Monday, February 14, 2011

Report on "In Utroque Usu: The Pursuit of the Two Forms of the Roman Liturgy" Seminar

Further to our recent photo report of Dom Cassian Folsom, OSB, offering Solemn Mass at Cathedral of St. John Berchmans as part of a liturgical seminar, the following report has become available about the conference itself.

As already reported on this blog, a rather original seminar took place recently in Shreveport, Louisiana. The week began with an intensive day of workshops concerning the new translation of the Roman Missal for the priests of the diocese of Shreveport with their bishop, Bishop Michael Duca. In this respect, there is nothing particularly new to report as similar workshops are now common throughout the English-speaking world as pastors and their people apply themselves to the various questions posed by the implementation of the new translation.

On this occasion, the workshops were led by Monsignor Andrew Wadsworth, the Executive Director of ICEL, a speaker who combines a highly informative presentation with a genuine willingness to hear the concerns of pastors and to consider with them the sort of challenges that will inevitably arise in this very significant moment for all Catholics who use English in the celebration of the liturgy. The animated and wide-ranging discussion of these sessions was greatly appreciated by the priests who enthusiastically engaged in the workshops and greatly enjoyed the particularly British humor of the speaker.

This workshop was followed by a three-day seminar for a smaller group of priests from all over North America who met to consider the demands of the ars celebrandi in both forms of the Roman Rite. For this seminar, Msgr Wadsworth was joined by Fr Cassian Fulsom OSB, prior of the Benedictine community of San Benedetto in Norcia, Central Italy. In addition to being the founding superior of this rapidly expanding international community whose liturgical life bears daily witness to the richness of both forms of the Roman Rite, Fr Cassian is a professor at the Pontifical Institute for Liturgy at Sant’Anselmo in Rome and was recently appointed a consultor of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The sessions of this seminar included a consideration of the following topics:

- The making of the English translation of the Roman Missal: a historical perspective
- The General Instruction of the Roman Missal in the light of liturgical tradition
- Summorum Pontificum and its implications for communities where there has been no recent experience of this form of the liturgy
- An introduction to the Extraordinary Form for those who have had little exposure to it: the celebration of Mass.
- Strategies for personal preparation of the priest who celebrates in both forms.
- Internet resources which are helpful in preparing for liturgical celebration.

The sessions took the form of small group discussions and practical demonstrations that were marked by a sense that priests were learning from one another. On Feb 1, Msgr Wadsworth celebrated a Missa Cantata in the Cathedral of St John Berchmans, proposing a form of Mass which might be possible in a parish with few resources, the music was sung by the congregation and a single cantor. The next evening, Fr Cassian Fulsom celebrated a Solemn Mass of The Feast of the Purification (Candlemas) which included the blessing of candles and the procession proper to this day.

The cathedral’s own magnificent choir provided the music: the plainsong propers and Schubert’s Mass in G (with orchestra). Fr Cassian was assisted by the Rector of the Cathedral of Charleston (Fr Gregory Wilson) and the Rector of the Cathedral in Shreveport (Fr Peter Mangum). This solemn celebration drew a crowd, many of whom had had little or no experience of a Mass in this form, reactions were overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic.

The Shreveport seminar was the brain-child of Fr Peter Mangum and seems to represent a new formulation that responds to a growing need among priests for a forum in which they can speak candidly of their experiences and gain support and formation for their liturgical ministry. The reactions of the participants seem to suggest that this was greatly appreciated and points towards the need for further such initiatives in the future.

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