Saturday, December 17, 2016

More Gospels on Their Way to Amazon

Our Gospels are temporarily out of stock at Amazon, but a new shipment was mailed Thursday, December 16. The books should arrive soon and I expect that with 2-day Prime Shipping, they'll still make it to customers by Christmas!

More Large Rosary Flip Books are also on their way.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Marian Antiphon for Advent - Alma Redemptoris Mater

The Alma Redemptoris Mater is the seasonal Marian Antiphon for Advent. That means that tonight, following Night Prayer, rather than singing the Salve Regina, we'll sing the Alma Redemptoris Mater.

My blog post at OnePeterFive earlier this year explains the Marian Antiphons and includes instructional videos for all of them.

The Alma Redemptoris Mater video is embedded below.

Happy Advent!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

New Book and a Giveaway

New Book!

Bloomfield Books has just published a new book! Or rather, we've just published an old book: The Life of St. Philip Neri by Fr. Pietro Giacomo Bacci. This excellent biography of St. Philip Neri was first published in 1622, not long after the saint's death in 1595. Over the years, undoubtedly due to St. Philip's amazing life and enduring popularity, this book has been translated into different languages and republished many times.

While several English translations have long been in the public domain, until now, there was no easily readable electronic format. We've remedied this by publishing a Kindle Edition.

Kindle Edition

The Life of St. Philip Neri is actually six books. I intend to publish all six books for Kindle, but for now I've only completed editing the first volume, which contains Books I and II. Book I describes St. Philip's youth through the founding of the Congregation of the Oratory. Book II describes St. Philip's many virtues.

The book is now available for purchase at Amazon for $1.99.

Giveaway and Sale!

There's also a new giveaway involving the Sacred Art Series' The Holy Gospels of St. Luke and St. John. The giveaway is at the blog A Knotted Life, and features many, many great Catholic giveaway items, including a copy of our Holy Gospels and one of my sister's I'm Bernadette books. Enter here!

In honor of the Giveaway, the price of all Sacred Art Series items at Amazon have been lowered 20% at Amazon. The sale will continue throughout the time of the Giveaway, which goes through November 16.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Our Lady of the Rosary - October 7

Today is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, which commemorates the Battle of Lepanto. (For more on the Battle of Lepanto, see this fine piece by Fr. George Rutler.)

And don't forget that October is the month of the Rosary. Do you pray the family Rosary? If not, October is a great month to start, and if you haven't started yet, today would be the perfect day.

And remember, if five decades is too much for your little ones, consider beginning with just one decade. Also, consider using images of the Rosary to help you meditate on the mysteries as you pray your Our Father's,  Hail Mary's, and Glory Be's. It was with this in mind that I created the Sacred Art Series Rosary Flip Book. Hopefully it will be as helpful for your family as it has been for mine.

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Homeschooling and the Sacred Art Series -- and a Sale and Giveaway!

Schools and homeschools alike are beginning classes soon, which means that it's time to buy books and other school materials.

The Sacred Art Series offers two unique products that can supplement your religion curriculum and aid family devotion year round: (1) The Holy Gospels of St. Luke and St. John and (2) the Rosary Flip Book.

Cultivating Prayer in the Home

As the father of a homeschooling family, I designed the Sacred Art Series especially for families with school-aged and young children--and particularly for homeschooling families such as my own. Every day, I want my children to grow in their knowledge, love, and service of God. Two of the best ways for cultivating this in the home are the regular reading of Scripture and the daily recitation of the Rosary. Yet both activities present difficulties for children.

I designed the Sacred Art Series to minimize these difficulties, thereby making Scripture and the Rosary more accessible for children.

The Holy Gospels of St. Luke and St. John

The Holy Gospels of St. Luke and St. John presents the complete text of the Gospels of Luke and John in large print in a story-by-story format alongside beautiful images of sacred art. With these two Gospels--the synoptic Luke and the non-synoptic John--a child will have an accessible, one-volume life of Christ that can be read and re-read throughout life. Strong readers (second or third grade and up) can easily read a new Gospel story each day on his own. Children learning to read can read with their parents. This regular reading of the Gospels not only supplements a child's religion course by developing knowledge of Jesus Christ, it also lays a strong foundation for a regular life of prayer.

And there's no need to take my word regarding the contents of the book. You can view a free .pdf of the entire interior of the book here; and hi-res images of the printed book are available here. More details and reviews are available at the SacredArtSeries.com product page and at Amazon.

The Rosary Flip Book

The daily recitation of the Rosary--or a portion thereof--is another excellent practice for families. Many homeschoolers wisely incorporate this devotion into their school day. But praying the Rosary with small children can be difficult. Asking a child to meditate on the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery, the Carrying of the Cross, tends to be too abstract for the mind of a child--and often too abstract for us adults! The Rosary Flip Book can help.

Providing an image to stimulate the imagination and regularly call the child back to the mystery at hand is helpful. And even after your Rosary is done, leaving the Rosary Flip Book open on the mantle or elsewhere in the home can provide a helpful reminder to pray throughout the day. It's especially helpful on holy days such as the Annunciation, Christmas, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, Pentecost, or the Assumption, as the appropriate image can be displayed throughout the day.

More details on the Rosary Flip Book, including reviews are available on the product page at www.SacredArtSeries.com.

Back to (Home)School Sale and Giveaway

Both The Holy Gospels of St. Luke and St. John and the Rosary Flip Book are available for purchase through Amazon with free shipping through Amazon Prime. More information on both items is available at www.SacredArtSeries.com. And for the next week (through August 27), I'm reducing the prices at Amazon on these items by 20%.

And there's more: The Sacred Art Series is hosting an Amazon Giveaway of one copy of The Holy Gospels of St. Luke and St. John. Follow the link, tap the box, and see if you're the winner.

Lastly, a final request: if you find these books helpful for your family and your homeschool, please consider writing a favorable Amazon review and spread the word--both orally and through social media. (You can also like and share our Facebook page.) The publications of the Sacred Art Series were self-funded out of a desire to spread the Gospel and the Rosary. It's not cheap to produce a beautifully bound book, so if you'd like to see more from the Sacred Art Series, I need your help.

God bless you and your families in this new school year!

Friday, July 29, 2016

What is Sacred Art?

Leila Lawler has a highly relevant post today that answers the question: What is sacred art?

Leila's answer is based on then-Cardinal Ratzinger's The Spirit of the Liturgy. Head on over to the Like Mother Like Daughter blog and check it out.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Four Gregorian Chants Every Catholic Should Know

Little things we do every day can transform our lives. Over time, these little things become habits. Good habits change us for the better; bad habits, for the worse. In past articles, I've encouraged daily mental prayer, the Rosary, and other prayer habits that can be practiced throughout the day.

Today, I'll continue this theme by proposing a "little thing" that we all can do nightly. It only takes a minute--sometimes less. And let me be even bolder: in these times, when so many Catholics have forgotten--or never learned--our traditions and devotions, this is a practice that every single Catholic should do nightly.

Every night, before bed, Catholics should sing the seasonal Marian antiphon.

What are the Seasonal Marian Antiphons

The seasonal Marian antiphons are four beautiful and ancient prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are sung nightly following Compline. (Compline is Night Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours. It’s obligatory for priests--and recommended for the rest of us.)

The Marian antiphons are “seasonal” because they shift according to the liturgical seasons of the year. From Advent through Candlemas (Feb. 2), Alma Redemptoris Mater is sung. From the day after Candlemas (Feb. 3) through the end of Lent, Ave Regina Coelorum. From Easter through Pentecost, Regina Coeli. After Pentecost (Ordinary Time), Salve Regina.

I expect that many Catholics remain familiar with the text of at least two of these antiphons: the Salve Regina is the “Hail Holy Queen” that we recite at the end of the Rosary; and the Regina Coeli replaces the Angelus during the Easter Season. Sadly, the Gregorian chants for even these familiar texts are seldom known; and outside of Extraordinary Form parishes, it's unusual to ever hear these chants.

For each of the four Marian antiphons there is a simple tone Gregorian melody that accompanies the Latin text. (Each antiphon also has a more complex Gregorian melody called the solemn tone. Religious orders may also have their own chant melodies.) It is these simple tone Marian antiphons that I propose every Catholic should know and sing nightly. Here's the current Marian Antiphon, Salve Regina. YouTube videos for all four simple tone chants are embedded below.

Why We Should Sing the Seasonal Marian Antiphons

We should sing them, of course, because they are beautiful prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

I am promoting these antiphons now as one small step toward the restoration of Catholic culture. Catholics need distinctive and shared practices to bind us together as Catholics. Prayers in Latin achieve this in a particular way because they allow Catholics from around the world to pray together; they also unite us with Catholics from ages past. Chanting prayers in Latin goes farther by uniting Catholics in both word and song, thereby giving us a shared musical heritage and a foundation for our culture. Therefore (although it is routinely ignored), it is unsurprising that Vatican II's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy described Gregorian chant as a "treasure of inestimable value" that is to be given the "first place" in our liturgies.

The four seasonal Marian antiphons are ideal Gregorian chants for all Catholics to learn. The melodies are simple; the texts are short; they don't take long to sing; they can be learned one at a time as each new liturgical season commences; and both children and adults can easily learn to sing them by heart, i.e., without hymnals, music, or accompaniment. And let me stress the importance of learning these chants by heart. The chants should reside within you, where they will become part of you--and not just part of you personally, but also part of your family members, friends, and fellow parishioners. Not only does this give you something in common with all of these people, which is itself beneficial, it also allows for the singing of these chants at any time or place: in our homes, churches, and schools; in processions through our parish neighborhoods; and even abroad as we travel.

And singing the Marian antiphons is something concrete that we can begin immediately in our own homes. It requires no gradual or elaborate implementation. You can start tonight. Once you and your family have mastered these chants, you can begin sharing them with others.

When We Should Sing the Seasonal Marian Antiphons

In short, we should sing the Marian antiphon every night before bed. I recommend singing the Marian antiphon at the conclusion of Compline (Night Prayer), which is the traditional practice.

If you have younger kids, you can easily add the Marian antiphon to the end of your bedtime prayer ritual. In my home, we’ve been singing the seasonal Marian antiphons as part of our bedtime routine for years. My oldest is almost eight, so I expect he’s now heard--and sung--each of the four antiphons hundreds of times; but even my two-year-old joins in the parts he knows. And unlike me, my kids will never remember a time when they did not know the Marian antiphons. This is as it should be.

Singing the Marian antiphons with your kids is also an excellent way of living the liturgical year in your home. Your kids will notice the seasonal shifts that occur, such as the recent shift from Easter's Regina Coeli to the after-Pentecost Salve Regina. Over time, you'll begin to internalize these shifts and even to long for the next liturgical season and its antiphon.

Learning the Four Seasonal Marian Antiphons

Learning the Marian antiphons is easy. It just requires a little repetition; and since you'll be singing them every night, that's not a problem.

Embedded below are four YouTube videos I created, one for each of the Marian antiphons and beginning with the current seasonal Marian antiphon, Salve Regina. Play the seasonal Marian antiphon every night and sing along as able. In the resources below, I've also included links to the chant notation so you can print the music out to aid you while you're learning.

Although Gregorian chant notation looks strange to those accustomed to modern notation, you don’t need to be an expert. And these are some of the simplest chants. The videos demonstrate when to pause and where to lengthen notes, and will help you find the right pitches. And many of the notes simply go up or down one note in the scale, so you should catch on quickly. If you’re unfamiliar with Latin, the recordings will also assist you in pronunciation. If the pitch of the recordings is too high or too low for your voice, fear not: chant can be sung wherever it’s most comfortable for you, so simply adjust your starting pitch up or down as needed.

When it's time to shift to the next antiphon, which will not occur until Advent with the Alma Redemptoris Mater, return here and learn the new chant. After you’ve learned all four, it will be time to repeat the cycle. If you haven’t memorized all four chants by then, you’ll likely do so once you repeat the full cycle.

And don't forget, begin tonight!

Chant Recordings and Additional Resources

The following links are to the simple tone chant notation for each of the Marian antiphons as found on the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest’s fine sacred music webpage.

You can also find all of the antiphons, including English translations and accompanying prayers, beginning on page 211 of the excellent Parish Book of Chant (2nd edition). A print edition of the book can be ordered from Amazon here. There's also this booklet designed for singing Extraordinary Form Compline which includes all the seasonal Marian antiphons in both simple and solemn tone, also with English translations. My brother, Benjamin Bloomfield, is also developing a site for chanting Extraordinary Form Compline; helpfully, it includes the chant notation for both the simple and solemn tone Marian antiphon chants.

Below are the texts for each of the seasonal Marian antiphons with an English translation.

Salve Regina

Salve, Regina, mater misericordiae;
vita, dulcedo et spes nostra, salve.
Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevae.
Ad te suspiramus gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle. 
Eia ergo, advocata nostra, 
illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte. 
Et Iesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui, 
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende. 
O clemens, o pia, o dulcis Virgo Maria.

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To thee to we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

Alma Redemptoris Mater

Alma Redemptoris Mater, quae pervia coeli
Porta manes, et stella maris, sucurre cadenti, 
Surgere qui curat populo: tu quae genuisti, 
Natura mirante, tuum sanctum Genitorem, 
Virgo prius ac posterius, Gabrielis ab ore
Sumens illud Ave, peccatorum miserere.

O loving Mother of our Redeemer, gate of heaven, star of the sea,
Hasten to aid thy fallen people who strive to rise once more.
Thou who brought forth thy holy Creator, all creation wond'ring, 
Yet remainest ever Virgin, taking from Gabriel's lips
that joyful "Hail!": be merciful to us sinners.

Ave Regina Coelorum

Ave, Regina coelorum,
Ave, Domina Angelorum:
Salve, radix, salve, porta
Ex qua mundo lux est orta:
Gaude, Virgo gloriosa,
Super omnes speciosa,
Vale, o valde decora,
Et pro nobis Christum exora.

Welcome, O Queen of Heaven.
Welcome, O Lady of Angels
Hail! thou root, hail! thou gate
From whom unto the world, a light has arisen:
Rejoice, O glorious Virgin,
Lovely beyond all others,
Farewell, most beautiful maiden,
And pray for us to Christ.

Regina Coeli

Regina coeli, laetare, alleluia.
Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.
Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.

And thanks to OnePeterFive for republishing this post on its site, which can be read here.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Secret of the Rosary

In past articles, I have exhorted you regarding the benefits of mental prayer and developing good habits to help you pray throughout the day. Today, I’ll emphasize another form of prayer that should be part of your daily devotions: the Rosary.

And as May is the Month of Mary, now is an excellent time to renew your commitment to the Rosary.

The Power and Importance of the Rosary

Eight hundred years years ago, St. Dominic popularized the recitation of the Rosary and used this great weapon to defeat the Albigensian heresy. In 1571, Europe was threatened by the Muslim forces of the Ottoman Empire; Pope Saint Pius V asked the faithful to pray the Rosary and, against great odds, Christian forces prevailed at the Battle of Lepanto, saving Europe. More recently, in 1917, as World War I raged and the evil of communism spread, Our Lady herself appeared in Fatima and asked that we pray the Rosary every day to obtain peace in the world.

Below: Madonna of the Rosary by Caravaggio. St. Dominic (on the left) is distributing Rosaries to the people.

Please read the rest of my article at the blog OnePeterFive.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

First Communion Giveaway

Leila Lawler's Like Mother Like Daughter blog is hosting a First Communion Gift giveaway featuring The Holy Gospels of St. Luke and St. John from the Sacred Art Series.

Go enter the giveaway and read the fine review. We are grateful for Leila's enthusiastic endorsement!

We also note that Leila is the co-author of the outstanding The Little Oratory, which helps families develop a culture of prayer in the home. This book is a must-have for every Catholic family. (Leila's expertise in this area also makes her promotion of the Sacred Art Series all the more meaningful.)

Thursday, March 31, 2016

11 Tips to Pray Better and More Often

Is your prayer life stuck in a rut? It's time to reconsider your habits. Developing healthy prayer habits can make all the difference. Here are some important practices and habits I've learned in recent years--I wish someone would have taught me these when I was a boy. But it's never too late to learn or develop good habits.

These are the 11 essentials that have transformed my prayer life--and could do the same for yours.

1. Go to bed on time the night before.

Morning is the best time to pray. A good 15 to 30 minutes of morning mental prayer places God first, helps you to avoid sin and practice the virtues throughout the day, and it lays the groundwork for praying without ceasing throughout the day.

There's also a chance that your house will actually be quiet in the morning, which will help.

But to pray well in the morning, you'll also need to be well-rested. And this means going to bed on time the night before. (Or you'll be sleepy like these Apostles.)

2. Get up early.

Set your alarm early enough so you can have 15 to 30 minutes of quiet morning prayer. And the moment your alarm rings, get up. No excuses. No snoozing. 

Make this your very first prayer of the day: a spiritual offering to God of your sacrificed sleep.

Get up every day like this for a month and it will become a habit.

Read tips 3 through 11 at OnePeterFive.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Back in Stock - Large Rosary Flip Books!

The Large Rosary Flip Books have been out of stock since January, but I just received a new shipment and they're now available at Amazon. Click here to buy.

Thanks for your patience. Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Hi-res Close-ups of Holy Gospels

Here are some close-up photos of the printed book The Holy Gospels of St. Luke and St. John from the Sacred Art Series. In addition to these photos, you can also view the an electronic version of the complete interior of the book!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Palm Sunday - Gregorian Chant

Gregorian Chant is perhaps the pinnacle of sacred art as it is integral to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, i.e., the chants are actually part of the Mass, rather than an adornment or accessory.

Below is the Tract for the Palm Sunday Mass. The text comes from Psalm 21 and begins "Deus, Deus meus, respice in me: quare me dereliquisti?" ("My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?") These words from Psalm 21, of course, are uttered by Christ from the Cross on Good Friday, and thus make them especially apt for the Palm Sunday liturgy, which begins Holy Week and anticipates the Christ's Passion, death, and Resurrection celebrated in the Paschal Triduum beginning on Holy Thursday.

The Tract comes from the Roman Gradual, which was revised following Vatican II. This particular Tract for Palm Sunday was retained following Vatican II (as were many of the Mass Propers), so it is identical to the Tract sung on Palm Sunday at the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. Unfortunately, in the Ordinary Form of the Mass, most Catholic parishes routinely substitute the Tracts (and Graduals) with the Responsorial Psalm and the Gospel acclamation, so that it's likely that very few Catholics raised since Vatican II have ever heard the "Deus, Deus meus" Tract. This is a shame.

At Mass today, our parish sang a very dignified version of the Responsorial Psalm, which featured mostly the same text from Psalm 21 sung in English. Even so, the Responsorial Psalm (which is much simpler in form so that the congregation can join in the singing of the antiphon) lacks the beauty, dignity, and contemplative nature of the Tract. I can understand why a simpler version of the Tract or a simple Responsorial Psalm is at times advantageous, but these melismatic Tracts and Graduals are our patrimony and--as Vatican II proclaims regarding Gregorian Chant--are a treasure of inestimable value. May they one day be restored to their rightful place of honor in the liturgy, to the glory of God and for the benefit of the faithful.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Stations of the Cross Video

Father John Zuhlsdorf, of Fr. Z's blog, recently re-posted his excellent audio recordings of the Stations of the Cross. I've been desiring to produce a Stations of the Cross resource for some time, so Fr. Z's post was fortuitous.

Below, I've used Fr. Z's audio of the Stations of the Cross of St. Alphonsus Liguori to create a video featuring the beautiful Stations of the Cross of St. Ignatius Church in San Francisco. The Stations are about 100 years old and were painted by Pietro Ridolfi.

Free Extraordinary Form Baptism Booklet

As a promoter of beauty through sacred art, I am quite naturally also a promoter of beauty through the Catholic Church's traditional liturgy. With that in mind, I'd like to share here an excellent resource, a free .pdf of the Extraordinary Form baptismal rite. (Click here).

All credit for this resource goes to my father, who is a Roman Catholic deacon and who has baptized four of my five children--and many of my nieces and nephews--using this beautiful rite. Over the years, he created this very helpful resource to assist those attending these baptisms to follow along. It also includes the rubrics in English in red text.

My parish recently requested copies of this resource, and I think others may find it helpful so I am posting it here. I recommend taking the file to a printer and asking it to be printed front and back as a booklet.

Below: Baptism of Christ by Pietro Perugino (c. 1483)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Free Digital presentation of the Rosary

I was asked to produce a digital presentation of the Rosary so that it could be projected onto a large screen or displayed on a TV. I can see how this could be useful in situations where the Rosary Flip Books are not large enough to be seen, so here it is. I saved it as a Powerpoint show. There are two versions: one with captions (click here), and one with no captions (click here). I prefer the one with no captions, but for those less familiar with either the artwork or the mysteries of the Rosary, you may prefer having the captions.

You are welcome to download and use and share. All of the images are in the public domain.

Also, by downloading the file and accessing through Google Drive on my Android Smartphone, I was able to open the file and then "cast" it to my HD TV using my handy Google Chromecast. It worked quite well.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas - January 28

Today is the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas. Last May, I visited his tomb in Toulouse, France at the Church of the Jacobins. Here's a picture.

And here's a painting of the Crucifixion by the great Dominican painter Fra Angelico. The painting includes St. Thomas Aquinas (far right, kneeling) and St. Dominic (second from the right).

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Large Rosary Flip Books - currently sold out

The Large Rosary Flip Book is currently sold out on Amazon. More are on the way, but they likely will not be available until the end of February. Sorry for the delay.

In the meantime, the Small Rosary Flip BookLuminous Rosary Flip Book, and Holy Gospels remain in stock!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

New Year's Resolutions

Last year, I proposed some new year's resolutions:

(1) Read the Gospels every day.
(2) Pray the Rosary every day.
(3) Begin each day with 30 minutes of mental prayer.
(4) End each day with Night Prayer (Compline) and an examination of conscience.
(5) Weekly adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

This year, I've expounded on number 3 (daily mental prayer) in an article for the blog OnePeterFive. Enjoy!

Have a blessed new year!