Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The SSGG Is Now A Chapter of CMAA

As of September 1, 2012, the Society of St. Gregory the Great, an independent lay organization of Catholics in Central Oregon, will add to its name: A chapter of the Church Music Association of America (CMAA).

As a member organization of CMAA, the society is acknowledging as part of its mission the educating  of local Catholics in appropriate sacred music for the liturgy, including Gregorian chant.  The CMAA was founded in 1874 and revived in the wake of Vatican II to carry out the authentic instruction of the Church in regard to music for the Mass and Office.  Its quarterly publication, Sacred Music, provides much information about how to implement the mind of the Church on sacred music.

The Society also wishes to link itself to the CMAA in recognition of CMAA's work in providing many resources for Catholic musicians, including free on-line music for singing the Mass – propers and ordinaries – as well as its excellent colloquia each year. Next year the Sacred Music Colloquium will be once again held in Salt Lake City, which will give those in the Western United States access to training and opportunities to participate in magnificent liturgies.  

More information about the colloquium for 2013 will appear on this blog and at www.musicasacra.org as the time for the June-July event gets nearer.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Bishop Speaks about the EF Mass

Some thoughts from Bishop Alexander Sample of the Diocese of Marquette on the extraordinary form of the Mass (H/T Fr. John Hollowell at On This Rock blog):

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Story of the Seven Holy Sleepers

This is a homily of Fr. Eric M. Andersen, Sacred Heart in Gervais, OR for July 27th, 2012.

The Seven Holy Sleepers of Ephesus

The Roman Martyrology for July 27th, the sixth day in the Kalends of August:

At Ephesus, the birthday of the Seven Sleepers: Saints Maximian, Malchus, Martinian, Denis, John, Serapion and Constantine.
And elsewhere, many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.
Thanks be to God.

Sometimes a quick perusal of the Roman Martyrology can be too quick. We can easily overlook such an entry as this. When I looked over the various entries for today, I didn’t notice this one. It is the 7th entry for July 27th. But what I just read to you is the English version from 1961. The newest version of the Roman Martyrology from 2004 has never been translated into English. It is available only to us in Latin. So, I usually check both just to see if there are any new saints that I recognize. Well, when I looked at the entries for today in the Latin edition, this moved up to the first entry. I noticed it because it speaks of the Dormientium, of those who are sleeping. It was such an interesting word to use. It is a very short entry and easy to translate. This is what it says in the 2004 version:

The Commemoration of the seven holy sleepers of Ephesus, who, so it is told, consummated martyrdom, and rest in peace, expecting the day of resurrection.

I decided to see if I could find anything out about these seven sleepers. I checked a couple of sources and found a chapter in the Golden Legend of Jacobus Voragine.

He has a chapter about these seven sleepers. Fascinating!

Here is the story (from Voragine, The Golden Legend. Vol II. Ch. 101: The Seven Sleepers):

“The emperor Decius, who decreed the persecution of Christians, came to Ephesus and gave orders to build temples in the center of the city, so that all the people might join him in worshiping false gods. He further ordered that all Christians were to be rounded up and put in chains, either to sacrifice to the gods or to die; and the Christians in Ephesus were so afraid of the threatened punishments that friends betrayed friends, fathers their sons, and sons their fathers” (p. 15).

“…seven young Christian men named Maximianus, Malchus, Marcianus, Dionysius, Johannes, Serapion, and Constantinus who “held high rank in the palace…refused to sacrifice to the idols. Instead they hid in their houses and devoted themselves to fasting and prayer. For this they were denounced and brought before Decius. They affirmed their Christian faith, but the emperor gave them time to come to their senses before he came back to the city” (15).

These young men acted fast. They distributed all their wealth to the poor and together, all seven of them agreed to take refuge on Mount Celion where they would live a holy life. Among them, Malchus was chosen to dress as a beggar and go into town each week for supplies and food. Meanwhile Decius returned to Ephesus commanding that the seven be brought before his presence and forced to sacrifice. The seven men hiding in the mountain cave ate their last meal in fear and trembling and with full stomachs, “by the will of God, fell asleep” (15).

They were betrayed and denounced for having given away their wealth to the poor and by deserting the city. Decius sent his men to wall up the cave with stones so that they would die of hunger.

Two Christian men, “Theodorus and Rufinus, wrote an account of the martyrdom and left it concealed among the stones that closed the cave” (15-16). “Three hundred seventy two years later…in the thirtieth year of the reign of…the Most Christian emperor…Theodosius, there was an outbreak of heresy and widespread denial of the resurrection of the dead.”

In that year, a good citizen of Ephesus decided to build a shelter for sheepherders on Mount Celion. He hired stone masons and they found a good collection of very fine stones stacked very deliberately in a pile outside of a cave.

Click image for more info about the cave
[Meanwhile] Malchus and his companions awoke to the light of day and were gravely concerned about the actions being taken by the Emperor Decius. Malchus was sent into town as usual to buy extra loaves of bread for their sustenance should they be forced to stop making these trips into the city.

But the city which Malchus entered was visibly changed. It was the same city, but he was disoriented. There were notable changes, such as huge crosses on all the imperial property, and he kept hearing people talking and using the name Christ. He went to a bread baker to buy bread “but when he offered his money, the sellers, surprised, told each other that this youth had found some ancient treasure. Seeing them talking about him, Malchus thought they were getting ready to turn him over to the emperor” (16). He became afraid and told them to keep the bread and the money, but they thought he was suspicious and caught hold of him.

Word of this reached St. Martin, the bishop, and he ordered the citizens to bring this youth and the money to him. The bishop looked at the coins. “The inscription on the coins (was) more than 370 years old. The bishop and his proconsul questioned him and Malchus was so confused. They too were confused. The youth told the bishop that he and his friends were hiding from the Emperor Decius, and he would take the bishop and show him the cave.

“The bishop thought this over, then told the proconsul that God was trying to make them see something through this youth. So they set out with him and a great crowd followed them. Malchus went ahead to alert his friends, and the bishop came after him and found among the stones the letter sealed with two silver seals. He called the people together and read the letter to them. They marveled at what they heard, and, seeing the seven saints of God, their faces like roses in bloom, sitting in the cave, all fell to their knees and gave glory to God” (17). 

The emperor Theodosius was summoned. When he arrived, “their faces shone like the sun. The emperor prostrated himself before them and gave praise to God, then rose and embraced each one and wept over them, saying: ‘Seeing you thus, it is as if I saw the Lord raising Lazarus from the dead!’” St. Maximinus proclaimed that God must have done this, without their knowledge, “so that you may believe without the shadow of a doubt in the resurrection of the dead” (18).

Then, while all looked on, the seven saints bowed their heads to the ground, fell asleep, and yielded up their spirits as God willed that they should do. The cave was embellished with guilded stones (18).

Jacobus Voragine, who presented this story as it is, added this note at the very end:

“There is reason to doubt that these saints slept for 372 years, because they arose in the year of the Lord 448. Decius reigned in 252 and his reign lasted only fifteen monts, so the saints must have slept only 195 years” (18).

Thus far the story of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus…

Thanks be to God. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Feast of St. James

Fr. Ryan Erlenbush has an excellent (as usual) post about today’s feast on his blog, The New Theological Movement.

Here’s an excerpt:

July 25th, Feast of St. James the Greater

And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and [Jesus] named them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder (Mark 3:17)

Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. James the Greater, who was the brother of St. John the Evangelist. This is the St. James who was first among the Apostles to be martyred (by Herod in Jerusalem) and whose relics are venerated in Compostella, Spain.

St. James the Greater was not called “the brother of the Lord” (that is St. James the Less), but he and his younger brother St. John were called Boanerges or “sons of Thunder”. Why did Jesus give them this designation?

The fiery style of the sons of Zebedee

There are certainly several incidents recorded in the Gospels which indicate the fiery preaching style of Sts. James and John. Certainly, these two were burning in their evangelical zeal, even to the point of some slight imperfection – this impetuousness was, of course, purified through their experience of our Savior’s Passion and Resurrection (as well as in the descent of the Holy Spirit).

Read the rest here.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Vocations and the EF Mass

A short article by Fr. McDonald at Southern Orders blog is worth considering. He sees the value of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (the Traditional Latin Mass) as an important factor in motivating boys and men to consider a priestly vocation.

He says in part:

…What is it about the Tridentine Mass now known also as the Extraordinary Form of the Mass that attracts young boys and men to consider a priestly vocation and in great numbers?

The ethos of the EF Mass is more masculine in "personality" compared to the Ordinary Form. By that I mean it is more regimented, military like, "soldier like", "march like" and in sinc with masculine attitudes for better or worse. Men are more private about their faith, less flamboyant and not normally given to wanting to be the center of attention. They are more cut and dry, prefer precise directions and less prone to the openness of how females conduct themselves…

Fr. McDonald also notes the importance of “the cult of altar boys” as a recruitment tool”

The cult of altar boys as a recruitment for the seminary and priesthood has been lost as well as forming a community of altar boys based upon prayer and carrying out the rites of the Mass and other liturgies with great precision and pride. For the most part this has been lost in most parishes and altar servers are not well trained, have minor roles during the liturgy and don't take what they do as seriously as is demanded by the right implementation the celebration of the Mass.

…[W]e need to recover that which promoted and inspired young boys and men to consider the priesthood.

Read the entire article here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Monsignor Richard Schuler: CMAA Hero

The Church Music Association of America owes no one more of a debt than Monsignor Richard Schuler, a musician, teacher and pastor from the Twin Cities in Minnesota.  His name was singled out at the Requiem Mass for the deceased members of CMAA  on Wednesday, June 27, in Salt Lake City.

Schuler was born into a German family in 1920 and trained musically from his early years, eventually learning to be a fine organist. He entered the seminary in St. Paul after two years at the College of St. Thomas in the same city. After ordination, his superiors recognized his value as a teacher of music and assigned him to Nazareth Hall, the minor seminary for the Archdiocese of Minneapolis/St. Paul. He taught there for three years, before spending a year at the Eastman School of Music where he got a Master’s degree. The following summer he spent in Europe and, in 1954, he was awarded a Fullbright scholarship to study in Rome.

The next year he began teaching at the College of St. Thomas. Although he had hoped to be assigned to the major seminary, Father Schuler taught religion and music at the college for 14 years and obtained a Ph.D. in 1963. During this time he also directed two church choirs and was secretary for the Guild of Catholic Organists and Choirmasters. He also wrote articles for church music journals and was active in international Catholic music circles. He soon founded the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale, which would sing the Masses at the only parish he ever headed.  The group toured extensively nationally and internationally.

Shortly after the archdiocese got a new prelate, Bishop James P. Shannon, Father Schuler asked for and was given the pastorship of St. Agnes Church in St. Paul. A beautiful edifice that had not yet suffered from the stripping of churches so common in the next decades. St. Agnes would become the focus of weekly Latin (Novus Ordo) Masses with music by Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven and Schubert.  Father Schuler saw this assignment as a chance to implement the actual decrees of the Second Vatican Council on a parish level and, sometimes against great odds, he continued to do that until his death. At St. Agnes, there were appropriate vestments, processions and ceremony, as well as Gregorian propers and the works of great composers informing the Masses.

Father Schuler also oversaw the completion of the interior of the baroque church. In 1990 the bells were renewed and a fourth bell, named Richard after the pastor, was added. The Catholic school at the parish became famous for its orthodoxy and Father Schuler made certain the catechical materials used were sound. He was always insistent that Catholics must follow the Holy Father and implement the correct teachings of the councils.

His history with CMAA is legendary. He became the editor of its journal, Sacred Music, in 1973 and in 1976 was elected as its president, positions he held until the last few years before his death in 2007.

For his insistence on excellence in the liturgy and orthodoxy in doctrine, Monsignor Schuler has become an icon to those who continue his work. He lived to see several of the Sacred Music Colloquia and his spirit remains among those who strive to pass on the work he championed.

By Stephanie Swee 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sunday Homily on Monday

A Homily given by Fr. Eric M. Andersen at Sacred Heart Church in Gervais, Oregon, on July 15th, 2012

Dominica XV Per Annum

The twelve apostles are sent out by our Lord to be as prophets. They are set apart, detached from worldly attachments, and without possessions. They speak the word of God, drive out demons and cure diseases. The people who see them will likely think of them as belonging to the same class as Amos the prophet, or Elijah or Elisha the prophets. This way of living simply and poorly, inspired by the apostolic life, has become the inspiration for religious life in its many expressions from the eremitic life, to the mendicant life, to the canonical life. So we have holy monks and nuns, holy hermits and hermitesses, holy friars and sisters, holy canons and cannonesses.

Such a life is inspired by an earlier tradition begun by the prophets and their followers. It is said that the followers of the prophets Elijah and Elisha who continued to live on Mount Carmel were prepared for the coming of Christ by the preaching of St. John the Baptist. These holy men embraced the faith at the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost when they heard the preaching of the apostles. They were also “permitted to hear the sweet words of the Blessed Virgin and enjoy an unspeakable intimacy with her. They venerated her and were the first to build a chapel in her honor on Mount Carmel “on the very spot where (the prophet St. Elijah) had stood when he saw the little cloud rise up out of the sea” (Gueranger, The Liturgical Year. Vol. 13, p. 113). The cloud was in the shape of a foot as a sign of the foot that would come to crush the head of the ancient serpent.

These men came together in this oratory chapel several times each day “and with pious ceremonies, prayers, and praises honoured the most Blessed Virgin as the special protectress of their Order. For this reason, people from all parts began to call them the Brethren of the Blessed Mary of Mount Carmel” (Lesson from office of Matins, Breviarium Romanum).
In the twelfth century, during the Crusades, the Holy Land had been freed from the invasion of Muhammedans and the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem was established. “Many pilgrims from Europe came to swell the ranks of the solitaries on the holy mountain” of Carmel (cf. 113). It became necessary for the hermits living there to organize under a strict religious rule of life according to Western standards. The rule was formalized under Blessed Albert, the Patriarch of Jerusalem and they began to spread throughout the holy land and into southern Europe. In the year 1245, when the Saracens had invaded Jerusalem again, their vindictiveness “reached such a height…that a full assembly” of the order was held and “resolved upon a complete migration” into Europe, “leaving only a few friars eager for martyrdom to guard the cradle of the Order” on Mount Carmel.

In this same year, an English Carmelite, named Simon Stock, was elected the General Superior of the entire Order. When these Carmelite friars migrated to Europe, they experienced difficulty in gaining recognition on the part of certain prelates. These prelates wanted Pope Honorius III to abolish this “new Order”. But on the night between July 15th and 16th in the year of Our Lord 1251, Our Lady of Mount Carmel appeared to the Pope and secured for her dear sons the establishment in the West of the Carmelite Order.

At the same time, she gave to St. Simon Stock the scapular which is a brown piece of cloth worn front and back over the religious tunic. The scapular is a sign of belonging to Mary, under the protection of her mantle. This scapular is worn in miniature by lay people with the promise from our Lady that “whosoever shall die in this habit shall not suffer eternal flames.” She further promised to Pope John XXII “I, their Mohter, will graciously go down to them on the Saturday after their death, and all whom I find in purgatory I will deliver and will bring to the mountain of life eternal.” Pope John XXII quoted these very words of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in a Papal Bull which he promulgated for the purpose of making known this promise of our Lady called the Sabbatine privilege.

Tomorrow (July 16) the Universal Church celebrates this feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This is a time for us to draw close to her, to wear her scapular, and to amend our lives. She promises to intercede for us. She promises to bring us very close to her Son Jesus. Our Lady of Fatima appeared in her final apparition in 1917 as Our Lady of Mount Carmel, holding the brown scapular in her hands. Sister Lucia said that this was a sign that Our Lady wished her children to wear the scapular as a special sign of consecration to her Immaculate Heart for peace on this earth. Let us turn to Mary in this time and consecrate ourselves to her Immaculate Heart, wearing the Brown Scapular, for the sake of peace in our world and for the freedom of the Church. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Prayer after Communion: St. Bonaventure

Yesterday, July 14, was the feast of St. Bonaventure in the old calendar. Here’s a prayer attributed to St. Bonaventure that is recommended as a prayer of thanksgiving after receiving Holy Communion:

Pierce, O most Sweet Lord Jesus, my inmost soul with the most joyous and healthful wound of Thy love, with true, serene, and most holy apostolic charity, that my soul may ever languish and melt with love and longing for Thee, that it longing for Thee, that it may yearn for Thee and faint for Thy courts, and long to be dissolved and to be with Thee.

Grant that my soul may hunger after Thee, the bread of angels, the refreshment of holy 
souls, our daily and supersubstantial bread, having all sweetness and savor and every delight of taste; let my heart ever hunger after and feed upon Thee, upon whom the angels desire to look, and may my inmost soul be filled with the sweetness of Thy savor; may it ever thirst after Thee, the fountain of life, the fountain of wisdom and knowledge, the fountain of eternal light, the torrent of pleasure, the richness of the house of God.

May it ever compass Thee, seek Thee, find Thee, run to Thee, attain Thee, meditate upon Thee, speak of Thee, and do all things to the praise and glory of Thy name, with humility and discretion, with love and delight, with ease and affection, and with perseverance unto the end.

May Thou alone be ever my hope, my entire assurance, my riches, my delight, my pleasure, my joy, my rest and tranquility, my peace, my sweetness, my fragrance, my sweet savor, my food, my refreshment, my refuge, my help, my wisdom, my portion, my possession and my treasure, in whom may my mind and my heart be fixed and firmly rooted immovably henceforth and forever. Amen.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dr. Mary Berry: Champion of Chant

During the Sacred Music Colloquium in Salt Lake City, many of the directors and presenters mentioned one person, who had almost single-handedly kept Gregorian chant alive in the 1970s and 80s, when church music was at its lowest ebb in many years. To her and others, the Church Music Association of America owes keeping the heritage of nearly two millennia of sacred music strong and vibrant.

Her name was Mary Berry and she died in 2007 at the age of 91. Her name is misleading, though, because she was a religious, a canoness of St. Augustine. However, when she was offered a fellowship in Newnham College at Cambridge University, her superior, during a time when religious life was in turmoil,  insisted Dr. Berry be exclaustrated (i.e., put outside the community) and told her she was not allowed to use her religious name, Sister Thomas More.  Nevertheless, she lived the consecrated life until she died.

One of the directors at the colloquium was privileged to study with Dr. Berry and told several stories about her, including one where she had to flee the Nazis with a group of nuns who had taken her in. The kindness of a convent in Spain kept her and her fellow travelers from starvation and death and, we can surmise, strengthened their faith and trust in the Lord.

She studied in her early years under Nadia Boulanger, a famed French musician, conductor and composer who was also a guide to such composers as  George Gershwin.  Boulanger, who became a mentor for many conductors and composers, died in 1979.
Dr. Mary Berry and Schola Gregoriana meeting with Pope John Paul II
In 1975 Dr. Berry founded the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge, which studied and performed the music closest to her heart, Gregorian chant. She traveled widely to promote the teaching and singing of chant and gave talks and courses around the world. In the early 1980s, Dr. Berry came to the West Coast and held a three-day workshop at Marylhurst, the college of the Holy Name Sisters in Oregon City.

When she opened the workshop, she told participants that chant, in addition to glorifying God better than any other music, brought peace to the human spirit. She remarked that many times she had advised parents with fretful infants to play chant for them; it never failed to calm them and often put them to sleep.

In that workshop, she taught a group of about 20 people to sing two Masses, one polyphonic and one chant, which they used in liturgies at the end of the session.  Early in her career, she had put together two books to encourage the use of chant in the liturgy, Plainchant for Everyone and Cantors: a collection of Gregorian chants.  She was tireless in her insistence that the Church meant chant to be the standard for all worship and that everyone could learn to sing it.

In 2000, she was awarded the Papal Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice. Her research in and recording of sacred music has had an impact on the liturgy around the world. Her legacy lives on in many British and American musicians and clergy to whom she was a guide and inspiration. 

By Stephanie Swee

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Colloquium Masses (Part II)

This is a report on the extraordinary form Masses that were said at the Sacred Music Colloquiuum in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the end of June. The author is Stephanie Swee, president of the Society of St. Gregory the Great. See Stephanie's other reports here and here.

For some of those attending the Sacred Music Colloquium in Salt Lake City, the two extraordinary form Masses were the highlights of the week. On Wednesday, a Requiem Mass was celebrated for the deceased members of the organization. Perhaps the most important of those members to the success of the organization was Msgr. Richard Schuler, a musician and dedicated liturgist who served as president and editor of the group’s publication, Sacred Music, until his death in 2007.

Schuler presided over many Latin Masses in the ordinary form over the years he was pastor at St. Agnes Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. He took a fair amount of abuse from his colleagues for the often elaborate music – Mozart and Haydn Masses prominently – that he directed at the beautiful old church, but he persevered in trying to make the music worthy of the worship.

The Requiem Missa Cantata was splendidly sung by a number of choirs, and the well-known sequence, Dies Irae, was magnificent in its rendition by alternating chant choirs of men and women. Even though the celebrant wore black, the mood was joyous, as the comforting chants of the Mass for the Dead, such as the haunting Introit, Requiem aeternam, moved all those in attendance.
Some young friends who drove an hour to be at the Requiem Mass were speechless after the last strains of music died away.  They had never, they said, heard anything so beautiful – until the Friday extraordinary Mass, which they said exceeded even what they had experienced on Wednesday.

The Friday, June 29 liturgy was a Solemn High Mass in honor of Sts. Peter and Paul. The vestments were red velvet and the music included a polyphonic ordinary by Louis Vierne, his Missa Solennelle, Opus 16. Although those parts were very elaborate, just as impressive were the proper chants, especially the Communion, Tu es Petrus, with its psalm verses.

A motet by Sir John Hawkins followed the distribution of communion, Quem dicunt hominess (“Who do men say is the Son of man; You are Christ, the Son of the living God.”) After Mass, because English cannot be sung during the span of the liturgy in the extraordinary form, a motet in the vernacular, which echoed the previous one, served as recessional: The Son of Man, composed by Sir Richard Newman.
Cathedral of the Madeleine, Salt Lake City, Utah
There was a noticeable hush after this Mass, when it seemed those in attendance were still stunned by the solemnity of the rite and the music. One young man who had grown up in Salt Lake City and become a convert from Mormonism to Catholicism there, said he felt as if he were dreaming: “I never thought I would see a Mass like this in the cathedral,” he said.

There was in all the Masses a liberal use of incense and candles. Just as the organ sometimes became overwhelming in its volume, the ministers pulled out all the stops in the use of ceremonials.

It is true that many of the colloquium attendees came from rich musical backgrounds, some directors of choirs, many with advanced degrees in music. But others were neophytes and some had never sung chant before. It was a testament to the power of the liturgy and of its proper music that all could come together in this solemn act of worship, to praise God and offer again the sacrifice of Calvary.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Our Lady on Saturday

By Fr. Eric M. Andersen, St. Louis (IX, by the grace of God, King of France) Parish, Gervais, OR

July 7th, 2012

Our Lady on Saturday: The Immaculate Heart of Mary

Every Saturday is a day the Church dedicates to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Unless there is a feast day celebrated on Saturday, it is always offered to God venerating Mary. 

Traditionally, each day of the week is assigned a particular votive Mass. Monday is the Mass of the Holy Trinity; Tuesday is the Mass of the Holy Angels; Wednesday is dedicated to St. Joseph and his votive Mass is celebrated that day. Thursday belongs to the Holy Spirit, because Jesus ascended on Thursday and that day began the Novena to the Holy Spirit in anticipation of Pentecost. Or Thursday commemorates the Blessed Sacrament, or Jesus the Eternal High Priest in remembrance of Holy Thursday. Fridays are a penitential day on which the Church asks that we abstain from flesh meat throughout the year on the day of the week when our Lord gave up His Flesh on the Cross. The Mass of the Holy Cross, the Mass of the Passion, or the Mass of the Sacred Heart are offered on Fridays. That brings us to today, Saturday, of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is the completion of the week, ushering in the Day of the Lord on Sunday. 

Not only is today Saturday but it is the First Saturday. The First Friday and the First Saturday of each month carry a special significance, and the Church encourages us to honor these days in a special way: by honoring the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the First Friday and the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the First Saturday. We observe the First Saturday devotion by doing four things: (1) going to Sacramental Confession, even for venial sins; (2) receiving Holy Communion in a state of sanctifying grace and offering it as a Communion of reparation for sins and blasphemies; (3) reciting five decades of the Rosary, and (4) keeping our Blessed Mother company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary.

By doing these four things once a month, our lives will change, our souls will be sanctified and we will get to heaven. Our Lady will make certain of that. Our Lady promises that if we consecrate five consecutive First Saturdays to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and offer these acts to her Immaculate Heart, then she will intercede for peace on this Earth. Let us be mindful especially during this time when religious freedom is in danger of being lost in this country. Let us turn to Mary, let us consecrate our families and our homes to her Immaculate Heart under the Sacred Heart of Jesus. These two hearts of Jesus and Mary are our certain refuge. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Sacred Music Colloquium: The Masses (Part I)

This is a report from Stephanie Swee, President of the Society of St. Gregory the Great:

I have already given my general impressions and thoughts about the Sacred Music Colloquium that the Church Music Association of America held in Salt Lake City this year. The focus, of course, was the liturgy, because that is what sacred music is all about.

During the six days of the event, there were six Masses and one solemn Vespers. There was morning and evening prayer most days as well, but those occasions featured simple psalmody sung alternately by men and women and did not require much work on anyone’s part, since most of those who attended knew how to sing the office.

Of the Masses celebrated, four were in the ordinary form and two in the extraordinary. All had music in Latin, except for a couple of English motets and one English hymn. Some of the celebrants used Latin responses, some English. The last ordinary form Mass sung was on Sunday, July 1, and was the regular 11 a.m. cathedral parish Mass for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time. It was also the longest of all the Masses.

The polyphonic choir sang a Monteverdi ordinary. This is a work in five parts and is unearthly in its beauty. The propers were the regular chant ones for the day and the Introit for that Sunday was from Psalm 46, “Omnes gentes, plaudite minibus” (All you nations, clap your hands.”)  As with all the other Masses, the Introit was started as the procession entered, the way it is supposed to be sung, and the choir continued it while the ministers assembled and the celebrant incensed the altar. As with most of the Masses, Father Pasley, the chaplain of CMAA, sang the Mass.  He is a pastor from New Jersey whose diocesan parish celebrates Mass always in the extraordinary form – the only such parish in the country.

The men’s group sang the Gradual  - “Venite, filii, audite me” (“Come, children, hearken unto me.”) and the Alleluia following it. In the ordinary form, the Gradual follows the first reading and Alleluia the second, where many churches use first the Responsorial psalm and then the common Alleluia.

Part of our training in the schola was to apply some markings of the ninth-century St. Gall Psalter to the square-note notation. What this meant in practice was lengthening some notes slightly to emphasize certain parts of the Latin phrases.
Photo from The Chant Cafe blog 

Those in the congregation who knew it were invited to join in Credo III, probably the easiest and most familiar of the sung Latin professions of faith. After the Offertory, “Sicut in holocaust” (“ As a holocaust of rams and bullocks … let our sacrifice be in your sight this day”),  the polyphonic choir sang a motet by Morales, O Sacrum Convivium. The Sanctus by Monteverdi followed the Preface and the Agnus Dei came just before Communion. It was interesting to see how the Latin propers, written for the older form of the Mass, could fit just as easily into the Novus Ordo.

The Communion, as in all six Masses, was sung with both antiphon and verses of the psalm. When the choir finished a certain number of verses, the magnificent organ of the cathedral took over and played variations on the melody until all had received the Eucharist. Then a motet was usually sung; on Sunday it was the Bruckner Ave Maria.

As far as one could tell, the congregation seemed to be happy with the celebration. Although those in the colloquium were all urged to consider receiving Communion kneeling and on the tongue, there were priests distributing the sacrament for those who wished to receive standing and in the hand.  In the Extraordinary Form Masses, of course, one must receive the host on the tongue.

Next time I will review an example of one of the extraordinary form Masses the colloquium sponsored. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Another Sacred Music Colloquium Report

This is a report from the President of the Society of St. Gregory the Great, Stephanie Swee, on her attendance at the Sacred Music Colloquium, which took place in Salt Lake City, Utah, June 23-July 1.

Opening dinner of the colloquium
 For me it was a week I cannot match to any in memory. It seemed to be that for most participants, although, of course, I didn’t meet every one of the more than 200 people there.
General observations are: People from all over the country and, indeed, all over the world, came together in a bonding I have never experienced before. They sang – in the form of more than a half dozen choirs – chant and sacred polyphony for six different Masses, four in the Ordinary Form and two in the Extraordinary Form. They did this by practicing what would be sung that day and came up with amazing results.

We had, of course, some excellent teachers and directors. I can speak best to the men’s chant schola, in which I was the only woman. I had been assured by organizers that they always had three or four women in the men’s groups, and some counter-tenor men in the women’s groups, but I was the only female with 39 men, four or five of them priests. There were, I am told, two or three men with the women’s schola, but I never saw them.

There were three chant levels: beginners; those who needed some refresher work; and the scholas. This made six groups divided by male and female voices. Between them, they did all the chant propers for the Masses, while polyphony groups did some “part” propers. Some days the ordinaries were sung in chant, some days in polyphony. For the chant ordinaries, no one even practiced (except perhaps for the beginners); it was assumed we all knew them well enough to sing them “cold”. And it turned out fine.

In addition to singing practice and instruction, there were lectures and presentations on church music documents, conducting, and numerous other topics. If one had wished, one could have been busy from the 8:15 morning prayer until 10pm, when some concerts and films concluded. Mass was at 5:15pm on the weekdays, and at 11am on Saturday and Sunday.

If I have any criticism, it was that things were scheduled too close together. Most of us stayed at a hotel two or three miles from classes, taken in by bus each morning and back each afternoon. I had my own “chauffeur”, but sometimes getting back and forth meant missing some things – for both the “chauffeur” and for me. Finally we just decided to set priorities and forgot all the events we couldn’t make.

The Cathedral itself was the site for many sessions, while the choir school, up the steepest hill I have ever seen, was the place everything else was held. That often meant scurrying from a practice in the school to the cathedral with only 15 minutes until Mass. It all worked out, but there were a few anxious moments. The celebrants never started until we were all in place, however.
Due to hard work and a lot of talent, the Masses were glorious. The chaplain for CMAA, Father Paisley, was very well trained in singing and the EF form. He is pastor of a parish in New Jersey, which is the only diocesan parish in the country dedicated to the older form of Mass.

Our director was Jeffrey Morse, who is choirmaster for St. Stephen’s Church in Sacramento, CA. He has a choir of 25-30 and a small group of young choristers. He was very disciplined in his approach, but very amusing also. He studied under Mary Berry, a nun whom I had the privilege of hearing at Marylhurst (a former college of the Holy Name nuns in Oregon) during a chant workshop 30 years. It was only recently I discovered how important his woman was to sacred music. During a time when things were falling apart musically in both Europe and the United States, she often left her post as a don at Cambridge University and went around the world to carry the message of chant in the liturgy. She died in 2007 at the age of 91. Jeffrey told us her history, which included the fact that she had to be exclaustrated (released from convent life) to teach at Cambridge, and was never again allowed to use her religious name of Sister Thomas More. She fled the Nazis during World War II and her story is amazing.

Without getting too technical, Jeffrey initiated us into some 9th -century chant interpretations to use with the notation that Solesmes reformed in the last century. Often, just rehearsing took a lot of time, as we had some difficult things to do. However, the men I was with were very skilled, and after one day, it was hard to tell none of us had ever sung  together before.

Lunches outside – sometimes in nearly 100-degree heat – allowed some of us to come back together and talk. Universally there was a sense of happiness and peace I have never seen in such a large group. We also had two dinners at which we eagerly shared thoughts with other attendees. I met at least five people with whom I intend to continue a relationship, including a woman from Michigan with nine children, who is pretty much carrying her parish musically. We (along with her mom) became almost instant friends. There were others, especially two priests with whom I really had some good discussions.

The Mass on Wednesday was a solemn high requiem in the extraordinary form, said for all deceased members of the CMAA, including Msgr. Schuler, who started all this. It was incredibly beautiful, especially the sequence, Dies Irae, sung alternately by men and woman. Although our schola has practiced that Mass, I hadn’t sung it at an actual liturgy in more than 50 years. The parishioners who attended seemed stunned by the beauty of the music.

The Cathedral is also beautiful, but has had some regrettable renovations, such as removal of the side altars. This meant that the priests there had no place to say their own Masses, but some did concelebrate at the OF liturgies. Since that is not done in EF Masses, though, they had to say Mass in their hotel rooms for the most part.

The cathedral also has a large of choir stalls, normally used as overflow seating, but which was perfect for our purposes. We could the face the women’s schola and alternate the way it should be done. The frescoes on walls are wonderful and the stained glass windows and marble breathtaking. The acoustics are very good, also. We never got a visit from the bishop, but I guess he was occupied elsewhere.

The hotel, Little America, was palatial. For a reduced fee of $69 per night, we got suites that were almost the size of a small condo. The staff bent over backwards to assist us and I never had to open a door myself. We had the formal meals there and the food was wonderful.

In addition to the music practicums, we had lectures we could take in each morning and afternoon and also an hour talk from some of the presenters before Mass each weekday. Also, I should mention the Madeleine Choir School. It is a day school for young people who have talent and the desire to sing good sacred music. The director is fabulous. We got a concert on Tuesday night with fourteen selections of the most glorious polyphony and hymns I have ever heard in one place. Only Salt Lake City and Boston have such a school, although the Lyceum Catholic School in Ohio has a wonderful schola of young people as well.

On Saturday, we did only practices and the Mass was in the morning. Then we had solemn polyphonic Vespers at 3pm that almost brought us to tears; it was glorious. We were then free to pursue our own activities that evening.

On Sunday, we sang at the regular 11am Mass of the parish. That was full to overflowing, and a polyphonic Mass by Monteverdi made it long but very moving. After Mass we had a brunch and final words from the Association board members. Although this was the 22nd colloquium of the CMAA, the organizers were so impressed with the facilities, they want to come back to SLC next year or as soon as possible, but that had not been worked out yet. 

Here's the trailer of a video on the Madeleine Choir School:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Bishop Cary Visits St. Francis de Sales Cathedral

Sunday, July 1, was the Big Day: Bishop Cary, ordained bishop of the Diocese of Baker on May 18, 2012, made his first visit to St. Francis de Sales Cathedral in Baker City, Oregon!

The Mass was preceded by Bishop Cary knocking on the door of the Cathedral and being received by Fr. Julian Cassar, the rector. In his opening remarks, Bishop Cary said that he was “taking possession of the bishop’s chair, which represents the diocese”.
Bishop Cary knocks on the door.

Fr. Julian Cassar opens the door.
At the homily, Bishop Cary began by introducing himself and noting that the last six weeks have been, for him, “days of becoming a bishop”, and noted that it is “quite a change”. Our prayers must be with him on a daily basis!

Bishop Cary also mentioned that he has an affinity for St. Francis de Sales, who is the patron saint of the Diocese, and of the Cathedral which is named after him.

Bishop Cary with St. Francis de Sales
For the actual homily, Bishop Cary drew a parallel between the Gospel account of Jairus and his daughter and the Fortnight for Freedom concerning Obamacare and the HHS mandate.   

First he noted that to become a bishop in 2012 was to step into the campaign to protect religious freedom. In today's gospel, Jesus, said the bishop, was also in a campaign – he was marching to do battle with death as he made his way to the house of Jairus, with a large crowd following in procession. Along the way, Jesus performed some healing acts for those battling illness. “To be a Christian is to step into that procession to battle death,” said Bishop Cary

Of course, the real battle with death was ultimately on the Cross, said the bishop, and what seemed to be a defeat was in fact a victory.

Bishop Cary went on to say that religious liberty is currently at stake. The HHS mandate “requires Catholics to ignore the teaching of the Church,” he said. “The Church must publicly go against its own teaching and surrender to the moral decisions of the State.

“The government bureaucracy – the HHS – tells us who we are and can be as Catholics,” he added, “by their definition of  ‘religious institution’.  We cease to be Catholics if we employ or serve more non-Catholics than Catholics.

“We used to ask ‘Are you hungry?’ or ‘Are you sick?’ Now we have to ask ‘Are you Catholic?’ We do these things – feed the hungry and take care of the sick – because we are Catholics…not because they are.”

The bishop also noted that “religious liberty is not a right the government gives us; it is a right the government owes us because it comes from God Himself.” He concluded by encouraging all to deepen our resolve to take steps to make sure that this same freedom is handed on to those who come after us.

Here are a few more photos:
The miter and crosier bearer
were vested in vimpae.

It is really a lovely Cathedral.

The cathedral wasn't packed, but there was a sizeable crowd.