Saturday, April 08, 2006

DVD Review: Two DVD's from Tridentine Benedictine France

Not so long ago I highlighted two DVD's which have been made available for sale by the famed traditional Benedictine Abbey of "Le Barroux" in France. These two DVD's document two major events in the life of Le Barroux. The first, the blessing of a new abbot, Dom Louis-Marie, as successor to Dom Gerard Calvet, on January 25, 2004. The second event is that of the consecration of the new monastery of Our Lady of the Annunciation for the Benedictine sisters of Le Barroux on May 12, 2005. Both events were presides over by, then Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina-Estevez.

Now, coming from the heart of traditional Catholic France, as one might expect, the DVD's are documented in the French language. Thus, as you watch these DVD's you will hear French language commentary. Regardless of whether you speak French or not, you'll get a great deal out of these DVD's. First off, it is a rare view inside the walls of the two Abbeys of Le Barroux and, second, as a look at some seldom seen ceremonies and in the classical rite to boot – possibly a slight variant of it. Now, so you know what you're getting, it should be noted that these videos do not include the entirety of these liturgies. Rather, they've condensed them down into approximately 80 minutes of video. Following each primary video are additional features such as the homily of Cardinal Media (useful in this case only if you speak French), and in the case of the blessing of the new Abbot, the entire litany of saints.

The DVD's are region free and in the PAL format. Just to explain this, North American DVD's are in NTSC format. Think of this like the old distinction between "VHS" and "BETA" where video tapes were concerned. When I received these videos, I noticed my own DVD player would not play them. I have it, however, that most newer DVD players now have the ability to play both NTSC and PAL DVD's, though you may want to confirm this as regards your own DVD player. That being said, if you aren't confident about that, you still aren't out of options. I tried placing these DVD's in a computer with a DVD player and that player had no trouble playing these DVD's. If you still do not have this option, your final option is that there are places which can convert PAL DVD's to NTSC format for you. Given that you aren't making copies of such DVD's for the purpose of giving them out, but simply creating a copy for your own use for a paid product, it seems to me that this is a legitimate option that is in keeping with the spirit of the copyright.

That may seem like a lot of potential work, but I can tell you that I believe these DVD's are worth it, if only because of the richness and rareness of the liturgies found therein. If you love Benedictine and Monastic spirituality, and you love reverent, traditional liturgy, then you'll want to grab these.

If you can't afford both DVD's and feel like you need to choose, let me give you a couple of tips which may help. If you prefer to see a greater amount of coverage of the liturgy of the Mass, then I'd personally recommend you go with the DVD of the consecration of the Abbey of Our Lady of the Annunciation. From watching both, I personally felt like I had a greater sense of the flow of the Mass in this DVD. This is because in the rite of the blessing of a new abbot, there are various rituals interspersed throughout the Mass. However, if you prefer male monastic choirs – and some do -- and are interested in rarely seen liturgical rites, then the DVD of the conscecration of the Dom Louis-Marie will likely be more to your liking. Incidentally, this DVD also includes the presence of many abbots, mitred and coped, from surrounding Benedictine monasteries.

Which to choose, if you have to choose, is a difficult thing to say. Both are well done. Both the monks and the nuns are inspiring and excel in reverence and excellent in the chants of the Church. If you don't have to choose, then I'd recommend you pick up both as they'll form an excellent centrepiece to any traditional liturgical or monastic DVD library.

You may order the products here. Please note there is a DVD version and also some kind of video cassette -- I cannot comment on the format of these.

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