Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Book Review: Ambrosianum Mysterium

Ambrosianum Mysterium: The Church of Milan and its Liturgical Tradition, 2 volumes, Cesare Alzati, trans. George Guiver, C.R. The Alcuin Club/Grove Books

Reviewed by Shawn Tribe

For a good many us, when we hear about the Ambrosian liturgical tradition, we of course think of the Ambrosian Missal. But of course, historically the Ambrosian tradition is not simply about the Order of Mass but something broader. As such, Ambrosianum Mysterium should not be thought of as a book just about the text and rubrics of the Ambrosian Missal.

From the outset this becomes clear. Cesare Alzati begins by looking at the unique relationship of St. Ambrose and the Milanese; a relationship that persisted even long after his passing. As well, details of the unique structure of the church of Milan, such as its “ten orders” are discussed. It is such sorts of details, which look in depth into the ecclesial life of the Milanese church, which these two volumes are packed with. Mention of this organizational structure is not merely some idle ecclesial curiousity included in the book to merely round out a study with historical facts. According to Alzati, “the liturgical books show how this [Milanese] organization was bound up inseperably with the order of the [Ambrosian] rite.” Further, as regards the connection of the Milanese with St. Ambrose, so too can this connection be found in their liturgy: “in effect, every celebration, in whatever place, appeared in the [liturgical] books as a celebration of the Church gathered around the vicar of Ambrose and the ordained servants of Ambrose.”

Altazi takes us through the early mists of time to the origins of the Ambrosian rites and introduces readers to some of Ambrose's comments which make reference to the rites as they existed during his time, including that of the Divine Office, rules of fasting and, of course, the Mass itself. A very great deal of the emphasis in the books is found in detailed looks at each of the sacraments, the unique ceremonial to be found in relation to the presence of “winter” and “summer” basilicas (and how that was influenced when those basilicas where destroyed and replaced by a single basilica), and the struggle to be found in the Romanizing influences, particularly within the Carolingian age.

For those readers who are most primarily interested in the question of the liturgical ceremonial of the missal and divine office, rest assured that such is present in goodly quantity in the second volume of this set.

Altazi takes us through the Tridentine period and up to the present, post-conciliar day with the revisions that occurred to the Ambrosian Missal after the Council – and the tendency, ever present it would seem, to drop this local tradition in favour of the modern Roman missal – something which, interestingly, Altazi notes was thought of as the “new Western rite”.

Altazi is certainly not a traditionalist, and as such, one can catch glimpses of some of the modern approaches to liturgiology and ecclesiology that has followed the Council. That being said, he presents readers in this book with a very great deal of information on the Ambrosian tradition. At times, there is perhaps too much for the average reader, with a great many scholarly references to particular manuscripts. This, at times, can make the text a little difficult to follow but is particularly useful for those who wish to do further research and study.

Overall, a decent book set with some interesting information to be found within. The books are sold separately, and if one was to have to choose which volume to pick, the second volume has the most information likely of interest to readers – being the place whereby the focus especially turns upond the Missal and Breviary.

Link to volume 1
Link to volume 2

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Rumour re: papal master of ceremonies appointment

From Archivum Liturgicum:

Latest rumblings

There is a rumbling around the offices of the Curia that presently Mgr. Enrico Viganò, in fact already a pontifical master of ceremonies, will be appointed Master of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, to the position of Mgr. Piero Marini, and that this latter will be sent to the Fabric of St Peter's.

Mgr. Enrico Viganò, of the clergy of the diocese of Como, was born in Milan on the 11th of June, 1994. On the 29th of June 1968 he was ordained priest in the cathedral of Como. Besides the duties as pontifical master of ceremonies, he is also coadjutor of the patriarchal basilica of St Peter in the Vatican and assistant at the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.

Neume Flash Cards

Please forgive me if this is goofy, but maybe it will help some people. Or maybe it is just another web gadget. In any case:

Sancta Liturgia: Theoretical Missal Project Via The New Liturgical Movement

Keith Kenney shares his reflections on the fruits he found in the theoretical missal project. For those who have been critical of the very project itself, I highly recommend you go and read this, Keith get's the value of the exercise in trying to move forward in questions like the reform of the reform, the debate about organic development. Perhaps more than advancing discussion about missal specifics is this the value in the project. Read it:

Sancta Liturgia: Theoretical Missal Project Via The New Liturgical Movement

The Use of Incense

Father William Saunders

The use of incense in the ancient world was common, especially in religious rites where it was used to keep demons away. Herodotus, the Greek historian, recorded that it was popular among the Assyrians, Babylonians and Egyptians. In Judaism, incense was included in the thanksgiving offerings of oil, rain, fruits, wine (cf. Numbers 7:13-17). The Lord instructed Moses to build a golden altar for the burning of incense (cf. Exodus 30:1-10), which was placed in front of the veil to the entrance of the meeting tent where the ark of the covenant was kept.

We do not know exactly when the use of incense was introduced into our Mass or other liturgical rites. At the time of the early Church, the Jews continued to use incense in their own Temple rituals, so it would be safe to conclude that the Christians would have adapted its usage for their own rituals.

In the liturgies of Ss. James and Mark, which in their present form originate in the fifth century, the use of incense is mentioned. A Roman Ritual of the seventh century marks it usage in the procession of a Bishop to the altar and on Good Friday. Moreover, in the Mass, an incensation at the Gospel appears very early; at the offertory, in the 11th century; and at the Introit, in the 12th century. Incense was also used at the Benedictus and Magnificat during Lauds and Vespers about the 13th century, and for the exposition and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament about the 14th century. Gradually, its usage was extended to the incensing of the celebrant and assisting clergy.

The purpose of incensing and the symbolic value of the smoke is that of purification and sanctification. For example, in the Eastern Rites at the beginning of Mass, the altar and sanctuary area were incensed while Psalm 50, the "Miserere," was chanted invoking the mercy of God. The smoke symbolizes the prayers of the faithful drifting up to heaven: the Psalmist prays, "Let my prayer come like incense before you; the lifting up of my hands, like the evening sacrifice" (Psalm 141). Incense also creates the ambiance of heaven: The Book of Revelation describes the heavenly worship as follows: "Another angel came in holding a censer of gold. He took his place at the altar of incense and was given large amounts of incense to deposit on the altar of gold in front of the throne, together with the prayers of all God's holy ones. From the angel's hand, the smoke of the incense went up before God, and with it the prayers of God's people."

In the General Instruction of the Roman Missal incense may be used during the entrance procession; at the beginning of Mass, to incense the altar; at the procession and proclamation of the Gospel; at the offertory, to incense the offerings, altar, priest and people; and at the elevation of the Sacred Host and chalice of Precious Blood after the consecration. The priest may also incense the Crucifix and the Paschal Candle. During funeral Masses, the priest at the final commendation may incense the coffin, both as a sign of honor to the body of the deceased which became the temple of the Holy Spirit at Baptism and as a sign of the faithful’s prayers for the deceased rising to God.

The usage of incense adds a sense of solemnity and mystery to the Mass. The visual imagery of the smoke and the smell remind us of the transcendence of the Mass which links heaven with earth, and allow us to enter into the presence of God.

Fr. Saunders is president of Notre Dame Institute and associate pastor of Queen of Apostles Parish, both in Alexandria.

Monday, May 29, 2006

What I learned at the Episcopal Church

This weekend I found myself at an Episcopal Church service. It had been many years since I attended one. Three points stood out, none of which have much relation to each other:

  • The hymn book was packed with good English-language settings of the ordinary, using the same words we use in the New Rite ICEL translation at the Catholic Church. For years our schola struggled to find decent English-language settings of the Mass ordinary, and couldn't find them in any of the mainstream Catholic hymnbooks. And yet right down the street we find them in the Episcopal hymnal. What we were thinking? What are Catholic publishers thinking?
  • Many of the translations are the same, including down to the bad translations ("And also with you" for "et cum spiritu tuo," and the convoluted and fanciful Gloria rendering, which can only inspire wonder and amazement.). I can only suppose that this was the result of decades of ecumenical dialogue (though I don't know for sure). So what happens when the new Roman Missal comes out, in which many of these problems will be fixed? Will the Episcopal Church change too?
  • The people received communion kneeling at an altar rail, a visible sign of piety that exceeds what the Catholics down the street show toward the Eucharist. It struck me (again) that the elimination of this practice was a tragic error, nowhere written in the documents of Vatican II. The posture and method is left vague in the GIRM. Restoring the old practice would seem to be a giant step toward solemnity, and something that could be done parish by parish, with the Bishop's approval (obviously a sticking point).

A Ban on Kneeling? Some Catholics Won't Stand for It - Los Angeles Times

By David Haldane, Times Staff Writer
May 28, 2006

At a small Catholic church in Huntington Beach, the pressing moral question comes to this: Does kneeling at the wrong time during worship make you a sinner?

Kneeling "is clearly rebellion, grave disobedience and mortal sin," Father Martin Tran, pastor at St. Mary's by the Sea, told his flock in a recent church bulletin. The Diocese of Orange backs Tran's anti-kneeling edict.

Though told by the pastor and the archdiocese to stand during certain parts of the liturgy, a third of the congregation still gets on its knees every Sunday.

"Kneeling is an act of adoration," said Judith M. Clark, 68, one of at least 55 parishioners who have received letters from church leaders urging them to get off their knees or quit St. Mary's and the Diocese of Orange. "You almost automatically kneel because you're so used to it. Now the priest says we should stand, but we all just ignore him."

The debate is being played out in at least a dozen parishes nationwide.

Since at least the 7th century, Catholics have been kneeling after the Agnus Dei, the point during Mass when the priest holds up the chalice and consecrated bread and says, "Behold the lamb of God." But four years ago, the Vatican revised its instructions, allowing bishops to decide at some points in the Mass whether their flocks should get on their knees. "The faithful kneel … unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise," says Rome's book of instructions. Since then, some churches have been built without kneelers.

The debate is part of the argument among Catholics between tradition and change. Traditionalists see it as the ultimate posture of submission to and adoration of God; modernists view kneeling as the vestige of a feudal past they would like to leave behind.

At the center of the controversy is the church's concept of Christ, said Jesuit Father Lawrence J. Madden, director of the Georgetown Center for Liturgy at Georgetown University in Washington. It's a question raised in the bestselling book "The Da Vinci Code."

Because the earliest Christians viewed Jesus as God and man, Madden said, they generally stood during worship services to show reverence and equality. About the 7th century, however, Catholic theologians put more emphasis on Christ's divinity and introduced kneeling as the only appropriate posture at points in the Mass when God was believed to be present.

Things started to change in the 1960s, Madden said, when Vatican II began moving the church back to its earliest roots. What has ensued, he said, is the predictable struggle of an institution revising centuries of religious practices.

The argument over kneeling, Madden said, is "a signal of the division in the church between two camps: those who have caught the spirit of Vatican II, and those who are a bit suspicious. Because it's so visible, what happens at the Sunday worship event is a lightning rod for lots of issues."

One flashpoint involves the Agnus Dei. Traditionalists say the faithful must then fall to their knees in awe for several minutes, believing that the bread and wine are literally the body and blood of Christ.

Lesa Truxaw, the Orange Diocese director of worship, said Bishop Tod D. Brown banned kneeling because standing "reflects our human dignity. It's not that we think we're equal to God, but we recognize that we are made in the image and likeness of God."

Orange County parishioners are still allowed to kneel at other points in the Mass, including the Eucharistic prayers. Kneeling is optional as worshippers receive communion.

No less an authority than the pope is on record as favoring kneeling. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI last year, wrote in "The Spirit of the Liturgy," published in 2000, that the gesture, "comes from the Bible and the knowledge of God." He has not addressed the issue as pope.

American Catholic bishops have taken the opposite position. "Standing can be just as much an expression of respect for the coming of Christ," said Msgr. Anthony F. Sherman, a spokesman for the liturgy secretariat of the U.S. Bishops Committee on the Liturgy based in Washington.

That hasn't quieted critics.

"It's hard to understand why any bishop would prohibit his people from expressing reverence in the way they have done for centuries," said Helen Hull Hitchcock, a founder of the conservative Adoremus Society for the Renewal of Sacred Liturgy in St. Louis.

The controversy at St. Mary's by the Sea began to intensify late last year after Brown appointed Tran to lead the 1,500-family parish.

Tran took over following the retirement of the church's longtime pastor, who had offered a popular traditional Latin Mass.

A Ban on Kneeling? Some Catholics Won't Stand for It - Los Angeles Times

Archbishop Ranjith on Fr. Lang and Ad Orientem

[I cannot recall if I had posted this awhile back or no. But I thought I would post it here again in any case just to be safe.]

“Turning towards the Lord”

by Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith

Fr. Michael Lang’s book “Turning towards the Lord” – which is now being published in Italy – traces the Church’s reasons and practices, since the first centuries, relating to the direction of liturgical prayer.

The book’s objective and lucid approach will certainly make it a helpful tool for those who want to deepen their understanding on the subject. It demonstrates how the orientation of liturgical prayer as established by postconciliar reforms does not reflect the Council documents, a surprising fact.

In fact, in the preface to the book Benedict XVI, writing when he was still the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, asserts:

“To the ordinary churchgoer, the two most obvious effects of the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council seem to be the disappearance of Latin and the turning of the altars towards the people. Those who read the relevant texts will be astonished to learn that neither is in fact found in the decrees of the Council. The use of he vernacular is certainly permitted, especially fro the Liturgy of the Word, but the preceding general rule of the Council text says, ‘Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites’ (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 36.1). There is nothing in the Council text about turning altars towards the people; that point is raised only in postconciliar instructions.”

Sacrosanctum Concilium did not call for foolhardy attitudes in this area, but for an objective and deliberate implementation of the reform. Furthermore, liturgical reform did not begin only after Vatican Council II, but had already been in motion to some extent since the time of Pius X. Both in the process of reform preceding the Council and after it, as the Council itself intended, liturgical changes were supposed to emerge organically, and not in sudden haste. But, unfortunately, not everything went as it should have. And now some are speaking of corrections, or of a reform of the reform.

Leaving aside this reform of the reform, Fr. Lang’s book can be considered a catalyst for further improvement in the current liturgical practice of the Church. Maybe this is the reason why, in the preface, the pope expresses his hope for attentive, objective, and passionate study of this topic. In his view, we must be able to see the positive value in what happened in the past, and listen to everyone, including those who do not agree with us, without becoming partisans labeled as “preconciliar” or “postconciliar,” “conservative” or “progressive.” Objectivity is the key. Benedict XVI affirms this when he says: “The quest is to be achieved, not by condemning one another, but by carefully listening to the internal guidance of the liturgy itself.”

And the Church has always understood that its liturgical life must be oriented toward the Lord, and brings with it a profoundly mystical atmosphere. It is in this reality that we must find the answers. For this reason, instead of a spirit of “free fall” that leaves everything to creativity and innovation without roots or depth, we must bring ourselves into harmony with the orientation mentioned above, and bring it to full blossom.

The pope affirms the importance of this dimension when he says that the natural direction of liturgical prayer is “versus Deum, per Jesum Christum [toward God, through Jesus Christ],” even if the priest does in fact face the people. It is not so much a question of form as of substance.

Fr. Lang’s book shows how throughout its history the Church has understood the importance of always directing its prayer toward the Lord, in terms of both content and gesture.

In order to grasp the profoundly spiritual and practical value of the Church’s liturgical life, we need not only a spirit of scientific or theological-historical research, but above all an attitude of meditation, prayer, and silence. Those who study the historical journey of the liturgy and strive to contribute to its progress must place themselves in a posture of humbly listening to the evolution of the Church’s liturgical traditions down through the centuries, and of the important role of the magisterium. They must also pay attention to the gradual development of these traditions within the ecclesial community, and arm themselves with a spirit of intense prayer and adoration of the Lord. This is because what happens in the Church’s celebrations of praise is not simply an earthly and human reality. And if these mystical aspects are not betrayed, everything will become a source of edification rather than disorientation and confusion. Arbitrariness, haste, and emotional excitement should have no place in this search. The conciliar constitution on the sacred liturgy affirms this point when it says:

“That sound tradition may be retained, and yet the way remains open to legitimate progress. Careful investigation is always to be made into each part of the liturgy which is to be revised. This investigation should be theological, historical, and pastoral. Also the general laws governing the structure and meaning of the liturgy must be studied in conjunction with the experience derived from recent liturgical reforms and from the indults conceded to various places. Finally, there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 23).

This is why this same conciliar constitution offers clear and stringent norms on who is truly competent to make decisions on liturgical innovations, asserting, among other things, that “therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22).

This great sense of reverence toward what is being celebrated stems not only from the fact of the centrality of the liturgy in the Church’s life, affirmed by the principle “lex credendi, lex orandi,” but also from the conviction that the liturgy is not a purely human act, but a reflection of what is happening, as Sacrosanctum Concilium itself says, “in that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims.”

The liturgy is also that which is given as a gift to the community of the Church, the bride of Christ and the heavenly Jerusalem.

Unfortunately, for various reasons, which are sometimes well-intentioned, there are priests and bishops who introduce every sort of experiment and change, diminishing the sense of the sacred and mystical nature of what is depicted in the Church’s liturgical celebrations. The temptation to become the leading actors in the divine mysteries, and to seek to control even the action of the Lord, is strong in a culture that divinizes man. In some countries, the situation is or is becoming truly dramatic. Every trace of the sacred often disappears in these so-called “liturgies.”

One of the most beautiful of flowers, the lotus flower, grows in Asia. But it grows in the mud. Even though mud is not beautiful, the flower grows out of it and orients itself toward the sun, spreading its petals and imparting beauty to its surroundings. I see a comparison to human life in this. What truly liberates man is not what keeps him immersed in the slime of his weaknesses and decisions, but the capacity he acquires to liberate himself from these and direct his life toward the infinite and toward his Creator. It is not by lowering the sense of the divine to the human level, but by seeking to raise ourselves to supernatural levels that we will succeed in making contact with the divine mystery.

The liturgy is not what man decides it is, but what the Lord brings about within him: an attitude of adoration toward his Creator and Lord, liberating him from his slavery. If the liturgy loses its mystical and heavenly dimension, what will help man to free himself from the mud of egoism and slavery? If the Church does not insist upon the mystical and profoundly spiritual dimensions of life and the celebration of life, who will? Is this not our duty to a world that is closed off within itself, becoming disoriented, insecure, locked in its own prison? If man presumes to understand everything that the Lord does, then it is not God who judges history, but man himself. Is this not the ancient idolatry denounced by the prophets?

The Church, which must reflect the constant presence of Christ in the world, is placed at the service of humanity in order to help it to free itself from the prison of being closed in on itself, to discover its vocation to the fullness of life in the Lord, and to open itself to the joyous embrace of the infinite. Its intimate communion with its Spouse, which is reflected and nourished above all in its liturgical life, becomes the powerful manifestation of the infinite freedom that humanity always has the possibility of reaching through it.

For this reason, preserving and enriching the spiritual mysticism of the liturgy is no longer an option for us, but a duty. If the world falls into the pit of human self-sufficiency, thus becoming more thirsty for the infinite, the Church cannot help but offer the liturgy, because in Christ humanity is raised up into the divine presence. It is not by lowering itself to superficiality that the liturgy will motivate us to reflect the values of the infinite to the world, but by affirming these mystical and divine dimensions more and more. Today more than ever, this becomes a reflection of the prophetic role of the Church as well.

Thank you, Fr. Lang, for this book which will help us to turn our gaze ever more toward the Lord.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Yet another Papal talk on Tradition

Thanks to a reader pointing out that Rorate Caeli is quoting part of the pope's homily from today in Poland, which, yet again, is dealing with tradition:

"He will give you another Counsellor – the Spirit of truth." Faith, as knowledge and profession of the truth about God and about man, "comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ", as Saint Paul says (Rom 10:17). Throughout the history of the Church, the Apostles preached the word of Christ, taking care to hand it on intact to their successors, who in their turn transmitted it to subsequent generations until our own day. Many preachers of the Gospel gave their lives specifically because of their faithfulness to the truth of the word of Christ. And so solicitude for the truth gave birth to the Church’s Tradition. As in past centuries, so also today there are people or groups who obscure this centuries-old Tradition, seeking to falsify the Word of Christ and to remove from the Gospel those truths which in their view are too uncomfortable for modern man. They try to give the impression that everything is relative: even the truths of faith would depend on the historical situation and on human evaluation. Yet the Church cannot silence the Spirit of Truth. The successors of the Apostles, together with the Pope, are responsible for the truth of the Gospel, and all Christians are called to share in this responsibility, accepting its authoritative indications. Every Christian is bound to confront his own convictions continually with the teachings of the Gospel and of the Church’s Tradition in the effort to remain faithful to the word of Christ, even when it is demanding and, humanly speaking, hard to understand. We must not yield to the temptation of relativism or of a subjectivist and selective interpretation of Sacred Scripture. Only the whole [integra] truth can open us to adherence to Christ, dead and risen for our salvation.

CWN Curial Appointment Prediction

THE Vatican appointment
While the Pope is in Poland, the Roman rumor mills are churning overtime.

For weeks there have been little indications that Pope Benedict is preparing to tackle a daunting challenge: taking control of the Vatican's most powerful and entrenched bureaucracy, the Secretariat of State. (American readers should be reminded that at the Vatican, the Secretariat of State oversees not only foreign policy, but virtually all the affairs of the Holy See-- save only those of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.) Early in his pontificate Benedict put his own hand-picked man, Cardinal Levada, at the head of CDF. Now informed sources say he's ready to make his choice for State, to replace Cardinal Angelo Sodano (who, at 78, is well beyond retirement age, has held the post for a remarkable 15 years, and, uncharacteristically, has been caught in apparent conflict with the Boss a few times recently).

The announcement, we're told, will come very soon. Who will it be?

The ideal candidate would be:

Someone the Pope knows well, and trusts. Someone with whom he has worked closely.
Italian. Since 1979 it has been possible to think of a non-Italian Pope; it's not yet possible to think of a non-Italian Secretary of State.
A cardinal, preferably papabili. This job commands enormous respect, and the man holding the post will be on every short list of potential successors to the current Pontiff. If he already appeared on last year's lists, so much the better.
One man neatly fills all those criteria: Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone of Genoa. He's Italian, he's a cardinal, he's widely respected, and he's the former secretary of the CDF, where he served for 7 years under you-know-whom. Sure enough, that's the name that friends in Rome keep hearing mentioned.

This isn't a news story. But it's something more than a rumor. Let's call it a prediction. Look for the announcement in early June.

Catholic World News (CWN)

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Reform of the Reform: Duc in altum

Discussion and debate about the reform of the reform needs to happen because, as I see it, this fine movement is subtly threatened by a temptation to simply work with the modern Roman missal as we have it, cleaning up its accidents, but never looking at, speaking upon or proposing more substantial reform.

Thus, work is done toward restoring some Latin to the liturgy, in working to improve the English translations, in trying to bring about a revival in the celebration of the Mass ad orientem, in working toward a restoration of Gregorian chant and better sacred music all around.

These are all extremely necessary goals that must be worked towards. And indeed, this is a part of the reform of the reform. But it is only part of it. The reform of the reform is, or at least ought to be, about more than simply cleaning up liturgical abuses and restoration the traditional accidents of the liturgy. These accidents are important and the abuses do need correction. A reform of the reform without this re-inculturation toward a Catholic sense of practice of the liturgy will be lukewarm at best.

At the same time, we mustn't take the easy way out. We must not rest satisfied that doing these things are "good enough". To say as much fails to give weight to the serious problems that our Holy Father brought up as Cardinal; the problems of the rupture in organic development; the problem of fabricated liturgy by committee; the problem of a hermeneutic of rupture rather than continuity. It would fail to take seriously and to heart the substantial critiques which have come from the non-reactionary corners of the classical liturgical movement, and even the Eastern churches.

If indeed the basic premise of the reform of the reform is true (and I daresay it is), and the liturgical reform as it happened went beyond the mandate of the Vatican Council, and if, indeed, the modern Roman liturgy has broken that organic tradition of development and become a fabricated product, then this is something that must be addressed. The substance of the missal itself must be reformed in addition to the accidents of typical liturgical celebration.

With that being said, I had proposed a project a few weeks ago to look at possible organic revisions (with the obvious question arising from that project as to what would constitute organic development) of either the classical Roman liturgy, or the reform of the reform liturgy. I believe this project can have bring about results in trying to take the discussion of the reform of a reform to a deeper level.

But for those who don't wish to pursue that project in that regard, I want to lay out a question to our readers for debate and discussion, and particularly to our priests. If there is to be a reform of the reform -- meaning, a revision of the Missal itself -- from whence do we begin? This fundamental question determines how a reform of the reform is ultimately and strategically approached.

Logic would seem to dictate that we begin at the point of departure and retrace our steps; namely, from the classical Roman Missal. Alternatively, from a pastoral angle, some would say this isn't realistic and we must work backwards starting from the 1970 Missal, aiming back toward either the 1965 Ordo Missae or to the 1962 Missale Romanum.

The question is then, where does the reform of the reform start with regards these more substantial revisions? What are your reasons why, and how do you envision this deeper reform occuring? i.e. If we start from the 1970 Missal, what would be the rubrical and textual changes, deletions, and additions you'd make, and again, how does (or would) organic development apply in the case of a missal which has already, arguably, broken from organic development? Need its revision in reverse be organic or not?

Is starting at the 1962 too radical and contrary to genuine pastoral concerns? Is starting from the 1970 missal too conservative and not dealing with the problem on a deep enough level? Would it be an effective compromise, neither too radical, nor too conservative, to simply re-impose the 1965 Ordo Missae as the normative Missal of the Roman rite (always presuming a place for the 1962 Missale Romanum)?

These discussions need to occur. Some object that there is too much talk and not enough action. That may be the case, but we aren't in a position to personally enact these decisions. The best we can do is work upon the accidents in our local parishes -- and we should do that in the here and now. But that being said, and putting aside the accidents and presuming those things as a given, there is relevance and necessity for these discussions to occur. The substantial reform of the reform must be discussed and debated. It must not continue to be only a vague notion, with little in the way of substantial proposals.

We must indeed look at what we can do in the here and now in implementing a reform of the reform in our parishes with the Missal we have; we need strategies for doing that as well. But that isn't the question I am proposing to you here. What I am asking you to do is to get down to first principles, to look ahead, discuss and debate, where the reform of the reform needs to go in the future, and what its foundation will be.

Curial shuffle

Many on here have been interested in possible Curial moves. In that vein, Sandro Magister has a piece up: The New Curia of Benedict XVI Looks toward Asia

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Upcoming Liturgical Institute conferences

The Liturgical Institute at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary have some interesting conferences upcoming:

Sacred Music Retreat
June 25 to June 30, 2006
A preached retreat for musicians led by Fr. Jordan Kelly, OP, organist and experienced retreat master. Time for prayer and reflection will be balanced with instruction in Gregorian chant, choral singing, and organ. Enrollment limited. Click here for a registration form.

Pride of Place: Gregorian Chant in the Liturgy
September 17-19, 2006
Led by Dr. Edward Schaefer, Professor of Music at Gonzaga University, the conference will offer discussion of the place of chant in the liturgy, as well as instruction in parallel tracks for both beginners and advanced singers.

Heaven on Earth: Building or Renovating Your Catholic Church
October 25-27, 2006
A theological and practical conference on how to envision the church building as a sacrament of heaven. Includes sessions on thinking of architecture sacramentally, choosing a good traditional architect, finding craftspeople, acoustics and music, the nature of the image, fundraising, and a beginning-to-end walkthrough of a church project.

St. Austin Review: Recent Reviews

I haven't normally mentioned when I publish my articles or reviews in various periodicals -- and lately I seem to have been as focused on putting them up here on the NLM -- but for those interested, I have a review of David Berger's book, Thomas Aquinas and the Liturgy in the May/June 2006 edition of the St. Austin Review. While we're at it, I'll mention that I also had a re-publication of my review of Looking Again at the Question of the Liturgy in the March/April 2006 issue.

CNS STORY: Bishops to vote on new Order of Mass in English

[NLM Commentary at the end...]

By Jerry Filteau
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops will be asked to approve a new translation of the Order of Mass when they meet in Los Angeles June 15-17.

If the new translation is adopted as proposed and subsequently approved by the Vatican, Catholics will have to learn a number of changes in their Mass prayers and responses. Among the more obvious will be:

-- Whenever the priest says "The Lord be with you," the people will respond, "And with your spirit." The current response is "And also with you."

-- In the first form of the penitential rite, the people will confess that "I have sinned greatly ... through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault." In the current version, that part of the prayer is much shorter: "I have sinned through my own fault."

-- The Nicene Creed will begin "I believe" instead of "We believe" -- a translation of the Latin text instead of the original Greek text.

-- The Sanctus will start, "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts." The current version says, "Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might."

Approving a new text of the Order of Mass is only the first step in a long process of considering and approving a new translation of the entire book of prayers said at Mass. In the United States that book has been called the Sacramentary since 1970, but the Vatican wishes to restore the name Roman Missal, since it is an English translation, with minor adaptations, of the normative Latin "Missale Romanum."

Officials of the bishops' Secretariat for the Liturgy told Catholic News Service May 23 that it is uncertain whether the bishops will seek to publish the new Order of Mass for U.S. use as soon as possible or wait until they have the new English translation of the entire Roman Missal completed. Completing the entire Roman Missal is likely to take at least two more years.

Once the bishops adopt new liturgical texts, they must also be confirmed by the Vatican before they can be authorized for use.

In general, people will find many of the Mass prayers in the new version slightly longer and fuller, as the new translation is based on rules for liturgical translations issued by the Vatican in a 2001 instruction. Unlike the previous Vatican rules -- which encouraged freer translations more adapted to the language into which one was translating -- the new rules require closer adherence to the normative Latin text.

In a recent letter Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, told the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that if a current text does not conform to the new translation norms it must be changed.

"It is not acceptable to maintain that people have become accustomed to a certain translation for the past 30 or 40 years, and therefore that it is pastorally advisable to make no changes. ... The revised text should make the needed changes," he wrote.

He said his congregation is open to dialogue about "difficulties regarding the translation of a particular text," but the 2001 instruction calling for translations more faithful to the Latin text "remains the guiding norm."

His letter, dated May 2 and addressed to Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane, Wash., USCCB president, was posted on the Catholic World News Web site in late May.

In response to a query from CNS, Bishop Donald W. Trautman of Erie, Pa., chairman of the USCCB Committee on the Liturgy, said Bishop Skylstad sent the letter to all Latin-rite bishops in advance of the June meeting.

"I see this letter as a clarification and further restatement of criteria for translation previously authored by the congregation," Bishop Trautman said. He said it "offers additional input for the deliberation of the bishops."

The Order of Mass, found at the center of the Roman Missal, consists of the prayers recited every day at Mass, as distinct from the Scripture readings and prayers that are proper to the day's feast.

Thus what the bishops are to vote on in June are new versions of the prayers that Massgoers are most familiar with because they hear or say them so regularly.

Within the Order of Mass are some prayers for which there are a limited number of alternatives, such as the forms of the penitential rite, the four different eucharistic prayers or the various acclamations following the consecration.

The text the bishops are to vote on in June does not include the prefaces, solemn blessings, prayers over the people or elements found in the appendix that also form part of the Order of Mass.

The International Commission on English in the Liturgy, which prepared the text to be voted on, is still consulting with English-speaking bishops' conferences around the world on the translation of the prefaces and other elements and does not have a final version of them yet.

Churchgoers will have to learn a different version of the Gloria when the new texts are put into use because part of the current prayer in English does not follow the structure of the Latin version.

In the Nicene Creed, where the current version refers to Christ as "one in being with the Father," the new ICEL translation says, "consubstantial with the Father." In the documentation sent to the bishops before the meeting, however, the Committee on the Liturgy has recommended keeping the "one in being" translation in the United States.

The new ICEL text for the people's prayer before Communion says, "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed."

The committee proposed that the bishops seek to keep the current shorter version of the beginning of that prayer, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you." The committee did not, however, propose a change from the ICEL translation at the end, where the people currently pray, "but only say the word and I shall be healed."

The bishops will also vote on several American adaptations in the Order of Mass, such as adding the acclamation, used in the United States since 1970 but not found in the Roman Missal in Latin, "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again."

[NLM Commentary: CNS, Catholic News Service, is the news agency of the U.S. Bishops Conference. As such, and given the debates going on about this, there is perhaps a little spin put into this article that I'd like to analyze. It may reflect some of the underlying debates and tactics that have been going on, and continue to.

For example: "The Nicene Creed will begin "I believe" instead of "We believe" -- a translation of the Latin text instead of the original Greek text.

The comment that this is a translation of the Latin text rather than the "original Greek text", seems to be somewhat of a subtle polemic, but ultimately irrelevant to this matter -- given that the Latin text is that text which has been defined as the normative, typical edition from which all translations are to be based. The inclusion, then, of this subtle comment certainly seems rooted in an underlying debate. Of course, this causes one to pause and question whether the concern is truly about the Greek vs. Latin text, or whether there is a more fundamental ideological concern. Namely this. We know there is a sensitivity in certain progressivist liturgical circles to the individual versus the communal in the liturgy. The liturgy is of course both, but many such would create an unnecessary tension in this regard and over-compensate by giving undue emphasis on the communal, and undue detraction from the individual/personal. With such principles in place, there would certainly be a resistance to that which would have individual import, such as "I believe", and a preference for the communal, "We believe".

What is interesting in this question as well, I should note, is that the Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox that I know of translate the Nicene Creed as "I believe" and not "we believe".

Another statement: "Unlike the previous Vatican rules -- which encouraged freer translations more adapted to the language into which one was translating -- the new rules require closer adherence to the normative Latin text."

Chock this under the, "Dont' blame us, blame Rome" file. I have typically found this sort of comment raised, either in ecclesiastical or secular matters, as a subtle form of complaint and protest.

As well, to say "freer translations more adapted to the language" seems a touch presumptous and speaks of something else than strictly the English language. What does that mean to be "more adapted to the language"? The underlying principle here seems to be a belief that liturgical language should be adapted to everyday speech habits.

Certainly, if one says "through my fault, my fault, my most grevious fault", people entirely understand this -- though, indeed, the may not speak like this on television or on the street corners. Or to add in descriptive words like "precious Chalice", "sacred hands", certainly does not obscure either, but again, it is a different form of English speech. But that different form of English speech is not without comprehension.

What this must mean, then, is that it isn't merely about the use of English words that are of less use in common-speak, but it is also about speech that would be commonly heard on streets, in shopping malls and on television. That is "being adapted".

But from whence comes this principle? More sacral forms of English are comprehensible and set the sacred liturgy outside the normal, the banal, the secular. This is as it ought to be since the sacred liturgy is not a pedestrian event. Again, it is not merely a horizontal, communal event, but also one of primarily heavenly and transcendent orientation -- the context in which the communal occurs. We do not bring the heavenly down to the banal and everyday, rather we bring the everyday up into the heavenly.

Bishop Trautman: "I see this letter [from Arinze] as a clarification and further restatement of criteria for translation previously authored by the congregation," Bishop Trautman said. He said it "offers additional input for the deliberation of the bishops."

I'm not entirely certain what Bishop Trautman means by his last quote, but it seems to be a good example of where black is called white and vice versa. To anyone reading Arinze's letter, what becomes clear is that there is not as much input on the matter of translation as a certain sector of the U.S. Bishops (and presumably some other English speaking bishops) would wish. Rather, in all but certain specialized exemptions that the CDW would possibly entertain, the principles of Liturgiam Authenticam are the norm.

Without seeing the full context of what Bishop Trautman is saying, certainly his suggestion that Arinze's letter offers "additional input for the deliberation of the bishops" seems to either stubbornly resist the reality which Arinze presented, or turn Arinze's letter, and Liturgiam Authenticam itself, into something merely subjective and optional; mere "advice" for the bishops to consider, but not objective instruction which they are bound to follow. In either case, it seems to be a subtle form of resistance.]

CNS STORY: Bishops to vote on new Order of Mass in English

A brief history of the cassock...

[The following are excerpts from the Catholic Encyclopedia's entry on "clerical costume" and deals with the development of the Roman cassock as clerical dress.

In the sixth and following centuries we find that in Rome and in countries near Rome the civil dress of the clergy began markedly to differ from that of the laity, the reason probably being that the former adhered to the old Roman type of costume with its long tunic and voluminous cloak, representing the toga, whereas the laity were increasingly inclined to adopt the short tunic, with breeches and mantle, of the gens braccata, i.e. the Northern barbarians, who were now the masters of Italy. Probably this Roman influence made itself felt to some extent throughout Western Christendom.

The canons of the Council of Braga in Portugal (572) required the clergy to wear a vestis talaris, or tunic, reaching to the feet, and even in far-off Britain we find indications, both among the Celts and Anglo-Saxons, that undraped lower limbs were not regarded as seemly in the clergy, at any rate during their service at the altar. During the same period synodal decrees became gradually more frequent, restraining in various ways the tendency of the clergy to adopt the current fashion of worldly attire. [...] Perhaps the most interesting and significant enactment of this period is a letter of Pope John VIII (c. 875) admonishing the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to see that their clergy wore due ecclesiastical attire, and quoting the example of the English clergy in Rome who, on the eve of St. Gregory's feast, had given up their short cloaks and adopted the long Roman tunic reaching to the feet...

In the later Middle Ages the dress of the clergy was regulated by the canon law, the jus commune of the Church at large, but with many supplementary enactments passed by local synods. The Fourth Lateran Council (1215) laid down the principle that clerics must wear garments closed in front and free from extravagance as to length... Ornamental appendages, cloth of red or green colour, brooches (fibulœ) to fasten their cloaks, and the wearing of sleeved copes (cappœ manicatœ), either at Office or at other times, are all forbidden by the same enactment... In 1237 the national council, held under the presidency of the Legate Otho, declared that lay folk were scandalized at the dress of the clergy, which was not clerical at all, but more suited to knights (non clericalis sed potius militaris). Offenders in future were to be punished, and the bishops were to see that all in sacred orders used garments of fitting length and wore closed copes. Somewhat later the legatine council under Ottoboni insisted that all ecclesiastics, whether in Sacred orders or not, were to wear clothes of fitting length, coming at any rate below the middle of the shin (saltem ultra tibiarum medium attingentes). Further, all priests and beneficed clergy were to wear closed copes, except when on a journey, or for some other just reason (Wilkins, "Concilia", II, 4)... The proper dress of the medieval clergy was therefore the vestis talaris, and over this priests and dignitaries were bidden to wear the cappa clausa. The former of these must have been a sort of cassock, but made like a tunic, i. e. not opening, and buttoning down the front...

Modern Usage

The modern and more centralized legislation regarding clerical costume may be considered to begin with a constitution of Sixtus V, in 1589, insisting under the severest penalties that all clerics, even those in minor orders, should uniformly wear the vestis talaris and go tonsured.

The decrees on the subject of the First Synod of Westminster and the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore are in practical agreement. The latter says (?77), "We wish therefore and enjoin that all keep the law of the Church, and that when at home or when engaged in the sanctuary they should always wear the cassock [vestis talaris] which is proper to the clergy. When they go abroad for duty or relaxation, or when upon a journey, they may use a shorter dress, but still one that is black in colour, and which reaches to the knees, so as to distinguish it from lay costume. We enjoin upon our priests as a matter of strict precept, that both at home and abroad, and whether they are residing in their own diocese or outside of it, they should wear the Roman collar."

[For the sake of further interest. Compare this with the Eastern "rason", which is basically the same kind of black tunic garment:

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Stratford Caldecott's new book

Our good friend and colleague, Stratford Caldecott, of the G.K. Chesterton Institute for Faith and Culture in Oxford has recently had a new book published: The Seven Sacraments: Entering the Mysteries of God

Here is what people are saying about the book:

Aidan Nichols OP:

This book identifies a pressing need – the need for post-baptismal catechesis, to help Catholic Christians to enter the faith they possess at a new level of depth. It assumes what can never be taken for granted, namely that they are already well-instructed doctrinally and familiar with the Scriptures and the Liturgy of the Church. It proposes that even this is insufficient – judging by the spiritual literature passed down to us from the patristic, medieval and later periods. The capacity to discern relationships between creation, redemption, and the revealed Names (or attributes) of God is dependent, yes, on what we receive from Scripture, sacraments and the wider tradition of the Church. But it is also something that develops mystagogically – in line with our own entry in depth into the mysteries the faith presents to our gaze. Stratford Caldecott has the poetic sensibility and the metaphysical audacity we would expect from a Christian Platonist – for it is in that succession that I see him, a combination of Dionysius the Areopagite in the age of the Fathers and the Oxford Inklings in our own.

Scott Hahn

History presents only a handful of books that disclose the Christian mysteries with the requisite piety and fear of the Lord ñ and yet capture the minds and hearts of readers with such boldness and brilliant clarity. Stratford Caldecott goes bravely into the mystical depths of Christian life and takes his readers with him, eyes wide open. There are no shortcuts to the mystical life, but this book is an overwhelming enticement, and that might be half the battle.

Philip Zaleski:

The Seven Sacraments is a magnificent achievement, a brilliant and gripping presentation of Christianity and its sacraments as a spiritual Way, a path to holiness, an entry into life in union with God. Caldecott explores a dazzling array of subjects – the Lord's Prayer, the seven days of Creation, the souls of animals, the Kabbalah's Tree of Life, and much, much more – with the mind of a poet and the heart of a metaphysician. His conclusions are surprising, exciting, and always fascinating; this book is, among other things, great fun to read. In sum, Caldecott has written a work of intense interest to all spiritual seekers, indeed to all who ponder the ultimate meaning of human life.

Francesca Aran Murphy:

Doing for Catholics what Dallas Willard has done for Protestants, Stratford Caldecott has written a really useful book on Christian discipleship. Numbering the sacraments and the virtues is the easiest way of learning them by heart, and Caldecott shows us how. Caldecott's focus on the pattern and form of Christian sacramental life presents the liturgy on a deep imaginative plane. This is a book whose practicality is rivalled only by its profound spirituality.

Bernard Orchard OSB:

This research into the spiritual meaning of Holy Scripture follows the lines of the allegorical interpretations of Clement of Alexandria and others, but also develops the inner coherencies of the Gospels using the mysterious number Seven to link the life-giving actions of the Saviour with his Seven Sacraments – fountains of his Grace.

Missal project?

I meant to ask, has anyone started on the Missal project I had proposed a couple of weeks back?

Has anyone made any progress?

More on the Arinze story...

For those interested in the question and debate about the Arinze/Liturgiam Authenticam story, Catholic World News has now posted this as one of their main stories -- though it requires subscriber access.

In addition, in their "Off the Record" forum, they have posted scans of the apparent documents from Arinze and the response by the USCCB president.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Toronto Oratory

Recently the Toronto Oratory had their annual Mother's Day Marian Pilgrimage.

Most of you have likely heard of the Toronto Oratory by way of Father Jonathan Robinson who wrote The Mass and Modernity.

Below is a photograph of Fr. Robinson, as well as the Toronto Oratorians.

Help restore Christendom

The Benedictine Clear Creek Monks have an Easter CD of their Gregorian Chant available for sale, the proceeds of which go toward their monastery building campaign. A worthy cause.

Art, Beauty and Inspiration

Art, Beauty and Inspiration in a Catholic Perspective

A one year distance learning programme

START DATE: Weekend of 10th to 12th of NOVEMBER, 2006
'Sacred images are honoured by the faithful so that by means of a visible face, our spirit may be carried in a spiritual attracting towards the invisible majesty of the divinity'

This course explores the beauty and depth of visual art from a Catholic perspective. It introduces the riches of the Eastern and Western Christian traditions that are rooted in the Incarnation and Paschal Mystery, the source and summit of Christian life.
The course assists in the understanding of the iconography and symbolism of Christian art and examines how beauty and inspiration is used in the spiritual, educational and liturgical dimensions of the Church's life, exploring the vitality and grace in the life of the Church and the action of the Holy Spirit in artistic inspiration.

A course to inspire

This course has been written and designed by Catholic artists and theologians for both practising artists and those intersted in art, especially its role in the Church and Christian life. Artistic ability is not required, although the course does hope to inspire Christian artists to enkindle a new 'epiphany of beauty' in religious art.

Course structure

This one-year course is taken part-time.
There are three optional weekend residentials.
Three module coursebooks are studied over a period of three months each.

The course requires approximately 5-8 hours a week
An optional piece of work can be taken for a certificate

To join the course

No previous qualifications are necessary. Those applying are asked to submit a 400 word piece explaining their interest in the course

Juventutem: New Vocations Video at

Juventutem has a post to a new vocations video at

You can download it as well, so send it around to potential seminarians in the classical rite.

Re-translating the Roman Missal - Liturgiam Authenticam: "Both this Congregation and the Bishops’ Conferences are bound to follow its directives."

Catholic World News recently posted this editorial and the letter below from Francis Cardinal Arinze to the president of the USCCB on the issue of the re-translation of the Roman Missal.

It seems that Arinze is putting his foot down with regards the binding nature of Liturgiam Authenticam and thus also the necessity that the new translations be in accord with the Latin text, and not take the sort of liberalities that we suffer with today.

As CWNews put it:

"A letter from Cardinal Arinze shows that, while the liturgy wars continue, the old tactics just aren't doing it. In the latest round of the Roman Missal translation battle, the U.S. bishops dug into their playbook and tried to run Pastoral Hardship Left in order to out-flank Liturgiam authenticam (they explained to Rome, you see, that we faithful are so besottedly in love with the 1974 ICEL Sacramentary that it would be cruel for the Holy See to make us change it for a translation closer to the Latin). Arinze wasn't having any:

2 May 2006

The Most Reverend William Skylstad
Bishop of Spokane
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Prot. n. 499/06/L

Your Excellency,

With reference to the conversation between yourself, the Vice President and General Secretary of the Conference of Bishops of which you are President, together with me and other Superiors and Officials when you kindly visited our Congregation on 27 April 2006, I wish to recall the following:

The Instruction Liturgiam authenticam is the latest document of the Holy See which guides translations from the original-language liturgical texts into the various modern languages in the Latin Church. Both this Congregation and the Bishops’ Conferences are bound to follow its directives. This Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is therefore not competent to grant the recognitio for translations that do not conform to the directives of Liturgiam authenticam. If, however, there are difficulties regarding the translation of a particular part of a text, then this Congregation is always open to dialogue in view of some mutually agreeable solution, still keeping in mind, however, that Liturgiam authenticam remains the guiding norm.

The attention of your Bishops’ Conference was also recalled to the fact that Liturgiam authenticam was issued at the directive of the Holy Father at the time, Pope John Paul II, to guide new translations as well as the revision of all translations done in the last forty years, to bring them into greater fidelity to the original-language official liturgical texts. For this reason it is not acceptable to maintain that people have become accustomed to a certain translation for the past thirty or forty years, and therefore that it is pastorally advisable to make no changes. Where there are good and strong reasons for a change, as has been determined by this Dicastery in regard to the entire translation of the Missale Romanum as well as other important texts, then the revised text should make the needed changes. The attitudes of Bishops and Priests will certainly influence the acceptance of the texts by the lay faithful as well.

Requesting Your Excellency to share these reflections with the Bishops of your Conference I assure you of the continued collaboration of this Congregation and express my religious esteem,

Devotedly yours in Christ,

+Francis Card. Arinze

Prefect, Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

[NLM: Emphasis Mine]

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Sacred Music Colloquium

Some new details about the CMAA Sacred Music Colloquium (June 20-25) are now available, including the schedule for the week. If you are planning to attend, please filled out the online registration form. If you have any questions, please write to

If you are in Washington, D.C, on the 24th of June, please consider coming to the Saturday liturgy at the Franciscan Monastery for the Noon Mass. It is a tremendously beautiful place--a real treasure in D.C. with gorgeous gardens--and the liturgy will be assisted by the entire colloquium schola. It will demonstrate the possibilities for sacred music in our time. It will be truly unforgettable.

2003 CIEL Proceedings now in print!

After some unfortunate delays which couldn't be helped, I am pleased to bring you the following announcement:

The English volume of the Proceedings of the Ninth International CIEL Colloquium held in Paris in November 2003 entitled “Liturgy, Participation and Sacred Music” was launched in London yesterday following the annual CIEL-UK conference and a Pontifical Mass sung in the traditional rite at St James’ Spanish Place by the Bishop of Nottingham, the Right Reverend Malcolm McMahon, OP.

To order your copy contact:

Price: £13.00

Saturday, May 20, 2006

On Rood Screens and Iconostases: A Quick Look

[Note: this is not a formal study! This is just preliminary look at what can be found on the internet.]

(The "Rood" aloft a traditional English Rood Screen)

Someone had mentioned a few days ago that it would be interesting to look at the parallels between the Eastern iconostasis or icon-screen that divides the sanctuary and altar from the nave of Eastern Churches, to the rood screen or chancel screen found in many medieval Latin rite Churches -- and in particular those in England.

It is interesting to see the visual, as well as symbolic, parallels of the two. While they might seem very different in some ways, a basic look at their architecture does seem to show obvious parallels.

For the sake of a quick, informal look at the subject (and I stress that this is quick and it is informal), I thought I would quickly look up what the 1908 Catholic Encyclopedia had to say about the iconostasis, the rood screen and the chancel. I simply quote it here in the relevant parts.

The Western Rood Screen

"The precise origin of the screen and its connection with the rood is somewhat obscure, and apparently varied in different churches. The custom of screening off the altar is very ancient, and emphasizing, as it did, the air of mystery surrounding the place of sacrifice, was possibly a survival of Judaism; but the placing of a screen, more or less solid, between the chancel and nave -- i.e. between clergy and people -- must have originated from practical rather than from symbolic reasons..."

(Of course, it is worth noting that if the latter is true, this does not detract from its later symbolic association -- and in fact it can be seen as an elaboration on the original ancient separation that is referred to. What may originally have had practical value, such as maniples, or copes as two more examples, later came to have a life of their own which enriched Christian worship and the Christian sanctuary. Symbolism develops and grows with time.)

"The chancel is part of the choir near the altar of a church, where the deacons or sub-deacons stand to assist the officiating priest. It was originally railed off by cancelli or lattice work, from which the name is derived. The term is now generally confined to parish churches, and such as have no aisles or chapels round the choir. In some churches, in addition to the principal chancel, there are others at the ends of the side-aisles. The Latin word cancellus was commonly used for the low screen which marked the separation of the presbyterium and choir from the rest of the church. In a later time the name chancel came to be applied to the presbyterium itself. Very few chancels, however, of the early period have been preserved in place. A clear idea of the normal arrangement can be had in St. Clement's at Rome, where the sixth-century screens of the choir and presbyterium were simply removed from the lower church and set up in the twelfth-century church above. In St. Clement's the chancel screen of the presbyterium coincided with the chord of the apse, and the altar also stood upon this line; the approaches had therefore to be constructed on either side of the altar. The chancels of the presbyterium are surmounted by a light colonnade for the support of curtains. The term was used in England before the Reformation, and the Anglicans still retain it. Among English Catholics it is now little used, that portion of the church near the altar, separated by rails from the nave, being designated the sanctuary. In cathedrals and conventual churches, where space is required to accomodate the canons or the religious, a portion of the church between the sanctuary and the nave is taken for the purpose; it is not, however, called the chancel, but the choir."

The Eastern iconostasis:

"The iconostasis is really an Oriental development in adorning the holy place about the Christian altar. Originally the altar stood out plain and severe in both the Oriental and Latin Rites. But in the Western European churches and cathedrals the Gothic church builders put a magnificent wall, the reredos, immediately behind the altar and heaped ornamentation, figures, and carvings upon it until it became resplendent with beauty. In the East, however, the Greeks turned their attention to the barrier or partition dividing the altar and sanctuary from the rest of the church and commenced to adorn and beautify that, and thus gradually made it higher and covered it with pictures of the Apostles, Prophets, and saints. Thus the Greek Church put its ornamentation of the holy place in front of the altar instead of behind it as in the Latin churches. In its present form in the churches of the Byzantine (and also the Coptic) Rite the iconostasis comparatively modern, not older than the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries. It was never used in the Roman churches or any of the Latin churches of the West, and was unknown to the early Church."

"In the early Greek churches there was a slight barrier about waist high, or even lower, dividing the altar from the people. This was variously known as kigklis, grating, dryphakta, fence, diastyla, a barrier made of columns, according to the manner in which it was constructed. Very often pictures of the saints were affixed to the tops of the columns."

"When Justinian constructed the "great" church, St. Sophia, in Constantinople, he adorned it with twelve high columns (in memory of the twelve Apostles) in order to make the barrier or chancel, and over the tops of these columns he placed an architrave which ran the entire width of the sanctuary. On this architrave or crossbeam large disks or shields were placed containing the pictures of the saints, and this arrangement was called templon (templum), either from its fancied resemblance to the front of the old temples or as expressing the Christian idea of the shrine where God was worshipped. Every church of the Byzantine Rite eventually imitated the "great" church and so this open templon form of iconostasis began to be adopted among the churches of the East, and the name itself was used to designate what is now the iconostasis."

The Relationship?

This history of course is only coming from one source, and as such we can't take for absolute granted that what is said there is the final word.

So then, what is the possible relationship between the two?

A quick search on the internet brought up a reference from a Western Orthodox monastery, St. Hilarion's who had this to say (but provided no source references):

"In the West, an iconostasis [they mean a rood screen] ... is documented well before 1000 A.D., and well before such "rood" screens were used in the Christian East.

"Anglo-Saxon churches had a wall between the nave and the chancel. The earliest recorded example of such a screen or wall comes from St. Brigid of Ireland's church at the Oak. Curtains covered the door-openings in the solid wall, and sacred imagery decked the entire wall. The image here shows a very late development of the screen, in regard to its open-ness and the rood sculptures." has this to say:

"The use of the chancel screen continued in the churches of the Byzantine East for many centuries. Vestiges of the chancel screen can be seen today in many ancient Greek churches where the open spaces between the columns and between parapet and architrave, formerly open, were filled in with icons at a later time. Perhaps the best example of an extant chancel screen separating nave and sanctuary can be seen in the Basilica of St. Mark in Venice, Italy.

Similarly the rood screens still in existence in many old English churches served the same function. As precursor to the iconostasis, the chancel screen was often decorated with reliefs of Christ, the Virgin and the saints in the face of the parapet and later by icons attached to the parapet and/or placed on top of the architrave. Therewith began the evolution of the chancel screen to iconostasis, a journey of many centuries."

So far then, if we can take the latter for granted, what we seem to see is that both the current form of the Western rood screen, and the Eastern Iconostasis are developments upon the original separation that was found. However, it would seem, so far as I can presently tell, that the eventual development of a greater screen was found in the Latin West before it was be found in the East; additionally, the Latin form of screen is itself the earlier variant on that smaller screen than the Eastern iconostasis as it is presently found.

Of course, in all this we should never succumb to antiquarianism -- assuming that the more ancient something is, the better it is. Both the Eastern iconostasis and the Latin chancel/rood screen are incredibly beautiful aspects of Catholic architecture.

It does make for an interesting look however at the nature and development of the architecture and liturgy of the Christian church as it was and as it has developed -- and also shows us the common tree from which both East and West come from.

And again, I note, this is not a formal, academic study. Just a quick look based on a user's suggestion. If anyone has any information to round this out, that might contradict the sources presented here, please post it in the comments!

Other examples of Western chancel screens and roods:

A Victorian era iron chancel screen (This is actually for sale)

A detail of the decoration of an English chancel screen

An interesting variation on the chancel screen with the "rood" separated: The chancel screen. And now, the Rood which hangs above.

A traditional English wooden rood screen

A beautiful view looking at a traditional wooden chancel screen, looking from within the sanctuary

A slightly less ornate chancel screen, but still beautiful from Our Lady of the Atonement AU Parish

A reader sent in this picture of a rood with the loft at a church in Paris

Friday, May 19, 2006

Magnificent photographs of life and liturgy at Le Barroux

Thanks to a reader who pointed out this link of pictures from Le Barroux. In addition, there are more pictures of life at Le Barroux here.

Here are a couple of sample photos:

Book Review: Prayer - The Spirituality of the Christian East, Fr. Thomas Spidlik

Book Review: Prayer: The Spirituality of the Christian East, Volume 2. Thomas Spidlik. Cistercian Publications, 2005. 542pp.

(Link to Product)

Reviewed by Shawn Tribe

There has been a great deal of interest in the past few decades in the spirituality of the Christian East. In part this might be explained by a desire on the part of Latin rite Catholics to look at other aspects of the Catholic tradition in an effort to rediscover certain aspects of their own. In part as well, there is a desire to learn more about the unity in variety that characterizes Catholicism. As well, many Eastern Catholics have been seeking to re-discover the riches of their own patrimony. However one approaches this matter, it is something of great merit and benefit.

Fr. Thomas Spidlik, S.J. is no stranger to this topic, and is a well respected theologian with a broad knowledge of both the Latin West and Byzantine East. As such, he brings a strong background with him to help explain the depths of the Eastern Christian tradition in a way that is understandable to both Eastern and Western Christians. Taking off from the first volume in this series (also published by Cistercian Publications), The Spirituality of the Christian East: A Systematic Handbook, Fr. Spidlik proceeds to a more concentrated discussion of the particular traditions of prayer found in the Christian East.

The scope of the book is nothing if not comprehensive, and as the first volume was called, so too can this be called a “systematic handbook”. Spidlik takes readers on a detailed explanation of the understanding, thought and approach of the Eastern theologians, Fathers and saints to prayer and to its various manifestations. Fr. Spidlik begins with a general overview of the Eastern patristic and liturgical sources which form the basis of his study – something which is extremely useful for those who wish to explore this topic even more in depth, using the primary sources as their basis of development.

A quick overview of the book itself will find that Fr. Spidlik covers many of the fundamental aspects of prayer, as seen in the light of the Christian East, as well as some of the more unique manifestations and emphases to be found within this tradition. Readers look at the use of the body during prayer, the nature and role of liturgical prayer, lectio divina or meditative reading of the scriptures and patristics, meditation and contemplation, and mysticism and hesychasm – to name only some of the major topics covered. With such breadth and diversity, it is hard to give a comprehensive review of this work – which is a credit to its richness. Suffice it to say that all of the major topics which pertain to Christian East, such as the Jesus Prayer, apophatic theology, the central role of the liturgy, the mysticism of Taboric light, and the mysticism of the heart, are all covered in detail.

Some readers will no doubt find that some of the detail gone into will perhaps be a bit overwhelming at times. However, the great benefit of a book with so many sections and topics covered, is that any reader with even the slightest interest in the spirituality of the Christian East will find much fruit for meditation and will be able to mine from the book what is in accord with their own particular interests. As the book is setup within neat sections and divisions, this is made particularly easy by Fr. Spidlik. In many ways, Prayer: The Spirituality of the Christian East can be seen as multiple books within a single systematic book.

Fr. Spidlik also brings his subject to bear in a way which is easy for the non-theologian to understand. That being said, there is no doubt this is a scholarly work. Each section ends with comprehensive footnotes, and of the 542 pages in the book, the majority of the last 169 pages form a bibliography which is separated into the particular topics brought up in the text itself. This makes the book of particular value to scholars and students of the Christian East.

If you are looking for a book from which to practice Eastern Christian prayer, then no doubt you will want to turn to the Philokalia, The Way of a Pilgrim, or some similar Eastern spiritual classic. However, if you want to learn about the richness and depths of Eastern Christian prayer and spirituality, theology, development and practice, then there is little doubt that this is one of the most comprehensive and authoritative books available in the English language.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A tale of two rumours; and a comparison

By now, most are familiar with the rumour that arose about a loosening up on condoms with regards AIDS cases. This rumour had its supporters in the media, including, I believe, by a certain reporter of a well known dissenting publication who had denied the plausibiilty of the rumours about the universalization of the classical liturgy.

However, not too long after that particular condom rumour arose, we have heard, and still hear such clarifications as these from Rome: Catholic World News: No new statement on condoms likely, Vatican expert says.

What is interesting is that with regards the liturgy rumour we have never really heard similiar level denials or Vatican clarifications regarding the question of a "universal indult" or "liberalizing of the Tridentine Mass". That may mean nothing, but it also may mean quite a bit.

But just in case anyone has forgotten about it, or written it off, I wanted to remind you that its still floating out there. And I want everyone to know, that while nothing much is being posted or written about this, either here or elsewhere, that indeed, under the surface, word still has it that something important is expected at some point in the coming months.

CIEL 2006 Oxford - update

[BENEFACTORS: First, some shameless begging to potential benefactors. ;) I'm still hopeful that God may have it in store for me to somehow make it to this conference; the first full-fledged CIEL conference held in English-speaking territory (which is a big deal I think). So if there are any benefactors out there who'd like to see the work of CIEL promoted and furthered both on the NLM, within North America, etc. and whom would like, in addition, to have detailed reports, photographs, etc. of this conference on the NLM, please consider making donations to fund a trip to this conference.

Overall, the costs for such a venture would be around $1900-2000 USD. The includes travel expenses, accomodations, conference registration and not much more! To that end, that either means committments from around 20 benefactors for about $100 USD each, 40 benefactors for $50 each, or one or a few particularly generous benefactors -- or any combination thereof. If, in the end, not enough money was made available to fund such an excursion, donations would be returned to the donors.]

13th to 16th SEPTEMBER

We are pleased to announce that the Booking Form for the XIth Colloquium is now available on the website:

Forms must be returned by MONDAY 31st JULY at the latest.


We also remind you that the Annual Spring High Mass and London Conference takes place at 11 o'clock this Saturday, 20th May 2006, at Spanish Place Church, Pontifical Mass celebrated by the Bishop of Nottingham, the Right Reverend Malcolm McMahon OP., followed by the Conference at 2 pm at the Wallace Collection.

Catholic Culture on the new bishop in Kansas City

Catholic Culture has an interesting piece up about the new bishop of Kansas City.

Here's a semple of the article (click the link above for the whole piece):

The conventional wisdom is that if you’re a bishop who wants to reform his diocese, you have to take things very slowly. You need a five or ten year plan with limited objectives. You must proceed with great caution and sensitivity. You’re wise to avoid adverse reactions. At least that’s the way it’s always been done, when it is done at all. But not in Kansas City. Reform in Kansas City is moving at Internet speed, under Bishop Robert Finn.

Better than a Magic Lantern Show

Finn, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis and a member of Opus Dei's Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, served as coadjutor of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese for about a year beginning in March 2004. On Raymond Boland’s retirement, Finn took sole charge of the diocese, of which he was made ordinary by Pope Benedict XVI in May 2005. Since taking charge, Bishop Finn has:

Dismissed the lay chancellor and replaced him with a priest.

Dismissed the female religious who served as vice chancellor and replaced her with a layman with a track record in Catholic apologetics.

Cancelled the diocese’s programs for training lay people for pastoral ministry.

Increased the staffing of the vocations office from a half-time priest to a full-time priest with a half-time priest assistant.

Ordered a new study of adult catechesis under the leadership of the new vice chancellor.

Cut the budget of the Office of Peace and Justice in half and established a separate Respect Life Office.

Removed the diocesan sponsored master’s program from Aquinas Institute of Theology (run by Dominicans affiliated with the Jesuit St. Louis University) and placed it with the Institute for Pastoral Theology at Ave Maria University.

Ordered the editor of the diocesan newspaper to drop Fr. Richard McBrien’s column.

Established a pattern of reviewing the contents of the newspaper prior to publication, sometimes cutting stories which appear to undermine Catholic teaching.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Catholic England: Pugin, Newman, the new Catholic aristocracy and classical liturgics

It seems that Tuesday evening was a banner night for interesting discoveries. I've often found the publishing houses and movements of traditional Catholic and reform of the reform England to be of particular interest and richness. Perhaps it is because of their own appreciation for their deep history, one very much tied to the Catholic Faith both in the flowering ("Our Lady's Dowry" as she was once called), and in the persecution (under Henry VIII, Elizabeth and thereafter). Whatever it is, I have found the various English Catholic publishers I have run into to come up with some of the most fascinating cultural, liturgical and historical titles of Catholic interest.

Most famously there is The Saint Austin Press of course. Well, add another publisher to that list: Gracewing Publishing (from whence all but the last of the titles below come)

To begin with, and perhaps most significantly, I've found a rare treat for those interested in sacred architecture, the gothic revival more specifically, and even more specifically, the writing of that greatest of Catholic Gothic Revivalists, Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin.

Many know that Pugin wrote a number of "apologetics" for Gothic architecture. Dr. Rory O'Donnell and Gracewing Publishing have made available again in facsimile editions the following writings of AWN Pugin:

A Treatise on Chancel Screens and Rood Lofts

The Present State of Ecclesiastical Architecture in England

Some Remarks... Relative to Ecclesiastical Architecture and Decoration

True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture

An Apology for the Revival of Christian Architecture

(The last four titles are bound into two volumes. It is my hope to do a review of these books for NLM readers, but for those who want to jump right into it, there's the information.)

Further discoveries from Gracewing Publishing that may interest NLM readers:

A Catholic Eton? Newman's Oratory School
Paul Shrimpton

'To my mind Eton, minus its wickedness, and plus the inculcation of the Catholic faith would be what I should best like to see.' Many Catholic converts shared this sentiment with Sir John Simeon when confronted with the problem of educating their sons. When in 1857 Newman was retiring from the Catholic University in Dublin, friends approached him on this subject and he became the central figure in the establishment of the Oratory School. For his classic exposition of a liberal education Newman is hailed as one of the greatest English writers on educational theory, and by a happy coincidence the new foundation brought together this original mind with a unique educational opportunity. The story of the foundation of the Oratory School is illuminating: it contributes important insights into both Victorian life and English Catholic history.

Faith and Fortune
by Madeleine Beard

FAITH AND FORTUNE chronicles the nineteenth century revival of Catholicism in England from the perspective of the wealthiest families in the country. Against much opposition, many men and women courageously sought membership in the One True Church. Their generosity with their fortunes in re-building the Catholic Church in England is still seen in the remarkable number of churches, convents, monasteries and schools which they founded. Their stories are told in two sections of the book, "Off to Rome" and "Over to Rome". The Grand Tour to southern Europe introduced many English and Scottish travellers to Catholicism. Entering Catholic churches for the first time, the mystery of the magnificent liturgy prompted many to explore the riches of the Catholic Faith.

Others joined the Church without leaving England's shores at all, simply in response to the prayers and example of others.

The two outstanding Cardinals of the nineteenth century, Manning and Newman, were both well-known converts who drew many in their wake. Manning, with his Oblates founded by Saint Charles Borromeo and Newman with his Oratorians founded by Saint Philip Neri, introduced into Protestant England the spirituality of the counter-Reformation of the sixteenth century. So too Italian Orders such as the Passionists and Rosminians had a profound role to play in their missionary work. This paperback describes the fruits of the journeys between Catholic Europe and once-Catholic England, with fascinating stories of individual souls who gave up everything for the Church.

The Western Rising, 1549 - The Prayer Book Rebellion
Fr. Philip Caraman S.J.

(This title is available from Southwell Books)

Too often in popular history, the Reformation in England has been treated as a progressive and popular movement to rid the Church of corruption and its ties with Rome. It is now more generally accepted that the old religion was deeply entrenched and had the unquestioning and devoted support of the masses. There is no better proof or illustration of this than the largely forgotten Rising in Cornwall and Devon in 1549 against the substitution of Archbishop Cranmer’s First Prayer Book for the old Mass.

The Rising was suppressed thanks largely to the aid of foreign mercenaries in a series of savage battles around the city of Exeter. It could now well be argued that, had the rebels succeeded, as they nearly did, the history of religion in England would have taken a different course. Their failure was due to some ill luck, their lack of cavalry and a fatal strategic error. This excellent book deals in detail with both the religious and military aspects of the tragic rebellion.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

St. Bonaventure Publications, Liturgical Year!

Always looking out for the faithful, liturgy-loving readers of the NLM, I just wanted to point out that St. Bonaventure Publications has significantly discounted their printing of Dom Gueranger's Liturgical Year:

For a Limited Time, we are offering the complete set of the Liturgical Year for $100.00. (Regularly $165.00).

At 15 hardcover volumes, that seems like a steal!

Catholic Oxford

Some of you may be interested in this little site I recently found for promoting Catholic Tradition in Oxford.

The site includes some interesting photographs of Catholic Oxford, information of the Catholic martyrs of Oxford, Msgr. Goulder's tour of Catholic Oxford, etc.

The Teaching Role of the Sacred Liturgy

[From the "things are looking up" file...]


1) Affirm the central role of sacred liturgy in the teaching ministry of the Church

No Christian community is built up which does not grow from and hinge on the celebration of the most Holy Eucharist. From this all education for community spirit must begin. (Vatican II, The Ministry and Life of Priests, 6.)

The central role of liturgy in the teaching ministry of the Church has long been recognized. A clear understanding of the content and high meaning of the Church's liturgy is therefore a fundamental goal of all catechetical programs. If, through our catechesis, we are successful in engendering those dispositions of reverence, wonder, and contemplation necessary to be most edified and transformed in the light of liturgy, we will have opened the vast storehouse of the Church's treasury to the souls of our Catholics in formation.

The Mass, being the very core of Catholic liturgy, is the supreme expression of the Church's faith. While proper liturgical expression and practice inevitably build up the faith, a concept of the Mass that fails to do justice to its essence will in due time harm the piety of believers, undermine the faith of communicants, and destroy the unity of the Church.

To enter more fully into the rich meaning of the liturgical life of the Church and thereby maximize the teaching role of the liturgy it is recommended that we:

Action items:

- Make liturgical formation a high priority, educating our entire Christian community — but most especially those responsible for liturgical practice and catechesis — in the mysteries, meaning, and appropriate forms of Catholic liturgy, in order that the faithful might "…[enter] more deeply into the contemplative dimension of worship, which includes a sense of awe, reverence and adoration which are fundamental attitudes in our relationship with God." (Pope John Paul II, ad limina discourse, Oct 9, 1998.)

- Teach our students, our catechumens, the deep meaning and sacred significance of the form and substance of the Holy Mass, reinforcing the understanding of the Mass as a sacrificial meal that both commemorates and offers salvation. Students should be led to appreciate the Mass as prayer — "the source and summit of the Christian life" — and instructed in how to approach the Mass with reverence. Jesus remains with us under the sacred sign of the Eucharist which is why Catholics have always been encouraged in devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Eucharistic adoration should be a regular part of Catholic religious educational practice.

- Teach our students the history of the tradition of sacred liturgy, and the great art and especially the great music the liturgy has inspired. Some knowledge and practice with Gregorian Chant, as the Church's own music, should be part of this training.


2A. Promote the Beauty of Holiness and the Holiness of Beauty

The fine arts, but above all sacred art, of their nature are directed toward expressing in some way the infinite beauty of God in works made by human hands. Their dedication to the increase of God's praise and of his glory is more complete, the more exclusively they are devoted to turning men's minds devoutly towards God (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2513).

Beauty should mark all our educational programs, especially through the promotion of the fine arts. The four transcendentals, the four great paths by which we ascend to God, are unity, truth, beauty, and goodness. The shattering of Christian culture has frequently resulted in their opposites, fragmentation, lies, ugliness, and evil — all hallmarks of the secularism of the present age. The restoration of Christendom will thus require not only Truth proclaimed, but also virtue lived and beauty celebrated. Jesus Christ, Beauty Incarnate Himself, the all-good Truth who is our life and our way, leads us through the visible —- by creation and the sacred liturgy — to the invisible, to the beauty of holiness, indeed to Beauty Himself, the all-Holy One.

This spiritual beauty of God is reflected in the most holy Virgin Mother of God, the angels and saints. Genuine sacred art draws man to adoration, to prayer and to the love of God, Creator and Savior, the Holy One and Sanctifier. For this reason, bishops (personally or through delegates), should see to the promotion of sacred art, old and new, in all its forms and, with the same religious care, remove from the liturgy and from places of worship everything which is not in conformity with the truth of faith and the authentic beauty of sacred art (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2502-3).

It is recommended therefore that we:

- Emphasize and excel in teaching an appreciation of culture, fine arts, and music (both secular and sacred, but especially liturgical) in our Catholic schools.

- Ensure that art work used in our parish and educational environments is authentically beautiful and thereby serves the teaching of truth.

2B. Promote authentic expressions of sacred music in liturgy

The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1156).

Song and music fulfill their function as signs in a manner all the more significant when they are "more closely connected…with the liturgical action," according to three principal criteria: beauty expressive of prayer, the unanimous participation of the assembly at the designated moments, and the solemn character of the celebration. In this way they participate in the purpose of the liturgical words and actions: glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1157).

Music echoes the praise of Christ and is a most powerful element in catechesis. An integral part of liturgy, music is more than something which "assists" worship — it is worship. More than a help to prayer — it is prayer. As St. Pius X often said, "People should not sing at Mass, they should sing the Mass." The music chosen for sacred liturgy, therefore, must embody those characteristics proper to its sacred function; its end must be that of raising the mind and heart to God. Unfortunately popular culture seems to have invaded the liturgy in recent years, leading some to lament the triumph of bad taste in Catholic culture.

It is recommended therefore that:

- Ensure that music used in Catholic institutions be of the highest quality, distinguished by its recognizable sacred character.


More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: