Tuesday, February 28, 2006

CRNJ Picture

In an effort to continue to promote this foundation, I just wanted to share the following lovely photograph from the Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem in the church they used to use for the sacred liturgy.

Inside the Vatican article

Inside the Vatican has an article in the February issue on some of the proponents of the hardline traditionalist movement -- as compared to the more moderate variety -- represented by the likes of the Sedevacantists, etc.

Inside the Vatican - The Siri Thesis Unravels

Monday, February 27, 2006

New Music, New Times

Our Sacred Music workshop this past weekend was a fabulous success, with as many as 100 people coming from many states and Canada to join us for two days of learning and singing. Thanks to all who came, and those who couldn't come but wished us well and prayed for us.

The atmosphere of the meeting was very upbeat. It was taken for granted that the current state of Catholic music leaves much to be desired but the entire focus of the meeting was on solutions. Many attendees (age 11 to 80) were already singing in parishes and others were forming scholas. They came to develop the skills needed to move from modern to Gregorian notation, and from hymns to genuine polyphony. In other words, they learned how to be part of the revival of what the GIRM and the Catholic Church has identified as the ideal in sacred music.

The two-day format seemed to work well. We did polyphony on Friday and chant on Saturday, with Scott Turkington leading us on both. The culminating liturgy on Saturday was stunningly beautiful, with 100 trained voices filling our small round parish (which has wonderful acoustics) and joining with another 200 parishioners who attended the Vigil Mass (many of whom didn't quite expect to enounter this!).

The workshop choir sang the Gregorian Mass setting "Missa Alma Pater" (Kyrie, Sanctus, Angus Dei), the Gloria from the Plainchant Mass, the offertory proper "Domine converte" and the communion proper "Cantabo domino," along with motets by Orlando di Lasso ("Jubilate Deo"), G.A. Palestrina ("Sicut Cervus"), and Felice Anerio ("Christus Factus Est"). The celebrant was Fr. Todd Kreitinger of St. Michael's.

This "old" music is so new and so fresh in our times. Turkington worked with us all to sing with affection for the form and with an appreciation for its beauty. It is hard to imagine that such sounds could ever be considered "divisive"--indeed they seem to be the perfect choice for bringing about a certain unity in what has been the highly contentious area of music and liturgy. And that's not surprising since it is this music that is integral to the liturgy itself.

Of all the results of the workshops, the one that pleased me the most was how parish musicians were shown, many for the first time, how the chant is not just another button on the liturgical jukebox but the music of the Roman Rite itself. We were given the tools we need to study and learn and improve our ability to read the notation and sing well. We were given an ideal that will never achieve but will animate the direction of our efforts the rest of our musical lives.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Youth and the classical rite

I know this seems like such a long time ago at this point, but really it isn't.

When I was on the FSSP International website, I noticed that the Fraternity has put up a number of pictures I had never seen from the Juventutem pilgrimage to WYD2005.

Take a look here: Juventutem WYD2005

Incidentally, for those interested, the Juventutem website has a link to a survey for those thinking of going to WYD2008 in Sydney with the group. Check it out.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


Hi guys. I'm hoping someone can help me.

I'm looking for two things and if anyone has a these, please contact me by email.

1) A copy of Byzantine Daily Worship -- I'm looking for a used or new copy for a reasonable price/trade. My preference would be for a possible trade.

2) I'm also trying to get my hands on a black cassock and white surplice. It is for myself for serving at the Tridentine liturgy. I need something that fits someone with broad shoulders and is probably around a size 59 or 61 (i.e. for a 5 foot 11.5" high). As for the surplice, my preference would be for a longer surplice that comes down to around one's knees or a little higher, and preferably with no lace and square style neck. Picky I know. If anyone has such a thing, an extra perhaps, or something at their parish which is no longer used, please let me know as I'm trying to take up serving for the Tridentine liturgy and basically am in need of my own cassock and surplice.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Book Review: Reflections on the Spirituality of Gregorian Chant

Author: Dom Jacques Hourlier.
Paraclete Press, 1995. 80pp.

Reviewed by Shawn Tribe

There are many books which get into the technical "how-to's" of Gregorian chant, or which are suited to a musicologist, but this book is not about that. This book is intended not for the specialist, interested perhaps only in its technical or historical aspects, but rather is intended for the believer. It is for one whom sees in Gregorian Chant a unique spiritual and liturgical treasure and recognizes its value as sung prayer.

The book is actually a collection of five lectures given by Dom Hourlier during a youth seminar on Gregorian chant, and looks at its history, spirituality and liturgical nature. The book takes us through those qualities of Gregorian chant which make it so unique and such a treasure of Catholic sacred music. Dom Hourlier explores is qualities as prayer, and that which gives rise to prayer; as a music which is intrinsically liturgical in nature (as opposed to merely ornamental); as something sacred and entirely religious in nature, having been made for the worship of God.

From this point, Dom Hourlier begins to dig deeper, attempting to elucidate why Gregorian chant has such a power. To do so he looks at Dom Gueranger's analysis of the qualities of the sacred liturgy and thus defines why it is liturgical music par excellence: "it successfully imparts the fullness of meaning in the words of the Latin liturgy; it transmits a spiritual message from age to age." As Hourlier sees it, and his perception seems to ring true with our experience of Gregorian chant, it is always incessantly driving towards God. The beauty of the chant allows the transmission of its message, despite being in a foreign tongue (Latin). Moreover, it transports us to the world of the sacred, separating us from that which is profane and worldly, and causes us to enter within ourselves to there rediscover God who dwells within us. It opens us up to spiritual values and expresses the seemingly inexpressible.

Dom Jacques Hourlier's book is at one and the same time a look at the spiritual depth of Gregorian chant, and of the sacred liturgy itself. So inter-twined are these two things that it would seem that one cannot speak of the nature and spirituality of Gregorian chant without also making comment the nature and spirituality of the liturgy. They are rather like two sides of the same Roman coin.

I would recommend this book to anyone, but particularly for one who has an appreciation of Gregorian chant, but wishes to explore what makes it unique, or who simply wishes to find a better way to express what the Second Vatican Council has already expressed: why Gregorian chant is especially suited to the Roman liturgy and deserves pride of place.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Musical Side of NLM

As a measure of how times are changing, we will have 100 singers joining us for our sacred music workshop this weekend, right here in East Alabama in our small parish that is shaped like a cupcake (but nonetheless has great acoustics). Those who despair about the state of music and liturgy are on the wrong track. Times are changing! We just have to work hard, share whatever gifts we have, seize opportunities when they present themselves, and be hopeful for the future. St. Cecilia, pray for us!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Holy Father commends, encourages ‘treasured’ study of Latin

Vatican City, Feb. 22, 2006 (CNA) - Following his Wednesday audience, held earlier today at the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, Pope Benedict XVI called for a renewal in the long-held, but now largely abandoned study of Latin, which he said, can help the faithful foster a firmer understanding of “sound doctrine”, contained in Church teaching and literature.

His post-catechetical address was given largely to a group of students and faculty of Christian and Classical Literature at Rome’s Pontifical Salesian University.

"My predecessors”, the Pope said, speaking to them in Latin, “rightly encouraged the study of [this] great language in order to achieve a better understanding of the sound doctrine contained in the ecclesiastical and humanistic disciplines.”

“In the same way,” the Holy Father added, “we encourage the continuation of this activity, so that as many people as possible may perceive the importance of this treasure and attain it."

Gregorian Chant Study Week in Solesmes, France

This summer the Ave Maria University Department of Sacred Music will host its third annual Advanced Gregorian Chant study week at the Abbaye Saint-Pierre in Solesmes, France. For the week of July 3-7, 2006, attendees will take part in daily classes on the performance and history of Gregorian chant taught by Dom Daniel Saulnier, Director of Paleography at the abbey and also faculty member of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music. Participants will also be able to hear the chant in liturgical settings each day as the monks chant the offices of the Liturgy of the Hours as well as celebrate daily Mass at the abbey.

Tuition for the week is $250 and the class is open to those with some knowledge of Gregorian chant, especially those who are using chant in Catholic liturgies or who wish to do so. Attendees are responsible for making their own arrangements regarding travel and accommodations. Accommodations are available through the abbey as well as at the local hotel across the street.

For more information please contact:

Professor Diana Silva
Ave Maria University
1025 Commons Circle
Naples, FL 34119
(239) 280-1652

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Making the choir loft a priority

How does one argue the case for good acoustics and a traditional choir loft in a Novus Ordo parish seeking to build a new church?

a recent suggestion:

Acoustics should be of primary importance. To begin with, no carpet! This just deadens the sound. There is nothing wrong with a live space – a footstep or the sound of someone opening a book or shuffling his feet is not a bad thing, and reminds us that we are not alone. And a church is the one place where we are, in fact, not alone. We shouldn't desire a silence so extreme that the only interruption is the artificial hum of the amplification or cooling systems.

The advantage of a live space is that it allows for sound to rise up and bounce around the walls. During the liturgy, the whole idea of music is that our voices (those of choir and congregation) are joined with the voices in heaven.

Placement of the choir is also extremely important. The choir should be singing from the back of the church, preferably from a loft. The first thing this does is allow for the dispelling of the myth that the musicians are there to perform. On the contrary - voices of the choir should come from behind, out of sight, dance around the space and extend all the way to the front of the church, mingling with the voices of heaven along the way. Voices of the congregation can join in and thus be carried forward in one glorious strain in praise of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Some postconciliar writings suggest that the choir should be positioned in a way that makes clear its participation in the liturgy. This has often been incorrectly interpreted as putting the choir near front and center of a church. We shouldn’t forget that the primary function of the choir is an audible, not a visual or physical one. The choir has a specific, assigned role in the drama – it is this audible assistance that best describes the choir’s active participation in the life of the community within the context of the liturgy.

Positioning the choir front and center poses a danger to the congregation and the choir itself, and could be damaging to the integrity of the liturgy. The risk of the choir’s being perceived as an ego-centered performing group is a real consideration according to this model. Even for the soul of the choir itself, it is better to know that primary task at hand is assistance at liturgy, and not “performance,” as such.

Naturally, there are practical considerations, like how and when to choir members go forward to receive communion and get back to the loft in time – things like this can be worked out easily in each particular case. The group can sing in shifts, music can be postponed for a minute or two, one person can stay behind and sing a simple line of chant, etc. And there is nothing wrong with a moment or two or three of contemplative silence during this most sacred of times.

Solemn High Mass in the Dominican Rite available on VHS

By now most readers familiar with the liturgical tradition of the Western Church are familiar with the fact that, not unlike the Christian East, there have been a variety of liturgical rites and uses in the West. Of those, the Dominican rite seems to be one of the most well known. By that, I simply mean that it is often one of the most mentioned. However, it is not as well known in practice.

Well, all that has changed now. The traditional Dominican liturgy has now been made available to anyone with a VCR by means of a simply wonderful recording made of it.

We have the benefit of seeing this rite done by Dominicans, in Dominican habit no less! The Mass was celebrated in a beautifully restored church in the United States, and is another good example of a renovation that has gone right. The presence of the "altar of reservation" in the traditional setting for a high altar, the solid stone altar in front (set up ad orientem of course) and the altar rail all make for a dignified setting for this solemn liturgy.

The Mass includes the celebrant, deacon and subdeacon in traditional liturgical vesture, but also unique features: the wearing of ornamented and hooded albs -- which hoods are worn instead of the biretta. Those who watch this particular video and whom are already familiar with the classical Roman liturgy will walk away with two thoughts. On the one hand, how closely related are the Roman and Dominican rites, and on the other, what distinctive features do set the Dominican rite apart.

The Dominican rite comes across as a slightly simplified version of the classical Roman liturgy that we are so accustomed to, but one also have the feel of it having been bred in a monastic or religious setting. The sense of beauty and proportion in the rite is something that immediately struck me. It was enchanting. In fact, in some ways, given the simplications present in the rite, one could almost have a sense of looking at the Roman liturgy with the simplications of Vatican II in mind -- and yet still extremely traditional. Other distinctive features of the rite are to be found in the manner in which the chalice is prepared with the water and wine before the Gospel, rather than at the altar at the time of the offertory.

The music for the liturgy is a mixture of Gregorian propers and a professional-sounding choir singing the Ordinary in polyphony.

All around a very well done VHS video of the Dominican liturgy.

It is a rare treat and a great service to those interested in the liturgical rites of the West to be so treated to such a presentation.

If you're interested in Western liturgy, and liturgical history, I would consider this a must-have and you won't regret purchasing it.

The video may be purchased from the Rosary Center for only $17.95 USD. Run and get it before it's gone and once again one of those treasures of the Church you wish you could see once in your lifetime. You won't regret buying this. I guarantee it.

(On a related note, but nothing to do directly with these Dominicans or the video, feel free to take a look at this section of the Tridentine dominicans, the Fraternity of St. Vincent Ferrer where you can see some images of their life. If you want to see some liturgical snippets, take a look at the "Liturgie au couvent" section.)

Monday, February 20, 2006

Beauty is of the Essence of Liturgy


Last week, the Church and the Order of Preachers rejoiced in the commemoration of Bl Fra Angelico, whose preaching was not exercised in word but by the brush, as he made visible for our contemplation the fruit of his contemplation of the true, the good and the beautiful. We often speak of God in terms of His goodness and His truth, but seldom do we engage in a theological aesthetic, finding God in Beauty, hence the particularity of Von Balthasar's theological project. I have touched upon aspects of Beauty and theology in this blog and I refer you to those posts for that is not my concern today. Rather, I would like to reflect on the need for Beauty in the Church which can, in turn, have such a profound effect on the world and our lives, as Beato Angelico's art did.

What can one say is special about Fra Angelico's art (above left, the Coronation of the Virgin) that gives it a religious, sacred quality? Pope Pius XII, speaking at the opening of an exhibition of paintings of Fra Angelico at the Vatican on 20 April 1955, explains:

"To encourage souls to pursue [holiness], Fra Angelico highlights not so much the effort of achieving virtue, as the bliss that comes from possessing virtue and the nobility of those adorned by virtue. The world of Fra Angelico's paintings is indeed the ideal world, radiant with the aura of peace, holiness, harmony and joy. Its reality lies in the future when ultimate justice will triumph over a new earth and new heavens. Yet this gentle and blessed world can even now come to life in the recesses of human souls, and it is to them he offers it, inviting them to enter in. It is this invitation which seems to us to be the message that Fra Angelico entrusts to his art, confident that it will thus be effectively spread.

It is true that an explicit religious or ethical dimension is not demanded of art as art. If, as the aesthetic expression of the human spirit, art reflects that spirit in total truthfulness or at least does not positively distort it, art is then in itself sacred and religious, that is, in so far as it is the interpreter of a work of God. But if its content and aim are such as Fra Angelico gave his painting, then art rises to the dignity almost of a minister of God, reflecting a greater number of prefections."

This is an extraordinary pronouncement because it accords to truly sacred art such a sublime potential and I would suggest that this refers not just to visual art but to music as well. Indeed, the Second Vatican Council pronounced that, "The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 112). Music has long been used in the service of the Liturgy, being instrinsically linked to the sacred texts of the Mass and Divine Office. When music and art in the Liturgy expresses the Beauty that comes from God alone, there is a raising of hearts and minds to God, to contemplate Him who is Beauty; an invitation to strive for holiness and that world where all is Beautiful. Thus, we ignore Beauty in the Liturgy at the risk of ignoring this vital means of drawing souls to Christ.

Martin Baker, Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral (photographed on the right) has an excellent article in the Tablet this week which reminds us that the Catholic choral tradition, such a key component of Beauty in the Liturgy, is "under threat and must be revitalised". In this article, he draws upon words written by fr Timothy Radcliffe, OP to support his argument and I think it is well worth adding his voice to the call for Beauty in our world:

"Jesus's sign at the Last Supper was beautiful. If it is to speak of hope in the face of death, then it must be re-enacted beautifully. Church teaching is often met with suspicion. Dogma is a bad word in our society. But beauty has its own authority. It speaks our barely articulated hope that there may be some final meaning to our lives. Beauty expresses the hope that the pilgrimage of existence does indeed go somewhere, even when we cannot say where and how. Beauty is not icing on the liturgical cake. It is of its essence"
(What is the Point of Being a Christian?, pp26-27).

Just to comment on the above, fr Timothy is absolutely right to say that Beauty is of the essence of Liturgy. This means that ugliness and banality in our Liturgy robs it of its essence and actually diminishes it. One may even ask: if Liturgy has lost its essence, if it is not beautiful, how much less efficiently does it fulfill its main purpose, which is the glorification of God and the sanctification of His People? Perhaps this is why many have lost interest in the Liturgy: because its contemporary celebration does not inspire, enthuse and fill with hope, because it is not beautiful and thus does not speak to the soul which thirsts for Beauty, for God. Is it not surprising then that people look elsewhere to slake this thirst? But of course, they find no actual satisfaction, for only Christ, the Fount of Life, the Living Bread, can fulfill our deepest desires and longings.

Moreover, fr Timothy suggests that Beauty in our Liturgy expresses our hope of a beautiful world to come, just as Pope Pius XII said that Fra Angelico's beautiful art was a reflection of the reality of the world to come, which was revealed to him in prayer and holiness of life. Hence, Michelangelo said of Beato Angelico: "One has to believe that this holy friar has been allowed to visit paradise and been allowed to choose his models there..." This suggests that the current drought of beauty in the Liturgy may be the result of what the Dominican Cardinal, Christoph Schonborn, calls "eschatological amnesia." Certainly, history informs us that when there was a great hope in the life to come, as in medieval Europe, the Church raised up great and beautful Gothic edifices and performed a beautiful Liturgy that pointed to the Heavenly Jerusalem, the consummation of a Christian hope that was being expressed so eloquently in beautiful sacred art.

Returning to Fra' Timothy Radcliffe, he continues:

"C. S. Lewis wrote that beauty rouses up the desire for 'our own far off country', the home for which we long and have never seen... Beauty gives us a whiff of the Kingdom. George Steiner, in 'Real Presences', proposes that artistic creation is the nearest we can get to a sense of God's creativity... A beautiful work of art evokes that first 'Fiat' when God said, 'Let there be light'...

Often what we are offered at the Eucharist does not have the beauty that can speak of transcendent hope... If the Church is to offer hope to the young, then we need a vast revival of beauty in our churches. Most renewals of Christianity have gone with a new aesthetic, whether with plainsong in the Middle Ages, with Baroque music after the Council of Trent, or with Wesley's Methodist hymns in the late eighteenth century..."
(ibid., pp 27-28).

Fr Radcliffe is surely right to call for a renewal of Beauty in our Church and in our Liturgy for beauty testifies to God and our Christian hope continually. Fra Angelico's art, the music of Palestrina and a beautiful church like Westminster Cathedral (on left) still speak to us today, as eloquent a 'sermon' as ever, preaching the Beauty of God who alone satisfies us and pointing to the world to come where the virtuous are united with God forever. Beautiful art have a freshness and immediacy that go beyond what is written on a page, endures where memory of a spoken homily fades and makes God accessible to all people, whatever their race, language or creed.

Therefore, Vatican II teaches: "These arts, by their very nature, are oriented toward the infinite beauty of God which they attempt in some way to portray by the work of human hands; they achieve their purpose of redounding to God's praise and glory in proportion as they are directed the more exclusively to the single aim of turning men's minds devoutly toward God" (SC 122).

And that - turning the hearts and minds of people to God - is precisely what the Church needs to do in a world already marred by the ugliness of sin, violence and hatred. The Church, through her Sacred Liturgy, must apply the balm of Beauty to our wounded world, so as to form in us the beauty of holiness.

May Our Blessed Lady, the Beautiful Mother of God and Blessed Fra' Angelico aid us with their prayers in this regard. Amen.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Enlightenment's Impact on the Mass

Father Jonathan Robinson on Recovering the Liturgy

TORONTO, FEB. 17, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal John Henry Newman said that bad practice is based on confused and false principles, and it is by an often bitter experience that we finally see the truth.

Oratorian Father Jonathan Robinson concurs -- especially in the case of the contemporary Mass.

In his book "The Mass and Modernity: Walking to Heaven Backward" (Ignatius), the superior of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Toronto and rector of St. Philip's Seminary asserts that confused and false principles have seriously damaged the liturgy.

Father Robinson shared with ZENIT how the Enlightenment and its philosophers influenced Westerners' understanding of God, man, society, religion and community -- and how Catholics have come to worship God today.

Q: How is your book different from the plethora of books that are being published regularly about the Mass?

Father Robinson: There are many excellent books that are, as you say, being published regularly about the Mass. They are, however, "in house" books.

By that I mean they discuss the worship of the Church within the framework of the Church's documents about liturgy and show, often conclusively, that there is an enormous gap between what is in the documents and how they are applied.

What I have tried to do in my book is to step outside this ecclesiastical framework and examine how the Enlightenment and Enlightenment-era philosophers -- especially Kant, Hegel and their successors -- changed how people in the West understand and perceive God, man, society, religion, community and much more.

Then, I trace the effects of these changes on the way Catholics have come to worship God. I maintain that the effect of these changes has been to deform the liturgy, even to the point where God is often barely acknowledged.

The present liturgical situation matters. It matters not only for the internal of domestic health of the Church, but also for the effectiveness of her mission in the modern world.

Q: The subtitle of the book is "Walking to Heaven Backward." Can you explain its meaning?

Father Robinson: The phrase is from a sermon of Newman's where he writes:

"We advance to the truth by experience of error; we succeed through failures. We know not how to do right except by having done wrong … we grope about by touch, not by sight, and so by a miserable experience exhaust the possible modes of acting till nought is left, but truth, remaining. Such is the process by which we succeed; we walk to heaven backward; we drive our arrows at a mark, and think him most successful, whose shortcomings are the least."

Newman was not preaching the modern idiocy that we have to sin in order to be virtuous, but he was reminding us that bad practice is based on confused and false principles, and it is by an often bitter experience that we finally see the truth a bit more clearly.

I think that confused and false principles have seriously damaged the liturgy. That means that any reform, or renewal, of the liturgy will cause us to walk to heaven backward.

We will have to walk to heaven backward without any sign posts and without any certainty except for the promises of Christ to his Church; but if we believe in the Church we know that out of disorder and wrong turns God's truth will ultimately prevail.

Q: What is "modernity"? What is "postmodernity"? How have these phenomena specifically affected Catholic liturgy?

Father Robinson: By "modernity" I mean the set of principles and beliefs that have created our modern secularized society.

We live in a world for which the language of traditional Christianity is a dead letter. The intellectual frame work, the images, and the moral teaching of the faith no longer color the ordinary consciousness as they once did.

There are many different strands in the history of thought that have contributed to this condition. The difficulty for the Christian is that many of these strands contain valuable elements.

There is the Enlightenment with its concern for justice, human rights and due process; or again "the rise of modern science" with its applications to health and technology; or the Romantic movement, with its historical, communitarian and imaginative preoccupations.

All these in different ways have persuasive and desirable elements. Nonetheless the overall thrust that characterizes them is hostile to the Christian revelation. The efforts of various sorts of Christians to accommodate the Gospel in order to make it acceptable to the world had proved, not surprisingly, destructive of the Christian message.

I think the attitudes and concepts that we associate with "postmodernism" is toward "liberation" -- especially liberation from the necessity of making judgments.

Postmodernists are not required to reject or accept anything at all; they are at home with everything from the Nicene Creed to hard pornography, from kitsch to high culture.

This, they believe, is their escape from what they regard as the harsh, scientific, masculine sort of thinking of modernism. The postmodernists seem to think that they are living beyond value, beyond right and wrong, beyond truth and falsehood.

I think this attitude has fearful consequences for freedom, for sanity and for any serious version of the Catholic faith.

Furthermore, I believe postmodernism is used by the self-anointed inheritors of the Enlightenment as one more tool to destroy the authority of tradition, and to wreck the partnership -- of which Edmund Burke wrote so eloquently -- between the dead, the living and yet unborn, and is the only real guarantee of a freedom not based on the whims of sociology departments and high court judges.

Whether this is viable politics I do not really know; but I believe that something like Burke's attitude is necessary to Catholicism if the Church is to recover its liturgical worship.

Q: Shouldn't the Church's desire to speak to the modern world be reflected in the liturgy?

Father Robinson: The answer is "no" if you mean that the liturgy is supposed to adapt to what we are told are the aspirations of modernity and the promptings of postmodernity. The Church is supposed to bring something to the world, not accommodate its message to what it thinks Tom, Dick or Harry will swallow.

Pope Benedict XVI gives us a lesson in what I mean in his first encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est." The document is a vibrant affirmation of the uniqueness of the Christian teaching about love, and this uniqueness is based on God's self-disclosure of himself -- what we call revelation.

The liturgy must return to reflecting this God-centered approach.

Q: How can he Church attract the multitude of religious "seekers" so prevalent today?

Father Robinson: Liturgy should be the living _expression of the Paschal Mystery; that is, the worship of God is not merely a teaching, it is also the re-enactment of the saving passion, death, resurrection and ascension of our Savior.

What we have to do is take our minds off counting heads and direct them to the Mass that the Second Vatican Council called the "summit and source" of the Church's life. If we began to do this in a serious way the needs of the seekers would be met.

Q: What are the ways in which authentic liturgical renewal can overcome the handicaps of modernity?

Father Robinson: If by authentic liturgical renewal you mean a liturgy based on God's revelation -- and not on our aspirations -- as well as serious preaching based on this same revelation, and finally on an attempt to live holy lives, then nothing more is required.

The only effective way of overcoming false views about human nature and the meaning of life is by an effort to present to our times the mysterious reality of the Paschal Mystery in a more vivid and unsentimental way.

Q: How can the Mass be reinvigorated and renewed without bringing constant change and upheaval to the spiritual lives of the faithful?

Father Robinson: In principle, as the French say, the answer is that the Mass can indeed be reinvigorated and renewed without constant upheaval and change. For a variety of reasons, many of them detailed in my book, I am not optimistic that this will in fact happen.

Q: An appreciation of the transcendent dimension to the liturgy has always appeared to be important to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI. How do you believe the Pope will foster a renewed appreciation of the liturgy?

Father Robinson: I would not presume to second guess what the Holy Father might do or not do.

On the other hand, everything we know from Cardinal Ratzinger's writings about liturgy shows that they are firmly grounded on a theological foundation, and so we can assume that he will try to ensure that this teaching about the nature of God is reflected in the worship of the Church.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

2005 CIEL Colloquium

[CIEL UK has a report up in which one of the attendees of the recent 2005 CIEL colloquium shares their experiences in Rome -- though it isn't a report on the actual conferences themselves unfortunately. I should note that this colloquium was a bit different than past colloquia insofar it was also a pilgrimage to the Churches of Rome in addition to the normal conferences on the Roman liturgy. Focus on the latter, as well as the celebration of the liturgy itself, is representative of a more typical CIEL Conference, and is what can be expected at the upcoming 2006 Conference in Oxford, England.]

3 to 6 November 2005

It is a good time to be in Rome. With a Pope who is so sympathetic to the traditional Mass, there is a feeling of hope and anticipation. So it seems providential that, this year, the international Colloquium was held there.

The Colloquium’s theme was ‘Rome: Mother and Mistress of the liturgy?’ While the printed ‘guide culturel’, which we were provided with, urged us to be like little children, to capture the amazement and wonder of pilgrims seeing, at last, a holy place they have longed to visit. The organizers had plainly been surprised by the numbers who had applied and asked for our forbearance, apologizing that details had been sent out very late. Participants lodged in various hotels and pensions near the Vatican and the lectures were in a very spacious suite of rooms at the Hotel Columbus in the Via Conciliazione.

The first morning, we all met here and, after an introductory talk, set out in groups, each called by a colour. The English-speaking group – which started at about 20 on the first morning and rose to over 30 by the end – was grey – which we hoped had no significance!

Each day followed a similar pattern: a morning of looking at sites and churches, followed by lunch at a restaurant assigned to us; then free time until the talks back at the Hotel Columbus which were from 5pm to 8pm. In addition, on Friday evening, there was a concert in the Carmelite church of Santa Maria in Traspontina given by the Capella Giulia of St Peter’s Basilica – a selection of liturgical music of different styles and periods; and , on the last evening, a reception in Hotel Columbus.

With all this packed into three and a half days, what we could see was obviously limited. Neville McNally was our patient shepherd on the morning excursions, responsible for accompanying us on buses, keeping us together and getting us to the lunch rendezvous on time – we were sometimes a bit unruly, lagging behind to gaze at things and begging for stops for coffee and croissants. We had a very able guide in Fr Joseph Kramer FSSP, who gave us just the right amount of information: enough interesting detail; but not overloading us with dates and background. The first day we went to the Forum to look at classical roots; on the second, we visited San Clemente with its layer of history and St John Lateran; and on the third we saw the mosaics at Santa Prassede, Santa Pudenziana and St Mary Major. Fr Kramer showed us how the same stock images continued in use and that what we often think of as Byzantine is really early Roman in origin. On the last morning, after Mass, there was a quick visit to the Pantheon and Piazza Navona.

The evening talks were all in French, apart from the one by Dom Alcuin Reid on the liturgical movement – which we all eagerly attended – and, I have to confess, I did not go to all of them. I could only get the gist of them if the speaker’s delivery was measured and there were not too many theological terms. I enjoyed one particularly by a canon lawyer, Fr Laurent-Marie SJM, on liturgical rights as applied to the traditional Mass – such as the right of the faithful to their own form of spiritual life and right of association – and one on the universality of the Roman liturgy by Msgr Schmitz (which was read for him, as he was unable to be there).

One of the attractive features of the whole Colloquium was the freedom to attend or not, to join in or drift off. Also part of the enjoyment were the conversations and encounters in the margins.

I had been rather disappointed, on getting the programme, to find that there would not be daily Mass; but this proved otherwise. On the second day, Msgr Wladimir of Opus Mariae celebrated an early Low Mass in the crypt of St Peter’s and on Saturday there was a Missa Cantata in Santo Spirito in Sasia. Then on Sunday, the church of Gesù e Maria was packed for High Mass celebrated by Cardinal Medina. It was a wonderful climax. The weather provided dramatic accompaniment with thunder and lightening – having been delightfully warm and mostly sunny throughout, it broke that day with pouring rain and thunderstorms.

Although we all dispersed under heavy skies, I felt encouraged: there is a strength in such gatherings. I am sure I was not alone in returning home tired but exhilarated.


10th Colloquium Report (CIEL UK)

CWN: Pope, Curia leaders continue SSPX Talks

Catholic World News : Pope, Curia leaders to continue talks on SSPX

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Catholic Culture : Building a Catholic Action Plan for Reform

Cathoilc Culture has an interesting opinion piece up by Peter Mirus called Building a Catholic Action Plan for Reform which looks at "how to faithfully deal with a bishop who manages his diocese in a manner that undermines or offers little support to the teachings of the Church or its disciplines and norms."

Sounds interesting.

What Matt is listening to:
Jordi Savall and Capella Reial de Catalunya, Homenatge al Misteri d'Elx: Drama Sagrat per la Festa de L'Assumció de la Verge, 1709.

Review: The Gregorian Missal

Title: The Gregorian Missal
Publisher: Paraclete Press
Price: $33.95 USD

The Gregorian Missal from Paraclete Press is a finely produced volume which gives the Gregorian Propers and Ordinary chants of the Mass according to the modern Roman rite, and in Gregorian notation. Not only that, it includes full parallel Latin-English translation of the spoken prayers of the Mass as well, including the four Eucharistic prayers. I daresay it could probably be used at the altar, but it certainly can be used in the choir loft and in the parish pew.

Thus, it is a mixture of a Latin-English Pauline Missal (minus the actual scripture readings from the lectionary), a Kyriale with various Gregorian settings of the Ordinary of the Mass, and also a kind of "Liber" which includes the Proper chants of the Mass for all the Sundays of the new liturgical calendar as well as for Solemnities (including the Easter Triduum). It also has the added bonus of including texts and chants often not heard, such as those of the Gradual (as opposed to the responsorial Psalm).

One thing I should note, while there is full Latin-English translation, the chants themselves are entirely in Latin. There are no English language chants. Where such to be developed (particularly and primarily as concern the propers) that could only improve an already excellent product. That being said, the strength of this volume is to be found particularly in the fact that the Propers are present at all in Latin chant (a rare enough thing), and especially in its Ordinary settings of the Mass in Latin. (Which also makes this product useable even after the new missal translation is in effect, because the Latin text will remain the same.)

The book is attractively hardbound in deep navy blue with gold lettering and is a nice useable size. It comes with 2 gold ribbons as well and has an attractive cream paper. All said, it has a nice permanent feel to it, which is something important as it lends a certain sense to the sacred liturgy -- which is why you have heard some Cardinals speak of removing paper missalettes which gives the impression of the liturgy as something disposable or somehow banal and ordinary, to be disposed of like yesterday's newspaper, rather than as the divinely inspired scriptures, sacred chants and prayers of the Church.

I believe this can be a profoundly important tool to help with the reform of the reform. I'd encourage parish priests and choir directors in particular to get copies. You may not use all of the chants in this volume at your parish, but you can use a significant number of them and begin to restore Latin and chant to your parish.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The 2006 Catholic Blog Awards are up!

Well folks, it's finally here for those interested. The 2006 Catholic Blog Awards are now available for voting.

CNS STORY: Pope, curial officials discuss proposal to reconcile with Lefebvrites

[Original Story: CNS STORY: Pope, curial officials discuss proposal to reconcile with Lefebvrites]

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI presided over his first major meeting with top Roman Curia officials, an encounter that sources said focused on a proposal to reconcile with followers of the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

More than 20 heads of congregations and pontifical councils attended the Feb. 13 meeting, which was to be followed up by a similar session in late March. No details of the February meeting were made available by the Vatican press office.

A Vatican source said the pope and other department heads listened as Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos outlined a possible solution to the 18-year-long impasse with the Society of St. Pius X, a self-styled traditionalist order founded by Archbishop Lefebvre. Its members reject modern liturgical practices and several teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

One possible step being discussed at the Vatican was establishing an apostolic administration, a special juridical structure that would allow the Lefebvrites to offer pastoral care to their followers around the world.

Another element being discussed was the possibility of granting wider permission to use the Tridentine Mass, the pre-Vatican II liturgy, the source said.

For its part, the society would have to make clear its acceptance of Vatican II's basic teachings on ecumenism, religious liberty and other matters.

Several Vatican sources said that while Cardinal Castrillon strongly supported a solution based on these points opinions were sharply divided among curial members on any concessions to the Lefebvrites.

Cardinal Francis Arinze, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, said in a recent interview with Catholic News Service that while he favored reconciliation it could not be offered at any price.

"(The pope) cannot disown Vatican II in order to make the Lefebvrites happy," Cardinal Arinze said.

The pope met last August with Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X and one of four bishops ordained against papal orders in 1988 and declared excommunicated by the Vatican. The papal audience prompted a flurry of speculation about reconciliation.

Afterward, Cardinal Castrillon said in an interview with the Italian magazine 30 Giorni that the Lefebvrites should not be made to fear that they would be silenced if they reconciled with the Vatican. He said they were rightly concerned about liturgical abuses in the post-conciliar period.

"The critical contributions that can come from the society in this sense could, I believe, be a richness for the church, if expressed under the charism of Peter," Cardinal Castrillon said.

Others at the Vatican said they believed Pope Benedict has no illusions about the Lefebvrites. As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he unsuccessfully tried to reconcile with them in 1988 and later said the group had closed itself off in a type of "fanaticism of the elect."

One Vatican source who participated in the February meeting of curial heads said he thought the pope wanted to make one big push for reconciliation at the beginning of his pontificate.

"I think it's now or never for the Lefebvrites. As time passes, an agreement will become much more difficult," he said.

[CWNews also has a story on this.]

Excerpts from Sandro Magister on Pope Benedict

[Whole story: A Clear and Coherent Direction in the Beginning of Pope Benedict’s Pontificate, says Vatican Expert]

On the issue of liturgy, “Benedict XVI has wished to restore to the celebration of the Mass the truth expressed by the great liturgical tradition.”

“The pope has said in many ways that the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is real, supremely real, not symbolic. He said it by adoring the consecrated host silently on his knees, with a million young people in Cologne – in Protestant country! – and with the one hundred thousand children who received first communion in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome.”

In particular, the pope called back to faithful observance of the true liturgical tradition the Neocatechumenal Way: one of the most vibrant Catholic movements of the past half century, but which often modifies the Mass and uses it as an “instrument” for missionary expansion, instead of accepting and celebrating it as the work of God, the “source and summit” of Christian life.

In the second part of his intervention, Magister comments on the way the Pope is managing the Church and his relation to bishops, the way he is implanting the teachings of the Vatican II council. “Benedict XVI has addressed severe reminders to bishops he believes to be timid, doubtful, reticent in teaching true doctrine.”
The pope also wanted to restore its proper truth to Vatican Council II, forty years after its conclusion.

"He has criticized the false interpretation of the Council as “discontinuity and rupture,” as “the spirit” contrasted with “the letter.” And he explained, instead, its “proper hermeneutic,” its “rightful key of interpretation and application”: that is, the Council as “reform,” as “renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.”

Curiosities of the Tiara

Just some random Catholic facts for your amusement and edification. I'm not intending this to become a comments-box discussion on Benedict XVI's coat of arms, since that's ancient history as far as I'm concerned. Anyway, it's still on the flag.

The mitre was at one time the sole prerogative of the Pope. Indeed, the tiara and the mitre in all likelyhood descend from the same bonnet, a curious thing shaped like a sugar-loaf and either called the camelaucum or the phrygium--ironically, the same infamous oriental cap of liberty later resurrected by the Jacobins of revolutionary Paris. The Phrygian cap--worn by freed slaves in ancient days--was purportedly bestowed on Pope Sylvester by Constantine as a sign of the Church's new freedom. While this is undoubtedly a legend, at least one author has suggested that the popes of the era must have had some distinguishing head-piece, and we have definite evidence for the camelaucum from the seventh century onwards.

The crowns were added one-by-one; the first allegedly was added by St. Symmachus (498-514), which is in all likelyhood a fairy tale. Symmachus did a great many other things, though, including combatting a Byzantine-backed anti-Pope that went on through increasingly garbled complexities, including four truly bizarre years with the pope stuck out at St. Peter's and his rival living at the Lateran, even daring to hang up his portrait in the series at St. Paul-without-the-Walls. It appears the crown was really first added sometime around the reign of Charlemagne, or perhaps in the thirteenth century.

The second was Boniface VIII's idea, purportedly to show both temporal and spiritual power, and the third either by Benedict XI or Clement V. Nobody is quite sure why--the heraldist Giluiano Cesare de Beatiano, advancing a theory that would make even Jack Chick blush, claims it to represent temporal power over the known continents of Europe, Asia and Africa. The late Bruno Bernard Heim asks, sensibly, why nobody got around to adding coronets for Australia or the Americas; on the other hand, St. Robert Bellarmine nonetheless backs up (without the continental argument) the assertion of the tiara's temporal significance, which is no surprise as it's never really been associated with the liturgy, with the apparent exception of an Eastern-Rite liturgy once celebrated by John XXIII of blessed memory.

The best explanation would appear to be that the crowns represent the supremacy of the Pope over the Church Militant, Suffering and Triumphant, and also his triple ministry of priest, pastor and teacher of the faithful. Or, as the old coronation rite once put it, his tripartite authority as the Father of Kings and Princes, the Rector of the World, and the Vicar of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Earth.

A few brave souls have undertaken to usurp the tiara from time to time. This was once considered a capital crime, if intended to misuse the pope's jurisdiction. Heim writes that "today the law has become unnecessary." (It is not known at time of writing if Archbishop Heim had ever been aware of the wellspring of nuttiness that was the late Gregory XVII of befuddled memory). Then there's the Patriarch of Lisbon who actually still uses the tiara heraldically, with a double-barred cross and crozier. The Patriarchate is a fairly young ecclesiastical institution and formerly subject to some peculiar issues of jurisdiction. It was created by the Golden Bull of 1716 as a Portuguese compliment to the Patriarchate of the West Indies--a relatively minor office, without pay, held ex-officio since 1572 by the chief chaplain of the Spanish Army. (It appears to have been vacant since 1963).

The Patriarchate itself started out equally small and was for a time largely restricted in authority to the Portuguese chapel royal, a chunk of Western Lisbon, and a number of suffragams. The former Archbishop of the place still controlled the remainder of Lisbon and a substantial ecclesiastical province which included San Salvator in the Congo and, apparently, the Brazilian city of Bahia de todos os Santos with its 365 churches--now voodoo-infested, if Umberto Eco is to be believed. This curious arrangement with its two cathedrals was eventually scrapped, though the double cathedral chapter persisted until 1837.

The Lisbon tiara is somewhat different in shape from that of Rome's, though like Rome it seems to have several variants, either bulbous or conical. Some call it a triregnum to distinguish it from the papal variety, though that too is often called a triregnum as well, to further confuse things. The origin of this singular bit of ecclesial headgear has less to do with Lusitanian pontifical megalomania than King John V's (1707-1750) hobby of coming up with new ornaments for his patriarch in an effort to establish a sort of non-schismatic Western Rome. (The first patriarch of Lisbon, Thomas d'Almeyda, seems to have been a pretty nice guy, even saintly). The sedia gestadoria was also used there, and the cathedral chapter has three ranks patterned after the three orders of the College of Cardinals, as well. This rather charming sort of liturgical weirdness is uniquely Portuguese, as the Portuguese Braga rite retains rubrics concerning a serpent-shaped Paschal candlestick, as well as a prayer to be said in the sacristy while combing one's hair--apparently once a fairly common practice.

While Portuguese claims that the Pope said it was okay strike me as somewhat suspicious (there's a hint of "the dog ate my homework" in there somewhere), Rome never really made much of a fuss over the matter. Ironically enough, it seems that the old 1917 Code of Canon Law says that any century-old privilege is automatically considered valid, since proof of the origins of such a right is no longer required by law. I'm not sure if this is in the 1983 Code. On the other hand, there was that fellow Antoine-Anne-Jules, Cardinal de Clermont-Tonnerre (d. 1830), who had the fantastic cheek to stick a tiara atop his arms because of his alleged ancestral relative, Pope Nicholas II. One has to draw the line somewhere.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Catholic World News : Pope confers with top aides; Vatican mum on topic

For those who have subscriber access to CWnews (if not, it usually will be available to read soon enough):

Catholic World News : Pope confers with top aides; Vatican mum on topic

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Addressing Liturgical Issues on the Blogosphere

A group of self-described "young thinking Catholics" in Singapore have recently run a series of posts on their blog, Threshold of Hope, about liturgical matters.

There was one about Latin in the Church's liturgy and another, now brewing, about sacred music and the pipe organ. In this latter post, the writer, rather misleadingly, asks: "Should drums, pianos and guitars be allowed in mass worship, or should the pipe organ be the only one that is allowed? This question parallels very much the debate over whether some Latin should be reintroduced into mass. It puts into focus the two diverging sentiments of modern day worship: to freely express love and worship of God, or to seek the sacred, majestic and mysterious in tradition."

The false dichotomy that is drawn is clearly felt to be true by many fellow Catholics! If the New Liturgical Movement is to affect the wider Church, I believe we can and ought to begin by addressing many common objections, misconceptions and errors - often the result of ignorance - on the part of 'young thinking Catholics', like these in Singapore, in the Church.

We can't expect them to come and read this blog, so I ask that interested parties read what they have to say and then comment in response as is appropriate.

Fr. Pasley on Music, New Rite and Old

I commend to you the interview with Rev. Robert C. Pasley in the Jan. 2006 issue of the Catholic World Report, reprinted by MusicaSacra.com. Fr. Pasley says the traditional rite in his parish but he also has an excellent sense of how to create musical continuity between old and new. His approach is learned and pastoral. It's a very good sign that this appeared in CWR.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Sacred Music Journal

More good news. The latest edition of Sacred Music is now out.

Sacred Music Winter 2005

A few things..

First, for those interested, I've now posted all those books with prices in the Used books section.

Second, I mentioned it in the previous entry, but do check out Mr. Jeff Ostrowski's website which is full of interesting resources, including a great deal on sacred music. He also makes the liturgical torches that are used in the classical liturgy during the consecration. Keep up the good work Jeff!

Finally, as part of browsing Jeff's site, I noticed another DVD out there. This one also looks magnificent, set in a renaissance style U.S. Cathedral. The First Mass of Fr. Michael Magiera, FSSP. Take a look at these photos.

DVD Review: Summi et Aeterni Sacerdoti

The First Mass of Father James Fryar, FSSP

Reviewed by Shawn Tribe

There are videos of the Tridentine Mass, and then there are videos of the Tridentine Mass.

Some videos of the classical Roman liturgy present us with clips of the sacred liturgy, giving a general sense of things. Still others present to us the liturgy in its entirety, often with professionally produced footage, professional choirs, and so forth. The strains of familiar classics like Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli sound out from the choir lofts, or the enchanting strains of a Gregorian High Mass. This is the typical presentation and there is nothing wrong with this whatsoever. In fact, they are all quite inspiring, each having their own merits.

If I might be permitted to speak in the first person, I have seen many videos of the classical Roman liturgy but Fr. Fryar's video is in my mind, and to date, unique. It is unique for a variety of reasons. This presentation is quite obviously a labour of love. It is the fruits of a priest, of a composer, and of a group of the faithful who have a genuine sense of what the liturgy ought to be. It puts a new spin on liturgical "creativity". It is creativity as it ought to be: in the vein of the classical masters, and not in the sense of make-shift productions or the fruits of pseudo-liturgical principles which no one except a certain sort of professional liturgist can understand – or at least pretends to. Of this creativity I will say more in a bit.

There is something very powerful about this presentation. It may not have the expensive equipment that some Latin Mass video presentations have been able to muster, yet at the same time, it is very well done and a pleasure to watch. What makes this particular Mass video different is one comes away with the tangible impression of having really been there. One sees the liturgy in its beauty and in its sublime perfections, close to the altar and from the perspective of the servers and also from afar as the choir director works to muster his 40-odd voice choir to their heights so that the sacred music of the liturgy would be fitting for the worship of the Most Holy Trinity. Of this music, again, more shall be said in a bit.

The Church itself is glorious and fit to be called a Cathedral with its high altar, penetrated by niches of saints who stare out upon the Church Militant. In the centre Our Lord is crucified with Our Blessed Mother and the Beloved Apostle, John, standing in mournful adoration. Angels kneel in adoration toward the Tabernacle. In the background, one glimpses the beautiful stations of the cross, the carved confessionals. This was a church which retained its pre-conciliar glory. The golden Roman vestments shine on Fr. Fryar, his Master of Ceremonies, Deacon and Sub-deacon. The pressed cassocks and surplices, down to that of a 5 year old boy with a custom made cassock, fill the sanctuary even as angels fill the heavenly sanctuary.

But I remind you again, this is a Latin Mass video truly like no other. There are a few reasons for that. I spoke earlier of creativity. There are two DVD's in this set. The first DVD is the Mass itself, without commentary and just as it is: heavenly liturgy. The second DVD, however, includes some interesting features, the best being the Mass from the perspective of Fr. Fryar. In this presentation, Fr. Fryar comments on his first Mass which becomes nothing less than a profound meditation upon the classical Roman liturgy and the sacrifice of the Mass. Father's commentary is alone worth buying, as he gives pertinent insights into the history, depth, beauty and spirituality of the classical Roman liturgy in particular, and the Mass in general. It is in the context of this presentation that the depth of the creative process comes to bear. Here we learn how the beautiful chalice used by Fr. Fryar at this his first Mass was hand crafted by he, himself; a two year long process than can be thought of us nothing less than an act of love and offering to God. Moreover, we learn how the sublime Mass setting which was sung, was composed specifically by Mr. Jeff Ostrowski, the choir director, for this Mass. Mr. Ostrowski does a spectacular job and has given a great gift to the Church. He clearly shows himself to be a liturgical composer to be watched out for and we can hope and pray this won't be his last gift to the Church. We are even treated to his own commentary on this process, including his insights on choosing liturgical music.

It is in this second DVD as well that we learn that the Deacon at this Mass is Fr. Fryar's own brother, ordained a priest forever on the very same day as he. As you can see, this video is not only a liturgical video, it is also the story of a pilgrimage of one man and of many men. In my mind, this DVD sets itself apart as one of the best overall Tridentine Mass DVD's out there. It merits this designation for all the reasons listed above. More than that however, I believe the commentary portion of the DVD in particular can serve to inspire young men, and is probably an excellent resource to present to men considering a vocation to the priesthood. Finally, I cannot stress enough that it is truly unique in its capacity to bring to us a sense of the kind of offering we can bring to God, even still today, when it comes to the classical liturgical arts. Excellence and craftmanship are not absent gifts, only too often unexplored.

I'd highly recommend you purchase a copy of this DVD for yourself, for others, and particularly for men considering the priesthood. The website, which is also extremely well produced I would like to add, gives a trailer you may look at. Please take a look at the website, bookmark it, and send it to all your friends: www.thefirstmass.com

Thank you Father Fryar, Mr. Jeff Ostrowski, and for all others involved in this, for your love of the sacred liturgy, for you evident sense of excellence, and for a unique and inspiring DVD and Mass setting.

Pictures worth seeing:

The Clerics Vested before the Altar

Introibo ad Altare Dei: The High Altar

The Consecration

Please take a moment as well to visit Jeff Ostrowski's website.

Friday, February 10, 2006

CNS STORY: Vatican official says pope will fix liturgical abuses firmly, gently

[Original Story: Catholic News Service. See my comments below.]

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican's top liturgy official said he expects Pope Benedict XVI to move against liturgical abuse with firm teaching and a gentle manner, recognizing that such mistakes often reflect ignorance, not ill will.

At the same time, the pope wants to offer reconciliation to followers of the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre -- but not at the cost of "disowning" the Second Vatican Council, said Cardinal Francis Arinze, the Nigerian who heads the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

Cardinal Arinze spoke about the direction of the new papacy in an interview with Catholic News Service in early February. He said he expected important moves -- but not a purge -- to improve liturgy under Pope Benedict.

"I do not expect an aggressive correction of abuses. I don't think the pope is going to use the ecclesiastical hammer," Cardinal Arinze said.

"Pope Benedict has very clear doctrine and convictions. What many people may not know is that he is not rough. He is gentlemanly, in the sense of what the prophet Isaiah said: 'A bruised reed he will not break,'" the cardinal said.

Many liturgical abuses, Cardinal Arinze said, are "based on weakness of faith or ignorance" or on a wrong idea of creativity. Where improper practices occur, it is important to begin identifying them and talking about them, but without harming the people involved, the cardinal said.

That could be one reason the pope is focusing on the bigger faith issues, understanding that the quality of worship reflects knowledge of the faith, he said. A good example, he said, is the pope's first encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est" ("God Is Love").

Many people are scrutinizing papal Masses for clues to liturgical direction under the new pope.

"Obviously, people are watching the details, and I cannot blame them," Cardinal Arinze said with a laugh. "I think the papal liturgies are beautiful and that people like them."

He said the election of Pope Benedict, who wrote extensively about liturgy as a cardinal, kindled hope for reconciliation with the Society of St. Pius X, which was founded by Archbishop Lefebvre and which rejected the new Mass and several Vatican II teachings or directives.

Cardinal Arinze shares that hope, but said people should realize that the pope "cannot change the faith of the church."

"He cannot disown Vatican II in order to make the Lefebvrites happy. The pope cannot reinvent everything, or act as if Vatican II did not take place," he said.

While some have proposed a wider indult to allow use of the pre-Vatican II Tridentine Mass with fewer restrictions, Cardinal Arinze said he is happy with Pope John Paul II's rules, which require the involvement of the local bishop.

"When you speak of wider use for everybody, it raises some questions, which have to be examined more carefully," he said.

The cardinal said he thought that for most people the question is not the Tridentine rite versus the new Mass, but the much more basic issues of faith, love of Christ and the appreciation of the importance of Sunday Mass.

"If a person has these, many of these other problems would fall into line," he said.

Cardinal Arinze said one priority that has carried over to the new pontificate is the translation of liturgical texts.

"The pope has said, let the various translations of the Missal proceed quickly, because the people are waiting. These pieces of paper used on Sunday and little leaflets are not ideal. You really need the whole book translated," he said.

He said the new Roman Missal, released in Latin in 2002, is 1,300 pages long and has excellent texts, including some new ones, but the people do not have them in their local languages.

The cardinal said he hoped work on the English translation would be completed in two years. He said that would not depend principally on the Vatican, but rather on the priority given the project by bishops' conferences.

The Roman Missal is being translated by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy for bishops' conferences, which can adopt, amend or reject the translation. The worship congregation, meanwhile, has established a committee of 12 bishops, called Vox Clara, to help it evaluate the texts as they are being prepared.

The congregation's closer watch on translations in recent years does not mean the Vatican wants to supplant local bishops and bishops' conferences as the "key people" in translating liturgical texts, Cardinal Arinze said. But sometimes, he said, the congregation gives its views on a particular translation as it is being done, so that translated texts will receive ratification in Rome with the least delay.

Cardinal Arinze, 73, has headed the worship and sacraments congregation since 2002. Liturgy has always been one of his primary interests, and he wrote his doctoral dissertation on sacrifice in a Nigerian traditional religion as an introduction to the catechesis of the Catholic Mass.

The cardinal has been a popular speaker in the United States, and his reflections on liturgy and other topics have been featured in a number of recent video podcasts.

He heads a staff of 36 experts responsible for responding to questions from around the world, reviewing texts and ministerial books in many languages, hosting groups of bishops, attending a multitude of meetings and conferences, promoting liturgical knowledge and practice, and discouraging abuses.

"We always have more work than we can do on any particular day. People don't understand that," Cardinal Arinze said.

The limited personnel and resources mean that on some issues, like sacred music, the congregation's actions may appear largely symbolic.

"We do not pretend that a few of us sitting here in the Vatican are going to conduct excellent music all around the world," he said. But last year the congregation sponsored a study day at the Vatican to encourage dioceses to take liturgical music more seriously.

Cardinal Arinze said the main challenge facing his congregation is to encourage a spirit of prayer, which must grow out of faith. He said bringing people to Mass regularly is essential, and it hinges largely on two factors: catechesis and high-quality, faith-filled liturgies.

Celebrating Mass well involves lay ministers, but primarily the priest, who sets a tone through every word and gesture, the cardinal said.

"Suppose a priest comes at the beginning of Mass and says: 'Good morning, everybody, did your team win last night?' That's not a liturgical greeting. If you can find it in any liturgical book, I'll give you a turkey," Cardinal Arinze said.

Likewise, a priest has to preach well, making sure that his homily offers theological and scriptural enlightenment, and not merely verbal "acrobatics" to show off how many books he's read, he said.

The cardinal said that if done well Sunday Mass will not be experienced as a heavy obligation, but as a spiritual banquet, a celebration appreciated by the faithful who are hungry for spiritual nourishment and want to adore God.

"You should not need a commandment to enter such a banquet hall," he said.

[Comment: I respect Cardinal Arinze a great deal, and he has some very excellent thoughts here which hits the nail right on the head. I know he is a man who loves the Church, Catholic doctrine and Catholic liturgy. That being said, I think there are a few things here which, hopefully, don't represent the thinking of the Holy Father.

For example, I don't find his thoughts on the present situation of the classical liturgy to be necessarily adequate or desirable. Granted, he isn't throwing out completely the possibility of a widening of the rite. But if I may be so bold (and it is bold I confess), the very conservative tone in this regard, especially as regards the present arrangement, perhaps demonstrates a lack of awareness, or at least pastoral sensitivity, to the situation that so many average Catholics face who are attached to this liturgy -- one which doesn't find itself always on the receiving end of very generous, even civilized, behaviour on the part of bishops and/or his staff. (Indeed, it isn't always the case that those who attend such Masses are always the most civilized themselves, and so some of this reaction is our own fault -- then again, as some have noted, many react this way because they are a bit like children who have been abused or neglected; in such cases one might expect some lashing out. But, still, it must be controlled and gradually weeded out.) This is a problem which needs to be addressed, but as good will and openness are not legislatible, it seems to this writer that the only solution that is pastorally satisfactory and effective in the here and now is to change the nature of that relationship.

Unfortunately, for many Catholics the only place that the liturgical traditions of the Latin rite are preserved are in the context of the classical Roman liturgy. I agree that many of the liturgical abuses that come about are due to poor formation rather than ill will. Poor liturgical formation of priests and the liturgists themselves -- mind you, the ill will can quickly become manifest when you point out these problems; the ill-will of pride that we all experience and subject others to at times. But it is precisely because of this lack of formation that I think that a healthy and robust classical Roman rite is invaluable in the here and now while this is worked out.

Why? Besides serving those faithful attached to this ancient liturgical tradition, first and foremost of course, it also serves to preserve our Latin rite liturgical inheritance. It preserves it not only for the Tridentine communities, but also for the broader Roman rite. It is a place that this tradition can continue to live, and from which it can eventually be re-acquired. As we all know as well, it is seen as also fulfilling a function in regards the reform of the reform. In short, it can serve to help solve the very liturgical problems in the modern rite that the Cardinal is speaking of. It is precisely in the interests of the Roman rite in general that this liturgical rite should flourish, but if it is to do that it needs to be freed so that parishes may develop, choirs may be formed, schools of Latin introduced, etc. We certainly know that this likely isn't going to necessarily happen on a widescale in the broader parish context for some time. So there is an important function to be had here.

From the perspective of the modern rite, I think a number of the Cardinals insights are quite good and also face the reality that we can't expect change to come overnight. Moreover catechesis is indeed crucial -- though, again, here I think it cannot be stressed enough just how significantly the lex orandi effects catechesis itself. As the liturgy is the only catechism most of the faithful experience regularly, it is highly important if love of God, the Sunday Mass, etc. is to be restored, thus allowing their appreciation of the sacred liturgy, and their love of the Lord, to mature and deepen. There is a profound inter-relationship here, and in my thinking (for what it's worth) and study, this probably needs to come first as it is the lived experience of the Faith for people -- and for most people, the experiential precedes the intellectual.

The only thing I would add is that I certainly hope that at least some clear action will be forthcoming. There is certainly need for very clear and precise definitions of what is to be done and not to be done in the sacred liturgy, as well as what direction the liturgy ought to be heading in our parishes -- to those of us who have read the various statements from Rome, this is already clear, however, an undeniably authoritative and clear document (akin to Redemptionis Sacramentum) seems to be needed. Thie liturgy needs to become substantially more objective. The faithful need this light, and today's liturgists and clergy need this kind of direction, if not also accountability.

I suppose what I am ultimately saying is that, in part I hope Arinze has it right, and in part I hope he has it wrong. We shall have to wait and see what Pope Benedict has in store. - SRT]

Thursday, February 09, 2006

More to come yet...

[As mentioned before, I haven't had time to price these yet. If you're interested though, email me anytime.]

1963. Pocket sized in vinyl cover with ribbon. VG shape.

Aland, Black and Martini
VG shape. Standard sized bible.

Editio Altera Emendata
Rome: Sumpitbus Pontificii Institute Biblici, 1960.
Max Zerwick, S.I.
Library re-bind. VG shape.

Goro, Gludge and Guillaume
SPCK: 1928
Poor binding, and a very minor amount of underlining.

Hans Urs Von Balthasar
Intro. by Aidan Nichols
As new.

Edited by G.P. Fedotov
Paperback, clean text, though the outer paperback is worn.

Henri J. M. Nouwen
VG shape.

Volume 1: Seeing the Form
Hans Urs Von Balthasar
Hardcover with Dustjacket. Ignatius. VG shape.

Conrad Pepler, O.P.
Herder and Herder: 1944.
Hardcover, VG shape, ex-convent lib.

More used books..

I'm soon going to be posting some new titles. Those which I intend to post later today are as follows. If anyone is interested in anything before I go ahead and actually post them in the used book section, please feel free to email me and I'll let you know the pricing. Here are the books so far:

BIBLIA SACRA VULGATA (2 vols with ribbons. Hardcover, VG condition. Clean inside. Published in 1969.) - The Latin Vulgate, OT and NT.

PHILOPSOPHICAL GREEK by Francis H. Fobes. Univ. of Chicago Press: 1957. Hardcover, VG condition. Pretty much clean inside (2 sentences are highlighted, otherwise clean, which is rare for such types of books.)

MISSAE DEFUNCTORUM (Altar Missal for Requiem Mass). 2 Black ribbons, black tabs present (one tab damaged). Classical Missal art inside and beautiful image of Crucifixion for "Canon Missae" page. VG binding and clean inside. Benizger Bros: 1941.

LIBER USUALIS OFFICII PRO DOMINICIS ET FESTIS I VEL II CLASSIS CUM CANTU GREGORIANO. Rome: Desclee, 1913. Hardcover, still together though the interior binding is loose. Text is clean.

COLLECTIO RITUUM. Latin-English. 1955. VG. Leather like cover.


THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT. Oxford University Press: 1882. 2nd ed.

THE MOTHER OF THE SAVIOUR AND OUR INTERIOR LIFE by Fr. Reginald Garrigrou-Lagrange. Hardcover, ex-convent lib (so typical markings). Clean inside otherwise, a little tearing on the inside papers, but merely a minor cosmetic issue, very good binding. 1954.

THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST. Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrance. 2 volumes. Hardcover. 1938. Ex-convent LIB.

THE DOCTRINE OF BEING IN ARISTOTELIAN METAPHYSICS: A Study in the Greek Background of Medieval Thought. Preface by Etienne Gilson. By Joseph Owens, CSSR. Pontifical Institute for Mediaeval Studies, 1951. Softcover, oversized.

Preparing Lent in the Byzantine Liturgy

The Lenten-Paschal season is the most important of the entire liturgical year, comprising about a third of it. In the Byzantine liturgical set-up, the Lenten time of preparation for Easter is so important that we have a time of preparation for the time of preparation! Every year there are five Sundays that help prepare the faithful for the spiritual and ascetical efforts of Great Lent, helping us acquire the appropriate inner dispositions.

The first Sunday is called the Sunday of Zacchaeus, because the gospel of his conversion is read. This sets us on the course toward Lent for it speaks to us of the desire to see Jesus. We cannot get anywhere without that. But we cannot see Him without Him seeing us, as the story makes clear; we cannot look from afar, uncommitted. Christ will make an invitation to bring salvation to us, and He will expect us to make the necessary changes in our own behavior.

The next Sunday is that of the Publican and the Pharisee (this is the weekend on which we first open the Lenten Triodion, the main service book of the season). Here we are instructed to abandon the pride that cancels out the spiritual fruitfulness of virtuous acts and to embrace the spirit of humility and clear self-knowledge that paves the way to true repentance, of which the Pharisee rendered himself incapable.

Once we have recognized our sin and cried out for mercy like the Publican, we can begin our journey home to the Father, so the following Sunday is that of the Prodigal Son. This is a great encouragement to undertake the difficult labors of repentance (which means changing our ways of thinking and acting), for nothing can be more inviting or consoling than the open arms and heart of the Father, full of love and forgiveness.

Now just in case all of this has not moved us to get serious about repentance, the Church brings out her heavy artillery. The next Sunday is the Sunday of the Last Judgment, on which we read the appropriate section of Matthew 25. The Offices for this Sunday are definitely not “church-pc,” as we read of frightening images of hellfire and worms and the agonies of the damned, who are “ground to powder,” among other things. Some good old-fashioned fire and brimstone preaching, that!

This Sunday is also called “Meat-fare Sunday,” since it is the last day on which the eating of meat is permitted. Now this is a full week before Lent begins, but the Church is trying to let us down gently. First we learn how to do without meat, then without dairy products (the next Sunday is subtitled, “Cheese-fare Sunday”). The Lenten fast is strict: no meat or dairy products at all for the whole of Lent, and no fish either, except shellfish (fish with backbones are considered “animals” and hence are not eaten—except on the feast of the Annunciation, Palm Sunday, and Holy Thursday).

On the following Saturday we celebrate all the God-bearing ascetical fathers and mothers of the faith, the monks and nuns who excelled in the virtues, in fasting and spiritual warfare. We implore their intercession for the coming contest.

The final Sunday is called Forgiveness Sunday. (The gospel is a series of passages from the Sermon on the Mount on fasting and forgiveness.) The Offices for Vespers and Matins recall the original creation, sin, and banishment from Paradise. So the repeated refrain is: “I am fallen, call me back!” During Matins on this Sunday (as well as on the two previous ones) we sing Psalm 136(137) to a haunting melody. It is the song of God’s people in exile, grieving over their sins and vowing to keep their holy land and temple always in their hearts and thoughts. It heightens our awareness of our state of banishment from Paradise and motivates us to begin the journey home.

In the Byzantine tradition there is no Ash Wednesday. Lent begins on the Monday before, or, more precisely, at Vespers on Sunday evening, for our liturgical day begins at Vespers of the previous day. More precisely still, the season of Lent begins in the middle of Vespers! At the “great prokimenon,” a psalm verse that usually precedes a reading (it means “that which is placed before”), the celebrant’s vestments and other church coverings are changed from bright to dark colors as we cry out, from Psalm 68(69): “Turn not Your face away from Your servant, for I am in distress! Hear me speedily, listen to my soul and deliver me!” Thus the Byzantine Church begins Great Lent.

But the service is not finished yet. At the end of Vespers there is a rite of mutual forgiveness. Everyone (our monastery is small enough so we can all do this individually to all present) prostrates before each other saying, “Brother (or sister), pray for me and forgive me; I am a sinner.” And the other responds: “May God forgive you.” The traditional kiss of peace (on both shoulders) is then given. Then the roles are reversed and the other asks forgiveness. This is a very powerful rite, and is an excellent way to begin Lent, for it clears away the spiritual sludge of the past year and enables one to go forth in peace in the name of the Lord into the desert of fasting and spiritual struggles. Even if this isn’t part of your liturgical tradition, you may wish to incorporate a similar rite into your own family or community.

I remember one year I had many difficulties in my relationship to one of the Brothers. As I approached to prostrate before him, I couldn’t even get the words out but immediately burst into tears right there in church. No words were needed as the reconciliation took place. Another year I remember that almost everyone was weeping in the church. The power of repentance and forgiveness is great, and this profound and healing rite is the anteroom to the Kingdom of Heaven.

One final touch: as everyone is prostrating and forgiving each other, the canon of the Resurrection softly sung in the background. That is the goal of Lent, and it is presented to us at the outset, lest we forget and faint on the way. Even with the arduous ascetical and liturgical practices of Lent, the exclamation, “Christ is risen!” is never far from the consciousness of the Eastern Christian.

God willing, I’ll write more about Lent itself in a few weeks.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Catholic World News : Rome, SSPX & Flavigny

[I've edited this since this was misunderstood as a flippant comment. The CWNews title is debated for its accuracy, but I'll leave it as that is the story as they titled it. Suffice it to say, the hoped for big news from Flavigny didn't pan out. We can now put our hopes in the future, and what Rome might be doing in regards this question as well as there seems to be some kind of thawing in the Rome-SSPX relations.]

Catholic World News : No compromise with Vatican, SSPX leader says

Liturgical Fragments from Denmark

One of our readers pointed out this video of a reproduction of a medieval liturgy:

Medieval Liturgy

Monday, February 06, 2006

Liturgical Videos

They say a picture is worth a 1000 words. In our multimedia culture, I think it is probably worth even more. And in our ecclesial culture which is so sorely lacking in transcedent liturgy, it is even more exponentially important.

To that end, I've added another section on the side-bar: Liturgical Videos.

Now, this list isn't meant to be comprehensive. I know of others out there. Rather I am presenting those videos which I have found to be excellent in quality, or in addition, I am including videos which are also unique in their function (as for example one which is a rubrical explanation of the Tridentine Mass; well produced, and also unique.)

Here's the list for your ease:




Liturgical Books in Print

Here is my "completed" list of Liturgical Books in Print, now appearing in the sidebar. (My apologies for those that commented on this thread earlier. For some reason blogger lost this post, and thus also the comments that went with it.)

If anyone sees any gaps here, please let me know.

Finally, I know the FSSP had reprinted the 1962 Brevarium Romanum, however, at present I do not see it listed anywhere. If anyone knows anything about this, please let me know.

Here's the Latin Rite list:

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: