and anyway, we’re discussing a plan of learning centuries old, we can afford to be a little antiquated here). A teenager might work quite fast, while a five year old do the same lesson at a more relaxed pace. Each lesson has an online examination. Written work can be faxed or emailed to CLAA or signed off by a parent. There are no prescribed terms or school year’s to work to.

There is a lively discussion forum for parents to get advice. Mr William Michael, the director, encourages debate. He has strong opinions backed up by strong arguments. Although one may flinch at first by his forthright words, his reasoning is very sound.

Readers might be aware of John Taylor Gatto’s books on the problems inherent in modern educational theories. Although not a Catholic, he shows how the protestant reformation introduced a whole slew of rather evil doctrines into the world. Calvin, Darwin, John Dewey, Francis Bacon are the names I can spout without remembering the details. Mr Gatto’s answer points towards Unschooling – just forget the whole idea of controlling children and do real things together. Mr Michael has an even more radical idea – look at what they were teaching before the reformation. How can we do that? The books are still around! Ratio Studiorum is a Jesuit book from 1599. That’s what CLAA is using.

There are more courses being planned. Enrichment courses include World Chronology, Classical Vocab and Art and Music History. The Music course is being developed with help from the Ward Method. See Musica Sacra for more info on why that is an amazing thing. Gregorian Chant takes centre stage by the sounds of it.

If this was open courseware I’d be into it in a flash. But CLAA asks for commitment – and money. How much is this worth to me? Could I spend the money better? There are lots of local apostolates who could use that sort of support. Will my boys be significantly worse off if they never read Cicero in Latin? Wouldn’t it be wiser to finish cladding the house first?

Of course, as a difficult person I am wondering if I can do this myself. The Ward Method books are all online. Aristotle, Euclid, Cicero and the Baltimore Catechism are all public domain by now. There’s Ratio Studiorum mentioned earlier. Finding Saint John’s Gospel in Latin, Greek and English is not hard. I have little Latin and less Greek, but I’m still ahead of my children. Whatever little I can manage may still give them a good standing in finding out more themselves. Or would I put them off completely.

It does sound like a lot of work though. Learning from experts is a whole lot less frustrating than trying to nut things out for yourself. Reading Garrigou-Lagrange is slow work. Hearing one of the great disciples of Doc Woodbury explain it is joyful clarity. Doc Woodbury in turn studied under Garrigou Lagrange. I wonder who Mr Michael of CLAA learned from.

It looks like there will be a whole lot of disciples of Mr William Michael in the future. According to the website over 800 students have enrolled since they opened. Only time will tell.

Officium Divinum on an ebook reader

BooksIf you want an easy way to put the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours on an ebook reader see Universalis. You can read it online. They even have standalone software for Windows and Mac. You can try it for free for a month before you buy a registration code.

The program takes all the hassle of figuring out what to read for the day – it’s all sorted out by computer. The program spits out an ebook to take you through the week with the hours plus the Office of Readings.

All normal people happy with Novus Ordo liturgical things and proprietary operating systems can stop reading there.

The rest of the post describes the sort of complications that make it worth posting about.

For starters, Universalis doesn’t run properly under Linux. Wine doesn’t quite handle the graphical user interface, though it does generate an ebook. Also it uses the modern Liturgy of the Hours, which is great. It spreads out the psalms over a 4 week cycle – which is why you need a computer to keep track of which week it is! My soft spot for the traditional Latin Mass and the Douay Rheims Bible casts a rosy glow over the older Divine Office which gets all the psalms in just one week. Also my Free Open Source Software side baulks at the thought of paying for software – Universalis uses contemporary translations which require royalty payments.

Enter Divinum Officium. A free, open source program written in Perl which generates html versions of the hours according to whichever version of the pre Vatican II office you choose. From Pre-Tridentine Monastic to 1960, in Latin, English and/or Magyar.

The next step was getting the web pages onto my ebook reader. Next piece of the puzzle is Calibre – an open source ebook manager program which converts books between different formats.

My ebook reader only reads epub. It also reads pdfs, but is not so easy to navigate. Epub is basically a zipped up webpage. Html is supposed to be one of the easiest formats to make into an epub ebook.

Unfortunately Calibre had a hard time with Divinum Officium’s output. The webpages are formatted with tables and Kobo doesn’t handle tables very well. It won’t break them over a page so only the first page of each chapter is visible. It needed some tidying up.

UPDATE: Divinum Officium has been updated and now can produce html that Calibre can digest into good epubs that look great on my Kobo Reader – even with two columns!

With “Learning Perl” in one hand and a piece of paper in the other I managed to make up a script to strip the table tags. At the risk of losing all credibility as a programmer here’s my first perl program. I call it NOTA BENE: This code is now quite unnecessary with the new updated Divinum Officium, but I leave it here so the article makes sense.

## Here goes nothing!
## Made obsolete by the June 2011 update to Divinum Officium

$aday = "8-31";

opendir(ADAY,"$aday/") || die "can't open $aday";

while ($name = readdir(ADAY)){
print "$name\n";
$newname = $name;
if ($name eq '.'){
print "found a dot";
} elsif ($name eq '..') {
print "found two!;"
} else {

open(IN,"$aday/$name") || die "can't open $aday/$name";
open(OUT,">out/$name") || die "can't open out/$name for writing";
while ($line = ){
$line =~ s/<\/?(TR|TD|TABLE)[^>]*>//;
$line =~ s/<TD[^>]*>//;
$line =~ s/<BODY[^>]*>/<body>/;
print OUT $line;


open(IN,"Master-$aday.html") || die "can't open Master-$aday.html";
open(OUT,">Hours-$aday.html") || die "can't open Hours-$aday.html to write";
while ($line = ){
$line =~ s/<\/?(TR|TD|TABLE)[^>]*>//;
$line =~ s/<\/?(TR|TD|TABLE)[^>]*>//;
$line =~ s/<\/?(TR|TD|TABLE)[^>]*>//;
$line =~ s/$aday/out/;
$line =~ s/Master-out/Hours-$aday/;
print OUT $line;
print "That's Hours-$aday.html done!\n";

Divinum Officium can generate lots of days at a time. Then for each day I edit and change the $aday. The output is still rather rough with lots of deprecated FONT tags so I use Tidy from the World Wide Web consortium with this config file:

// Tidy configuration for converting to xml
output-xhtml: yes
add-xml-decl: no
doctype: strict
indent: auto
wrap: 76
clean: yes
bare: yes

Then call up Calibre to add the file Hours-8-31.html as a book. Then convert the book to epub. Then send the book to the Kobo.

UPDATE: Now I just cd into the Hofficium/officiumprog/ directory and type “perl” then note the tips for “Nook and Kindle” that appear in the lower part of the window. I generate the files and then open up Calibre to add the “books” and convert to epub and send to the Kobo as per usual. No scripting required.

Or buy Windows and an Universalis registration code – but where’s the fun in that?

Laszlo Kiss, the creator of, died unexpectedly but peacefully at his home on July 11, 2011. He was a few days short of his 73rd birthday.

Requiescat in pace.

Lent Looms

arce Domine, parce populo tuo… spare Thy people, Lord, we pray.

In the 1962 missal we are already in purple mode in preparation for the penitential season of Lent. Ash Wednesday is on the 17th of February this year. Now is a good time to plan your attack on spiritual flabbiness and work on developing virtues. With all good plans it can be handy to have a calendar, so here is my lent calendar from 2007/08. Two calendars are described, one to make yourself from coloured paper and another to print and paste together quickly. These are just suggestions, everyone is different, get thinking now and make this Lent effective.

Also Holy Heroes are gearing up for their annual Lenten Adventure. Registrations are open and free to receive daily activities, videos and worksheets for Lent.

Lent is also a great time to start learning gregorian chant. The lenten antiphons are simple and you have the magnificent Easter melodies to look forward to. I’ll have some new printables up at Swell the Mighty Flood and looking out for suitable mp3s. A good chance to try out our new second hand microphone.

And have I mentioned Audio Sancto before? Recordings of fantastic homilies with lots on the spiritual life. Great material to chew over.