Saturday, March 31, 2007

Catch it on the big screen!

For those in the USA interested in seeing Into Great Silence on the big screen (and it would be well worth it; the cinematography is simply phenomenal) you may like to check out this listing of playdates in various cities in the USA.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a similiar listing for Canada.

More on that Bertone statement...

Fr. Zuhlsdorf adds his own translation and this analysis:

1) It will be the 1962 Missale Romanum, and not another edition, such as the 1965.
2) It appears the calendar may be left unchanged.
3) It will concerned all priests, which means religious and not just diocesan.
4) It will happen, but no timeframe is given.

I note with interest the Cardinal’s statement that the Pope is going to explain this to the bishops in particular. Given that this is a French publication, and the French bishops were the major opponents to this move, this is like a shot over their bow.

A great deal is still left for the Pope to explain. I gather this means the M.P. must be entirely in his hands at this point. He is a) still revising or b) preparing his explanations. You can bet he will talk about his reasons for doing this with great clarity.

Many of us thought it might happen this week and that it is unlikely it would be during Holy Week… though I still won’t rule that out categorically.

Bertone on the Motu Proprio

By way of Rorate Caeli, in turn by means of Le Forum Catholique, Bertone confirms motu proprio.

The excerpt comes from the French journal, Le Figaro and apparently includes the following:

Is a Decree widening the possibility of celebrating the Latin Mass according to the rite from before Vatican II (the so-called Mass of Saint Pius V) still expected?

[Secretary of State] Cardinal Bertone: The merit of the conciliar liturgical reform is intact. But both [for reasons of] not losing the great liturgical heritage left by Saint Pius V and for granting the wish of those faithful who desire to attend Masses according to this rite, within the framework of the Missal published in 1962 by Pope John XXIII, with its own calendar, there is no valid reason not to grant to every priest in the world* the right to celebrate according to this form. The authorization of the Supreme Pontiff would evidently preserve the validity of the rite of Paul VI. The publication of the motu proprio which specifies this authorisation will take place, but it will be the pope himself who will explain his motivations and the framework of his decision. The Sovereign Pontiff will personally explain his vision for the use of the ancient Missal to the Christian people, and particularly to the Bishops.

Of course, the "when" of the question still remains.

Papal Coronation

Some of our readership will be very interested to know that a video of the Papal Coronation of John XXIII is available online now.

Italian Rubrical Guide

By way of Nicola de Grandi:

An Italian equivalent of the Fortescue-O'Connell-Reid volume is being released for Italian speaking Catholics and ceremonialists who use the classical Roman liturgy. This is a new,completely revised edition of "Compendio di Liturgia Pratica" by Fr. Ludovico Trimeloni. It will be published by the end of April 2007.

The book can be ordered here.

"It is fitting that such liturgies be celebrated in Latin"

The English translation of the Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis has been revised. The initial translation, critiqued on this site and also, and crucially, at Fr. Zuhlsdorf's blog, said in paragraph 62 that international liturgies "could be" in Latin - a strange formulation to describe a liturgy the normative form of which is already Latin. The new translation says "it is fitting" that these liturgies be in Latin.

It is a striking revision given that ironic twist that it was the Latin language itself that was at issue. The phrase in question is "aequum est" which Fr. Zuhsdorf says is best rendered as "it is reasonable, proper, right" - or "it is becoming." in this case, fitting is a big improvement.

Other translation issues from this document are still under consideration.

Friday, March 30, 2007

CNS on the Motu Proprio: a link and commentary

In only the second nod to the Motu Proprio on Catholic News Service, the news service of the U.S. conference of Bishops, John Thavis writes an article, Tridentine Mass: Pope looks for bridge to tradition.

In this article, John Thavis looks at the forthcoming Moto Proprio and considers Benedict's intentions. A few comments are worthwhile.

The article begins with a contextualization of the Motu Proprio:

"From the outside, allowing the old Mass has been seen primarily as a concession to the followers of the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who was excommunicated in 1988 for his intransigence on liturgical and other reforms of Vatican II.

"But some Vatican officials believe that aspect has been overblown. More than making peace with Archbishop Lefebvre's followers, they said, the pope is trying to make peace with the church's own tradition."

This second paragraph is quite important [not because of what MP might say, because we don't know what it might say; rather because of the principle behind this statement]. Indeed, the matter of the classical liturgy in the context of a problematic liturgical reform and implementation (Motu Proprio or no Motu Proprio) should not, I propose, be understood as something to be given merely as a form of acquiescence or as an "incentive" to begrudgingly be given out of compromise, to disaffected Catholics or Catholics not in full communion with the Holy See. Rather the matter is one which should be understood precisely in the light of a need to re-connect ourselves back to our organic liturgical tradition, seeking steps to begin to rectify this issue.

Thavis continues further on: "The almost total prohibition of the old missal, which had been used for 400 years, was unprecedented in the history of the liturgy, he [Ratzinger] said in the book [Milestones]."

Our first point of correction is that the classical missal was not simply known and used for 400 years, but effectively for 1600 years. Often this 400 year mark is thrown out in a way that tends to diminuish precisely the depth of the problem that occurred in 1970. When we understand the depth to which our classical rite reaches (yes indeed, with organic developments, but let's remember that those occurred as well between the time of Trent and 1962 as well; so there is no reason to arbitrarily pick Trent as the "origin" of the classical missal when one considers the relative lack of substantive difference between it and the medieval forms of the Roman rite), the depth of the problem is that much more magnified.

"Even before he wrote those words, then-Cardinal Ratzinger had caused a stir when he said it made sense for the priest to celebrate Mass facing the same direction as the congregation, in the pre-Vatican II style, although he also said it would be confusing to turn the altar around once again."

We need to be clear here. If we look at Ratzinger's writings, he does raise the spectre of the need to be pastorally sensitive and not committ the same faults of rapid changes as happened in the 1970's. He did not, however, write off the prospoect of again re-orienting our liturgy through the traditional posture of ad orientem. He rather proposed the altar crucifix as a beginning step toward this gradual process of re-orientation and then noted that monasteries and other such places could be locations where the full tradition of ad orientem could be more quickly restored (see: Looking Again at the Liturgy with Cardinal Ratzinger ed. Alcuin Reid. St. Michael's Abbey Press.). Thavis' statement could easily leave the impression that Ratzinger had written off the idea of restoring ad orientem (as pastorally unrealizable) but this is not in fact the case.

As well, to speak of ad orientem as "pre-Vatican II" style is also problematic. It is not simply pre-Vatican II style, it was the method of celebrating the liturgy universally. Moreover, Vatican II never mandated versus populum, nor was the practice ever banished, and it continued to be used in most of the Christian East. Therefore, to characterize this tradition as being pre-conciliar, does tend toward a distortion of the Second Vatican Council and the Church universal on this point, and also lessens as well the significance and scale of this change.

"In one revealing speech to Catholic traditionalists in 1998, he said bluntly that the old "low Mass," with its whispered prayers at the altar and its silent congregation, "was not what liturgy should be, which is why it was not painful for many people" when it disappeared."

And many of us would agree. The sung (classical) liturgy must become more normative for the liturgy of Sundays and solemnities. This isn't a critique of the classical liturgy, however, but rather of the practice that was adopted in so many places with regard to it, and which didn't allow its full treasures to be as readily explored.

Thavis concludes his piece with the desires of the French Bishops, and their desire that a clear statement be made on the part of those attached to the traditional rite that speaks supportively of the post-conciliar liturgical reform.

What came to my mind here was there is also a need for those who have rejected our tradition and traditional forms to likewise demonstrate their own good will and a hermeneutic of continuity. Let's be clear and fair, there has been a hermeneutic of rupture which has banished most anything deemed "pre-conciliar" and this is as problematic as the sort of traditionalist who has rejected anything and everything "post-conciliar."

Further, not all "traditionalists" take on this approach of rupture. If they are simply attached to the treasures of the classical liturgy, desirous of true liturgical reform in the light of both the Council and our tradition of organic development, all the while never questioning the validity of the modern Roman rite, but calling for a reform of the reform with regard to it, then it seems to me that they have nothing to justify and join the ranks of our Holy Father as a Cardinal in this set of ideas. In that regard, I would propose they form a part of the true liturgical centre and mainstream ---- just as do those who focus upon the reform of the reform, but who are supportive of the availability of the classical liturgy, provided we do not take an immobiliistic and triumphalistic approach to it, or one which rejects the Council -- not as popular opinion may go of course, but as the mind of the Church may go, as seen in the light of the Conciliar documents and our tradition.

As for the extremes, the road to a change of heart and mind is not a one way street as this article might make one think; it is rather and precisely a two-way street.

Easter Season Orchestral Massses

Te Deum Laudamus has news they would like to spread of Easter Season Orchestral Massses taking place at Assumption Grotto in Detroit, MI.

Monastic life meditation

I believe recovering a greater sense, appreciation and awareness for the monastic vocation, life and spirituality is a key to help recover a proper sense of the liturgy and the liturgical life which we can all strive to live. In many senses, monks and nuns radically live out the liturgical life.

In that vein, over at EJVideo-place Catholic they have some interesting video collages of monastic life, including this one:

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Lenten Array at St Birinus', Dorchester

As promised, more photos from St Birinus' Catholic church in Dorchester-on-Thames have been posted. The church has been beautified even more by the addition of ecclesiastical heraldry on the Rood Screen. This is still incomplete as the screen has yet to be fully gilded and polychromed and the Rood is currently being painted, hence it is not in situ. A rail will also be installed for the houseling cloth.

Rood Screen

One reason for my visit, of course, was to see the Lenten array:

St Birinus Lenten Array

Lenten Array at St Birinus

And there is a simpler set in Father's domestic chapel:

Lenten Array at Dorchester

Do look at the whole set here for more of this lovely liturgical gem and its ecclesiastical art in Oxfordshire.

Sanctuary lamp & chancel ceiling

Long may the sanctuary lamp burn in this church and may it be the locus of a new liturgical movement in Mary's Dowry!

Palm Sunday

Since I've periodically blogged our Sunday programs, here is Palm Sunday with not nearly as much of the propers as we would like, but given the realities etc. etc. The Psalm and Tract are written by our chant director - a merciful liberation from the past of being stuck with the versions handed down from the usual suspects.

The Latin Mass: Old Rites and New Rites in Today's World

By way of a reference on Open Book, there is a piece up on Ignatius Insight: The Latin Mass: Old Rites and New Rites in Today's World

A Quick Layman's comment on the new Oakland Cathedral Design

California Catholic Daily has a story about the new Oakland Cathedral (by way of and it is disappointing to see the architectural design that they've gone with:

The Eastern Christians have often discussed the idea of shying away from glass for imagery because of its physical lack of permanence (it is easily broken). While I am not in agreement on the point of the use of glass windows for decoration (i.e. stained glass) there does seem to be something about this when we are discussing an entire building made up of glass. Indeed, one of the great benefits of traditional church architecture is not only its presence, but also its symbolic sense of substantiality, being traditionally made of solid quarried stone, which naturally becomes imparted in a symbolic way upon the Faith itself.

An entirely glass structure additionally has very strong commercial overtones (being as most entirely steel and glass structures are commercial properties). The church relates less to commercial institutions that it does with the domestic, or even the state (which at least pertains to order, law, etc.).

Symbolically then, as an architectural language and in relation to the language of sacred architecture, such does not seem to work here, anymore than it would necessarily work at a place like Ave Maria University when it proposed a similarly unfortunate design.

It also significantly limits the possibilities of the interior iconography of the building.

Holy Week in Jerusalem

As we prepare to move into Holy Week, one of our priestly readers has kindly sent a link to some pictures of Easter 2003 from the Holy Land.

There are many interesting photos of different days of the Triduum. Here's a few:


Try it in Latin this year.

Here it is from the 1970 Missal, as prepared by Richard Rice and the CMAA.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Reader requests and announcements...

Reader 1:

One of our readers is looking for something for a particular religious order. I am hopeful someone might be able to help.

They would like to find the 1928 edition of the Antiphonale Romano-Seraphicum Pro Horis Diurnis or of the 1949 edition of the Antiphonale Sacrosanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Pro Horis Diurnis.

I think they'd be quite happy even with a reprint if need be. Please post in the comments if you have such a thing.

Reader 2:

Ex Fontibus Co. has newly published the Roman Kyriale, including an index, in both hard-cover and soft-cover editions. The hard-cover edition will be attractive, we hope, to choirs who anticipate regular and heavy use of the book.


Description of the volume:

"Gregorian chant has long transmitted the mystery and majesty of the Catholic liturgical tradition. Newly republished, the Kyriale Romanum of 1961, preserves between its covers an invaluable patrimony of ancient and medieval chants for the Ordinary of the Mass. It collects from the Graduale the most frequently-used chant settings throughout the liturgical year, with eighteen mass settings, six credos, and numerous settings for feasts and holy days, including the solemn procession on the feast of Corpus Christi.

As Catholics are becoming increasingly aware of and interested in their liturgical heritage, this beautiful and affordably-priced volume is of great value to choir directors, choristers, and laypeople who wish fully to participate in the venerable liturgical tradition of the Roman Rite. "

New CD of Holy Week music from St. John Cantius

The Cantius Web Store has news of a new CD of Holy Week Music available, done by the St. Cecilia Choir of the parish of St. John Cantius in Chicago.

The new CD is entitled MISERERE and features the following music:

Ingrediente Domino, Malcolm
Lamentations of Jeremiah, Guerrero
Amicus meus, Victoria
Lamentations of Jeremiah, Chant
Senories populi, Victoria
Miserere, Allegri
Ubi Caritas, Raminsh
St. John Passion, Chant with choral sections by Victoria
Timor et tremor, Lassus
Tenebrae Factae Sunt, Poulenc
Dum Transisset Sabbatum, Taverner
Cantate Domino canticum novum, Schutz
Ascendens Christus in altum, Victoria

Description: This recording, which presents the emotional depth and variety of music for this important liturgical season, traces the six major services of Holy Week, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.

This is available now for purchase at:

To order an item by mail, please mail your order to:
Pathway Book Service
4 White Brook Road
Gilsum, NH 03448

Order by Phone

or order by email:

Goodchild's little treasure

Here is a little treasure. It is Sister Mary Antonine Goodchild's Gregorian Chant for Church and School (1941). It's like the fast track to chant, just a few early chapters on the basics and then you plunge right into the repertory, and all the main settings and hymns are here, one by one, in Solesmes-style notation. It has translations. It even has study questions! Fr. Samuel Weber is the one who told me about this. He remembers it fondly.

I've thought for a long time that a book like this needs to be written. Well, it's already been done. If I were founding a schola today, or teaching middle school kids chant, this is the book I would use. No question.

Motu proprio ready with accompanying letter, German paper reports

Catholic World News (CWN)

Mar. 28, 2007 ( - A papal document widening access to the Latin Mass is prepared for release, and an accompanying letter to the world's bishops has been drafted, according the German newspaper Die Welt.

Matching stories that have appeared in Italian and French publications, Die Welt reports that a motu proprio restoring regular access to the pre-conciliar liturgy has been completed. Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) is determined to release the document, despite substantial opposition, the paper says.

The story in Die Welt goes beyond other accounts in saying that a letter has been prepared to accompany the release of the document. Although no date for that release is given, the German newspaper says, "the issue has been decided."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Here's a lovely shot from of Weltenberg Abbey, a gem of the Bavarian Baroque. It strikes me as example of the style which has, to my eye, a more robust and even masculine feel to it, rather than the pink-and-white one more normally associates (rightly or wrongly) with the period. The genius of the Baroque is revealed here by the dramatic and inventive use of hidden light to create, in the altarpiece, a very literal window into heaven that silhouettes the silver-and-gold silhouette of a mounted St. George.

What Gothic suggests, in a hieratic or diagrammatic way, through gilded backdrops reflecting heavenly light, Baroque literally incarnates through the use of light itself as a medium. Highly-ornamented it is, but every element of it is there for a reason, and intimately related to the hierarchy of light, decoration and materials that revolves around the fixed point of the high altar.

Kyriale, Solesmes edition

The CMAA has made available a Kyriale extract from the Graduale, with helpful navigation links.

It contains all the Mass settings plus Psalm tones for readings and the Gloria Patri, plus Corporus Christi, fully 160 pages in a format that is far easy to manage that the full Graduale. It is the true "people's songbook" for the Roman Rite. You can easily copy images using Adobe reader. The scan is 300 dpi.

In addition, the Kyriale is available in both softcover ($12) and hardcover ($22) here.

The Sacred Liturgy as a Centre of Christian Life

One of the issues that I am continuously trying to drive home is the importance of the liturgy. One of the symptoms (and causes) of our liturgical crisis today is that it is precisely misunderstood as something of lesser importance; or that to be concerned with it is somehow to manifest a mere externalism or even legalism akin to the Pharisees. Such is possible of course, because like any good thing, there can be distortions. That does not make a good thing to not be a good thing, without importance, or impossible to focus upon properly.

To be genuinely and properly concerned about the liturgy is to see and understand its objective nature, purpose and its sanctifying power. It is to see and understand the necessity of the worship of God within the context of our incarnated nature. We are people of flesh and blood, not merely intellects. We are both and the "heart" is often the first stage in moving the intellect, which in turn moves us in our practice and disposition toward God and our fellow creatures. The heart and mind are intimately related and so too are the external practices, ceremonies and symbols of our faith intimately connected, as both a sign and a bridge, to our own interior approach to God and our own conversion.

Mother Angelica of EWTN used to speak of "holy reminders" and the liturgy is the ultimate of holy reminders; it is that and much, much more. It is that upon which Christ comes upon our altars; it is that upon which that sacrifice, our salvation, is offered in perpetuity to God the Father in worship; it is that from which all the Church's power flows. It is that wherein we are both active and passive. Worshipping and being sanctified. Being instructed and formed in our Faith and proclaiming it and forming others through these sacred rites.

To be a Christian, I would propose, is not to set aside the liturgy or even its external forms as unimportant. It is rather to embrace the liturgy as fundamentally important, being a gift of the Lord and work of the Holy Spirit through the centuries which brings us into contact with the Divine Trinity, both objectively in the sacrament of the Eucharist come down upon the altars, mystically in union with the heavenly liturgy, and interiorly in our disposition. It is the gift of that which sanctifies time and brings us ever into contact with and meditation upon the Divine mysteries of our salvation. When we fast on a fast day, or feast on a feast day, or pray before an icon of a particular saint day or feast day, we extend the liturgy to our day to day life just as the monk or nun takes the fruits of their liturgical life (the Mass and Office) and extends that into each and every aspect of their day; be it intellectual exercise, Lectio Divina, private prayer or manual labour. Time continues to be sanctified and it is shaped by the liturgical season; by the psalms, prayers, or ceremonies of that liturgical day. It is inspired by the customs and ceremonies which extend us beyond the mundane and into the realm of the supernatural and mystical.

Christ has Risen. This is a matter of our Faith, spoken of in the scriptures, in the Creed and is a central tenet of our Faith. So why do we yet fast on Good Friday? Why do we liturgically live the Passion and Death of Christ as though we were somehow yet uncertain as to the outcome, as the doubting apostles did while hiding away for three days thereafter? We do so not because we too doubt the outcome, but because the Church understands the precise need to recollect ourselves to these divine mysteries. To stir our souls to the mysteries of our salvation; to stir us to worship, to penance and adoration; moving us deeper into interior movement by means of liturgical practice.

So it is that not only the liturgy itself, but even the various liturgical forms, practices and customs which characterize the liturgy have an important role to play in bridging us to the Divine mysteries. They recollect us, stir us and teach us. These external dimensions of the liturgy are an important medium, a gateway if you will, through which the objective supernatural realities are manifest and the Faith is imparted. It is the universal catechism of layman and priest alike. As such, these externals aspects aren't therefore dismissable as unimportant (or written off as radically subjective) for even while they are not dogmatic of themselves, they are the mortar which cement together the bricks and help give them added strength and surety.

This is why these questions matter and why it is not an unimportant field of focus or inquiry. The proverbial dots must connected so that we may understand that when we have the rightful sentiment that we must focus upon Christ, upon the Faith and Morals of the Church, that we must naturally conclude that we must therefore focus also upon the sacred liturgy which is the centre of our lived Christian Faith and which moves us toward the Holy Trinity, and which should inspire us and form every aspect of our day to day life.

Our Lady of Lourdes in Philadelphia

A reader and former parishioner of Our Lady of Lourdes in Philadelphia, PA. USA, pointed out this delightful parish to me.

Besides being architecturally beautiful, it looks as though, liturgically, the parish has some very good things going on as well. The fact that we can keep discovering and pointing out so many of these parishes is a good sign indeed that things are happening. Slowly perhaps indeed, and most certainly not yet in the majority of parishes let's be clear, but they are happening.

With documents like Sacramentum Caritatis, the presence of such parishes which have already been pursuing this true and continuity-based "spirit of the liturgy" can be looked to by parish priests as a resource. Questions can be asked, "how did you do it?", "what resources are available?", "do you have any recommendations for pitfalls and how to avoid them?" (Of course, we also aim to help provide the answers to these questions on the NLM as well.)

This is one of the reasons that Father Martin Fox's initiative to establish a listing of reform of the reform parishes is valuable. We have such a list for the classical liturgical communities of course, but finding and linking together parishes which are using the modern Roman rite and at least trying to attempt to re-enchant the liturgy will be not only a potentially valuable resource for the laity, but also for priests who are of a like mind, particularly now that they can come armed with yet another document, and this with not only the weight of the Pope, but an episcopal synod.

Returning to Our Lady of Lourdes, our good reader has uploaded a number of pictures here of their liturgy as celebrated for the feast of the the Epiphany. Here is one of those pictures, which incidentally also shows a very beautiful and stately gold chasuble.

Trivial Post Alert

This little treat makes the rounds from time to time, so I link it just in case you are not on the music geek lists that tend to send it around. Recorded sometime in the 1960s, it is the Master Singers doing an Anglican weather forecast. You can google around and find out the source of the chants they are singing.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Is the MP "Imminentissimo"?

So the question of the next week or two is, will the Motu Proprio finally see the light of day?

What of the issue that came up last year with regard to Holy Week and whether the Pope would release something then, and possibly distract from the holiest season of Christendom? Then again, if the announcement is understood as being one of great joy, are they really that incompatible?

It's difficult to say. But for those who absolutely must hear about the MP, the news on the spectrum today comes only in the way of confirmations. Fr. Zuhlsdorf quotes another source on What Does The Prayer Really Say which suggests that the Motu Proprio is “really really close” -- whatever that might mean in ecclesiastical timelines!

The precise comment was: "In the course of a conference held at Montauban (France) last Saturday, Rev. Fr. La Rocque, of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X (SSPX), confirmed that the Motu Proprio should be published this week, or at the latest before Holy Thursday."

(Originally published here)

We shall see. Now might be a good time to get upon one's knees, and pray the intercession of St. Benedict, St. Pius V, St. Gregory the Great, Our Lady and whomever else you might wish to invoke.

From my perspective, the issue is not whether it will be released, only when. The Pope, I firmly believe, is waiting for the best circumstances and time, though also wanting to release sooner than later since there can, of course, never be perfect sets of circumstances. Let us pray that he will determine that the time will be right soon and that it will indeed be right so that God's plans may be manifest.

Norcia Monastery Liturgy

One of our readers sent in the following links to the modern Roman liturgy as celebrated in the Norcia Monastery.

The chant is fantastic.

It would be manifestly preferable, in this writer's opinion, if the liturgy were ad orientem of course. That being said, one can at very least see the attentiveness by which the celebrant (Dom Cassian Folsom I believe) tries to adapt the spirit of ad orientem to the versus populum setting (not an easy task).

Norcia Monastery Liturgy, Part I
Norcia Monastery Liturgy, Part II
Norcia Monastery Liturgy, Part III
Norcia Monastery Liturgy, Part IV

A New Look at the Old Mass

From the March 2007 edition of Homiletic and Pastoral Review (by way of the Pittsburgh Latin Mass community), an article by Fr. Keneeth Myers, "A New Look at the Old Mass"

How will the Motu Proprio affect Catholic liturgical culture?

It's not too early to speculate on the effects on parish liturgical life of the Motu Proprio.

Tridentine Nirvana: we can rule out the most far-flung illusion that this will mean a full and complete revival the Tridentine Missal. That's not going to happen, and those who believe that are just not in touch with the reality of the current situation: for forty years, the modern rite has been the only Mass known by 99% of Catholics in the English speaking world. The vast majority is acculturated to it. If you imagine yourself as St. Michael casting out the Devil who has ruled the church since 1962 or whatever, and using the Motu Proprio as your sword, you are on another planet.

Return of the Dark Ages: On the other side, we can rule out the most far-flung progressivist fears that this is going to undo Vatican 2, turn back the clock, encourage new Crusades, restore the temporal power, create an ecclesiastical dictatorship, lead to pogroms, and result in the mass burnings of heretics. So please understand: this is about the liturgy—the public expression of the Church's worship—and not politics. This is a liberalization, not a crack down. It provides people more choice, not less. It is granting more liberty, not taking liberty away. By the way, the SSPX has done us no favors by linking their liturgical agenda with fantasies of restoring the French monarchy or eliminating religious freedom.

A cruel bifurcation: The classic rite might be seen as the one with decorum and dignity and the one in Latin, whereas the modern rite will be seen as the people-friendly vernacular Mass with goofy music. Priests will tell people who object to find another parish that offers the old rite and otherwise keep quiet. This tendency would be a disaster for the reform of the reform. It would further marginalize Latin and authentic Catholic liturgy. It would be a setback. I seriously doubt that this could be the result, though it will be good to guard against this by remembering that the normative modern rite is in Latin and the Graduale remains its songbook. My hope is that the language of the Motu Proprio will lessen the sharp distinction between the old and new missals, by using language like ordinary and extraordinary, or modern and classical.

More Tridentine-only parishes: This could happen but it is not that likely. Existing parish priests will not leave their current parishes to establish new ones. The shortage is too great. Places that already welcome Tridentine-only orders will have more parishes that offer this rite only, but money is short and congregations will still have to cough up the resources to make it possible. Also, many dioceses in this country refuse to permit orders that are dedicated to the classical rite exclusively. Presumably under the Motu Proprio, Bishops will retain the right to decide which orders to admit and exclude, and those that exclude them will continue to do so (for ever-changing reasons they can make up on the spot). So my guess is that classical-rite only parishes will be kept at their current level or grow slowly over time.

More biritual parishes
: This is the most likely result. Some parishioners will advocate the Tridentine option, and a priest will find the time to study and learn and then set aside a special Mass time for this. There are certain steps to overcome. Most priests don't have time or interest in this cause. If they fear, even slightly, that the Bishop will disapprove, they won't go there. But some will. Initially, such a special Mass could drain away resources from other Masses, particularly in the area of music, so it will most likely be a Low Mass. Only a small minority will choose, for example, a 1:00pm low Mass over an 11:00am new rite Mass. But over time, circumstances could change. The Mass time could be moved as it grows more popular. But be aware traditionalists: this will mean that hosts will be mixed in the tabernacle. Believe it or not, some people have an issue with this.

Pressure on the new rite
: However you look at it, the Motu Proprio revives the classical ideal as a kind of religio-cultural currency. Its status will be re-legitimized. This is hugely important because of one of the grave defects in the modern rite: it lacks rubrics that dictate a certain liturgical result. For this reason, it is too often used as a vessel into which the celebrant and the liturgy teams dump their agenda. Some of this is tendency results from bad intentions but lots of it is entirely innocent. People don't have the model of the old Mass in their mind. Sometimes it takes only one attendance to create the epiphany: oh so that's how Catholic liturgy is supposed to sound and feel! This impact here could be huge, and, I think, overshadow the bifurcation tendency mentioned above. There is also this interesting possibility: pastors will be inspired to fix up the new rite and make it more solemn and correct precisely to forestall what they consider a worse choice of actually having to learn the old rite and put it in place as a parish option.

The mainstreaming of the disaffected
: this is another happy result of the Motu Proprio. Those people who have felt stepped on and abused by the coercive and sometimes vicious way in which the new rite was imposed will finally have this historical wrong undone. They will then have to take a new look at mainstream Catholic life in the U.S. and begin to make themselves part of it. They will have to adapt to the new reality, come out of their bunkers, and make a positive contribution to Catholic life in this country. They will also have to adjust to the fact that the major source of their disgruntlement will have been addressed. They will have to be happy again, and, oddly, this change doesn't always come easy for people who have lived in despair for so long.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

San Gregorio dei Muratori

My favorite church in Rome is also one of the smallest, the delightful, shabbily beautiful Baroque hole-in-the that is the home to the local F.S.S.P. parish. The liturgies are all a bit of a squeeze, but are well-conducted and the small size of the place gives masses high or low a powerful intimacy I have seen scarcely anywhere else in any rite, and that's saying a lot in Rome.

It appears that they've also finally entered cyberspace with their own blog, F.S.S.P. in Vrbe, which pleases us immensely. What follows are a few of the more POD photos they've posted of the doings in this noble, if rather minute, chapel. I look forward to many more.

Requiem for a fellow priest, with a most noble and yet affectingly humble catafalque.


New Year's Day Benediction.

The Cantor as Insufferable Liturgical Dictator

Awhile back, Michael Lawrence blogged a short item on how a cantor ought to manage his or her role. He suggested that the cantor should sing the Lectionary Psalm (if used), the Alleuia, and any needed incipits. Otherwise, the cantor should be a nearly invisible figure in liturgy so that the celebrant and people can assume their roles. Let the role of the cantor decrease so that the prayer of the liturgy can increase. And what a relief this would be!

Now, on the opposite side, here is a parish website in Lakewood, Ohio, with its organist and choirmaster Jeffrey Moellman instructing cantors in a way that inadvertently demonstrates the wisdom of Lawrence's post on this topic. In Moellman's parish, and at his insistence, the cantor would dominate from the first to the last, telling people what to do, staring at people during the singing, waving his or her arms around from the sanctuary, never letting anyone have a moment's peace (that would be a "lull"), and generally being omnipresent.

Let us quote in full:

Strive for eye contact with the congregation, especially when they are singing. To achieve this, the refrains of hymns and acclamations should be memorized as much as possible.

In addition to leading the sung portions of the Mass, the cantor, in effect, suggests gesture for the congregation. Thus, stand and sit according to the regular practices of Mass. Exceptions to this occur when hymns or acclamations are sung while the congregation is seated or kneeling. Otherwise, be seated with the congregation.

Please use the following terms and suggestions when announcing the hymns:

Processional Hymn: This hymn accompanies the entrance procession, an event that originally involved all who attended Mass. The Presider will give a signal to begin Mass. This is the cue to stand and wait for the prelude to end (if it is still in progress). Possible announcements for this hymn are: “Let us begin our worship by singing…” or “As we come together to worship God, let us sing…”

Hymn during the Presentation of the Gifts or Hymn of Preparation: The term ‘offertory’ is to be avoided here because the true offering occurs in the Eucharistic Prayer to follow. This hymn ends with the verse in which the priest washes his hands. Possible announcements for this hymn are: “As our gifts are being presented, let us sing…’ (please note the word “our”) “During the Presentation of the Gifts, please join in singing…”

Communion Hymn or Hymn during the Communion Procession: This hymn accompanies the procession to receive the Sacrament. It should be announced as early as possibly after the Presider receives Communion. Communion begins with the priest, so do not wait for the other ministers to leave the altar. Receive the Sacrament and return to lead the hymn. This avoids an unnecessary lull in the flow of this portion of the liturgy. This is especially important now that the congregation is asked to remain standing and actively participate in the communion procession and hymn.
Possible announcements for this hymn are: “As the united Body of Christ, let us sing…” or “Our hymn during the Communion Procession can be found in…”

Recessional Hymn: This hymn is not a ‘closing hymn,’ for what we experience in the Mass must be taken out of the church and incorporated into our everyday lives. Thus, the congregation only ‘recesses,’ that is, leaves the church building. Possible announcements for this hymn are: “May we take the spirit of our celebration into the world as we sing…” and “We take Christ with, singing…”

The announcement for all hymns should be made slowly and clearly, and should be enunciated. Please use the following form: hymnal, number, name. For example: “…in the blue Gather hymnal, number four hundred forty-three, Where Charity and Love Prevail.” This allows the congregation to decide which book to pick-up, and then proceed to find the correct page.

Role of Cantor with and without Choir: During liturgies without choir, the cantor is to sing in the sanctuary (front) and is to sing all sung portions of the Mass, including the intonation and verses of the Responsorial Psalm and Gospel Acclamation. It is very important that the congregation is made aware of when to commence singing by a brief arm motion and good eye contact.

During liturgies at which the choir is singing, the cantor positioned in the sanctuary (front) acts as a leader of song. Thus, only those portions of the acclamations which are sung by the congregation are to be sung by the leader of song. Portions such as the intonation and verses of the Responsorial Psalm and Gospel Acclamation are to be sung by either the choir, a cantor in the choir loft or the organist. Again, it is very important that the congregation is made aware of when to commence singing by a brief arm motion and good eye contact.

The liturgical misstatements are many of course (e.g., there is indeed such a thing as an offertory; see the Graduale). He must be unaware that his point of view on the role of the cantor seems to be borrowed from an evangelical and not a Catholic tradition. And have you ever seen a more vivid illustration of the "four-hymn sandwich" that musical portion of Mass has become?

I blog this not to be mean to this person, who seems to be an accomplished organist and a trained musician who has actual experience in singing and performing serious music, but to highlight the unfortunate quality of instruction and guidance that so many people are getting in their parishes. And no doubt he picked up some of these tips (and the didactic tone) from some workshop somewhere, and I'm sure it's also true that the people who ran this workshop were similarly misled to what Catholic liturgical music consists in and how a liturgical space is to be managed. They probably all mean well, but thus does error pile on error until you get the result that you have in so many parishes around the country, places where you just want to tell the song leader to let the liturgy manage itself so the people can pray.

One final point about directing with one's arms: If you have never actually observed leaderless song take place, perhaps you do not believe it is true, but it is an actual fact: people can and do start and stop singing, and do quite well at it, without being told to do so by an arm-waving, heavily amplified, front-and-center "director."

AU Conference: The Priesthood and the Liturgy

The Anglican Use Society has information on its 2007 conference which will be the topic of the "The Priesthood and the Liturgy." This will be taking place from Thursday, May 31st to Saturday, June 2nd, 2007 on the campus of The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

March Adoremus Bulletin

The March 2007 edition of Adoremus bulletin includes some interesting articles as usual, including a piece by Deacon Scott Haynes of the Society of St. John Cantius: To Give Glory to God.

A short excerpt:

"...a metanoia (“conversion”) is called for concerning liturgical music. To continue down the course of recent decades would be to stray from the “lineage of the great tradition of the past”, because the liturgical music in most parishes falls terribly short of the “simplicity, refinement and agility in form and rhythm” so characteristic of the chant and polyphony that the Church so highly lauds.

"But those restoring the heritage of Catholic music will encounter obstacles in the relativism and skepticism that are entrenched in the modern mindset."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Picture of Ambrosian rite in presence of Pope

Below is a picture which was intended to go with the revised piece on the ancient Ambrosian rite liturgy.

This particular photograph has some interesting points to it. It is a Pontifical Archiepiscopal Mass celebrated at the conciliar altar and in the Pope's presence during the Second Vatican Council.

The celebrant of the liturgy was Archbishop Montini (then Archbishop of Milan, later Pope Paul VI).

From a ritual/rubrical perspective, one can see the element that Nicola de Grandi spoke of with the deacons taking up positions surrounding the altar, rather than their formation as at a classical Roman liturgy.

The lost language of worship

There is an interesting article in today's edition of The Telegraph: The lost language of worship

A few excerpts from the article:

"Liturgy - the sum of the signs and gestures and words in the service - says things that words alone cannot. After all, at the institution of the Eucharist during the Last Supper, Jesus said "This is my body" while he was holding up bread offered to God. It was a supreme case of saying less and meaning more.

"The Pope hopes that "everything related to Eucharist should be marked by beauty". We know that music and architecture - a Byrd Mass, say and a Gothic cathedral - reach transcendently high beauty, which, while it reflects the godly work of the Eucharist, appeals to anyone sympathetic to the cultural conventions.

"But most people in Britain today do not take to Byrd and cathedral architecture like ducks to water. They are bored by high culture because they are blind to its language. Worse, they have been led away from any chance of appreciating high culture by being fed noisy, ephemeral, brutish culture. A few hours of hip-hop videos at night-time inoculate against any appeal of renaissance polyphony next morning.

"It is not all high culture in church, nor even the simple, timeless rhythms of ancient liturgies. As the liturgical scholar Dr Alcuin Reid points out: "Modern liturgical practices are defective, and they reinforce people's misunderstanding both of their faith and how the faith should relate to the modern world." In other words, churchgoers misunderstand the content of their faith because the liturgy palmed off on them points them in the wrong direction."

To read the entire article, click the link above.

More news stories on the MP

While some, as came out here recently, are frustrated with speculative discussion and reports on the Motu Proprio, there is indeed genuine value and interest in documenting these, not only from more traditional authors and sources (let alone Curial sources) but particularly from the progressivist sources.

Let's be clear, I'm not suggesting the progressivists have any further "in" to the Pope's intentions than anyone else. Where interest lay in their reporting is that they cannot be accused of "wishful thinking" as they aren't likely to be terribly enthusiastic about the prospect of the MP. At best they might be apathetic.

Let's be even further clear: nothing further is truly and certainly known at this point than it was one month ago or one year ago. So why report? Well, it must be remembered that there are also folks who do not even accept that this MP will be published. They are determined to believe it either never existed, or it was long since abandoned by the Pope. As such, these stories do contain an important bit of affirmation: namely that a variety of sources, from a variety of perspectives across the ecclesiological specturm, know of the MP, and all believe it will be published, and possibly quite soon.

The value of these reports, which may give us no further, or definitive "facts" should at very least help to give people not only hope, but a sense joyful anticipation.

In that vein, Rorate Caeli documented for the record the following story from a journal they describe as a progressive French journal -- the journal is named "Golias". I can't comment upon the journal myself or where it falls in the spectrum, but it is hopefully re-assuring for those who worry about the Motu Proprio somehow being "scuttled" that even more progressive sources seem resigned not only to its existence but its eventual (and possibly imminent) release.

Here is the story in translation provided by Rorate Caeli and here is the link to the original March 23rd Editorial by Golias. It contains an interesting bit of speculation on their part about the January promulgation date that we heard about around Christmas.

The Motu Proprio on the Latin Mass soon available


Our information concerning the imminent publication of the motu proprio which would allow for a much wider use of the pre-Conciliar rite make us believe that it could take place before Easter.The document will be published before the end of Lent: [or, rather,] in any event, Pope Benedict would be determined [to have it published].
This "motu proprio" should have appeared at the end of January. The opposition of a certain number of prelates was what prompted Benedict XVI to be patient. Among the opponents to this "motu proprio", Cardinals Karl Lehmann, Jean-Pierre Ricard (forced by his brothers of the French episcopate, being himself [personally] quite favorable to it), Jean-Marie Lustiger, Godfreed Danneels, Giovanni Battista Re should be particularly mentioned... The opposition to this project does not follow the usual criteria of conservatism. The archbishop of Paris, André Vingt-Trois, is very hostile to the project itself, though he is counted among the conservatives. Other prelates, such as Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, are, on the contrary, favorable to it.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Translation Problem Heating Up

Fr. Zuhlsdorf is seeking more examples of misleading translations from Latin to English in Papal documents. Post them on his blog. Seems like there might be pressure building for a fix...

A Review of Msgr. Gamber's Classic Study by Dr. Alcuin Reid

Klaus Gamber, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background, Roman Catholic Books 2006, 224pp pb. $24.95

Reviewed by Dr. Alcuin Reid

The news that Monsignor Klaus Gamber’s book The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background has been brought back into print by Roman Catholic Books is very good news indeed, for it is a seminal work which has done much to expose the extent of discontinuity in the post-conciliar reform. It stands alongside Archbishop Bugnini’s own book, The Reform of the Liturgy, as essential reading – though Gamber is certainly the more accessible of the two.

Gamber's book is in fact two books. The first examines the overall work of the changes made to the liturgy in the 1960’s. He sees the question of whether or not the changes were an organic development as crucial. His conclusions speak for themselves: "Obviously, the reformers wanted a completely new liturgy, a liturgy that differed from the traditional one in spirit as well as in form; and in no way a liturgy that represented what the Council Fathers had envisioned, i.e., a liturgy that would meet the pastoral needs of the faithful" (p. 100). Gamber is clear and unequivocal: a large mistake has been made with regard to the liturgy, unprecedented in the Church's history.

However, it would be wrong to align Gamber with traditionalists who draw a line at 1962, 1955, or even earlier, beyond which all change is anathema. Gamber is a critical liturgical historian, as shown by his precise and detailed discussion of the question of which way the liturgy should be celebrated, which comprises the second book in this volume. (A more recent and comprehensive treatment of facing east, including a critical evaluation of Gamber’s contribution, is to be found in Fr U.M. Lang’s Turning Towards the Lord.)

Gamber's concerns are historical, doctrinal and pastoral. He readily accepts the appropriateness of vernacular readings, and even of the pruning of some of the later accretions to the Traditional Roman Rite (Psalm 42 from the prayers at the foot of the altar, the Offertory prayers, the last Gospel). These prudential decisions can be argued about, as they were at Trent. But he staunchly defends traditions integral to the Roman Rite throughout its history, e.g., facing eastwards and the Roman Canon, and deprecates "the cold breath of realism [that] now pervades our worship" (p.13).

Gamber speaks frankly of the destruction of the Roman Rite after the Council, the last example of which can be found in the Ordo Missae promulgated in 1965 as the reform called for by the Council. Significantly, Archbishop Bugnini dismissed this 1965 reform as insufficient because its alterations were merely "peripheral", insisting that "radical" changes were what was needed.

It is Gamber’s brave but loyal ‘critical traditionalism' that gives such importance to his writing. His theses are well documented, and his research is impressive. One hopes more of his writings will be made available in translation.

After reading Gamber (and also Bugnini) it is difficult if not impossible to maintain an uncritical acceptance of the new liturgy, even when it is celebrated devoutly and with the right intention. When we recall the doctrinal importance of the liturgy (lex orandi, lex credendi), we realise that the question of how we worship is central to our faith. What then is to be done?

"What we need today ... [are] bishops like those who in the fourth century courageously fought against Arianism when almost the whole of Christendom had succumbed to the heresy. We need saints today who can unite those whose faith has remained firm so that we might fight error and rouse the weak and vacillating from their apathy," writes Gamber (p.113). At tall order, certainly, but not beyond the possibilities of Divine Providence.

Pell on the new Mass translation

The Catholic Herald has an interview today with Cardinal George Pell of Australia where he comments on the new Mass translation. Here is the pertinent excerpt:

New Mass translation is 'dangerously close'

Cardinal George Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, is in a good mood. The new English translation of the Mass, a process which he has been overseeing for five years, is finally nearing completion. He has successfully launched the official countdown to World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008. And, since the last time we met, Australia has regained the Ashes.

But it’s the new translation of the Order of the Mass which he is clearly most pleased about, and before the interview gets underway he proudly brings forth a recently approved copy of the Ratio Translationis, a kind of manual for priests on the new translation. As chairman of Vox Clara, an ad-hoc group of bishops overseeing the translation process, the cardinal says the Church is now “dangerously close” to having the first draft of the new text completed. “I’m sure it will prove to be generally acceptable,” he explains. “The worst fears of a few will not be realised in any way at all.” He could not give a precise date for when the new translation will be available for use but said that since the process had started, he had often remarked that completion was just two years away. “That must be coming closer to the truth,” he jokes.

Hosanna filio David - silenced?

There seems to be great confusion between the different entrance possiblities on Palm Sunday. I have suggested that our schola sing the Hosanna filio David - but modern rubricists seem to have clever ways of doing away with any vestage of tradition yet again.

With practicality in mind, people in our parish will be given palms to hold before they gather in the church, and there will be no procession per se. Is tradition being eschewed under the guise of modern functionalism? Is this the reason for opting for the less than ideal "Solemn" entrance? If that is the case, then, functionally speaking, the procession will still happen, but informally. Would it be a violation of anything to sing the opening antiphon at this point, i.e., just prior to the blessing of the palms, since the people have arrived at their appointed destination?

The Graduale lists the Hosanna filio David as the opening antiphon for the ceremony of the blessing of the palms. Elliot's contribution is extensive but doesn't take into account modern, functionalist thinking. Here is another case where settling for less than the ideal conveniently does away with a ceremony geared at, of all things, active participation in the liturgical drama. The irony!

Maybe I'm grasping at straws...but it sounds like another clever way of bypassing the contents of the Gradual..

Motu Proprio murmurings

As we all know, there were further rumours about next week as a possible Motu Proprio time of release (or at least promulgation -- which can be different from the actual public release of the document).

In view of this, there is a development that is intriguing to report.

It's been pointed out by a reader that the Italian edition of the Vatican News Bulletin shows that last evening, the Holy Father received both Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, and Cardinal Castrillon de Hoyos, President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission.

In Italian:

Il Papa ha ricevuto ieri sera in Udienza: Card. Francis Arinze, Prefetto della Congregazione per il Culto Divino e la Disciplina dei Sacramenti; Card. Darío Castrillón Hoyos, Presidente della Pontificia Commissione "Ecclesia Dei".


This news is intriguing, particularly when one consider the positions of the two cardinals, and their place with regard the liturgy, modern and classical. Certainly, if the Motu Proprio is to be released, these two would figure prominently into the matter.

We shall wait and see.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Saint Joseph Abbey

Thanks to one of our priestly readers for pointing out that the abbey of Saint Joseph de Clairval in Flavigny have a new and improved website.

The site includes a number of beautiful photographs of the monastery, the monastic community and also the liturgy:

Included as well are the icons made by monks of the community, and some gorgeous traditional sculpture:

There is much more there of interest.

Go Go Polyphony

The final polyphony pack is ready for the CMAA Sacred Music Colloquium:

Ave Verum (Elgar)
I am the Resurrection and the Life (William Croft)
Missa O Quam Gloriosum (Victoria)
Os Justi (Bruckner)
O nata lux (Tallis)
Missa sexti toni (Croce)
Cantate Domino (Monteverdi)
Ego sum Panis vivus (Palestrina)

Lenten Array in the Sarum Use

As Passiontide approaches, some sacristans will be retrieving those violet drapes and ironing them in preparation for the traditional Roman custom of veiling sacred images etc in the fortnight before the Sacred Triduum.

However, in the Sarum use, the sacred images and the Altar were already veiled on Ash Wednesday and rather than violet cloth (which would have been an expensive dye to acquire), bleached linen with simple Lenten and Passion designs are used: the idea was for a general negation of colour during Lent.

As this site explains:

"In [the Sarum] tradition "according to the rules that in all the churches of England be observed, all images [are] to be hid from Ash Wednesday to Easter Day in the morning." This is called the Lenten Array and it includes a curtain which hides the reredos, a frontal which covers the altar, and veils which cover other statues and pictures in the church. The color was Lenten white which was natural linen material, sometimes referred to as ash color. According to An Introduction to English Liturgical Colours, "The explanation of this use of white, which is closely akin to ashen, is 'in this time of Lent, which is a time of mourning, all things that make to the adornment of the church are either laid aside or else covered, to put us in remembrance that we ought now to lament and mourn for our souls dead in sin, and continually to watch, fast, pray, give alms....,' wherefore 'the clothes that are hanged up this time of Lent in the church have painted on them nothing else but the pains, torments, passion, blood­shedding, and death of Christ, that now we should only have our minds fixed on the passion of Christ, by whom only we were redeemed." This practice made a startling transformation of the church for the whole of the Lenten season so that Easter literally burst forth like the Lord from the tomb when the church was returned to normal state."

Photo above by Dr Allan Barton

Having looked at a few Lenten Arrays, I have become rather partial to them. In a weeks' time I shall visit the lovely Catholic church of St Birinus in Dorchester-on-Thames. Some NLM readers may recall my post on this liturgical gem in Oxfordshire; I shall be making a trip there with Fr Aidan Nichols, OP to see its Lenten Array, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, for more examples of Lenten Arrays, do look here and here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Westminster Cathedral, You're Bringing Me Down

Some notes from the troubled early history of the Catholic mother-church of London:

"Having decided that the Divine Office should be recited and sung daily in the cathedral, [Cardinal] Vaughan had to find a body of priests who would be responsible for doing this. From the beginning, he seems to have been clear in his own mind that the most obvious people to ask to do this would be the English Benedictine monks: the daily singing of the Office was an integral part of their vocation, and they carried it out with reverence and beauty. Moreover, it would be very fitting from a historical perspective to bring the Benedictines back to Westminster, for they had served the Abbey in the centuries before the Reformation. As his biographer says, this seemed to him to be such a sensible and obvious solution to the problemn that he just took it for granted, and on a number of occasions he announced publically that it would happen. He was so certain about it, indeed, that he ordered the architect to include in the plans a specially large area (or 'retro-choir') behind the altar to accomodate a large body of monks.

"For a man so skilled in administration, and well-used to the intricacies of negotiation, it is strange that he had consulted neither the Benedictines nor the Westminster secular clergy before making some of these pronouncements. His first plan was that the Benedictines from Downside should open a new monastery at Ealing in London, and from there serve both the pastoral needs of the local Catholics and the liturgical needs of the new cathedral; they would also say Mass, preach, and hear confessions. The parish attached to the cathedral, however, should be served by diocesan secular priests, so that there would be two sets of clergy using the building and carrying out pastoral duties there. Possibilities of friction and resentment seemed almost built into these proposals. The Benedictines accepted the proposals initially and a small number of monks moved to Ealing in 1897.

[The author then mentions out the English Benedictine "missionary oath," which effectively meant most priests of the order did not live a monastic life in the normal sense of the word, and thus, a purely liturgical role in the cathedral might be difficult to square with the reality of the current form of their apostolate.]

"The Cardinal began to have doubts about his proposals, perhaps because of the concern which members of his Chapter were expressing about possible clashes of interest. [...] To avoid this, he made an amazing next move: he approached the French Benedictines at the famous abbey at Solesmes (who were truly monastic and, moreover, renowned for their plainsong) and offered the position at Westminster to them - and without consulting the English Benedictines at all!"

~Peter Doyle, Westminster Cathedral: 1895-1995.

[After a year of rather complex maneuverings, and a belated attempt to explain to the English Benedictines that they were out of a job, the project simply had to be scrapped, for reasons doubtlessly apparent to the reader by now.]

Chant only in Lent?

Every movement must go through stages, and the chant restoration movement in our time seems to have started with Lent. That's been our general impression in talking to people around the country, and giving workshops and the like, and this is certainly reinforced here, in Fr. Fox's comment section of his now-famous post.

There might be a very practical reason for this. The pastor may feel like he has a better chance with success in Lent, when people come to expect different things that feel really Catholic, like Latin and all that. Avoiding parish political problems is a good enough reason (many Pastors live in fear of the music question).

But there is one very bad reason: the impression that chant is penitential and nothing else. Not so!

I'm still stinging from a comment a parishioner made to me about 4 years ago (musicians are so absurdly thin skinned!): "I find chant so depressing; we should instead be joyful in Jesus."

My mouth fell open and I didn't have a good response -- one of those moments you sort of go over and over in your mind for years. In any case, what can I say except that this is not true? Look at Christus Vincit, Te Deum, or just the entrance hymn for Palm Sunday Hosanna filio David (which echoes the entrance on Christmas morning). Or the communio from last week, Oportet te: here is the song of a father whose son has come home from long absence. He is dancing!

These all express emotions that are richer and more complex and more challenging than just joy. They reveal elation, celebration, praise, triumph. In any case, they are far from "depressing" unless anything short of bubble-gum pop strikes one as depressing.

Back to my point: it would be tragic if the chant movement became stuck in Lent and never moved forward to Easter and Pentecost and beyond, indeed, to the whole Church year. In fact, apart from the political reason, I can see no particular reason why Lent should be chosen more than any other season, though of course Lenten chants are amazing. But so are thousands more from every other season.

So let's please do all we can to move to stage two, beyond Lent. Chant isn't just for penance. It is the song of every liturgical emotion and, indeed, the paradigm song to express everything of true importance.

Noble Simplicity?

I'm generally not a fan of reducing elegant design to mere plainness, as noble simplicity, at least as Winckelmann first defined it, properly refers to a unity of physical and spiritual elements in a work of art, and was used by him to refer to classical Greek sculpture, which is a world apart from the misshapen gnomes that populate OCP clip art. You could make the case that good Gothic, Baroque or Romanesque has the quality of noble simplicity.

However, the church builder must face budgets these days, and while starkness is hardly to be praised, making a virtue out of the necessary plainness brought on by the expenses of building is much to be admired.

Photo by Fra Lawrence, O.P.

In that spirit, I suggest you study the splendid simplicity of the image above, Sir Ninian Comper's uncharacteristically restrained ciborium design for the (Anglican) Cowley Fathers' Bodley-designed chapel at St. Stephen's House. A similarly simple and splendid chapel was designed by Cram late in life for their foundation in Boston.

Photo by Fra Lawrence, O.P.

There are two tricks in the architect's bag when it comes to solving such problems: the first is a very careful and discrete use of form highlighted with small but telling detail, the second an intelligent use of color. The first of these is very strikingly shown here, and despite the monastic whiteness of St. Stephen's, Comper often used the second in many other projects of his. (Though here, we see a similarly subtle use of light and darkness; reflected light or a pleasantly ecclesial murkiness can cover a multitude of architectonic sins.) Everything is well-modulated, with simple but well-studied outlines that suggest the resolution of a more complex mental process, rather like Borromini's more highly geometrical but equally low-budget versions of Baroque. (Indeed, the column details remind me more than a little of Borromini's fondness for cherubs.) The stone table-altar altar is somewhat unconventional for what I know of Comper, and not suitable for a large parish church, but well-scaled to the small and delicately-balanced composition that is this chapel.

Further notes on the Ambrosian rite

[This piece has been updated by Nicola De Grandi, who Gregory DiPippo speaks of with the highest regard as regards the Ambrosian rite. Some of this piece you've read before, but Mr. DeGrandi has added to the piece. It makes for interesting reading and deserves being re-posted here. I have tried to bold the parts added by Mr. DeGrandi.]

by Gregory DiPippo and Nicola De Grandi

I have always been struck by the similarity of Ambrosian music, which sounds almost nothing like Gregorian chant, to the music of the Greeks; it is "in a different modality altogether", as the master of an Ambrosian choir once said to me. And yet, it is also full of the lengthy melismas that were characteristic of the ancient Gallican liturgy, and the language of the rite is, of course, Latin. These aspects, combined with fact that externals such as vestments and church architecture almost identical to those of the historical Roman Rite, create the impression of a liturgy from an age when the traditions of the various churches of Christendom had not yet separated from each other. Indeed, there are scholars who believe that in some respects, the Ambrosian Rite is simply a very archaic form of the rite once used in Rome itself.

On the other hand, one can also consider that the Ambrosian Rite is a living example of an expression of the faith of a local Church with proper and legitimate traditions and ecclesiology, which was almost completely forgotten after Trent. Gregory is right to quote the hypothesis that the Ambrosian Rite is "more Roman than the Roman Rite itself", as Bl. Card. Schuster liked to say; however, scholars tend nowadays to consider that it is not very likely for the Roman Rite to be actually a more evolved form of the Ambrosian Rite. A number of supposed "archaisms" of the Ambrosian tradition, such as the three readings, the Oratio super Sindonem after the Gospel, the Oratio super Oblata sung aloud, archaisms which were used as excuses to change the historical form of the Roman Rite in the liturgical reform, are now
generally considered to be proper features of the Ambrosian Rite, deriving directly from the Gallican tradition.

The Ambrosian rite Mass began with a procession, accompanied by special antiphons repeated from the Office; the custom is to stop in the middle of the nave for the singing of twelve "Kyrie eleison", then move into the sanctuary.

"The twelve Kyrie" sung "in gremio ecclesiae" (literally "in the bosom of the church"), as the old rubrics say, have a perfect parallel to the close of Ambrosian Lauds, and are said in close connection with a Psallenda (a processional antiphon) also taken from Ambrosian Lauds -"psallenda(m) secunda(m) quae est in matutinis", according to the XII cent. Ordo of Beroldus - and come at the end of a procession through the church led by a stational cross. Thus, those Kyrie's represent clearly the close of the stational part before the Mass itself, which is also in parallel with the one at the end of Lauds. This should also be considered as an example of the strict connection of Mass and Divine Office in the Ambrosian liturgical tradition (see also Mass "inter Vesperas").

In the Ambrosian Rite, the acolytes stand in front of the altar for most of the Mass, and the Deacon and Subdeacon in Solemn Mass have their default position, so to speak, facing each other over the Mensa.

In case of a Pontifical High Mass, the ministers stand all around the altar.

This position is customary since the time of St. Ambrose, who writes in De officiis ministrorum I,50,251: “Not everyone sees the altar of the mysteries, because they are hidden by the Levites, so that those who ought not to see them may not see”. This also is, by the way, a precious testimony to the "ad orientem" position of the celebrant, also observed in the Ambrosian Rite in the IV century.

As a prominent Ambrosian Rite scholar writes: "If we carefully observe the position which the body of the Church assumes at that point, we find therein … the image of the ancient people of the Convenant, pilgrims in the presence of God, with the Levites 'around the Dwelling place of the testimony' and the Israelites "each one near his insignia/flag."

After the prayers at the foot of the Altar, which are similar to those of the Dominican Rite, the priest incenses it in the bizarre (to Roman eyes) Ambrosian manner; the thurible has no cover, and is swung in a complicated pattern of circles.

The uncovered thurible (as we can see in mosaics of St. Vitale in Ravenna) is, like the monstrance in a temple-like form, and the use of apparelled albs, a medieval feature kept by Ambrosians, and later considered as "typically Ambrosian."

The first Sunday of Lent is called "The Beginning of the Fast", but the rest are named for their Gospel, "the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman," "of Abraham", "of the Blind Man", "of Lazarus", and Palm Sunday, (also called Olive Sunday in the Ambrosian Breviary, since in Italy, olive branches are easier to get and more commonly used than palms.) As in the Eastern Rites, the Lenten Sundays are treated more or less like feasts, so our Mass on March 11th was very much the “feast” of Christ’s discourse in John 8, 31-59; "Abraham your father exulted that he might see My day: he saw, and he rejoiced."

The whole period of Lenten in the Ambrosian Rite has a strong catechetical character, in preparation for Baptism solemnly given by the Archbishop during the Easter Vigil, and is focused on both Sunday and Satuday. On Sundays, while the First Readings are all taken from Exodus, as a symbol of the liberation of the People of God from the slavery of Evil, the Gospels prepare the catechumens for the gifts of Baptism: "Sunday of the Samaritan woman": the living water ; "Sunday of Abraham": the adoption into the divine childhood not by blood, but by Baptism; "Sunday of the Blind Man": the true light; "Sunday of Lazarus": eternal life. The Masses of Palm Sunday, "Dominica in ramis olivarum", were part of a more complex ritual at the beginning of the Holy Week, and completely different from the Roman tradition. Two Masses were celebrated: the one – only by the Archbishop – in commemoration of our Lord’s entrance into the Holy City of Jerusalem, with a solemn procession through the city, ending in the Winter Cathedral; the other, celebrated by rest of the priests, with the reading of John 11,55; 12 1-11: "Jesus ergo ante sex dies Paschae venit Bethaniam". On Saturdays, almost all Gospels have a close connection to the "scrutinii" before the Baptism: II Saturday: the imposition of the hands "And He could not do any miracles there, except that He cured a few that were sick, laying his hands upon them" (Mark 6, 1-5); III Saturday: the anointing with oil "And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them" (Mark 6, 7-13); IV Saturday, the signing with the Sign of the Cross, and the baptism of the infants "Then were little children presented to him, that He might impose hands upon them and pray" (Matth. 19, 13-15); V Saturday, also called "Sabbatum in Traditione Symboli," when the Archbishop taught the Creed to the catechumens "At that time Jesus answered and said: I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to the little ones" (Matth. 11, 25-30). The 1st Saturday has an apology for the lack of fast on Lenten Saturdays according to the Ambrosian tradition: "At that time Jesus went through the corn on the Sabbath: and his disciples being hungry, began to pluck the ears, and to eat…For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath."

During Lent, in place of the Gloria there is a litany, which is very similar to the litanies sung at the beginning of every Eastern liturgy. The Litany of the 1st, 3rd and 5th Sundays, "Divinae Pacis", (included in new edition of Cantus Selecti) contains an invocation to pray for those who are "in metallis", in the mines, to which Christians were sometimes condemned in age of the persecutions. This penalty was abolished in the West in 220 A.D.; it possible, therefore, that "Divinae Pacis"” is one of the very few surviving pieces of pre-Constantinian liturgical text (along with the Gloria and the Phos hilaron of Greek Vespers). It is an amazing thing to hear this most ancient of prayers in the true liturgical context for which it was

The "Divinae Pacis" Litany is, by the way, very similar to the ektenes litany of the Byzantine Liturgy, while the "Dicamus omnes" is shorter and close to the litany of dismissal of the catechumens in the same Byzantine tradition.

Another interesting point of similarity to the Greeks is that the tones for the Scriptural readings are quite generally similar to each other, the Gospel sounding much like the Prophecy and Epistle. On this occasion, the celebrant, Msgr . Angelo Amodeo, sang the first reading in a special tone, used only in Lent, and only in the Cathedral. Terrible to realize that with the passing of his generation, so many of these musical treasures may be lost forever!

After the Homily, the Priest lays out the corporal, while the choir sings an antiphon called "post Evangelium"; he then salutes the people with the words "Pacem habete" to which answer is made "Ad te, Domine", also very much as in the Eastern Rites. There follows a prayer which is termed "Super sindonem - Over the shroud," since the whiteness of the corporal recalls the burial shroud of Our Lord; this custom reminds one of another Eastern tradition, that of having an image of Our Lord’s burial on the corporal.

The three Kyrie after the Gospel are a sign that the first part of the Mass has come to an end. The Antiphona post Evangelium is, as a parallel to the "Ingressa" sung during the first incensation of the Altar, a solemn salutation to the Altar, while the shroud is unfolded upon it to be prepared for the come of the Holy of Holies.

The deacon’s admonition "Pacem Habete" is sung in memory of Our Lord’s command "If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath any thing against thee; Leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother: and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift" (Matth. 5, 23-24), and in preparation to the procession with the gifts, which was always traditionally kept in the Cathedral, and recommended by St. Charles in the IV Provincial Council of Milan.

The "Ad te, Domine" (formerly preceded by another deaconal admonition "Corrigite vos ad orationem!") sung by the choir is a further sign that also the faithful are preparing themselves for the Coming of the Holy One, by turning to East.

The Ambrosian offertory is similar to the Roman, but much longer, and the Offertory Antiphons are correspondingly also much longer. The Priest incenses the Altar, and is himself incensed, then he returns to the middle of the altar and intones the Creed.

In the Ambrosian rite, the Creed has a mystagogical function, immediately before the beginning of the Canon, to clearly state that the confession of the True Faith is the indispensible premise to a valid Eucharistical Sacrifice. It is thus not by chance that the people, the mystical body of Christ, are incensed while they (the choir) are singing the Symbolum.

On this particular occasion, the choir of San Simeon sang a very nice polyphonic creed by Antonio Lotti. (Special kudos to Massimo Bisson, head of the choir!) The incensation does not resume until the Priest has finished reading the Creed silently and gone to sit. When it resumes, it is done by the M.C., who is preceded by two of the six acolytes; to each person he says "Behold the odor of the saints of God, as the odor of a full field that God has blessed", and each responds "Deo gratias".

This custom to incense the people while uttering these words can be explained only in connection with Exodus 30, 35-38: "And thou shalt make incense compounded by the work of the perfumer, well tempered together, and pure, and most worthy of sanctification. And when thou hast beaten all into very small powder, thou shalt set of it before the tabernacle of the testimony, in the place where I will appear to thee. Most holy shall this incense be to you. You shall not make such a composition for your own uses, because it is holy to the Lord. What man soever shall make the like, to enjoy the smell thereof, he shall perish out of his people." The old temple is now destroyed, and the faithful are the true temple of God.

I am told that in the old days, the incensation at High Mass in the Duomo went on right through the Creed, Sanctus, Preface and well into the Canon.

After the Creed, the Priest returns to the altar, and sings the prayer "Super oblata" (Secret) out loud; the Ambrosian Rite was the source for the change introduced at this point into the Roman Rite. There follow the "Sursum Corda" dialogue and Preface, textually the same, but again with different, very beautiful melody. The Ambrosian Rite has preserved the ancient custom, also once part of the Roman Rite, of having a different Preface for virtually every Mass; some Masses have prefaces that take up a full column in the Missal!

The Canon is mostly the same as the Roman, but with a few very interesting differences.

Several more Saints are added to the Communicantes and Nobis quoque, and the names are printed in two parallel columns, as they were originally written in ancient times on the two panels of a diptych. The washing of the hands is done immediately before the Consecration, not at the Offertory. In place of "Haec quotiescumque", the Ambrosian Rite reads ‘Commanding them also and saying to them, "So often as ye shall do these things, you shall do them unto My memory, ye shall preach My death, ye shall announce My resurrection, ye shall hope for My coming, until again from Heaven I shall come to you." ’ The Priest then stretches out his hands in the shape of the Cross until the Suscipe, a beautiful medieval custom that was also part of the Dominican and Carmelite rites, among others.

The Fraction is done immediately after the Canon, accompanied by an antiphon called the Confractorium, after which comes the Pater noster ; this was also the order in the Roman Rite until the time of St. Gregory the Great. Since the Fraction has already been done, the Embolism is sung out loud, mention being made of St. Ambrose after St. Andrew. An invitation to exchange the Peace is made, and the Priest says his prayers before communion silently; the AR does not have the Agnus Dei.

From this point forward, the Ambrosian Rite is very similar to the Roman. The Communion antiphon is called the Transitorium; it should be noted that many of the longer ones are arranged in a tripartite structure similar to that of the Agnus Dei, the first part being sung by the men’s choir, the second by the boys’, and the third by both together. Also noteworthy is the absence of "Ite, Missa est"; the Mass always ends with "Benedicamus Domino – Deo gratias", as was also formerly the practice of the Roman Rite on penitential days. "Ite" is almost certainly a later development: another example of the reformers abolishing a more ancient practice in the name of "restoring" the custom of antiquity.

Father Martin Fox wants to know "Who Else Uses Latin?"

St. Blog's favorite homilist over at Bonfire of the Vanities wants to know from his readers what other parishes are using Latin in the context of the Novus Ordo mass, so his parishioners can get a sense of how this trend is increasing. Help the reverend father out by posting your comments over at his site! Much of what's already said is most encouraging.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Bonfire of the Vanities: Who else is using Latin and chant in the Mass?

In an effort to help identify parishes which are restoring Latin and Chant to their liturgies, Fr. Martin Fox has made a post on his blog, Who else is using Latin and chant in the Mass? asking for feedback about modern Roman rite masses re-employing these aspects of our liturgical tradition.

I'd urge parishes priests and parishoners to check it out. These kinds of things can be encouraging for people, including other pastors, in feeling more confident about restoring this direction in their own parishes.

Better no music than bad music

An article in the National Catholic Register argues that it is better to have no music at Mass than bad music. That seems right, even granting that the normative Mass is the sung Mass. Silence is very beautiful. Music has to be very good to be better than silence. I'm pleased to see NCR inching toward solid commentary on music.

Years ago, the editor told me that he didn't like chant and didn't want it to come back, and so he would never publish a piece on the subject (it was the beginning of my understanding that "conservative Catholics" can't always be counted on for support for genuine liturgical renewal).

That seems to have changed. Good. And yet what the current article seems not to contemplate is that music for Mass isn't just a matter of making the right choice among many possibilities. The Roman Rite comes with its own music "built in," as it were, and this music is found in the Graduale. If the current generation could somehow come to understand this one point, we would be leagues ahead of where we are.

Californian pastor passes away

An interesting story about a priest in California who recently passed away. As normal, there are some inaccuracies and misportrayals about our liturgical tradition -- including the fact that the classical Roman liturgy was not the sole liturgy celebrated prior to the Second Vatican Council; there were of course other liturgical rites, such as the Ambrosian, Carmelite, Dominican, etc., in the West as well. This is a generally lost point that, as you know, I want to continue to drive home to people.

Father Daniel Johnson, 77; preserved pre-Vatican II traditions in O.C. - Los Angeles Times (via

Science and Church Acoustics

This interesting but finally unsatisfying article in Wired reports on some recent "scientific" investigations on Church acoustics and what people find satisfying. They compared old and new church buildings. They set up dummies to record responses. "Over a three- to four-hour period, the dummy sat in about 10 different pews while it 'listened' to songs including the overture from Le Nozze di Figaro and the Gregorian chant Pange Lingua."

"Preliminary findings suggest listeners prefer sounds from paleo-Christian churches with their insulating wooden ceilings. Baroque buildings, with their heavy stucco decorations and contained spaces, were also right on key. Cavernous Gothic buildings fared worst: Bologna's San Petronio Basilica, about 430 feet long, was a listener's nightmare with 12 to 13 seconds of reverberation."

But what about contemporary churches? The article drops the ball.

Monday, March 19, 2007

"Sacramentum Caritatis" and Liturgical Beauty

Interview With Father Edward McNamara

ROME, MARCH 19, 2007 ( The true beauty of the liturgy comes about when the priest and the congregation participate in it actively and piously, says Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara.

Father McNamara, a professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university in Rome, writes the weekly liturgy column for ZENIT.

ZENIT interviewed him about Benedict XVI's postsynodal apostolic exhortation, which gathers the conclusions of the October 2005 Synod of Bishops. Father McNamara served as a "peritus," or expert, in that synod.

Here, he expounds on some of the specific observations and invitations that the Pope made in "Sacramentum Caritatis."

Q: In No. 35 the Pope writes: "Like the rest of Christian Revelation, the liturgy is inherently linked to beauty: it is 'veritatis splendor.'" Is it too much to say that beautiful liturgy is a sine qua non of a vibrant Catholic community?

Father McNamara: As the Holy Father says, beauty is inherent to liturgy, it is intimately bound up with authentic liturgy.

Beauty however does not only mean splendid sacred buildings and sublime music. The primary beauty in liturgy is that of a community united heart and soul in prayerful celebration of Christ's sacrifice. It is the beauty of priest and people engaged in full, active and pious participation in the mystery.

This beauty is achieved, in spite of a possible lack of external splendor, whenever the sacred ministers and each member of the faithful strive to live the liturgy to the full.

Other forms of beauty: music, art, poetry, and a sober solemnity in the ritual derive naturally from this inner beauty because the deeper a community lives and comprehends the beauty of the liturgical mystery the more it strives to express it in wonderful outer forms. It is the natural understanding that only the very best we can offer is truly worthy of the Lord.

Thus there is strong historical evidence that even before the end of the era of persecutions; Christians sought to celebrate the Eucharist with the finest materials available. This explains why the construction boom in imposing basilicas, as soon as the persecutions were over, along with the more solemn ritual forms required by these new buildings, was perceived as a natural development and not a rupture with earlier practice. [NLM Emphasis: this is a point which is often forgotten in our day, and it is also often divorced from the other aspect which Father McNamara mentions about, namely the interior dimension of the liturgy. Fr. McNamara is here pointing to the fact that there is a profound link.]

It is this same understanding which led generations of poor immigrants to the United States to sacrifice so much in order to endow their parishes with majestic churches replete with fine arts and crafts.

Ugliness, blandness, banality and bad taste on the other hand diminish the liturgy and betray a lack of appreciation of the mystery and sometimes, alas, a certain lack of faith. [NLM: A very strong point here from Fr. McNamara again. In these paragraphs, he is also addressing the fact that majestic churches are often not contrary to Christian poverty, or offensive to the poor, they were often the very gift of the poor to God and yes, to themselves to some extent.]

Q: In No. 37 the Holy Father writes: "Since the eucharistic liturgy is essentially an 'actio Dei' which draws us into Christ through the Holy Spirit, its basic structure is not something within our power to change, nor can it be held hostage by the latest trends." Is this statement aimed at the clergy?

Father McNamara: It is certainly aimed at the clergy but not only. First of all it addresses the fundamental structure of the liturgy, and not just the rubrics, saying that the liturgy is primarily God's action counters all those who attempt to reduce it to a mere sociological expression that can be freely adapted as societies change.

The danger of holding the liturgy hostage to the latest trends not only concerns the clergy but to all those engaged in liturgical preparation. There are certainly priests who arbitrarily change the liturgy at their own whim but there are also readers who spontaneously adjust readings for ideological purposes and music directors who subject the liturgy to the demands of music and not vice versa, or who introduce inappropriate musical forms in the name of relevance.

I think the point the Holy Father is trying to make is that we relearn to receive the liturgy as a precious heirloom to be treasured and less as a toy to play around with.

Q: Benedict XVI says bluntly in No. 47 that "Given the importance of the word of God, the quality of homilies needs to be improved." What is the best way priests can improve in this area?

Father McNamara: There are many excellent resources available in books and on the Internet but I think there is no substitution for the three P's in improving the qualities of homilies: prayer, preparation and practice. First and foremost the homily must be the fruit of prayer, of a genuine conversation with God regarding the text.

It may sound harsh but a priest or deacon whose homily is not the fruit of meditation really has nothing worth saying because he can only give himself. An 8- to 10-minute homily requires a lot of preparation in order to put what God wants said into the best human form possible.

Preparation also means that a priest or deacon continually nurtures his soul and mind with ongoing formation. A good preacher also tries to practices before delivering his homily, practicing his diction, inflections and also timing himself. This last recommendation is especially necessary for younger priests and deacons whose enthusiasm combined with lack of experience often leads them to try to say too much at once.

Q: In No. 6 of the exhortation the Pope writes: "Every great reform has in some way been linked to the rediscovery of belief in the Lord's eucharistic presence among his people." Would this emphasis on the Eucharist have to precede other priorities such as ecumenism, restoring family life, and reaching out to Islam?

Father McNamara: I believe that it is more a question of the quality of these endeavors that a chronological priority. Unless we Catholics are deeply rooted in the central tenets of our faith and practice then engaging in these other priorities such as ecumenism or reaching out to Islam will be shallow and hollow affairs based on false irenics and empty rhetoric.

For example, a fervent evangelical Christian steeped in biblical culture, would probably be more at home with a Catholic of deep Eucharistic piety than with a one lacking in devotion. Perhaps they would agree on little from a theological standpoint, but would have a much better grasp of each other as people for who the question of God's presence is a lived reality. Something similar could perhaps also be said for pious Muslims.

Q: The exhortation encourages a wider use of Latin when celebrating the Eucharist. What are some of the advantages of that could come from a more frequent use of Latin and how can this be done in a world that has largely lost familiarity with Latin?

Father McNamara: The advantages are manifold. Think what a difference it could make to next years World Youth Day in Sydney if 500,000 young voices were able to sing "Sanctus, Sanctus" or the Lord's Prayer in unison, and not just listen to the choir. The sense of belonging to one Church could be greatly enhanced.

From other perspectives the occasional or even frequent celebration of Mass in Latin as well as the use of Latin Gregorian chant in vernacular Masses would help recover the sense of the sacred in the liturgy as many of these chants do a far better job of transforming text into musical prayer than most vernacular adaptations.

It is true that there is far less familiarity with Latin than before, but counterintuitively, the fact that the vernacular translations are already impressed on the memory could actually facilitate the occasional use of Latin. Most people would know by heart the meaning of the text in their native language and are able to appreciate the beauty of the Latin texts, especially the chants.

Some say that it is a quixotic adventure to attempt such a restoration, and yet, there are many examples of parishes around the world which have achieved a balance of vernacular and Latin in both texts and music from which all have spiritually benefited.

Q: A section of the document deals with the social implications of the Eucharist. How is our Eucharistic life related to a greater concern for justice and charity?

Father McNamara: As No. 37 quoted above says, the Eucharistic liturgy draws us into Christ through the Holy Spirit. The more a soul is drawn into Christ the more it becomes identified with him and seeks to imitate him.

Being drawn into Christ leads us to recognize him in others, especially in the hungry, thirsty, naked, ignorant, sick and imprisoned. Being drawn into Christ, means being drawn into his supreme act of self-offering on Calvary, a self-offering that culminate his teaching of the beatitudes. In this way there can be no genuine Eucharistic piety that does not bear fruit in concern for justice and charity.

For some, this concern will mean engaging in specific activities promoting justice and charity as a fruit of Eucharistic participation, for others, their genuine concern will be expressed through prayer and sacrifice for those in need. For all, it means practicing justice and charity in their daily lives and dealings with others.


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