Saturday, December 31, 2011

This Holy and Magnificent Sacrifice

Here is a homily given by Fr. Eric Andersen, who is  currently at St. Mary Catholic Church in Eugene, OR. It's about 15 minutes long, and well worth watching.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Priest's Silent Prayers and Ad Orientem Worship

The New Liturgical Movement blog continues to present papers from the FIUV's 20th general assembly in Rome this past November.  Today, the NLM posted a paper entitled “The Silent Prayers of the Roman Liturgy”, by Don Giuseppe Vallauri, FDP.
The entire paper is worth reading, of course, but here I want to quote just one paragraph. It’s not the main thrust of the paper, but it caught my attention because it is related to what some see as a major problem with the Novus Ordo: the priest faces the people and is tempted to perform in the role of “talk-show host”.
Before presenting that paragraph from Don Vallauri’s paper, it’s probably best to give some background, since readers may not be familiar with the silent prayers to which he refers. And yes, the priest is to pray silently, or very quietly, during some parts of the Mass – even the Novus Ordo Mass!
Don Vallauri refers first to the prayer the priest or the concelebrant who is to read the Gospel is to say to himself – the munda cor meum – “Cleanse my heart and my lips, almighty God, that I may worthily proclaim your holy Gospel.”
Next, he refers to two prayers, of which the priest may choose one or the other to say quietly between the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) and the “Ecce Agnus Dei” (Behold the Lamb of God, where the priest holds up the Host). The rubrics specify that the priest joins his hands and says the prayer inaudibly; this is his private preparation for Communion. The two choices are:
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who by the will of the Father and the work of the Holy Spirit, through your death gave life to the world; free me by this your most holy Body and Blood from all my sins and from every evil; keep me always faithful to your commandments, and never let me be parted from you.
May the receiving of your Body and Blood, Lord Jesus Christ, not bring me to judgment and condemnation, but through your loving mercy be for me protection in mind and body, and a healing remedy.
Now, here is the paragraph from Don Vallauri’s paper (emphases added):
On the few occasions when I assist at a Novus Ordo celebration, I can honestly affirm that, in the majority of cases, the celebrant practically omits the Munda cor meum: usually he or the concelebrant that is to read the gospel makes at most a cursory bow to the altar, if at all and goes straight to the ambo. Of course, he can recite the prayer while going, but even trying to be very optimistic, I doubt it very much. The prayer which is invariably left out is one of the two set before Communion, each one a shorter version of “Domine Jesu Christe” and “Perceptio corporis tui”. I have seen even devout and traditionally minded priests pass directly from the Agnus Dei to “This is the Lamb of God”, sometimes even failing to genuflect before hand, as it is prescribed in the new missal. This is one further proof, if ever one more was needed, that simplification does not mean improvement. A shorter prayer is not necessarily recited better than a longer one. The problem lies elsewhere. Most celebrants of the Novus Ordo see themselves as presidents of the assembly: now, a president or chairman at meeting cannot afford to whisper quietly to himself.
What a shame to leave out any of the required prayers at Mass! And how sad that a priest may be short-cutting the prayers because he feels the pressure of the “talk-show host” mentality imposed by the Novus Ordo – and perhaps by the pressure of some parishioners who want their time at Mass kept to a minimum!
We have probably all experienced this phenomenon. Any priest who celebrates the Mass facing the people is susceptible to it. He becomes the director of the liturgy, basically – the talk-show host.  In addition, facing the people seems to pull a standard “verse and response” from the priest and the people at the beginning of Mass: “Good morning,” says the priest. And the people respond, “Good morning, Father.” One begins to wonder if it’s actually written into the rubrics!
It should be noted that the Novus Ordo does not require a priest to appear as a talk-show host! The Novus Ordo may certainly be celebrated ad orientem – with the priest facing the same direction as the people; in fact, certain sections of the GIRM assume that he is doing so (e.g., the instruction says something similar to “facing the people, the priest says…” If he were already facing the people, such instruction would be unnecessary).
When all are turned toward the Lord, the Mass becomes the Body of Christ all worshiping God together, with the priest truly leading us toward the Lord, rather than facing us and “directing” or “conducting”, as choir director does.
And it does not mean that the priest is “turning his back” on us!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Msgr. Grau: "Truly Dreadful Liturgical Music"

The New Liturgical Movement blog has posted a paper given at the 20th general assembly of the FIUV (Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce) last November by Monsignor Valentin Miserachs Grau, President of the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music. The title of the paper is IMPLICATIONS OF A CENTENARY: PONTIFICAL INSTITUTE FOR SACRED MUSIC (1911-2011).
I offer here a few interesting highlights from the paper, along with a little commentary.
First, note that the author is the current president of the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music, which was established in 1911. For one hundred years, the Church has had a body devoted to sacred music! In addition, the Institute was formed after years of consideration of liturgical music reform, and 8 years after Pope Pius X’s motu proprio on liturgical music, Tra le sollecitudini.
The upshot is that the mind of the Church on liturgical music has basically been largely ignored for over a century.
Here are a few interesting quotes, with my editorial comments, from Msgr. Grau’s talk:
This one is a sore point: the rampant wave of false and truly dreadful liturgical music in our churches.
That dreadful music, is, I am afraid to say, quite “rampant” in our Diocese, and is likely to remain so.
Now we must wonder: if the will of the Church has been clearly declared also in our times, how is it possible that the musical praxis in our churches distances itself in so evident a way from the same doctrine?
How indeed?! Why is it that we have been ignoring what the Church says about liturgical music for over a century? There is clearly a lack of catechesis in this area! In addition, there is a mindset in our Church today that we should be able to select “more relevant” music – as in “contemporary” music. We forget that what’s “contemporary” today becomes an “oldie-but-not-so-goodie” in a very short period of time. In the end, our liturgical music becomes dated, not fashionable. It needs to be timeless. And:
Liturgical music must be “universal”, that is acceptable to any kind of audience. Today it is difficult to find good music composed with this essential characteristic. I do not discuss the artistic value of certain contemporary productions, even sacred, but I think that it would not be opportune to insert them in the Sacred Liturgy. One cannot transform the “oratory” into “laboratory”.
And here, Msgr. Grau addresses the problem of willful manipulation of the documents, and the resulting musical mess we find ourselves in:
The second aspect of the problem derives from a false interpretation of the conciliar [Vatican II] doctrine on Sacred Music. As a matter of fact, the post-conciliar liturgical “renewal”, including the almost total lack of mandatory rules at a high level, has allowed a progressive decay of liturgical music, at the point of becoming, in the most cases, “consumer music” according to the parameters of the most slipshod easy-listening music. This sad practice sometimes determines attitudes of petulant rejection towards genuine Sacred Music, of yesterday and today, maybe composed in a simple manner, but according to the rules of Art.
Be sure to read the full article at The New Liturgical Movement.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Letter from Cardinal Ranjith on Renewal of the Church

Thanks to the New Liturgical Movement, here is a letter to the participants of the 20th general assembly of the FIUV (Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce) last November, written by Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, former secretary to the Congregation for Divine Worship. His voice is not insignificant!
Here is the text of the letter (emphases added):

I wish to express first of all, my gratitude to all of you for the zeal and enthusiasm with which you promote the cause of the restoration of the true liturgical traditions of the Church.

As you know, it is worship that enhances faith and its heroic realization in life. It is the means with which human beings are lifted up to the level of the transcendent and eternal: the place of a profound encounter between God and man.

Liturgy for this reason can never be what man creates. For if we worship the way we want and fix the rules ourselves, then we run the risk of recreating Aaron's golden calf. We ought to constantly insist on worship as participation in what God Himself does, else we run the risk of engaging in idolatry. Liturgical symbolism helps us to rise above what is human to what is divine. In this, it is my firm conviction that the Vetus Ordo ["old form", or extraordinary form] represents to a great extent and in the most fulfilling way that mystical and transcendent call to an encounter with God in the liturgy. Hence the time has come for us to not only renew through radical changes the content of the new Liturgy, but also to encourage more and more a return of the Vetus Ordo, as a way for a true renewal of the Church, which was what the Fathers of the Church seated in the Second Vatican Council so desired.

The careful reading of the Conciliar Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilum shows that the rash changes introduced to the Liturgy later on, were never in the minds of the Fathers of the Council.

Hence the time has come for us to be courageous in working for a true reform of the reform and also a return to the true liturgy of the Church, which had developed over its bi-millenial history in a continuous flow. I wish and pray that, that would happen.

May God bless your efforts with success.

+Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith
Archbishop of Colombo

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to All!

Introit for Mass of the day on Christmas:

Puer natus est nobis, et filius datus est nobis:
cuius imperium super humerum eius:
et vocabitur nomen eius,
magni consilii Angelus.
V. Cantate Domino canticum novum:
quia mirabilius fecit.

Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.
The insignia of His reign is on His shoulder
and His name shall be
 the Angel of Great Counsel.
V. Sing unto the Lord a new song,
for He has done wonderful things.

Here is the opening paragraph of the Holy  Father’s homily for the Midnight Mass. Words are important! He explains briefly here about a “programmatic” word – a word which the Church packs with meaning and which we should be able to unpack.

The reading from Saint Paul’s Letter to Titus that we have just heard begins solemnly with the word “apparuit”, which then comes back again in the reading at the Dawn Mass: apparuit – “there has appeared”.  This is a programmatic word, by which the Church seeks to express synthetically the essence of Christmas.  Formerly, people had spoken of God and formed human images of him in all sorts of different ways.  God himself had spoken in many and various ways to mankind (cf. Heb 1:1 – Mass during the Day).  But now something new has happened: he has appeared.  He has revealed himself.  He has emerged from the inaccessible light in which he dwells.  He himself has come into our midst.  This was the great joy of Christmas for the early Church: God has appeared.  No longer is he merely an idea, no longer do we have to form a picture of him on the basis of mere words.  He has “appeared”.  But now we ask: how has he appeared?  Who is he in reality?  The reading at the Dawn Mass goes on to say: “the kindness and love of God our Saviour for mankind were revealed” (Titus 3:4).  For the people of pre-Christian times, whose response to the terrors and contradictions of the world was to fear that God himself might not be good either, that he too might well be cruel and arbitrary, this was a real “epiphany”, the great light that has appeared to us: God is pure goodness.  Today too, people who are no longer able to recognize God through faith are asking whether the ultimate power that underpins and sustains the world is truly good, or whether evil is just as powerful and primordial as the good and the beautiful which we encounter in radiant moments in our world.  “The kindness and love of God our Saviour for mankind were revealed”: this is the new, consoling certainty that is granted to us at Christmas.

Words are important because they are signs of the Word, the One Word that God spoke, the all-encompassing Word - the Son of God.

Our Savior has appeared!  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Singing the Mass: Bishop Olmsted

The new translation is a good start in terms of deepening our appreciation of the Mass. But if we only go as far as learning the new responses (which fit quite easily on that little pew card), and maybe truly listening to what the priest prays at Mass, we’re missing an opportunity to increase in our faith and in our actual participation in the Mass.
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix understands this. He sees the importance of “singing the Mass”. His article Singing the Mass Part I: Liturgical Music as Participation in Christ is well worth reading in its entirety. Here is an excerpt:
The Mass itself is a song; it is meant to be sung. Recall that the Gospels only tell us of one time when Jesus sings: when he institutes the Holy Eucharist (Cf. Mt 26:30; Mk 14:26). We should not be surprised, then, that Christ sings when he institutes the sacramentum caritatis (the Sacrament of love), and that for the vast majority of the past 2,000 years, the various parts of the Mass have been sung by priests and lay faithful. In the 1960s, the Second Vatican Council strongly encouraged a rediscovery of the ancient concept of singing the Mass: “[The musical tradition of the universal Church] forms a necessary or integral part of solemn liturgy” (Sacrosanctum Concilium,112). The Mass is most itself when it is sung.
This recent rediscovery of “singing the Mass” did not begin with the Second Vatican Council. Following a movement that stretches back at least to Pope Saint Pius X in 1903, Pope Pius XII wrote in 1955, “The dignity and lofty purpose of sacred music consists in the fact that its lovely melodies and splendor beautify and embellish the voices of the priest who offers Mass and of the Christian people who praise the Sovereign God” (Musicae Sacrae Disciplina, #31).
In the years immediately following the Council, there arose the need to highlight and clarify the Council’s teaching regarding the importance of liturgical prayer in its native sung form. In 1967, The Sacred Congregation for Rites wrote:
“Indeed, through this form [sung liturgical prayer], prayer is expressed in a more attractive way, the mystery of the Liturgy, with its hierarchical and community nature, is more openly shown, the unity of hearts is more profoundly achieved by the union of voices, minds are more easily raised to heavenly things by the beauty of the sacred rites, and the whole celebration more clearly prefigures that heavenly Liturgy which is enacted in the holy city of Jerusalem.” (Musicam Sacram, #5).
In other words, sung liturgical prayer more effectively reveals the mystery of the Liturgy as well as more easily accomplishes its heavenly purposes. In this way, sung liturgy is a revelation of Christ as well as a vehicle for profound participation in His saving work.
Read the rest here.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The O Antiphons

An article by Fr. William Saunders tells us:
The “O Antiphons” refer to the seven antiphons that are recited (or chanted) preceding the Magnificat during Vespers (Evening Prayer) of the Liturgy of the Hours. They cover the special period of Advent preparation known as the Octave before Christmas, Dec. 17-23.
…The importance of “O Antiphons” is twofold: Each one highlights a title for the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel. Also, each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah. Let’s now look at each antiphon with just a sample of Isaiah’s related prophecies.
The O Antiphons are reflected in the hymn commonly sung throughout Advent: “Veni, Veni  Emmanuel”.
In another article on the New Liturgical Movement blog,  Gregory DiPippo gives the following introduction to the O Antiphons. It’s an interesting article, well worth reading in its entirety.
We are now in the final days of Advent, in which the famous "O" Antiphons are sung each day at Vespers with the Magnificat. These are one of the most loved features of the Church's liturgy, and for good reason; the texts are especially rich in references to the Old Testament prophecies of the Divine Redeemer and His coming for the salvation of the human race, and the Gregorian chant with which they are sung is extremely beautiful. The Roman Rite has seven of these, and it of course well known that the first letters of the seven titles (O Sapientia, O Adonai etc.) form an acrostic when read backwards, ERO CRAS, Latin for "Tomorrow I will be."; this is completed on the last day before the Christmas season formally begins on the evening of the 24th.
Fr. Z also has comments on the O Antiphons, updating them daily as the O antiphon changes, and mentioning the corresponding verse of “Veni, Veni Emmanuel”. Today’s entry:
LATIN: O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, iam noli tardare.
ENGLISH: O Root of Jesse, that stands for an ensign of the people, before whom the kings keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: come, to deliver us, and tarry not.
Relevant verse of Veni, Veni Emmanuel:O come, O Rod of Jesse free,
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o’er the grave.
Fr. Z also makes some interesting theological points developments concerning the prayers for the Masses of these last days of Advent:
The prayers for the final days of Advent, therefore, in the Ordinary Form are intended to bring the participation to a deeper contemplation of the mystery rather than the deeper pursuit of penance before the feast day.  Keep in mind that the celebration of Christmas at Rome and in the West in general, developed rather late.  Also, in the mid-5th century, in 431, the Council of Ephesus dogmatically identified Mary as “Mother of God”.  These are certainly influences at work behind the prayers of the Rotulus. There inclusion in the formulae of Masses in the last days of Advent in the Ordinary Form create a dramatic change in our theological direction in comparison with the Masses before Christmas in the Extraordinary Form.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

St. Mary's Church in Pendleton

Here are some photos of St. Mary's in Pendleton after the renovation under the current pastor, Fr. Baily Clemens. These photos may not reflect the most recent additions.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cookie Recipe: New, Corrected Translation (stolen from Fr. Z)

Outright stolen from Fr. Z:

Christmas Cookie Recipe
(New, Corrected Translation)
Serves: you and many.
Cream these ingredients, that by their comingling you may begin to make the dough:
1 chalice butter, 2/3 chalice sugar
In a similar way, when the butter is consubstantial with the sugar, beat in:
1 egg
Gather these dry ingredients to yourself and combine them, so that you may add them to the dough which you have already begun to make:
2 1/2 chalices sifted all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix the precious dough with your venerable hands.
Into the refrigerator graciously place the dough so that it may be chilled, for the duration of 3 or 4 hours, before the rolling and cutting of the cookies.
When, in the fullness of time, you are ready to bake these spotless cookies, these delicious cookies, these Christmas cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Roll out the dough and, taking up a cookie cutter or stencil of your choosing, fashion the cookies into pleasing forms.
Sprinkle colorful adornments over cookies like the dewfall.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cookies have just begun to manifest the brownness that is vouchsafed to them by the oven’s heat.
May these cookies be found acceptable in your sight, and be borne to a place of refreshment at your table, there to be served with milk or hot chocolate, or with your spirits.
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Advent Wreath in the Church

It’s a good bet that your parish has an Advent Wreath placed prominently somewhere in the church during this time of the year. This is a devotion that is encouraged by the Church. What is the proper placement of the Advent Wreath, though?
From The Order of Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours and the Celebration of the Eucharist (2012):
“The Advent Wreath, a popular symbol in many churches, may be placed in the narthex or gathering area, or near the ambo.”
Notice that it does not say “in front of the altar”!
Here’s an altar beautifully vested for Advent.

It is the centerpiece. It has always been the mind of the Church that the altar is Christ. Christ is both priest and victim, and He is also the altar on which the Sacrifice takes place. And so, just as a priest is vested for Mass, so also is the altar.
The antependium (or frontal) makes the altar stand out from its surroundings; it makes the altar the focal point of Mass, as is appropriate. This is where the “action” of the Mass takes place: it is here that the bread and wine are changed to the Body and Blood of Our Lord. Nothing should take away from that.
Here is the same altar, but with an Advent Wreath in front of it.

The Advent Wreath obscures the view of the altar, and becomes itself the focal point. This point is made all the more obvious when the priest approaches the altar in the entrance procession. He will either have to genuflect right in front of the Advent wreath, which make it look like he is venerating the wreath, or he will have to go around it and place himself between it and the altar - where there is not much room.
The altar is not meant to be a backdrop to a devotional item like the Advent Wreath. That is why the Advent Wreath is placed either in the “gathering area” or near the ambo. Nothing should detract from the centrality of the altar.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Sign of the Cross (with "The Vortex")

Michael Voris has a wonderful commentary on the sign of the Cross that illustrates precisely the importance of the sacramental words and gestures of the Mass. (See the video below; it’s a powerful 5-minute theology lesson.)

Review: What is a sacrament? “An outward sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace.” The words of the liturgy carry a reality: Christ. The ultimate reality of the Mass is Jesus himself. Jesus is not only the Son of the Father, but is his Word.
So, the words of the liturgy are sacramental. When the Church uses certain words, She expects certain images to be evoked from Scripture. For instance, if we hear “water” in the liturgy, we should immediately be thinking about baptism;  about the blood and water flowing from the side of Jesus; about the crossing of the Red Sea; about Moses striking the stone with his staff so that water would gush out; the “living water”; and so on. When the Church uses the word “sin” in our prayers, She really does want us to think about our sin – not about the fact that, hey, nobody’s perfect and God will forgive us anyway. No: She means sin. That’s why we are to strike our breast at the words “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault” – we’re supposed to really be grieved by our sins! And, incidently, when the Church repeats words or phrases, it’s for a reason! It means they are important! That’s why we repeat “through my fault” three times. That’s why in the older form of the Mass, we repeat the “Domine, non sum dignus” (“Lord, I am not worthy…”) three times.
The gestures we make are sacramental, too; they signify something: kneeling, standing, genuflecting – they all say something about what is taking place in the Mass at the time we make those gestures. We take much for granted about the signs of our faith! Mr. Voris explains about the sign of the Cross:
This simple gesture encapsulates ALL of salvation history. And yet we Catholics do this
with rarely giving a thought to the almost indescribable truth and reality behind it.
Consider this for a moment. When we both trace the sign of the sign of the cross on our
bodies and call on the Blessed Trinity, we physically - with body and speech - sum up the
essential Eternal Truth that Almighty God is a relationship between three Divine
Persons – Father, Son, and Spirit. That at the heart of God is a community and that we are called into HIS internal life - His internal Eternal life - through the action of the Second Person on the cross.

When Our Blessed Lord says, “No one comes to the Father except through me”, He
ALSO means no one comes to Him except through the cross. Matthew’s gospel records
this explicit truth of Jesus: “Take up your cross and follow Me.” Follow Him where? Well…to Calvary and death certainly. But after that… INTO the relationship of love, of total self-giving and total outpouring that IS God. When John tells us that God IS Love, he is speaking of this relationship between Father Son and Spirit.

There’s more! Watch the whole thing right here:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Some Side Effects of the New Translation

There's a great post by Anita over at V-For-Victory blog called "Eye-openers from the New Translation". Go and read the whole thing at the link.

Here's one example of her "eye-openers":

"There are a few realities to which the new translation has opened my eyes. Firstly, when samples of the new translation began to come out a few years ago -- before I ever attended Mass in the Extraordinary Form -- it became clear to me for the first time that the Mass is full of scriptural allusions and signs of the supernatural that had been effectively blotted out in the now-obsolete translation. Now that we have a translation more in line with the original Latin, these little treasures have been restored: it is like getting a pair of glasses after a lifetime of myopia, and realizing for the first time that you hadn't really been able to see. "

Anita also makes some very good points about the Ordinary Form of the Mass: she maintains that it's really very difficult to follow for the uninitiated.

What?!? (Hear the cry of the Novus Ordo fans!)

Yes, she's right: it's full of options at every turn, "the use of many of which is determined entirely by the pleasure of the priest.  There are three forms of greeting; three forms of the penitential rite; eight possible Gospel acclamations for use during Lent; two possible professions of faith; no fewer than ten (10) choices of Eucharistic prayer; three possible memorial acclamations; and four options for dismissal." 

The extraordinary form, on the other hand, is free of this kind of encumbrance. 

There are other good points in her post; it's well worth the read.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Jeffrey Tucker: Why Catholic Music is a Mess

Jeffrey Tucker has an excellent article at The Chant Cafe, called "Why Is Catholic Music Such a Mess?". Be sure to go and read the entire post. Here's the opening paragraph:
I get this question enough that it justifies an article. Here’s the scenario. A long time Catholic of bourgeois sensibilities, a man who trying to hold on to his faith but doesn’t attend Mass on a regular basis, decides that it is time to try again. He goes to a parish not far from his house. The processional says to him: nothing has changed from the last time I tried this. He grinds his teeth throughout. By communion time, he is nearly losing his mind. The recessional hymn puts him over the top. He goes out to the parking lot cursing under his breath, mad all over again, recalling why he doesn’t go that often.
A little later in the article, Mr. Tucker suggests that a large part of the problem is this:
Most people doing music in the Catholic Church do not even have a rudimentary understanding of the musical demands of the Roman rite. They do not know what parts of the Mass constitute the ordinary structure of the Mass. They do not know that the propers of the Mass exist. They have no idea how the music is related to the word or the calendar (apart from Christmas and Easter). They have no idea what is mandatory, what is an option, what is the Church’s choice, what is the publisher’s choice, what tradition consists of, or how to tell genuine liturgical music from nonliturgical music.

This is because they have never been told…
It’s a short article, and even suggests a solution to the problem! Read the rest at The Chant Café.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sing the Mass!

No posts for the next few days...

Feel free to look at previous posts, or explore some of the resources via the links.

Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception!

"Active" vs. "Actual" Participation

From "Participation" by Msgr. Richard Schuler in Sacred Music, 1987
Vatican II introduced no radical alteration in the concept of participatio actuosa as fostered by the popes for the past decades. The general principle is contained in Article 14 of the constitution on the sacred liturgy:
Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious and active participation in the ceremonies which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy.

...One of the most active and demanding of human actions is that of listening. It requires strict attention and summons up in a person his total concentrative effort. It is possible, for example, to walk without really knowing that one is walking or advert to where one is going. It is possible even to sing, especially a very familiar tune, and not be conscious of actually singing. But one cannot truly listen without attention. Especially in our day of constant radio and TV broadcasting, we are able to tune out almost every sound we wish. To listen attentively demands full human concentration. Listening can be the most active form of participation, demanding effort and attention. Truly, as the scriptures tell us, faith demands hearing, fides ex auditu.

With that in mind, surely the baptized Christian who listens with care to the proclamation of the gospel or the singing of the preface at Mass truly has achieved participation, both activa and actuosa.

The Church does not have the entire congregation proclaim the gospel text, but rather the deacon or the priest does it. It is the duty of all to listen. The canon of the Mass is not to be recited by everyone but all are to hear it. Listening is a most important form of active participation.

There is a variety of roles to be observed in the public celebration of the liturgy. There is the role of the priest, deacon, reader, cantor, choir and congregation, among many others. Because each office has its own purpose and its own manner of acting we have the basic reason for a distinction of roles. If the reader or the cantor is to read and sing, certainly the role of the others is to listen. If the choir is to sing, someone must listen and in so-doing participate actively in the liturgy, even if during the period of listening he is relatively inactive in a physical way.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Prayers of the Mass - Second Sunday of Advent

Re-posting from Philothea on Phire:

If you're not at least occasionally checking in on Fr. Z's blog (What Does the Prayer Really Say?), you're missing out on lots of good info regarding Catholics in the public arena, as well as some informative articles on, well, what the prayers really say!

Here is part of Fr. Z's article on this Sunday's prayers. (He is referencing the 1962 Missal at first, and then goes on to the 3rd edition just put into use last week.) His comments on the Gospel, I thought, were a very good illustration of how the words of the Mass are themselves sacramental, and how the words of the Gospel refer to more than just their "surface" meaning. Read the whole thing over at Fr. Z's blog; he has comments on all of the prayers, as usual.

In the Gospel reading from Matthew, the Lord responds to the question of the Baptist: “Are you he who is to come?” Jesus replies, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk…”.

Christ is describing not only what is physically happening in His presence, but also the spiritual coming of the Kingdom of God, the new Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem we desire is not just the place or Holy Church, or the Kingdom of heaven. It is also the state of our own soul. Listen to today’s

COLLECT (1962MR):Excita, Domine, corda nostra
ad praeparandas Unigeniti tui vias;
ut, per eius adventum,
purificatis tibi mentibus servire mereamur

This ancient prayer was in the Gelasian and Gregorian Sacramentaries.  

 In the Ordinary Form it is the Collect for Thursday of the 2nd Week of Advent.

OBSOLETE ICEL (1973 – not making this up…):Almighty Father,
give us the joy of your love
to prepare the way for Christ our Lord.
Help us to serve you and one another

Stir up our hearts, O Lord,
to prepare the paths of your Only-begotten Son,
that through his coming
we may be found worthy to serve you
with minds made pure.

Stir up our hearts, O Lord,
to make ready the paths
of your Only Begotten Son,
that through his coming,
we may be found worthy to serve you
with minds made pure.

They obviously didn’t want to split an infinitive, but would “we may be found to serve you worthily with minds made pure” have been better?

Remember, Father!  If you don’t like the new translation, just use Latin.

Brigittine Monastery: A Few Photos

In the chapel during Lent

Looking back at the entrance to the chapel

The grounds are beautiful.

Really beautiful!

Holy Thursday a few years ago

Friday, December 2, 2011

Why We Should Use the Propers

First, a reminder for those who don’t remember what “propers” are: they are the chants that the Church chooses to be sung for a particular Mass. (Yes! There is “official” music for the Mass, and it can be found in the Graduale Romanum!) The propers are the chants to be used as the introit (entrance antiphon), the gradual (the response after the first reading), the Alleluia verse, the offertory antiphon, and the communion antiphon.
The GIRM (General Instruction for the Roman Missal) has been updated in 2011, and there are some changes in the wording the emphasis placed on the official chants of the Church. Jeffrey Tucker at The Chant Café made some observations about this back in July. See that link for his full post.
Mr. Tucker noted that:
Some of the most advanced thinkers in the world of music and liturgy have long identified the critical problem in Catholic music today. They have pointed out that the Mass itself provides for the texts and the music for the Mass, but in the General Instruction on the Roman Missal, there appears a loophole. Musicians can sing what is appointed, or (“option 4”) they can sing something else, and that something else is limited only by what the musicians themselves deem as “appropriate.” What this has meant, in effect, is: anything goes. This is why it often seems that when it comes to music at Mass that, well, anything goes.
But with the new 2011 GIRM, some of the ambiguity has been resolved, and the liberal interpretation used up till now is no longer valid. For example, here is the GIRM section concerning the introit (entrance antiphon):
48. This chant is sung alternately by the choir and the people or similarly by a cantor and the people, or entirely by the people, or by the choir alone. In the Dioceses of the United States of America, there are four options for the Entrance Chant: (1) the antiphon from the Missal or the antiphon with its Psalm from the Gradual Romanum, as set to music there or in another setting; (2) the antiphon and Psalm of the Graduate Simplex for the liturgical time; (3) a chant from another collection of Psalms and antiphons, approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including Psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) another liturgical chant that is suited to the sacred action, the day, or the time of year, similarly approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop. (emphasis added)
In the 2003 GIRM, options 3 and 4 used the word “songs” instead of chants. The change of words indicates beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Church wants us to use chants. There’s a reason for this! The Church does have some wisdom, after all! The Catholic traditions we have are not based on caprice or fleeting whim. And a good summary of those reasons is given by Laszlo Dobszay in his 2003 book, The Bugnini-Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform:
The Proper chants are imbued with a special kind of poetical power, which is lacking in strophic poetry, even in its most wonderful hymns. The chants of the Proper announce the great truths of Christian doctrine and liturgical theology, in most instances without direct didactic persuasion, and without decorating the teaching with lyrical ornaments. They are “poetical” by speaking with the vocabulary of the Bible, i.e. with adapted words. In a certain sense, they resemble similes, chiefly when they quote from the Old Testament. The theological truths are transmitted, and yet – concealed in their intimacy. Simple words and images are, as it were, dropped into the mind of the listener, where they come to light; figurative speech becomes reality in prayerful silence. (p. 95)
The propers have power! But for that power to be manifested, we have to give them a chance. We must open our own minds to that power by actually singing them. Musicians can begin that process by actually following the directives of the Church (as expressed in the GIRM), and beginning to use the proper chants in the Mass. There are many resources for using them, including the Simple English Propers – a great place to start. The book is available to buy, but you can also download the chants for free here.
For a long list of resources go here.