Monday, June 30, 2008

Ss. Peter and Paul in Malta with the Canons of the Basilica of Ss Peter and Paul: Basilica Insignia and Mitred Canons [UPDATED]

The NLM was sent these pictures today (and some we dug up ourselves) coming from Malta, showing the celebrations for the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. There are some interesting details to these particular photos and some explanation may be in order.

First, a simple image of some of the procession. You'll note the solemnly coped ministers and further ahead, the conopeum (the yellow and red canopy), one of the special insignia granted to a church designated a basilica.

Here is a slightly better view of the conopeum during this procession which also shows another of the basilica insignia, the tintinnabulum -- a bell mounted atop a decorative pole, often with the crossed keys, at least from my experience:

Pictured in the following two images are the canons of the Basilica of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Pictured immediately below is the archpriest carrying the relic, who has the privilege, the NLM is told, of wearing the mitre -- you will also note a pectoral cross.

Apparently three basilicas in Malta and Gozo have this privilege. The Basilica of Nadur, Xaghra and Gharb.

Further images:

The next images also show the ordinary of the diocese in Malta where this occured, the diocese of Gozo:

One is put to mind of the ancient Ambrosian rite, where the canons of Milan held the privilege of wear pontificals and even celebrate pontifical Mass with its associated ceremonial and wearing the pontifical dalmatic, mitre, gloves, ring and buskins, slippers and pectoral cross.

To this very day, when one sees one of the canons of Milan in formal choir dress, they wear the pectoral cross and vesture similar to that of bishops. A remnant, albeit, of their ancient ceremonial privileges.

Pictured below are two Ambrosian canons (one of whom, to the left, is Msgr. Amodeo who has been featured on the NLM before). Here you can see the present day vesture of the canons of Milan:

All of this puts me to mind of the fact that a request came into the NLM in the past months to do a feature on the place of canons in the life of the Latin rite. Indeed, for those outside of Europe, it might seem quite foreign indeed and is likely worth some further exploration. We will look to do something about that shortly if we can.


The issue of Paul VI abolishing pontificals on canons has arisen in the comments and it seems worth addressing in the main post.

Evidently, I want to make clear the NLM is not suggesting ignoring the Church's liturgical law (even if it would make a prudential argument that the law in this case need to be re-evaluated by competent Church authority -- and I would).

At the same time, I am also aware that what seems at times to be universal and absolute in church law can very often also be found to have later been riddled with legitimate exceptions.

What therefore is not clear is whether these are actually contrary to the liturgical law, or whether there are indults or exceptions that were later granted to particular canons.

Prior to posting this piece, I researched this, but unfortunately could turn nothing up on the matter. However, if anyone else has any knowledge, do feel free to contribute in the comments.

Improvements at the Domkirche in Philadelphia

Recently, some less than tasteful decorative aspects of the cathedral in Philadelphia were replaced with more becoming appointments. A very homely-looking site for the holy oils, as well as a fiberglass tribute to the 1976 Eucharistic Congress (complete with Gothic arches in a Romanesque building, no less) were replaced by altars of Our Lady and St. Joseph:

My understanding is that these altars were taken from an old parish in the city which is now closed. Sad story, but at least something is being done with the old materials.

Also, stations of the Cross have recently been added. I'm not certain where these came from.

Finally, some gratuitous shots of the dome and the organ.

Important Information for Self-Employed Musicians and Clergy in the USA

Beginning tomorrow, July 1, the Internal Revenue Service has mercifully deigned to grant that the mileage deduction for tax purposes will be going up from $ .505/mile to $ .585/mile.

I know more than one organist (present company included) for whom April 15 is usually a rather unpleasant day due to all the wedding fees that add up over the year. Yes, even wee little organists--and their wee little incomes--get hit with the big 15% Social Security Tax. So, take every deduction you can.

I suppose this new rate has to do with the high price of gas. Of course, if they really cared, they'd let us take the deduction in Euros:-)

Catholic London in the early 1800's

One of our priestly readers sent me a link to a post made back in March on the blog of an English Catholic priest, Roman Miscellany which summarizes some excerpts from a book about English Catholic life shortly after the Catholic relief acts of the late 18th century.

The book was written by Bernard Ward, and published under the title of Catholic London A Century Ago by the Catholic Truth Society. It sounded interesting enough that I've ordered a copy of the book for my own reference.

Here, however, are the summary points made by Fr. Nicholas of Roman Miscellany:

* Catholic churches looked very different from the ones built later in the nineteenth century - no side altars, minimal decoration and divisions in the church seating for the different classes of person. The best seats cost a shilling or sixpence and could be found in the 'Tribune' or the 'Enclosure' immediately in front of the sanctuary. You can see such privileged positions in the picture above of the old Sardinian Chapel (the ancestor of SS Anselm and Cecilia, Kingsway). The poorer members stood behind in the 'Body of the Church' and this section often had its own communion rail. I wonder if this is one reason why so many Catholics instinctively tend to sit at the back of the church?!

* Apparently, 'the subdeacon of the [High] Mass was usually the preacher, but before the sermon he would disappear into the sacristy to take off his tunicle and come out to preach in cotta and stole.'

* Confessionals were rare. Ward writes that 'there are those still alive who have described the scene on a Saturday evening, when the line of penitents were kneeling all up the stairs of the priest's house, taking their turns for admissions to his room.'

* There is a wonderful description of Tenebrae that has come down to us thanks to Thomas Doyle, later Provost of Southwark. He wrote (and it is quoted by Ward): 'Dr Bramston used to describe with much effect the Tenebrae in Castle Street, Holborn, where he, a limb of the law [before ordination], and Charles Butler, another limb, and the Rev. Mr Lindow, and Bishop Douglass, met in the “Episcopal palace” in an upper chamber, at the fourth house on the right hand – and a dirty, dingy, shabby-genteel house it was – for the purpose of reciting the Divine Office. They met and separated, too thankful that even that much was done, and hoped for better days.’ Many churches followed the French custom of decorating the 'Easter sepulchre' with empty chalices and other church plate.

* Priests no longer wore wigs in the nineteenth century but tended to powder their hair - the first to discard the custom of powdering before singing Mass was Dr Weathers, later Auxiliary to Cardinal Manning (ordained priest 1838). When whiskers became fashionable, priests sported what was called the 'clerical inch' so as not to draw attention to themselves. Interestingly, the first priest in England to wear black clothing (rather than brown or other sober colours) was Joseph Berington, considered by many of his contemporaries as an 'arch-liberal' and Cisalpine - his writings shared many of the proposals of the 1786 Synod of Pistoia (eg Mass in the vernacular, greater democracy in the Church, etc).

* Ward writes: 'A custom of administering wine from the chalice to children with whooping-cough lasted on till my own time - it was administered to myself under these circumstances - but I have never heard of its being done in recent years.' He adds in a footnote that he had heard 'that there are one or two parishes in London in which the practice still obtains' at the time of writing (1905). I assume the wine was unconsecrated. Does anyone know anything more about this strange practice?

Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul in Ss. Trinita, Rome

The Roman usus antiquior parish has some new photos up from yesterday's feast of Ss. Peter and Paul -- and as a way of encouragement, I must say that I do hope that we will continue to see regular images and photographs from this very most important apostolate.

As always, a selection of some of the very best.

A lovely red frontal attached to the altar. I photographed this frontal while there. Ss. Trinita is blessed with a good selection of red, purple and white/gold stretched frontals that attach to the high altar.

They do not, however, have a green antipendium, so if someone is looking to put a donation toward something of particular liturgical value, this would be a marvelous way to the contribute to the liturgy in the Roman parish. If that is of interest to you, see this post to see how you can donate toward this or other important and necessary liturgical projects there.

(I photographed this set while in Rome as well. They believe they are from the 1600's. In case you wonder, the tassles detach for the purpose of storage.)

I certainly look forward to the day I can return to Ss. Trinita. I would encourage anyone who is in Rome now, or will be, to make certain to go there and make this a part of your Roman travels and pilgrimage. You will not be disappointed.

I'd encourage this also of those more particularly focused upon the reform of the reform, for these things have a relevance to all of us concerned with our liturgical history and tradition and the broader project of re-enchanting parish liturgical practice.

The ever expanding Chabanel Project

The Chabanel Project is designed to address one of the most vexing problems facing Catholic musicians week to week: what to do with the Responsorial Psalm. We all feel an ominous responsibility in dealing with this portion of the Mass because the Psalms are the entire basis of Christian song, from the early Church and onwards to the full development of the Christian liturgy.

And yet, the advent of the "ordinary form" of Mass presented an unprecedented challenge: the introduction of a new and shorter Psalm text as a replacement for the Gradual of old. The idea was to provide an opportunity for congregational singing, but the result is too often liturgically unstable for a variety of reasons. We've been through decades of attempts to deal with the problem, and parishes have spent untold amounts of money on resources.

What Chabanel represents is new in many respects. The Psalm settings are simple but dignified, and they share in the modal quality of chant. They are often beautiful and they are always reliable. Then there is the method of distribution which partakes in the evangelical spirit of the original Psalm singers: they are distributed for free. That goes for the vocal parts, the congregational melodies, and the accompaniments. More recently, the site has added MP3s of all the original work. My own informal sense, based on conversations with parish music directors, is that these are used more and more in parishes around the English-speaking world.

Have a look. Maybe you should send the link to your pastor or director of music.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A simple English Mass Setting

The biggest complaint about parish music today is that it is too loud, too busy, too ego-driven, and too jazzed up. None of this is necessary, and neither is the Gregorian repertoire the only cure. The transition to quiet and sacred music can come with easy settings that are quick to teach and learn, mostly in English at the outset. Vernacular plainsong can be wonderful, especially for parishes that are looking for periods of quiet reflection, using voice only settings that require no instruments. The idea is to prepare the way for more complex settings in Latin later on.

This setting of Ambrosian chant was adapted by Arlene Oost-Zinner for use at the 2008 Sacred Music Colloquium in Chicago. Feel free to print and use in your parish. Here is a PDF file.

Colloquium 2008 Playlist

It occurs to me that I never posted the playlist for the Sacred Music Colloquium 2008 (Loyola University, June 15-21, 2008). This doesn't include the organ recessionals and processionals for the EF. Otherwise it seems pretty comprehensive. All the music is public domain. It looks amazing/scary at first but remember that there were 250 people there and the labor was divided between 5 polyphonic choirs and 5 chant choirs. Of course, even then, it was quite the accomplishment for one week:
Tues, 10:30am  English Mass
Introit: Hearken, O Lord, unto my voice
Kyrie (Ambrosian/English/Oost-Zinner)
Psalm: We are his people
Alleluia (Plainchant)
Offertory: I will bless the Lord
Offertory Motet: If Ye Love Me, by Tallis
Sanctus (Ambrosian/English)
Mystery of Faith: Dying You Destroyed Our Death
Our Father (Mahrt)
Agnus (Ambrosian/English)
Communion: One thing I seek
Communion Motet: O Salutaris, by Pierre de la Rue
Recessional: Hymn: When Morning Gilds the Skies (Laudes Domini)
Wed, 10:30am  Requiem Mass
Introit: Requiem aeternam
Kyrie: XVIII
Gradual: Requiem aeternam
Sequence: Dies Irae
Offertory: Domine Jesu Christe
Offertory Motet: Circumdedereunt me by H. Franco
Sanctus: XVIII
Agnus: XVIII
Communion: Lux aeterna
Communion Motet : Ave Verum, by Byrd
In Paradisum
Chorus angelorum
Thurs, 10:30am  EF, Missa Cantata,  Feast of St. Juliana Falconieri
Introit: Dilexisit justitiam
Kyrie: XI
Gloria: XI
Graduale: Specie tua
Offertory: Filiae regum
Offertory Motet: Tu Solus, by Josquin
Sanctus: XI
Agnus: XI
Communion: Quinque prudentes
Communion Motet: Ave Maria by Guerrero
Recessional: Urbs Beata Jerusalem by DiLasso
Thurs, 5:00pm Holy Hour

O Salutaris hostia, by Byrd
The Litany of Loreto
Tantum ergo, by Palestrina
Fri, 10:30am OF, Votive Mass for the Holy Father  

Introit: Spiritus Domini
Kyrie: Missa Simile est regnum coelorum by Victoria
Gradual: Beata gens
Offertory: Confirma hoc Deus
Offertory Motet: Tu es Petrus by Palestrina
Sanctus: Missa Simile est regnum coelorum by Victoria
Agnus: Missa Simile est regnum coelorum by Victoria
Communion: Factus est repente
Communion motet: O Sacrum Convivium by Victoria

Fri, 7:30pm Vespers

Deus in adjutorium by Anon. Spanish
O Magnum pietatia opus!
Psalm 109 in falobordone by Lorente de Ancheulo
Salva nos, Psalm 110
Ecce Crucem Domini, Psalm 111
Beatus Vir, by Ceballos
Nos autem gloriari, Psalm 112
Per signum Crucis, Pslam 116
Psalm 115, by Cabezon
O Crux gloriosa!
Vexilla Regis prodeunt
O Crux, splendidior cunctis astris
Magnificat primi toni, TLD Victoria
O Crux
Salve Regina, Solemn tone

Sat, 10:15am  EF, Solemn Mass  votive BVM

Introit: Salve sancta Parens
Kyrie: Missa Vulnerasti Cor Meum by Morales
Gradual: Benedicta et venerabilis
Offertory: Ave Maria
Offertory Motet: Ave Maria by Gombert
Sanctus: Missa Vulnerasti Cor Meum
Agnus: Missa Vulnerasti Cor Meum
Communion Beata Viscera
Communion Motet: Beata Viscera, Isaac
Organ Recessional
Sun, 8:00am  OF Missa Cantata, 12th Sunday of the year

Introit: Dominus fortitudo
Kyrie: Monteverdi Mass in F
Gloria: Monteverdi Mass in F
Gradual: Convertere Domine
Credo I
Offertory: Perfice gressus
Offertory Motet: Perfice gressus meos - Orlandus Lassus
Sanctus: Monteverdi Mass in F
Agnus: Monteverdi Mass in F
Communion: Quod dico vobis
Communion Motet: O sacrum convivium by Morales
Recessional Motet: Ave Maria by Anton Bruckner

Papal Mass for Saints Peter and Paul - the Homily

While we have already seen pictures of this morning's papal Mass, the homily of Pope Benedict was, as always, most interesting. While I recommend reading the entire sermon, towards the end of it, there are some words which more directly concern the liturgy, which I give you here in a translation which I have made from the German original, which has interestingly been posted on the Vatican website. The Pope is addressing the metropolitan archbishops:

This lets me come back, in the end, once again to St. Paul and his mission. He has phrased the essence of his mission and also the most profound reason for his desire to go to Rome, in Chapter 15 of the Letter to the Romans, in a singularly beautiful sentence.

He knows he has been called "to serve as a liturgist of Jesus Christ for the Gentiles, to administer as a priest the Gospel of God, so that the Gentiles may become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified in the Holy Spirit" (15,16). Only in this verse, Paul uses the word »hierourgeîn« - administer as a priest - together with »leitourgós« - liturgist: he speaks of the cosmic liturgy, in which the world of men itself is to become adoration of God, oblation in the Holy Spirit.

Then the world is at its goal, then it is whole, when as a whole it has become liturgy of God, [has] in its being [become] adoration. This is the ultimate objective of St. Paul's apostolic mission and of our mission. Into this service the Lord calls us. That he may help us to carry it out properly, to become true liturgists of Jesus Christ, for this we pray in this hour. Amen.

You can find the entire homily at the bottom of this page of the Papa Ratzinger Forum in a translation by Teresa Benedetta.

Music from the Toronto Oratory; the Splendour of Palestrina and William Byrd

You may recall a post the NLM made a couple of weeks ago, detailing images from the diaconal ordination of one of the brother's of the Toronto Oratory, were the Archbishop celebrated the Mass ad orientem.

The NLM was pleased to acquire from the Toronto Oratory these audio clips from that Mass which give one at lesat a musical sense of the occasion, but also a general view of the excellent quality liturgy that the Toronto Oratory celebrates week in and out. Indeed, these strains of William Byrd and Palestrina -- probably my two favourite composers of the Renaissance -- are not unfamiliar to the walls of this church.

Here are the clips.

Salve Sancte Parens (William Byrd)

Kyrie (Missa Veni Sponsa Christi, Palestrina)

Gloria (Missa Veni Sponsa Christi, Palestrina)

Confirma Hoc Deus (William Byrd)

Ave Maria (Palestrina)

Three pieces: Beata Viscera (William Byrd), Exultate Justi (Lodovico da Viadana), Agnus Dei (Palestrina, Missa Veni Sponsa Christi)

“Pastoral Musicians” Embrace Chant?

The June-July 2008 issue of Pastoral Music, the journal published by the largest Catholic music organization in the US, devotes its cover story and two additional articles to the issue of Gregorian chant. This is a milestone, no question. Browsing the archives online, I’ve not found any issue in decades that has so prominently and (somewhat) favorably looked at this subject in some depth.

I’ll provide my summary reaction. The articles are interesting and worthy, and cause for celebration. The authors are experts who are worth reading. They make some good points and some points that I personally find weak but this latter point is a matter of opinion.

But in another way, the issue and these articles miss the mark and this is not the fault of the writers so much as the editors here. This issue does not sufficiently address the top questions that Catholic musicians have about Gregorian chant: how to read it, how to sing it, what to sing, and when to sing it. These are the practical points that vex musicians all over the country when they think about this subject. In fact, only one of four articles addresses some of these points, and even in this article, the author doesn’t quite speak the language of parish musicians.

This is a magazine that is devoted to such practical issues in every other area they cover. They specialize in this service, never forgetting the needs of parish musicians. This is one reason this magazine has been such a success. It is not focused on pronouncing from on high. It deals with parish realities above all else. But when it comes to chant, the editors took a different direction, dwelling in high theory and arcane debates that have no relevance to new chanters in any way.

The lead article is by Fr. Anthony W. Ruff, a monk of St. John’s Abbey who lives and breaths the chant as a schola director. It surrounds him day and night and it is his true love. Few scholars can compete with his knowledge. In the chant world, he is known both for his expertise and also for his dispassionate approach, seeing the merits of chant and also expressing broad tolerance for every manner of praise music in liturgy in just about any style.

So, characteristically, Fr. Ruff writes a two-handed article, literally using the motif of “one the one hand” chant has pride of place, while “one the other hand,” there are many situations that argue against chant. He cites many reasons not to attempt chant: “it will be rather difficult for us to reconstitute world of sung liturgy”; “the acoustics of our modern churches all too often inhibit sung liturgy”; “lay involvement in Catholic worship, centuries before Vatican II, generally took the form of vernacular hymnody”; “there is a bewildering range of options for ritual music in the Roman Rite, and Gregorian chant can no longer claim to be the uniquely appropriate choice in all cases”; “liturgy is always affected by local cultures, and its must always draw on the unique strengths of those cultures for the sake of engaging the assembled worshipers”; “the goodness of all creation…overturns any notion of holiness as being opposed to the secular or the profane.”

I’m not going to argue against these points, but rather point out that the article doesn’t really speak to parish realities. Musicians these days do not know how to read the notes. They are terrified by Latin. They fear the people’s reactions. They are dealing with skeptical pastors and Bishops. They have weak singers who use instruments as a crutch. Also, Catholic musicians tend to be a bit too satisfied with doing the same thing week after week, and there needs to be some inspiration to bring about change. To introduce chant is a major step. It takes work and there is a risk here. The musician will be called on to provide a serious defense. He or she has to believe. Doubt will lead to failure.

I’m not entirely sure that our author understands this dynamic because he lives in a world in which chant is taken for granted, as much part of the fabric of his life as mealtimes and the rising and falling of the sun. Perhaps he doesn’t see either that musicians need inspiration to enter the world that is already is or perhaps he doubts that it is possible? I’m not sure. But I can easily see a musician reading his piece and concluding that taking the risk and doing the work is just not worth it. His article just isn’t enough to provide the intellectual breakthrough that will cause a change in the status quo, and that status quo is that chant is not part of the lives of American Catholics.

The next article by William Tortolano provides an excellent look at the formation and development of Gregorian music, from its roots in Jewish Psalmody to the Solesmes restoration. It is all very interesting, and all very historical. Again, I have no criticisms against what is written here—it is an excellent article—but only desire to point out that that this history has no real bearing on what parish musicians should sing next week or next year. The magazine might have profitably published an excerpt from the chant tutorial he has written.

Next we have Columba Kelly, a Benedictine monk, and I found this article especially engaging and interesting. He delves into the rhythmic controversy between the old Solesmes school, which posited integral structures of pulses, and the newer Cardine school, which argues for text-driven structures that rely more heavily on the interpretation of the chant master. My question is: what does any of this have to do with whether the choir is going to introduce chant into the parish? I would say that it has essentially nothing to do with the question.

Let’s say that you are speaking to a group of high schoolers about the glories of classical music. This is what they expect and want. Instead you give them a long disquisition on the various controversies about the correct tempo for the last movement of Beethoven’s 5th symphony, or on the various upsides and downsides of using valved vs. valveless frenchhorns. Would they be inspired to throw themselves into the repertoire? No, they would probably suppose that you are some out-to-lunch fanatic who can’t see the forest for the trees, obsessing on arcania and blowing an opportunity to make a difference in their lives. In fact, the more I learn about these rhythmic controversies, the more they seem like a major distraction to me that has no bearing at all on parish life. It strikes me as a sad thing that novices would be force-fed all this material when they can’t even read the notes or pronounce the words.

The final article by Peter Funk of the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Chicago is entitled “Using Chant Repertoire in Today’s Parish.” This is the one designed to address the issue of how to do this realistically. Mercifully, this article is free of skepticism and doubt. Fr. Funk loves the chant with his whole heart. He points out the challenges but believes they can be overcome.

“Chant is an ancient musical form,” he writes, “developed in a era far removed from our own. It takes time to growth to appreciate its peculiar modes of expression. That said, chant’s beauty and effectiveness as a means to prayer are so broadly attested that we can be confident of great spiritual discoveries in the repertoire if we approach it with an open mind. … When we chant, we enter into a musical meditation on the Word of God in our midst, spoken to and through us.”

He recommends starting with ordinary chants: Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei. For the schola he recommends the communion chant and the introit. This is fine advice. He further points to the simpler chants of Jubilate Deo as excellent for parishes, as well as the seasonal propers of the Graduale Simplex. A curious omission, however, is the most obvious one: the chant hymns that are especially suitable as peoples’ music, the melodies that have been known and loved by Catholics for many centuries and that can be easily “plugged in” at offertory or post-communion time. If I were starting over in a parish, I would do these first before even approaching the ordinary chants – but I’ve noticed a tendency among the experts to overlook the chant hymns for reasons I can’t entirely grasp. There is a sense in which chant is the authentic folk music of Catholic people, and it makes no sense to bury the most loved chants as if they do not exist.

A major disappointment in this article is that it no where provides a sample of music that people can sing, and when it comes to the critical question of how to read the music, he goes no further than suggest that people buy method books from Paraclete Press. So the “how to” article turns out to merely point to other “how to” books, which might suggest that the search for basic answers to universal questions is perpetually remote.

Another problem is that readers are likely to go to Paraclete and buy the book called “Chant Made Simple” which is not really a simple intro to reading chant but rather an introduction to the ancient staffless signs of the Graduale Triplex. And there the journey into chant will likely come to a stop. It would have only take a few paragraphs to explain right in this issue how to read the clefs and discover where the whole steps and half steps are and how the rhythm works.

My fear, then, is that the novice will read all of these articles and still not have a strong rationale to take the next step or anything like an intellectual apparatus that will prepare them to pick up a single piece of music and sing it with their choirs and congregations.

Let me conclude by assuring readers of this issue of Pastoral Music that it is really not that hard, not that weird, not that objectionable, and not that controversial. Chant is the fundamental music of the Roman Rite. It belongs as the core music of every single Catholic parish in the entire world, without exception. All the qualifications you can dream up can’t change the fact that this music more than any other constitutes the universal music of Catholic people.

As for how to, you can read it the same way that you read modern music, remembering that the clef sign indicates the C or the F, on the line below which the half step occurs. As for as counting, you can’t go wrong in making each note receive one pulse.

As for tutorials, have a look at the Parish Book of Chant, which provides a pronunciation guide, a guide to reading the neumes, as well as 11 ordinary settings, the Mass ordo in the ordinary and extraordinary forms, as well as a core hymnody of 71 pieces for the whole parish to sing.

Finally, let’s issue a strong congratulations to Pastoral Music, and hope that this is just the beginning and not merely a token bow to authentic sacred music.

Fr. Neil Roy's Review of Marini's A Challenging Reform

I am not certain how this one almost slipped by unnoticed here on the NLM: Review of Challenging Reform by Archbishop Piero Marini by Fr. Neil J. Roy (Adoremus Bulletin, June 2008)

Here is an excerpt to give you a taste of the review which pulls few punches:

Displeasure at the current state of the liturgy emerges as a leitmotif at the turn of nearly every page, and reaches a crescendo in the question posed by the editors in the epilogue: “Would the bishops of the Second Vatican Council recognize the faithful implementation of their decisions in the present contentious liturgical climate?” (160).

(Readers eager to know precisely what the surviving Fathers of Vatican II have said about the revised rite of Mass would do well to consult “The Fathers of Vatican II and the Revised Mass: Results of a Survey”, by Alcuin Reid in Antiphon: A Journal for Liturgical Renewal 10.2 (2006), pp. 170-190.)

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the book serves more as a “J’accuse” than a simple memoir. Bitterness and even rancor bleed through the text on many a page. Compared elsewhere to a spaghetti western with heroes wearing white hats and villains wearing black, the account is reminiscent likewise of a medieval chronicle, in which history, hagiography, and moralizing all conspire to tell a plangent, nay at times even maudlin, tale.

Marini portrays Bugnini in glowing terms as the tireless visionary and dauntless reformer who, advancing an agenda of inculturation and purportedly vindicating the cause of national episcopal conferences the world over, battles the prejudices of the Roman Curia enthralled by the ultimate foe, the Council of Trent. Time and again throughout the chronicle Trent rears its hydra-heads to threaten authentic liturgical reform. Its tinpot army is the Roman Curia, in the vanguard of which march and fight the Congregation of Rites, founded by Sixtus V in 1588 and dissolved by Paul VI in 1969.

Note Marini’s characterization of Bugnini’s attitude toward liturgical reform in contrast to that of the Congregation of Rites:

"This new approach to liturgical renewal was entirely foreign to the spirit of the Council of Trent. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the Congregation that had been instituted four hundred years earlier by the Council of Trent to safeguard a uniformity of practice in the celebration of the Roman Rite should argue against the right of the bishops’ conferences to make such determinations." (77)

Opponents of Bugnini’s aims or methods (particularly Cardinals Alfredo Ottaviani and Antonio Bacci) emerge as myopic, jealous, petty, and hopelessly démodé. The tale takes an abrupt turn, however, when Paul VI, heretofore Bugnini’s papal patron and mainstay, exiles Bugnini to Iran and reduces the Congregation of Divine Worship (formerly the Consilium entrusted with the execution of the reforms mandated by Sacrosanctum Concilium), merging it into the Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments:

"Instituted and then suppressed by Pope Paul VI, they [the Consilium and the Congregation for Divine Worship] stand as witnesses to the prophetic vision as well as the limitations of his pontificate". (157)

As long as Paul VI gave Bugnini full sway in matters of liturgical worship, the pope ranked as an enlightened ruler; once, however, he manifested his displeasure and reorganized the offices of worship and sacraments, he falls from favor:

"The decision reached in 1975 can only be seen as a negative event in the history of the church’s liturgy. The Congregation for Rites, instituted in 1588 to safeguard the Tridentine liturgy, existed for almost four centuries. However, the Congregation for Divine Worship, instituted to implement the liturgy of the Second Vatican Council, lasted for a mere six years. Even the most optimistic historian would be forced to suspect that the institutional suppression was hardly wise and that in the heat of that month of July, personal resentment seems to have prevailed." (156-157)

Upcoming EWTN programming

A reminder about some EWTN programming:


Solemn High Mass of the Solemnity of the Precious Blood in the Extraordinary Form. The Traditional Latin Mass from the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Hanceville, Alabama.

Tue 07/01/08 8:00 AM ET & 5 AM PT LIVE
Tue 7/01/08 7:00 PM ET & 4 PM PT
Wed 7/02/08 12:00 AM ET & 9 PM PT (Tue)

As well, for those who wish to watch the Ss. Peter and Paul Mass from the Vatican Basilica, they are repeating the broadcast which will air tonight at 9:00pm EST.

Collect for the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul and an Early Christian Image of the Same

O God, who hast made this day holy by the martyrdom of Thine Apostles Peter and Paul: grant that Thy Church may in all things follow the precepts of those through whom she received the beginnings of the Faith. (1962 Missale Romanum)

Papal Mass for Saints Peter and Paul

This morning, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI is celebrating a papal Mass for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, with the participation of the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople. At this occasion, the Holy Father will impose the pallium on 42 new metropolitan archbishops. It will also be the first occasion at which he himself will wear the new style of pallium mentioned a few days ago.

Here are some pictures (click to enlarge):

The seven candles:

The Holy Father and Patriarch Bartholomew have entered the Basilica:

Incensation of the altar - note the statues of Sts. Peter and Paul on the altar:

To the right the statue of St. Peter vested in pontifical vestments:

The Latin deacons:

A good view of the new papal pallium:

The deacons bringing up the pallia from the confessio of St. Peter:

The new metropolitan Archbishop swearing their oath of fidelity:

The pallia:

Imposition of the pallia - here we see the only Cardinal among them, Cardinal Njue of Nairobi, Kenya:

The successor of the Holy Father on the See of St. Corbinian:

Quam oblationem:

Archbishop O'Brien of Baltimore was a concelebrant:

Communion on the tongue kneeling, as is now the standard and as announced in the recent interview of Msgr. Marini:

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