Sunday, August 31, 2014

Another Parish Moves East - Greenville, South Carolina

In Greenville, South Carolina, we find another parish that has made the jump to ad orientem, along with an excellent explanation of the situation from their parish website. I commend the pastor for the fantastic liturgical leadership in restoring the sacred!
1. Since 2008, most Masses at St. Mary’s Church have been celebrated with the priest standing on the same side of the altar as the congregation during the Eucharistic Prayer, a custom not widely seen today in the Catholic Church except for in the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, commonly called the Tridentine Mass. This custom of priest and people standing together on the same side of the altar is called praying towards the East or ad orientem, and at St. Mary’s even the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite — the Mass of the Second Vatican Council — is celebrated ad orientem. Here’s why.

Our History

2. From Christian antiquity, priests and people celebrated the Holy Eucharist by facing together towards the Lord, which meant standing together on the same side of the altar. This ancient and universal practice was lost sight of in the last two generations by the new practice of the priest standing across the altar from the people during the Eucharistic Prayer, a custom almost never before found in the sacred liturgy except for rare instances of architectural necessity, and in the last few years, theologians and pastors have begun to review this innovation in light of the best scholarship and the experience of the Church since the late 1960′s.

3. Before he became Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was one of most thoughtful and respected critics of the unintended consequences which flow from the priest and people facing each other across the altar during the Eucharistic Prayer. Ratzinger argued that this arrangement, in addition to being a novelty in Christian practice, has the effect of creating a circle of congregation and celebrant closed in upon itself rather than allowing the congregation and celebrant to be a pilgrim people together turned towards the Lord. And this closed circle, in turn, too easily renders the Eucharist more of a horizontal celebration of the congregation gathered than a vertical offering of the sacrifice of Christ to the Father. This flattening of divine worship into a self-referential celebration is, in part, why too many Catholics experience Mass as much less than the source and summit of the Church’s life, and the remedy for this malady is to open the closed circle and experience the power of turning together towards the Lord.

4. This can be done primarily in two ways: 1) return to the ancient and universal practice of the priest standing with the people on one side of the altar as together they face the East of the sacred liturgy, the place from which the glory of the Lord shines upon us, or 2) even when the priest and people remain separated on opposite sides of the altar, place a cross at the center of the altar to allow both celebrant and congregation to face the Lord. Pope Benedict, through his writing and by his example, encouraged priests everywhere to work towards these goals to enrich the experience of divine worship and free us from the danger of solipsism which is contained in self-referential ways of praying — a danger against which we have been repeatedly warned by Pope Francis.

What changed in the 1960′s and why?

5. The ritual forms and liturgical texts of Catholic worship have changed and evolved many times throughout the centuries, and the architectural arrangements for the celebration of the sacred rites have likewise changed. Ordinarily, this process of change is slow, deliberate, and incremental, but in the 1960’s the Church experienced an intense burst of change which dramatically altered both the ritual forms of our worship and the architectural arrangements of our churches. Because there were so many changes in such a short span of time, all of the alterations were considered by many people to be essentially connected to each other, but that is not the case. A good example is the use of Latin in the liturgical texts promulgated after the Second Vatican Council. Many people falsely believe that because Vatican II permitted the use of the vernacular languages in worship, the Council banished Latin from the modern Roman Rite. In fact, however, the same Council which permitted the use of the vernacular also insisted that all Catholics should be able to say and sing their parts of the new Mass in Latin. Celebrating the modern Roman Missal in Latin, therefore, is not in any way a rejection of the Second Vatican Council; rather, the regular use of Latin in modern worship is precisely what the Council Fathers called for.

6. A similar confusion exists with respect to the location of the altar and the place of the priest at the altar. From Christian antiquity, most churches had only one altar, and it was freestanding, meaning that the priest could walk completely around it during the celebration of the liturgy. This custom was retained in the Christian East by Orthodox and Catholics alike, but in the West the altar was gradually pushed back from the center of the sanctuary to the rear wall, in large measure to allow it to merge architecturally with the tabernacle. This change was later accompanied by adding additional altars to most churches, eventually yielding the custom of having three altars in each church. Even before the Second Vatican Council, though, pastors and theologians began to argue for a return to our own tradition of having but one altar in each church and insisting that it once again be freestanding. This was, in part, the fruit of the Liturgical Movement of the 19th and 20th centuries which reminded the Church, among other things, that the altar is the preeminent symbol of Christ in the liturgy. Accordingly, throughout the Western Church the old “high altars” found at the rear of the sanctuary were abandoned, changed, or replaced to allow the ancient and renewed custom of a freestanding altar. But just as this was happening, a novelty was introduced and attached to the newly detached altar: the custom of the priest and people facing each other across the altar during the Eucharistic Prayer — an innovation about which the Second Vatican Council said not one word. So, there is no essential connection between the liturgy of Vatican II, the freestanding altar, and the priest facing the people at the altar. In fact, even now the rubrics in the modern Roman Missal are written with the assumption that the priest and people are together facing liturgical East during the Mass.

Why face East?

7. Praying in a “sacred direction” is a feature common in many religions. Think, for example, of Muslims who pray facing Mecca — a practice instituted by Mohammed, who initially had his followers pray facing Jerusalem. Following similar customs in Judaism, the idea of a “sacred direction” has been a part of Christianity since the beginning. The first Christians expected the return of Christ in glory to occur at the Mount of Olives, from where He ascended to His Father, and so it was a common practice for them during prayer to turn towards the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. This practice later evolved into the general custom of preferring to face Jerusalem during prayer, and as the Church spread through the Mediterranean world, this notion further changed into a connection between the light of the rising sun and the glory of the returning Son. The seeds of this idea are planted throughout Scripture (Wisdom 16:28, Zechariah 14:4, Malachi 3:2, Matthew 24:27 and 30, Luke 1:78, and Revelation 7:2), and the early Church placed great emphasis on this point. St. Justin Martyr wrote in the second century “For the word of His truth and wisdom is more ardent and more light-giving than the rays of the sun, and sinks down into the depths of heart and mind. Hence also the Scripture said, ‘His name shall rise up above the sun.’ And again, Zechariah says, ‘His name is the East.’” And St. Clement of Alexandria was even more emphatic: “In correspondence with the manner of the sun’s rising, prayers are made toward the sunrise in the East.” (For a much fuller explanation of this theme, I recommend the splendid little book Turning Towards the Lord by Uwe Michael Lang, published in 2004 by Ignatius Press and introduced with a forward by Joseph Ratzinger.)

8. For these reasons, since the building of Christian churches began on a large scale in the fourth century, they have literally been “oriented” to the East wherever local geography permitted this, and even when the building could not run on an east-west axis, the apse of the church and the altar within it have been understood as “liturgical East,” the symbolic place of the glory of the Lord. Moreover, because the entire Eucharistic Prayer is addressed to God the Father and not to the congregation, the normal posture of the priest has always been to face the East with his congregation and offer the sacrifice of the Mass with and for them to the Father. Accordingly, it is a simple mistake to think of the priest as “having his back to the people” when they stand together on the same side of the altar; rather, the priest and people by their common “orientation” show that they are together turning towards the Lord, a physical metaphor for the interior work of conversion which can be thought of as the “reorientation” of our lives. This is why in nearly every place and for almost all of Christian history, the priest has stood with his people on the same side of the altar so that, together facing the East of the sacred liturgy, they could offer the pleasing sacrifice of their lives (cf. Romans 12:1) while pleading the sacrifice of Christ.

How does the congregation participate in the celebration of Mass?

9. One objective of the liturgical reforms of the 1960’s was to encourage the active participation of the Catholic people in the celebration of the sacred liturgy, in part by reminding them that they are participants in, not spectators of, offering the sacrifice of Christ at the heart of all Christian worship. Unfortunately, in the years following the Second Vatican Council, the Church’s desire that all the faithful participate fully in the sacred liturgy was too often rendered a caricature of the Council’s teaching, and misconceptions about the true nature of active participation multiplied. This led to the frenzied expansion of “ministries” among the people and turned worship into a team sport. But it is possible to participate in the liturgy fully, consciously, and actively without ever leaving one’s pew, and it is likewise possible to serve busily as a musician or lector at Mass without truly participating in the sacred liturgy. Both of these are true because the primary meaning of active participation in the liturgy is worshipping the living God in Spirit and truth, and that in turn is an interior disposition of faith, hope, and love which cannot be measured by the presence or absence of physical activity. But this confusion about the role of the laity in the Church’s worship was not the only misconception to follow the liturgical reforms; similar mistakes were made about the part of the priest.

10. Because of the mistaken idea that the whole congregation had to be “in motion” during the liturgy to be truly participating, the priest was gradually changed in the popular imagination from the celebrant of the sacred mysteries of salvation into the coordinator of the liturgical ministries of others. And this false understanding of the ministerial priesthood produced the ever-expanding role of the “priest presider,” whose primary task was to make the congregation feel welcome and constantly engage them with eye contact and the embrace of his warm personality. Once these falsehoods were accepted, then in many places the service of the priest in the liturgy became grotesquely misshapen, and instead of a humble steward of the sacred mysteries whose only task was to draw back the veil between God and man and then hide himself in the folds, the priest became a ring-master or entertainer whose task was thought of as making the congregation feel good about themselves. But, whatever that is, it is not Christian worship, and in the last three decades the Church has been gently finding a way back towards the right ordering of her public prayer.

11. In February 2007 Pope Benedict XVI published an Apostolic Exhortation on the Most Holy Eucharist entitled Sacramentum Caritatis in which he discusses the need for priests to cultivate a proper ars celebrandi or art of celebrating the liturgy. In that document, the pope teaches that “the primary way to foster the participation of the People of God in the sacred rite is the proper celebration of the rite itself,” and an essential part of that work is removing the celebrant from the center of attention so that priest and people together can turn towards the Lord. Accomplishing this task of restoring God-centered liturgy is one of the main reasons for returning to the ancient and universal practice of priest and people standing together on the same side of the altar as they offer the sacrifice of Calvary as true worship of the Father. In other words, the custom of ad orientem celebration enhances rather than diminishes the possibility of the people participating fully, consciously, and actively in the celebration of the sacred liturgy.

12. There is, of course, nothing intrinsically wrong in celebrating the sacred liturgy with the priest facing the people from across the altar, and that remains the way in most Ordinary Form Masses are offered throughout the world. At the same time, the celebration of Mass ad orientem is not in any way contrary to liturgical law, the mind of the Church, or the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, and no special permission is needed to celebrate Mass facing liturgical East, even in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. This means that both postures are equally legitimate ways of celebrating the sacred mysteries, and both have a place in the life of the Church. The celebration of Mass ad orientem at St. Mary’s is meant to be both an example of true diversity in the Church’s liturgical life and a sign of the continuity of the modern Roman Rite with the Church’s most ancient customs. We invite all who join us in divine worship to enter fully, consciously and actively into the offering of Christ’s perfect sacrifice for the salvation of the world.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Sixtieth Anniversary of the Death of the Blessed Cardinal Schuster

Today the Church commememorates the 60th anniversary of the death of the Blessed Cardinal Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster, who served as Archbishop of Milan for just over a quarter of a century, from July of 1929 until his death in 1954. Born in Rome in 1880 to German parents, he entered the Benedictine monastery of St Paul’s Outside-the-Walls at the age of 18, and was professed two years later, taking Ildefonso as his name in religion. Ordained priest four years later, he served as master of novices, prior, abbot, procurator general of the Cassinese Congregation of Benedictines, and president of the Pontifical Oriental Institute. Having made a visitation of the seminaries of Lombardy, Campania and Calabria from 1924 to 1928, in 1929 he was created Archbishop of Milan by Pope Pius XI, his predecessor but one in the venerable See of Saint Ambrose. He was made a Cardinal less than a month after his appointment, and consecrated bishop by the Pope himself in the Sistine Chapel a few days later.

During the difficult years of his episcopacy, the years of Italian Fascism and the Second World War, (in which Milan was one of the hardest hit cities in Italy), the Bl. Schuster showed himself truly a worthy successor of St Charles Borromeo, and shepherded his flock in much the same way, visiting every parish of the diocese five times (occasionally riding on a donkey to some of the more remote locations), holding several diocesan synods, and writing innumerable pastoral letters. He passed to eternal life at the seminary of Venegono, which he himself had founded in 1935.

We have had occasion to write of him several times here at NLM, partly in connection with our interest in the Ambrosian liturgy, of which he was a great promoter, but also as one of the most notable scholars of the original Liturgical Movement. His famous work Liber Sacramentorum, known in its English translation as The Sacramentary, was written while he was still a Benedictine monk of the Roman Rite, and although inevitably dated in some respects, remains an invaluble reference point for liturgical scholarship. Upon his transfer to Milan, he embraced the Ambrosian liturgy wholeheartedly, and as the ex-officio head of the Congregation for the Ambrosian Rite, strongly defended the authentic uses of the Ambrosian tradition. He also oversaw important new editions of the Ambrosian musical books, which are still used in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Form of the Rite to this day.

Our dear friend Monsignor Amodeo, a canon of the Duomo of Milan who was ordained a subdeacon by the Blessed Schuster, told us many stories about him over the years, among which one has always stood out in my mind in particular; in his lifetime, even the communist newspapers noted his continual presence in the Duomo at all of the most important functions of the liturgical year. Nicola de’ Grandi, our Ambrosian writer, once showed me a video of Cardinal Schuster giving Benediction from the façade of the Duomo, to a crowd that completely filled the huge piazza in front of the church.

When his tomb was opened in 1985, his mortal remains were found to be intact; he was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1996, and his body was exposed for the veneration of the faithful in one of the side-altars of the Duomo. My first experience of the Ambrosian liturgy was a votive Mass in the traditional rite held in his honor in 1998, at which Monsignor Amodeo and another canon sang the Ambrosian propers of a Confessor Bishop; after Mass, we processed from the altar of the left transept around the church to the altar, and sang the Ambrosian litany of the Saints at his tomb. The Ambrosian manner is for the cantors to sing the name of the Saint (“Sancte Ambrosi”) as in the Roman Rite; the choir responds by repeating it, and adding “pray for us.”

Beate Ildephonse. Beate Ildephonse, ora pro nobis!

The relics of Bl. Cardinal Schuster
His episcopal consecration
A pastoral visit
Preaching from the great elevated pulpit in the Duomo
Corpus Christi
The blessing of a church bell
Pontifical Mass in the Duomo
Surveying bomb damage to the Duomo during World War II

Friday, August 29, 2014

Abp. Cordileone Leading by Example

Back in January, we posted a guest article by Roseanne Sullivan about the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship, newly founded in the archdiocese of San Francisco by His Grace Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and Fr. Samuel Weber, O.S.B. Ms. Sullivan has just sent us some excerpts from two new articles which she has published in the current edition of The Latin Mass magazine; we are grateful to her and to the editors of The Latin Mass for permission to publish these excerpts.  

The Summer 2014 issue of The Latin Mass magazine has an interview with Archbishop Cordileone titled “Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone Leading by Example,” and an accompanying article titled “San Francisco’s Archbishop Cordileone and the Traditional Latin Mass.” The interview and the article give additional details beyond those that were previously available about the encouraging initiatives Archbishop Cordileone has been taking since he was installed, including steps to make the Extraordinary Form of the Mass more widely available in the San Francisco archdiocese and to improve the quality of liturgies in the Ordinary Form.

If you don’t subscribe to The Latin Mass magazine, you can read the full interview and article by clicking here. You might consider subscribing. As stated on their website, its editors are committed to “developing The Latin Mass journal into the intellectual arm of Catholics working for the return of the Church to tradition and authentic organic development.” It is informative, intelligent, and positive in its approach.

Some excerpts from the article “San Francisco’s Archbishop Cordileone and the Traditional Latin Mass” are quoted below.
His Excellency Salvatore Joseph Cordileone was installed as Archbishop of San Francisco on October 4, 2012 at the relatively young age of 56. During the year and a half since then, the energetic, articulate, and personable Archbishop Cordileone has taken several encouraging steps to make the traditional Latin Mass more widely available in his archdiocese. The archbishop has also taken several other initiatives to promote more-reverent liturgies in the Ordinary Form of the Roman rite, which will also be touched on in this article.
As he expressed in a recent interview elsewhere in this issue (see “Archbishop Cordileone Leading By Example”), the archbishop hopes that educating clergy and laity and exposing them to the beauty and majesty of the traditional form of the Mass will help make it less of a contentious issue and help enable it to be restored to a regular place in the life of the Church. His goal is also to make sure that Catholics in the San Francisco Bay Area come to better understand their liturgical tradition so they will be able to worship well in both forms of the Roman Rite.
Behind all of his work on the liturgy is his belief what he called the Benedictine vision, which is a shorthand phrase he uses to refer to the teachings of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on renewal of the sacred liturgy. .... 
Oratorians to Come to Star of the Sea
Archbishop Cordileone announced a few months ago that he was going to create an Oratory at a downtown parish. At an Oratory, parish priests live in community under a rule of life, and so the archbishop noted that the planned Oratory would need to be located in a parish with a large rectory. On April 25, 2014, the archdiocese announced that the St. Francis Oratory of St. Philip Neri would be established at Star of the Sea parish on August 1, 2014. Two priests will be the first Oratorians.
Fr. Joseph Illo, who will be leaving his current post as chaplain of Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, CA, will take over as pastor. Like Archbishop Cordileone, Father Illo is quite familiar with the traditional Latin Mass, since he celebrated it regularly when he was a parish priest for 12 years at St. Joseph's Church in Modesto, California. After a six month sabbatical, Fr. Mazza will return to another assignment in the archdiocese.
In establishing the new Oratory, Archbishop Cordileone is responding to the Second Vatican Council’s call for diocesan priests to live a ‘common life or some sharing of common life.’ Father Illo described the Oratory life this way in a National Catholic Register article: The members of the oratory ‘will live together under a common roof, with a superior, and have a rule of life that includes common prayer, meals and activities for priests as they go out and perform their tasks in the diocese.’
Father Illo also said that ‘the oratory will not start in San Francisco until August, but he is already received inquiries from priests and seminaries all over the country.’
Fr. Illo made the following additional statement on his blog: ‘The Oratory is an Institute in the Church that allows “secular” (parish) priests to live in community under a rule of life. St. Philip Neri founded the Oratory in Rome in 1575 as a religious congregation of priests and brothers who lived in the parish of Santa Maria in Vallicella, now known as Chiesa Nuova, in downtown Rome. It provides a supportive rule of life for priests who desire a greater commitment to prayer in common. The most famous Oratorian Father for English-speakers is Blessed John Henry Newman, who brought the Oratory to England in 1848. Today there are 85 Oratories with 500 Oratorians in 19 countries. We would establish the first congregation of Oratorian Fathers in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. ….
We would build up the parish through beautiful liturgy and lay apostolate, but focus on evangelizing young adults. The Archbishop has mentioned possibly establishing a Catholic center in one of the larger office buildings with daily Mass and confessions.

Helping Children Enter into the Traditional Latin Mass

At Steve Skojec's splendid new blog One Peter Five (to which fellow NLM writer Fr. Thomas Kocik is also regularly contributing), I have posted a couple of articles on how we can help our children enter more readily and more deeply into the usus antiquior or Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The first part is more about preparations at home while the second is about things that can be done at Mass itself.

Part I
Parents today are sometimes worried that if they attend the traditional Latin Mass exclusively, their children will not know what to do with themselves during Mass and get so bored that they’ll hate going, or at least not come away from it with the spiritual goods they need. And yet, every child-saint we know of grew up in the ambiance of the traditional Latin Mass — there was no other for nearly the whole history of the Western Church. We wonder: How did the little Thérèses or Padre Pios of the world feel so drawn to the Mass? Was something different back then? Were children better catechized? Were parents more on the ball?  
Part II
The thing I recommend most strongly is that you bring your family to a High Mass (Missa Cantata) or even a Solemn High Mass (Missa Solemnis), if this is available in your area. It may seem counterintuitive — such a liturgy is longer and more complicated, and it is probably at a later time of day, when children are more likely to be tired and cranky. Still, if you can manage to work it out practically, the High Mass is a fuller celebration of the rite, with more going on to pay attention to and be shaped by. There is more activity happening in the sanctuary — processions, incensations, bows and genuflections, the carrying of this and that, vessels being handed around, the sacred choreography of the ministers — with the chanting of prayers and readings, and plenty of music along the way. When it’s done well, it is a feast for the senses that helps sustain interest and foster curiosity. A Low Mass, as beautiful as it is for adults who have learned the art of prayer or simply find comfort in the peace and quiet, is much harder going for little ones who, not surprisingly, find anywhere from 35 to 55 minutes of almost total silence a rather large bucket to fill. So, while a Low Mass almost cries out for following along in a book, at a High Mass (particularly a Solemn High Mass) one can let oneself go and just watch.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Cardinal Cañizares Transferred to Valencia

It was announced today that His Eminence Antonio Cardinal Cañizares Llovera has been transferred to his native diocese, the Archiepiscopal See of Valencia in Spain, the former archbishop, His Grace Carlos Osoro Sierra, being transferred to Madrid to succeed Cardinal Antonio Varela. Cardinal Cañizares’s successor as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has not yet been announced. We should all offer a prayer that the Holy Spirit will guide Pope Francis to choose a wise and worthy successor.

Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Francisco. Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius.

V. Fiat manus tua super virum dexterae tuae.
R. Et super filium hominis quem confirmasti tibi.

Oremus. Deus, omnium fidelium pastor et rector, famulum tuum Franciscum, quem pastorem Ecclesiae tuae praeesse voluisti, propitius respice: da ei, quaesumus, verbo et exemplo, quibus praeest, proficere: ut ad vitam, una cum grege sibi credito, perveniat sempiternam. Per Christum, Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Let us pray for our Pope Francis. May the Lord preserve him and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth: and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies.

V. Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand.
R. and upon the son of man whom thou hast confirmed for thyself.

Let us pray. O God, Shepherd and Ruler of all the faithful, look mercifully upon Thy servant Francis, whom Thou didst will to be the shepherd of Thy Church. Grant him, we beseech Thee, that by his word and example, he may edify those over whom he hath charge, so that together with the flock committed to him, may he attain everlasting life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Feast of Saint Augustine

The celebrated day has come, on which the holy bishop Augustine, released from the bond of the flesh, was taken up with the Angels; where he rejoices with the Prophets, is made glad with the Apostles; full of their spirit, he made clear to us what they mystically foretold; after them he shone forth as first in the grace that came after, to dispense the word of God. (The antiphon of the Magnificat at First Vespers, from the proper Office of St Augustine sung by the various orders of the Augustinian tradition.)
The Triumph of Saint Augustine, by Claudio Coello (1642-93), 1664; Museo del Prado, Madrid
Aña  Adest dies célebris, quo solútus nexu carnis sanctus praesul Augustínus, assumptus est cum Angelis, ubi gaudet cum Prophétis, laetátur cum Apóstolis; quorum plenus spíritu, quae prædixérunt mýstica, fecit nobis pervia; post quos secunda dispensandi verbi Dei primus refulsit gratia.

From the same Office, the ninth responsory, as sung by the Dominicans : R. Until the very time of his illness, he preached the word of God in the holy Church without ceasing, eagerly and mightily, being of sound mind and sound council; healthy in all the members of his body, his sight and hearing unimpaired. * Before his brothers, as they knelt and prayed, * he fell asleep with his fathers. V. He made no will, for as one of Christ’s poor, he had nothing to will. Before his brothers, as they knelt and prayed. Glory be unto the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. He fell asleep with his fathers.

The Funeral of Saint Augustine, by Benozzo Gozzoli (ca. 1420-1497), in the Church of Saint Augustine, San Gimignano, Tuscany, 1464-65.
R. Verbum Dei, usque ad ipsam suam aegritúdinem, impraetermisse, alácriter et fórtiter, sana mente sanóque consilio in Ecclesia praedicávit. Membris ómnibus sui córporis incólumis, íntegro aspectu atque audítu, * coram pósitis frátribus et orántibus, * dormívit cum pátribus suis. V. Testamentum nullum fecit, quia unde fáceret pauper Christi non hábuit. Coram. Gloria Patri. Dormivit.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pilgrimage Churches in the Mountains of Ethiopia

The website of the BBC has posted some very beautiful photos from their correspondents’ visit to the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia, a region which, as they note, bears no small resemblance to parts of the southwestern United States. High up in the Gheralta Mountains are a number of churches carved directly into the rock, many of which are frescoed, and well preserved because of their remoteness. The church to which the monk in the third picture here is making his way is a popular pilgrimage destination for new mothers to give thanks for the successful delivery of a child. You can see the complete photoset with commentary by clicking here.

New Facebook Page for the Society for Catholic Liturgy

Check out and "like" the Society's new Facebook page. There you'll find updates on the upcoming conference in Colorado Springs and other events, as well as information about the latest issues of Antiphon: A Journal for Liturgical Renewal.

Assumption 2014 Photopost

We have another awesome photopost, showing many beautiful liturgies from around the world. Thanks to all those who sent in pictures!

Pontifical Mass at the Throne with Bishop Robert Morlino
Bishop O'Connor Center, Diocese of Madison, WI

St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church in Columbus, Ohio
Divine Liturgy on the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos

Solemn Mass (EF)
Christ the King in Kansas City, MO

Birmingham Oratory

Solemn Mass (EF)
Church of the Holy Ghost, Tiverton, RI

Solemn Mass (EF)
Gesù Church, Miami, FL
One of the first solemn Masses celebrated entirely by diocesan clergy (the FSSP have been assisting in that area for some time)

High Mass (EF)
Holy Family Parish, Diocese of Cubao, Philippines

Saalbach, Austria

Solemn Mass (EF)
St. Ann, Budapest, Hungary

High Mass (EF) and Blessing of Herbs
Holy Innocents, New York City, NY

High Mass (EF)
St. Cecilia Church, Diocese of Brooklyn, NY

Diest, Belgium
Cathedral of St. John Berchmans

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sacred Liturgy Conference with “Father Z”

The Canons Regular of Saint John Cantius will host a conference on the Sacred Liturgy with Father John Zuhlsdorf, October 3-5, at Saint John Cantius Parish in Chicago. The conference begins with dinner on Friday the 3rd and continues through the weekend. High Mass each day in the Extraordinary Form. For more information, or to register, CLICK HERE.

A Model for a Cultural Center for the New Evangelization

flogoGoing Local for Global Change.
How About a Chant Cafe with Real Coffee ..and Real Chant?
There is a British comedienne who in her routine adopted an onstage persona of a lady who couldn't get a boyfriend and was very bitter about it (although in fact as she became a TV personality beyond the comedy routines, she revealed herself as a naturally engaging and warm character who was in fact happily married with a child). Jo Brand is her name and she used to tell a joke in which she said: 'I'm told that a way to a man's heart is through his stomach. I know that's nonsense - guys will take all the food you give them but it doesn't make them love you. In fact I'll tell you the only certain way to man's heart...through the rib cage with a bread knife.'  Well wry humour aside, I think that in fact there is more truth to the old adage than Jo Brand would have acknowledged (on stage at least). Perhaps we can touch people's hearts in the best way through food and drink, and in particular coffee.
There is a coffee shop in Nashua NH where I live called Bonhoeffer's. It is the perfect place for conversation. They have designed it so that people like to sit and hang out - pleasing decor, free wifi, and different sitting arrangements, from pairs of cozy arm chairs to highbacked chairs around tables. The staff are personable and it is roomy enough that they can place clusters of chairs and sofas that are far enough apart so that you don't feel that you are eavesdropping on your neighbors' conversation; and close enough together that you feel part of a general buzz of conversation around you. There is not an extensive food menu but what they have is good and goes nicely with the image it conveys of coffee and relaxed conversation - pastries, a slice of quiche or crepes for example. It  has successfully made itself a meeting place in the town because of this.
This is all very well and good, if not particularly remarkable. But, you wouldn't know unless you recognized the face of  Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the cafe logo and started to ask questions, or noticed and took the time to read the display close the door as you are on your way out, that it is run by the protestant church next door, Grace Fellowship Church. Furthermore a proportion of turnover goes towards supporting locally based charities around the world - they list as examples projects in the Ukraine, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Haiti and Jamaica on their website. Talks and events linked to their faith are organised and there are pleasant well equipped meeting rooms available for hire. I include the logo and website to illustrate my points, but also in the hope that if Bonhoeffer's see this they might push an occasional free coffee in my direction...come on guys!

Well, it was worth a try. Anyway, back to more serious things...the presentation of their mission does not even dominate the cafe website which talks more about things such as the beans they use in their coffee, prices and opening times and the food menu. The most eye-catching aspect when I was nosing around is the announcement of the new crepes menu! There is one tab that has the heading Hope and Life Kids and when you click it it takes you through to a dedicated website of that name, here , which talks about the charity work that is done.
I went into Bonhoeffer's recently with Dr William Fahey, the President of Thomas More College, just for cup of coffee and a chat, of course, and he remarked to me as we sat down that this is the sort of the thing that protestants seem  to be able to organize; and how we wished he saw more Catholics doing the same thing.
Cafe_SeatI agree. What the people behind this little cafe had done was to create a hub for the local community that has an international reach. It is at once global and personal. I would like to see exactly what they have done replicated by Catholics. But, crucially, good though it is I would add to it, and make it distinctly Catholic so that it attracts even more coffee drinkers and then can become a subtle interface with the Faith, a focus for the New Evangelization in the neighborhood.
I don't know how to run coffee shops, so I would be happy with a first step that copied precisely theirs - the establishment of coffee shop that competes with all others in doing what coffee shops are meant to do, sell coffee.  Then I would offer through this interface talks and classes that transmit the Way of Beauty, many of which are likely to have an appeal to many more than Catholics (especially those with a 'new-age spiritual' bent). There are a number that come to mind that attract non-Christians and can be presented without compromising on truth - icon painting classes; or 'Cosmic Beauty' a course in traditional proportion in harmony based upon the observation of the cosmos; or praying with the cosmos  - a chant class that teaches people to chant the psalms and explains how the traditional pattern of prayer conforms to cosmic beauty.
A yoga class that has the word yoga but is simply a adoption of the physical aspects would attract people who are open to spirituality. Yoga is very successful in turning people with no previous inclination to the spiritual to Eastern spirituality - so why not offer Christian mediation/contemplative prayer and incorporate this into the instruction. I once had discussions with a Dominican about the known prayer postures of St Dominic. He showed me some stick figure diagrams he had drawn to represent them. He thought that these could be the basis for a Christian yoga that engages people spiritually through a focus on the physical. I don't know if he was right, but something on these lines would be good.
Another way of engaging people who are then going to be open to mediation, chant and retreats is to have 12-step fellowship groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous meeting closeby. I am aware of several priests who go to AA and also many converts to Catholicism who were first given a faith in God through such groups. The 12 steps are a systematic application of Christian principles (without reference to the Church). The non-demoninational character of the groups does mean that people can be misdirected towards other faiths in their search, but if we were present to provide an attractive picture of the Faith, it would attract interest I am sure.
dsc_0405Another class that might engage people is a practical philosophy class that directs people towards the metaphysical and emphasizes the need of all people to lead a good life and to worship God in order to be happy and feel fulfilled. This latter part is vital for it is the practice of worship that draws people up from a lived philosophy into a lived theology and ultimately to the Faith. For it is only once experienced that people become convinced and want more. This works. When I was living in London I used to see advertisements in the Tube for a course in practical philosophy. These were offered by a group that had a modern 'universalist' approach to religion in which they saw each great 'spiritual tradition' as different cultural expressions of a single truth that were equally valid. The adverts however, did not mention religion at all but talked about the love and pursuit of universal wisdom that looked like a new agey mix of Eastern mysticism and Plato. The content of the classes, they said, was derived from the common experience of many if not all people and from it one could hope to lead a happy useful life. They had great success in attracting educated un-churched professionals not only to attend the class, but also to go in to attend  more classes and ultimately to commit their lives to their recommended way of living. They were also prepared to donate generously - this is a rich organisation. Their secret was the emphasis on living the life that reason lead you to and not require, initially at least a commitment to formal religion. Most became religious in time, which ultimately lead some to convert to Christianity - although many, because of the flaws in the opening premises and the conclusion this lead to, were lead astray too. It was by meeting some of these converts that I first heard about it. There is room, I think, for a properly worked out Catholic version of this.
wifiAlong a similar line are classes that help people to discern their personal vocation, again using traditional Catholic methods. Once we discover this then we truly flourish. God made us to desire Him and to desire the means by which we find Him. While the means by which we find Him is the same in principle for each of us, we are all meant to travel a unique path that is personal to us. To the degree that we travel this path, the journey of life, as well as its end, is an experience of transformation and joy.
11-sacred-heart-chapelDrawing on people from the local Catholic parishes I would hope to start groups that meet for the singing of an Office - Vespers and or Compline or Choral Evensong and fellowship on a week night; and have talks on the prayer in the home and parish as described by the The Little Oratory. This book was intended as a manual for the spiritual life of the New Evangelization and would ideally be one that supports the transmission of practices that are best communicated by seeing, listening and doing. These weekly 'TLO meetings' would be the ideal foundation for learning and transmitting the practices. They would be very likely a first point of commitment for Catholics who might then be interested in getting involved in other ways. It would enable them also to go back to their families and parishes teach any others there who might be interested to learn.
We could perhaps sell art by making it visible on the walls or have a permanent, small gallery space adjacent to the sitting area (provided it was good enough of course  - better nothing at all than mediocre art!). All would available in print form online as well of course, just as talks could be made available much more widely and broadcasted out across the net if there was interest. This is how the local becomes global.
What I am doing here is taking the business model of the cafe and combining it with the business model of the Institute of Catholic Culture which is based in Arlington Diocese in Virginia. I wrote about the great work of Deacon Sabatino and his team at the ICC in Virginia in an article here called An Organisational Model for the New Evangelization - How To Make it At Once Personal and Local, and have International Recognition. His work is focussed on Catholic audiences, and is aimed predominently at forming the evangelists, rather than reaching those who have not faith (although I imagine some will come along to their talks). By having an excellent program and by taking care to ensure that his volunteers feel involved and are appreciated and part of a community (even organising special picnics for them) Deacon Sabatino has managed to get hundreds volunteering regularly.
Another group that does this just well is the Fra Angelico Institute for Sacred Arts in Rhode Island run by Deacon Paul Iacono. I have written about his great work here. The addition of a coffee shop give it a permanent base and interface with non-Catholics and even the non-churched.
imagesI would start in a city neighborhood in an area with a high population and ideally with several Catholic parishes close by that would provide the people interested in attending and be volunteers and donors helping the non-coffee programs. It always strikes me that the Bay Area of San Francisco, especially Berkeley, is made for such a project. There is sufficiently high concentration of Catholics to make it happen, a well established cafe culture; and the population is now so far past 'post-Christian' that there is an powerful but undirected yearning for all things spiritual that directs them to a partial answer in meditation centers, wellness groups, spiritual growth and transformation classes, talks on reaching for your 'higher self' and so on. Many are admittedly hostile to Christianity, but they seek all the things that traditional, orthodox Christianity offers in its fullness although they don't know it. Provided that they can presented with these things in such a way that it doesn't arouse prejudice, they will respond because these things meet the deepest desire of every person.
Here's the additional element that holds it all together. As well as the workshops or classes I have mentioned I would have the Liturgy of the Hours prayed in a small but beautiful chapel adjacent to and accessible from the cafe on a regular basis, ideally with the full Office sung. The idea is for people in the cafe to be aware that this is happening, but not to feel bound to go or guilty for not doing so. I thought perhaps a bell and announcement: 'Lauds will be chanted beginning in five minutes in the chapel for any who are interested.'  Those who wish to could go to the chapel and pray, either listening or chanting with them. The prayer would not be audible in the cafe. So those who were not interested might pause momentarily and then resume their conversations.
From the people who attend the TLO meetings I would recruit a team of volunteers might volunteer to sing in one or more extra Offices during the week if they could. If you have two people together, meeting in the name of Jesus, they can sing an Office for all. The aim is to have the Office sung on the premises give good and worthy praise to God for the benefit of the customers, the neighbourhood, society and the families and groups that each participates in aside from this and for the Church.
When the point is reached that the Office is oversubscribed, we might encourage groups to pray on behalf of others also in different locations by,  for example singing Vespers regularly in local hospitals or nursing homes. I describe the practice of doing this in an appendix in The Little Oratory and in a blog post here: Send Out the L-Team, Making a Sacrifice of Praise for American Veterans.
As this grows, the temptation would be to create a larger and larger organization. This would be a great error I think. The preservation of a local community as a driving force is crucial to giving this its appeal as people walk through the door. There is a limit to how big you can get and still feel like a community. Like Oxford colleges, when it gets to big, you don't grow into a giant single institution, but limit the growth and found a new college. So each neighborhood could have its own chant cafe independently run. There might be, perhaps a central organization that offers franchises in The Way of Beauty Cafes so that the materials and knowledge needed to make it a success in your neighborhood are available to others if they want it.
I have made the point before that eating and drinking are quasi-liturgical activities by which we echo the consuming of Christ Himself in the Eucharist (it is not the other way around - the Eucharist comes first in the hierarchy). So it should be no surprise to us that food and drink offered with loving care and attention open up the possibilities of directing people to the love of God. If the layout and decor are made appropriate to that of a beautiful coffee shop and subtly and incorporating traditional ideas of harmony and proportion, and colour harmony then it will be another aspect of the wider culture that will stimulate the liturgical instincts of those who attend. (I have described how that can be done in the context of a retail outlet in an appendix of The Little Oratory.) We should bare in mind Pope Benedict's words from Sacramentum Caritatis (71):
'Christianity's new worship includes and transfigures every aspect of life: "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (1Cor 10:13) Here the instrinsically eucharistic nature of Christian life begins to take shape. The Eucharist, since it embraces the concrete, everyday existence of the believer, makes possible, day by day, the progressive transfiguration of all those called by grace to reflect the image of the Son of God (cf Rom 8:29ff). There is nothing authentically human - our thoughts and affections, our words and deeds - that does not find in the sacrament of the Eucharist the form it needs to be lived in the full.'
So Jo Brand, we'll put away the bread knife and offer the bread instead!
Step one seems to be...first get your coffee shop. Anyone who thinks they can help us here please get in touch and we'll make it happen!



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