Monday, April 30, 2007


It just struck me to take a look again at the FSSP News site where they have some very nice Holy Week pictures up, including this one of the high altar in Nantes:

Easter Sunday morning looked quite beautiful as well:

As did the Easter Vigil:

I'm always interested in getting photos from the London Oratory, or the Birmingham and Oxford Oratories for that matter, so if anyone has access to such images at any point, please forward them.

Worth knowing about

This, from a recent mailing of The Saint Joseph Foundation:

Catholics should be taught the truths of their faith without error or ambiguity, they should worship according to the norms established by the Church and they should be governed with proper pastoral care. They should not be provided with these things only whenever Church authorities decide that they should have them. The law of the Church states clearly that they are entitled to them as a matter of right by virtue of their baptism. If their rights to the truth, lawful worship and right governance are not respected, they can turn to the Church's legal system for relief. As canon 221 says so concisely: "Christ's faithful may lawfully vindicate and defend the rights they enjoy in the Church before the competent ecclesiastical forum in accordance with the law." [my italics]

The Foundation was established in 1984 and, in its 23 years, has helped a great many Catholics (clergy and laity alike) defend their canonical rights. To learn more, or to assist this worthy apostolate, call (210) 697-0717 or visit

Cardinal Journet, Concelebration and the Unicity of the Mass

One of our scholarly readers, who is writing under a "nom de plume" (a pen name) submitted this article for the NLM's consideration on a particular aspect of concelebration.

The piece is a few pages long, so I will suffice to begin you with the first few paragraphs and you may read the entire article in PDF format.

Concelebrated Mass—One or Many?

By “Etienne Raton”

Cardinal Charles Journet once wrote, in an article in Nova et Vetera, the following words:

Allow me to say a word about concelebration. Let us imagine several persons coming together to baptize simultaneously a little child. There would be several baptizers but only one baptismal action, plures baptizantes, una baptizatio. In concelebration, one equally finds several “consecraters,” plures ex aequo consecrantes, but only one consecrating action, una consecratio.

The above words express an important theological fact regarding the Holy Mass, one which is rooted in the teaching of the Magisterium and the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas, and which is important for all to understand, namely the unicity of a concelebrated Mass, indeed of any Mass.

The holy Cardinal Journet always had the good of God’s Church in the forefront of his mind; his love for the Church was as a principle from which flowed all his priestly activity, be it preaching retreats, hearing confessions or writing theological tracts. It was this love of the Church which urged him to clarify this small but extremely important point regarding the concelebrated Mass, a point which was and is still at times misunderstood. Being a faithful disciple of the Angelic Doctor, Journet knew that a small error made in the beginning often leads to a graver one later on; and hence he was quite aware of the disastrous conclusions which would follow from a misunderstanding of this seemingly insignificant point. Inspired by his efforts to proclaim sound teaching in this area, we hope to present the Catholic doctrine, ever ancient ever new, concerning the unicity of a concelebrated Mass.

Read the Entire Article

Important Episcopal Appointment: Pope names Msgr. Peter J. Elliott Bishop

Vatican Information Service reports that the Holy Father has appointed Msgr. Peter J. Elliott as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Melbourne (area 27,194, population 3,554,000, Catholics 1,039,000, priests 584, religious 1,888). Bishop-elect Elliott was born in Melbourne in 1943 and ordained a priest in 1973.

Comment: This is a significant appointment from a liturgical perspective.

Msgr. Peter J. Elliott, now Bishop-elect Peter J. Elliott, is the author of The Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite and Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year published by Ignatius Press.

Bishop-elect Elliott has been a reform of the reform voice for a number of years now.

Society for the Preservation of Catholic Music from the 70s

"As a guitarist both in one of our parish choirs and in a band that plays contemporary Christian music, I have also been dismayed that the only voices you hear in the blogosphere have been primarily against contemporary music and are supporting the return to Gregorian chant and the Latin mass."

An interesting thread developing here.

Theater Seating in Churches

A very interesting comment by architect Duncun Stroik here: "Mr. Stroik said the current trend of theater-style seating is a throwback to a movement in the mid-19th century, when Protestant churches in America modeled their buildings after theaters with sloping floors and individual seats. Within a few decades, churches and architects wanted to return to a more traditional look and began designing simpler worship buildings."

This is a revelation to me. I had associated theater-style seating with contemporary evangelical churches exclusively. I hadn't imagined that it was actually a 19th century reject. Is there a Catholic case to be made against slopping floors, aside from the point that they are not traditional?

Will We Ever Be Happy?

Various sources of diverse ideological inclination are reporting that a motu proprio from Pope Benedict XVI to derestrict the Latin Mass is possibly imminent.

As this news develops, my thoughts turn toward a troublesome aspect of the mindset of many traditionalists, that is, attitudes that seem to indicate that many will never be happy with the liturgical state of the Church, no matter how much progress is made.

Allow me to say a few important things before I get too far into this. 1) Anyone that has read my comments on this blog with any regularity knows that I am far from a middle of the roader, so you can't discount what I'm about to say from any such viewpoint. 2) No one who pays attention to what I say would think that I would defend any sort of Catholic mediocrity, either. 3) If you know me, you know that I am a lover of tradition and that I'd rather drive 22.5 miles whenever circumstances permit to attend the Traditional Mass rather than walk around the corner (literally) to the local Novus Ordo Mass. 4) Liturgical life is indeed tough these days, and many of you endure liturgies from week to week that I would simply walk out of rather than tolerate. (Certainly I'm blessed with a couple of good options that many people don't have.) Surely those who suffer with this kind of situation are offering up heroic sacrifice, and I admire your fortitude and understand from past experience exactly where much of the frustration comes from.

So what got me started on this rant? In an earlier post from tonight, one kindly reader recounts his difficulty in getting Gregorian chant sung at his wedding. That the parish officials gave him trouble should not surprise us, however regrettable and infuriating it might be. That the local cardinal-archbishop stepped in on behalf of the couple is encouraging. But do you know what absolutely disgusted me? It is this: the fact that several potential schola members refused to sing for the wedding on the grounds that it would be conducted according to the Pauline Rite.

Please, people, stop the insanity! For decades, trads have complained about the absence of good liturgical praxis in mainstream parishes, and along comes someone who wants to do something excellent and traditional (and take his case to the cardinal when needs dictate in order to accomplish this), and what do some people do? They walk away because it's a new Mass. (What do they do for family events such as baptisms, weddings, and funerals?)

This leads me to wonder: Do such Trads want to be an integral part of the Church, or do they want to have their own little special club in which they can pat themselves on the back for being better than all those lowly Novus Ordo Catholics? Do they want to help build up the Body of Christ or their own egos? How do they expect traditional ideas to gain acceptance in general if they, the ones with the knowlege and skill, refuse to share their talent? How could they possibly see their attitude toward the new Mass, disrespectful in the extreme, to be much different from the attitudes of those who presume to abuse the liturgy at will with their various innovations?

What will happen if the motu proprio is released? I suspect that, no matter what it says, it will not be enough for many. What would happen if the Traditional Mass were untouched but parts of the New Mass were revised to bring it in line with Tradition? Would the "fly-in-amber" traditionalists be happy? Would they at least acknowledge the progress? Would they then "deign" to attend a Novus Ordo Mass?

We are all familiar with the phrase, "Some people aren't happy unless they're complaining." It is only natural to have complaints in the circumstances in which we now find ourselves. But how much complaining is useful? Unfortunately, I fear that some Trads will always find a reason to complain and to find excuses to stay on the fringes of the Church's life rather than immerse themselves in the heart of it. (I take well the point that many have been forced to the fringes--including me, but as circumstances change, please God, this is going to be much less of an issue.)

Is the ars celebrandi of the Novus Ordo in need of being addressed? Yes. Are there problems with the texts and rubrics of the Pauline rite? Absolutely. Are the translations pitiful? Well, only for a while longer.

Problems persist, but trads do no one--least of all themselves--any good by turning up their noses and walking away and always finding an excuse to complain.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Browbeating the faithful into mediocrity

In hundreds of parishes across the country, the directors of music are exercising an inordinate power over the liturgical culture of the parish, and most pastors have no idea that this is happening, since they believe that they are too incompetent to speak to matters of music. The music that goes on week to week isn't great, and the pastor knows this but it is not so bad that he is willing to take such a drastic step of firing the person. But just such a shake up is essential--or at least a serious crackdown is necessary--if they are going to regain control of the Mass and re-Catholicize the liturgy.

By way of example, let me tell of a conversation I recently overheard between a director of music and a young couple planning a parish wedding (it's not my own parish so I have no hesitation about telling the story). The young man and his bride-to-be were going over details with the director of music. The musician was telling them what music she would play, and thereby presented a list of contemporary standards such as that which she has just played in Mass that morning, the usual light-rock muzak that oozes in and out of Catholic liturgies every week in the USA.

The naive young man clarified with some firmness: "We really do want a traditional Catholic wedding, so we really want traditional Catholic music." He didn't have anything specific in mind. Indeed, what the young man called "traditional Catholic" is just a code for something meaningful and important, something holy and transcendent, something momentous and prayerful, something right and true and integral to our heritage -- something other than what this woman is capable of providing.

The voice of the director of music firmed up to the point of scolding: "Well, we must keep in mind that the people of God have very diverse tastes, so we must use music that appeals to everyone, not just those who agree with you."

He quickly backed down and said that he would have to trust her judgment.

Then she moved on to the all-important point: the payment. That will be $100 now and $100 one week before the wedding. And, by the way, she will not attend the rehearsal.

The meeting ended. And so the plot to wreck the most important day of his life is complete. He is the paying customer and his desire was for something fully Catholic but he was treated like an intolerant bigot and sent on his way, $200 poorer.

And why? Most likely because she is not up to the challenge. She wants to continue to do what she has always done. She is inflexibly committed to what she does, and refuses to learn, grow, expand, or took toward any ideals. It is also possible that the word traditional just hits her wrong, and she fears it. It is hard to say.

But this much I know: the pastor was nowhere to be seen during this conversation. Does he know that his parishioners are requesting traditional music? Does he know how poorly his own director of music is treating these people? Does he know precisely who is responsible for reducing every liturgy to ooze week after week? Does he know how much power she has?

It seems to me that in these cases--and there are hundreds like them--a fresh start is essential.

Call to Holiness 2007

Diane over at Te Deum Laudamus (the blog associated with Assumption Grotto in Detroit) is beginning a series of posts on the 2007 Call to Holiness Conference beginning today with a photo post of Bishop Daniel Flores.

Diane is going to be posting each day and will be providing details on how people may purchase CD's, an MP3 CD, and DVD's of the talks.

Speakers for this conference include Marcus Grodi, Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, Fr. Neil Roy of the Research Institute on Catholic Liturgy, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz and Dr. Robert Fastiggi.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Tallis Scholars, all over youtube

I had no idea how much of the Tallis Scholars had made it to youtube within the last 60 days. Peter Phillips looks like an outstanding conductor to me.

The Attack Against the Classical Rite: A Clarifying and Unitive Moment?

Fr. Zuhlsdorf comments on a story on his site, The BBC twists the Tridentine issue and pulls no punches.

I've been debating about whether to pass further comment on this issue as this "story" (really, a claim more than a story) spreads through various secular media outlets -- which can hardly be a surprise; its exactly the kind of juicy, controversial thing they love.

After all, it's a juicy (if not also transparent) pitch on the part of those Catholics who have made it, and it touches well into themes of the German Pope (I'm surprised more of this angle has yet to be picked up), hot button issues and labels like intolerance and anti-semitism, and the classic modern theme of "intolerant" conservativism and religiousity vs. "enlightened" liberalism -- never mind the contradictions one could point out in this.

In reality, this is not simply about the classical rite. Really it's about the battle between two opposed worldviews and ultimately about the full acceptance, or not, of very Gospel itself. If the statements can be taken as representative, what is objected to in many cases (perhaps not all) is the very idea of truth and conversion, as opposed to an idea that there are various paths to God, of which there is not one more true than the other. Conversion ultimately seems to be seen as outmoded, because conversion implies that one path is more true than another, which is why one would shift and mould themselves accordingly.

Moreover it seems to be about faith and morals; faith and morals that don't take their cues from the secular world, or adopt its latest fancies and what it deems to be true and right and good -- or those that do.

The classical rite enters into this because it is one form that quite clearly speaks to the orthodox Christian theology and worldview and not to the other, revisionist form given the Gospel and Christianity. Acceptance and widened permission of the classical rite is fought against, I propose, because it precisely is a very public move against this other theology, and it does have the power to help work against it in a general way.

Moreover, it's difficult from the perspective of consistency to raise alarm bells at one and the same time as effectively saying, "not many people are interested in this." What other explanation can there be that this would now only come on the cusp of the Motu Proprio? The permission to use the classical rite has been around for more than 2 decades now, and this grave concern is only raised now?

The issues are clearly larger and timing seems only too convenient. It seems like some of our Catholic confreres are trying to employ fear-mongering to bring to bear external pressure in hopes of manipulating the Holy Father. A laudable concern and goal (unity and peace) is being done a disservice. The good is not being served, but rather ideology.

There is spiritual warfare in this, let's be clear. It is bound to happen. It's only that this particular issue has helped bring it forth that much more clearly. However, this could well be a very providential thing, for it might well be the impetus to show forth our spiritual illness so that we might better serve to bring about spiritual healing.

I believe it also has the possibility to bring together precisely the co-existence and alliances necessary between Catholics most attached to the reform of the reform or the classical rite. It shall hopefully show one precise truth: you are on the same side, operating on the same principles, even if there are particulars you might approach a little different. But those particulars operate on the same principles. Help one another. Support one another. Take note of what it is precisely that you are working against and what is working against you -- and who and what is not. This could be a moment of grace and strength for the movement to promote the Faith. Don't let it slip past you.

Friday, April 27, 2007

May 5th? Maybe. Maybe not.

Fr. Zuhlsdorf pointed this out today.

Rumours from the Telegraph's blog section that May 5th is the date.

We shall see. It's certainly a possibility from a symbolic date perspective, but whether it actually manifests itself will remain to be seen.

I still believe no one can truly claim to know the date, because its the Pope's own personal intiative, which he can change at will.

Nice Image of Msgr. Schuler

This image is hosted at The Wanderer

Commas Visible and Invisible

I thought I'd take this opportunity to combine two of my pet peeves (you knew I had to have some!--ok, many!!!) into one post.

When I worked at a certain parish in a certain place, I had a certain cantor who fancied herself an expert on, well, almost anything that came up in conversation. It will not be a surprise, then, to know that she held very strong opinions on music. If she didn't like the tempo of a hymn, she'd fight me the whole way through. If she didn't like the way I phrased the hymn, she'd do it her way anyway, no matter how ludicrous that might be.

The phrasing. This particular cantor held the philosophy that where there is a comma, one should breathe, and where there is no comma, one should not breathe, no matter what. So, for instance, she'd try to get me to interpret Lobe den Herrn so that she could sing thusly: "Praise to the Lord, (breath) the Almighty, (breath) the King of creation." Absurd. Also, one would not breathe at the ends of musical phrases if there were no comma in the text--as if the congregation would sing it that way.

Now, there are differing philosophies on breathing as it relates to punctuation, and the point of this post is not to denigrate those various approaches. Nevertheless, it seems as if certain ideas, if carried out to the extreme, become patently ridiculous, most particularly the idea that one should only breathe at commas and periods (and colons and semi-colons). At a certain point, this kind of technique ultimately becomes a substitute for genuine musicianship.

Enter my voice teacher at the time, a lovely, mild-mannered lady with an angelic voice who always seemed to have the perfect elixir for my stormy temperament. One day we were working on something--I don't remember anymore what it was, exactly--and she told me to take a breath in a less-than-intuitive place. While I liked the idea very much, I was surprised by it and shared with her my story about the above cantor (the same cantor who claimed that I knew nothing about singing and needed to take voice lessons). My voice teacher replied, "Well, Mike, God made all commas, visible and invisible."

What a wonderful response! Now, from that line alone you can probably tell that she's an Episcopalian. I mean, no Catholic would use that phrase, right? They've never heard it.

But they'll be hearing it soon. The new proposed translation of the Roman Missal has rendered this phrase from the Creed correctly, saying that God made all things, visible and invisible. This is quite different from "seen and unseen." I, sitting here at my desk, am unseen, but I am most certainly not invisible. (My eating habits help to ensure this.)

What will we be gaining from this small but most important change? Certainly a contemplation of the other-worldly will enter into the minds of many. "Seen and unseen" is so terrestrial, so rational, so bland. "Visible and invisible," however, calls us to ponder all the great mysteries behind the fascinating creation of the universe, and we, like St. Augustine, can stand in complete wonder and awe before it.

A friend of mine, a fellow contributor to this blog who urged me to write about this, said the other day, "English can be an incredibly vivid language unless you're afraid you're going to say something." Now, thanks to this new translation, two new words will be saying a lot.

And more people will get the joke that "God made all commas, visible and invisible."

Ratzinger on Liturgical Reform (1966)

Commonweal has provided some quotations from the early writings of Joseph Ratzinger on the need for liturgical reform circa. 1966 (note that this is after the 1965 Missal [Note amended below; this is wrong]). I had begun composing a commentary of my own but I think I'll just leave that to others. I found his comments very interesting (for example, I hadn't known that Leo XII actually recommended saying the Rosary during Mass). In any case, his writings here do illustrate the hope of a generation - one that didn't turn out as expected. (Why the Commonweal blogger didn't take time to correct the OCR errors, I have no idea.)

Coda: as the commentator points out, the text was written before 1965 but the book was printed later.

Heralds of the Gospel Ordinations in Rome

Our tabard-wearing friends at the Heralds of the Gospel have written to us, announcing:

We would like to let you know that on April 28 there will be an ordination to the priesthood of 7 of our members (one is our superior in Canada) and 4 others will be ordained deacons (one Canadian). The ceremony will be in Rome at Santa Maria Maggiore 10 AM. If you know anyone who would like to be present, they are more than welcome.
Any takers? Don't miss it, it's bound to be a good time in terms of pomp and circumstance, and prayerful too, with these folks.

Aristotelian commentary beneath medieval prayerbook

[Not strictly liturgical, but I found this of interest.]

BBC NEWS: Text reveals more ancient secrets

Text reveals more ancient secrets
By Rebecca Morelle
Science reporter, BBC News

The commentary on Aristotle lay hidden within the parchment

Experts are "lost for words" to have found that a medieval prayer book has yielded yet another key ancient text buried within its parchment.

Works by mathematician Archimedes and the politician Hyperides had already been found buried within the book, known as the Archimedes Palimpsest.

But now advanced imaging technology has revealed a third text - a commentary on the philosopher Aristotle.

Project director William Noel called it a "sensational find".

The prayer book was written in the 13th Century by a scribe called John Myronas.

But instead of using fresh parchment for his work, he employed pages from five existing books.

Dr Noel, curator of manuscripts at the US-based Walters Art Museum and a co-author of a forthcoming book on the Archimedes Palimpsest, said: "It's a rather brutal process, but it means you can reuse parchment if you are short of it.

"You take books off shelves, you scrub off the text, you cut them up and you make a new book."

In 1906 it came to light that one of the books recycled to form the medieval manuscript contained a unique work by Archimedes.

And in 2002, modern imaging technology not only provided a clearer view of this famous mathematician's words, but it also revealed another text - the only known manuscript of Hyperides, an Athenian politician from the 4th Century BC.

"At this point you start thinking striking one palimpsest is gold, and striking two is utterly astonishing. But then something even more extraordinary happened," Dr Noel told the BBC News website.

One of the recycled books was proving extremely difficult to read, explained Roger Easton, a professor of imaging science at Rochester Institute of Technology, US.

"We were using a technique called multispectral imaging," he said.

This digital imaging technique uses photographs taken at different wavelengths to enhance particular characteristics of the imaged area.

Subtle adjustments of this method, explained Professor Easton, suddenly enabled these hidden words to be revealed.

"Even though I couldn't read Ancient Greek, just the fact that I could see the words gave me shivers," he said.

Foundations of logic

An international team of experts began to scrutinize the ancient words, explained Reviel Netz, professor of ancient science at Stanford University, US, and another co-author of the palimpsest book.

A series of clues, such as spotting a key name in the margin, led the team to its conclusion.

"The philosophical passage in the Archimedes Palimpsest is now definitely identified as a relatively early commentary to Aristotle's Categories," said Professor Netz.

He said that Aristotle's Categories had served as the foundation for the study of logic throughout western history.

Further study has revealed the most likely author of this unique commentary is Alexander of Aphrodisias, Professor Robert Sharples from University College London, UK, told BBC News.

If this is the case, he said, "it gives us part of a commentary previously supposed lost by the most important of those ancient commentators on Aristotle".

A provisional translation of the commentary is currently being undertaken.

It reveals a debate on some aspects of Aristotle's theory of classification, such as: if the term "footed" is used for animals, can it be used to classify anything else, such as a bed?

The passage reads:

For as "foot" is ambiguous when applied to an animal and to a bed, so are "with feet" and "without feet". So by "in species" here [Aristotle] is saying "in formula".

For if it ever happens that the same name indicates the differentiae of genera that are different and not subordinate one to the other, they are at any rate not the same in formula.

Dr Noel said: "There is no more important philosopher in the world than Aristotle. To have early views in the 2nd and 3rd Century AD of Aristotle's Categories is just fantastic.

"We have one book that contains three texts from the ancient world that are absolutely central to our understanding of mathematics, politics and now philosophy," he said.

He added: "I am at a loss for words at what this book has turned out to be. To make these discoveries in the 21st Century is frankly nutty - it is just so exciting."

Are you workshop savvy?

You are fed up with the status quo - you want chant and polyphony - truly sacred music - to take hold in your parish or in your diocese once again. You realize that it will take not only a change of heart, but a lot of education to make this happen.

Weekend workshops are a wonderfully viable place to begin, and you’ve got the drive to stage one of your own. You’ve even been given the thumbs up by your pastor or bishop. What is the next step?

I offer here an incomplete and shockingly practical list of considerations:

• Most people coming will be novices when it comes to real sacred music. You need to meet them at their level. Even if you end up with a group of skilled musicians and music directors, chant will likely be brand new to them. And although most will be enthusiastic, you’ll have a few skeptics. Things need to be kept light and fun and not overly academic or you’ll lose your audience

• You need to build in plenty of time for chant – learning from the ground up. This is the main reason people will be coming.

• Start singing right away – people need to be involved – especially the skeptics.

• Keep lectures at a minimum. One guest lecturer is probably enough for a short workshop like this.

• Have all materials prepared and published ahead of time. Don’t try to save money by making copies of music at the parish office- homespun efforts usually look like just that. Save yourself the headache and go with a professional service – a few dollars more, but less headache and the presentation is so much better.

• Don’t spend lots of time brainstorming with committees about repertory and logistics. That usually amounts to nothing but a lot of pie-in-the-sky ideas and wasted time. Have two people make decisions, make up the schedule, stick to it, and things will fall into place.

• Think of all costs for inviting faculty – travel, accommodations, wining and dining, honoraria. Probably a lot more than you think.

• Consider starting the workshop on Thursday evening or early on Friday and then doing the vigil Mass on Saturday instead of the coveted Sunday morning Mass. Lots of singers and music directors will have trouble staying over because they need to return to their own parishes for their own Sunday Masses.

• Make sure all music and liturgy plans are laid out clearly for celebrants and local MC’s ahead of time.

• Centralize practical efforts (two or three people is enough), and don’t count on additional volunteers to make decisions or do more than act as gophers on d-day. Whoever handles registrations needs to be on top of the all the details and be an excellent communicator. Everyone will be writing or calling with a special situation or need. The persons fielding these calls or taking registrations need to be thinking of only one thing – customer service.

• Success on d-day has everything to do with careful and decisive planning ahead of time. It should all appear effortless – no one wants to see the sausage being made.

And here is probably the single most important piece of advice I can offer. The success of your workshop, and of the sacred music movement in general, is more dependent on this than you may realize:

• Make sure your local parish community is prepared for and feels itself a part of the event taking place – the workshop Mass will be their Mass, too.

Book on the Traditional Liturgical Communities in France

If you speak French, someone there has published a book on Les communautés traditionnelles en France -- the religious orders in France that use the classical rite, and that are in union with the Holy See.

The description of the book is roughly as follows:

For the first time, the traditional Catholic communities authorized by the Vatican are the subject of a book. Photo album and beautiful book, this work presents the 17 secular and regular religious communities in communion with Rome. Without taking sides, the author, Thomas Grimaux, invites to come and see what they are really about. Everyone speaks about them but nobody really knows them: the traditional religious communities authorized by the Holy See remain a mystery. However, strong of vocations and faithful young people, they constitute an essential element of the New Evangelization wanted by John Paul II. Better, Benedict XVI has just set up one of them - the Institute of Good Shepherd - and would like to liberalize the use of the “Latin mass”, the mass of Saint Pius V, that of before the Vatican II Council.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

UCAN: Changes in liturgy since Vatican II ‘mixed bag of results,’ Vatican worship official says in interview - Catholic Online

This article has been circulating since it was released yesterday: UCAN: Changes in liturgy since Vatican II ‘mixed bag of results,’ Vatican worship official says in interview

The article is an interview with the secretary of the CDW, Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, on the recent apostolic exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis.

I have determined to quote some of the most relevant sections here. To read the entire piece, please click the link above.

UCA NEWS: How has the liturgical renewal initiated by Vatican Council II been carried out in Asia? What are its positive achievements and negative results?

ARCHBISHOP RANJITH: Generally, there have been many changes in the way liturgy was celebrated in Asia since the council. Some of us who were brought up in childhood under the liturgical orientations of pre-conciliar times know what these new changes were and how they affected our life as Catholics.

As your question indicates, there has been a mixed bag of results. Among the positive changes, I see the use of vernacular languages in the liturgy, which helped to lead the faithful to better understand the word of God, the rubrics of the liturgy itself, and a more responsive and shared participation in the celebration of the sacred mysteries.


Some negative aspects have been the quasi total abandonment of the Latin language, tradition and chant; a far too facile interpretation of what could be absorbed from local cultures into the liturgy; a sense of misunderstanding of the true nature, content and meaning of the Roman rite and its norms and rubrics, which led to an attitude of free experimentation; a certain anti-Roman "feeling," and an uncritical acceptance of all kinds of "novelties" resulting from a secularizing and humanistic theological and liturgical mindset overtaking the West.

These novelties were often introduced, perhaps unknowingly, by some foreign missionaries who brought them from their own mother countries or by locals who had been to those countries on visits or for studies and had let themselves be uncritically absorbed into a kind of "free spirit" that some circles had created around the council.

The abandonment of the spheres of the sacred, the mystical and the spiritual, and their replacement by a kind of empiricist horizontalism was most harmful to the spirit of what truly constituted liturgy.

UCA NEWS: How is the new exhortation on the Eucharist relevant for the church in Asia?

ARCHBISHOP RANJITH: Seen as a whole, the document is for me something that re-echoes in the true sense of the word the reform of the Liturgy as it was understood and desired by the cCouncil. I mean not a rejection of positive developments of liturgical reform in force today but the expression of the need to be truly faithful to what was meant by Sacrosantum Concilium.


The basic orientations of Sacramentum Caritatis do reflect Asian values like the love of silence and contemplation, acceptance of a deeper life beyond that which is tangible, respect of the sacred and the mystical, and the search for happiness in a life of sanctity and renouncement.

[...] [in the context of a follow-up question, similiar to the above - NLM]

Going into details, I would say that its seriousness, the tendency to always accent the deeply spiritual and transcendental nature of the Eucharist, its Christo-centric outlook, faithful adherence to rubrics and norms [nos.39-40], interest in sobriety [no. 40], proper and dignified sense of celebration, use of appropriate art and architecture, chant and music, and avoidance of improvisation and disorder are all reflective of the Asian way of worship and spirituality. People in Asia are a worshipping people, with worship forms that are centuries old and not inventions of any single individual.

Adherence to rubrics in the other religious traditions in Asia is strict. Besides, their rubrics are profoundly reflective of the special role of the sacred. Thus, the seriousness recommended by the Supreme Pontiff is very much in consonance with Asian ways of worship.


One could, in a certain sense, state that documents such as Ecclesia de Eucharistia ("The Church [draws her life] from the Eucharist," encyclical "On the Eucharist in its Relationship to the Church," Pope John Paul II, April 17, 2003), Liturgiam Authenticam ("Authentic Liturgy", instruction "On the Use of Vernacular Languages in the Publication of the Books of the Roman Liturgy," Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, May 7, 2001), and Redemptionis Sacramentum ("Sacrament of Redemption," instruction "On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist," Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, April 23, 2004) already started the needed adjustments reflective of the indications of the Council.

Sacramentum Caritatis crowns it all with a truly profound, mystical and yet so very easily understandable catechesis on the Eucharist that brings out best the fuller meaning of this most holy sacrament. Pope Benedict wants us to understand, celebrate and live the fullness of the Eucharist.

I feel that in the context of Asia such a call should naturally be appreciated, valued and lived. The basic orientations of Sacramentum Caritatis do reflect Asian values like the love of silence and contemplation, acceptance of a deeper life beyond that which is tangible, respect of the sacred and the mystical, and the search for happiness in a life of sanctity and renouncement.

The stress laid on these aspects makes Sacramentum Caritatis a valuable and important contribution towards making the Catholics in our continent live the Eucharist in a truly Asian way.

UCA NEWS: Which aspects of the document are most important for Asia's bishops, priests and Catholic faithful?

ARCHBISHOP RANJITH: From a general point of view, the call to consider the holy Eucharist as an invitation to become Christ himself, drawn and absorbed unto him in a profound communion of love, thus making his own glorious splendor shine out in us, is truly in line with the search for spiritual mysticism in the Asian continent.

As I mentioned, Asia is deeply mystical and conscious of the value of the Sacred in human life, moving a human being to look for the deeper mysteries of religion and spirituality. The tendency to banalise the celebration of the Eucharist through a somewhat horizontal orientation, often visible in modern times. is not consonant with that search. Hence, the general orientation of the document is good for Asia.

Going into details, I would say that its seriousness, the tendency to always accent the deeply spiritual and transcendental nature of the Eucharist, its Christo-centric outlook, faithful adherence to rubrics and norms [nos.39-40], interest in sobriety [no. 40], proper and dignified sense of celebration, use of appropriate art and architecture, chant and music, and avoidance of improvisation and disorder are all reflective of the Asian way of worship and spirituality. People in Asia are a worshipping people, with worship forms that are centuries old and not inventions of any single individual.

Adherence to rubrics in the other religious traditions in Asia is strict. Besides, their rubrics are profoundly reflective of the special role of the sacred. Thus, the seriousness recommended by the Supreme Pontiff is very much in consonance with Asian ways of worship.

UCA NEWS: Following the Second Vatican Council, there has been much talk, including among Asian bishops, of the need for inculturation of the liturgy. How has this developed in the Asian Churches? What remains to be done, or is it an open process without a concluding date?


...already Sacrosanctum Concilium indicated clear parameters within which the adaptations of the liturgy to local cultural patterns are to be carried out. It spoke of admitting into the liturgy elements that "harmonize with its true and authentic spirit" [SC 37], ensuring the "substantial unity of the Roman rite is preserved" [SC 38], provided such is decided by the competent ecclesiastical authority, meaning the Holy See and, where legally allowed, the bishops [cf 22: 1-2]. It also called for prudence, in the choice of adaptations to be introduced into the Liturgy [SC 40: 1], the need to submit such to the apostolic see for its consent, if needed, a period of limited experimentation [SC 40: 2] before final approval and consultation of experts in the matter [SC 40: 3].

Sacramentum Caritatis follows the same line, that adaptations of liturgy to local cultural traditions be handled according to the stipulations of the various directives of the church and in keeping with a proper sense of balance "between the criteria and directives already issued and new adaptations" [no. 54], and these too "always in accord with the apostolic see" [ibid. 54]. In short, inculturation through adaptations, yes, but always within clear parameters that ensure nobility and orthodoxy.


By inconsistency I mean practices we introduce as adaptations but per se are incompatible with our culture, like just a bow instead of genuflection or prostration before the holy Eucharist, or communion in the hand received standing, which is far below levels of consideration given to the sacred in Asia. In some countries, instead of introducing liturgical vestments or utensils reflective of local values, their use has been reduced to a minimum, or even abandoned. I was at times shocked to see priests and even bishops celebrating or concelebrating without the proper liturgical attire. This is not inculturation but de-culturation, if such a word exists.

Inculturation means deciding on liturgical attire that is dignified and full of respect for the sacred realities celebrated, not abandoning them. I feel that the episcopal commissions on liturgy in Asia at continental, regional or national levels should, with the help of experts, study these issues carefully and seek ways and means to enhance the meaning, dignity and sacredness of the divine mysteries celebrated through solid adaptations that are critically selected and proposed to the Holy See for due approval.

A closer spirit of cooperation with the Holy See in this matter would be needed. There is too much drifting in the matter and even an attitude of "who cares?" that leaves everything to free interpretation and the creativity of single persons.

[...] [Again, in a separate but related question...]

Take, for example, the large scale abandonment of the cassock or religious garb by many priests and religious in Asia, even missionaries. They hardly understood that in Asian culture, persons dedicated to God or religion are always visible in his or her own garb, like the Buddhist monk or the Hindu sannyasi (holy man). This shows we do not understand what inculturation truly means. Often enough, it is limited to a dance or two during the Holy Mass or sprinkling of flowers, the arathi (closing prayer song) or beating a drum.

In mind and heart, however, we follow secular ways and values. If we are truly Asian, we should focus more attention on the mysticism of Jesus, His message of salvation, the great value of prayer, contemplation, detachment, simplicity of life, devoutness and reflection and the value of silence, and forms of liturgical celebration that focus great attention on the sacred and the transcendent. We Asians cannot be secularists who do not see anything beyond the visible and the tangible.

So too in liturgy, instead of concentrating on just a few exterior gestures of cosmetic value, we should focus on the accentuation of the mystical and the spiritual riches conveyed to us, and highlight these more and more even in our dress and behavior. The universal church would gain from a church in Asia that becomes a tangible expression of Christian mysticism in an Asian way.

UCA NEWS: Regarding inculturation, Pope Benedict encourages episcopal conferences to "strive to maintain a proper balance between criteria and directives already issued and new adaptations, always in accord with the apostolic see." [...]


Liturgy is important, for "lex orandi, lex credendi" (the law of prayer is the law of belief). It would then be able to animate and provide quality, meaning and proper awareness to the national episcopal commissions for liturgy on this all important component of ecclesial life. A lot of work still needs to be done in order to achieve better results.

The "proper balance" about which the holy father speaks is due to the need to ensure, on one side, a healthy spirit of openness to inculturation in the liturgy, and, on the other, the need to safeguard the universal character of Catholic liturgy, a treasure handed down to the church by its bi-millennial tradition.

UCA NEWS: Can you give a concrete example of what "maintaining a proper balance between criteria and directives and new adaptations" means?

ARCHBISHOP RANJITH: By "proper balance," the holy father means, on one side, faithfulness to the universal and Catholic tradition of the celebration of the holy Eucharist, enshrined in the Roman rite itself, and, on the other, the space provided in Sacrosanctum Concilium and Varietates Legitimae for adaptations. As No. 21 of Sacrosanctum Concilium indicates, there are "unchangeable elements divinely instituted" and "elements subject to change" in the liturgy. Only the latter may be changed, and even that is to be done on the basis of norms that the council itself laid out in the third chapter of the same document.

In the case of the Eucharist, it is the same approach. The Eucharist is not what the church made but what has been the Lord's own gift to us, a treasure to be guarded. Hence, even though exigencies of evangelization and of the inculturation of the gospel message in various situations demands a certain amount of diversity, this is not to be left to the whims and fancies of the individual celebrant. The areas open to diversity are limited and pertain to language, music and singing, gestures and postures, art and processions [SC 39]. In these areas, adaptation is possible and should be undertaken after proper study, due approval of the bishops and then the consent of the apostolic see [SC: Ch. III].

Thus, the sense of balance between safeguarding the essentials and seeking to integrate cultural elements is very much needed if the church is to profit spiritually. At the same time, I would hold more essential not only adaptations of that type but the noble and dignified celebration of every liturgical act, making it reflect the mysticism of the East. It would be more helpful than just a series of external adaptations, even those introduced following established procedures.

Besides, the love of silence, a contemplative atmosphere, chant and singing reflective of the divine mystery celebrated on the altar, sober and decorous attire, and art and architecture reflective of the nobility of the sacred places and objects, are all Asian values often reflected in places of worship of other religions and more expressive of a truly Asian outlook on liturgy.

UCA NEWS: In no. 62 of the exhortatios, the pope suggests that celebration of Mass in Latin and use of Gregorian chant could be done on some occasions and in parts of the liturgy. What do you think Catholics in Asia feel about this? Have you detected a desire for the Mass in Latin among Catholics in Asia?

ARCHBISHOP RANJITH: Sacrosanctum Concilium never advocated total abandonment of Latin or of Gregorian chant. It stated that "the use of the Latin language, except when a particular law prescribed otherwise, is to be preserved in the Latin rites. ... But since the use of the vernacular ... may frequently be of great advantage to the people a wider use may be made of it especially in readings, directives and in some prayers and chants" [SC 36: 1-2]. Besides, it wished that "a suitable place may be allotted to the vernacular in Masses which are celebrated with the people, especially in the readings and 'the common prayer', and also as local conditions may warrant, in those parts which pertain to the people" [SC 54].

In the same passage, the council wished that care be taken to "ensure that the faithful may also be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them" [ibid.].

The point is that the vernacular is not the normal language of the liturgy for Sacrosanctum Concilium but Latin, with permission being granted for the vernacular to be used in specific areas such as the readings, some prayers and chants and parts that pertain to the people. What is remarkable is that it advocates the use of Latin even in "those parts of the ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them" [SC 54].

Unfortunately, a quasi total abandonment of Latin took place almost everywhere soon after the council, so only the older generation of Catholics in Asia has an idea of the use of Latin in the liturgy and of Gregorian chant. With a strong vernacularization of the Liturgy and of seminary formation, the use of Latin did almost completely disappear from most of Asia.

This is rather unfortunate. I am not sure if there is a marked yearning for a return of Latin in the liturgy in Asia. I hope it would be so. Some Catholics who are aware of the beauty of Latin do express such a desire. They have seen or come to experience liturgies celebrated in Latin in Rome or elsewhere and are fascinated by it. Others are fascinated by the old Latin rite, the Pius V Mass now being celebrated in some places of Asia.

But the larger portion of Asian Catholics is still unaware of the value of Latin in the holy Mass. I wonder what they would say if some form of Latin is reintroduced. They might like it and, knowing the spirit of devotion that Asian Catholics carry within themselves, it would certainly help deepen their faith even further. Our people know that not all divine realities are within the reach of human understanding and that there should be room for some sense of spiritual mystery in worship.

Besides, it would be good for the church in Asia not to remain cut off from new trends emerging universally, one of which is a fresh appreciation of the church's bi-millennial Latin heritage. This is not to say we ought to abandon the vernacular and embrace Latin in toto. A sound and sober use of Latin as well as the vernacular, on the lines of Sacrosanctum Concilium, would be a gain for all. Besides, in Asia some other religions have preserved an official "liturgical" language, like Sanskrit for Hinduism and Pali for Buddhism. These are not spoken languages but are used only in worship. Are they not teaching us a lesson that a "liturgical language" which is not in common use can better express an inner mysticism of the "sacred" in worship?

UCA NEWS: The pope wants "future priests" to learn Latin in seminaries, so as to read Latin texts and sing Gregorian chant. How do you think young Asians studying for the priesthood regard that call? Will Asia's seminaries welcome it?

ARCHBISHOP RANJITH: There is no question of a welcoming. I think it is a need, and rather than falling into a well of isolationist narrow mindedness or a purely empiricist approach to faith that, by the way, is not Asian and does not leave room for an understanding of that which is transcendent, our priests and seminarians should be encouraged to open out to the wider reality of their faith, which is Catholic and universal, its bi-millennial roots and development and its mystical and sacred dimensions. And since Latin has been at the very root of much of the developments in theology, liturgy, and ecclesial discipline all along, seminarians and priests should be encouraged to learn and use it.

This would help the church in Asia not only to grasp better the content of the depositum fidei (deposit of faith) and its development, but also discover a theological language of its own, capable of presenting the faith to the peoples of Asia convincingly [cfr. Ecclesia in Asia 20]. Learning Latin is in no way a going backward but, on the contrary, going forward. Only thus could a truly profound process of inculturation take place. Any so-called theology not rooted in the fonts of sacred scriptures and the tradition of the church, prayed on one's knees and illumined by the light of a holy life is but empty noise-making and would lead only to disorder and confusion.

The same is true of liturgy. Latin is the ordinary liturgical language of the church. In the origin and development of the Roman rite, it had a major role to play. Thus, a sufficient knowledge of this language would facilitate a better understanding and appreciation of the beauty of what is celebrated. As the holy father stated, "the beauty of the liturgy is part of this mystery; it is a sublime expression of God's glory and, in a certain sense, a glimpse of heaven on earth" [Sacr. Carit. 35].

Celebrating in Latin thus would help build a sense of awe and respect as well as a profound spiritual link with what the Lord himself inspired the church to assume as its form of worship. This openness to Latin would also help the students appreciate better the role of Gregorian chant in the church. The holy father wishes that it "be suitably esteemed and employed" as it is the "chant proper to the Roman liturgy" [Sacr. Carit. 42]. Learning the simplicity and beauty of this great body of chant would also help musically talented priests and seminarians in Asia to be inspired by it and be able to compose dignified and prayerful chant forms that can harmonize better with the local culture. It would be presumptuous to assume that using Gregorian chant would harm inculturation of the liturgy. It could actually be beneficial.

UCA NEWS: Is there anything else you wish to tell churches in Asia about the exhortation and how they should implement it?

ARCHBISHOP RANJITH: A careful look at Sacramentum Caritatis convinces me more and more that it is not only a treasure trove of information, inspiration and a truly pastoral yet deeply theological reflection on the Eucharist but, more so, a document that seeks to bring to completion that which was truly desired by the Second Vatican Council and its document on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium. The post-conciliar reform of the Liturgy, though laudable in some aspects, had not been all that faithful to the spirit of the council.

As Cardinal Ferdinando Antonelli, a member of the commission that worked on the reform then, attested: "I am not happy about the spirit. There is a spirit of criticism and impatience towards the Holy See which would not augur well. And then, everything is a study on the rationality of the liturgy and no concern for true piety. I am afraid that one day one would say of all this reform what was said about the reform of the hymns at the time of Urban VIII: accepit liturgia recessit pietas (as liturgy progresses, piety goes backward); and here accepit liturgia recessit devotio (as liturgy progresses, devotion goes backward). I hope I am wrong" [from the diaries of Cardinal Antonelli, April 30, 1965].

We have seen a lot of banalization and obscuring of the mystical and sacred aspects of the liturgy in many areas of the church in the name of a so-called "Konzilsgeist" (council spirit).

In the last 20 years or so, the church has sought to set the course of liturgical reform straight and in line with the indications of Sacrosanctum Concilium. Documents such as Liturgiam Authenticam, Varietates legitimae, Redemptionis Sacramentum and Ecclesia de Eucharistia are part of that attempt, and Sacramentum Caritatis, which is a collegial document in that it collects the propositions of the bishops' Synod on the Holy Eucharist, is the culminating moment, I would say, of that course of "setting things right." It truly is a correction of course and should be welcomed, appreciated, studied and put into practice.

Guestbook for Msgr. Schuler

You can sign the funeral guestbook for Monsignor Schuler here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Place of Custom and Tradition

[Dom Christopher will be recognizable to many of you who read the comments on this site. He is a Benedictine monk in France, and the recent accusations about "Marcionism" in the classical Roman liturgy led him to write the following piece which worked itself out into a general consideration of the self-governing role of custom and tradition in the Church. This is indeed something that has been lost, particularly to the modern mindset and so it makes a valuable meditation and contribution to a wider consideration of that which ails the Church and her liturgy today. -NLM]

Guest Article for the NLM
by Dom Christopher Lazowski, OSB

The discussion here at the NLM about the inept comments about “the” Motu Proprio and the unfounded accusations of Marcionism directed against the Pian Missal, emanating from the committee for Christian-Jewish dialogue of the Central Committee of German Catholics, has touched upon the highly sensitive question of a possible organic development of the classical rite itself. I make no secret of my hope that this will take place in God's good time, following on from adjustments to the Pauline rite itself; however, at the same time I am convinced that my opinion on the subject will have no influence whatsoever on the course of events! I am only a monk. So, nolite timere.

Despite my hope that such an organic development may take place, it seems to me that the negative reactions to the idea of any change whatsoever to the classical rite must be taken seriously. This personal conviction is not based on the idea that “traddy” Catholics need to be reassured and reconciled, won over or even bamboozled, before anything else can be done. Rather, it is grounded on what seems to be the weakness of the idea of tradition in the contemporary mentality. Without a strong sense of the force of tradition, the very idea of change and development in matters liturgical is fraught with danger. Recent history provides ample proof of this. But this weakness is not, I think, a recent phenomenon; its origin lies in the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Thanks to the kindness of William Tighe, I have recently been reading Dom Gregory Dix's The Shape of the Liturgy. This classic survey of the whole history of Eucharistic liturgy by an outstanding Anglican Benedictine and liturgist contains much that confirms me in this judgement. The Shape was published in 1945, at a time when the Church of England was in a state of considerable liturgical disarray, in the years following the rejection by the House of Commons of the 1927 and 1928 proposals for reform of the Book of Common Prayer, years during which general liturgical improvisation became the norm, in the face of the incapacity of both Parliament and the bishops to provide a solution acceptable to the church. One of Dix's goals was to provide material that might help his church find a way out of the impasse, by explaining the formation of the Mass of the Roman Rite in the context of the whole of the liturgical history of the Church, both Western and Eastern, by showing how how the liturgical action is the expression of the faith of that Church, and also by explaining how Cranmer took the “raw materials” provided by the Western rite and turned them into the expression of his own heterodox eucharistic theology, a theology that the Church of England had in fact rejected since 1559, without either coming to a clear and generally accepted understanding of what she actually believed, or being able to reject or modify the rite that embodied Cranmer's personal theories.

In doing so, Dix makes a number of observations about the roles of legislative authority and of custom in laying down, or in handing on the liturgy, that seem to me to be pertinent for the Catholic Church today. The Church of England was incapable throughout most of its history of changing its liturgical settlement because that settlement was based on the authority of an Act of Parliament, the Act of Uniformity. Dix points out that the phenomenon of basing the legitimacy of a liturgical form on human positive law in a recent one, dating from the sixteenth century, and is common to both the Church of England and the Roman Rite. Successive editions of the Book of Common Prayer were imposed by the Acts of Uniformity of 1549, 1552, 1559 and 1662. The 1570 edition of the Roman Missal was imposed by the bull Quo primum, although this imposition obviously did not bring with it the rupture in doctrine and practice the Prayer Book brought, nor was it intended to bring about a strict uniformity in the Western Church. Dix says: “one has only to think of Pope Gregory's advice to Augustine of Canterbury to make his own choice of what seemed to him best from current Roman and Gallican uses, to be aware of a former sanction of the liturgy, not only at Rome and Canterbury, but all over christendom ... It has the authority of 'acceptance of the church and use for her sacramental purpose'. This is a different sort of authority from the authority of any statute passed by a legislator, ecclesiastical or secular. But it was at one time the only sort of authority recognized by the liturgy. One can cite certain exceptions, ... but from the beginning until the sixteenth century, broadly speaking the sanction in the liturgy was not 'law' but 'custom'.” (p. 716)

Dix points out that custom is self-enforcing, and that what safeguards custom against degenerating into license is the faith that custom expresses. Clearly and strongly held belief is the best guardian of the liturgy.

“The whole development of the classic liturgies is by continual liturgical experiment. Every church had its 'customary' way of doing the liturgy, which was 'customary' only because it adequately expressed that church's mind and belief as to what the eucharistic action is and means. Whenever an idea which seemed to enrich that conception was encountered, whether in the teaching or in the devotional experience of that church itself, in the rites of other churches or in the works of theologians, it could be and was incorporated into the customary rite. If, after the only trial of which such things are capable, a period of actual use at the altar, it was found that it did more fully express the eucharistic action, it was absorbed into the local eucharistic experience as something which had become that church's own, and permanently incorporated into the local eucharistic tradition. If it did not serve, then ultimately it fell out of use again.” (p. 178)

“Continual liturgical experiment” sounds appalling, but Dix is most certainly not talking about sitting on beanbags, passing the chalice around, or inviting laymen to give the homily. If he were writing today, he would most likely have used an expression like “continual organic development.” Even this may not sound terribly appealing just now, although what Dix says is, I think, historically true. There is a strong case to be made that what we need at the moment is a retreat from ill-considered liturgical change! However, the next paragraph contains much food for thought.

“The depth and breadth and allusiveness of the classical rites [by which he means all the historic Catholic rites of both West and East] comes just from this, that their real author is always the worshipping church, not any individual however holy and gifted, any committee however representative, or any legislator however wise. The results in every tradition were codified from time to time by men with a gift or a taste for this sort of work. But all these men were working within a tradition, with materials supplied them by the immense experience of the whole worshipping church of the past, of other churches as well as their own. And when their work was done, the church came after them again, commenting, adding, altering, improving, sometimes spoiling, enriching, adjusting perpetually to her own contemporary mind and life and needs. We have seen what the church did with the work, for instance, of Gregory or of Alcuin after their time. It was right that it should. No one man is great enough or good enough to fix the act of the Body of Christ for ever according to his own mind and understanding of it. The good liturgies were not written; they grew.” (pp. 718-719)

At the moment, we seem to have the worst of all possible worlds. The abandonment of custom for law as the guardian of the liturgy was probably inevitable in the context of the doctrinal instability and uncertainty introduced by protestantism. However, it has had the effect of those metal rings that are inflicted on certain African women to lengthen their necks; when the rings are removed, the women risk dying of asphyxiation, since their neck muscles have atrophied. Paul VI's 1969 constitution Missale Romanum went beyond Quo primum by “suppressing” a legitimate and ancient liturgical rite and imposing one that had been substantially re-written by a committee, thus attempting to bring about a uniformity that St. Pius V never sought. The many churches and religious orders that were under no obligation to adopt the Missal of 1570, but which in fact did so, acted of their own free will, much in the manner Dix describes above. The protestant reformers attacked Catholic faith in the Eucharist, and Catholic unity in communion with the pope. So the historical context favoured the idea that in order to safeguard Catholic faith in the real presence and in the sacrificial nature of the Mass, as well as the unity of the Church in communion with the Vicar of Christ, it was preferable for all Catholics to worship God in only one manner, the manner used by the Roman church; however, liturgical impoverishment was an unintended consequence, an impoverishment that we may surely regret. What had once been the local rite of the Roman church came to be the Western rite, and local traditions of unimpeachable orthodoxy that that were still well able to contribute to the richness of the Church's liturgy were forgotten. Paradoxically, Missale Romanum, despite its avowed intention to impose the Pauline Missal on the Western church, also coincided with period of de facto liturgical experimentation, or indeed anarchy, which has done untold damage. This was caused in part by contamination from secular ideologies that had no business in the sanctuary, and was facilitated by our having become used to the strict guardianship of the law; we had lost the self-discipline of obedience to custom. However, this is not just the Church's problem. It goes far beyond the Church; is the problem of the whole of Western society and its relation to the past. Our society has lost a sense of respect for the past and for tradition. Lord Salisbury wrote in The Spectator recently, “ Early 21st century man prefers, like Chairman Mao, to let the past serve the present. If he stopped making jejune moral judgements about his ancestors and tried to understand what made them tick instead, he might make less of a mess of his own times.” Similarly, if we had more respect for our liturgical past, we would be less inclined to make a hash of our liturgical present. In the liturgy as in the rest of life, to attempt to liberate one's self from the past by rejecting it outright is the best way to become its unwitting prisoner.

Another unforeseen consequence of the abandonment of custom in favour of law as guardian of the liturgy was to give the legislator the idea that he could replace one rite by another, by legislative fiat. The Holy Father when he was still a cardinal pointed out that this had never happened before in the whole history of the liturgy. But without the change of approach that became the norm after Quo primum, it is difficult to imagine how this could ever have come about. The law had come to be seen as the mistress of the liturgy, not as its servant. I would not deny that Paul VI had the right to proceed as he did. But I do think that it is legitimate to ask if he was wise to do so.

What then is the way forward? One of the reasons I wrote this was the hope that it might provoke a discussion that might shed some light on the problem. My own direct experience of the classical liturgy is limited to serving Mass a number of years ago for a monk of Le Barroux who spent a few days here when they were looking for a place to make a foundation, and my reservations about the Pauline missal are all over questions of detail. But I am nonetheless convinced that the restoration of full “civil rights” in the Church for the classical Roman liturgy, and a stop to its marginalisation, is an essential step on the way to a proper realisation of the liturgical reform called for by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council. I am equally convinced that before we can be fit instruments of organic development, we need to rediscover a sense of docility to living tradition.

Lecture in Scranton: Gregorian Chant as a Love Song between Christ and His Church

Scranton, PA area readers take note: I will be in nearby Mocanaqua at St. Mary's on Sunday, May 6 at 6:30pm to give a lecture on sacred music. I don't know how many people from that area visit NLM on a regular basis, but I thought I'd put out an advertisement, thinking that it's likely there are at least a few.

Since Puritanism and utilitarianism have both helped to create a culture that does not understand the importance of beauty, I will be starting this lecture with a short discussion on the worthy place of beauty in the liturgy and in the relationship of Christ to his Church. Then I will discuss the place of music in Salvation History and how that applies to the Mass. Following this will be the larger portion of the talk, which will focus on Gregorian chant and the ways in which it is well-suited to and intrinsically part of the liturgy (specifically the Mass), along with some practical advice on how to get started with the implementation of chant in the parish setting.

Here is the text of the official flyer distributed throughout the region by the parish:


Michael Lawrence, organist-composer-conductor

Gregorian Chant & The Modern Roman Rite

-An exploration of sacred liturgy and music with emphasis on Gregorian chant
-Learn why Gregorian chant is treasured by the Catholic church and how your parish can be part of its current revival

Sunday, May 6
6:30 p.m.

St. Mary, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church
Mocanaqua, Pennsylvania

Free and open to the public

Liturgical half-truths and misconceptions

CNS NEWS BRIEFS for April 24, 2007 reveals yet again the battle which we face. The battle between rupture and continuity.

What is particularly interesting is the way CNS frames the issue of the reform of the liturgy: "[Sacrosanctum Concilium] called for the translation of the Mass from Latin to the vernacular."

There is of course a truth to this statement, insofar as Sacrosanctum Concilium did indeed open the door for the use of vernacular in the Roman liturgy. However, the statement clearly can misportray the Council and Sacrosanctum Concilium generally, for it would make it appear that the shift away from Latin to the vernacular (as it has happened) was a mandated reform with regard to the liturgy.

Of course, given that the very same document actually spoke of the importance of the retention of Latin in the liturgy, there is a gross inaccuracy in making such a statement, without any further contextualization or clarification.

Whether intentional or unintentional, a statement like this contributes to further misinformation about both the Council and the liturgy and the CNS should be held accountable for that, given who they represent.

Further Proof of Change

It is rather surprising -- certainly no one anticipated this -- but the Church Music Association of America's Sacred Music Colloquium, June 19-14, is filled to capacity, seven weeks too soon. If that's not an indication of important change, I don't know what would be.

Meanwhile, this: The Tallis Scholars Summer School, July 28-August 4: "The Tallis Scholars Summer Schools are dedicated to exploring the great heritage of Renaissance choral music and developing a performance style appropriate to it, as pioneered by the Tallis Scholars. Under the direction of Peter Phillips and members of the Tallis Scholars, we work on concert and service repertoire in a variety of small and medium-sized groups. The week’s activities culminate in a Gala Concert by summer school participants, directed by Peter Phillips. The dynamic, global city of Seattle is a thriving hub of early music, providing the perfect setting for the Tallis Scholars Summer School in the USA. Located close to Seattle’s downtown core, Seattle University offers excellent facilities, both for music-making and comfortable living. The theme for Seattle 2007 is Music for the Sistine Chapel, to include Allegri’s sublime Miserere and music by Palestrina."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

New Anglican Use Priest - And More on This Year's AU Conference

Eric Bergman, late of Good Shepherd Episcopal in Scranton, Pennsylvania, was recently ordained as a Catholic priest, at St. Clare's, also in Scranton. I'm particularly excited about this, as the local Anglican Use group, the St. Thomas More Society, hosted last year's Anglican Use Conference at this parish, where I gave a short presentation on a related student project, and met the-now-Fr. Bergman. Ad multos annos!

Incidentally, the 2007 AU Conference--which I probably won't be able to attend, sadly--looks nonetheless to be a tremendous time, as it will be held on campus at the Catholic University of America, with the convention liturgies being held at the Dominican House of Studies and the Crypt of the National Shrine. Don't miss it!

Update from the Institute of Christ the King

UPDATE: Please pray for the repose of the soul of Mr. Tantin, father of Abbé Thibault Tantin, deacon of the Institute of Christ the King working in the Mission of Mayumba , Gabon (French Africa ). Mr. Tantin passed away today, April 24, following a serious car accident on April 15, in Gabon . R.I.P.

Please also continue praying for Abbé Tantin who is now in an induced coma, while
the doctors monitor his general state, which is still stable and improving.

Communio Project: Complete!

The Communio Project of putting all communions with Psalms online is now finished. You can see them here. This the one place where you can find the music for the communion antiphon sung in the manner recommended by the General Instruction. They were typeset by chant master Richard Rice. At last, the full collection is available to the world for instant download and, we can hope, singing every Sunday forever more.

More on the new angle of attack on the Church's liturgical (and theological) tradition Experts worry Vatican may slight Jews in Latin mass

This article is a continuation of the same theme, referenced by John Allen a few days ago. On the one hand, it seems to be a manipulative argument designed to try to bring greater pressure and opposition upon Pope Benedict. But on the other, it clearly begins to show throw the lines of rupture with those who have made a radical split between the Church pre and post conciliar, and how they understand that in terms of doctrine and practice.

Fr. Skeris on Fr. Schuler

One great musician writes in memory of another.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Mundelein Psalter

The Liturgical Institute has a new page up dedicated to the Mundelein Psalter, an English version of the Divine Office done in the spirit of our liturgical chant tradition.

The page includes audio file samples and page samples.

Magister on Romano Amerio

[I spoke yesterday of a sense of a shifting mindset that alllowed those who adhere to the classical liturgical tradition to be perceived finally as more mainstream than they have often been characterized. I would propose that in addition to that, we are moving into a phase where it has finally become more acceptable and mainstream to ask earnest but critical questions about the implementations, generally, following the Council, and looking to a re-evaluation of the same. This particular article by Sandro Magister strikes me in a similar vein.]

Source: www.chiesa

“La Civiltà Cattolica” Breaks the Silence – On Romano Amerio

He was the most authoritative and erudite representative of criticism of the Church in the name of Tradition, but for decades the discussion of his thought was barred. The magazine of the Rome Jesuits has broken the taboo. Authorized from on high

by Sandro Magister

ROMA, April 23, 2007 – In “La Civiltà Cattolica,” the magazine of the Rome Jesuits printed with the prior scrutiny and authorization of the Vatican secretaiat of state, a review has been published that signals the end of a taboo.

The taboo is the one that has obliterated from public discussion, for decades, the thought of the most authoritative and erudite representative of criticism of the twentieth century Church in the name of the great Tradition: the Swiss philologist and philosopher Romano Amerio (in the photo), who died in Lugano in 1997, at the age of 92.

Amerio, although he was always extremely faithful to the Church, condensed his criticisms of it in two volumes: “Iota unum: Studio delle variazioni della Chiesa cattolica nel XX secolo [Iota Unum: A Study of Changes in the Catholic Church in the Twentieth Century],” begun in 1935 and finalized and published in 1985, and, and “Stat Veritas. Séguito a Iota unum [Stat Veritas: Sequel to Iota Unum],” released posthumously in 1997, both issued by the publisher Riccardo Ricciardi, of Naples.

The Latin words in the title of the first volume, “Iota Unum,” are those of Jesus in the sermon on the mount: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter [iota] or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.” (Matthew 5: 17-18). The iota is the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet.

“Iota Unum,” 658 pages, was reprinted three times in Italy, for a total of seven thousand copies, and was then translated into French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Dutch. It thus reached many tens of thousands of readers all over the world.

But in spite of this, an almost complete blacklisting fell upon Amerio in the Church, both during and after his life.

The review in “La Civiltà Cattolica” thus signals a turning point. Both because of where and how it was published – with the authorization of the Holy See – and because of what it says.

Strictly speaking, the review concerns a book about Amerio published in 2005 by his disciple Enrico Maria Radaelli. But without a doubt it is the great Swiss thinker who is at the center of the reviewer’s judgments.

And the judgments are largely positive, both on “Amerio’s intellectual and moral stature,” and on “the importance of his philosophical-theological vision for the contemporary Church.”

The reviewer, Giuseppe Esposito, is a psychologist who is well read in theology. Although he does not agree with Amerio in everything, he maintains that his thought “deserves more extensive discussion,” and “without prejudice.”

In particular, he writes, “it seems simplistic to relegate his reflection – and that of Radaelli – to the sphere of nostalgic traditionalism, as a position now irrelevant, incapable of comprehending the new movements of the Spirit.”

On the contrary, the reviewer maintains, Amerio’s thought “confers a form and a philosophical framework upon that ecclesial component which, following in the path of Tradition, reaches out to safeguard Christian specificity and identity.”

For Amerio, this form and philosophical framework are found in “the primacy of the truth about love.”

As is well known, the link between truth and love is at the center of Benedict XVI’s teaching.

Here, then, is reproduced the review that appeared in “La Civiltà Cattolica” on March 17, 2007, n. 3762, pages 622-623.

The reviewed book, the first one systematically dedicated to Romano Amerio’s life and thought, is the following:

Enrico Maria Radaelli, "Romano Amerio. Della verità e dell’amore [Romano Amerio: On Truth and Love]", Marco Editore, Lungro di Cosenza, 2005, pp. XXXV-340, 25 euro.

"In love with the truth and with the Church..."

by Giuseppe Esposito

A passionate devotee of Romano Amerio (1905-97), Enrico Maria Radaelli presents his life, word, and thought, placing the reader before an intellectual production that unfolded over a period of about 70 years.

And so here is Amerio as philosopher, philologist, historian, and also theologian, with his important contributions on Descartes, Giacomo Leopardi, Alessandro Manzoni, but above all on Tommaso Campanella.

The author’s primary intention is that of bringing back to light the figure of his master after the ostracism that followed the publication, in 1985, of his “Iota Unum.” This is the text that synthesizes Amerio’s thought, and, for the author, it is a true “metaphysical compendium of Catholic knowledge” (p. 135), capable of furnishing convincing and solid arguments in support of the faith.

The book, translated into seven languages, was not received well in Italy, and Amerio was branded as a traditionalist, preconciliar, Lefebvrist. But according to Radaelli, it is an error to reduce all of Amerio’s thought to his position on Vatican Council II.

This is, in the first place, because “Iota Unum” did not originate directly from the Council, nor from esteem for the schismatic bishop Marcel Lefebvre (whom Amerio criticizes for his separation from ecclesial communion), but is instead a collection of reflections begun thirty years earlier, and pertaining to more general topics.

In the second place this is because dwelling on controversy trivializes the important fundamental question Amerio raises, well represented by the author in the title: “On Truth and Love.”

This is the nucleus of Amerio’s thought: the primacy of truth over love. Subverting this order, and thus producing a “metaphysical dislocation of essences,” for Amerio is inevitably translated into an attack against Christ, the Word of God, the Logos. It is for this reason that he wrote “Iota Unum,” and, presenting it to Augusto Del Noce, defined it as an attempt to “defend essences against the waywardness and syncretism of the spirit of the age” (p. 231). And to Del Noce, who was fascinated by his argument, it seemed that “the ultimate philosophical problem for the ‘Catholic restoration’ that the world needs is that of the order of essences” (p. 233).

In love with the truth and with the Church, preoccupied with the secularization of Christianity, with its reduction to morality and works at the expense of the primacy of Christocentrism, Amerio criticizes “fundamentalist ecumenism,” the dissolution of the Christian identity in religious relativism, the renunciation of the Truth in favor of respect for other-truths, the reduction of the one true religion to one of the various possible religions.

It is decisive to pose the absolute centrality of the Word: “The absolute value attributed to the divine reality of the Word (Logos), as well as of the facts that religion derives from it, [...] shelter man from the disorientation of relativism” (p. 19).

This is a reminder not to undervalue the risks inherent in naturalism, and in any “conception of the Spirit cut down from the supernatural to the natural, [...] from the religious to the cultural, from the spiritual to the intellectual” (p. 130).

For Radaelli, what happened in the end was precisely what his master feared: “The subversion of the principles according to which reason is replaced in its first causality by love, plans by realization, intellect by freedom, ideas by praxis, [...] the classical values of religious naturalism seem to have the upper hand against the supremacy of the supernatural” (p. 206).

The author, with carefully chosen and deliberately apologetic language, highlights Amerio’s intellectual and moral stature, and clarifies the importance of his philosophical-theological vision, for the contemporary Church as well. The result is certainly a defensive, impassioned harangue that is sometimes grating, but it is above all a provocation to engage Amerio’s “powerful thought.”

Of course, it is not possible to share the negative judgment extended to the Council in its entirety and to all the positive things it produced.

Furthermore, there is a questionable attempt to explain all of Christianity’s current difficulties as if they were almost entirely the result of a deviation from the dogma of the Logos, of the demotion of Truth to second place after love. The reality is more complex, and one cannot trace everything back to just one aspect: in this case, there is the risk of philosophical reductionism.

And yet the Amerian hypothesis deserves more extensive discussion, and it seems simplistic to relegate his reflection – and that of Radaelli – to the sphere of nostalgic traditionalism, as a position now irrelevant, incapable of comprehending the new movements of the Spirit, if it is not in fact – with allowances for due caution – almost an obstacle to His action.

But if one frees oneself from fundamentalist prejudice, the nucleus of Amerio’s reflection becomes a stimulus for thought.

And this is not a matter of an isolated metaphysical view of Christianity: it confers a form and a philosophical framework upon that ecclesial component which, following in the path of Tradition, reaches out to safeguard Christian specificity and identity.

In this perspective, the work of Radaelli, by reproposing the deep Amerian theoretical questions, invites one to confront these without prejudice, in a more serene way.

The text, knowledgeably introduced by Antonio Livi, dean of the faculty of philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University, is also accompanied by interviews with Amerio and reviews of “Iota Unum,” as well as by a small glossary to aid the reader. Together with the list of Amerio’s works, the indices of names, persons, places, and topics are complete and very useful.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Liturgical dialectics?

I'm so sorry to harp on this subject, but this movie called "A History of the Mass" (2001, Liturgical Training Publications) really seems to have set off some sort of mental firestorm for me (blogged earlier about it here). What puzzled me most was its implied notion of history--a meta-theory of history really--that seems to have been decided upon long before the narrative was written.

The one yardstick by which the terms progress and regress are measured here is summed up in the theme "full, conscious, and active participation" - a quote from the 1963 Constitution that has been drummed into our heads as the one and only message of Vatican Two. In this film, as with so much progressive literature out there, that is the one and only theme---and it must be external participation--that seems to matter.

The argument (very slickly made so that it is far from being this overt) is that the early Church consisted of happy, sharing, caring Christians who lived in a kind of utopian togetherness, sharing all things in common and caring for the poor. Yes, echoes of Rousseau. Then Constantine institutionalized everything and hence began the decline, which is aided by a theological error that emphasized Christ's divinity more than his humanity. The decline continued until the abyss of Trent, which ruled with an iron hand until 1969, when the people finally rose up and took back their liturgy, leading to the current happy days.

There is no discussion of the influence of the Mass on society or culture, the advances made in music or architecture, much less any reflection on issues of grace and sanctity. There is only one theme in fact: in the glorious primitive days, the people had their Mass. It was stolen from them--symbolized by pompous music, altar rails, Latin, high falutin' building, domination of the poor by the wealthy, communion under one kind, unleavened bread, gold chalices, etc.--until the uprising of the postconciliar period when at last power belongs to the people and their progressive leadership. And so now we gather around the altar, eat regular bread and share the cup, dance around the altar, sing faux-folk muzak, and the like: here we see the people on the move, marching alongside leaders who champion their causes and interests.

So I've been wondering over the last several days where I had heard that general theme before, this idea of an ongoing struggle between two groups whose interests are always antagonistic. Where does this single-minded philosophy of history come from? What is the source of this apodictic certainty that the relationship between the people and the ruling Church elites can be characterized by unrelenting conflict? Why must every bit of history point in this direction and this direction only? What kind of ideology can reduce something as glorious and transforming as the Mass into a simple-minded struggle of this sort?

Well, you probably already know the answer, but it took me a few days. The answer, I think, is Marxism. Now before you dismiss this idea as fanciful or conspiratorial, consider that Marxism has had more influence on a century of social science and literary criticism than perhaps any other mode of thought. Marxism is far more than a policy program; that is the least of it. Its most important contribution has been to provide a theme by which to understand the broad patterns of the evolution of civilization. Its theory of history and analytics of the underlying structure of the stuff that makes history: this is its true legacy. Marxism represented the popularization of the Hegelian dialectic that gave intellectuals a lens through which to understand the full sweep of world events, and sports-like drama with good guys and bad guys, and this theory has stuck. It animates the subconscious of vast swaths of the intellectual world, long after the Marxian program for political revolution has been discredited.

Marxism is not as fashionable today of course as it once was. No one reads Capital anymore, and I'm not saying that the makers of this film are communists. But it does seem like the underlying theory of social movements within Marxism has been applied here to liturgical studies. And that's not surprising given how prominent liberation theology has been in Catholic circles. It might have made inroads to liturgical studies as well. In this instance, instead of capital vs. labor as the conflict-lens through which to view history, we get the people vs. the clerical class and their intellectual defenders.

With Marxism, the goal of any struggle should be to expropriate the expropriators, and set up a revolutionary vanguard of rulers who identify with and understand the core struggle, and then rule in the name of the people (the "dictatorship of the proletariat"). And so this theme applied to liturgical studies similarly sides with this abstraction called the "people" (add "of God" if you so desire) against the ruling class and its values. It matters not whether actual people desire beautiful buildings, gorgeous music, inspiring texts, and etc. The "people of God" is a social force that need not have an actual embodiment in any particular time or place.

Are the makers of this film conscious of this underlying theory? No. And they would laugh and dismiss the idea if confronted with it. Still, it strikes me as that this is the core of the error that has made them so sure of themselves and blind to any facts which contradict the theory. It is also how it can be that the progressive liturgists can remain completely aloof to how badly they have failed real-world people with such pathetic art and music, and an liturgical agenda that actually ends up alienating people from their history and driving them away from their Churches. The progressives are serving an ideology, a theory of history, not the Christian faith and not real people.

How tragic it truly is to see the words of the Council concerning participation of the people distorted in this way!

In any case, if this post is far-flung, forgive me. If I'm wrong here, I'm glad to know it. But I just can't seem to find the source of the error here apart from deeper reflection on the underlying ideology that seems strangely familiar.

open book: A lovely day

Speaking of Notre Dame, they get a second mention on the blog today as Amy Welborn blogs about the Eucharistic procession there today which her and her family had the pleasure of attending.

The Growing "Mainstreaming" of Classical Rite Catholicism

There may have been a time, and not so long ago, when a priest, religious or scholar publically attached to the classical Roman liturgy might have been avoided as a sort of political hot-potato, particularly in Catholic academic circles. As such, I was encouraged when I heard recently of the University of Notre Dame's conference on Pope Benedict's Encyclical Deus Caritas Est where one of the two keynote speakers is Dom Philip Anderson, OSB, Prior of Clear Creek Monastery in the Diocese of Tulsa.

As some of you may know, Clear Creek Priory is a daughter-house of the Abbey of Fontgombault in France. Both use the classical rite as their primary liturgical books.

(Incidentally, Clear Creek has a beautiful, re-designed website which is worth visiting.)

Perhaps this is yet another sign of the positive shift in perception toward those attached to the classical liturgical rites, no longer to be understood as being inherently on the margins of the Church, but rather as being in her very bosom.

We can certainly hope this is a sign of things to come.

Ad Multos Annos, Fr. Pasley

Today, the priests of the Diocese of Camden along with the parishioners of Mater Ecclesiae Roman Catholic Church, among other friends, gather to celebrate the silver jubilee of Fr. Robert C. Pasley, KHS. High Mass will be celebrated at 11am, followed by Solemn Vespers at 3pm with many clergy in attendance.

Father Pasley was born in Woodbury, NJ and attended Catholic elementary schools and a public high school, where a fine choral director brought him into contact with some of the great works of sacred music. After high school, he attended St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia and Mt. St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD and upon completion of studies in 1982 was ordained for the Diocese of Camden. In the late 1990's he also earned an MA in Education from Seton Hall University.

Father Pasley is a member of the Latin Liturgy Association and the Church Music Association of America, for whom he served as Vice-President until 2005. He is a fourth degree Knight of Columbus and an Equestrian Knight of the Holy Sepulchre. In addition to serving as a parish priest, he has also worked as a teacher and vice-principal in some of the diocese's Catholic high schools.

In October of 2000, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio appointed Pasley the rector of Mater Ecclesiae chapel, which was formed out of an already-existing Traditional Mass community that had recently been reconciled to the diocese. This was the first diocesan parish in the USA to offer exclusively the Traditional Mass. During his tenure, membership has grown from 70 families to more than 400 (as of April 2005), and significant improvements have been made to the parish's infrastructure. Under Fr. Pasley's leadership, the liturgy has flourished at Mater Ecclesiae, and his commitment to sacred music is second to none. In addition, Mater Ecclesiae has not been content to exist on the fringes of the Church's life; this parish takes part in diocesan activities and is an important source of charity for many in the community. One parishioner once remarked that Fr. Pasley is incredibly consistent at making good decisions. This great gift has been a wonderful asset to Mater Ecclesiae.

There is something very essential about the way that Fr. Pasley has approached his work: He has conformed his life to the mystery of the Lord's Cross. Surely this is what sustained him in those difficult years after the II Vatican Council. He completely empties himself in his work, giving every ounce of energy that he has. He says three Masses every weekend with confessions and catechetical classes in between; he has no help from an associate rector. Despite a busy schedule, he set aside time last fall to be available to those in the congregation who desired to learn the various chants of the Mass. He is the only priest that I know personally who has done this. In addition, he's not afraid to say what needs to be said and teaches the fullness of the faith from the pulpit. He's very good at sifting out the "noise" that surrounds many issues and sticking to what the Church teaches. He doesn't strive for Shakespearean eloquence in his sermons; nevertheless they shine with the splendor of truth. Most importantly, he is a humble man with the heart and mind of a servant. For him, being a priest is not a career, it is a way of life--a vocation.

Clearly, the Lord has accomplished much through Fr. Pasley, and all of us who know him are blessed for it in ways that he may never know. Fr. Pasley, may you have many more years, and "may God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment."

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