The Virgin of the Dry Tree
The Virgin of the Dry Tree
It is not appropriate to speak of these two versions of the Roman Missal as if they were two Rites. Rather, it is a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite. Pope Benedict XVI Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum
Is the above painting by Petrus Christus a prophetic vision of the New Mass? According to Web Gallery of Art:
This small panel is a puzzling composition which conceals a complex symbolism. The painting is a late work by Christus, who from 1462 was a member of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of the Dry Tree. The dry and thorny branches could be a prefiguration of the Crown of Thorns, but the painting has also been interpreted as an early representation of the Immaculate Conception. The hanging letter A's symbolize fifteen Ave Marias.”
The complex symbolism in this painting could also be a representation the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
A Mass that has been stripped of all its prayers & ceremonies is compared to dry tree that is stripped of its bark, flowers and leaves, thus leaving it a dry and barren tree.
Is there any connection between the symbolism of this painting and the Mass of Pope Paul VI?
Many medieval writers believed that if the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass were stripped of its prayers and ceremonies it would dry up ones devotion.
Thus it was believed that the purpose of the many prayers and ceremonies of the Mass is to help one lift up their hearts and minds to God. Many compared the Mass to a healthy Tree by running water that bears abundant fruit; if the prayers and ceremonies of the mass remain untouched then much devotional fruit is bore by those who attend the Mass.
When comparing the prayers and ceremonies of the Mass to the bark, flowers and leaves of a tree, one can see what would result when the Mass is stripped of the prayers and ceremonies - the Mass would feel the same effect as stripping the bark, flowers and leaves from a tree - it would be difficult for the tree to bear fruit, so when the prayers and ceremonies of the Mass are stripped from the Mass it will make it difficult for the faithful to bear spiritual fruit.
Did the artist have this in mind when he created the above? I would like to think he did. One thing to point out is that the Blessed Mother and Jesus are still represented in the center of the Dry Tree just as the Blessed Mother and Jesus would be at the center of the New Mass regardless of the damage caused by the Pope and Churchmen.
The Prophet Joel describing the destruction of the Holy Sacrifice Of The Mass by the men in the Vatican:
The word of the Lord that came to Joel the son of Phatuel. Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land: did this ever happen in your days, or in the days of your fathers? Tell ye of this to your children, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation. That which the palmerworm hath left, the locust hath eaten: and that which the locust hath left, the bruchus hath eaten: and that which the bruchus hath left, the mildew hath destroyed. Awake, ye that are drunk, and weep, and mourn all ye that take delight in drinking sweet wine: for it is cut off from your mouth. For a nation is come up upon my land, strong and without number: his teeth are like the teeth of a lion: and his cheek teeth as of a lion's whelp. He hath laid my vineyard waste, and hath pilled off the bark of my fig tree: he hath stripped it bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white. Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth. Sacrifice and libation is cut off from the house of the Lord: the priests, the Lord's ministers, have mourned: The country is destroyed, the ground hath mourned: for the corn is wasted, the wine is confounded, the oil hath languished. The husbandmen are ashamed, the vinedressers have howled for the wheat, and for the barley, because the harvest of the field is perished. The vineyard is confounded, and the fig tree hath languished: the pomegranate tree, and the palm tree, and the apple tree, and all the trees of the field are withered: because joy is withdrawn from the children of men. Gird yourselves, and lament, O ye priests, howl, ye ministers of the altars: go in, lie in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: because sacrifice and libation is cut off from the house of your God. Sanctify ye a fast, call an assembly; gather together the ancients, all the inhabitants of the land into the house of your God: and cry ye to the Lord: Ah, ah, ah, for the day: because the day of the Lord is at hand, and it shall come like destruction from the mighty. Is not your food cut off before your eyes, joy and gladness from the house of our God? The beasts have rotted in their dung, the barns are destroyed, the storehouses are broken down: because the corn is confounded. Why did the beast groan, why did the herds of cattle low? because there is no pasture for them: yea, and the flocks of sheep are perished. To thee, O Lord, will I cry: because fire hath devoured the beautiful places of the wilderness, and the flame hath burnt all the trees of the country. Yea and the beasts of the field have looked up to thee, as a garden bed that thirsteth after rain, for the springs of waters are dried up, and fire hath devoured the beautiful places of the wilderness. Joel 1
Father Thomas Hill (1634) on the same:
Having learned this first lesson of the Publican to be ashamed and confounded for our sins, least that of the Prophet Jeremy be verified in us which he said unto the Nation of the Jews; Thou hast the forehead of a whore (that is impudent) that will not blush at her abominations, we will consider the other circumstances, to wit,his standing a far off from the Altar,his knocking of his breast, casting down his eyes, and his prayer, O God be merciful unto me a sinner,meaning a grievous sinner:
And we will here note that they being external Ceremonies,how exactly Christ, setteth them down to his praise, and thereby seemeth to approve and praise the like external Ceremonies of the Church, howsoever some new Teachers reject the same.
Of a just man the Prophet David sayth thus: He shall be like a tree that is planted by the river side, which shall bring forth her fruit in due season, and her leaf shall not fall away: under which Metaphor lyeth his this spiritual sense, that as leaves are necessary for the conservation of the fruit upon the tree, and an ornament thereunto.
So in the Church there are certain ceremonies, which as leaves do conserve the fruit, and help the growth thereof,and adorn the tree; so do they devotion,and religious worship of God, and that God wold not have these leaves or Ceremonies to fall away, from the Church, as certain new teachers would have them, of which new teachers God did mystically foretell, & complain by the Prophet Joel in these words: A Nation shall ascend upon my land, her teeth shall be like the teeth of a lion, she hath eaten the bark of my fig tree, and made it naked, & cast it away, and the bowes of it she hath made white, by pilling away the rind.
As the Prophet David compared Ceremonies to the leaves of a tree, so here the Prophet Joel compareth them to the bark, and sayth in effect, there shall come a Nation that shall go about to abolish all ceremonies out of the Church, & leave it naked and white, like a tree without leaves or bark, which is a thing not only ill favored to be seen, but bringeth destruction both to the fruit and tree, which the Prophet calleth Cruelty to the Church, comparing them to the cruel teeth of a lion.
Men are composed of a double substance, corporal and spiritual, & therefore they must serve God with a double worship,corporal & spiritual: but as the spiritual is the chiefest, so is the corporal referred to the spiritual, & the spiritual to God, and those signs of humility which we do corporeally exhibit, we stir up our devotion, and affection to subject ourselves unto God.
There can be no external worship of God, nor association of men in religion either true or false, without corporal Ceremonies.
The Jews were clogged, yoked, and kept occupied with innumerable carnal, gross and burdensome Ceremonies, to keep them from sliding away into Idolatry, which they learned when they dwelt in Egypt four hundred years, the most Idolatrous country in the world; but Catholics have only a few, & those easy, sweet seemly, and significant, both instructing and elevating the mind unto the worship of God, and exhibiting, as is due unto him, both corporal and spiritual worships together.