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)

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