Tuesday, January 31, 2006
This isn't the first time you've heard the rumour mill chugging along with thoughts about the traditional Latin Mass movement. In this case it is alluding to a possibility of at least some of the SSPX and their affiliated groups coming back to full communion with the Holy See -- or at least making an announcement of such a direction. The source of the rumour seems to be a meeting called in Flavigny, France for tomorrow by the SSPX. It is thought this is perhaps to discuss this possibility. We shall see.
While rumours are always best taken with a dose of healthy skepticism (so as to avoid disappointment at very least), let us also take the matter to prayer; nothing is impossible with God. Let us pray that the rumours would be true for such a development could only be beneficial to the Church Universal and in particular for the new liturgical movement as it would likely allow the greater spread of the classical Roman liturgy which in turn also has a positive effect on the reform of the reform.
You can read the speculation here amongst other places:
Bettnet.com - Musings of Domenico Bettinelli
Our schola was asked to sing at a funeral Mass of a parishioner who had a strong attachment to liturgical tradition, so it might have seemed fitting that we would sing the Sequence for the Mass of the day. What Sequence is that? Many people have forgotten: it is the Dies Irae.
The text is mostly known today because of that exciting scene in the movie Amadeus when Mozart, from his death bed, is dictating the composition of his Dies Irae to Salieri, who is plotting to steal it. Remember how Mozart spoke the words with great effort, and spelled out the firey accompaniment? "Confutatis maledictis, flammis acribus addictis: voca me cum benedictis."
Also, apparently there a number of rock bands that call themselves or their songs something along these lines (I don't care to investigate this any further!).
In any case, given sensibilities that fear anything that resembles a step "back," one might have expected some degree of controversy about the use of this chant as a Sequence in this setting. Hence, anyone who wants to employ it as part of a New Rite Mass needs to be ready with an explanation.
The Dies Irae was once required but it is no longer. But what exactly is its status? Was it supressed, as many people believe? We had to do the research in case it became a matter of controversy. We called and wrote to many liturgical experts to find out.
It turns out that the Dies Irae remains part of the living liturgy of the faith, in the form of a prayer in the Breviary for the Feast of All Souls. That fact alone demonstrates that it is not somehow banned from Catholic liturgical life.
Then the question arises as to whether it is permitted as part of a public Mass. Here is the passage from the introduction of the 1970 US Lectionary quoted from the General Instruction on the Roman Missal, paragraph 40: "Except on Easter Sunday and Pentecost the sequences are optional." The 4th edition of the General Instruction on the Roman Missal says the same in paragraph 40: "Sequences are optional, except on Easter Sunday and Pentecost."
Which Sequences are optional? The Lectionary and the GIRM are not restrictive in this regard. The current GIRM repeats this while adding a clarification of precisely where in the liturgy the Sequence is to take place. 62: "After the reading that immediately precedes the Gospel, the Alleluia or another chant indicated by the rubrics is sung, as required by the liturgical season." 65: "The Sequence, which is optional except on Easter Sunday and on Pentecost Day, is sung before the Alleluia."
We concluded that using the Dies Irae was an option. Still, we wondered whether and to what extent it would create controversy. It turns out that there was none at all. People were moved by it. The family of the deceased was very pleased. The celebrants found it beautiful. And even people who were present in the congregation who prefer other musical forms admitted that the sound was solemn and the text striking.
In short, there was no controversy at all. And thus this general observation: As time passes, there are fewer and fewer people around who know to be overly sensitive to these issues. The "politics" associated with these liturgical hot buttons seem far less intense. The would-be revolutionaries of yesterday have lost much of their frenzy. The experience does raise hopes.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
It is with great delight to report to you that, so far, two classic books on the liturgy, long out of print so far as I know, and very hard to get, have now been put back into print by Nova et Vetera.
Liturgies of the Religious Orders by Archdale A. King
Liturgies of the Primatial Sees by Archdale A. King
The website is in German and Germany, but don't worry, the actual books are in English.
Let's hope we see some of the other titles of King come out from this publisher.
Posted Sunday, January 29, 2006
Saturday, January 28, 2006
I seldom get to look at other blogs I must confess. But I happened across Todd's blog Catholic Sensibility and noted a reference to the NLM Blog and some of the discussions all of us, including Todd, get into.
I hope Todd won't mind, but I want to address some of his own counter-arguments to the propositions of the reform of the reform movement. I figure this is easier done here as this post is now over a month old on his blog. I am not quoting his piece in full, but rather those pieces I wish to respond to.
Here they are...
Todd said: "The premise of the reform of the reform, as NLM proposes, however, is itself a basic fault, a misdiagnosis, if you will. What reform2 people seem to be doing is acting under some false notions:
"1. The problems of liturgy can be traced to post-1963, rather than pre-1963."
Actually, this significantly oversimplifies the matter and doesn't really represent things very well.
In actuality I would suggest, like Ratzinger has, that there were matters of concern in the typical parish liturgy before the Council, primarily in terms of the manner in which the typical parish liturgy was celebrated. For example, the prevalence of the low Mass, even as a Sunday liturgy. Moreover, there was room for development, particularly as regards the introduction of the vernacular in places such as the readings -- mind you, introduction is different than a wholesale switch. (All that being said, you are right in one respect: I won't sit here and say that the classical Roman liturgy as a liturgical and rubrical text was problematic. Could it be tweaked? Sure. Could some of its incidentals, such as vernacular here or there, be modified? Sure. Did it need to be celebrated better in many parishes? Definitely. But those things said, it is a venerable rite.)
As regards the post-conciliar situation, but in particular the post-1970 situation, we not only ended up with problematic manner of celebration (the prevalence of liturgical abuses in various forms, etc.) but also with a problematic product, by the rupture with organic development, by the manner in which the reform was undertaken, and by the break with the mandate given by the Council itself.
Likewise, this isn't to say there aren't good things in the post-conciliar era either. There are.
The problem is complex and varies in scope and nature.
While not idealizing the pre-conciliar parish, or absolutizing that Missal as an untouchable product (it is not), there is also an awareness that the post-conciliar liturgy of 1970 is an product that has broken in many ways from the Council, and it has also created the problem of fabricated liturgy. This is a significant problem which needs to be addressed. But no one is suggesting that liturgical problems are unique to the post-conciliar period.
Todd said: "This would be my sense of the overall liturgical situation:
"There was a near-universal sense of dissatisfaction with pre-conciliar liturgy. All of the world's bishops agreed that the Roman Rite should be streamlined and the various European liturgical experiments of the 20th century should be brought to bear."
It seems to me you are being awfully black and white here and are vastly over-simplifying the situation. (Especially if we are talking about universality in reference to the Catholic faithful in general.)
Certainly even liberal liturgists today admit that the changes caused great consternation for many priests and faithful. People attest to this from personal experience as well. It is an all too common story. Moreover, we see examples such as Evelyn Waugh's dialogue with Cardinal Heenan, both of whom were very concerned and unhappy with the reform as it happened.
The presence of such obviously common consternation, to the point of bitterness and distress in cases, over the liturgical changes does not seem to be the likely fruit of a "near-universal sense of dissatisfaction with the pre-conciliar liturgy". This is not to suggest that no one wanted any change at all, but it seems more likely that the desire was for minor tweaking (putting the epistle and gospel in English for example) such as would be consistent with organic development and not radical surgery. If the radical surgery that ultimately happened elicted such a popular response, it would seem that radical surgery was not was in fact desired -- and by consequence, there could not have been as much dissatisfaction as you would wish to make out.
Todd said: "There was not a concern about the principles of organic development of liturgy. The Roman Rite was sick, and in some cases radical treatment was required. Most of the liturgical changes were welcomed by the laity, and in the US, probably staved off a greater Church exodus that what we might have experienced in light of Humanae Vitae."
These statements are questionable speculation. Worse though is your first statement, based upon a premise which itself is questionable ("The Roman Rite was sick"). That there could be changes made to a rite doesn't mean the rite is sick. It is rather a natural part of organic development. This kind of attitude which sees a venerable rite of the Church as somehow ill, undesireable or bad and in need of radical change is itself one of the problematic mindsets we see today. You are rightly concerned with those who make a utopia of the preconciliar situation, but you seem to be taking an opposite extreme in villifying it.
That being said, your statement which would rationalize away the need for organic development within the liturgy is especially troubling. Such an attitude is not only in contradiction to Church tradition, but also to the letter of the Council which mandated organic development. So then what was the Council? A mere academic exercise to, in the end, be ignored in order to push forward what others privately felt needed to happen? (The "spirit" of the Council as some chose to wrongly call it. The true spirit of the Council is tied to the letter.) This is precisely the problem, and this way of thinking, and the results that have flowed from it, are why a reform of the reform is needed.
As for what might have happened had the liturgical changes not occurred, we can only speculate. All we do know is what did happen for one or another reasons, and also the experience of those who lived through the time.
Posted Saturday, January 28, 2006
Friday, January 27, 2006
Speaking of music after the Council...
Fr. George Rutler is always quite vocal about his thoughts on state of Catholic hymnology. He and others have been very critical of modern hymns either for their theology, for being too sentimentalist, etc. I think Fr. Rutler and others are right on the money in this regard.
Obviously as well the restoration of Gregorian chant is a big deal from a conciliar perspective, from the perspective of the post-conciliar popes, and in general as a Latin tradition. It needs to be significantly reclaimed into day to day parish life.
This leads me into another point. When considering the place (and production) of modern liturgical music, there are some matters that I find quite clear (such as those Fr. Rutler mentions, or such as the restoration of Gregorian chant) while there are other questions which I find less clear and struggle to find what I think a reasonable answer.
There was allowance in the Conciliar decree for some modern forms of music in addition to these forms. How might some of you on here see this being properly manifested?
What direction ought modern Catholic composers go? In terms of theology, I think this is relatively clear. The texts must present sound Catholic theology. Moreover, don't create pieces which are ultimately anthropocentric. For Mass settings, follow the liturgical texts. Plain and simple.
Stylistically, however, I do not, I confess, find it as easy to reconcile how some modern music might build upon the existing musical tradition of the Church. I can understand how that might be manifest in terms of an English version of Gregorian chant or Polyphony, akin to what John Rutter has done for the Anglicans, or what Byrd and Tallis accomplished under Elizabeth. I can also forsee how a further development in addition to this can employ the basic principles as such, as for example Anglican chant as they use at the singing of psalms which is a variant on chant and polyphony. I think all these things are desirable and to be encouraged -- though always with the understanding that this should not exclude and replace Gregorian chant.
But what about the use of non-traditional instruments like guitar? Or the praise and worship style of music? None of these are my thing personally, but I am hesitant to completely write them off as unsuited to the liturgy since I am not certain the Church would necessarily do so. I think as they are often employed these past few decades, it doesn't work with regards the spirit of the liturgy. But is this an inherent limitation, or rather just a limitation as the result of not having the best music, or not having given it that organic link with our tradition? Can the latter be done?
The question then, can, and if so how, can the latter be brought into unison with character and spirit of the liturgy, as well as the traditional musical patrimony of the Church? Can it?
No doubt this will be a controversial subject. I am bringing it to the readers of this blog for debate and discussion. The main thing is this, let's set aside personal taste (as I'm sure most of us wouldn't shed any tears if we never heard a guitar in church again) and consider this from the aspect of liturgical theology and how music ought to relate to that and the mind of the Church and Christ.
Posted Friday, January 27, 2006
Thursday, January 26, 2006
One thing about this survey that needs be reminded, most Catholics live now with the utter absence of traditional liturgical music such as Gregorian chant, and have for well over 40 years now, so how would the majority ever be able to think of this when answering such a survey?
One thing that is interesting though is this statement:
"Currently filling in as a parish choir director, McMahon said, "I'm always surprised how many young people ask for 'Ave Maria' or 'Panis Angelicus' at weddings and funerals."
Again seemingly pointing to the interest, if not in many cases the outright thirst, for more traditional forms amongst the young. I can't say that I know too many young Catholics interested in "On Eagle's Wings".
At any rate, let's always remember as well that mere popularity is not the criteria for liturgical music. Its also about its formative power and appropriate character as regards the sacred liturgy, and not simply one's emotional attachment.
CNS STORY: 'On Eagle's Wings' tops all songs in online liturgical music survey
Posted Thursday, January 26, 2006
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
I pray he'll forgive me for pointing this out, but go over to TCRnews.com to read our very own Abbot Joseph's conversion and vocation story which led him to the path of the angelic life that is monasticism:
A Vocation Drama (in Three Acts)
Posted Wednesday, January 25, 2006
January 24, 2006
Pope Benedict XVI addressed his Roman Curia December 22 with an analysis of the reception of the Second Vatican Council after the past 40 years, and outlined a plan and call for action for the Church to bear fruits. With eager anticipation, many Catholics are now asking, "Could this 40 years of 'wandering in the desert' finally be coming to an end?"
Indeed, perhaps the biblically significant 40 years is over. A "re-centering" of the Church is now perhaps necessary, according to Bishop Álvaro Corrada, SJ, of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas.
Pope Benedict began this reflection on Vatican II on December 8, 2005, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, by calling Mary Immaculate "the key to understanding it." Then, on December 22, he posited two interpretations of the council, often in direct opposition with each other: One he identified as "the hermeneutics of discontinuity and rupture," and the other one he claims has borne fruit, "the hermeneutics of reform."
The Pope went on to cite the media and certain segments of modern theology for assisting in disseminating the "hermeneutics of discontinuity and rupture." Of course, it is evident that many priests, bishops, and cardinals have aided and abetted this appearance of a break with a preconciliar and postconciliar Church. That is, an appearance, growing more so daily, that the Church prior to the council is a completely different structure than that after the council.
He began his December 22 address with a striking analogy coming from St. Basil in his description of the Church shortly after the Council of Nicaea: "Harsh rises the cry of the combatants encountering one another in dispute; already all the Church is almost full of the inarticulate screams, the unintelligible noises, rising from the ceaseless agitations that divert the right rule of the doctrine of true religion" (De Spiritu Sancto, XXX).
As the prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith — and shortly after Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre's consecrations of four bishops against the express will of the Holy Father — then-Cardinal Ratzinger addressed this very topic in detail to the Chilean bishops July 13, 1988 in Santiago, Chile:
"It is a necessary task to defend the Second Vatican Council against Msgr. Lefebvre, as valid, and as binding upon the Church. Certainly there is a mentality of narrow views that isolate Vatican II and which has provoked this opposition. There are many accounts of it which give the impression that, from Vatican II onward, everything has been changed, and that what preceded it has no value or, at best, has value only in the light of Vatican II."
He continued: "The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of superdogma which takes away the importance of all the rest."
Indeed, these battles cited by the Pope from St. Basil after the Council of Nicaea are still taking place in the Church in the West, and in particular, in the United States. Every day in news accounts from around the globe, cardinal seems to be pitted against cardinal, bishop against bishop, priest against priest. Much of this, especially at the clerical level, is not done with direct confrontation, but if a Catholic reads the Catholic news regularly, he can easily detect the contradictory doctrines taught in the U.S. Church and throughout the world, and can decipher "the signs of the times" in 2006 as Gaudium et Spes encouraged.
Only, today's "signs" are not exactly what the council fathers had in mind in the 1960s.
Of course, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops still attempts to provide a public show of unity in the name of collegiality through its mountains of writings on topics touching on nearly aspect of American life except on faith and morals. Deo Gratias!
Catholics of the "hermeneutics of reform" (orthodox) variety have long viewed Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., as a model father and pastor in the postconciliar era. And Catholics of the "hermeneutics of discontinuity and rupture" (dissidents) may rightly identify him as a combatant and as "preconciliar."
Interesting, though, that it was reported widely that Bishop Bruskewitz's diocese is bearing fruits with a large number of priestly vocations, and with almost no homosexual priests violating children scandals.
For example, in Bishop Bruskewitz's 1987 book, A Shepherd Speaks, published by Ignatius Press, the words "transubstantiation," "propitiation," and "sacrifice" are sprinkled liberally throughout the chapter entitled "Eucharist." Bishop Bruskewitz used citations from both the Old and New Testaments to show the Holy Mass is a sacrifice, along with this clear and precise definition from the Council of Trent: "The Mass is a genuine sacrifice and a propitiatory one, although it is nothing else than the sacrifice of the cross." And again, the bishop said, "Because the Mass is, above all, a sacrifice," which might truly be "news" to many U.S. Catholics — and dare I say, may make many priests and bishops cringe as well.
But Bishop Bruskewitz is not alone. The Cardinal Bernardin factor, which has dominated the makeup of the USCCB for the past 30 years, is finally giving way to younger prelates much more in line with the perennial teachings of the Church. Quietly, but assuredly, Bishop Álvaro Corrada of Tyler, Texas, is indeed one of these quiet, unknown bishops. His and Bishop Bruskewitz's perspectives on the Pope's recent remarks follow.
Bishop Bruskewitz and Bishop Corrada share their unique and complementary perspectives on the Second Vatican Council and Pope Benedict's December 22 address. This first interview deals specifically with the reception of the Second Vatican Council.
+ + +
Q. Your Excellencies, Pope Benedict XVI's pre-Christmas Roman Curia address had a theme of the competing claims, and subsequent struggle, for the true Second Vatican Council. Do you have any comments?
Bishop Corrada: The Holy Father has been following this theme, and he picked it up from Pope John Paul II, but has emphasized it more. I think that Pope Benedict XVI has a very deep insight because of his philosophical and theological formation that the authentic teachings of the Church have to be followed, and that the Church has to come back to certain disciplines that some bishops and many of the faithful and priests have gotten away from.
And that discipline is the discipline of the sacraments, the discipline of the liturgy, and even the discipline of the Latin language. I think that is what he is making reference to, and I think it is wonderful that he is making that emphasis.
I think, of course, that John Paul II [intended that as well]. But this is something that will take a long time. I think this is the battle for the legitimate and genuine Second Vatican Council teachings to be known by bishops and priests and to put it into action. There have been some tendencies that have vitiated the Second Vatican Council with some of the thinking of bishops and theologians.
And it is more than that. It is secularism as an ideology. The Catholic Church sees the secular world as the place of the kingdom. But when secularism as an ideology comes and turns the world into a place where there is no transcendental relationship to God, where there is no respect for the dignity of the human person, with abortion and the whole culture of death, that is where I think this Holy Father is asking us to go back to the culture of life. And the evangelization of the Church needs to be directed in that internal reform if we are going to be effective in the world against the ideology of secularism.
Bishop Bruskewitz: The majority of the Second Vatican Council fathers and the Popes never saw the council as discontinuous and as a rupture with the past. The emphasis was always in accord with the Council of Trent and the First Vatican Council — the unbroken continuity of Catholic Tradition, both in doctrine and in many other areas. There are those who understood, and still understand, the Second Vatican Council as some sort of revolutionary destruction of the past — a sort of French Revolution — that we are destroying everything in the past and starting new all over again, with a whole new [liturgical] calendar and everything.
It is not at all what the Second Vatican Council [fathers] understood themselves as doing.
What happened, however, is there was a para-council of periti, of experts, who all dominated through the whole matrix of media representation of what was going on at the council. Because of that, there were horrible distortions in the popular imagination, including the clerical imagination, including the priests. Even they saw this as a complete rupture. Emotionally and psychologically, people who intellectually might understand that the Mass is the same if you offer it in English or in Latin, [nonetheless] thought, "We have a whole new world here, and this doesn't really mean what it said."
We had this whole rising expectation, this para-council that gave this impression to the world that there was this big revolution. So, when this revolution hit some blank walls like "no women priests" and "no married priests," I think what happened was that then these expectations were frustrated. Then, people got all upset and more in a dissenting and rebellious mood.
When the history of the council is explained, it will be clear that Pope John XXIII never thought he was going make a tabula rasa by throwing away everything in the past and starting all anew, that this wasn't his idea at all. In fact, Pope John XXIII was super-traditional in many of the things he said and did.
Q. Like Veterum Sapientia [On the Promotion and Study of Latin, promulgated by Pope John XXIII February 22, 1962]?
Bishop Bruskewitz: Veterum Sapientia means "the wisdom of the ancients."
I don't think John XXIII intended the destruction of everything. That was not his intention at all. Things maybe ran away from him. He was very sick and died, of course, when the council began.
However, there was, and continues to be, a very serious misreading of what was going on. I think when he beatified John XXIII, along with Pius IX, John Paul II had a grasp of that. He was at the council. He understood that this was not what the council said, nor what the intention was.
There are horror stories. For instance, Gregory Baum and some of these left-wing people who left the Church and dissented, they were going around [Rome] on motorcycles with Latin speeches in their saddlebags trying to find bishops who would say them.
And then some bishop would read them [publicly], they were in Latin, so he probably didn't even know what they said, and then they would blast them all over the newspapers: Things like 'The council says no more Purgatory,' among others. There was that sort of outrage that was going on. And in the area of the media, the left-wing liberal dissenting branch took over and prevailed.
Q. Do you think part of the Holy Father's message might encompass a clarifying of what makes up true ecumenism?
Bishop Corrada: The question is well placed. Many bishops and in many parts of the Church in the United States, we have allowed the Church to have "unity" that comes from political tendencies or other religious traditions' tendencies — even Protestantism. [We have allowed that] to direct the dialogue, instead of that dialogue that comes out of the true ecumenism that only the Church can present. True ecumenism is built by the Church itself. It is what the Church does. That is ecumenism.
It does not come from the directions from which so many other groups go on. You will find so many political parties trying to call ecumenical prayer groups and things like that. I think that is totally wrong. I think we need to re-center into true ecumenism, which is what the Church does, and not what other people do. We try to attract them to the fullness of truth. We try not to push them further away from the truth that they might still have either by natural revelation or by religious tradition. We try to bring them closer. I think that is what the Council was trying to emphasize.
We try not to push them further away, but we should try to bring them closer, or at least for them to stay where they are, so that unity and growth can happen so that truth can work itself. But we know this is in the hands of the Holy Spirit. It is not this activism that you have seen in some people, and which has been unfortunate.
Ecumenism is what the Church does by bringing the truth to people through the aid of the Holy Spirit — the mission — so that those who are closer to the Truth come closer and that those farther away are not moving farther by our example or by our way of presenting the Truth.
But the Truth is only one, and it is in the Catholic Church. We have to accept that.
Q. Both the Pope and you mentioned the effect the media had on its representation of the council as a revolution. Does the secular media even understand the Church? Do you believe the misrepresentation of the Church is intentional? Or is it out of naivete and ignorance of the Church?
Bishop Bruskewitz: It is ignorance. They are looking for sensationalism. And sometimes the reporters aren't responsible [for what happens]. It is oftentimes the editors. They like to see conflict and this is what sells their product. Of course, sex and religion are explosive issues, and the more you can put that on the pages, the better it is.
Published in the January 26 issue of The Wanderer
Brian Mershon is a commentator on cultural issues from a classical Catholic perspective. His trade is in media relations, and his vocation is as a husband to his beloved wife Tracey and father to his six living children. He attempts to assist his family and himself in attaining eternal salvation through frequent attendance at the Traditional Latin rite of Mass, homeschooling, and building Catholic culture in the buckle of the Bible Belt of Greenville, South Carolina.
© Copyright 2006 by Brian Mershon
Posted Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
[I saw the following excerpt on the website of an Antiochian Orthodox mission church. The excerpt comes from a book called The New Faithful and is about the embracing of tradition and Christian orthodoxy by young adults. This particular passage refers to the worship of the Byzantine East. What it says of the Byzantine East can likewise be said of and be witnessed in the churches and communities that use the classical Roman liturgy, as well as the liturgy inspired by the Reform of the Reform. It is a beautiful testimony to an often forgotten reality. A reality which seems to be all too ignored when people suggest there is a need to be relevant. One which fails to realize that in our need to address modern mankind, tradition is not an obstacle or barrier, but can actually be the hook and the medicine so desperately sought after. On to the excerpt...]
The Romance of Orthodox Worship
"As the last rays of sunlight streamed throught the church's stained-glass windows, crystal chandeliers and flickering candles compensated for the waning daylight. A crop of about forty young adults filed into the nave, each carrying one delicate white candle and a prayer book. Their faces illuminated by the tiny flames, the crowd faced the iconostasis, the tall screen decorated with doors and tiers of icons that separates the sanctuary from the main part of an Eastern Orthodox church.
"That screen -- and the purple-and-gold-clad priest who, at times, turned his back to the congregation -- seemed almost incongrous with this congregation of twenty-- and thirty-something worshipers, many of whom wore jeans or khaki pants. The contrast between ancient and modern became even more pronounced when the priest began to sing a cappella. He sang for most of the two-hour service, accompanied at times by a cadre of men at the right of the iconostasis and at other times by the entire congregation. The music seemed to morph into a chant, a mournful, almost mystical melody that wafted throught the church like the thick, sweet incense that saturated the April night air.
"For all but a few moments during the service on this Monday night of Holy Week in 2001, the congregaton stood. They repeatedly touched their fingers to their foreheads and chests, making the sign of the cross at each mention of Jesus, the Trinity, or Mary. Some rocked gently back and forth, their eyes closed, their lips mouthing some songs.
"In a back pew, Andrea Whitson sat holding her candle to her chest. The flame bathed her delicate features in a soft glow that left her looking much younger than her thirty-one years. As the haunting music and incense enveloped her, she seemed lost in adoration, utterly at home in the mystery, rigor, and reverence that is Orthodox worship."
Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Monday, January 23, 2006
Praying in Jesus' Own Language
Interview With Professor of Chaldean Liturgy
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 22, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Chaldean Church, whose patriarch resides in Baghdad, Iraq, takes pride in its ancient liturgy which uses the same language Jesus used.
In November, the Chaldean liturgy underwent a reform following a special synod in Rome.
To assess the extent of the reform, ZENIT interviewed Monsignor Petrus Yousif, professor of Syro-Chaldean patrology and Chaldean liturgy at the Pontifical Oriental Institute and the Catholic Institute of Paris. He is also the parish priest of France's Chaldean community.
In this interview, Monsignor Yousif, consultor of the Special Liturgy Commission for the Oriental Churches, shares his insight into the Chaldean rite, which uses Aramaic.
Q: Let's start at the beginning. What is the Chaldean rite?
Monsignor Yousif: It is one of the five principal Oriental rites, which are Antiochian, Alexandrian, Byzantine, Armenian and Chaldean. The rites have their own structure and texts.
The Chaldean rite is used by Chaldeans, Assyrians and Malabars.
Q: When did this rite begin and what are its characteristics?
Monsignor Yousif: Some elements date back to the third century, as the anaphora of Addai and Mari. The rite was born in Mesopotamia. We are talking about the beginning of the fourth century. And, in the mid seventh century it was organized by Mar Ishoyab III.
Q: Do they really use Jesus' language?
Monsignor Yousif: Yes, Aramaic, pronounced as Jesus pronounced it. It is a Semitic language.
The Mass has four biblical readings: two from the Old Testament and two from the New. The rite is sober. There is much singing. In general the Lectionary originated in Jerusalem.
The liturgical prayer distinguishes between the so-called cathedral prayer -- morning and afternoon; and the "monastic" -- the remaining hours.
Q: Is there an Orthodox Chaldean rite and a Catholic Chaldean rite?
Monsignor Yousif: The rite is the same for the Catholics and the Assyrians, called improperly "Nestorians."
Q: Where are Chaldeans found in the world?
Monsignor Yousif: The Chaldeans are in the five continents and practice their liturgy with freedom, using their language and translating it to the local languages if necessary. There are 5 million in the world.
Q: In what does the liturgical reform consist, approved by the Chaldean Synod in Rome?
Monsignor Yousif: The reform of the Mass was approved which in turn dates back to the beginnings and makes this venerable liturgy accessible to our time.
The text is clearer and more compact and it has, as a principle, the priest turning to the people when the people are being addressed, and when speaking to God, the cross is again gazed upon because it is Jesus who has the Father's face.
Q: How does the Chaldean rite differ from the Roman Catholic rite?
Monsignor Yousif: There are several differences: some details of the Mass, such as the epiclesis, the invocation to the Holy Spirit which closes the anaphora or Eucharistic prayer, invoking the Spirit that he may sanctify the gifts of the "bread and wine."
Q: And the sign of peace?
Monsignor Yousif: Indeed, the exchange of peace is also different. In this rite, the priest is made to take the chalice in his hand and give it to the deacon, who receives it with both hands and takes it to the faithful, who exchange it in the same way. Peace comes from the altar, which is the altar of reconciliation.
The third difference is that the Our Father is recited at the beginning and at the end of the Mass, inserting in the first part the seraphic hymn of Isaiah: Thy Kingdom come, holy, holy, holy.
Moreover, the liturgical prayer is different from the Latin because the cathedral prayer is different from the monastic, that is, in the Latin rite the hours terce, sext and none are recited, in addition to vespers and lauds. Instead, in the Chaldean, the people take part only in the morning and at vespers.
Q: What is the role of deacons and women in the Chaldean rite?
Monsignor Yousif: The deacon leads the community for proper participation in the Mass.
The role of women is to assist the priest in the baptism of adult women and in the mission of education of families: they are called "deaconesses," but there is no ordination of deaconesses as such, that is, with the "gift of the Holy Spirit," though there is a consecration in which the deaconess commits herself to the service of the Church.
Q: Are there vocations in your Church?
Monsignor Yousif: Despite the difficult situation in Iraq, we have a good number of seminarians and the faithful are very rooted in their faith.
In case of need, well-trained married laymen may be ordained as priests. At present there are a dozen "viri probati."
Q: Therefore, it can be said that the Chaldean rite is very alive?
Monsignor Yousif: According to the Second Vatican Council, it is a good thing that we remain faithful to our rite, and we are called to give testimony of it because of its antiquity, originality and richness, as a treasure that is part of the patrimony of the universal Church and of humanity.
Posted Monday, January 23, 2006
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Some of you may be interested to hear about this production, the first of its kind that I know of:
"SOLEMN HIGH MASS, DOMINICAN RITE: Now available at the Rosary Center
is a video tape of a live solemn Mass of the Dominican rite,
celebrated to commemorate the centennial anniversary of Holy Rosary
parish in Portland Oregon. Celebration of the beautiful Dominican
liturgy is very rare today. $17.95 per copy, plus postage & handling
from rate chart below."
Posted Sunday, January 22, 2006
Saturday, January 21, 2006
I am pleased to offer the following guest column by Fr. Christopher Smith, STL, parochial vicar of St. Mary's in Greenville, SC, and the priest of whose video I spoke of recently. (Incidentally, if anyone is interested in obtaining a copy of this DVD, Fr. Smith has suggested interested parties might contact the parish by phone at 864.271.8422 and ask for the Director of Religious Education in order to obtain more info on the possibility of acquiring the DVD. I'd highly recommend it.) This piece written by Fr. Smith, titled Growing up in the Liturgical (Modern) Liturgical Movement is an autobiographical piece, and one which gives some interesting insight into the liturgical scene of Rome and Europe.
Here is an excerpt:
"My interest in the classical Roman rite led to a fateful decision to get in a car with seven guys and ride up to the Seminary of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter in Scranton, Pennsylvania, for my first Easter Triduum in the Old Rite. All at once I was exposed to the riches of the Roman liturgy all at its zenith: the tonus Wigratzbadiensis for the Genesis reading at the Vigil, the Mozarabic Lamentations for Tenebrae, watching before the tabernacle in the seminary chapel reading Francois Mauriac’s Holy Thursday, and Solemn High Mass on Easter Sunday. We kept going back, and word of our experiences got around so that, four years later, I led over seventy kids to the seminary then in the hands of the Society of St John. My enthrallment with the traditional Roman liturgy was complete.
"It was during my time at Christendom, hanging around with so many priests and religious and other young men and women in discernment, that I began to mature the idea of a vocation to the priesthood, but I had no idea what to do. I had become enflamed with the ideals of the classical liturgical movement, I had spent much if my time among Catholics attached to the Latin and Eastern rites, so much so that I felt just more at home among the Melkites and the Russians than I did when I went home to Greenville. I had a great interest in the Canons Regular of Premontre, or Norbertines, and my interest in liturgy was paralleled only by that of monastic and canonical spirituality and theology. Fr Skeris suggested that I contact Fr Frank Phillips, who was pastor of St John Cantius in Chicago."
Please read the whole article here: Growing up in the Modern Liturgical Movement
Posted Saturday, January 21, 2006
The follwing show will be airing in the coming week about the Fraternity of St. Peter seminary in Germany:
PRIESTLY FRATERNITY OF ST. PETER (60:00)
A beautiful story about a new seminary in Germany dedicated to the Catholic
Tradition, Christ’s Vicar and the Magisterium of the Church.
January 29, 2006
January 31, 2006
February 3, 2006
Posted Saturday, January 21, 2006
Friday, January 20, 2006
[The following comes from Fr. Kocik...]
of Homiletic & Pastoral Review, pp. 22-27.
O Sacrum Convivium, the hymn attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas, extols the Sacred Banquet “in which Christ is received as food, the memory of his Passion is renewed, the soul is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.” How splendidly this hymn encapsulates the depth and breadth of Catholic Eucharistic theology. Past and future become present in the Eucharist, for the Lord who simultaneously feeds us and assumes us into himself is the Alpha and Omega who transcends time. While most Catholics have at least a hazy notion of the Eucharist as memorial and Presence, few perceive the Eucharist as anticipation and foretaste. At a time when voices are being raised in support of a liturgical “reform of the reform,” we cannot afford to neglect the eschatological or “future oriented” dimension of the sacred liturgy (especially the Eucharistic sacrifice).
Responding to the Protestant Reformers, the Council of Trent (1545-63) articulated the Church’s beliefs regarding (among other things) the ordained priesthood, the Mass, and the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Against the heretics who taught that the Eucharistic bread and wine merely symbolize the Lord’s Body and Blood, Trent affirmed that Jesus Christ is “truly, really, and substantially” present in the Sacrament. Opposing those who maintained that the Eucharistic service merely commemorates the events of the Upper Room and Calvary, Trent declared that in the Mass the very Sacrifice of the Cross is represented and renewed upon the Church’s altars, together with its saving grace, through the mediation of sacred signs. During the four centuries between Trent and the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), the standard Catholic manuals of sacramental theology paid great attention to the Eucharist both as a sacrament and as a sacrifice. Theologians endeavored to explain how the risen and glorified Christ becomes present in the Eucharistic elements, and how the Sacrifice of the Mass relates to the Sacrifice of the Cross. Unfortunately, the Church’s defense of the Eucharistic doctrines of presence and sacrifice caused the eschatological aspect of the liturgy to be obscured or misunderstood in the popular imagination. Sacramental theology from Trent to Vatican II focused primarily on what is remembered and represented in the sacred liturgy, but not adequately on what is yet to come.
Stirred by the renewal of biblical and patristic scholarship, the twentieth-century Liturgical Movement helped bring about a revival of eschatological perception. The Vatican II Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy teaches:
In the liturgy on earth, we are sharing by anticipation in the heavenly one, celebrated in the holy city, Jerusalem, the goal towards which we strive as pilgrims, where Christ is, seated at God’s right hand, he who is the minister of the saints and of the true tabernacle [Rev. 21:2; Col. 3:1; Heb. 8:2]. We are singing the hymn of God’s glory with all the troops of the heavenly army. In lovingly remembering the saints in our liturgy, we are hoping in some way to share in what they now enjoy, and to become their companions. We are waiting for our saviour, our lord Jesus Christ, until he, our life, appears, and until we appear with him in glory.
This paragraph is a veritable treasury of liturgical eschatology. Even as we struggle with sin and await the return of the Lord in glory, we enjoy a foretaste of heaven. Jesus Christ, sacrificed and living eternally in the resurrection, transcends time in such a way that his Paschal Mystery and his very Presence reach all times. Therefore, the eschatological or heavenly liturgy can break through to the earthly. Past and future collapse into present sacramental action, and historically bound congregations find communion with the risen Lord and with the whole company of heaven.
The Book of Revelation with its vision of the cosmic liturgy, at the center of which stands the sacrificial Lamb, features the contents of Eucharistic worship: an altar, a sacrifice, the smoke of incense, the continual Sanctus, the prayers of the angels and saints. Scripture professor Scott Hahn argues persuasively for interpreting the Johannine Apocalypse in light of the earthly liturgy of the Mass. The Cherubic Hymn of the Byzantine liturgy reminds us that the action in the Apocalypse and the action at (and around) earthly altars are the same action, occurring on two planes: “Let us who mystically represent the cherubim, and sing the thrice-holy hymn to the life-creating Trinity, now set aside all earthly cares.”
To read the remainder of the article, please click here.
Posted Friday, January 20, 2006
Some of you may be interested to watch this short clip of a midnight Armenian divine liturgy in Iran.
When you hit the link above, scroll down about a page to the 5th picture you see of a woman wearing a chapel veil with the caption "A New Year's Eve Christian church service in Iran".
Posted Friday, January 20, 2006
Thursday, January 19, 2006
I had the great joy to recently watch a video of the first solemn mass of Fr. Christopher Smith, parochial vicar of St. Mary's Church in Greenville, SC, where Fr. Jay Scott Newman, general secretary of the Society for Catholic Liturgy resides as pastor.
Viewing the video, one certainly had a very strong sense of what can be made of the modern Roman liturgy -- even before any potential reform of the missal itself -- when there isn't a shyness toward our Catholic tradition, but rather the wholehearted embracing of it. After watching it, I can only say how deeply moved and impressed I was. From the church to the sanctuary appointments, from the reverence and the care taken in the celebration of the Mass to the sacred music, it was truly inspiring and sublime.
Fr. Smith wore golden Roman vestments in the French style; beside him, two deacons in matching Roman dalmatics. As the liturgy begins, the marvelous processional cross, streams of altar boys in cassock and surplice and fellow clergy are complemented by the vigour of the singing of a traditional piece of English hymnody, oriented not towards the community gathered, but to the worship of the Triune God. After the incensation of the altar and cross, the newly ordained Fr. Smith intones in Gregorian melody, "In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti" to which congregation and choir alike chant in response.
As the Mass proceeds, the familiar strains of the Gregorian Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei fill the walls of this beautiful parish church filled likewise to the rafters with the faithful.
During the Holy Gospel, the Deacon comes out amidst the faithful, preceded by cross and acolytes, he incenses the holy book and chants the gospel in English. After the homily, we are led to the climax of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, through the liturgy of the Eucharist. Fr. Smith takes due care to direct his attention to the details of the rubrics. We see no commentator at the altar, nor an "emcee" who feels he must be creative to maintain the attention of the faithful, rather we see a reverent priest acting consciously and deliberately in persona Christi, oriented towards the Lord in offering up the perpetual sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
So then are we led deeper into the mystery of the holy liturgy and to the consecration:
"Hoc est enim Corpus meum..."
"Hic est calix Sanguinis mei..."
(Yes, indeed, the Eucharistic prayer was entirely in the mother tongue of the Church.)
After the distribution of holy communion to the faithful, and after the closing rites are performed, the servers, deacons and priests recess out of the church, having accomplished the sacred mysteries, to the strains of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D.
From beginning, middle to end, we are taken out of this parish church in South Carolina and transported to Heaven. The earthly liturgy of this small parish church plainly connects us with the Heavenly liturgy that surrounds the throne of God. The church, the liturgy and its actions and ministers and the faithful there surrounding the altar become, as it were, and icon of the Heavenly Jerusalem.
Isn't that how it ought be everywhere and in every rite of the Church, whether for young and old, rich or poor? Continue to pray.
Over at The Roman Forum, Fr. Brian Harrison has compiled an interesting collection which aims to give an understanding of the bishops thoughts on liturgical change around the time of Vatican II. Take a look:
Episcopal Attitudes to Liturgical Change on the Eve of Vatican II (Part I)
Episcopal Attitudes to Liturgical Change on the Eve of Vatican II (Part II)
Monsignor R. Michael Schmitz, Vicar General in the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest and Provincial Superior for the United States, will be interviewed on the US Catholic radio network Relevant Radio this Friday, 20 January 2006. The live interview will be part of the network's show "Morning Air," hosted by Sean Herriott, and will start shortly after 7:30 am Central Time US (14:30 Central European).
For local station frequencies, visit Relevant Radio's website, www.relevantradio.com. The interview can also be listened to over the Internet, in live streaming audio, at http://www.relevantradio.com/docs/index.asp?documentid=966. In case of difficulties, go to http://www.relevantradio.com/docs/?categoryid=116 and scroll to the bottom of the page for directions.
I just wanted to remind our readers interested in the classical Roman liturgy to keep their eyes on the CIEL 2006 conference page. Since the last time I was there, I notice it has become quite a bit more formalized now. I believe their intent is to keep adding information to it as it becomes finalized and available.
(For those not familiar, or new to the blog, CIEL is a scholarly organization dedicated to the study of the classical Roman liturgy by traditional priests, abbots, laymen, as well as bishops. The publications that they produce each year are a great treasure to anyone interested in Latin rite liturgy.)
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
[This review originally appeared in Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies, volume 46 (2005) Nos. 1-2, p. 245]
Book Review: Guide to Byzantine Iconography, 2 vols., by Constantine Cavarnos, Holy Transfiguration Monastery: Boston, MA.
Reviewed by Shawn Tribe
Dr. Constantine Cavarnos of the Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies has brought together for the Christian world an important study on the history and theology of the Byzantine icon in a handsomely produced two volume set. While a third and final volume is projected, even as the set stands it can be considered a comprehensive treatment of this important subject and a "must-have" for anyone interested in Eastern Christian liturgy, spirituality, theology and history. Far from being a mere art history text, it is written from the perspective of Christian faith and theology – and particularly from a traditional Eastern Orthodox perspective.
Besides giving his readers a general overview of the history, meaning and aesthetics of the icon, Cavarnos also discusses Eastern church design and the placement of icons in traditionally decorated Byzantine churches. Those who have wondered why particular icons are placed in particular spots, or why certain icons are depicted in a certain way, will find answers to these questions, discussed both in terms of the traditional ideal, as well as variations from it. From the panel icons on the iconostasis to the wall paintings that adorn a fully decorated church, the reader is introduced to the particular details of what is encompassed in each icon and the theological intent of its placement. An example will illustrate the type of information found throughout the work. In the conch of the eastern apse the Theotokos is depicted. The theological significance of this is that this part of the church was historically thought of as the point where the roof of the church met the floor; thus, on a symbolic level, where heaven meets earth. Thus, placing an icon of the Theotokos here represents the fact that she is the heavenly ladder by which God descended (through the Incarnation) and the bridge leading those of earth to heaven – as the ancient akathist hymn to the Theotokos so beautifully puts it.
The connection given in this example to the akathist hymn points to another attractive element found throughout the set. Cavarnos ties the icon together with the liturgy and hymnography of the Eastern Church, as well as with the Creed and Sacred Scripture, in giving the explanations and context of iconographic details. In short, he shows us how the Creed, Sacred Scripture, the Divine Liturgy and the icon are complementary rather than separate and form a theological synthesis. This emphasis gives the reader not only an enhanced appreciation of the catechetical and theological nature of the icon but also a deepened awareness of the scriptural foundation of icons, and the great theological and liturgical depth of Eastern Christendom in general. Moreover, by not divorcing the icon from its architectural and liturgical context, these books become more than a simple study of the principles of iconography, and rather also a catechism on the Eastern liturgical life – wherein it is especially understood that the church and particularly the liturgy is where heaven and earth mingle.
Using this well-rounded approach, Cavarnos takes us through the different types of icons, doctrinal, liturgical and festal, telling us their hierarchical importance in relation to each other. In addition to giving descriptions of what appears in these icons and where they are typically placed, he also gives the meaning behind certain postures or elements found within them. For example, details are given as to the symbolism of archangels carrying a staff and disc, or the theological importance of choosing particular biblical miracles over others that are similar. He outlines for us how God the Father and Holy Spirit are (and are not) depicted, as well as the different icons of Christ (including some very rare variations), the Theotokos, St. John the Baptist and the different orders of angels. An additional plus is that full page images of most of the icons being described are included – though unfortunately only in black and white. Regardless, the images illustrate the necessary qualities and features of the icons being described and give some of the very best examples of traditional Byzantine iconography, both past and present. Readers will also be delighted to see a detailed summary and explanation of St. John Damascene's defense of the holy icons at the end of the first volume. A good treatment of the context of iconoclasm is given, but of particular importance is the succinct summary explaining St. John's differentiation between worship and veneration, as well as the seven functions of holy icons.
An overall consideration of these books makes it clear that foremost in the author's mind is the reality that the icon is more than mere decoration. Rather, the icon is theology in paint. Because of this, iconography is to be taken as seriously as a written theological treatise would be. To that end, Cavarnos is not afraid to comment on iconographic innovations which may obscure the theological message which a particular icon is supposed to convey, or which moves it away from the sacred scriptures. Whether or not every reader will agree with Cavarnos' conclusions in this regard, there is much insight and profit to be gained through his reasoning which is quite compelling. One can certainly not fault his desire for a firm adherence to the tradition and the principles it is based upon, particularly when one accepts the Church's understanding of the importance of the sacred image as an object of veneration and as a catechetical tool.
Constantine Cavarnos has provided us with a text packed with insight and information and written in a fluid style that makes it a pleasure to read at the same time. It will find an audience in the iconographer or parish priest seeking practical guidelines, the scholar or student studying iconographic history and theology, or the pious Christian seeking to grow more deeply in their spiritual life. It is this breadth and scope which will surely result in it taking its place alongside other classic studies on iconography.
Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Monday, January 16, 2006
This is a beautiful thing to see. Take a look at the link here below to see the beauty of an Eastern Christian Church in all its splendour. The link is of the sort that you can pan around using your mouse in full 3D to get a real sense of the church and its iconography:
Church in Cyprus
Splinter group sees slow reconciliation with Vatican
Paris, Jan. 16, 2006 (CNA) - Talks aimed at reconciling the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X are progressing, according to Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the Society.
The 48-year-old priest told journalists Friday he was sure Pope Benedict XVI wanted to end the 17-year split between the Church and the dissenting group. But Fellay, the successor to the Society’s founder Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, says reconciliation must progress slowly in order to avoid problems in the future, reported Reuters.
The Society has maintained the old Latin Mass and rejects much of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. The Swiss-based group, which has 463 priests and six seminaries around the world, is the only religious group to break with the Catholic Church since the Council. In 1988, Rome excommunicated Lefebvre and four bishops he made -- including Fellay -- for holding that ceremony without papal permission.
Fellay met Pope Benedict last August, as well as Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the Vatican official dealing with the SSPX, in November. Fellay reported that his meeting with the cardinal was very fruitful.
"For the first time, we really discussed fundamental questions," Fellay was quoted as saying. "There is a new tone [to the discussions]." He added that the cardinal had said just before the meeting that he saw no heresy or schism in the Society’s activities.
Statements like those and comments by Benedict during their meeting in August meant that the Latin Mass and the 1988 excommunications were no longer blocking the way to reconciliation, Fellay told reporters.
[Source: Catholic News Agency]
The Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem are one of the newer clerical societies serving the classical Roman liturgy, but one which looks to have quite a rich and promising vision, and which seeks to celebrate the sacred liturgy of the Church with great excellence. From their website:
"The Divine Liturgy in its traditional Latin, in the august Eucharistic Sacrifice, Divine Office and other rites and ceremonies of the Church, constitute the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the fount from which all her powers flow.
"For this reason the worthy celebration of the Church’s worship of the Most Holy Trinity is at the heart of the spirituality and work of the CRNJ. The effectiveness of personal sanctification and apostolic works will stem from each member’s faithful participation in the offering of the Church’s liturgy particularly in their own daily celebration of the Sacrifice of Redemption."
What particularly impresses me is that there seems to be a mixing here of the spirituality of classical Roman liturgy and Latin West with some aspects of the liturgical richness and thinking of the Christian East. I believe this comes out in the writings of their prior as well as in this photograph of the CRNJ's recently completed chapel from this past Christmas (note the icon and lampada beside the beautiful altar):
If you go to their website (click on the link above), you will find there an interesting piece by their prior, Dom Daniel Augustine Oppenheimer, called The Nature of the Liturgy.
Here's an excerpt:
Liturgy presupposes man within the Christian understanding of creation. He has a purpose and he has a context. In this regard man, created by God, is intrinsically ordered towards Him. Because he is rational unlike the other animals in creation, he alone can bless God for all that he has received from Him. Man in the very ground of his being has been created to adore God. It is an act that is due in him since in nature omnis agens agit propter finem – all things tend toward that end to which the creative act of God has ordered them. According to Fr. Alexander Schmemann man alone,
"…is to respond to God’s blessing with his blessing. …in the Bible to bless God is not a 'religious' or 'cultic' act, but the very way of life. …All rational, spiritual and other qualities of man, distinguishing him from other creatures, have their focus and ultimate fulfillment in this capacity to bless God, to know, so to speak, the meaning of the thirst and hunger that constitutes his life. 'Homo sapiens', 'homo faber'…yes, but first of all, 'homo adorans'. The first and basic definition of man is that he is the priest. He stands at the center of the world and unifies it in his act of blessing God, of both receiving the world from God and offering it to God…”
As such man has a specific role in the cosmos and in the earthly city of his human existence. He is to adore God in his very being (homo adorans) and in his actions (homo faber); when he does so he is reflecting wisdom or imitating the divine (homo sapiens). His adoration is one that refracts the light which is Christ throughout the whole universe. This is brought about formally and publicly by means of the Church’s central act of life: public liturgical service to God.
This understanding of man and his relation to the cosmos is something that has become alien to Christians in the modern era with its post-Enlightenment emphasis on rationality. The roots of Christian worship are found in the ancient world where sensitivity towards the spiritual was far more operative than it is today. For this reason the underpinnings of the cultic act were more fundamentally integrated into the fabric of daily human experience. People were more aware of the spiritual in regard to the material and the relationship of mystery to the whole.
The Benedictine liturgical scholar Dom Odo Casel observes in his classic work, The Mystery of Christian Worship,
"Ancient thought, considered as a whole, had a great reverence for all being: the individual felt himself to be a member of the great cosmos, and willingly submitted to its order. The self-seeker [what modern man so often views himself as being] was taken for a rebel: his deed…brought down the anger of the gods. Behind the visible world the deep insight of ancient man saw a higher kingdom of spirit and godhead, of which the things we see are symbol, reflected reality, and at the same time mediators and bearers of spiritual things. Ancient thinking was at once concrete, because concerned with objects, and spiritual, because these [men] did not remain confined to material objects. To men like these it did not seem difficult to believe that God could communicate his life through symbols, or that their own religious acts could leap up into the circle of God’s life; it was no different whether they conceived these things as more cosmic or more spiritual; in either case it was a symbolic action which rose to the height of the god’s mode of living. The symbolic, strength-giving rites of the mysteries were real for the ancients; when the Church of Christ entered the world she did not end but rather fulfilled their way of thinking."
The erosion of this manner of perceiving matter and spirit is in great part the result of the triumph of empirical “science” that determines as “real” only what is directly measurable. The sacramental dimension of Christianity has become incomprehensible to modern rationalists. Given the universal context of rationalism, the notion of symbolic worship as a real integration of matter and spirit has become equally incomprehensible. Christians have certainly fallen under a rationalist influence and so some fundamental underpinnings operative in worship have been obscured, if not lost altogether. Yet the integration of matter and spirit is precisely what sacramental – liturgical – worship is all about.
(To read the rest of the article, please click the link above.)
Saturday, January 14, 2006
[With the adoption of the present pope of some of the older garb such as the mozetta and camauro, some were wondering if the Pope would be considering using the sedia gestatoria as well. What is clear from this audience is that this is not the Pope's intent. Don't be too disappointed though. I think like the tiara, while these are beautiful symbols of the spiritual power of the papacy, the Pope is aiming at a 1st Millenium style of papacy which may aid in Orthodox-Catholic relations. When I first saw the older style pallium he chose, I was quite excited for this very reason. It would be nice to see the Pope re-adopt the more traditional form of crozier though.]
Simpler Vatican ceremonies aid humility, Pope says
Jan. 13 (CWNews.com) - The simplified ceremonies of today's Vatican are more conducive to Christian humility than the pomp and splendor of past papal courts, Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) told a group of papal aides at a January 13 audience.
The Pope held a private audience with the sediari pontifici, the laymen who traditionally carried the throne, or sedia gestatoria of the Roman Pontiff. Since the time of Pope John Paul I the sedia gestatoria has fallen from us, and today the 23 sediari pontifici have been assigned to new duties within the pontifical household.
"Yours is an ancient task which over the course of the centuries has evolved in different ways depending upon the customs and needs of the times," the Pope told them. He recalled that after Vatican II, papal ceremonies were simplified, "bringing them back to a greater sobriety more in keeping with the Christian message and the needs of the times."
The sediari pontifici trace their lineage of service to the Roman Pontiff back to the 6th century, and membership in the group has been passed down, from fathers to sons, for centuries. Pope Benedict thanked the members of the group for their "diligence, courtesy, and discretion" in their assigned duties.
Today the papal aides are responsible primarily for hospitality service in the apostolic palace, and the sediari pontifici carry the Pope only to his funeral, as pallbearers. During the last months of the life of Pope John Paul II (bio - news), members of the group also pushed the Pontiff on the rolling platform that he used during public audiences.
During the past week Pope Benedict has held private audiences with three different groups of employees working in the pontifical household; sedia gestatoria were the last such group to meet with the Holy Father.
Posted Saturday, January 14, 2006
Friday, January 13, 2006
Concerning music, here is an online poll for Catholics, not that the music at Mass should have anything to do with such methods of selection. The article too is worth reading.
Posted Friday, January 13, 2006
First off, my apologies for the blog being quiet these past few days. I've been focusing in on some book review projects, as well a book project of my own which pertains to the liturgy.
In that process, I discovered a title and author I hadn't heard of before. His name is John Borella. Both Fr. Robinson and Stratford Caldecott seem to quote his book, The Sense of the Supernatural.
Apparently Borella is a traditionalist and also a reform of the reformer. He had some interesting thoughts on the importance of liturgical ritual and action and also a realistic look at how this has been damaged in our modern day. I know little more of him, only that he seems promising.
Posted Friday, January 13, 2006
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
As we enter 'Ordinary Time', it may we worthwhile to think about Liturgical time and seasons. We have already seen that this is the season when we learn to flourish together and also the season to rejoice in the ordinary where the holy is hid. But there is yet another hidden aspect of the Holy One that we may consider: Time itself. Let us turn our minds and hearts to Thomas Merton's reflections on the matter:
"Time is transformed by the Church's blessing and prayer.
History itself acquired a new meaning, or rather its hidden meaning was revealed, when the Word of God became incarnate and entered into history. Time itself was now an Epiphany of the Creator and of the Redeemer, the 'Lord of Ages'. And yet time also acquired a new solemnity, a new urgency, since the Lord Himself declared that time would have an end.
Time, which is now enclosed between the two advents of Christ - His first coming in humility and obscurity, and His second coming in majesty and power - has been claimed by God for His own. Time is to be sanctified like everything else, by the presence and action of Christ.
The redemption is not simply a past historical fact with a juridical effect on individual souls. It is an ever present reality, living and efficacious, penetrating the inmost depths of our being by the word of salvation and the mystery of faith. The redemption is Christ himself... living and sharing His divine life with His elect... To say that the redemption is an ever present spiritual reality is to say that Christ has laid hold upon time and sanctified it, giving it a sacramental character, making it an efficacious sign of our union with God in Him. So 'time' is a medium which makes the fact of redemption present to all men.
Christ has given a special meaning and power to the cycle of the seasons, which of themselves are 'good' and by their very nature have a capacity to signify our life in God: for the seasons express the rhythm of natural life... For fallen and unredeemed man, the cycle of seasons, the wheel of time itself, is only a spiritual prison... the cycle of seasons reminds us, by its perpetual renewal and perpetual death, that death is the end of all.
For man in Christ, the cycle of seasons is something entirely new. It has become a cycle of salvation. The year is not just another year, it is the year of the Lord - a year in which the passage of time itself brings us not only the natural renewal of spring and the fruitfulness of an earthly summer, but also the spiritual and interior fruitfulness of grace... the Word of God having entered into time by His birth of a Virgin Mother, has changed the cycle of the seasons from an imprisonment to a liberation.
The liturgy makes the very passage of time sanctify our lives, for each new season renews an aspect of the great Mystery of Christ living and present in His Church. Each recurring season shows us some new way in which we live in Him, in which He acts in the world. Each new feast draws our attention to the great truth of His presence in the midst of us, and shows us a different aspect of the Paschal Mystery in our world, now in the temporal cycle, and again in His saints, now in His sacraments, and again in the hallowed building of His churches, in His altars, and in the relics of His saints.
The liturgical cycle renews our redemption in Christ, delivers us from the servitude of sin and from the corruption of a 'fleshly' mode of being. The liturgical cycle shows us that though we are caught in a struggle between flesh and spirit, though we are indeed the 'fighting Church' - the Church Militant - yet the victory is already ours. We possess the grace of Christ, who alone can deliver us from the 'body of this death'. He who is in us is stronger than the world. He has 'overcome the world.' In the cycle of the holy year, the Church rhythmically breathes the life-giving atmosphere of the Spirit, and her blood-stream is cleansed of the elements of death. She lives in Christ, and with Him praises the Father.
And so, while the cycle of time is a prison without escape for the natural man, living 'in the flesh', and doomed to disappear with all the rest of his world that passes away, and while time is for the man of our cities only a linear flight from God, for the believer who lives in Christ each new day renews his participation in the mystery of Christ. Each day is a new dawn of that 'lumen Christi', the light of Christ which knows no setting.
The liturgical year renews the mysteries of our redemption each day in the Mass and Divine Office. It renews our participation in particular mysteries of the life of Christ. It teaches us the way of the saints and renews our union with them in the charity of the Spirit. It is a year of salvation, but also a year of enlightenment and of transformation.
The mysteries of the liturgical cycle not only bring new outpourings of the salvific waters of grace: they also enlighten our minds with insights into the ways of God, ever ancient and ever new. They teach us more of Christ, they show us more of the meaning of our life in Him, they make us grow in Him, they transform us in Him. Indeed, the liturgy is the great school of Christian living and the transforming force which reshapes our souls and characters in the likeness of Christ.
Dom Odo Casel compared the liturgical year to a ring which the Church, the virgin bride of Christ, triumphantly displays as the sign of her union with the incarnate Word. This holy ring is the gift of Christ to his Church as a pledge of His love and of His fidelity to His promises. The 'cycle' or 'circle' of the liturgy, which eternally returns to its beginning is a symbol of the unity of God who is eternally the same yet ever new...
In the liturgical year, the Church sees and acclaims this action of the Father who so loved the world that He have His only begotten Son for the salvation of men. It is a dialogue between mankind and the Father, in which the Father manifests Himself in His Word, and in which the Church, filled with the Spirit of the Father and the Son, praises and magnifies the glory of the Father, together with the Son.
To enter into the liturgical cycle is to participate in the great work of redemption effected by the Son. 'Liturgy' is 'common work' - a sacred work in which the Church co-operates with the divine Redeemer in re-living His mysteries and applying their fruits to all mankind... it is a work in which the Church collaborates with the divine Redeemer, renewing on her altars the sacred mysteries which are the life and salvation of man, uttering again the life-saving words that are capable of saving and transforming our souls, blessing again the sick and the possessed, and preaching His Gospel to the poor.
The Christian 'present' of the liturgy has something of the character of eternity, in which all reality is present at once. The past and future are therefore made present in the mysteries of the liturgy... In every liturgical mystery the Church embraces the whole history of man's salvation, while concentrating her attention, for the time being, on one particular moment of that history... In every liturgical mystery we have this telescoping of time and eternity, of the universal and the personal, what is common to all ages, what is above and beyond all time and place, and what is most particular and most immediate to our own time and place. Christ in His infinite greatness embraces all things, the divine and the human, the spiritual and the material, the old and the new, the great and the small, and in the liturgy He makes Himself all things to all men and becomes all in all.
Liturgy respects the flow of time and of history and yet, because it is in the 'fulness of time', it anticipates the final accomplishment of all that time means to the Church. Time is 'baptized' and sanctified by the infusion of the divine light hidden in the liturgical mysteries, a light which flows forth to penetrate our living and our actions and to fill them with the presence of the Lord Christ, the 'Kyrios Christos'."
- from 'Meditations on Liturgy', pp28ff.
This has also been cross-posted to Contemplata aliis tradere.
Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2006
CNN has some lovely photos up of celebrations of Christmas in places such as Russia.
Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Monday, January 09, 2006
I just noticed that this month's Adoremus has an interesting piece up on a topic familiar to this blog:
Re-Enchanting the Mass: How beauty affects belief by Alvin F. Kimel, Jr.
Posted Monday, January 09, 2006
Saturday, January 07, 2006
The Institute of Christ the King is a society of priests dedicated to the solemn celebration of the liturgy according to the classical liturgical books of the Roman rite.
From watching this video, it becomes clear that the Institute operates on the principle that the liturgy ought to be a representation of heaven meeting earth. Likewise is it obvious that their sense of sacred architecture is also imbued by this spirit. From the sacred vestments to the sacred music, the Institute presents the traditional liturgy of the Roman church as it ought be. Hence, the title of this DVD/VHS, "Gate of Heaven" is an appropo title and indicates the experience that viewers will come away with.
The video is an opportunity to witness an event in ecclesial life seldom witnessed by most people: the consecration of a church. To see this done, and done well, in the context of the classical liturgy is of particular delight. Led by Archbishop Raymond Burke, and with the presence of the Institute's schola cantorum (coming all the way from Italy for this event), viewers will be delighted in the quality of the sacred music and liturgical solemnity.
The video itself is not a verbatim presentation of the event, which if left unedited, would take over 5 hours. Instead, this video packages this into under 2 hours, giving the relevant highlights of the consecration and the solemn high pontifical Mass which followed. In addition, viewers are treated to an inside look at the Institute's seminary in Italy at the beginning and end of the video -- worthwhile in itself.
From a technical perspective it should be noted that this was obviously professionally filmed and edited. The quality is as such as you'd expect from a DVD production -- as opposed to a "home video" quality.
Good liturgy is rare, but even more rare is it to find good liturgy, with good architecture, high quality sacred music and appointments put together into one package. I have no doubt that this video is of use, not only for your personal library and interest, but also as a means to introduce others to the experience of "cosmic liturgy" : where Heaven meets Earth.
$25 for the DVD
$15 for the VHS
Plus handling & shipping
The DVD (NTSC) has the following features:
You can listen to the ceremonies as if you were there at the Consecration,
or enjoy it with commentaries explaining the rites in English, or in French.
The DVD is "Zone Free" as it may be played by any DVD player supporting NTSC format.
The VHS (NTSC) commentaries are in English.
For more information:
Institute of Christ the King
Posted Saturday, January 07, 2006
Friday, January 06, 2006
Take a gander over here for a large selection of audio files, giving you a sense of the liturgical chant of the Melkites.
The site is in arabic, but just find and click the links to hear the chant itself.
Posted Friday, January 06, 2006
Another story came out today about this unique film. While I haven't seen it, and I do hope to, it looks quite promising. Perhaps this film will capture the principle of living a liturgical life. If I get a chance to actually see the film, I will write up a review for you.
It is titled, Into Great Silence and is a 3 hour documentary film, filmed in La Grand Chartreuse, the great monastery of the Carthusian Order. The Carthusian's of course live a life of monastic silence and solitude.
(Copyright Philip Gröning)
Here is the description from the website:
"The Grande Chartreuse, the mother house of the legendary Carthusian Order, is based in the French Alps. “Into Great Silence” will be the first film ever about life inside the Grande Chartreuse.
"Silence. Repitition. Rhythm. The film is an austere, next to silent meditation on monastic life in a very pure form. No music except the chants in the monastery, no interviews, no commentaries, no extra material.
"Changing of time, seasons, and the ever repeated elements of the day, of the prayer. A film to become a monastery, rather than depict one. A film about awareness, absolute presence, and the life of men who devoted their lifetimes to god in the purest form. Contemplation."
A trailer is available off the website as well. Check it out.
Posted Friday, January 06, 2006
Thursday, January 05, 2006
The Vatican has begun a major push for reform of Church music. "The faithful need to know the standard Gregorian chants," said the Instrumentum Laboris from October's Bishops Synod, "which have been composed to meet the needs of people of all times and places, in virtue of their simplicity, refinement and agility in form and rhythm. As a result, the songs and hymns presently in use need to be reconsidered."
Many at the parish level agree but a major practical problem presents itself. Very few people in modern parish life know how to sing or read chant, or have familiarity with the tradition of Catholic music at all. How many Catholics know how the once-popular Ave Maria chant in Gregorian sounds? The Asperges? The Ubi Caritas? The Ave Regina Caelorum? How many Church musicians are prepared to sight sing the propers from the Graduale or know more than a few notes of any ordinary Mass setting?
Rather than merely bemoaning the situation, the St. Cecilia Schola in Auburn, Alabama, set out do something about it. Three years ago, we began an annual workshop in chant and its stylistic descendent in sacred polyphony. The workshop was originally conceived as a service to the archdiocese but, in the meantime, it has become national and even international in scope.
Its one-day format has been expanded to two. No, this isn't nearly enough time to recapture two millennia of music but it is just long enough to provide a broad exposure to the music and style, and answer such pressing questions as: how does one read square notes anyway?
The director of the workshop is Scott Turkington of the Stamford Schola Gregoriana and editor of The Gregorian Chant Masterclass. He is a remarkable teacher and conductor. Can you imagine the thrill of singing chant or Palestrina or Josquin with 100 other people within a liturgical setting? It is lifechanging event.
The dates are February 24-25, 2006, Auburn, Alabama (fly into Atlanta, Georgia). You can register online. Downloads of the chant packets (1 and 2) and polyphony packet are available. Even if you are not coming, feel free to download them!
In any case, the music workshop format was a major venue for how the music of our heritage was converted, in a few short years between 1968 and 1972, into, well, into the sad state of Catholic music today. But take heart! The push toward a renaissance has begun anew with this new form of workshop. Our effort is small scale compared with what needs to take place in every diocese, but it has done much good. At least a dozen parish scholas have been founded under the influence of this program.
We would certainly welcome your attendance!
Posted Thursday, January 05, 2006
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
I've been meaning to post this link for the past week, and I've been a bad and lazy blogger, but please, by all means check out long-time comments box friend Hieronymus's delightful new blog The Lion and the Cardinal, founded with the intention of helping form and inform the aesthetic sensibilities of orthodox Catholics with regards to art and architecture, with all sorts of other POD goodies thrown in for good measure. I'm tempted to pull the Henry VIII schtick from A Man for All Seasons and say that he has excellent taste...which coincides exactly with my own. Anyway, I look forward to seeing what pops up there in the next few weeks: like my other blog home at the Shrine, it could be just about anything, and I mean that as a compliment.
(Cross-posted to the Shrine of the Holy Whapping).
Posted Wednesday, January 04, 2006
I wish to expand upon some themes that have been arising in our discussions.
Clearly whether or not changes to the 1970 Missal come slowly or quickly is a matter which has aroused a great deal of emotion.
The Two Camps
The Long-Term Approach
On the one hand, we read distinguished pastors of the Church who are suggesting that change must come slowly when it comes to changing the 1970 Roman Missal itself. (And again, let's highlight that by this, we are not referring to ad orientem orientation, the use of Latin, Gregorian Chant, etc. all of which are legitimate options in the 1970 Missal and which can be employed immediately. These elements are matters for the present.) In all likelihood, this is based off two thoughts. 1) As a response to the manner in which the liturgical changes occurred in the late 60's and early 70's, which was rather a traumatic event in the life of the Church for lay and cleric alike. 2) As a response to the method in which liturgical changes occurred, which was rather a kind of abstract process, with particular individuals constructing a liturgy piecemeal, rather than the normal evolutionary process.
This same caution also applies to communities who enjoy the use of the liturgical books of 1962. Individuals of such communities, themselves responding to the problematic liturgical reforms of 1970, have understandably become hesitant at the thought of change to these liturgical books, at least at this point of time. Different people are prepared for more or less development, but as a rule, it would seem to be thought best (particularly in view of the hopes of restoring full communion with the likes of the SSPX) to hold off on any such developments at the present time.
Underlying this caution, then, is a desire to not repeat the mistakes of the past.
The Short-Term Approach
On the other hand, there are those who would argue that more substantive changes to the 1970 liturgical books need to happen as soon as possible. This argument comes from the perspective that agrees that the manner and method which brought us to where we are is problematic but disagrees that such changes would be harmful given our present situation.
Many who hold to this position would argue that what is a bigger pastoral consideration is the confusion and suffering that the faithful are experiencing in the here and now, not the least of which families with children.
Likewise they might suggest that there are inherent issues in the present Roman Missal (too many options, the lack of clear rubrics, etc.) which leave it open to much misinterpretation and abuses. Thus, certain changes are required in order to begin to bring things back into line.
Some Critical Analysis of Both Approaches
The Long Term Approach - Sed Contra 1
One argument that might be made against the long-term approach is that it's premise implies that a situation exists today similar to that of the 1960's, but which in fact isn't due to a significant shift in the liturgical culture.
To illustrate: in the 1960's, the liturgical culture was as such that the Latin-rite faithful had been living with a liturgical rite which had, for all intents and purposes, remained substantially unchanged in their lifetime and for generations before. Changes had occurred of course, such as those at Holy Week, but effectively it was still the same liturgical rite they were accustomed to (Please note, I am not intending to address whether it was the liturgical state was "ideal", but rather just the state of affairs in terms of relative consistency in liturgical life). When the liturgical changes did occur, this became substantially shaken up, less so in 1965, but much more so in 1970. Put together, the faithful were subjected to 2 changes, and one quite substantial, within a 5 year span in what had been previously a serene consistency for generations previously. It was this dichotomy which resulted in it being a highly traumatic experience.
In our current scenario, by comparison, many Catholic faithful are accustomed to the liturgy being quite different from parish to parish, year to year. In some cases, this is because of the legitimate options employed by Father X at such-and-such parish are different from those picked by Father Y. Father X may also choose to give commentary throughout the liturgy whereas Father Y will not. In terms of the ars celebrandi Father X may say Mass in a very extroverted style, whereas Father Y may be more subdued. All of these significantly effect the sense and experience of the liturgy for members of the faithful.
In other cases the liturgy may vary by way of not only this kind of variance but also because of the unfortunate presence of liturgical abuses -- which, while not legitimate of course, are nonetheless a frank reality and one which should be considered in considering the psychological state of the faithful and their ability to adapt to liturgical changes. One parish, for instance, may invite the congregation up into the sanctuary during the liturgy of the Eucharist. Another may change the prescribed texts of the missal. In other cases, rubrics may be ignored or changed from parish to parish. Likewise, some parishes may have liturgical dance.
Musically, one Mass may be a "folk" or "contemporary" Mass, another may sing more traditional hymns. As well, we have the presence of charismatic liturgies, teen liturgies, etc.
Finally, liturgists and liturgy committees also often bring about liturgical changes at the parish level in accordance with the latest trends (whether legitimate or not). Some enforce the notion that liturgical music must change in a parish every 5 years for example. Others may disallow particular liturgical traditions.
In short, the present liturgical culture seems to be consistent primarily in one aspect: its inconsistency.
Given this state of affairs then, is the liturgical culture and psychological state of the faithful today, one in which they have been conditioned to liturgical change, not different from 40 years ago? While such changes 40 years ago were indeed traumatic given their liturgical culture, would not our present liturgical culture mean that such changes would not be traumatic now? (At least within reasonable limits. The shift back to the 1962 liturgy would be quite radical, given how different that liturgy now is from the present one, and would likely cause significant pastoral problems.) In which case, is the pastoral consideration here which would hold off on quicker changes to the 1970 missal, while well intentioned, perhaps overly cautious were it need not be?
By contrast, it might be argued that those who adhere to the 1962 liturgical books are not subject to the liturgical culture of change, but perhaps have become subject to an opposite extreme, whereby no change has occurred for them these part 40 years even in minor ways. As such, pastoral caution and liturgical conservativism should reign there.
The Short-Term Approach - Sed Contra 1
It might be argued that while there has indeed been a culture of change, nonetheless it remains a pastoral reality that change is not easy regardless and that preparation is needed before such can begin. Pursing far-reaching changes overnight may not result in the desired end, and could result in similar damage to the faithful as occurred before, let alone the possibility of further dissent from some clergy and religious -- which in turn affects the faithful who attend their parishes. Moreover, this culture of change is something which must be stopped as it is contrary to a proper attitude toward the liturgy and is a bad means to an (albeit) good desired end.
Further, it might be argued that if there is any doubt about how this will be received from a pastoral perspective, if such changes could result in the damage to the faithful, then this is something serious that must be taken into consideration, and should not be rushed into.
Likewise, it may be argued that simply reforming the liturgical texts of the 1970 missal in a direction toward the 1962/65 Roman Missal will not get the job done. The liturgical culture of constant change, of "institutionalized" liturgical abuses, the unfamiliarity with Latin rite liturgical tradition, etc. must first be corrected in the present, normative liturgy before anything deeper and more substantial is considered. This entails cleaning up the 1970 missal as it is celebrated now by employing proper translations of the texts of the Missal and encouraging a traditional ethos in our liturgy. As part of this is the concern that we re-introduce children, families and other members of the faithful to the use of Latin in the liturgy, to Gregorian chant, to ad orientem orientation, etc. These externals of the liturgy are extremely important for they affect the interior disposition of the faithful and that is foundational if we are to begin to revise the rite and see those revisions be effected.
While the frustration of many orthodox faithful is understandable, and from that, it is also understandable that a wish for substantial liturgical change would be immediate, we must avoid a purely emotional reaction to the situation.
With regards the concern for children, by the faithful either employing the option (where it exists) of a classical Roman rite community, or by means of the present goal of having the 1970 missal being celebrated as intended -- that is, in the traditional vein described above -- this would provide for, from a liturgical perspective, a stop-gap to our present off-track liturgical culture which families could feel more secure in. In short, this end can be substantially met without having to employ the more radical liturgical changes overnight. Since such an option exists, and given the potential pastoral implications of doing otherwise, this would seem the most prudent course, which provides for the faithful, but avoids the mistakes of the past.
(SRT Note: the second part of this equation for families, isn't specific to the liturgy, but concerns clergy and parish staff who dissent from the magisterial teachings of the Church. Since that isn't specifically liturgical, we won't put that in here.)
[Further "sed contras" could easily be proposed back and forth. Let us continue the debate about this in the comments section. I present these comments here as a means to try and spark a discussion about all of this, and not as a means to promote one or the other position. Let the "sed contras" continue...]
Posted Wednesday, January 04, 2006