Monday, September 9, 2013


This blog will be dormant until some time in the future. We hope to be back with more regular posting at some point, but are not sure when that will be.

For those who care about reverent liturgy, who want to learn more about it, a good blog to read daily is The New Liturgical Movement.

Feel free to check back here occasionally for updates on the state of the Society of St. Gregory the Great, and please keep the Society and the Diocese of Baker in your prayers!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist

From 2012: A homily by Fr. Eric M. Andersen on The Passion of St. John the Baptist.

“It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.” Death has no power over these words (cf. Gueranger. The Liturgical Year. vol. 14., p. 109). A tyrant may put to death the man who speaks these words, but he cannot put these words to death. They are truth itself. “It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.” This is not a man made law. This is God’s eternal law that cannot be broken without dire consequences.

These are the dire consequences:

“Josephus relates how [Herod Antipas] was overcome by the Arabian Aretas, whose daughter he had repudiated in order to follow his wicked passions; and the Jews attributed the defeat to the murder of St. John. He was deposed by Rome from his tetrarchate, and banished to Lyons in Gaul, where the ambitious Herodias shared his disgrace. As to her dancing daughter Salome, there is a tradition gathered from ancient authors, that, having gone out one winter day to dance upon a frozen river, she fell through into the water; the ice, immediately closing round her neck, cut off her head, which bounded upon the surface, thus continuing for some moments the dance of death" (Gueranger 112).

This feast actually celebrates four events. The first event is the beheading itself. “The second event is the burning and gathering, or collecting, of St. John’s bones” (Voragine, The Golden Legend. Vol II., p. 135). This is called the second martyrdom of St. John the Baptist. His disciples had buried his body at Sebaste, a city in Palestine…and many miracles had occurred at his tomb (cf. Voragine 135). “For this reason the pagans, by order of Julian the Apostate, scattered his bones, but the miracles did not cease, and the bones were collected, burned, and pulverized, and the ashes thrown to the winds to be blown over the fields…” (135). On the day when the bones were collected to be burned, some monks from Jerusalem secretly mingled with the pagans and carried out many of the relics, saving them from destruction. They delivered these to Philip, bishop of Jerusalem, who sent them to Anastasius, the bishop of Alexandria. During the Crusades, many of them were brought into the West and distributed among many churches.

The third event commemorated on this feast is the finding of the head of St. John the Baptist which happened on this day. It is said that when John was beheaded, Herodias had John’s head taken to Jerusalem to be buried because “she feared that the prophet would return to life if his head was buried with his body. Four hundred years later some monks took the head to venerate it in a more proper place. It was stolen and hidden in a cave. The man who stole it revealed on his deathbed where it was, but the hiding place was kept secret for a long time. Many years later, a holy monk, St. Marcellus, had taken up residence in this cave. It was revealed to him where the head was hidden. The head was then enshrined in a beautiful church in Poitiers in France.

The fourth event is the translation of one of St. John’s fingers and the dedication of a church. The finger with which he pointed to the Lord, could not be burned. The finger made its way to Normandy, France where a church was built in honor of St. John the Baptist.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The 2013 Gregorian Chant Conference of the Diocese of Baker

The Diocese of Baker hosted a Gregorian Chant Conference recently (August 15-17), which, by all accounts, was a rousing success! (I think that the vast majority of the participants were from outside the diocese, but no matter: success is success, and maybe next year’s conference will be better-advertised in the Baker Diocese.)


The Catholic Sentinel ran an article about the conference, noting that:

Portland’s Schola Cantus Angelorum led the gathering, which was sponsored by the Diocese of Baker and the diocesan association of Mother Mary's Daughters.

… Masses celebrated during the conference were in the form of the Missa Cantata, with all the parts of the Mass sung in Gregorian chant…

Four lectures on chant were given by Dr. Lynne Bissonnette-Pitre [who leads the Schola Cantus Angelorum]. The lectures covered what Dr. Bissonnette-Pitre called the "intelligent design" of the ancient music and its relationship with the liturgy. The lectures covered the origin and development of Gregorian chant, including the church and papal documents. [See the full article here]

The event was well-photographed by Marc Salvatore, who has kindly allowed me to use his photos in this post. Please visit this website to see the entire collection; photos are available for purchase there, as well.

My friend Barbara Etter attended the conference, and kindly provided me with this report of her experience:

What more beautiful day and way to begin the Gregorian Chant Conference than on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary with a Mass, and having our Bishop Liam Cary as principle celebrant?  We were off to a very good start. Of course, nothing of this nature could begin without prayer, so Friday began with a 7:30AM breakfast followed by Morning Prayer, the Rosary, and the Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart.
Then began the real learning process, with the first lecture presented by Dr. Lynne Bissonnette on “What is Gregorian Chant: Its Origins, and How It is Processed by the Brain. If someone didn’t know before, it was made very clear what chant is: beautiful, wave-like melody produced by the human voice.  It is meant to be sung a cappella (unaccompanied by instruments).  The document of the Second Vatican Council Sacrosanctum Concilium states that Gregorian chant should have pride of place in the Liturgy of the Catholic Church.  It was interesting to note that modern music sprang from Gregorian chant---the Solfege method using DO-RE-MI-FA-SOL-LA-TI-DO. Dr. Bissonnette also presented a lecture entitled “The Form and Function of Gregorian Chant – Intrinsic to the Sung Roman Mass”.  

For the “hands-on” learning, the chant was demonstrated in the first workshop with Yumiko Rinta.  The use of square notes on a four line staff was clearly explained.  We were taught about the usage of the DO clef and the FA clef and the Solfege naming of the lines and spaces on the four line staff. There is only one note that is flatted in chant; TI becomes TE. There is only one basic square note called the punctum that receives one beat; a dotted punctum receives two beats.  There are basic nuems such as the podatus, clivis, scandicus, tristropha, etc.. which are combinations of two or three notes, and special nuems such as the liquescent, pressus, quilisma, etc.   There are no ‘rests’ in chant, but breathing is determined by bar lines: quarter bar, half bar, full bar, and double bar. 
Then came the hard part: the eight modes. However, we did not go into those very deeply.  It was time to move on to a pronunciation on vowels, diphthongs, and consonants. A very helpful hand-out packet was given to help us and as a reminder of all that we learned.   This workshop made it clear that Gregorian chant is much easier to sing than music in modern notation.

After dinner and Vespers, another workshop was taught by Fr. Daniel Maxwell; he covered the formulas for chanting the Old and New Testament readings.  Concurrent with this workshop, the priests and deacons had a session on the formulas for chanting the Gospels, which was taught by Fr. Eric Andersen.  It was surprising how easy it is to chant the readings using the given formulas.  We had the experience of actually chanting the introduction to the readings, some lines, and the conclusion to the readings, and the peoples’ responses.

The day was completed as we chanted the Office of Compline at 9:00PM.  It was a very full and informative day.

Saturday was another full day beginning with 7:00AM breakfast, Morning Prayer, the Rosary, and a Votive Mass in Honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Dr. Bissonnette presented a lecture on “The Sung Liturgy”; she emphasized the importance of singing the Liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church to experience the beauty, mystery, and awe of the Sacrifice of the Mass.  The peoples’ parts of the Mass that are meant to be sung are: the propers (usually sung by the schola or choir), including: the Introit or the entrance antiphon with its psalm verses; the gradual (Responsorial Psalm); the Alleluia with its psalm verses, the Offertory antiphon and psalm verses; and the Communion antiphon with its psalm verses. For a properly sung Mass, the readings should be chanted by the reader (lector) or deacon; also to be sung are: the ordinary, which includes the Kyrie (Lord have mercy), Gloria, Credo, Preface dialog, Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy), and Agnus Dei (Lamb of God); the acclamation after the Consecration; the great Amen; the Pater Noster (Our Father), and he dismissal.  The priest is to sing the parts proper to his priestly duties: Preface, Eucharistic Prayer, and Post-communion prayer.  The workshop content emphasized that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass needs to be sung, not that we should just have singing at Mass.
Dr. Bissonnette also gave the final lecture of for this Conference: “The Documents of the Church Pertaining to Gregorian Chant”.  The documents of Pope (St.) Pius X, Pope Pius XI, and Pope Pius XII set a foundation for our Catholic Church use of Gregorian chant.  Documents of the Second Vatican Council, especially Sacrosanctum Concilium, very much expected the use of the chant in our Liturgy to continue, as it has pride of place. No document from Vatican II dismissed the use of Latin or chant.  The post-Vatican II years saw Pope Paul VI issuing “Jubilate Deo”, which was sent to all bishops as a guideline indicating the minimum chant that all Catholics must be able to sing.  Blessed John Paul II also encouraged the use of chant. Our Pope (emeritus) Benedict XVI in his moto proprio Summorum Pontificum issued July 7, 2007 also permitted all priests to be able to celebrate the Extraordinary Form Mass as well as chant.  This was followed up in May, 2011 by Universae Ecclesiae which is a further explanation of Summorum Pontificum.  The Document “Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship” (2007) continues to declare the primacy of place for Gregorian chant. This document was issued by the Roman Catholic bishops of the Latin Church in the United States.
Fr. Eric Andersen 
The final workshop was “Chanting the Ordinary of the Mass”.  Here we put into practice what was learned in the previous workshops. We sang the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei for both Mass IX (Cum Jubilo) in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Mass XI (Orbis Factor) for Sundays of Ordinary Time.  We also sang Credo I.  It was amazing how beautiful we all sounded together in the praise of the Lord!

Following this workshop, we celebrated the Mass for the 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time.  It was a beautiful Liturgy with everything being sung.  Oh, if only we could have such music in our parishes! The Mass would truly be more appreciated, and we would really have active as well as actual participation of our congregations.

The entire conference ended Saturday night with the Office of Compline at 8:30PM.

Overall the chant conference was wonderful. The lectures were very informative and the workshops were a “hands-on experience to use what was taught---for all levels of experience – beginner, intermediate, or advanced.  The Masses were not only beautiful and reverent, but also examples of how the Mass should be sung.

Plan to attend next year’s Gregorian Chant Conference!

Friday, August 16, 2013

EF Mass in Southern Oregon

Thanks to Marc Salvatore for this great video that shows that the EF Mass is alive and well in Southern Oregon (at least every few months!). These Masses in the Archdiocese of Portland are well-attended, and hopefully their frequency will increase. And perhaps the Diocese of Baker will follow suit at some point.

For more information about the EF Mass in Southern Oregon, go to the Southern Oregon Una Voce site.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mary's Assumption into Heaven

The Feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven!

Here are Readings 4, 5, and 6 from the Office of Matins for the Feast of the Assumption:

From the Sermons of St John of Damascus.
2nd on the Falling-on-sleep of Blessed Mary.
This day the holy and animated Ark of the living God, which had held within it its own Maker, is borne to rest in that Temple of the Lord, which is not made with hands. David, whence it sprang, leapeth before it, and in company with him the Angels dance, the Archangels sing aloud, the Virtues ascribe glory, the Princedoms shout for joy, the Powers make merry, the Lordships rejoice, the Thrones keep holiday, the Cherubim utter praise, and the Seraphim proclaim its glory. This day the Eden of the new Adam receiveth the living garden of delight, wherein the condemnation was annulled, wherein the Tree of Life was planted, wherein our nakedness was covered. 

This day the stainless maiden, who had been defiled by no earthly lust, but ermobled by heavenly desires, returned not to dust, but, being herself a living heaven, took her place among the heavenly mansions. From her true life had flowed for all men, and how should she taste of death? But she yielded obedience to the law established by Him to Whom she had given birth, and, as the daughter of the old Adam, underwent the old sentence, which even her Son, Who is the very Life Itself, had not refused; but, as the Mother of the living God, she was worthily taken by Him unto Himself.

In the Eastern Church,
The Dormition of Mary
Eve, who had said yea to the proposals of the serpent, was condemned to the pains of travail and the punishment of death, and found her place in the bowels of the Netherworld. But this truly blessed being who had inclined her ears to the word of God, whose womb had been filled by the action of the Holy Ghost, who, as soon as she heard the spiritual salutation of the archangel, had conceived the Son of God without any sexual pleasure or carnal knowledge by a man, who had brought forth her Offspring without any the least pang, who had hallowed herself altogether for the service of God how was death ever to feed upon her? how was the grave ever to eat her up? how was corruption to break into that body into which Life had been welcomed? For her there was a straight, smooth, and easy way to heaven. For if Christ, Who is the Life and the Truth, hath said Where I am, there shall also My servant be how much more shall not rather His mother be with Him?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Vortex: Beauty and the Beast

Our Catholic heritage is full of beauty, goodness, and truth. In encounters between Catholicism and the culture, it is the inherent "beauty" of our faith that should overcome the "beast" of the culture, as Michael Voris points out in this episode of the Vortex.

No where is that beauty is shown more clearly than in the music of the Church, and in a recent "America's Got Talent", Catholic music stole the day.

For a history, description, and translation of Pie Jesu, the piece sung on the show, go here.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pope Paul VI on Latin and Chant

An article at the Corpus Christi Watershed blog features the Apostolic Letter, Sacrificium Laudis, written in 1966. The article notes that this letter “was sent by Pope Paul VI to religious groups obliged to the choral recitation of the divine office” and notes that the Pope used some strong words to express his sentiments. The example mentioned in the article is this quote:

“For while some are very faithful to the Latin language, others wish to use the vernacular within the choral office. [ … ] We have been somewhat disturbed and saddened by these requests.”

Here are a few other excerpts from the letter; click on the above link to read the whole thing at the CCWatershed blog.

Early in the letter, the Pope extolls the virtues of the orders that sing the Divine Office, but then notes that (all emphases added)

…discordant practices have been introduced into the sacred liturgy by your communities or provinces (We speak of those only that belong to the Latin Rite.) For while some are very faithful to the Latin language, others wish to use the vernacular within the choral office. Others, in various places, wish to exchange that chant which is called Gregorian for newly-minted melodies. Indeed, some even insist that Latin should be wholly suppressed.

We must acknowledge that We have been somewhat disturbed and saddened by these requests. One may well wonder what the origin is of this new way of thinking and this sudden dislike for the past; one may well wonder why these things have been fostered.

Pope Paul VI also indicates that there were plenty of previous instructions regarding preservation of Latin:

In the first Instruction (ad exsecutionem Constitutionis de sacra Liturgia recte ordinandam), published on 26 September 1964, it was decreed as follows:

In celebrating the divine office in choir, clerics are bound to preserve the Latin language (n. 85).

In the second Instruction (de lingua in celebrandis Officio divino et Missa “conventuali” aut “communitatis” apud Religiosos adhibenda), published on 23 November 1965, that law was reinforced, and at the same time due consideration was shown for the spiritual advantage of the faithful and for the special conditions which prevail in missionary territories. Therefore, for as long as no other lawful provision is made, these laws are in force and require the obedience in which religious must excel, as dear sons of holy Church.

And yet, how many religious orders that pray the Divine Office have maintained the celebration in Latin? It seems to me that they are few and far between.
Pope Paul VI noted also that retention of Latin is not just for the sake of praying in Latin! There are other benefits to its use:

… For this language is, within the Latin Church, an abundant well-spring of Christian civilization and a very rich treasure-trove of devotion. But it is also the seemliness, the beauty and the native strength of these prayers and canticles which is at stake: the choral office itself, “the lovely voice of the Church in song” (Cf. St Augustine’s Confessions, Bk 9, 6). … The traditions of the elders, your glory throughout long ages, must not be belittled. Indeed, your manner of celebrating the choral office has been one of the chief reasons why these families of yours have lasted so long, and happily increased. It is thus most surprising that under the influence of a sudden agitation, some now think that it should be given up.

Do you hear what he’s saying?! He is saying that the long life of the religious orders that celebrate the Divine Office in Latin, using Gregorian chant, is due precisely to that very practice! There is something utterly compelling about psalms and hymns chanted in Latin. The Pope continues:

In present conditions, what words or melodies could replace the forms of Catholic devotion which you have used until now? You should reflect and carefully consider whether things would not be worse, should this fine inheritance be discarded. It is to be feared that the choral office would turn into a mere bland recitation, suffering from poverty and begetting weariness, as you yourselves would perhaps be the first to experience.

This corresponds to my personal experience. I began by reciting the Liturgy of the Hours, and found it rather tedious, though I tried to keep at it. When I learned to chant the Office, I found myself much more motivated to pray it. As I said, there is something very compelling about the Latin chant.

One can also wonder whether men would come in such numbers to your churches in quest of the sacred prayer, if its ancient and native tongue, joined to a chant full of grave beauty, resounded no more within your walls. We therefore ask all those to whom it pertains, to ponder what they wish to give up, and not to let that spring run dry from which, until the present, they have themselves drunk deep.

And indeed, it seems that in many parishes, where there is no longer a tradition of chanting even just the Latin ordinary at Mass, people are no longer drawn to the parish church to pray. There may be many reasons for that, but surely it is not helpful that the “ancient and native tongue” is no longer present and there is no “chant full of grave beauty”. Instead, we have substituted words and melodies more reflective of our view of ourselves than our view of God.

The Pope acknowledges that:

 Of course, the Latin language presents some difficulties, and perhaps not inconsiderable ones, for the new recruits to your holy ranks. But such difficulties, as you know, should not be reckoned insuperable…Moreover, those prayers, with their antiquity, their excellence, their noble majesty, will continue to draw to you young men and women, called to the inheritance of our Lord.

Can there be any doubt that this is true? The current pop Christian songs will be out-dated tomorrow, and in fact much of the music I hear at Mass is reminiscent of the ‘70’s… which does not make it contemporary at all!

But even more important, listen to the Pope as he addresses the power of the Latin chant:

On the other hand, that choir from which is removed this language of wondrous spiritual power, transcending the boundaries of the nations, and from which is removed this melody proceeding from the inmost sanctuary of the soul, where faith dwells and charity burns – We speak of Gregorian chant – such a choir will be like to a snuffed candle, which gives light no more, no more attracts the eyes and minds of men.

At this point, many among the older generation have “issues” with Latin and chant, and cling to their ‘70’s “folk Masses”. I’ve heard it joked that the main people attending a youth Mass are in their 60’s or older! Younger people who don’t have the “baggage” of the rebellion against Latin and sacred music, are more drawn to the chant. Since they have no pre-conceived notions that it’s a “step backwards”, they have a clearer view of the objective beauty and goodness of it. They are able to recognize that it “proceeds from the inmost sanctuary of the soul”.

Too many of our parishes have choirs that are the “snuffed candles” to which the Pope alludes. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Interview with Cardinal Burke: ZENIT

ZENIT has an exclusive interview with Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke today. The interview was conducted “on the sidelines of Sacra Liturgia 2013, a major international conference on the liturgy held in Rome at the end of June”. Cardinal Burke has some interesting things to say – be sure to read the entire interview!

Here are some excerpts (my emphases):

ZENIT: Some argue the liturgy is mostly about aesthetics, and not as important as, say, good works done in faith. What is your view of this argument that one often hears?

Cardinal Burke: It’s a Communist misconception. First of all, the liturgy is about Christ. It’s Christ alive in his Church, the glorious Christ coming into our midst and acting on our behalf through sacramental signs to give us the gift of eternal life to save us. It is the source of any truly charitable works we do, any good works we do. So the person whose heart is filled with charity wants to do good works will, like Mother Teresa, give his first intention to the worship of God so that when he goes to offer charity to a poor person or someone in need, it would be at the level of God Himself, and not some human level.

ZENIT: Some also say that to be concerned with liturgical law is being unduly legalistic, that it’s a stifling of the spirit. How should one respond to that? Why should we be concerned about liturgical law?
Cardinal Burke: Liturgical law disciplines us so that we have the freedom to worship God, otherwise we’re captured – we’re the victims or slaves either of our own individual ideas, relative ideas of this or that, or of the community or whatever else. But the liturgical law safeguards the objectivity of sacred worship and opens up that space within us, that freedom to offer worship to God as He desires, so we can be sure we’re not worshipping ourselves or, at the same time, as Aquinas says, some kind of falsification of divine worship.

ZENIT: It offers a kind of template?

Cardinal Burke: Exactly, it’s what discipline does in every aspect of our lives. Unless we’re disciplined, then we’re not free.
ZENIT: … What basis of liturgical formation do we need in our parishes, dioceses and particularly in our seminaries?

Cardinal Burke: The first important lesson that has to be taught is that the sacred liturgy is an expression of God’s right to receive from us the worship that is due to Him, and that flows from who we are. We are God’s creatures and so divine worship, in a very particular way, expresses at the same time the infinite majesty of God and also our dignity as the only earthly creature that can offer him worship, in other words that we can lift up our hearts and minds to him in praise and worship. So that would be the first lesson. Then to study carefully how the liturgical rites have developed down the centuries and not to see the history of the Church as somehow a corruption of those liturgical rites. In the true sense, the Church over time has come to an ever deeper understanding of the sacred liturgy and has expressed that in several ways, whether it be through sacred vestments, sacred vessels, through sacred architecture – even the care for sacred linens which are used in the Holy Mass. All of these are expressions of the liturgical reality and so those things have to be carefully studied, and of course then to study the relationship of liturgy with the other aspects of our lives.

Read the rest here.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Fr. Andersen: The Holy Choir of Virtues

A homily by Fr. Eric M. Andersen, Our Lady of Peace Retreat, Summer Catechetical Institute

July 14th, 2013

Dominica XV Per Annum, Anno C.

Second Reading: (Col. 1:15-20) Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God,the firstborn of all creation.For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,the visible and the invisible,whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;all things were created through him and for him.He is before all things,and in him all things hold together.He is the head of the body, the church.He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,that in all things he himself might be preeminent.For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell,and through him to reconcile all things for him,making peace by the blood of his crossthrough him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.
This week, I will be talking about human anthropology, from the theological perspective: virtues, vices, the appetites, the passions, and the will. Today’s second reading (Col. 1:15-20) prepares us for this anthropological study. We start with Christ. St. Paul explains to us that Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God. We start there. God is invisible, or in other words, He is pure spirit. But God is not limited to remaining invisible. He just does not depend upon matter in order to exist. He is pure spirit, and therefore, He is invisible. But according to His divine and perfect will, He became incarnate, taking on human flesh. It was not God the Father who became incarnate, but God the Son. This brings us back to Colossians: The Son is the image of the invisible God. God is pure spirit, and therefore invisible, but the Son has taken on material existence, and therefore He is visible.

We could say that the first man, Adam, was also the image of the invisible God. Moses teaches us that Adam was made in the image and likeness of God. But Adam was made. Jesus was begotten not made. Jesus is the only begotten of the Father:

“ …in Him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible.” So Adam and all things visible on earth were created in Jesus Christ. But St. Paul tells us that heaven was also created and that all things invisible were created in Jesus Christ: thrones, dominions, principalities, powers. Elsewhere, St. Paul writes of the angels called the virtues. The scriptures also tell us about angels, archangels, cherubim, and seraphim. These names identify the nine choirs of angels which we encounter regularly in the prayers of the Holy Mass.
What can we learn about anthropology by studying these nine choirs of angels? Let’s look briefly at these nine choirs and how they are hierarchically ordered. St. Thomas Aquinas, keeping with Dionysius the Areopagite, “divides the angels into three hierarchies each of which contains three orders. Their proximity to the Supreme Being serves as the basis of this division. In the first hierarchy he places the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones; in the second, the Dominations, Virtues, and Powers; in the third, the Principalities, Archangels, and Angels” (Pope, Hugh. "Angels." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 14 Jul. 2013>.)

Venerable Prosper Gueranger writes this about the nine choirs of angels:

“It is from the lowest of the nine choirs, the nearest to ourselves, that the Guardian Angels are for the most part selected. God reserves to the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones the honour of following His Own immediate court. The Dominations, from the steps of His throne, preside over the government of the universe; the Virtues watch over the course of nature's laws, the preservation of species, and the movements of the heavens; the Powers hold the spirits of wickedness in subjection. The human race in its entirety, as also its great social bodies, the nations and the churches, are confided to the Principalities; while the Archangels, who preside over smaller communities, seem also to have the office of transmitting to the Angels the commands of God, together with the love and light which come down even to us from the first and highest hierarchy. O the depths of the wisdom of God! Thus, then, the admirable distribution of offices among the choirs of heavenly spirits terminates in the function committed to the lowest rank, the guardianship of man, for whom the universe subsists” (The Liturgical Year. Vol. XIV, Feast of the Guardian Angels).

We see in this hierarchy of the angels a mirror of the hierarchy of visible things. Man is the highest of the visible beings, because among visible beings, he is closest to God. But among the invisible creation, the Guardian Angels are the lowest because they are the closest to man.

All of these beings, visible and invisible, were created in Christ. He holds all things together in Him. He is the head of the body, the Church. So the holy angels share communion with mankind as members of the Mystical Body of Christ in the Church. Just as we pray to the saints for their intercession, let us remember to pray to the holy angels for their intercession.  We are here to speak this week of human virtues. But we can see here that the Virtues, among the holy angels, can be of great help to us.

For instance, the Holy Choir of Virtues watch over the course of nature's laws, the preservation of species, and the movements of the heavens (the weather). Let’s put these angels to work in these three areas! God has created the natural law. Let us first pray to the Holy Virtues that the Natural Law may be respected and guarded especially in the preservation of marriage between one man and one woman. Let us pray secondly for the preservation of species, especially of the human race. In the face of rapidly declining birth rates around the world, forced sterilizations, the use of abortifacient birth control and abortion, let us pray to the Virtues for increased birth rates, a culture of life, and the preservation of the human race. Thirdly, let us pray to the holy Virtues for their intercession in the movement of the heavens––for good weather. May they intercede for farmers and all who depend of the weather for crops, especially during this summer season. Let us pray also for protection against natural disasters caused by weather and for safe travel for all who travel in the air, on the seas, through mountain passes, and all who are in danger due to inclement weather.

Let us entrust these all these intentions to the Holy Choir of Virtues through Christ our Lord. “For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven”. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Diocese of Baker Chant Workshop

click for more information on Gregorian Chant Conference

The Diocese of Baker is holding a Gregorian chant workshop! This is certainly welcome news!

Here are the details from the Diocese of Baker website; I’ve lifted everything from the flyer, which you can find here.

Date: August 15 - 17, 2013

Registration information:

Patti Rausch Diocese of Baker Chancery Office 541-388-4004

General information:

Judy Newport 541-923-6946

You’ll notice, of course, that the conference coincides with the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mass for that feast will be celebrated by Bishop Liam Cary at 7pm at St. Mary’s Chapel at the Powell Butte Retreat Center.

According to the brochure, the Gregorian Chant conference will provide a unique and much needed focus on how to understand Gregorian chant and its place in the Sung Roman Liturgy. The four lectures cover the topics:

What is Gregorian Chant;

The origins and history of Gregorian chant;

How Gregorian Chant fulfills the criteria for Traditional Art and Sacred Music;  

Differentiation of Gregorian chant according to form and function within the liturgy;

The sung liturgy and the music designated for priest, deacon, lector, schola, and congregation;

Church documents on Gregorian Chant.

St. Mary's Chapel
The conference will also provide workshops for those who want to learn to sing the Order of Mass and the Ordinary of Mass. This will include introduction to solfage and the reading square note notation.

The conference will be conducted in the context of prayer and spiritual renewal with the sacrament of reconciliation, daily Mass, and the liturgy of the hours.

The conference will end with the Vigil Mass Saturday at 7:00 pm for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time celebrated by Fr. Daniel Maxwell. For those who are staying overnight, it will end with sung Compline.

The speakers and celebrants for the event are as follows:

Dr. Lynne Bissonnette-Pitre
Featured Lecturer and Workshop Leader: 

Lynne Bissonnette-Pitre, MD, PhD  

Lynne is a physician specialized in psychiatry, practicing in Portland, Oregon. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University; a doctorate at John Hopkins University; and a medical degree at University of California, Irvine. She did her internship and residency in psychiatry, as well as two years fellowship in child psychiatry, at the University of Oregon.

Lynne’s background in music includes proficiency in the musical instruments: piano, viola, alto saxophone, and mandolin. She played in orchestra, marching band, and jazz band, and sang in choir and a women’s ensemble while in school. Lynne sang in the Portland Cathedral choir for 12 years, and has served for 7 years as director and cantor for the Gregorian Chant Schola Cantus Angelorum. She has also sung in Gregorian Scholas in Corning, New York; Atlanta, Georgia; and Bavaria, Germany.

Workshop LeaderYumiko Rinta

Yumiko has studied piano for 17 years, is proficient in voice and flute and, has played in ensembles and sung in the choir in Tokyo, Japan. She studied harpsichord in Portland, Oregon, under Nancy Metzger, who now resides in Sacramento, California. Nancy Metzger is a renowned harpsichordist/organist, author, and professor of music. In the US, Yumiko has sung with the Saint Paul Cathedral Choir and the St. Mary’s Cathedral choir in Portland, Oregon. She has been cantor and co-director of Schola Cantus Angelorum for 7 years.

Workshop Leader: Reverend Daniel Maxwell

As a convert from the Anglican tradition, Fr. Maxwell has a deep love of the sacred liturgy and of sacred music. He served as organist and cantor for several parishes for nearly twenty years before his ordination in 2009 as a priest of the Diocese of Baker.

Liturgy Celebrants:
Bishop Cary
Most Reverend Liam Cary,
Bishop of Baker, Oregon

Baker Diocese to ordain first priest in three years
Reverend Daniel Maxwell,
Pastor of Our Lady of Angels,
Hermiston, OR
Father Greiner
Reverend Robert Greiner,
Pastor of St. Joseph,
Prineville, OR

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What Vatican II Didn't Say: The Vortex

Do you really know what Vatican II said about the Mass, or are you the victim of some misrepresentations about the changes that occurred? Michael Voris gives you a quick run down on what Vatican II did NOT say - but which many people think it did - in this Vortex.

Read the document in question yourself: Sacrosanctum Concilium.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

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 17-23.
For the second year in a row, I was privileged to attend the Sacred Music Colloquium of the Church Music Association of America (henceforth referred to as CMAA). For the second year in a row, it was held in the beautiful Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City.

It felt very much like coming home, not only because of the venue, but because there were some familiar faces among the more than 200 who gathered: some of the staff of CMAA whom I had gotten to know previously, some clergy, such as Father Johannes of the Gray Franciscans, and Father Pasley, the chaplain of CMAA, who is pastor of the only diocesan parish in the country dedicated to the extraordinary form of the liturgy.

In addition, there were five other Oregon residents there, besides the two of us who came from Central Oregon. Father Eric Andersen, until recently pastor at Sacred Heart in Gervais and his choir director Jeannine; Father Luan Tran, pastor of St. Birgitta’s parish in Portland and his choir director, a young man whose name I never ascertained; and a gentleman from Otter Rock on the coast, whom I met once at the opening dinner and never saw the rest of the week.

Initially, SLC was characteristically hot. After enduring a Mass the first night in the choir school chapel (no air conditioning) with outside temps of 109 degrees, we were grateful for highs in the mid-80s the rest of the week, and most classrooms and the cathedral were mercifully cooled.  Once I was in the cathedral itself, however, everything seemed very familiar and comfortable. The structure, with its incredible frescos, stained glass, and massive organ is perhaps as close as one gets in the U.S. to the great cathedrals of Europe.  
The choir stalls provided a lot of seating for some of the schola groups, and the choir loft and screened area behind the altar accommodated other singers. The acoustics are very good in most areas and that made singing more satisfying than it is in more dampened new churches, where carpet and ceiling tiles often absorb much of the sound.

As last year, there were six liturgies planned: two EF and four OF Masses. Most of the priests – more than a dozen of them attending – concelebrated the OF Masses, and the choir school chapel was available for those needing to say private Masses. I suspect most did that in the early morning, so as to avoid being cooked and/or dehydrated.

The Masses were structured for the weekdays so as to begin with English OF Masses, first with the New English Propers – amazingly simple in the context – and then with Latin propers, more complex but very do-able by any choir willing to put in the time. Despite the fact that I looked forward to the two Solemn High EF Masses on Thursday and Friday, I found the two preceding Novus Ordo Masses very edifying. They were a great improvement over how most such Masses are celebrated in my local diocese. The music, of course, was key, as chant in both languages and sacred polyphony accompanied the action of the liturgy.

After a late start due to a failed alarm the first morning, I decided to rejoin my previous schola director, Jeffrey Morse, currently choirmaster at St. Stephen’s Church, a Fraternity of St. Peter parish in Sacramento , CA. Even though the level of chant preparation was down from the advanced schola, we had five or six men who were very good cantors and who did all the intoning and psalm verses. In addition, since we had less ambitious participants content to rehearse, Jeffery was able to give us instruction in semiology, the applying of ancient text and markings to interpreting the chants. Although we stayed with the general reforms of Solesmes for the chant, some nuances were added here and there based on more recent scholarship.

Wednesday was a day for one of the highlights of the week. Archbishop Alexander Sample, newly installed as archbishop of the Portland archdiocese and metropolitan for the states of Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, visited for the day and gave a talk that brought tears to the eyes of many  colloquium participants. He thanked the CMAA for continuing to carry the torch for good sacred music and pledged to do all in his power to further those efforts. One of the priests there said to me afterwards that he had never expected in his lifetime to hear a member of the hierarchy say those things. The gratification and gratitude on the part of every participant was immense.

That evening Archbishop Sample celebrated an OF Mass ad orientem and with some Latin chants. It occurred to me – and others, as it turned out – that he is cut from the same cloth as was the Venerable Fulton Sheen. Both have charismatic qualities and both are dignified in their bearing and courageous in their attitude toward the faith. In Archbishop Sample’s case, this includes especially the restoration of the sacred in liturgy and music, which has lain in ruins for so long. It was a note of hope and optimism sorely needed in the Church.

Thursday brought the first EF Mass, the traditional Solemn Requiem for deceased members of CMAA. Monsignor Richard Schuler is always remembered by name, for his incredible contribution to the cause of sacred music. For nearly four decades he conducted Masses by Mozart, Haydn and other composers and used Gregorian chant at many Masses at the Church of St. Agnes in St. Paul, Minnesota. His legacy lives on in the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale and CMAA will have a special workshop there in October.

On Friday, we celebrated the feast of the young Jesuit, Aloysius Gonzaga, with another solemn high Mass, led by Father Pasley as celebrant. On Saturday, the 2 p.m. Mass was an OF Mass in Latin in honor of Our Lady. The group I was singing with did the beautiful Salve Sancta Parens Introit.

The colloquium wound up Sunday morning celebrating the regular 11 a.m. parish Mass at the cathedral with the pastor, Mgsr. Mayo, as celebrant. After Mass the entire group sang a new composition, Laudate Dominum, selected from several pieces of sacred music submitted for judging.

At the closing brunch, Jeffrey Tucker, editor of CMAA’s publication Sacred Music, made a few remarks. A man not known for his brevity, Tucker said that words had failed him in describing the experience of the colloquium. He opined that the bonding felt among participants would continue throughout the year and that the staff was happy to be in touch with any and all.

Father Pasley, though, said something that struck a particular chord with me. He thanked all the participants for their rendering of the sacred music and its contribution to the liturgies that week. He told us that our efforts had made the clergy better priests and that at times, he felt chills on hearing the beautiful sounds that befit  the Sacrifice of the Mass done properly.

Next year the colloquium will be held in Indianapolis, Indiana, much farther east. I hope to be there, but it is a long way out to plan. What I did get from some of the staff is that they are considering Portland as a venue in the next few years. Between the friendship of Archbishop Sample and the more temperate climate, that would be very happy event.   Meanwhile, there are signs of progress in Oregon and perhaps some of the wonderful liturgy that happened in Salt Lake City this summer will be echoed around our state over the next months of 2013. 

If anyone wants more information about CMAA or its activities, including the last colloquium, please e-mail me at: