Saturday, October 31, 2009

Women and Chant

I've been putting off writing this article for several years, and mainly because it is sad and embarrassing to me that this should have to be written at all. What is at controversy here is not really a controversy at all, just as it is not controversial that the moon is not made of Roquefort cheese. And yet, when a claim reaches a fevered pitch, not matter how historically uninformed it might be, someone needs to step up and say something about it.

The claim in this case is that women may not sing Gregorian chant at Mass.

Now, on its face, this claim is preposterous since there is no history whatsoever of a pastor shushing up women in the pews during the singing of the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, or Agnus. In the entire history of Gregorian chant in which these people's parts were sung—and they were sung throughout the middle ages and into modern times, and continue to be today—I know of not a single case in the entire history of Catholicism in which a woman in the pews was told not to sing because of her sex. If there were a strong bias against women singing chant, surely we would know of some cases of this happening.

The same is true of chant hymns such as Marian antiphons or medieval poetry that Anima Mea or Jesu Dulcis Memoria. These are beloved hymns sung by everyone, men, women, and children. The same is true of Sequences like Lauda Sion and Veni Sancte Spiritus. These were once beloved by and sung by every person. This was the music of Mass and the music of life itself, and it was and is universally sung by all Catholic people.

Between the ordinary of the Mass and the chant hymns at Mass, this covers the major portion of what people think of as "Gregorian chant." So the controversy, such as it is, cannot touch of any of the repertoire in the Parish Book of Chant, the main book for chanting today in most parishes that use it.

To the extent it is a question it all, then, it concerns only the propers of the Mass, that is, the parts of the Mass that change day to day and week to week and involve the most intricate and difficult of the sung parts carried by scholas alone.

By way of providing further context here, this controversy does not affect the ordinary form of the Mass. It relates only to the extraordinary form of the 1962 Missal. The existence of the question is largely a result of the 40-year space between the living presence of the extraordinary form and its current revival. Not having a living memory of the "old Mass" people find themselves in the position of having to "reinvent" a tradition by recourse to old documents and instructions.

It is perhaps not a surprise that this issue, which involves only a tiny but noisy sector of hyper-traditionalists, is limited to the American context. As a "people of the parchment" Americans have a particular attachment to the idea that all reality can be subsumed within legislation. Wherever any controversy appears, we have a tendency to go to the law books and find our marching orders. This practice is made more dangerous by the absence of a continuous tradition to draw on, so that there are no alarm bells that go off when a literal reading of a text contradicts all real history.

The pertinent document here is Tra le Sollecitudini of 1903, by Pope Pius X. It is a beautiful document and of continuing relevance. Some parts are of their time, however. Paragraph 13 speaks not to a matter of liturgical theology or doctrine but a matter of practical discipline for the period: "singers in church have a real liturgical office, and that therefore women, being incapable of exercising such office, cannot be admitted to form part of the choir. Whenever, then, it is desired to employ the acute voices of sopranos and contraltos, these parts must be taken by boys."

In the last several decades, I've seen this passage yanked out and highlighted by "progressive liturgists" who are anxious to discredit the whole of the sacred music tradition. They point to this passage and observe its supposedly dated and crabby conservatism and sexism. So far as they are concerned, this one passage is all you need to know about Gregorian chant: it carries with it a reactionary agenda to duct tape the mouths of all women, turning Catholic liturgy into the Stepford Mass.

In some ways, I find that passage painful because it distracts from the profound doctrinal and theological content of the document that has been cited and praised by every Pope since. The passage provides a convenient excuse to dismiss the theological and liturgical teaching that still applies today. Disciplines change but sacred music and its rationale are timeless.

Now, people should know that this discipline was decisively change by Pius XII in 1955 with Musicae Sacrae: "Where it is impossible to have schools of singers or where there are not enough choir boys, it is allowed that 'a group of men and women or girls, located in a place outside the sanctuary set apart for the exclusive use of this group, can sing the liturgical texts at Solemn Mass, as long as the men are completely separated from the women and girls and everything unbecoming is avoided. The Ordinary is bound in conscience in this matter.'"

What most people do not know is that this was not as abrupt change as it appears. The 1955 document was a recognition of the reality that existed already, for by that time, the widespread interpretation of the original Motu Proprio was that it was intended to restrict singers in the sanctuary in a clerical capacity, not in a loft such as is more common. The 1903 document was speaking of the liturgical ideal of singers as a clerical office: in this, he was under the sway of the German Caecilians who imagined the goal of liturgical singers holding a clerical office complete with tonsures.

This why this portion of the document was never literally enforced as written in the United States or most places around the world. The magazine Church Music in 1909 (issue 4) reported that Pope Pius X issued permission orally to a complaining Bishop soon after the Motu Proprio came out. Moreover, the implementing legislation of 1908 contained an interesting contradiction, or so it seems, affirming the ban and then urging that women singers be separated from the men singers. Or perhaps it was not a contradiction if we imagine a "clerical" choir in the sanctuary vs. another choir standing outside or in a loft.

What appeared to be the exception then quickly became the rule. As the London Tablet reported on January 6, 1909: "There really would be no difficulty in bringing all Church choirs within the rule laid down by this decree: intermixed choirs of men and women are forbidden; separated choirs of men on one side and women on the other are not forbidden." And even here, the rule would only apply for propers sung by the schola exclusively where it makes the most sense to separated singing by high and low registers in any case.

Fr. Anthony Ruff (Sacred Music and Liturgical Reform, Chicago: Hillenbrand Books, 2007) adds more context here: "As difficult as it is for us today to understand such exclusion of women, the teaching should be understood in its historical context, and within the liturgical worldview of its proponents. The goal behind the exclusion was to make the choir more property liturgical, and that the assumption was that the choir's ministry was a clerical one." (pp. 279-80).

Therefore the ban on women in a strictly liturgical on paper only followed from the ban on women serving in the clerical capacity of major and minor orders. In this sense, it is a mere tautology, following by definition. Since clerical orders for singers – except in monastic settings -- are not even an issue today, the ban on women would make no sense in either the ordinary or extraordinary form.

It only takes a few minutes of thought to realize this. After all, women have been singing all chants for the whole history of the Church, in convents in particular. Where there is a tradition of boys choirs, that is one thing. But we do well to recall that the very first composer in Christendom that is known by us by name is the 11th century mystic Hildegard von Bengin, who composed settings of prayers and proper texts and were beloved for centuries. William Byrd's editions of polyphonic propers from the 16th century England have signatures of women singers within mixed choirs.

Going back to the Patristic age, chant scholar Mary Berry has variously pointed to St. Blesilla, one of the Roman nobles directed by St Jerome in the 4th century. He in a letter praises her for her rendering of the Alleluia at Mass.

In more modern times, Justine Ward taught Gregorian chant all over the country, with many thousands in classes and singing at Mass. Not once in the history of her apostolate did this issue come up. Her conventional practice was to have chants sung by all girls or all boys. It was never a controversy, and she not only taught the world of the time to sing chant; she was the standard bearer of liturgical ideals insofar as they affected music in light of the 1908 Motu Proprio.

By 1967, the language of the discipline had come full circle: Musicam Sacram, paragraph 22, says: "The choir can consist, according to the customs of each country and other circumstances, of either men and boys, or men and boys only, or men and women, or even, where there is a genuine case for it, of women only."

Every so often the Vatican gets this question from people who don't know that the issue was long ago settled, and the response is exasperated and reaffirming of the existing practice.

Most recently, Ecclesia Dei issued a letter in response to one correspondent, who asked concerning the extraordinary form in particular: "If a men's schola is available, should a women's schola be permitted to sing the Mass In preference to a men's group?"

One can imagine the parish political environment that led to such an inquiry! After all, it is not a "preference," for example, to let women sing the introit and men sing the communio except to the extent every choice reveals a preference. To suggest that such conventional musical programming amounts to a political statement of some kind is to infuse secular and politicized notions of sexual politics into the liturgy.

The sensible response from Ecclesia Dei, refusing to take the bait, came July 16, 2008: "If a parish is so well provided for as to have both a men's and women's schola cantorum, that would seem to be a true 'embarrassment of riches' and surely some way could be found for them both to contribute to the singing of the sacred liturgy."

In the Vatican today, women and men sing propers, which is a recent change from a very old tradition of men and boys choirs only. These are simple matters of tradition and practice. In the United States, a mission territory, this tradition has never been fixed.

In the age-old problem of conflating discipline and doctrine, the interpretation of the 1903 text becomes a potent weapon when it is invoked without understanding or nuance. It is used by the "left" and the extreme "right" to foil advances in sacred music in our parishes.

It is a demographic reality that women are among the best singers and teachers of Gregorian chant in this country. Women were the real energy behind the chant movement during most of the 20th century following the Motu Proprio of 1903. The same remains true today. It is a fantastic trend that multi-form parishes that are cultivating men's scholas, and there cannot be enough of these.

And yet there are also great women singers in the same parishes that sit on the sidelines, wondering whether it is even legal for them to sing at all. It is one thing to overcome an entrenched bias; it is something else to cite liturgical law without the slightest understanding of context, history, and subsequent legislation as a way of justifying a bias.

Many of these women have been given a great gift of singing. That this gift would be banned from use based on ignorance of history and relevant legislation is pathetic and deeply embarrassing to everyone attached to the traditional Mass. Moreover, the persistence of this bias is like handing its enemies the club with which to beat us. In addition to be insulting to women musicians, excluding women diminishes the beauty that is possible in our parishes.

Marking All Souls: Further Ideas for Living the Liturgical Life

As previously mentioned, All Souls Day provides teaching opportunities to remind ourselves and our families of the need to offer prayers for the dead, of the reality of Purgatory, and of the Four Last Things more generally.

This can re-emphasize for us the pursuit of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and keeping our eyes fixed on Godly and heavenly things, working out our salvation, avoiding sin and living virtuously.

How then might we take advantage of this opportunity? We have spoken on the NLM many times before of living a liturgical life; that is to say, uniting ourselves to the liturgical life of the Church, first and most primarily by our participation in the sacred liturgy itself, and second by uniting our other spiritual practices to the liturgical time.

Here are a few ideas.


Evidently, going to Mass on All Souls is the single most important way of marking this day.

Pray the Office for the Dead

The Divine Office (or Breviary/Liturgy of the Hours) is of course also a part of the liturgical life of the Church, following after the Mass.

Accordingly, praying the Office of the Dead on this day would be very meritorious -- just as praying the Office generally is of merit and to be encouraged, and as the Church herself encourages.

Where this is not yet publicly available in our parish churches (which, sadly, is yet most places), this is a practice that can be at least pursued privately by individuals, by groups of individuals, or by families.

Visit a Graveyard

People will often go on their own, with friends, or with family to graveyards/cemeteries on "decoration days" to decorate the graves of their loved one's with flowers, but why not also consider visiting their graves on All Souls Day?

Even if the graves of your beloved deceased are not in a nearby graveyard or cemetery, you can still make a visit to a church graveyard or cemetery generally.

When you make this visit, offer your prayers -- whatever the form -- for the dead. This act can be a pertinent memento mori for adults, provide an opportunity for performing this spiritual work of mercy, and I would highlight that this could be a particularly memorable tradition for families with children, emphasizing these practices and spiritual realities to them, which they will no doubt carry with them through their own adult lives.

Burn an Unbleached Beeswax Candle at Home on this Day

We have spoken of the symbolism of unbleached beeswax candles and their presence within our churches liturgically on this day.

You can extend this liturgical aspect and tradition into your own domestic church as well by purchasing one or a few unbleached beeswax candles (often available from many kinds of shops) which you can light in your home on All Souls Day. When you light it will be up to you and dependent on your schedule, but certainly having it lit while you are at home and tied to some prayer for the dead will be good way to introduce this and a pertinent reminder on this day.

As it relates to children, this will also provide a good opportunity for mystagogical catechesis about why our Latin rite tradition uses unbleached beeswax candles and the colour black on this day.

(Evidently people must use common sense appropriate to their situation when burning candles in their homes as it relates to safety.)

Other Suggestions and Traditions

If any have their own suggestions and family traditions they would like to share, please use the comments.

Altar Card for the Modern Roman Liturgy

Some of our priests, particularly those who are celebrating the modern Roman liturgy ad orientem liturgicum, may be interested to know that finding an altar card for the modern form of the Roman liturgy just got quite a bit easier.

Myriad Creative Concepts, in close consultation with a few priests who have used this type of altar card, have just finalized development of just such a thing for the Latin version of the modern Roman liturgy. (The company could also easily produce customized vernacular versions or Latin-vernacular versions at request they also tell me.)

Evidently, some priests may wish to simply use the altar missal, but for those who would like this option, this card has been designed to appear very much as the altar cards used in the usus antiquior.

The company tells me they are coming up with some other visual designs for this same altar card.

Those interested in ordering, visit Myriad Creative Concepts.


We have received quite a number of announcements in recent days, so I wished to take the opportunity to share a few of them and invite others to use the comments to share their own. (And of course, please also be reminded to check out the NLM Events Calendar as well.)

Toronto Oratory Marks 34th Anniversary on All Saints

This All Saints' Day marks the 34th anniversary of the foundation of the Toronto Oratory.

On this occasion, a Solemn Mass will be celebrated at St Vincent de Paul Church, featuring music of St Hildegard of Bingen and a newly-composed Mass ordinary (Missa Valde Mirabilis Es) by the Music Director, Philip Fournier.

The St Hildegard Singers will join our Usus Antiquior Schola to sing the Mass.

Two Birmingham Area Masses

Matthew Doyle of Lacrimarum Valle made note to the NLM of two Masses in the coming days which he has helped in organizing:

Solemn Requiem Mass (Extraordinary Form)
with Requiem setting by Jean Richafort sung by Ensemble 1685
Wednesday November 4th 2009 at 7:30pm
St Michael and the Holy Angels Church, High Street, West Bromwich, B70 8AQ

All are welcome and there will be full Mass booklets and refreshments provided. It is the first such Mass in this parish for 40 years, and will be taking the place of the Parish Anniversary Mass.

Juventutem in Kingston, Ontario

The Kingston chapter of Juventutem has organized a special celebration of a Missa Cantata in the usus antiquior for the Dedication of the Archbasilica of Our Savior on Monday, November 9th at 7:00 pm. The celebration will take place in St. Mary's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at 279 Johnson Street in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Fr. Howard Venette of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter will be traveling down from Toronto for the occasion. After the Mass, there will be a talk by Fr. Venette followed by a question-and-answer period about the Traditional Latin Mass. Visit for updated information.

Magdalen College

Magdalen College in Warner, New Hampshire, welcomes Fr. Boniface Patrick Hicks, OSB, Benedictine monk of Saint Vincent Archabbey. Fr. Boniface will be offering Mass in the usus antiquior on Saturday, October 31st at 9AM.

Fr. Bonifice will also offer a day of recollection for All Saints Day on Sunday, November 1st.

All are welcome to attend. See here for more details.

Friday, October 30, 2009

What the Vatican Singing Norms Imply

You have to know the back story to understand why the Vatican's change of policy on guest choirs is so important. For years, there has been a revolving door operating with regard to St. Peter's concerning guest choirs. Some have been great. Many have not been. Some have offered deeply regrettable performances.

Who was running the show? It almost seemed as if the Vatican lost control over this. It became more of a tourism project than a liturgical one. This was a tragedy that had to be addressed.

After all, if liturgical music is music of a special kind, it stands to reason that the Vatican should have special requirements for those who sing at St. Peter's Basilica. It can't just be the run-of-the-mill praise band, fresh off the bar circuit and only two months out of the garage. They should know Gregorian chant, at the very least. They should know the parts of the Mass that the Church has long said that singers, indeed, all people must know.

The problem in the age of youtube is that a bad choir that knows no liturgical music can record a video that can fly around the world in minutes, and send a devastating message to parishes that are in a transition from the age of hippy control to genuine liturgical music. The "praise band" then has a video it can show off, as if to say: what's good enough for the Vatican is good enough for us in this parish here at home.

The new norms set standards: a Catholic choir that sings at St. Peter's must at least know how to sing Catholic music.

Therefore they read as follows:

"The liturgy is celebrated in the Latin language, according to the Roman Rite. Gregorian chant has first place. The guest choir is expected to chant the Ordinary of Holy Mass in alternation with the Musical Chapel of the Basilica."


"The guest choir may sing: at the Entrance procession until the moment when the celebrant reaches the altar (the Gregorian Introit is sung by the Musical Chapel of the Basilica), at the preparation of the gifts and relative offertory, at Communion, after the Gregorian antiphon has been sung, and at the end of Mass, after the Blessing. The program of music must follow the Liturgy of the day and will be agreed upon with and approved by the Choirmaster."

And what should the choir sing? It is not complicated:

Sundays of Advent: Missa XVII Credo IV
Sundays of Christmas: Missa IX Credo IV
Sundays of Lent: Missa XVII Credo IV
Sundays of Easter: Missa I Credo III
Sundays of Ordinary Time: Missa XI Credo I
Feasts of Ordinary Time: Missa VIII Credo III
Feasts of the B.V. Mary: Missa IX Credo IV
Feasts of the Apostles: Missa IV Credo III

There we go: Catholic music! In other words, the choirs that sing at the center of the Catholic Church, in its most revered space, must be made of members who know how to sing like Catholics. I know that this should be a given. But it is not, and it has not been a given until recently. Needless to say, the flow of choirs coming and going has slowed to a trickle but those that do make the cut have been magnificent.

In terms of U.s. choirs, especially impressive in recent times has been the performance of the Madeleine Choir School in Salt Lake City, Utah. This program is one of the great Catholic programs in the country and among the least known. Here we have a full school that is dedicated to the right ideals and has the highest artistic standards. The Cardinals that heard them sing were astonished and thrilled at what they heard.

In general, the spirits among the clergy are very high concerning music and the old anxiety and fear is gone. The spillover effects of this change could be huge for American Catholics, as choirs work to actually achieve something great before going to Rome. It means that singing at St. Peter's will actually mean something again, and glory be to that!

But here is what I like most about the new norms: the translation.

"Gregorian chant has first place." Clear as a bell, and strong.

It is a rendering of the words of Vatican II: " Ecclesia cantum gregorianum agnoscit ut liturgiae romanae proprium: qui ideo in actionibus liturgicis, ceteris paribus, principem locum obtineat.."

The official English says: " The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services."

What does "pride of place" really mean? It's too vague.

A better translation is "principal place" but even that is not quite right, since we don't usually use the word "principal" in this way. We don't hold the "principal" place in line. We don't earn the "principal place" in a contest.

The word first works here. First place. It makes sense to our ears. This phrase is now among the approved translations of paragraph 116.

Then also we can make more sense of what at first seems to be a proviso: "other things being equal." What ceteris paribus actually means is that the condition holds regardless of extenuating circumstances. Even if you can't sing chant because you lack singers or books or time or whatever, that in no way diminishes its first place at Mass. In other words, this phrase strengthens rather than weakens the role of chant at Mass.

But what matters most here is not legislation or even translation but what the Church practices and enforces as its practice. Here is where the difference is really made. And on this score, St. Peter's in Rome is improving in ways that are spectacular and for all the world to see. At last, it is becoming what it always should have been: a model and expressive of the ideal of Church music.

Everyone knows that there is more to do. There are sectors within the Vatican that are deeply entrenched that persist in a variety of terrible singing habits. But the writing is on the wall. It will come to an end. The model for the future is now clear. Legislation reflects it. That legislation is easy to understand. And it is being enforced. And the results are beautiful to behold.

Alcuin Reid in the Herald: On the Compendium Eucharisticum

From today's edition of The Catholic Herald comes a piece by Dr. Alcuin Reid on the Compendium Eucharisticum. The piece quoted below is the unabridged edition. An abridged edition appeared in this week's edition of The Catholic Herald.

The Compendium Eucharisticum

by Dr Alcuin Reid

A small but significant step in the ongoing liturgical reform of Pope Benedict XVI took place a little over a week ago when the Latin edition of the Compendium Eucharisticum, proposed by the 2005 Synod of Bishops and announced by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007, was published by the Vatican.

The Holy Father called for a volume that would “help make the memorial of the Passover of the Lord increasingly the source and summit of the Church's life and encourage each member of the faithful to make his or her life a true act of spiritual worship.” It was to contain “useful aids for a correct understanding, celebration and adoration of the Sacrament of the Altar.”

And that is precisely what Antonio Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, presented to Pope Benedict on October 21st. In publishing the Compendium Pope Benedict is, in a way, acting as the “head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.” For it includes liturgical, doctrinal and devotional texts from throughout the Church’s history, placing the celebration of the Eucharist within the framework of dogma and clearly indicating the role and value of devotional practices related to the Blessed Eucharist.

Doctrinally, the Council of Trent, Vatican II, John Paul II and the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church are cited, presenting an unambiguous précis of the Church’s belief in the Real Presence, the sacrificial nature of the Mass and the place of the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist in the life of the Church.

Liturgically, the complete Order of Mass is given for both the modern and more ancient uses of the Mass (old and new rites). So too is the whole text of the Divine Office for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi―coming as it does from St Thomas Aquinas―again, according to the breviaries published by both Paul VI and Blessed John XXIII. The rite of Benediction is included, as are several litanies and hymns. Interestingly, the Congregation for Divine Worship has included the vesting prayers for priests and bishops, and the customary prayers of preparation for and thanksgiving after Mass.

There is also a notable recovery of a traditional visual language in the Compendium. The inclusion of Bouts “Last Supper”, Zurbaran’s “Agnus Dei”, Valasquez’ “Crucifixion”, Giotto’s “Lotio pedum”, Cavalieri’s “Corpus Chirsti” and Ysenbrandt’s “Missa S. Gregorii” underline the importance of beauty and the value of such cultural fruits of the Church’s faith in the Blessed Eucharist.

Taken as a whole the Compendium is a timely vademecum, a handy tool, which will serve to nourish and enrich Catholic faith and practice. It is to be hoped that the envisaged translations into the major languages will appear promptly.

But the significance of this publication lies in the fact that this is the first time that the liturgical vision of Pope Benedict XVI has been concretised in an official publication of the Holy See. In presenting such riches from the Church’s wider liturgical, doctrinal and artistic tradition pertaining to the Blessed Eucharist, and thereby recovering some elements sidelined in recent decades, the Compendium places the newer liturgical forms firmly within the continuity of that tradition. It thus serves to facilitate that mutual enrichment of which the Pope has spoken, in accordance with his wish that the sacred liturgy―most especially the Sacrament that is its centre―be celebrated worthily, and that the riches which have developed in the Church’s tradition take their proper place in the Church of the twenty-first century.

A Pilgrimage in Australia Inspired by the Chartres Pilgrimage of Pentecost in France

From a reader:

The XIXth Pilgrimage in honour of Christ the King was held in country Victoria, Australia last weekend. Inspired by Paris-Chartres, the Ballarat to Bendigo pilgrimage covers over 100km in 3 days from St Patrick's Cathedral in Ballarat to Sacred Heart Cathedral in Bendigo.

It is a notable event in the Australian calendar with over 350 walking and almost 500 in attendance for the final Solemn Mass.

Mass was celebrated each day in the Extraordinary Form. The Mass on the Saturday was celebrated in the presence of the Icon Sedes Sapientiae, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, which was handed over in Rome to Australian students late last year and has been on tour around the country.

For the first time there was a portable chapel for the many priests to celebrate private mass along the route. Dubbed the 'Lone Star Oratory' for the brand of horse trailer from which it was converted, it served as both sacristy and chapel.

They provided some photos of the various liturgical events to the NLM. (As well, a video may be seen which summarizes the pilgrimage. Please note, this page will open an initial video. By clicking on links such as "Day One", you will see other video presentations.)

Fr. Aidan Nichols on Orientation

There are a few articles of interest in today's online edition of The Catholic Herald, but in particular I would highlight the continuation of letters between authors Moyra Doorly and Fr. Aidan Nichols, O.P.

Here is an excerpt where Fr. Nichols speaks about the "re-sacrificalizing" aspect of recovering our tradition of ad orientem:

... I would agree with you that we need to 're-sacrificialise', in your invented but useful word, our common or garden usage of the rite of Paul VI - if not, in some respects, the rite itself. But to my mind the single greatest contribution we can make to that end is to press - judiciously and with respect - for the celebration of the Mass versus orientem, the Liturgy 'turned towards the Lord'. The celebrant stands ministerially in the place of Christ the High Priest. Appropriately, since our Great High Priest is Mediator between God and men, the Church's priest, during the Liturgy of the Sacrifice - after, that is, the litany-like moment of the Bidding Prayers - turns at key moments to the body of the faithful, engaging their response ('active' participation means engaged participation, not jumping up and down) to the sacred action of which he is protagonist. Essentially, however, in the celebration of the Sacrifice the ministerial priest is turned - always in spiritual attitude if, in our current practice, seldom in empirical fact - not to face the people but, with the beloved Son, to face the Father, to whom the Oblation of praise and thanksgiving, propitiation and supplication is addressed. Your desire for a clearer indication of the change in level as we move from the Liturgy of the Word to the Liturgy of the Sacrifice would be well met by the change of direction whereby the priest at that shift in gear turns from facing the people to facing the Father. A strengthening of the Offertory rite would appropriately accompany that change.

To read the entire correspondence, see here.

Benedictine Altars in the Mainstream of Catholic Life

Here is an image from a larger photo shoot of the ordinataion Mass in Venice, Florida, as celebrated by Bishop Frank Dewane. The diocese is steadily making progress, with EF Masses and ever better music. Also, these ordinations point the way of the future.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

5th Annual All Souls Appeal: Using Black Vestments

All Souls Day is fast coming upon us, and so I wish to continue our annual NLM tradition of using this occasion to appeal to our priests to use black vestments both for All Souls and for Requiems generally according to the modern Roman rite -- I specify the modern liturgy because in the usus antiquior, black is what is specified for these and so no appeal is needed, whereas in the rubrics for the modern liturgy, black, violet or white are permitted as valid options. [Note: I am speaking generally and excluding the specific consideration requiems for young, baptized children, where the tradition is for white to be used.]

But why do so? At times in the past few decades, some individuals have attempted to make the argument that the use of black is contrary to Christian hope in the resurrection of the dead. Accordingly, some of these same individuals have agitated against the use of black -- even violet -- for these occasions, despite the Church's continued use of that liturgical colour. In response, I would point out that this is not a case of either-or, but rather one of both-and. While Christians are indeed a people of hope rooted in the resurrection, this does not invalidate the natural emotional response of sorrow or mourning, nor that fact that we are likewise to be aware of the reality of sin, death and judgement. Such awareness and reserve is simply that, an awareness and reserve which springs from a recognition of a genuine spiritual reality, and the mere fact of this cannot be equated with hopelessness or an insufficient hope in the resurrection of the dead. In point of fact, not giving adequate recognition to these realities is itself a problem.

If we look at the Church's liturgical year, we see how it brings with it times of feasting as well as times of fasting; it brings times of exuberance and joy and times of more sombre reserve, penance and mourning. The liturgies of Holy Week alone give a particularly condensed example of this. Each of these parts bring to bear and teach of particular aspects within their appointed times and on their appointed occasions, also necessarily understood in relation to and as part of the greater whole. The loss of any of these parts results in an incomplete picture.

The use of black, which corresponds to the recognition of sorrow and mourning, sin, death and judgement, is one manifestation or part of this fuller picture. (And at this point, I would note this is being considered primarily within the liturgical and cultural context of the West.)

On a symbolic and theological level, the sombre and reserved tone of black vestments can be understood as a reminder of the sorrowful reality of sin (personal and original) and the reality of death which entered the world with the Fall. It manifests a kind of holy and prudent reserve. It can emphasize the reality of purgatory and the need for prayers which we should offer for the dead -- one of the seven spiritual works of mercy. By the same token, we, the living, are accordingly reminded of the four last things and the need to care for the state of of our own souls, working out our salvation. On a cultural and pastoral level, in the Western world black has a particularly strong association as symbolic of sorrow and mourning. Accordingly, black pastorally acknowledges and unites itself to the natural and perfectly normal emotional response to the loss of a loved one; of the sorrow which entered the world through sin and death.

As a symbol then, the use of black speaks strongly and poignantly on a variety of levels and its use is therefore both meritorious and to be encouraged.

See also: The Symbolism Unbleached Beeswax Candles

A Commentary on All Saints Propers

Ted Krasnicki has written a wonderful and detailed commentary on the music associated with the propers of All Saints. As you will see, there is as much information contained in the music as the text, and the integration between the two is the thing that is truly marvelous. This is the music the church attaches to the Mass this Sunday. And remember that even if your parish does not sing this music, that doesn't remove the first-place status of Gregorian chant at Mass. It always remains the ideal.

Read his commentary.

CNN lists Church Musician Among Most Stressful, Least Paid

CNN says

You may not think of people who plan, direct and conduct performances for religious services as being under a particularly high amount of stress. But they also choose the appropriate psalm or hymn for every wedding and funeral -- only some of the most important events in a family's life. And those stressful situations can create some demanding clients.

"Every now and then you'll get a strange request," said Dan Fenn, Music Ministry Director at St. John's Lutheran Church in Northfield, Minn. "A couple of years ago I got a request to play the Beer Barrel Polka at a funeral. You have to ask yourself, is this appropriate for a worship service?"

Variants of Anglican Worship: A Former Anglican Reviews

With all the recent talk about the forthcoming provisions for Anglicans to come over to Rome, some former Anglicans have been attempting to provide some sense of both the possibilities and potentialities, as well the struggles. As part of that, some have been attempting to give us some sense of the various "schools" within Anglicanism, both doctrinally and liturgically, so that we might have a greater foundation in which to consider these questions -- particularly the complexities of the question.

Br. Stephen, a former Anglican who is now in the Cistercian Monastery of Our Lady of Spring Bank, specifically addressed the liturgical aspect of these sorts of divisions in a recent post on his blog, Sub Tuum. Br. Stephen would point out that various variations and mixtures are to be found, so by no means are these hard and fast, however they can give a general sense of the liturgical variations within Anglicanism.

I asked Br. Stephen about reproducing the piece in its entirety here, and aside from agreeing, Br. Stephen also made some further modifications and additions for the NLM readership.

There still seems to be a good bit of confusion in Roman Catholic circles as to just how Anglicans worship. I thought giving the visuals of the different schools of those who are likely to be considering the ordinariates might be a better approach than pouring out yet more prose, so below are some videos representing the worship of the types of folks most likely to be considering the ordinariate. There are several other major schools of Anglican worship, but these are the types most likely to be used by the groups who are entering into Roman Catholic discussions of Anglicanism at the moment.

These are broad strokes categories generally used by Anglicans, but each has many subclasses and crossovers. Consider this a 101, not an advanced course.

(No video below should be taken as implying that a particular location is bound for Rome. I picked them solely based on how well they showed a particular style of worship.)

Prayer Book Catholic

First, from St. Thomas Toronto, we have Prayer Book Catholic. These are the folks who worship in the Prose of Cranmer, the tradition of English hymnody, and a ceremonial that tends toward the Medieval and English, often drawing its structure from the work of Percy Dearmer's Parson's Handbook and Ritual Notes. This is generally typical of what you see in the Traditional Anglican Communion and very like the practice of those who are already in the fold of the Anglican Use. Many of these folks do use the Anglican or American Missal, but usually do so with the more Anglican options.

Missal Catholic

Next, we have the Missal tradition. In the sense I'm using the term here, it could also be called Continental, Society of Ss. Peter & Paul, or simply Extreme. This is the style that was typical of Rome-ward leaning Anglicans before the Council. In England it has largely been superseded by the Novus Ordo, but notable pockets remain there and in the US. This clip is from Scotland. Note the fiddleback, biretta, and baroque bits. This is the group who use the English Missal and Fortescue and O'Connell.

Modern Catholic

Next we have the Modern Catholic or Novus Ordo school, which forms the majority of the members of Forward in Faith in the UK. Rome changed and they followed, but keeping a style that looks like what we see happening in the Reform of the Reform to Roman Catholic eyes. This is the Bishop of Ho in Ghana at the Glastonbury pilgrimage:


Next we have the Evangelicals, in a service that combines Low Church elements with some modern music. These are the most numerous group of disaffected Anglicans and are the ones who quickly took an intial pass on the Holy Father's offer, being quite secure in their Protestant identity. This is from Truro Church in Virginia.


Next we have the Charismatics, who represent another major strain of those who are unhappy with Canterbury but are also unlikely to be looking to Rome. This is from a church in London.

The Classical Anglican Service from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer

Finally, for comparison, we have the classical Anglican service of Choral Matins according to the Book of Common Prayer 1928 from St. John's, Detroit. This Anglican conflation and abbreviation of the breviary offices of Matins and Lauds would long have been the principal service of Sunday in most Anglican parishes in the UK, Canada, and the US. Today, as Anglican piety has become almost uniformly Eucharistic, it is relatively rare, though the musical legacy of this school of churchmanship is still frequently heard at Evensong in a number of parishes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

All Souls Requiem, Portland OR

Monday, November 2, 2009
7:30 P.M.

Latin Requiem Mass
according to the Extraordinary Form

The Reverend Eric M. Andersen

Sung by
Cantores in Ecclesia
Dean Applegate, Director

Most of the sung Latin liturgy will be taken from the Missa pro Defunctis of Giovanni Francesco
Anerio (1567-1630). Anerio held several musical directorships in Italy, including that of Santa
Maria dei Monti (1613-1621), and in later life became maestro di cappella at the Polish Court of
Sigismund III. His Missa pro Defunctis was first published in 1614 and was subsequently issued
separately in three further editions in the 17th century. His setting of the text of the Requiem
Mass perfectly blends traditional and new elements to form a setting both tender and stirring.

Holy Rosary Church
Dominican Parish and Priory
375 NE Clackamas
Portland, Oregon 97232

Christ the King in Viguzzolo, Italy

Sent in today are these photos from the parish church of Beata Vergine Assunta in Viguzzolo, Italy. The Mass was celebrated by Don Gino Bava.

For more photos, see: Picasa Web Album - - 20091025 Viguzzolo AL

A note from Belfast, re: Requiem Mass in the extraordinary form

Here in Belfast we are celebrating a Requiem Mass (1962 Missal) with absolutions over the catafalque on 7 November. The Choir will sing a great deal of Victoria's 6 part Requiem and Lobo's motet, Versa Est In Luctum. The Schola are joined by a number of singers from various choirs across the city, and so it is another progression in re-establishing traditional music and the traditional liturgy at grass-roots parish level (the 'venue' is at the heart of the Falls Road, the scene of much violence during the troubles and the scene of real social problems). The more ancient form of the Roman Rite is also increasing in attendance and popularity here, with 400 people attending the solemn high Mass celebrated on 15 August. We hope that the benefits of such a revival in interest will be felt across our diocese (and the North of Ireland) and extend to our sung Requiem also.

The details are as follows:

Saint Paul’s Church, Falls Road. Saturday 7 November at 1.00pm
Music by the Schola Gregoriana of Belfast: Requiem for six voices (Victoria), Versa Est in Luctum (Lobo), Gregorian Chant and Organ.
Everyone Welcome.

The Liturgy in Medieval England: A History

The following title was brought to my attention yesterday; a title which I first heard tell of in 2006 while it was in preparation.

The book is titled The Liturgy in Medieval England: A History, written by Richard Pfaff, and due to be released in November.

I can provide no particular comments on it, nor the perspective from which it is written, but its table of contents certain sounds interesting, and the title will no doubt be of interest to liturgical scholars and historians. I therefore mention it simply as a notice of a forthcoming publication of possible academic interest.

For more information: The Liturgy in Medieval England: A History (Cambridge University Press)

Must One Wear Jeans and Tie-dye to Minister to Women Religious?

The cultural divide in the American Church church is nicely illustrated by the National Catholic Reporter's argument that if a Cardinal wears a long cape, "he cannot possibly fairly fathom the lives and work of our women religious."

Featured below is Cardinal Franc Rodé, Prefect of the Congregation for the Religious.

Some comments on NCR's site on the "story" here, a story sent out with trumpets blaring in an email blast, in case they are deleted after being quoted here:

Just in time for Halloween!

What would Christ say of these men in their pretty pink silk and expensive dresses and a pope who dresses like Santa Claus with red Prada slippers?

Looking at these photos I could hardly stifle my laughter. Looking at these photos I wondered 'what year is it?'. Looking at these photos I questioned why these liturgical drag queens have so much power over the humble, earnest religious sisters of America.

I bet the costuming department for the Tudors is way jealous. On the other hand maybe they did the costuming.

I'm pretty sure there are no biological females in these photos.

OH THIS GUY NEEDS A DOSE OF JESUS AND SERVICE! He missed out on these lessons. Can you imagine Jesus in this position?

You have to feel sorry for the poor fellow who needs to retreat into fancy dress to express his role.... Of course the goody two shoes types will probably scorn my advice. They'll reap the whirlwind.

Did I just fall into a time warp? You're kidding - right?

Just one point: the orders of women religious that find Catholic liturgical garb offensive are shrinking and disappearing, while those who aspire to something higher than sneakers and pant suits are growing.

Norms for Guest Choirs at St. Peter's, Rome

Norms that reflect a deeply informed perspective on the musical structure of the Roman Rite have been issued by the Vatican and are being strictly adhered to. Here they are.

Among them:

The liturgy is celebrated in the Latin language, according to the Roman Rite. Gregorian chant has first place. The guest choir is expected to chant the Ordinary of Holy Mass in alternation with the Musical Chapel of the Basilica.

The guest choir may sing: at the Entrance procession until the moment when the celebrant reaches the altar (the Gregorian Introit is sung by the Musical Chapel of the Basilica), at the preparation of the gifts and relative offertory, at Communion, after the Gregorian antiphon has been sung, and at the end of Mass, after the Blessing. The program of music must follow the Liturgy of the day and will be agreed upon with and approved by the Choirmaster.

The norms include a helpful table of ordinary chants:

As a general norm, the chants from the Ordinary to be executed are:
Sundays of Advent: Missa XVII Credo IV
Sundays of Christmas: Missa IX Credo IV
Sundays of Lent: Missa XVII Credo IV
Sundays of Easter: Missa I Credo III
Sundays of Ordinary Time: Missa XI Credo I
Feasts of Ordinary Time: Missa VIII Credo III
Feasts of the B.V. Mary: Missa IX Credo IV
Feasts of the Apostles: Missa IV Credo III

Now, this brief overview serves as a guide to our parish liturgies. How does your parish stack up against this emerging ideal?

Compendium of the Reforms of the Roman Breviary, 1568-1961: Part 7.1 - The Breviary Reforms of St. Pius X

We now turn our attention in our series on the reforms to the Roman breviary to that section which will have no doubt been the most anticipated of the entire series. Namely, to the breviary reforms pursued in the early 20th century by Pope Pius X.

For terms and their definitions, please see the associated Glossary which accompanies this compendium.

Compendium of the Reforms of the Roman Breviary, 1568-1961

by Gregory DiPippo
for publication on the New Liturgical Movement

Part 7.1 - The Breviary Reforms of St. Pius X

As has already been mentioned earlier in this series, the last of the neo-Gallican rites was abolished in the year 1875, due in no small measure to the persuasion and passion of Dom Prosper Guéranger, who died in the same year. Although he had achieved one of his principal goals, the return of France to liturgical unity with the Church of Rome, the Liturgical Movement founded by him still had a great deal of work before it. In 1903, the Cardinal Patriarch of Venice , Giuseppe Sarto, was elected to the throne of St. Peter, taking the name Pius X. The last Pope to be canonized thus far was also the first who may be said to have truly shared the ideas of the Liturgical Movement. Prior to his election to the Papacy, he worked as a parish priest, as the spiritual director of a seminary, as a canon and as a bishop, first in Mantua, then in Venice. In all these roles, he was known for his encouragement of lay participation in church singing, and of lay education about the Sacred Liturgy. As Pope, he issued the famous motu proprio on sacred music, Tra le sollicitudini, and entrusted to the Benedictine Congregation of Solemnes, founded by Dom Guéranger, a complete reform of the official text of Gregorian chant.

These things may make it all the more surprising, therefore, that he also introduced into the Roman Rite one of the most characteristic features of the neo-Gallican breviaries: the near-complete re-ordering of the Psalter, and the extension of its use to the majority of Saints’ days. To understand why this change was made, the first substantial change to the Roman Breviary in nearly three centuries, we must first consider certain developments of the post-Tridentine period.

From St. Pius V to Leo XIII

In the Middle Ages, there was no idea of a General Calendar of Saints’ days to be observed universally. To be sure, there were many feasts which were observed universally, such as the principal feasts of Our Lady and the Apostles, the four great doctors of the Latin Church, and several of the more famous early martyrs and confessors. However, there was an enormous amount of local variation to calendars, which were regulated by local bishops and cathedral chapters with almost no direction from Rome. For this reason, one also finds some interesting gaps in medieval liturgical calendars, especially in regard to “new” Saints. The first Saint ever formally canonized by the Apostolic See, Ulric of Augsburg, was never celebrated with a feast day in Rome itself. Pope Gregory IX, who reigned from 1227 to 1241, canonized both St. Francis of Assisi and St. Dominic. Despite the tremendous importance of these two religious founders to the life of the later medieval Church, neither appears in the 1556 edition of the Sarum Breviary, or the 1501 Breviary of Bamberg, (to give just two examples); in many other places, they were kept as mere commemorations. The same Pope once called the great preacher and miracle worker Saint Anthony of Padua “the Ark of the Covenant” while the Saint himself was still alive, yet his feast is missing from many late medieval calendars, and indeed, is not included in the 1568 Roman Breviary.

The Use of Rome had already been adopted by the Franciscans at time of their foundation, and was spread by them far beyond the confines of the Pope’s diocese. The new orders of the Counter-Reformation era such as the Jesuits and Oratorians also followed the Roman Use, and it soon became the standard liturgical form for all new religious orders and congregations. The Pian reform of the Roman Breviary was also taken on by innumerable dioceses throughout Europe and the newly-evangelized Americas, creating a liturgical uniformity much greater than had been known before Trent . The Catholic Church of the Tridentine era was particularly concerned, of course, to lay greater emphasis on the cult of the Saints, which had been so thoroughly rejected by the Protestant Reformers, and to add to the ranks of the heavenly intercessors its own great heroes. Therefore, when Saints like Ignatius of Loyola and Philip Neri were canonized, their feasts were more or less universally and immediately adopted, unlike those of their great medieval predecessors.

The system of arranging Saints’ offices as established by Pope Saint Pius V remained unchanged until the reform of 1911. What did change however was the number of Saints on the Calendar, which increased dramatically over the three and a half centuries following the publication of the Pian liturgical books. This is very much an expression of the traditional Catholic devotion to the Saints, as crucial to the piety of the Counter-Reformation as it was to that of the Middle Ages. It cannot be denied, however, that the brevity of the Offices of the Saints, compared with that of the ferial and Sunday office, also played a role in this very notable rise in the number of feast days.

As has been noted earlier in this series, the Pian Breviary retained the medieval custom that on any feast day, the psalms of Sunday are said at Lauds in place of those of the feria. On feasts of double or semidouble rank (which includes all octaves), there are special psalms to be said at Matins and both Vespers, also in place of those of the feria. Consequently, the more Saints on the Calendar, the more of the Psalter is impeded; although the weekly recitation of the entire Psalter always remained the theoretical norm, in reality, it occurred only in the very rare week when there was no feast at all. The Breviary of 1568 also retained the common medieval custom by which the more important Saints’ feasts were allowed to take the place of common Sundays. This custom still exists to a very limited degree in the Roman Rite; this year, for example, the feast of All Saints will be celebrated on November 1 in place of the Office and Mass of Sunday in both forms of the Roman Rite.

On the general Calendar of 1568, there are only 137 double or semidouble Saint’s days, not including the movable feasts such as Easter and Corpus Christi. There are comparatively few double feasts; therefore, in the first full year of its use, 1569, only three of the common Sundays were impeded. All feasts of nine readings, double and semidouble, if they were impeded by a more important office, would be transferred to the next free day; in 1569, there were four such translations. However, it must always be born in mind that the general Calendar included only the basic feasts deemed important enough to be celebrated wherever the Roman Rite was in use; each diocese and religious order continued to supplement it with its own Saints, and to keep those of its particular patrons with octaves.

By the end of the 19th century, the number of Saints on both the general and local calendars had increased to such a point that ferial Offices and even common Sundays had become a rare exception. In the year 1900, when the number of doubles and semidoubles on the general Calendar had risen to 288, twenty-one of that year’s twenty-eight common Sundays were impeded by duplex feasts. The number of Saints was even greater on local Calendars. In a Franciscan Breviary published at Rome in 1829, the calendar has only eighteen free days; not a single one occurs between June 8th and October 29th. The translation of feasts had become so frequent and so complex that Pope Leo XIII decided in 1882 to impose a notable limitation on the practice; this was done, however, with the expressly stated purpose of keeping open places for the addition of even more feasts! (Batiffol, p. 300)

Some religious orders had also been granted the privilege of keeping all the feasts of their Patrons and formally canonized Saints with octaves; the Discalced Carmelites had fifteen proper octaves, in addition to the sixteen kept universally in the Roman Rite. The extreme example, the Dominicans, did not of course use the Pian Breviary; by 1900, they had added twenty-seven proper octaves, in varying degrees of solemnity, to the sixteen in general use, for a total of fourty-three. It must be noted, however, that the Dominican Calendar, like so many proper calendars, was filled with feasts to such a point that some of these octaves were themselves completely impeded by other feasts.

In addition, it had become a widespread custom to permanently assign certain major feasts to certain Sundays; thus, for example, the feast of the Holy Rosary was always kept on the first Sunday of the month of October. This was not (as is now the case in the Extraordinary Rite) an “external solemnity” for the benefit of the people; rather, the feast displaced the Sunday entirely in both the Office and the Mass. By 1911, there were eight feasts permanently assigned to Sundays on the general Calendar alone, but many more in various proper Calendars; a French missal printed right before the implementation of St. Pius X’s reform has, in the supplement “for certain places”, twenty different feasts assigned to particular Sundays.

Finally, there were also in many Breviaries votive offices of the Saints, corresponding to particular votive Masses. The Discalced Carmelites had votive offices for Our Lady and five major Carmelite Saints, with some restriction on how often they could be said. Among the Dominicans, certain votive offices were obligatory throughout the Order if a common feria occurred, and others were obligatory in various provinces or houses of study. In 1883, Pope Leo XIII granted to the entire Roman Rite a series of votive offices for each day of the week except Sunday. The rubrics specify that the ferial office must still be said on Ash Wednesday, Passiontide and the last seven days of Advent; that they needed to say this indicates how little importance was attached to the ferial office. By 1911, therefore, it was not merely possible, but probable that a priest might say a ferial office no more than handful of times during the year, and rarely if ever celebrate Mass in green vestments.

[In the second part of this section, we will continue with an analysis of the specific reforms of Pius X and a consideration of this reform.]

-- Copyright (c) Gregory DiPippo, 2009

* * *

To read previous installments in this series, see: Compendium of the Reforms of the Roman Breviary, 1568-1961

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cardinal Cañizares on the Supreme Importance of the Liturgy

The Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, recently attended a conference in Barcelona. On this occasion, he was interviewed by Catalunya Cristiana. Here is an NLM translation of the parts of this quite inspiring interview, which concern the liturgy. I have taken the liberty to highlight the passages which speak to the supreme importance of the liturgy, a point sadly still often overlooked:

Soon it will be a year that you were appointed by the Pope as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship ... How do you assess your debut in the Vatican Curia?

It is not for me to assess my performance. All I have to say is that it is a very important time for all, intense work is being done, a plenary meeting of the Congregation has taken place, proposals have been reached which the Holy Father approved and which constitute the plan of our work [NLM: this appears to refer to the "reform of the reform proposals" mentioned by Andrea Tornielli in August, cf. here]. The great objective is to revive the spirit of the liturgy throughout the world.

What have been the most pressing issues that you have had to attend to?

Urgent business there is every morning, referring to excesses and errors which are being committed in the liturgy, but above all, the most urgent issue that is pressing all over the world, is that the sense of the liturgy be truly recovered. This is not about changing rubrics or introducing new things, but what it is about, is simply that the liturgy be lived and that it be in the center of the life of the Church. The Church cannot be without the liturgy, because the Church is there for the liturgy, that is, for praise, for thanksgiving, to offer the sacrifice to the Lord, for worship ... This is fundamental, and without this there is no Church. Indeed, without this there is no humanity. It is therefore an extremely urgent and pressing task.

How can the sense of the liturgy be recovered?

At present we work in a very quiet manner on an entire range of issues having to do with educative projects. This is the prime necessity there is: a good and genuine liturgical formation. The subject of liturgical formation is critical because there really is no sufficient education [at the moment]. People believe that the liturgy is a matter of forms and external realities, and what we really need is to restore a sense of worship, i.e. the sense of God as God. This sense of God can only be recovered with the liturgy. Therefore the Pope has the greatest interest in emphasizing the priority of the liturgy in the life of the Church. When one lives the spirit of the liturgy, one enters into the spirit of worship, one enters into the acknowledgment of God, one enters into communion with Him, and this is what transforms man and turns him into a new man. The liturgy always looks towards God, not the community; it is not the community that makes the liturgy, but it is God who makes it. It is He who comes to meet us and offers us to participate in his life, his mercy and his forgiveness ... When one truly lives the liturgy and God is truly at the centre of it, everything changes.

So far away are we today from the true sense of the mystery?

Yes, there is currently very great secularization and secularism, the sense of mystery and the sacred has been lost, one does not live with the spirit truly to worship God and to let God be God. This is why it is believed to be necessary constantly to be changing things in the liturgy, to innovate and that everything has to be very creative. This is not what is needed in the liturgy, but that it really be worship, i.e. recognition of the One who transcends us and who offers us salvation. The mystery of God, which is the unfathomable mystery of his love, is not something nebulous, but is Someone who comes to meet us. We must recover the man who adores. We must recover the sense of the mystery. We must recover what we never ought to have lost. The greatest evil that is being done to man is trying to eliminate from his life transcendence and the dimension of the mystery. The consequences we are experiencing today in all spheres of life. They are the tendency to replace the truth with opinion, confidence with unease, the end with the means ... Therefore it is so important to defend man against all the ideologies which weaken him in his triple relationship to the world, to others and to God. Never before has there been so much talk of freedom, and never before have there been more enslavements.

After so many years of teaching and episcopal ministry, how have you experienced the call to serve in the Roman Curia as "minister of the Pope"?

I accept it with great joy, because it means fulfilling the will of God. When one does the will of God one is very happy, although I must confess that I did not expect something like this. At the same time, the fact of working together with the Pope allows me to live intensely the mystery of communion. I feel very united to him, happy to help him in all he really is asking for. As is known, one of his principal concerns is the concern for the liturgy.

Mass at Two Spanish Mission Churches in the United States

News and some images of a Solemn Mass that took place at Mission San Juan Bautista for the Feast of Christ the King this past Sunday came to the NLM today.

This Mission church was founded in 1797, with the present church having been dedicated in 1812.

The Celebrant was Fr. James Fryar, FSSP.

More photos here: Monterey Traditional Latin Mass

* * *

Also coming the NLM's way today was news of a Mass in the usus antiquior offered in Mission San Rafael, founded in 1817 in California.

The Mass was offered by Fr. Jean Marie Moreau of the Institute of Christ the King.

Annual Catholic Martyrs of Oxford at Blackfriars

The blog of the English Dominican Studentate, Godzdogz, have news and photos up from the annual Oxford Martyrs' Mass which commemorates the Catholic martyrs of Oxford -- as the name implies.

From their blog:

For the past few years, the Latin Mass Society has organised a High Mass and Procession in memory of those Oxford men who gave their lives for the Catholic faith during the English Reformation and Recusancy period. Last year, Bishop William Kenney CP blessed a plaque at the end of Holywell Street to commemorate their sacrifice, and the liturgies took place in Blackfriars for the first time.

This year saw another first, as the Prior of Blackfriars, fr Simon Gaine OP celebrated the High Mass in the Extraordinary Form on 24 October 2009. He was assisted by fr Richard Conrad OP as deacon, and fr Lawrence Lew OP as sub-deacon. Once again, the team of servers was drawn from the Dominican studentate.


During the Mass, the choir, which included students from Blackfriars Hall, sang music by William Byrd, who was himself a recusant Catholic. His 4-part Mass was sung in clandestine Masses during the times of the martyrs we were commemorating, and the words of the motet, 'Ne irascaris Domine', which was also sung during the Mass, had a particular poignancy for recusant Catholics in Elizabethan England:

"Be not angry, O Lord,
and remember our iniquity no more.
Behold, we are all your people.

Your holy city has become a wilderness.
Zion has become a wilderness,
Jerusalem has been made desolate."

To read the entire story see: Oxford Martyrs' Mass at Blackfriars

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