Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jewish Convert on Gregorian Chant and Ad Orientem

A few days ago, one of our readers pointed me toward a piece found on the National Catholic Register, Rosalind Moss' Unexpected Journey, which chronicles that convert's story of her journey from Judaism to Protestantism to Catholicism and ultimately to Benedictine monasticism (Rosalind Mass is now Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God).

There are various points of interest in the article, but for our purposes, I think you'll be particularly interested to read her thoughts on Gregorian Chant and ad orientem:

You’ve mentioned wanting to learn Gregorian chant because of its connection to “Old Covenant” worship. Could you explain that?

I’ve said many times that the most Jewish thing a Jew can do is to become Catholic. This is true not just in a general sense, but in a most detailed sense as well. There is nothing Catholic that is not rooted in the Old Testament. Our Catholic faith did not spring up out of nowhere, but out of the faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

This is true liturgically speaking, as we have a tabernacle, altar and priesthood in the New Covenant, similar to the Old Covenant. We also have Gregorian chant, which is rooted in Old Covenant worship. The Psalms were not merely read, but chanted in public worship of God, which Jesus himself participated in as a child.

This chant was more fully developed in the Catholic Church and became what we now refer to as Gregorian chant. I’ve listened to many types of chant, but none quite as beautiful as Gregorian.

Pope Benedict XVI has encouraged the faithful to reacquaint themselves with this chant and use it liturgically; we want to follow our Supreme Pontiff’s lead.

You also value the Mass being offered ad orientem. Why is this?

The No. 1 thing that attracted me to the Diocese of Tulsa was Bishop Edward Slattery’s decision to offer the Novus Ordo Mass ad orientem, that is, facing east, liturgically speaking. It is the posture of the shepherd leading the people to Christ and has been the case for centuries.

As a brief comment, aside from being very encouraged by her thoughts on chant and liturgical orientation, it is always enthralling (to this writer at least) to see others make and speak to these connections between the Old and New Covenants. Understanding these linkages is a way to deepen our appreciation and enrich our understanding of the sacred liturgy of the Church.

Read more: Rosalind Moss' Unexpected Journey

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