Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Full DVD of Dom Gerard Calvet's Requiem Mass from Le Barroux

In other DVD news as well, many of you will be interested to read the release of this DVD from Le Barroux: The Obsequies of Dom Gerard

The ultimate tribute to our founder Dom Gerard. The full recording of the funeral ceremony: contains the solemn liturgy of the Mass of the Dead, the Sermon of Dom Louis-Marie, the various testimonies, and burial in the abbey church of Barroux. 170 minutes. Price: €12.00

To order the DVD: Le Barroux: Les articles

Thanks for the tip from an NLM friend.

FSSP and EWTN Produce Training DVD; Free for priests in North America

News comes to the NLM of yet another training DVD for the usus antiquior, this one from the FSSP and EWTN: FSSP TRAINING DVD - Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite

Of note is that this particular training DVD is FREE to priests in North America.

The DVD bears and introduction by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, which you may watch online by clicking the above link.

There is also a trailer which you may watch online.

Needless to say, the video looks well produced.

The first DVD contains the introduction by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, followed by a "comprehensive explanation of the entire ceremony of Low Mass..."

The second DVD included in the set includes "a real time demonstration of the Mass filmed from four simultaneous camera angles with the ability to switch the viewing angle at any time. Also includes a spiritual commentary on the Mass by Fr. Calvin Goodwin, FSSP."

A question regarding Corpus Christi in the Traditional Rite

I am fairly certain that this is possible, but I could be mistaken: Is it permissible to transfer the Feast of Corpus Christi to the following Sunday in the Traditional Rite? If you can answer this, please leave a comment below. A supporting citation would be most deeply appreciated as well.

Thank you.

Ascension Thursday: Where is the Cantor?

This evening, one of my favorite feasts of the year begins. This feast offers some of the best music in the repertoire, which is, naturally, one of the reasons why it's one of my favorites. I went looking for some things to share with you. I was really hoping that there would be a video of Ascendens Christum by Tomas Victoria. No such luck.

What I did end up with, however, were two very different takes on my favorite vernacular hymn for this day, neither of which totally satisfies me, but both of which offer some food for thought. One comes from a Protestant church in the UK. The other, from a Catholic Church in California. Here they are:

[The second video was removed from YouTube...]

What we have here, dear friends, is a study of people who sing contrasted with people who don't. Notice that in the first clip, everyone is singing, and yet there is no cantor. In the second clip, the reverse is true. (I won't get into instrumental "accompaniment," as this issue is secondary, although certainly important.)

As one prominent American musician said, cantors are Catholicism's "pretend congregational music." This is a real crisis, and it can't all be blamed on the way the role of the cantor has been mis-used. There are serious cultural issues here that run deep. (Notice how most people no longer sing the National Anthem at the ball park!) I'll be talking about them this year at the CMAA colloquium in Chicago.

UPDATE: Some took issue with my selection of the first video. So here is another to consider. Again, there is no cantor, and the singing is far better than in 99% of Catholic parishes. We have a problem, and we need to fix it.

Australian Church Architecture

Corpus Christi Catholic Church, Brisbane, Australia.

Our Lady of Victories, Brisbane, Australia.

More examples can be found here.

Belfast Gregorian Chant workshop

A reader from Belfast, Northern Ireland asked for this announcement to be posted:


Led by Nick Gale MA (Oxon), Hon FASC
Saturday 24th May 2008, St Bride’s Hall, 46 Derryvolgie Avenue, Belfast.
9.30am - 4.30pm (Ending with Sung Mass)
Cost: £10 including Refreshments and Resources
To register Tel. 07594 172 093 or email

Please log onto for further and updated details.

New on Dominican Saints

On this the day after the traditional feast of St. Peter Martyr, O.P. (new calendar: June 4), I have the pleasure to announce two important new studies on Dominican saints and the history of devotion to them. Both are by my former doctoral student at the University of Virginia, Prof. Donald S. Prudlo, now assistant professor of ancient and medieval history at Jacksonville State University in Alabama. This first is his book, The Martyred Inquisitor: The Life and Cult of Peter of Verona (+1252), newly out from Ashgate Publishers in their series "Church, Faith and Culture in the Medieval West." It is now the standard work on St. Peter Martyr himself. This study not replaces and corrects the series of articles by Fr. Dondaine, O.P., published in 1953 and till now the only scholarly study of the saint, it also traces Peter's cult in liturgy, art, music, and sermons until the end of the middle ages, something never traced before. An example of one of the altarpiece painting dedicated to him can be seen to the above right.

Peter was born in Verona to a family tainted with Cathar dualism, but already as a student he turned strongly against that heresy. He entered the Dominican Order in Bologna and became famous for his preaching, converting Cathars and Waldensians, and strengthening the faith of Catholics. He was involved in city politics during the conflicts between factions professing support for the pope and emperor, especially at Florence, where he was involved in organizing popular resistence to the imperial faction. Prof. Prudlo's lively treatment of these street fights are among the most exciting parts of the book. In 1252 he was appointed papal inquisitor in Lombardy, an office he held for about six months, during which, Prof. Prudlo tells us, we only know of one juridicial action: a decree of clemency. Peter was hated by his heretical adverssaries and in the spring of that year a plot was hatched in Milan to have him murdered. During the Easter Octave, he was waylaid on the road outside of Como by a pair of thugs and cut down by blows to the head. He and his two socii had just finished singing the Victimae Paschali Laudes. Prof. Prudlo has reconstructed in detail the events of that last day, for which the investigation records still exist. In the middle ages, his cult rivaled that of St. Anthony of Padua, and he was known in Ireland as patron and deliverer of women in childbirth.

Peter's murderer, the hired assasin Carino of Balsamo, is the subject of Prof. Prudlo's article, ”The Assassin-Saint: The Life and Cult of Carino of Balsamo", Catholic Historical Review, 94 (2008): 1-21, just out in the January number of that journal. Carino escaped from prison in Milan where he had been arrested following the murder. For thirty or so years he wandered throughout Italy as a fugitive. Then one day he arrived at the Dominican priory in Forlì, where he asked to go to confession. As a penance, he became a lay brother, taking the name of Peter, and so he became a domestic of the monastery and died in the odor of sanctity. Soon a local cult grew up around his grave and he was venerated as a model or repentence. You can see his shrine effigy in the image. Devotion continues in Emilia and Romagna in Italy, even if the blessed Carino never made it into the official Domincian calendar.

If it was possible for Carino to become a saint, I would say Grace can save any of us.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"Sandals and Fiddlebacks"

This video was sent in by the Franciscans at First, their description:

Formal fiddleback chasubles and modest Franciscan sandals come together in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (Traditional Latin Mass) at Our Lady of Guadalupe Friary of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. The video is put to beautiful music from the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, our sister order. The music was recorded in Italy and is a fine example of the high quality of their music which, combined with the friars in Italy, are playing a major part in spearheading the reform of liturgical music in Italy.

The music which accompanies the video is quite spectacular.

Fraternity of Christ the Priest, Spain

The blog of the Fraternity of Christ the Priest and Mary the Queen in Spain has posted images from April 25th of a procession with litany, followed by Mass.

The procession and litany of the saints was then followed by Mass:

Salve Regina, solemn, monastic use

I just bumped into this because someone was looking for it and I can't resist posting it: the Salve Regina in solemn tone monastic use. It was this, and not the one familiar today, that was the basis of so many polyphonic compositions in the 16th century. How glorious it would be to restore this. You will see what I mean if you listen. Also, this appears in the Parish Book of Chant.

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More on the Art and Architecture of Christ the King in Sweden [UPDATED]

You may recall that the NLM had a post up about a week ago about Christ the King in Sweden where we were featuring their altar arrangement.

As part of that, some interesting artistic features jumped out at me, for one could clearly tell this church was modern, but not in the normal sense of the word -- which usually implies something rather sterile and functionalist or even abstract. It seemed to be a kind of modernism that was much more informed by the tradition and so it bore looking into.

I therefore asked the writer who had sent in the original story if he could provide more images of the art and architecture of the Church, and he did so.

Here are some of these pictures:

(In the context of the usus antiquior)


Some had asked for images of the church from the pre-concilar period. Sometimes it is easier to not have to see these before and after images.

Unfortunate that the beautiful crucifixion scene was painted over, not to mention the Fra Angelico like angels playing instruments. A shame.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Usus Antiquior at Seton Hall

One of our readers, a Catholic university student at Seton Hall University, sent in these photographs from this evening's usus antiquior Mass at that university. The chapel is a temporary setup due to work being done on the chapel proper.

He reports as follows from the Mass:

In attendance were over 50 students, a great many of them seminarians. In his homily Father Grimm stressed the importance of Catholic traditions, stating that the Extraordinary Form is the same Mass of countless saints including Padre Pio and Elizabeth Ann Seton. After Mass students whom never experienced the Extraordinary Form were greatly impressed by the beauty and reverence of the Mass, remarking that they would like to see the Extraordinary Form celebrated on campus more often.

Athanasius Contra Mundum?

The March/April issue of the American bi-monthly periodical The Catholic Response featured an English translation of an article originally published in L'Osservatore Romano by Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Karaganda, Kazakhstan. The article summarizes the bishop's more complete argument, put forward in his book Dominus Est, in favor of a return to the traditional practice of receiving Holy Communion directly on the tongue. That book, which was published in Italy earlier this year, is especially noteworthy because (1) its author is a bishop, (2) it was published by the official Vatican press, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, and (3) its preface was written by Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, second-in-command of the Congregation for Divine Worship, who agrees that the practice of Communion-in-the-hand needs to be reevaluated and probably suppressed.

Newman House Press has been awarded the contract to publish Dominus Est in English. According to Fr. Peter Stravinskas, the publisher, Bishop Schneider intends to send a copy of the translation to every English-speaking bishop in the world. Toward that end, a donation to Newman House Press in support of this important project would be greatly appreciated.

It's worth mentioning that the matter at hand (so to speak) concerns both forms of the Roman Rite, the ordinary and extraordinary. For, while the 1962 Missal (like earlier editions of the Roman Missal), calls for communicants to receive while kneeling, no rubric or canon in the extraordinary form forbids the reception of the Host in the hand. Granted, people who frequent extraordinary-form celebrations of Mass are not likely to put their hands out for Communion; but some bishops have been known to require certain standard "Novus Ordo" features, such as female servers and extraordinary ministers, in those celebrations. Anyone interested in the restoration of the sacred and the preservation of faith in the Real Presence should take interest.

For the full text of Bishop Schneider's provocative essay, click here.

Transalpine Redemptorists on Relations with Rome

There has been some discussion in recent months of the Transalpine Redemptorists in Scotland -- who are presently in "irregular communion" -- seeking regularization with the Holy See.

The following announcement was made today on the Transalpine Redemptorist Blog on the matter.

Here is the crux of their statement and position:

We have argued for years now of our "state of necessity" and of the resulting supplied jurisdiction that the Church supplies to us. But can we continue to argue this when ordinary jurisdiction is offered to us without any compromise in the Faith? Can we choose freely to remain in this irregular canonical situation where we are? In other words, can a state of necessity be the object of a choice without moral fault? Clearly not And on the other hand: are the authorities ready to accord us regular faculties? If the answer to this second question is affirmative, then we are no longer in the same case of necessity!

All these serious considerations, dear friends, move us to go and see what Rome has to say.

Re-Thinking Music History

Every culture has paradigms, prominent ways of thinking that are taken for granted and rarely examined for their usefulness or for their ability to get to the truth of various problems that emerge. Few people have the courage to question such paradigms. Friedrich August von Hayek, in his book _The Counter-Revolution of Science_, does just this. While Hayek was an economist, much of what he says relates to our general way of life, and therefore many of his observations apply to liturgy and music.

In this book, Hayek postulates that in modern times, we have over-extended what is known as the scientific method and tried to apply it not just to the physical sciences (physics, biology, etc. --the fields which we commonly refer to today as "science.") but also to other sciences, such as the social sciences (e.g., economics) or the moral sciences (e.g., theology). This approach Hayek calls "Scientism," with a capital S for purposes of distinguishing it from other more general meanings.

Hayek focuses on three aspects of the Scientistic approach: Objectivism, Collectivism, and Historicism. For purposes of this essay, we will focus on the latter two.

Much of the Collectivist mindset which dominates modern thinking is the result of the work of Auguste Comte, the inventor of sociology. Comte's thinking conceives of wholes--abstract groups which pay no attention to the individual characteristics of the elements which make up the wholes. This kind of attitude even groups people into collectives based on race and nationality, as well as many other categories. This way of thinking holds that more can be learned by viewing things from afar (the "telescopic" view) and by ignoring what inside knowledge we might have. To use one of Hayek's examples, one would pretend to be an alien from Mars when observing human behavior, and take no heed of one's own humanity in formulating explanations. A community, for instance, is treated as an object as such, rather than an amalgamation of various individuals.

These collectives, however, are not given wholes, such as a man, for instance, who is a physical reality capable of being directly observed. They are constructed by abstract human thinking, and thus the individual components or properties which make up these abstract wholes are given short-shrift, since whatever individual properties are addressed are, in general, required to harmonize with the wholes that we have built up for ourselves. To be sure, it is sometimes useful to look at abstract wholes, but to insist at looking only or even mostly at the whole will make us blind to the individual things which go into the construction of those wholes. Wholes are made of individual parts, not the other way around; similarly, wholes are understood by examining their individual parts. Abstract wholes cannot be directly observed; only the individual parts can.

Closely related to Collectivism is one particular aspect of Historicism which Hayek discusses: the tendency to carve out defined eras of history or complexes of events as though they are "given to us in the same manner as the natural units in which biological specimens or planets present themselves." (see p. 122) In other words, we treat these constructs as objects as such, when clearly they are not.

In reading Hayek, it is hard not to see how his observations apply to the study of music history. We speak of various eras of musical style--Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, and so on. These eras are not objects in reality; they are rather products of retrospective abstract thinking. While an understanding of different eras of musical creativity does in fact have some purpose, it seems to this writer that there is a great temptation to allow these abstract constructs to do too much of the work in our thinking. This can lead us to conclusions that do little to help us understand and appreciate the work of individual composers. For the purposes of our conversation, let's call this "musical collectivism."

The most fundamental problem with musical collectivism is the telescopic view of history which it creates by subsuming diverse composers under the title of an era, such as "Baroque" or "Classical." Everything looks the same from afar; the planet Saturn can look like a star in the sky. Does that mean that Saturn is a star? It would seem easy to assume that Bach and Haendel, being Baroque composers, are similar artists. On closer examination, however, this assumption breaks down in a big way. Counterpoint, harmony, genre, and the amalgamation of various national styles are all points on which Bach and Haendel differ quite distinctively. These differences can be lost when we succumb to thinking in generalities. It can cause us to assume that two or more composers have more in common than they really do. Take the exact contemporaries Jean Langlais and Olivier Messiaen as another example. Their music is very different; will future generations cheat these men out of their uniqueness by calling them "Modern" or "20th century" composers?

There is a further problem with the telescopic view of musical collectivism which begs the question: What are the essential unifying characteristics of music of a given era? What do Bach and Monteverdi have in common that place them both within the brackets of the Baroque era? It does not seem that there would be widespread agreement on this problem, and the proposed solutions, in order to justify the telescopic view, will inevitably leave out important details about individual composers.

This can often lead to some humorous episodes when too much is assumed about a particular era or composer. For example, it is thought by many that J.S. Bach is the inventor of the part-writing rules which are followed in music theory classes in conservatories all over the world. Short of that, Bach is at least considered the paragon of four part harmonic virtue. To that end, many years ago (N.B.: long before this writer was alive), a conservatory professor assigned his class to write eight measures of a four part chorale in the style of J.S. Bach. This meant, of course, following all the usual rules--no parallel octaves, fourths or fifths, etc. One procrastinating student decided to plagiarize eight measures of an obscure Bach harmonization, and this plagiarized work was chosen by the professor as the example that would be used in front of the whole class. The professor, oblivious to the fact that he was evaluating the work of Bach, carried on with his red pen, marking one theoretical rule violation after another--all in the name of writing in the style of Bach and the Baroque! This sort of instance occurs because we assign rules to styles that are all but a complete fiction.

Besides the blurring of diversity amongst contemporary composers, musical collectivism also brings about the opposite affect as well: the failure to see points of similarity between composers of different eras, e.g. Mahler and Schoenberg, or the well-noted connection between present-day composer Steve Reich and the Medievals Leonin and Perotin. The attributes which these diverse composers share can only be seen by studying them individually, and not by studying them as a disciple of a particular musical era.

A more troublesome aspect of musical collectivism, however, manifests itself as the tendency to uphold certain composers as the primary achiever of perfection in a given musical style. One might say, for instance, that Bach represents the pinnacle of the Baroque era, or that Palestrina represents the apex of Renaissance polyphony. But where does this leave geniuses such as Dietrich Buxtehude or Guillame de Machaut? Often they are reduced to the status of "forerunner." When one reads, for example, that Buxtehude was a precursor to Bach, it seems like a polite enough statement. Such ideas, however, cause us to miss what makes Buxtehude's music great in its own right. It might be easy to look at a Buxtehude fugue and think that, since it is smaller than a Bach fugue, that it is somehow inferior and that it is somehow a prototype of Bach's later work. Consider, however, the multi-part forms which Buxtehude often used and which, by the way, mirrored ancient rhetorical technique. In this context, smaller fugues are quite appropriate. With this knowledge one ceases to view Buxtehude through the Bach paradigm and begins to see that, rather than being a lesser Baroque prototype, Buxtehude represented the height of Buxtehudian music, as it were.

Finally, the practice of looking at music history in the collectivist or telescopic way cheats much great music of its timelessness. To look at a work of art as "Medieval" or "Baroque" is to lay the groundwork for the thinking that sees, for example, Gregorian chant as appropriate for people who suffered from scabies and the Black Death, but not fitting for advanced modern man. This view renders music--and, to an extent, its hearers--zeitbedingt, i.e. time-bound.

The problems brought about by musical collectivism should call us to reconsider how we study music. It seems to this writer that we should be paying more attention to the individual attributes of the composers and less attention to the categories into which thinkers have placed them. We should be looking at music from the inside out, not from the outside in as is done in the telescopic view. More careful study of this sort will help us to avoid musical generalizations--including generalizations about what constitutes "sacred" music. Finally, our observation of composers as individuals will allow the voices of these composers to be heard, and perhaps, divorced from the theoretical baggage which we have heaped upon them, they will say things we've never heard before.

Not your typical English Mass

This bears watching as it illustrates the possibilities within the vernacular for Catholic Mass. This video was taken at the first Mass at the Sacred Music Colloquium at CUA last year. The video is long but it covers the full introductory rites, including the sung Confiteor.

Messiaen's Le Banquet Celeste

Since today is the anniversary of Olivier Messiaen's death in 1992, nothing could me more appropriate than listening to his Le Banquet Celeste. This is one of Messiaen's more accessible (I intensely dislike that word; it's loaded with trouble) pieces. In fact, I've never had a negative reaction to this one.

Liturgical Vernacular: Still a Language Set Apart?

A few weeks back I had mentioned a new book that will be published soon, one which studies the Roman liturgy in the context of the French Jesuit Missions to some of the Native American nations: The Roman Rite in the Algonquian and Iroquoian Missions.

At the request of the author of that book, Mr. Claudio Salvucci, I had been given the opportunity to read the book prior to its final draft and formal release, something I completed Saturday.

I found the book quite interesting, but I won't go into the details right now. That said, there was a short chapter on liturgical language that was of particular interest which I wished to share with the permission of the author. Here is the most pertinent excerpt:

...the extent of the use of vernacular in the Algonquian and Iroquoian missions [was] a distinguishing mark over against the Roman Rite in general, which during the period before Vatican II was quite resistant to any attempts at vernacularization.

However, the term “vernacular” needs to be qualified to a certain extent. Although generally, the language used at each mission was the language of the major ethnic group that inhabited it, certain idioms tended to become standardized languages of prayer which were often different languages than were natively spoken.

Essentially what Salvucci is speaking of are three things; one, which isn't present in the particular quote I have given but which comes up elsewhere in this chapter, is that in some cases different Native dialects were used for liturgical worship than were their own. A second aspect is that the vernacular form of liturgical language remained fixed even while common vernacular speech shifted around them, thereby taking on a kind of parallel to "hieratic English" today, which retains older modes of English speech; the thee's, thou's and thy's if you will. The third and final aspect is that Natives were known to prize rhetoric very highly and used an exalted style of speech in formal situations -- something, Mr. Salvucci tells me, that the French complimented them upon -- which seems to have likely been manifest in their liturgical form of vernacular.

While different in some respects, this situation finds some parallels in the matter of the adoption of Christian liturgical Latin. This is a subject that Fr. Uwe Michael Lang has been doing much research on. In his research he has noted that while Latin was the common vernacular of the times, liturgical Latin was not strictly speaking the Latin of the common man in the Roman street. Instead, it was of a different idiom, being more highly stylized.

Fr. Lang notes:

"...[liturgical Latin] was not an adoption of the "vernacular" language in the liturgy, given that the Latin of the Roman Canon, of the collects and of prefaces of the Mass, were remote from the idiom of the common people. It was a strongly stylized language... (More)

While these are not exact parallels, there is a common thread here which is of interest as it possibly provides another example, like Old Church Slavonic, of the use of a more stylized form of liturgical language.

This becomes important in the context of our day not only with regard to the core concept of a sacred or liturgical language generally and how that relates to the retention of Latin, but also with regard to the question of how "vernacular" might appear in a Catholic liturgical context. This can not only relate to the type of vocabulary or formularies used, but also to question of stylistic qualities -- one is put to mind of the discussion over hieratic forms of English such as are found in the Book of Divine Worship, the liturgical book of the Catholics of the Anglican use pastoral provision, and whether that would constitute a more properly liturgical form of English.

As well, the recent project of re-translating the English of the modern Roman missal has brought to the fore people who speak against the use of a more stylized, formal form of the vernacular in the sacred liturgy. Particularly vocal in this regard has been Bishop Donald Trautman. In 2006 he suggested that the form of vernacular being proposed in the re-translation of the Roman Missal was 'not intelligible to the vast majority of those in the assembly'. What we see expressed is a principle that the vernacular ought to be the common speech of the day. Often this principle is justified by an appeal to the adoption of Latin into the liturgy or history generally. However, the research of both Fr. Lang or Claudio Salvucci are helping tell a different story and elucidate a different principle of liturgical language as a language somehow set apart.

Truly Inclusive Music

Somehow I missed this excellent piece by Robert Reilly in InsideCatholic:

Surely, no one has spoken of music in a more exalted way than has this pope, who restores to art its hieratic purpose. Is this inclusive? Is the cosmos inclusive? Is Christ inclusive? As St. Clement of Alexandria taught, Christ is the "New Song" of the universe. "[It] is this [New Song] that composed the entire creation into melodious order, and tuned into concert the discord of the elements, that the whole universe may be in harmony with it." How is that for inclusive? That New Song is not played on bongo drums, as that would be exclusive -- in the sense that it would exclude the transcendent, which cannot be reached by any bongo drums I have ever heard.

My acid test for any part of the liturgy, including the music, is this: Would a complete stranger observing it believe that what is taking place is the most important thing in these people's lives? I cannot express how I have missed that sense of sanctity in the Mass with which I grew up. I am also a man of the theatre. I was an actor in my early professional life, so I understand the stage. That is what infuriated me about the "new" liturgy of the 1970s. Any competent stage director could have told the liturgical innovators that it did not convey the presence of the sacred. It was so obvious that the conclusion occurred that they must not think the sacred was present. Many parishioners got the message, as they stopped believing in the Real Presence.

No, the transcendent can only be pointed to or reached by the greatest art. When is the last time you heard music at Mass that reinforced your faith rather than tested it? When is the last time you heard the cosmos in your parish?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Archdale King

A reader from England sent this in:

The tomb of one of the great 20th century liturgical historians; author of Liturgies of the Primatial Sees, Liturgies of the Religious Orders, Liturgies of the Past, Liturgy of the Roman Church, and others.

Memento mori.

The Beatification of Cardinal Newman

The Roman Oratory of St. Philip Neri has the following official announcement up on the cause of the Beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman:

Rome, April 24, 2008

The Procura Generalis is pleased to announce today that the medical consultors for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints unanimously gave positive assessment on the extraordinary healing attributed to the intercession of Ven. Card. John Henry Newman C.O. which was presented by the Postulator as a "miracle" for the desired beatification.

Let us give thanks to God for this important step that accelerates the process of the Cause, which quickly should now come to conclusion.

If someone can provide a better translation, I would be appreciative, but this is no doubt the announcement we have been waiting to hear, which the NLM reported on a couple of weeks back.

The original Italian:

La Procura Generale è lieta di annunciare che in data odierna la Consulta Medica della Congregazione per le Cause dei Santi ha espresso all’unanimità giudizio positivo sulla straordinarietà della guarigione attribuita all’intercessione del Ven. Card. John Henry Newman C.O. e presentata dalla Postulazione come “miracolo” per l'auspicata beatificazione. Rendiamo grazie a Dio per questo importante passo che accelera l’iter della Causa, la quale in tempi brevi dovrebbe ormai giungere a conclusione.

Singing and Central Planning

Someone sent me this pre-Mass video interview with Thomas Stehle, director of music for the Washington Nationas Mass. It is very interesting because it allows us to compare theory and results. He tells the reporter some of his own perspective of what he hoped to achieve:

What I am most looking forward to is hearing the entire stadium, not just listening to some excellent music, which we hope we will have, that they will feel inspired to join in. And that unlike any other thing that might happen in that stadium ever again, you might have 46,000 people singing their hearts out, which will be an amazing thing.... So that's what I'm looking forward to, just having the whole stadium erupt, and have the Pope go, wow, this is the American Church. This is a beautiful thing.

The sincere conviction and hope here is a familiar one. In fact, this hope of unified action in song is the defining ambition of the ethos of Catholic music for the last several decades. The idea is to turn the Catholic people of God, who are legendarily unwilling to sing at Mass, into something resembling what you might see in a Quaker meeting house or a Baptist Church in the old days. This hope, desire, ambition, aim, has been the top priority of mainstream Catholic musicians. You can read about it in nearly every article in the mainline liturgy publications dating back a very long time.

At times, the people who talk this way sound like old-time Soviet central planners and their prediction concerning next year's grain production, when all the workers and peasants will join together in harmony, under the wise leadership of the revolutionary vanguard, to achieve a production miracle that will impress the world. The next year comes and grain production falls. Again and again and again.

It's about time we ask whether or not the goal of the people's bursting into song has been achieved or even it is achievable as an intended goal. If we look at the Papal writings on music from all history, actually, there is not a word in here about the goal of causing every living soul to burst into song. There are passages that refer to certain liturgical texts belonging to the people but no insistence that every living person present belt it out. The priorities for music are a different sort: to ennoble the liturgical text, to inspire with beauty, to increase the penetrating power of prayer, to heighten the dignity of the occasion, to add an additional layer of interpretative understanding to the text, among other goals.

Now, perhaps we have been in worship settings in which we have seen the Catholic people burst into song. We've seen such videos posted on NLM, when, for example, at the recessional we see hundreds in a congregation sing Salve Regina with amazing gusto. At such events, what we might notice is that absence of a song leader urging people on. In fact, this kind of singing, when it does happen in the Catholic Church, is rarely intended as the primary purpose. The action is more spontaneous, a result of inspiration resulting in human action and not of human design as such.

And what has come of the movement to get the people to sing as if that's all that "full, active, and conscience participation" can mean? We see the results in parishes all over the country. There is a song leader. There are persistent demands to sing. There are pre-Mass rehearsals. But mostly people do not respond. This truth is the number one source of kvetching in issue after issue of the mainline Catholic music periodicals.

I wasn't at the Washington Nationals Mass of course, and every report says that the television rendering was misleading. To the viewers, it looked pretty much like a performance venue for a variety of groups to demonstrate different styles of music. There were a few hymns that everyone could sing, but none of the people I have spoken to mentioned these as being particularly inspiring. The music, they all said, was something they tuned out, mostly out of habit because this is what they do in their parishes too.

Another point that people mention was how beautiful the sanctuary was, especially given that it was a stadium.

Of the half dozen or so people I've spoken with, the number one thing that people mostly mentioned about this Mass had nothing to do with the music. They speak of the miracle of the silence. They talk about the spiritual comportment of the tens of thousands of people, that you could have all those people gathered in a space and that there were moments that were so still and so silent that you could hear a pin drop. This was what moved people. This was the unforgettable thing that happened.

One priest noted that this silence could not have happened were it not for good formation that is taking place in the parishes. People knew why they were there, and it wasn't to impress the Pope with their singing. It was to be in the presence of the successor of Peter and to experience the real presence of Christ. When you think of that, awe-struck silence seems like an excellent response.

The Dominican Sacrae Theologiae Magister

I am pleased to let our readers know that there is now available, through the kindness of Mr. Philip Smith of Notre Dame University, in Latin and English, the ceremony for the creation of a Master of Sacred Theology as bestowed by the Order of Friars Preachers. The "Form for Creating a Master of Sacred Theology"may be consulted or downloaded. The rite for this ceremony has remained unchanged since 1690, with the exception of the "Profession of Faith," which is that most current. This title is an honorary one, granted by the Master of the Dominican Order, on the recommendation of his Council. Today the prerequisites are ten years of teaching at the graduate level and the publication of at least one book postively reviewed in international journals and of several articles in refereed academic journals. A friar with these qualifications may then be nominated by the prior provincial and council of his province. This academic title dates back to 1303, when Pope Benedict XI, a Dominican himself, created the rank so that the Dominican Order could independently grant the faculty to teach theology, without having the candidate approved by a university theology faculty. In the past an S.T.M. automatically sat on the council of his province and had privileged voting rights. The current publishing requirements did not exist. The political value of the privileges sometimes caused the nomination of friars for reasons other than academic excellence. The voting rights were abolished by the Dominican General Chapter of 1968, and the title today is wholly honorary.

The ceremony of installation is interesting for the symbolism employed. Normally, it is bestowed by the most recent S.T.M. of the province, who sits in the cathedra, the chair of a Master, to do so. If there is no S.T.M., the one doing the investiture does not sit in the cathedra, but stands next to it. The one to be promoted comes and kneels before him. The candidate makes a Profession of Faith according to the form currently in use. The one creating the new S.T.M. then places a ring on the ring finger of the candidate's left hand, and declares that As you have called Wisdom your friend, and your have become a lover of her beauty, you have asked that she become your spouse: Behold. God gives her to you as spouse, that she be with you always and possess your heart. An S.T.M. wears the ring on the left hand so that there is no confusion between him and a bishop, whose ring on the right hand is commonly kissed. One does not kiss the ring of an S.T.M. Traditionally, the ring of a Master may have only one stone, as in the example above. But often it has none, sometimes having merely an inscription. In the American Eastern and Western Dominican Provinces, it has been the practice to inscribe inside the ring the initials of previous the S.T.M.s of the province. I might add that a Dominican S.T.M. never wears the regalia of the office for liturgy, but only in academic exercises. The S.T.M., however, has the perpetual right to the title "very reverend." Indeed., the Dominican archbishop of Cincinnati, John T. McNicholas, was famous for refusing to use "D.D." (Doctor of Divinity) after his name he insisted on using "S.T.M." because it was the more distinguished academic title. (I thank Fr. Gerald Forgarty, S.J., for reminding me of this.)

Ceremonially, the granting of the ring formally creates the candidate as a Master of Sacred Theology, although, in fact, the Master may use the title from the day on which it is granted by the Master of the Order and his Council. The one officiating then seats the candidate in the chair and announces his appointment as a Master. He places on the new Master's head the "black biretta" which is the insignia of a Master. The current practice is to use a black biretta with red-purple piping and pom-pom, as can be seen here. As the biretta of a doctor, it has four fins, not three as is the case for the biretta of a license or a clerical biretta. Originally this biretta was probably totally black and had no pom-pom or trim. An example of such a biretta may be seen at the beginning of his post, in the seventeenth-century of the Blessed Neils Stensen, convert, biologist, and bishop--who is not a Domincan as can be seen from his garb. The presider then turns to those assembled and announces: Behold the fragrance of my son is like the fragrance of a field in bloom; may the Lord cause you to increase by thousands, and may he bless you for all eternity. Amen. The new S.T.M. then rises and delivers his inaugural lecture.

Those who are in the San Franciscan Bay Area on November 15, 2008, may see this ceremony performed at 11 a.m. in the Western Dominican Province House of Studies, at St. Albert the Great Priory in Oakland.

Santa Croce, Rome

Casa Santa Lidia has put up some nice photos of the Solemn Pontifical Mass of Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos last weekend in Rome. Since we had not seen too many from the liturgy itself as of yet, I wanted to share them with you.

This church is that of Santa Croce al Flaminio in Rome, which includes a baldacchino over its altar -- one of my favourite features. This sort of architectural feature provdes one of the most dignified settings for the Roman altar and one which I hope we will see a greater revival of.

Priestly Ordinations at the Vatican [2 Updates]

Here are some first images of the ordinations to the priesthood which the Holy Father is conferring this morning on 29 deacons of the diocese of Rome. I will only be able to cover the opening of the Papal Mass, but we hope to post more later on.

The Pope pronouncing his intention to ordain the candidates presented by the Cardinal Vicar of Rome

The Holy Father is wearing his own chasuble and mitre, which he first wore on his 80th birthday

The Pontiff receiving the oath of fideliy

This being a diocesan celebration for Rome the Mass is mostly in Italian, but the Kyrie of the Missa de Angelis is being sung. ...And the Gloria, so apparently the entire ordinarium.


Having returned home I see that Felici have released their pictures. Unfortunately, they have until now only posted photographs up to the same point as the one at which I had to leave for Mass. Here are two of the entrance procession:


Felici has now published all their photos.

The Holy Father ordaining:

The anointing of the hands was simultaneously performed by several bishops:

Here we see a Chaldean priest from Iraq who has also been ordained by the pope today

The traditio of paten and chailce:

The Holy Father exchanging peace with the newly ordained - very edifying pictures:

The offertory:

A beautiful perspective:



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