Monday, March 31, 2008

Update on "The Lyonese Rite" Translation

I recently appealed to the NLM readership for a donor for the book, L'ancienne liturgie Romaine, le rite Lyonnais. I am pleased to report that through the generosity of one of our British readers, the book has now been purchased and is en route to the translator.

If we have any French readers who might be able to help me in my search for any standing copyright issues from the original publisher, I'd be much obliged to hear from you.

As regards the Italian side of this question, that publisher is still extant, and so we are presently inquiring about the ability to translate and have published Il Rito Ambrosiano, as well as seeking out a copy of the work to serve as a working copy for the translator.

I am hopeful we might be able to translate the work on the Ambrosian Breviary as well. But that would be a future project.

St Catherine's Trust Family Retreat

As usual, this Easter I attended, and sang at, the Fraternity of St Peter's Easter Triduum services in Reading, England. This year is the third time they have done these, and the first in St William of York, where we did not have to schedule the services to avoid a novus ordo set of services in the same church. As St William of York is the less-used of two churches in the parish, we had the run of the place. Fr Benjamin Durham FSSP was the celebrant, assisted by a Fraternity seminarian, Marek Grabowski (who had coincidentally taught at the St Catherine's Trust Summer School in 2007). The picture shows Fr Durham blessing the Easter fire; there are some more pictures here.

This is also the third year the St Catherine's Trust has held a Family Retreat, which we run n addition to our Summer School for children. In recent years there have been a number of other Retreats which use the Traditional Mass (usus antiquior), either in England or from England, based in a monastery on the Continent, but there is nothing large-scale which can accommodate families with small children. This year we had about 150 people all told, up from 13o last year and 100 in 2006, from Easter Friday afternoon to Low Sunday lunch.

The inspiration for the Family Retreat is the Easter Retreats at the big English monasteries, which have been going in some cases for many decades. Ampleforth, Downside and until recently Worth Abbey all let in hundreds of people for three or four days over the Triduum, when their schools are on holiday. With some activities laid on for children, parents can attend the spiritual talks, and of course everyone can participate in the liturgy. Clearly there was a gap in the market for something along these lines with the Traditional Mass, and although it would be difficult to call the necessary priests, servers and singers away over the Triduum, we can do it either over the weekend of Passion Sunday (as we did, with the later Easter, in 2006) or Low Sunday (as we did last year and this).

The St Catherine's Trust Family Retreats have each year been led by Fr Andrew Southwell; this year we were privileged to have Fr Thomas Crean OP to assist him, especially in hearing confessions. This proved particularly providential as Fr Southwell lost his voice in the course of the weekend, and Fr Crean was able to celebrate Sung Mass on Sunday. With two priests we were able to have Low Mass before breakfast as well as Sung Mass later in the day (before lunch), and on Saturday Fr Crean celebrated Low Mass in the Traditional Dominican Rite.

In addition to Sung Mass each of the three days, we had Sung Compline on Friday and Saturday, and Sung Vespers on Saturday, as well as public
Rosary each day, and spiritual conferences from Fr Southwell and Fr Crean. The children, divided into two age-groups, also had talks from Fr Southwell, and other talks and activities.

On Saturday evening we had a fascinating talk from a visiting speaker, Mrs Daphne MacLeod, about how to teach the faith to one's children. Mrs MacLeod, the redoubtable Chairman of Pro Ecclesiae et Pontifice, was a teacher in Catholic schools, and latterly a headmistress, over herlong career, and told us about the training she had received before the 'New Catechetics' were introduced after Vatican II, both as a teacher and as a member of the Catholic Evidence Guild under Frank Sheed. The claim is frequently made that it is impossible to introduce complex doctrines, like the Trinity, to children, but Mrs MacLeod explained that in the old days not only did they think it perfectly possible but they were actually trained in the appropriate techniques. In the case of the Trinity this included St Augustine's famous analogy of the Mind, its Knowledge of itself and the Love between the Mind and its Knowledge. Traditional Catholic catechetics was not stopped because it didn't work, or because it failed to produce Catholics who maintained their practice of the faith, or vocations, but because of a rejection of the doctrines it was successfully imparting to the young. An article by Mrs MacLeod on how the New Catechetics were introduced can be read here; her new book 'Will Your Grandchildren be Catholic?' can be bought from PEEP.

At the Sung Masses we had a small liturgical schola, and you can hear them in the first video, which goes from the end of the Epistle to the beginning of the Gospel on Low Sunday, taking in the Alleluia and Greater Alleluia, and in the second video, which is the Offertory of Friday's Mass followed by the Vespers Hymn (we frequently sing the corresponding Vespers Hymn at the Offertory). Low Sunday weekend is a particularly joyful time, liturgically speaking, including the end of the Easter Octave. The Octave is closed with the Gospel of St Thomas the Apostle, whose incredulity is changed to the great confession of faith: "My Lord and my God!" As the Commion verse has it (see the final video), 'noli esse incredulus, sed fidelis'.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Cardinal Zen's Pontifical Mass and Vespers

Here at the NLM, one of the things we enjoy doing is reporting upon liturgical news from all reaches of the globe. So I was particularly pleased to receive a report from a reader from Hong Kong of Cardinal Zen's pontifical Mass in the usus antiquior:

In [Cardinal Zen's] homily, His Eminence linked the traditional liturgy and the hisotrical role it played in nourushing the the faith (Gospel of the Day spoke about Thomas the doubter) of so many faithful who have suffered during the years of hardship in China. And this is also the liturgical form that nourished his vocation and fostered the devotion and respect for the majesty of God in the Holy Eucharist.

A few more images are available on the website linked to above.

Prayer intention

In your charity, would some of you please keep a very special prayer intention of mine in mind for this week?

Priests, if you have any opportunity in your Masses this week...

Compline, free and printable

Here is a printable program for a compline service in English that you can use at home or in your parish. It was prepared by Richard Rice with the assistance of William Mahrt. It will be used for night prayer at the Sacred Music Colloquium this year.

The Pope on community worship and the Golden Calf

In light of some of the unfortunate liturgical developments surrounding the Pope’s visit to the United States, particularly the variety show currently being planned for his Mass at Nationals Stadium in April 17, I’ve been rereading the Pope’s 2000 book The Spirit of the Liturgy.

It is far more impressive than I recall from having read it when it first appeared. It makes one understand the roots of the liturgical problems in our time are only tangentially related to the externals such as architecture and music. The core of the issue concerns the very meaning and purpose of liturgy itself, and this is the topic that Cardinal Ratzinger deals with extensively, along with applications to the specifics.

In particular, I want to draw attention to his unforgettable critique of the notion that liturgy needs to serve the community in a way that is relevant to their needs and desires. Once you hear what he says, many issues become much clearer. He begins with a discussion of the Hebrew scriptures.

“In the Old Testament,” he writes, “there is a series of very impressive testimonies to the truth that the liturgy is not a matter of ‘what you please.’ Nowhere is this more dramatically evident than in the narrative of the golden calf (strictly speaking, ‘bull calf’).”

Why do they make this calf? Ratzinger gives two reasons. The first is the desire to making God more tangible. The people “cannot cope with the invisible, remote, and mysterious God. They want to bring him down into their own world, into what they can see and understand. Worship is no longer going up to God, but drawing God down into one’s own world. He must be there when he is needed, and he must be kind of gold that is needed. Man is using God, and in reality, even if it is not outwardly discernible, he is placing himself above God.”

The application to the claim that the primary duty of liturgy is to somehow speak to us should be more than apparent.

Now to his second reason, which I urge everyone to read in full, even though this is a blog:

The worship of the golden calf is a self-generated cult. When Moses stays away for too long, and God himself become inaccessible, the people just fetch him. Worship becomes a feast that the community gives itself, a festival of self-affirmation. Instead of being worship of God, it becomes a circle closed in on itself; eating, drinking, and making merry. The dance around the golden calf is an image of this self-seeking worship. It is a kind of banal self-gratification.

The narrative of the golden calf is a warning about any kind of self-initiated and self-seeking worship. Ultimately, it is no longer concerned with God but with giving oneself a nice little alternative world, manufactured from one’s own resources. Then liturgy really does become pointless, just fooling around. Or still worse it becomes an apostasy from the living God, an apostasy in sacral disguise. All that is left in the end is frustration, a feeling of emptiness.

So the questions present themselves in ways that should make everyone involved in parish liturgical life—priests, musicians, and everyone—somewhat uncomfortable. We all tend to be ever focused on the supposed needs of the community and on the need for affirming every group, making sure that people are pleased with what we do and are pleased to do what we ask them to do. We want there to be a “good show.” We seek praise for this work. The more praise we get, the more that people participate, the more we do that that thing for which we have been affirmed.

But a passage like the above serves as a grave and unforgettable warning about this path. All of us can learn from it.

How we can avoid this trap is dealt with extensively in this volume too. We must be humble and show deference to what the Church asks of us--now and in the whole of Christian history--concerning worship. The liturgy is not created by us, but given as a gift to us. We must do not what we please--"a festival of self-affirmation" leads only to "banal self-gratification"--but what is handed to us by the deeper, universal, and timeless practice of the Church.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Requiem Mass in the Ancient Form in Cathedral of Siena

I was browsing through an Italian forum when I ran into this report on a forthcoming requiem Mass in one of the chapels of the Cathedral of Siena:

In Siena, Saturday 12 April 2008, at 10.30, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the transfer of Msgr. Mario Ismaele Castellano, Archbishop Emeritus of Siena, there will be celebrated a solemn Mass in the Extraordinary Roman rite in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Siena at the San Bernardino (right transept, at the monument to Pope Alexander VII), which is on the burial ground of archbishops.

This is the third ancient Mass since the promulgation of the Motu proprio, to be celebrated in Siena.

The celebration is organized by the Militia of the Temple - the Poor Knights of Christ (Milizia del Tempio – Poveri Cavalieri di Cristo)...

I found this interesting on two fronts. One is the mention of Siena in relation to the ancient form of the Roman rite. If any of our readership have any information on either of the two Masses mentioned (and it is difficult to tell if the author is speaking to the city or the cathedral) in the form of photos, please contact me. As well, the NLM would also be interested in any pictures and reports from the forthcoming requiem Mass.

Second, this was of interest because it put me to mind again of the glorious and unique Cathedral of Siena. This cathedral is one of the greatest treasures of Christendom in my opinion and quite unique in many regards.

(One of the many chapels)

(The cathedral is famed for its incredible floor designs)

(The baptistry. Do also look at the ceilings. This cathedral and its associated buildings are filled with such art.)

On the Importance of Beauty in the Liturgy

Conventional wisdom has it that beauty is skin deep. There is nothing substantial to it; beauty is all vanity. This little kernel perhaps sums up best a puritan attitude which disregards beauty in general, whether in the form of a person, in nature, or in the arts, which are often considered mere extravagance.

This attitude, however, is not in keeping with the millenia-old Western tradition. The Greek philosophers waxed eloquent about beauty, and so have many Christian theologians. The Medievals said that beauty is comprised of unity, variety, and goodness of form. This is echoed in the traditional definition of art as “a thing well-made.” More than that, however, beauty was defined as that which “brought delight to the senses,” as St. Thomas Aquinas said. Sometimes, without any time to think about how “well-made” a thing is, we are simply dazzled by its beauty. In Medieval times this was considered to be particularly true with respect to colors.

In spite of all this, beauty was always tied in with other considerations, namely goodness, truth, and unity. The aesthete’s sole concern with “prettiness” was not well-regarded. Beauty was in many ways based upon virtue: an object was considered beautiful if it was well-made; and a person who was ugly, e.g. a leper, was considered to be somehow un-virtuous (a most unfortunate byproduct of a very beautiful philosophy).

St. Augustine of Hippo said that God reaches people through four means: 1) goodness; 2) truth; 3) beauty; and 4) unity. Everyone is drawn to God via one of these things, or by some combination of them. How are men drawn to God through beauty? Pope Benedict XVI discusses the power of beauty, for instance a Bach cantata or an icon, to draw us in and bring us into contact with the truth. One could perhaps say that beauty “woos” us so that we will come closer, and by coming closer, we encounter God. Isn’t this true when a lover meets his beloved for the first time? Though many do not believe in love at first sight, it is nevertheless this first glance which draws each person to the other. Thereafter they get to know each other and get to see not only the other’s “skin deep” beauty, but also the beauty that flows from their goodness, their honesty (“truth”), and their integrity (“unity”).

All of these principles apply to the liturgy. The beauty of the liturgy, which is manifested in architecture, artwork, vesture, music, etc., draws us in closer, so that we may more fully experience an encounter with Christ and see His Beauty, even if it is only a ray of it. This beauty is one of the things which helps us to bring the infinite into definite form; it brings God within the realm of our limited human senses, so that we cannot only think about Him but truly experience His presence. (In this way, beauty is “sacramental,” just like the Eucharist.) Then we will experience His goodness, truth, and unity in ways that make theological discourse look like “so much straw.”

This was originally put together for a parish bulletin; it is hoped it will be of some value to NLM's readers as well.

Event Announcement: Notre Dame Eucharistic Procession

[The following announcement came to the NLM.]

On Sunday April 20th, 2008 the University of Notre Dame will hold its 4th annual Eucharistic Procession. All are welcome to join the Reverend David T. Tyson, Provincial Superior, Indiana Province of the Congregation of Holy Cross, and the Notre Dame community as they celebrate and give witness to Christ's presence in the Eucharist. Co-sponsored by many different groups from Notre Dame, St. Mary's, and Holy Cross College, the procession is a revival of an old tradition at the University.

Join us for the 11:45 Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the campus of the University of Notre Dame followed immediately by the procession and a picnic lunch provided by the campus Knights of Columbus. If you intend on participating, please visit the Sign-up page to register.

To arrange for an interview with the priest supervisor or the student organizers, please contact Fr. Kevin Russeau, C.S.C. at or (574) 631-7295.

Final Triduum Post [Updated]

A final post on the Triduum which will mainly be comprised of links.

John Sonnen has more vigil photos from the ceremonies of the Roman FSSP on Orbis Catholicus.

Schola Sainte Cecile have some from the Parisian church of St-Eugene.

Jeffrey Bebeau has some from the FSSP in Calgary, Alberta.

Diane has a single post covering Assumption Grotto in Detroit, MI.

Carlos Antonio Palad send us images from The Philippines.

An Australian reader sent in these photos.

Finally, a picture sent in from the Anglican use congregation of St. Athanasius in West Roxbury;

UPDATE: Well, I cannot resist something from the Holy Week ceremonies from Wigratzbad, the FSSP seminary in Europe. A very nice gothic set pictured here as well.

More on Cobh Cathedral

One of our Irish readers, who was at the Mass recently reported upon in Cobh Cathedral, sent in a couple of more photos and also an article on the event taken from the Irish Daily Mail. Click on the thumbnail to make the story large enough to read.

First, here is the story:

Free Image Hosting at

Now the images sent in:

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Lost Ward Classic is Back

Well, this is a treasure, and I'm betting that very few people alive have ever seen this:

This masterful guide to advanced studies in chant by Justine Ward, enormously rare, is now in print again for the first time since 1949.

It is her most detailed and high-level guide to understanding and singing Gregorian chant. It assumes familiarity and experience with the basic, and moves on to cover the management of dynamics, the singing of the Psalms including intonations and rules for adapting syllables to melodic formula, the three styles of chant, the treatment of accents, varieties of notation, forms of composition, the diagramming of chants, centonization, interpretation, chironomy and conducting, expression and accompaniment, as well as the origin, evolution, and regeneration of the chant.

If you have only thought of Mrs. Ward in connection with children's pedagogy, this book will amaze you. It is probably the most advanced guide to the practical singing and understanding of the details of Gregorian chant ever written. It certainly embodies a height of classical Solesmes styling. While there is probably plenty here with which today's experts will disagree, she demonstrates vast knowledge and experience as well as intimate familiarity with the chant repertoire. It is a must for anyone who aspires to mastery.

Now, a couple of things. One is that the CMAA changed the name of the book. It was called Gregorian Chant Volume II, but that is just too confusing. The current title better reflects the contents.

If you want to look at the book, you can see or print it here. As you can see, it is an enormously technical volume. It boggles my mind.

Scott Turkington tells a funny story of having briefly seen a copy in Ted Marier's trunk. He said "hey, what's that??!!" And then Ted said, oh that's a 1949 book on chant by Ward, and closed the trunk! That was it.

Anyway, I excited about it, and more excited to discipline myself to read it in print than online. I can't ever be a master but this book can teach me so much. I'm especially happy that it shows off her capacity as a scholar. It's one of many treasures that might have been lost but for new technologies that make the whole of history so accessible.

New Hardcover Reprint of "The Mass: A Study of the Roman Liturgy" by Fr. Adrian Fortescue

A pleasant surprise awaited me today as I was sent two new publications by Preserving Christian Publications.

The first is The Mass: A Study of the Roman Liturgy by Fr. Adrian Fortescue. This book has been in print for awhile of course, but what makes this reprint stand out is that it is an attractive hardcover reprint, complete with a very nice dustjacket as well. While that might seem like a small deal to some, for others it represents a welcome development. Hardcovers tend to last longer than softcovers, standing up to the test of time.

Fortescue's work on the Roman liturgy is, of course, one of the standard historical treatments on the development of the Roman liturgy and therefore belongs on the shelf of everyone who is interested in that topic.

The 428 page work is available for the very reasonable price of $32.00 USD. It is well worth the price -- which is quite reasonable.

In addition to this work, I was also sent A Dictionary
of the Psalter
by Fr. Matthew Britt, OSB (author of The Hymns of the Breviary and Missal)

The nature of this particular title is perhaps explained better by the subtitle than by the title:

"Containing the Vocabulary of the Psalms, Hymns, Canticles, and Miscellaneous Prayers of the Breviary Psalter"

The author introduces the purpose of the text accordingly:

"The purpose of this text is to give meaning, or the various meanings, of the 2700 words that make up the vocabulary of the psalms, hymns, canticles, and miscellaneous prayers of the Breviary psalter... it concerns itself primarily with the Vulgate text..." (See a sample page)

The book is bound in a very nice green hardcover. If there were any word of critique, it would be that the interior text plates are a bit light, but still nonetheless perfectly legible.

The book is priced at $30.00 USD.

Thanks go out to the publisher for sending me these. They are both welcome additions to my library.

New Prefect of the CDW? [UPDATE]

[I am moving this particular story back to the top of the posts as the NLM is doing some follow-up on this story. The selection of the prefect for this office has profound implications as regards the sacred liturgy.

We will be watching this story very closely in the coming hours and days -- Shawn]

Andrea Tornielli, vaticanista of Il Giornale, reports that Archbishop Angelo Amato SDB, current Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, might succeed Cardinal Arinze as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. His successor as Secretray of the Holy Office would be Msgr. Rino Fisichella, rector of the Lateran University and Auxiliary Bishop of Rome.

This is the article in my translation:

Amato to become “Minister” for Liturgy, Fisichella to the Holy Office

Change of guard in sight at the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Vatican "ministry for liturgy": the Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze (he has completed his 75th year last november) could soon leave and there could arrive at his post - the conditional is obligatory - the Salesian Archbishop Angelo Amato, 70 years old next June, currently Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This last office would thus become free for Msgr Rino Fisichella, esteemed rector of the Lateran University. For some time it has been known that Amato, who took the post which Bertone left in 2003, was a candidate for a cardinalatial office. But his arrival at Worship would be a surprise, given that until today his name had been "made" for the dicastery of the [Causes of the] Saints or for Catholic Education. Many, in fact, held that the "natural" candidate for the succession of Arinze would be current Secretary of the Congregation, the Ceylonese Archbishop Malcom Ranjith Patabendige Don, who had already been in the Roman Curia as number two of Cardinal Sepe at Propaganda Fide, had then been sent to Indonesia as Apostolic Nuncio, and had then again been recalled to Rome by Benedict XVI who had wanted to name him to Divine Worsip, a key dicastery in the vision of Pope Ratzinger. Ranjith has never made a secret of his ideas: about the motu proprio which liberalized the Tridentine Mass, about the dialogue with the Lefebvrians, about the fight against liturgical abuses. It is also true that according to curial praxis only in rare cases the number two becomes Prefect of the same dicastery and that Ranjith has only just completed his 60th year. If this hypothesis proves true, Fisichella could be the successor of Amato as number two at the ex-Holy Office. A crucial and important rôle.

The Music of Francis Poulenc

In all the hustle and bustle to find church music which is "relevant" to modern ears, the name of Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) is one of many that seems to be unjustly forgotten. His music is thoroughly 20th century, and yet it possesses a kind of mouvement which is in perfect harmony with Gregorian chant.

Have a listen to his Salve Regina.

And to the Gloria from the Messe en Sol Majeur.

Poulenc converted to Catholicism later in life; I'm not sure of the exact time. That was when he wrote the penitential motets. The above Gloria comes from a time before his conversion. [Correction: Not true. His conversion took place in 1936; the Mass in G Major was written in 1937.]

Translation project: An NLM Reader's Help Sought After

A few weeks ago, I reported on the project the NLM was pursuing of seeking to gain approval and have translated a few important liturgical studies that are not presently in the English language; one on the Lyons rite (Lyons is the primatial see of the Gallican church); and at least one -- possibly two -- on the Ambrosian rite.

One of our tasks is to acquire the actual texts, and of course this is not free.

I have found a copy of Le Rite Lyonnais and have a competent translator who is prepared to begin work. We are still in the midst of seeking out any rights, but translation work can begin immediately regardless -- as is usual in these sorts of projects.

What is Needed: To acquire the book and ship it will likely require $90-95 USD.

If we have any reader who feels this project is worthwhile to pursue and would like to contribute to it in some way, we would be grateful if someone was willing to purchase the book for this purpose.

The idea would be that the "donator" of the book would purcashe it online and have the seller ship it directly to the translator.

If you would like to contribute to this project in this way, please contact me by email ( so that I can arrange with you the details of where to purchase the book, as well as to provide you with the translators shipping address.

Brace yourself for the Pope's Mass in D.C.

It will take place on April 17, and might end up as the defining moment of Benedict XVI's trip to the United States. Liturgically, however, this Mass could be a great disappointment, especially in light of all that this Pope has written in the last thirty years, and given his desire to connect us more closely to our heritage, and because his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum specifies that the distance between the old and new Mass is not a matter of rite but of form, and considering his repeated reiteration of the truth concerning music at Mass: it is something given to us by the Church in the form of chant and its stylistic descendants.

The Archdiocese of Washington has made an announcement about the music that is as skimpy as it is troubling. It begins as if it were announcing a talent show for the Pope rather than a liturgical event: "When Pope Benedict XVI celebrates Mass at Nationals Park on April 17 he will hear four choirs totaling 570 members from across the Archdiocese of Washington, singing in ten languages."

The announcement does not provide specifics. We are given only highlights:

  • All choirs performing the opening Spiritual “Plenty Good Room,” newly arranged by Washington Symphonic Brass founder, Phil Snedecor. (Here is a video of this very nice spiritual, different arrangement, that has no place in Catholic liturgy.)
  • The Children’s Choir singing “Send Forth Your Spirit” by Andrew Wright (sound file) and “Ave Verum” by Mozart.
  • The Gospel Choir singing “I Call upon You God” by Leon Roberts (GIA!) (sound file here) and “Lord Make Me an Instrument” by Roger Holland (GIA!).
  • The Papal Mass Choir singing “Sing Aloud Unto God Our Strength” by Daniel Nelson (sound file) and “Spirit of God Within Me” by Robert LeBlanc.
  • The Intercultural Choir singing “Let’Isikia” (sound file) arranged by Tracy McDonnell and “Source d’eau Vive” by C.E. Haugel.

That's all they provide but it indicates that, contrary to assurances we were given only last week, this list originally posted ten days ago, was not made up out of whole cloth. It includes mostly Gospel numbers, some rock/blues thrown in ("Jesus is Here Right Now"), together with the "Mass of Creation" Sanctus and Amen.

The forums are already registering protest.

On the plus side, it does seem that the Gloria will be Gregorian (though of course the choir is using a copyrighted edition/arrangement that is for sale from GIA). And Ave Verum is a liturgical text and a nice piece of music that seems to make only a perfunctory appearance here. In all of the press so far, there has been no mention of a schola assigned to sing the propers of the Mass. We can hold out hope that this is taking place in secret. If so, the secret is well kept.

The director Tom Stehle says that the music announced so far "represents our long Catholic and Christian tradition and the current diversity of our church."

I can't understand the implication that our diversity as Catholics is somehow "current" and not part of our past. This usually comes with the claim that the music of our past is bound up with Eurocentric sensibilities and unsuitable for a diverse age. Actually, a defining mark of true liturgical music is its universality over time and space, and chant and its elaborations certainly have that mark of universality about them. Its universality is one of the most remarkable discoveries made by musicologists who have looked at chant in the first millennium. And this feature is not only part of the history of chant; it is also an embedded melodic feature of Gregorian plainsong that it strives to transcend time and place.

All of this I learned from reading the Pope's own writings on liturgy and music.

Moreover--and this pains me to think of it--our current "multicultural" obsessions are more than a little insulting to racial minorities and especially African American Catholics. It is a caricature of the worst sort to assume that only Gospel spirituals somehow "represent" their culture and people, and to further imply that chant is somehow incomprehensible to them. I can only speak from my own experience in this regard: the African Americans in parishes I've worked in are among the most passionate supporters of authentic sacred music, precisely because it is an aid to prayer, which, after all, is the core of liturgical art.

From what we have seen so far, the music at the D.C. Papal Mass is not a progressive program. It is a pre-Benedict program with a utility-oriented lineup focussed on making some kind of cultural/political/sociological statement to someone (American Catholics? The Vatican? The Pope?) through the liturgy. There is no evidence of change, growth,and development toward ideals.

To those who would complain, the Archdiocese assures us as follows: "The musical program for the Mass was chosen by an archdiocesan committee, with approval from the Vatican."

And that is that.

Historical Pictures: Ambrosian rite

Continuing our mini-series of historical photographs that have some liturgical interest, I present to you two from the Ambrosian rite.

(I shall note immediately that the majority of the information presented here comes from Nicola de Grandi, our resident Ambrosian rite expert.)

The first here is Blessed Cardinal Schuster, giving Benediction:

Other than Blessed Cardinal Schuster himself, what helps identify this as "Ambrosian" are a couple of things.

For one, you will note the cardinal's alb has the grammatae on it; an apparel. Apparels are not unique to the Ambrosian rite of course, but they are typical in it -- and as my own personal aside, the use of it on the lace alb is something that I have tended to see mainly in the Ambrosian rite.

The other thing notable here is the monstrance, whose shape is typical for the Ambrosian rite. Not that this form is specifically Ambrosian, rather it is a case of an otherwise more common form of monstrance as found in the middle ages and renaissance that the Ambrosian rite simply didn't change.

The second picture is taken in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Milan and is of Archbishop Montini (the future Pope Paul VI) assisting "in cappa" at a Pontifical Mass celebrated by the Canons of the Metropolitan Chapter.

The Canons of the Metropolitan Chapter were given the right of pontificals even though they are not bishops. Nicola informs me that this was officially sanctioned by Clement XI and Alexander VII, but the custom itself was established much earlier.

Aside from the Canons celebrating the Mass, some of the assisting Canons can be seen in the choir stalls and you will note they are wearing an ermine cappa.

There are four prelates wearing the mantelletta on the left; these are auxiliary bishops. You will note that they are not wearing birettas. In the Ambrosian Rite, no priest assisting in choro covers his head during Mass.

The priest standing on the right in the photo is Msgr. Borella, Archiepiscopal Master of Ceremonies, wearing the traditional purple "toga magistrale".

Thanks again to Nicola for this information.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

New NLM Translation Feature

Recognizing the fact that the NLM has a significant international readership, I have added a translation section over on the sidebar. Now this is a machine translation, and anyone with experience with tools like Google Translator, Babelfish and so on, are going to be quite aware that machine translation is not a perfect art by any stretch.

That said, they still have value and can allow those who are less familiar with a language to at least get a basic sense of what is being said, of navigating a site and its links and so forth.

As well, for those of our readership who may already do this, this perhaps provides you with a quicker, more convenient means to do this.

I hope you will find this helpful.

Interview with Cardinal Castrillón on the Motu Proprio - updated

Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos has granted an interview to L'Osservatore Romano. (Since the articles there stay only up for a day, see also here on the Papa Ratzinger blog).

I have now translated the entire piece by Gianluca Biccini. I have highlighted some especially interesting, important and/or beautiful passages.

In the Liturgy the Sense of Catholicity and Unity

"Benedict XVI's apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum on the use of the Roman liturgy prior to the reform carried out in 1970 is making return to full communion with Rome also some non-Catholics. Requests in this sense are arriving after the pope has renewed the possibilty to celebrate according to the old rite." This says cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, who in this interview with our newspaper, after the publication of the papal document on Acta Apostolicae Sedis, clarifies its contents and highlights its importance as a means to conserve the treasure of the liturgy that dates back to St. Gregory the Great and for a renewed dialogue with those who, because of liturgical reform, have distanced thmeselves from the Church of Rome. The publication on the Acta preceded by a few days the appointments by Benedict XVI of Monsignor Camille Perl, the previous secretary, as vice president of Ecclesia Dei, and of Monsignor Mario Marini, the previous adjunct secretary, as secretary.

The letter, in the form of motu proprio, does not refer to the present normal form - the ordinary form – of the Eucharistic liturgy, which is that of the Roman missal published by Paul VI and then reissued on two occasions by John Paul II, but refers to the use of the extraordinary form, which is that of the missale Romanum prior to the Council, published in 1962 with the authority of John XXIII. This is not a case of two different rites, but of a twofold use of the one Roman rite. It is the form of celebration – explains the Colombian cardinal - "that has been used for more than 1400 years. This rite, which we could call Gregorian, has inspired the Masses of Palestrina, Mozart, Bach and Beethoven, great cathedrals and wonderful works of painting and sculpture."

"Thanks to the motu proprio not a few have requested the return to full communion and some have already returned - the president of Ecclesia Dei adds -. In Spain, the "Oasis of Jesus the Priest", an entire cloistered monastery with thirty sisters led by their founder, has already been recognized and regularized by the Pontifical Commission; then there are cases of American, German and French groups on their way of regularization. Lastly there are single priests and lay people who contact us, write to us and call us for a reconciliation, and on the other hand there are so many other faithful who express their gratitude to the pope and their gladness for the motu proprio."

Osservatore Romano: Some have accused the Pope of wanting to impose a liturgical model in which the language and gestures of the rite appear as the exclusive monopoly of the priest, while the faithful would be extraneous and therefore excluded from a direct relationship with God.

Cardinal Castrillón: On the occasion of the Baptism of the Lord, for example, Benedict XVI actually celebrated in the Sistine Chapel with the face towards the crucifix. The Pope celebrated in Italian according to the ordinary form, which does not exclude, however, the possibility of celebrating towards the altar and not versus populum, and which also foresees celebration in Latin. Let us remember that the ordinary form is the Mass that normally all the priests say, according to the post-conciliar reform; while the extraordinary form is the Mass prior to the liturgical reform, which according to the motu proprio today everyone can celebrate, and which has never been prohibited .

OR: Yet some criticisms seem to come even from bishops?

C: One or two have difficulties, but those are a few exceptions, because most agree with the Pope. Rather, we find expressed some practical difficulties. We need to be clear: this is not a return to the past but a step forward, because this way you have two treasures, rather than only one. This treasure, therefore, is being offered, respecting the rights of those who are particularly attached to the old liturgy. There then may follow some problems to be solved with common sense. For instance, it can happen that a priest does not have the appropriate preparation and cultural sensitivity. Only think of priests that come from areas where the language is very different from Latin. But this does still not mean a rejection: it is the presentation of a real difficulty, which is to be surmounted.

Our own Pontifical Commission is thinking about organizing a form of aid to seminaries, to dioceses and to bishops' conferences. Another possibility being studied is to promote multimedia resources for coming to know and learning the extraordinary form with all the theological, spiritual, and artistic richness also linked to the ancient liturgy. Furthermore it seems important also to involve groups of priests who already use the extraordinary form, who will offer thmeselves both to celebrate and to demonstrate and teach the celebration according to the missal of 1962.

OR: So the problem does not exist?

C: It is rather a dispute which has arisen from acertain lack of knowledge. Some ask permission for example, as if it were a concession or an exceptional case, but there is no need: the Pope has been clear. It is a mistake of some people and some journalists to believe that the use of the Latin language pertains only to the ancient rite, whereas, to the contrary, it is also foreseen in the missal of Paul VI.

Through the motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum" the Pope offers to all priests the possibility to celebrate Mass in the traditional form, and to the faithful to exercise the right to have this rite when the conditions specified in the motu proprio are met.

OR: How have groups such as the Fraternity of St. Pius X reacted, which refuses to celebrate the novus ordo Mass established after the Second Vatican Council?

C: The Lefebvrians from the outset have maintained that the old form had never been abolished. It is clear that it has never been abrogated, although before the motu proprio many have deemed it forbidden. But now, it may be offered to all the faithful who wish it, depending on the possibilities. But it is also clear that if there is not a priest adequately prepared, it can not be offered because it is not only about the Latin language, but also about knowing the old use as such. We must comprehend some differences: the larger room for silence for the faithful, that fosters contemplation of the mystery and personal prayer. Finding again spaces of silence is today for our culture not only a religious necessity. I remember having participated as a bishop in a high-level business management course, where there was talk of the need for the manager to have available a half-dark room where to sit down to think before deciding.

Silence and contemplation are necessary attitudes also today, above all regarding the mystery of God.

OR: Eight months have passed since the promulgation of the document. It is true that it has attracted a lot of supporters also in other ecclesial realities?

C: The pope offers to the Church a treasure which is spiritual, cultural, religious and catholic. We have received letters of agreement also from prelates of the orthodox churches, from anglican and protestant faihtful. Lastly there are some priests of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X who, singly, are seeking to regularize their position. Some of them have already signed the formula of adhesion. We are informed that there are traditionalist lay faithful, close to the Fraternity, who have begun to frequent Masses in the older rite offered in the churches of the dioceses."

OR: How is a return to "full communion" possible for people who are excommunicated?

C: The excommunication concerns only the four bishops, because they have been ordained without the mandate of the Pope and against his will, while the priests are only suspended. The Mass they celebrate is without a doubt valid, but not licit and, therefore, participation is not recommended, unless on a Sunday there should be no other possibilities. Certainly neither the priests, nor the faithful are excommunicated. Let me reiterate in this regard the importance of a clear understanding of things to be able to judge correctly.

OR: Do you not fear that the attempt to bring back inside the Church men and women who do not recognize the II Vatican Council could provoke an alienation in those faithful who see in Vatican II a compass for navigating the barque of Peter, especially in these times of constant changes?

C: First of all, the problem regarding the Council is not, in my opinion, as grave as it might seem. In fact, the bishops of the Fraternity of St. Pius X, headed by Monsignor Bernard Fellay, have expressly recognized Vatican II as an Ecumenical Council and Monsignor Fellay has reiterated this in a meeting with Pope John Paul II, and more explicitly in the audience of 29 August 2005 with Benedict XVI. Nor can it be forgotten that Monsignor Marcel Lefebvre has signed all the documents of the Council.

I think their criticism of the council concerns rather the clarity of certain texts, in the absence of which the way is opened for interpretations which are not in accordance with the traditional doctrine. The biggest difficulties are interpretative in nature or have to do with some gestures in the ecumenical field, but not with the teaching of Vatican II. These are theological discussions, which may take place inside the Church, where in fact there are different discussions regarding the interpretation of the texts of the Council, discussions which can continue also with the groups returning to full communion.

OR: So the Church extends her hands to them, also through this new motu proprio on the ancient liturgy?

C: Yes, certainly, because it is precisely in the liturgy that the whole sense of Catholicity is expressed and it [the liturgy] is a source of unity. I really like the novus ordo which I celebrate daily. I had not celebrated anymore according to the missal of 1962, after the post-conciliar liturgical reform. Today in resuming sometimes the extraordinary rite, I myself have rediscovered the richness of the old liturgy that the Pope wants to keep alive, preserving that age-old form of Roman tradition.

We must never forget that the ultimate point of reference in the liturgy, as in life, is always Christ. We have therefore no fear, also in the liturgical rite, to turn towards Him, toward the crucifix, together with the faithful, to celebrate the holy sacrifice, in an unbloody manner, as the Council of Trent has defined the Mass.

Images from the Pontifical Mass in Cobh Cathedral

I was very pleased that these photographs, taken by Michael McSweeney of Pro vision in Cork, Ireland, where graciously made available gratis of the recent Pontifical Mass in Cobh Cathedral, Ireland.

What is Quasimodo Sunday?

I'm reposting this from last year because confusion still persist on why this coming Sunday is called Quasimodo Sunday. It is the Second Sunday of Easter, sometimes called Low Sunday. It is called Quasimodo after the first words of the Introit, which, if we were achieving the ideals of the Graduale, would be heard in every parish across the land.

This beautiful and unforgettable song is dedicated to first communicants (children or new converts), an instruction about how to proceed and growth in faith. It is especially compelling to us because of our literary and pop-culture knowledge of the bell ringer in "Hunchback." It is good know the original meaning and idea -- and also to sing the real song as the Introit at Mass.

Several people once asked our schola why were were using the name of a Disney character as the name of the Mass. Actually, the Disney character is based on a novel by Victor Hugo, which, in turn, named his character because he was born on this day and also because he had the character of a child.

What does this Introit say to and about first communicants? It counsels the first communicant or the convert, likened to a newborn child, to desire the milk of the mother, to receive that nourishment and grow. Properly disposed, the new communicant doesn't need to be told this. But the rest of us sing about this as a reminder that there are children among us who need to be cared for, and that we all should preserve the spirit of the children of God and remain humble and submissive to the Divine Will.

Musical commentary from Johner: "The song is extremely simple, almost naive. After it has risen to the tonic of the sixth mode (f), it clings to it as if in fear. It moves about this note, several times descends lower, but always strives toward it against. This is especially shown with infantes, al-(leluia). The plagal form of the F mode could scarcely be evidenced more clearly. Melodically, rationabiles, with its harmonious line, is the highest point of the song. Its constituent notes are but a syllabic part of the psalm-verse of the Introit: adjutori nostro. The Introit for the vigil of Christmas resembles this melody to some extent. After sine dolo there is a sort of break.... Of the three alleluia the second forms a single note. After the preceding d, the first sets in on c, while the third sets in on d after the preceding c; thus the beginnings are pleasantly varied."

Heralds of the Gospel Triduum

A commenter has directed me to a video site of the Heralds of the Gospel. There you can watch videos of their Maundy Thursday (click on "5ª Feira Santa") and Good Friday (click on "Sexta Feira Santa 2008") liturgies in the ordinary form of the Roman rite (there is also one of Easter Sunday [click on "Domingo da Ressurreição 2008"], but it's mainly the sermon). While the chivalric flair of their habits and movements may not be to everyone's liking, and some of the ceremonial might be deemed a little "over the top" by some, I think these are very dignified celebrations, with the Good Friday Passion in the vernacular, but sung to the traditional chant tone, and the prayers in Latin, as on Maundy Thursday. There are certainly points that could be improved (it may be hoped, especially, that at some point they adopt the versus Deum position, or at least the "Benedictine" altar arrangement), but this is very encouraging indeed, especially for a country like Brazil, particularly seeing the vast numbers of young, earnest and devoted men they have. The liturgies are celebrated in their new church of Our Lady of the Rosary to the north of São Paulo, Brazil, which was only dedicated last 24 February by Cardinal Franc Rodé (Prefect of the Congregation for the Religious; you can view a video of the beautiful dedication by clicking on "Dedicação da primeira igreja dos Arautos" [short summary, 5 min.] or "Dedicação da Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário" [full version, over two hours]).

Maundy Thursday: The translation of the Blessed Sacrament:

A very evocative Stripping of the Altars:

Good Friday

The have veiled the entire apse:

Their impressive choir:

The apse unveiled on Easter morning:

Speaking of the Heralds, this is the Church they have been given in Rome: San Benedetto in Piscinula.

This is were St. Benedict lived while he studied in Rome at the end of the 5th century (on this site was originally the house of his family [gens], the Anicii). His cell has been preserved:

The rector of this church, Mgr Angelo di Pasquale, is reportedly involved with the Benedictine restoration of papal ceremonial, as has been mentioned here. As I found out while perusing their site in different languages, this Rome apostolate of theirs has its own blog, (in Italian). There you can find this image of their Holy Sepulchre on Maundy Thursday evening:

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