Wednesday 29 September 2010

Via The Chant Cafe, we have this news of even more efforts to inculturate the singing of the propers:

An Experiment in Sacred Music Resource Production: Let’s Lay an Egg!

Posted on September 7, 2010 by Adam Bartlett

The following article was first posted at the Chant Cafe blog, and will appear in a forthcoming issue of the journal ‘Sacred Music‘, published by the Church Music Association of America.

If you haven’t yet read Msgr. Andrew Wadsorth’s recent address on sacred music entitled “Towards the Future: Singing the Mass”, you must. The statements made here by the Executive Director of ICEL are full of unrealized potential that could change the world of Catholic liturgical music as we know it.

In this essay I would like to shine a light on some of that potential and to invite you to help make it a reality; perhaps our combined efforts can help change the landscape of Catholic liturgical music publishing as we know it.

Among the items in Wadsworth’s talk was a call to church musicians to sing the liturgical texts that are proper to the Mass, namely the proper processional antiphons which contain a portion of the substantial unity of the Roman Rite, a “textual unity”, as he puts it. In assessing our current state of affairs, where there is virtually no singing of these proper antiphons, he reveals the existence of a very interesting and starkly contrasting state of affairs:

On the one hand, we have the familiar commercial publishers, about whom Wadsworth states that “…musical repertoire has for practical purposes largely been controlled by the publishers of liturgical music… this is unavoidable, for a whole variety of pragmatic reasons…”

He also says that “This is something of a ‘chicken and egg’ situation. Praxis has governed the development of our resources of liturgical music and for the most part, composers and publishers have neglected the provision or adaptation of musical settings of these proper texts.

In sharp contrast, Msgr. Wadsworth notes that “a brief trawl of the internet produces a surprisingly wide variety of styles of settings of the proper texts which range from simple chants that can be sung without accompaniment to choral settings for mixed voices.”

How interesting is this dichotomy? Did you catch it?

On the one hand we have the major commercial liturgical music publishers who have “neglected the provision or adaptation of musical settings of [the] proper texts” because of a “chicken and egg” situation, and who control the music repertoire in Catholic parishes for “unavoidable” and “practical reasons”. In other words, parish musicians sing what the publishers publish, and in turn publishers print and distribute what seems to be wanted in parishes.

And on the other hand we have “a surprisingly wide variety of styles of settings of the proper texts” that are made available by “a brief trawl of the internet”.

To put it more directly: On the one hand we seem to have an “unavoidable” situation where the distribution of liturgical music resources necessarily depends on the vision of large corporations and the whims of the commercial market, regulated by purchase and sale and other external factors, while on the other hand we have a 21st century technology in the internet that has enabled the wide distribution and promotion of old and new musical settings of the propers, and that has completely sidestepped–has not been subject to–these seemingly “unavoidable” forces that shackle the commercial publishing industry.

This dichotomy between two different means of creation and distribution of liturgical music resources represents a paradigm shifting phenomenon that is happening now in the Church and in the world. At one time the distribution of music resources depended solely on the resources of the old information economy: the production and processing of paper, the speed and volume of the printing press, the sale of paper, and the post office. These are all technologies that are generally between 200 and 500 years old.

It is around this model that our systems of copyright, intellectual property, licensing, commercial distribution, etc. evolved. Large quantities of paper and high-volume printing presses are scarce and specialized goods that can be acquired, operated, and maintained only at a considerable cost; the publishers must buy the paper, must hire production staff, they must buy printing presses, paper cutters, pay for shipment costs, pay the electric bills, and on and on. The cost for the production of printed sheet music is quite high. It goes without saying that this paper must be sold to consumers in order for publishers to cover their production costs and in order to build and sustain a successful business. This doesn’t even get into the effort that is required to expand and protect markets; the commercial publisher’s existence depends on this activity.

But we are seeing a new phenomenon today. A single individual who has a laptop can produce musical scores in his spare time using free software, from his sofa in his living room, and post it freely on a website that he accesses or even owns and manages for free. The situation that this person finds himself in allows him to assess the needs of the Church without any influencing factors such as commercial considerations, the whims of the financial market, client base, or anything. This person, in his spare time, as an activity of leisure, can produce musical resources, without the bias of any imposing influence, and instantly “publish” it freely on the internet and make it available and accessible to a virtually global market, all with absolutely no cost or risk whatsoever.

There was perhaps a time where such DIY activity didn’t hold much stock in the “real world” of liturgical music distribution, but, the real world is sitting up and taking notice now. In fact, the Executive Director of ICEL has taken notice and has called prominent public attention to the fact that the best place to find settings of the proper antiphons of the Mass–musical settings of texts that form a part of the substantial unity of the Roman Rite–is the open, free, common-source marketplace of the internet, in the forum of the self-publisher who can produce resources that the Church is asking for without having to play any “chicken and egg” games, or without having to be subject to the demands of the commercial market.

How extraordinary is this? The CMAA should be proud and people like Jeffrey Tucker, and many others who have contributed to this work should be thanked profusely for their tireless efforts in making musical settings of the texts of the Roman Rite freely available to the world.[HEAR! HEAR!]  Who knows–if these resources had not been developed and had not been made available online in the past few years would we be eternally resigned to the cycle of destruction that is found in the world of Catholic music publishing? Would we be suppressed by the “unavoidable” and “practical reasons” that have kept Catholics from having available to them a variety of musical settings of the texts of the Mass? Would there be no hope that things could improve and that we could some day finally arrive at Vatican II’s vision of a sung liturgy?

The good news is that the pioneers have charted a new and exciting path in these past few years and because of this the world of Catholic liturgical music will never be the same.

I think that it is time to raise the stakes. I would like to invite you, any and all of you, to participate in an experiment in the production of Catholic liturgical music resources.

As Catholics we have long understood the axiom “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. We hear this in the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians: “Now the body is not a single part, but many. If a foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,’ it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. Or if an ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body,’ it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.” (1Cor 12: 14-16) What good is a foot alone? Or a hand? Or an ear? Alone these parts of the body can do very little, but when acting as a part of the whole body, the potential is infinite.

Many of us musicians have made small contributions to the world of online liturgical music resources, while for many of us our efforts have remained locked within the walls of our isolated community, or left sitting on our hard drives. Largely the online publishing effort has been the enterprise of a handful of driven individuals who have assembled very nice projects according to their individual gifts of time and talent. Many of these projects have been limited, though, in scope perhaps because of needed skills, knowledge, and of course time. Many of these projects have still found great success, but they would be more successful if more skills or manpower were available. I believe that if the many gifts that are found in the sacred music community were shared, though, working together as one body, the result would be as good, if not better than that which the commercial publishers offer.

I would like to invite you, even if you don’t feel that you have much to give, even if your contribution is small, to participate in this experiment. This will be an organized effort, the author of this essay is the acting organizer, and the source for community collaboration is the worldwide web. (For more information, or to join in the effort please contact us).

The project is being called “Toward the Singing of Propers” and an immediate result might end up in a book of simple English antiphons and psalms for use in average parish settings by average parish musicians. Another result will be an open database of liturgical texts and source material for the development of future and various projects that deal with the propers. The fruits of everyone’s labor will remain in the Creative Commons and in the open forum so that others can benefit from your work as they take on similar projects of their own.

What help do we need? Well, the first task is to organize a database of all of the liturgical texts. This involves the data input of a complete set of antiphon translations, and also of the Latin antiphons for proper and simple textual comparison. All of the metadata for these texts needs to be entered and organized: biblical text source, incipit name, mode, psalm verse designations. Psalm verses for the antiphons have to be assembled and notated in the database. The psalm verses themselves need to be extracted and arranged in the database. Various editions of the psalms need to be compiled and prepared for liturgical singing. We need people to help typeset musical antiphons. We need proof readers, both textual and musical. There are many things to be done and surely many further needs that will arise as the project progresses and develops.

The great thing about “open source” projects is that anyone can contribute to them with whatever time they have to give. I find it absolutely amazing that a computer operating system like Linux (a community developed and completely open source software) can rival the best commercial operating systems that money can buy. I have no doubt that an organized effort around sacred music resources can produce the same result.

I believe that in Msgr. Wadsworth’s address we have been commissioned to return the antiphonal propers back to their rightful place in Catholic liturgy and to work outside the conventional confines in order to do so.

We are able to give freely of ourselves, of our gifts, of our time, to the Church because Christ first gave of himself to us, and He continues to pour out the gift of himself freely to us in every single Eucharistic liturgy. Everything that happens in the liturgy is a response to Christ’s sacrifice of himself to the Father in the Holy Spirit. Our only able response as Catholics after receiving this gift is to make a gift of ourselves back to God in our worship and in the making of our own lives a sacrifice.

It is because of this eternal gift that we receive in the liturgy that we “live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17: 28) It is in response to this gift that we are able to give freely of our time and our gifts for the glory of God, the sanctification of the faithful, and for the good of the Church.

I hope that you will participate in this experiment in liturgical music resource production. Your contribution may seem small, but when united with others working toward a common goal your impact will be great. Future generations of Catholics may thank you.

Adam Bartlett holds a BA Music, Arizona State University, MA Liturgy (in progress) Liturgical Institute of St. Mary of the Lake University, Mundelein, IL, is Director of Music and Liturgy, St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Phoenix, AZ, is the founder of ‘’, and a blogger at ‘’

Thursday 19 August 2010

Question: Did Vatican II or the Church since want and direct us to have Mass Facing the People? Answer: No. And there's not proof it did either.

As readers will know, the Glorificamus Society promotes the celebration of Holy Mass "ad orientem" (i.e. facing liturgical east or turned to the Lord).

We do so for many reasons, not least of which is that this the will of the Church as expressed in Her custom and teaching in continuity with Tradition, and She has never changed that teaching.  In this post we won't examine the reasons why ad orietnem is better.  Rather, we want to understand how it practically disappeared.

And yet, as we all know, we have a curious reality: world-wide this is ignored in practice.  Mass in the Ordinary Form is celebrated facing the people virtually everywhere and is celebrated ad orientem virtually nowhere. 

How did this happen?  Was there any directive that it should?

The short answer is: No. None.

So how did it happen?

Somehow, some liturgists before the Second Vatican Council and after promoted the idea, influenced by a false idea of what was done in the early Church and a false idea that it was best because it was done in the early church, liturgists were, no doubt, influence by protestant ideas and practice, and, having promoted the idea enough and, in some cases implemented it anyway, priests just went ahead and did it, people were told this was what the Church wanted and it was done.   When necessary it was justified on the basis it's what the Council wanted, even though the Council said nothing of the sort and nothing of the sort has been said since.

The ideas were not corrected, the cat was out of the bag, and it was difficult to reign it in.

Yes, we must recognised that (a) there was historical precedent for celebrations versus populum, including in the first 3 centuries of the Church  (b) 1950s revision of Holy Week rites involved more "facing the people" (c) some in the Liturgical Movement were promoting versus popolum and experimenting with it for the Tridentine Mass even before the Council, promoting an "archeologism" that was shown soon after the Council to be false, inaccurate and misguided.  Here's a parish in American where it happened and before the Council too.

But we can't argue for the "is" to the "ought"

And, we have never been able to find any proof that the Holy See authorised or expressed any preference for it. 

An entry today over at Fr Z's What does the Prayer Really Say, is delving into this issue, and contributors are having the same problem proving any authority for the proposition.  First, let's look at what Fr Z says:

There was no document that required the destruction of existing altars. Vatican II did not required it. There was experimentation with it during the Liturgical Movement, often by those with protestantizing tendencies. The scholarship in those years which was advanced in support of Mass "facing the people" as an "ancient" practice, was later repudiated by the authors (e.g., Bouyer, Jungmann). The fact that they changed their minds was never given as much press as the errors they had committed earlier. This was a desideratum of liberals from long before the Council.

The great liturgical scholar Klaus Gamber said that of all the harmful things that came from the post-Conciliar reform, turning altars around was the most damaging.

There was a document which stated that for new construction, it should be possible for one to walk around the altar. The new GIRM in 299 [Fr Z is speaking of that in force in USA], widely and infamously mistranslated, states that if it is possible altars should be constructed in such a way that Mass can be said from either side.

The rubrics of the post-Conciliar Missale Romanum clearly assume that Mass is not "facing the people", that it is actually ad orientem...How was this assumption of "facing the people" imposed?...
And here are some of the comments which reflect our understanding too.

From Father Augustine Thompson OP:

I have done research on this question for the Dominican Rite in the 1960s. There was no piece of legislation requiring the move to ad populum for us either. For those who want to read my study, go to and skim down to the section on the mid-1960s.

The change seems to have happened on the local level because “everyone” was saying it was what you were supposed to do. As I describe, at our house of studies, St. Albert the Great Priory in Oakland, some of the graver fathers read about the change as being instituted in the San Francisco archdiocese in the diocese paper (Oakland is in the Oakland diocese by the way). So they went after dinner, took one of the side altars to the center of the choir and Mass was celebrated on it from then on. There was no real discussion. It was “what you were supposed to do.” I have this from one of the priests who helped move the altar.

Comment by Fr. Augustine Thompson O.P. — 18 August 2010 @ 6:07 pm
P.S. In am inclined to think that lots of documents will be found even from before the Council saying “it can be done” etc., but I seriously doubt any “order to change” will be found. This is one of those cases where the control of the discussion (since the 1930s when it was already being done in the Portland archdiocese) was in the hands of the liturgists and experts who for one reason or another favored it. They controlled the discussion in the academic and popular Catholic press, so it came to be assumed that it had to be done.

We can see the same phenomenon today: I doubt there is any document that requires the huge wading pool baptismal fonts just inside the door of the church blocking the aisle. But many people in charge of renovations think it is required. Another example would the big fancy “sacrament houses” in the nave to hold the holy oils—often more impressive and visible than the tabernacle. Nothing requires this, but those “in the know” say it must be done. I am sure examples could be multiplied.

Comment by Fr. Augustine Thompson O.P. — 18 August 2010 @ 6:28 pm
From Andy Millam (with Father Z's comment):

My friend and mentor, Fr. Richard J. Schuler wrote on this issue in 1993 [One of the great American priests that was faithful to the actual directives of the Council and continued to celebrate the Traditional Mass in his church too and implement the directives on sacred music, Gregorian Chant and polypholy that the Council actually asked for]. His words will be quoted, I will respond directly below.

“One of the most evident reforms following the council is the practice of having the priest face toward the congregation. Much of the propaganda that brought about the priests’ change in position alleged that it was only a return to a custom of the early Church. History and archeology were both cited (but without true facts) as evidence in the claims. [Sounds familiar.] Without much study or questioning, priests and parishes across the country accepted the stories and tore out their altars, replacing them with tables of wood and blocks of stone that allowed the priest to face toward the congregation. The designs of the original architects, the over-all lines and focus of the church were set aside and thrown out. In most cases the artistic results were bad, and at best the new arrangement looked like a remodelled dress or suit.”

One of the keys that Schuler hits upon is that there is a sense of archeologicalism going on in the post-Conciliar Church. When he wrote this article in 1993, he was one of the few who had the courage to challenge this. As has been proven since, archeologicalism is now a commonly held error in defense for versus populum. Ratzinger has spoken on the issue as did Gamber before he passed and several since, including HE Peter Eliot, Fr. Adian Nichols OP, and John Saward, as well as others.

“He [Ratizinger] explained that there is no historical data, either in writing or from archeology, that establishes the position of the altar in the early centuries as having been turned toward the people. To look at the people was not the question in the early Church, but looking toward the east where Christ would appear in His second coming, the parousia, was most important. Thus church buildings and the altars were “oriented” (faced to the east) so that the priest especially would see Him on His arrival. If because of the contour of the land or some other obstacle, the church could not be so located, then the priest, always looking toward the east, would have to stand behind the altar and face toward the people. That he was looking at the congregation was only accidental to the eastward position he took. Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome is a good example of this, because the church could not have the usual west entrance because of the Vatican Hill.”

Support of Monsignor Schuler’s position provided by Papa Ratzinger in ‘Il Sabato,’ 1993.

The destruction of the church and sanctuary was unfortunate and often costly. In some parts of the country, the damage done to the churches by the altar-bashing reformers was greater than what the Vandals did to Spain or North Africa. But the greater evil was the damage done to the liturgical presence and actions of the priest. He was told to make eye-contact with the people, to direct his words to them, to become the “presider” at the community assembly, the “facilitator” of the active participation of the congregation. The notion of the Mass as sacrifice was discouraged, while the idea of a common meal was promoted. The altar became the table, much like in the days of Archbishop Cranmer in England.

Schuler also speaks compares the liturgists to Vandals, I would tend to agree with that line of reasoning. The hi-jacking of the orientation has led to many other issues, including the changing role of the celebrant from mediator to presider. Schuler is alluding to a “Protestantizing” of the Mass through the orientation mimiking that of Archbishop Cramner.

The following is Monsignor Schuler’s final thought, I think that it speaks for itself. “The interesting aspect of the discussion brought about by Father Gamber’s book is that little by little the propaganda and false assertions invoked to bring about the liturgical reforms following the council are now being exposed and found to be without truth or basis, historical, archeological or liturgical. The errors swallowed by the clergy and laity alike in the sixties included such lies as the elimination of Latin, the forbidding of choirs, tearing out of communion rails, statues, tabernacles, and vestments-all in the name of the council or perhaps the “spirit of the council:” Thank God the truth is beginning to re-appear.”

[Sounds familiar. Thanks for posting this.]

Comment by Andy Milam — 18 August 2010 @ 7:26 pm

And, just one example, of what we all suspect (or know) was a common experience the world over:

All I have to add is my personal experience.

I was received into the Church in 1961. I was a member of the parish (Newman Hall) choir. The change came quite abruptly in 1965. The pastor informed us that the altar was to be turned around and Mass said facing the people. The choir (an excellent schola directed by a professor of music) was told it was no longer free to sing the Gregorian mass or renaissance polyphony. The choir disbanded shortly thereafter, and the rest is history.

The pastor implied that this was the way things were to be done as a result of the Council. I have no idea where he got this, but I am sure variations of the same thing occurred all over the world. I have to assume that the U. S. bishops as a group, and other national bishops’ conferences, interpreted the Vatican II documents as requiring these changes.

Comment by jfk03 — 18 August 2010 @ 9:43 pm

Wednesday 18 August 2010

The Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite and the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, in continuity with Tradition: not difficult after all.

If it can be done in a field...

Photo and the following, courtesy New Liturgical Movement:

Some of our readers in Michigan were inspired by the pilgrimage of Chartres and determined one year ago to start up their own small pilgrimage. We reported on this last year, and this year, they have continued their efforts with the "Pilgrimage for Christian Culture". The walking pilgrimage, which took place from August 13th to 14th, left from Camp De Sales, Brooklyn, Michigan and proceeded to Queen of the Miraculous Medal Parish, Jackson, Michigan -- 27 miles in total.

Liturgically, I would note that this pilgrimage includes Masses in both forms of the Roman liturgy -- a very "Benedictine" pursuit indeed -- as well as the Divine Office (chanted according to the Mundelein Psalter).

The organizers report:

We believe that ordinary lay Catholics can and should work together to transform our culture.

On Friday, August 13th, following a Mass celebrated by Fr. Mathias Thelen in the Sacred Heart Chapel at Camp De Sales in Brooklyn, MI, a group of young adults received the pilgrimage blessing from him and set out on a 27-mile pilgrimage route to Queen of the Miraculous Medal, Jackson. The pilgrims sang, prayed for Christian Culture and greeted onlookers as they traveled the pilgrim road.

In the course of the two days of the pilgrimage, a total of 31 young adults from around the state joined in the walk or (actually) participated in the pilgrimage's liturgies, which also included the sung Liturgy of the Hours (chanted according to the tones in The Mundelein Psalter), an Extraordinary Form Mass celebrated by Fr. Paul Ward, the chaplain of the Trailblazers WYD pilgrimage group out of the Archdiocese of Detroit, and the Vigil Mass of the Assumption at Queen of the Miraculous Medal, celebrated by Fr. Tim MacDonald. 8 of the pilgrims came from St. Thomas parish, the home of Generation Christ; 7 came from other Ann Arbor parishes; 8 from the Archdiocese of Detroit; and the rest from Saginaw, Lansing, Flint and the greater Jackson area.

The focus of the pilgrimage was Christian Culture - praying that God would inspire the pilgrims as to how they might best win the culture for Christ as well as making concrete efforts towards cultural contributions (in the form of the sung Liturgy of the Hours) and intercultural understanding (in the form of learning and praying the Rosary in Latin and Spanish, in addition to English).

Sunday 1 August 2010

Gregorian Chant: the Paradox - why people hate chant. Plus ca change...

Courtesy of Jeffrey Tucker's magnificant new blog Chant Cafe (do yourself a favour and read it regularly), we have this telling piece about how, without Gregorian Chant, the Catholic people have no voice, coming from Father Ruff at Pray Tell.  It could have been written yesterday.  But it wasn't; the date is 1936:

Orate Fratres

February 22, 1936 NO. 4


IT is a well-known fact that the chant of the Church is not appreciated. Everyone who has been connected in some capacity or other with its restoration will bear witness to this statement. But no one really likes to admit it. It seems strange that, thirty-two years after the demand of the saintly Pius X for a return to the sacred chant, such wide-spread prejudices still prevail. This is the more painful, because Catholics are decidedly slower than non-Catholics in realizing the value of a treasure in their keeping.

Whereas here and there (and at that oftener than one would surmise) those outside the fold are curious to know about it, those of the flock are in general very reluctant to show any genuine interest. While a "Guild of Protestant Organists," or the department of music of some secular university, or again some musical group, will professa sincere eagerness to penetrate the charm of Gregorian melodies, Catholic institutions and societies (not to speak of parishes), have ignored the fact, sometimes even contemptuously, that there is such a thing as an art called Gregorian. Some readers who have not gone through the hard grind of introducing the chant, wonder, perhaps suspiciously, at this frank statement; but it would be convincingly vindicated by all teachers who have tried in some way or other to labor in the barren field. No illusion can prevail against such an acknowledgment; and it will serve the restoration of liturgical music better than a proud denial of guilt. Remedy can begin only where there is consciousness of the evil.

Why should it be within the Church herself that the chant is today mostly discredited? If there is an intrinsic value in Gregorian art, we have utterly failed to make it one with our religious concepts and our actual religious experiences. And thus we ask ourselves if the problem of the chant is not just as much of a religious as of a musical nature? This has long been our personal conviction. In other words, if our people cannot give vent to their inmost religious sentiments through the chant, it is because these sentiments have taken a direction entirely estranged from the inspiration of the chant. A break between the chant and our religious sentiment does not prove the chant wrong; it proves that we are wrong. For the chant was the most authentic utterance of religious experience in the early centuries.

It is deplorable that so far nothing has been able to overcome the prejudice against the chant, at least to a marked degree. It has, indeed, been welcomed in a few places; but in the majority of churches and chapels there is not even heard the faintest echo of its wondrous strains. We can by no means say that the chant is the general vehicle of Catholic devotion; in very few places indeed has its authority prevailed to the point where it is made the main source of inspiration in Catholic services. The chant was perhaps by "mission" the "voice of the Church"; it is not any longer the "voice of the people." And having lost its tradition, the people have truly no voice at all which can be claimed Catholic.

The most intruding vulgarity has invaded the temple, and holds fast against the most courageous attempts towards the restoration of the chant-attempts which, indeed, have been multiplied during the past twenty years. Many came to the rescue of the dishonored chant; paleographic science has vindicated its glorious authenticity and its unique place in the evolution of musical art; men of genius and taste have marvelled at its simple beauty; schools have opened their portals to students eager to learn about its beauty and form; demonstrations have proved that it can enhance, by its own power, the greatness of our liturgical services. But the choir loft has remained estranged.

Although the authority of the Church is unchallenged by the opposition, both of these have been traveling in parallel ways without ever meeting in open clash. While the decrees of the Holy See and the ordinances of the ordinaries have repeated or interpreted the principles of the Motu proprio with an ever increasing clearness, choir and people alike have been drifting along carefree and forgetful. And perhaps sheer authority will never give back to the faithful the voice which they have lost. Chant is not to be confused with a matter of faith. Were it such it could be enforced through penalty; but such is not likely ever to be the case.

Pius X was the first to realize this difference. This he expressed in his introductory letter to the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, when he insisted on having obedience prompted by the knowledge of the motives which command a reintroduction of the chant into Catholic life. Undoubtedly Catholics do not like it because they do not appreciate it. And until they are educated to like and enjoy it, it is unreasonable to hope that they will sing the chant.

Therefore, instead of deploring sine fine this sad lack of appreciation, let us survey the groups which make up Catholic opinion in the matter. After we have studied them, remedial plans can be suggested. Proceeding from the altar to the choir-loft, we will meet the clergy, the children, the congregation, and the mixed choir.

The restoration of the chant depends largely on the stand taken towards it by the clergy. We take this opportunity to mention this attitude though our doing so requires respectful criticism. Would it be offending in any way to say that the clergy at large does not profess an enthusiastic admiration for the chant? Is it not true that priests in general are not crediting Gregorian melodies with being the "supreme form of liturgical music" and doubt very much its practicability? Such a skeptical attitude has its excuse: most members of the clergy never received a good foundation in the knowledge of the chant, and many have been quite disgusted with the failure of their loyal attempts to introduce it in their churches.

However, one would not be bold today in asking the following questions: "What would eventually be the vote of the clergy, should a free poll be organized on the question of restoring or rejecting the chant from our liturgical services?" "Can it be said that a concerted effort' has been attempted by an organized priesthood to bring about the restoration commanded by the Holy See?" "Is the study of Gregorian chant still a side-line or rather (what it should be) a main feature of the program of education in our minor and major seminaries?" Whatever answer you give, blame or excuse, it remains evident that the lack of efficient leadership among the clergy in this matter is apt to have a disastrous influence on the opinion formed by the laity. And this is sufficient to diagnose the most important cause of the great difficulties encountered in the work of restoration.

Close to the sanctuary we meet the children. And what they feel about the chant is a very important matter. Their opinion is likely to be free from unjust prejudice, and everyone is conscious that it has an important influence on the future. American children show a delightful openness of heart towards the chant. You may call to the witness-stand all those who have ever worked with them in any State and none will deny this optimistic affirmation.

Exception made for rare, forlorn places, and even there, they always respond to an intelligent presentation by a soulful rendition. Children never dislike the chant, and are prompt to express both their lovely appreciation of it as well as their sharp criticism of vulgar sacred music.

This attitude calls to mind the ex are infantium of the psalm. More than once we had to learn from the little ones what our sophistication or indifference had forgotten and sometimes forsaken. Before the children discovered for us the chaste beauties of the chant, they brought back into the world true Eucharistic life. And their spontaneous return to charming Gregorian songs was preceded by their intimate friendship with Jesus in the divine Eucharist. Now then, we have the experimental proof that like or dislike of the sacred chant is more a religious than a musical problem.

The congregation presents a more complex attitude: it is neither "likes" nor "dislikes." It is the same apathy into which the loss of liturgical cooperation has brought them. How could they be expected to sing with pleasure the musical expression of a prayer which has no longer any meaning for them, especially since they have been gradually reduced to mere onlookers and listeners? This attitude is more or less passive; but all pastors who have tried to overcome it know how hard they have to fight and how many times they have to retreat before a new effort. However, the faithful in the pews appreciate the chant. It has been a repeated experience with the writer that if you do not advertise Gregorian chant with the undiplomatic publicity that it is the music imposed by the Church, but just prepare a service well with a group, many comments will attest that the congregation is pleased. And they all will emphasize that "it was very prayerful and soul-stirring." We have had so far but a single inscance to the contrary; it came from a "high-society center."

It is in the choir-10ft that the enemy is entrenched as in a fortress. Oftentimes the pastor looks on his choir as his crux, and rightly so, though he may at times forget the good will, the regular attendance, the fidelity of many members. The choir members are not to be blamed; the institution itself is the deep-rooted evil. It has grown and outworn itself into a spirit entirely opposed to the essential objectives of a liturgical choir. It is neither religious nor musical. A religious, a liturgical, a parochial spirit are usually well-nigh impossible with the mode of enrollment, the lack of religious functioning, the location for singing; a musical spirit cannot be formed with the usual repertoire of vulgarities or secondrate music which has been for so long the lot of Catholic choirs.

Add to that the sore fact that many of those who assume (or have to assume) the mission of directing the choir are not prepared to exercise a real authority to educate their group. Their musicianship and their knowledge of the liturgy are too elementary. Unfortunately, improvised musical directors, unless they be humble enough (and some are indeed), will either discredit the chant which they do not appreciate or will ruin it by lack of real presentation. And even when they do fulfill their task, they will encounter many difficulties which at times look insuperable to the most courageous pioneer.

From the examination of groups which make up this criticism, as well as from general considerations, we may sum up the reasons why the chant is not liked, or positively disliked:

1. The loss of that special spiritual feeling which comes only with the experience of liturgical life.

2. The lack of positive leadership impossible to many priests who did not have the opportunity to study the sacred chant welt

3. The passive attitude of the laity in the liturgical services.

4. The incomplete formation of many of our choir-directors.

5. The deformed spirit of our mixed choirs.

The picture looks dark. Perhaps it is well to see it thus. But there is a very bright spot among the shadows, and so the situation is much more hopeful than is our description of it. It will be the object of the entire series of these articles until next Advent to propose remedies. We ask the reader patiently to wait for them.


Thursday 8 July 2010

Sexual Abuse: Plus ca change...

Courtesy of and Massimo Introvigne:

How the Nazis engineered a paedophile priests scare

In 1937 propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels organized a campaign to discredit the Catholic Church after Pope Pius XI severely criticised the Nazi regime.

“There are cases of sexual abuse that come to light every day against a large number of members of the Catholic clergy. Unfortunately it’s not a matter of individual cases, but a collective moral crisis that perhaps the cultural history of humanity has never before known with such a frightening and disconcerting dimension. Numerous priests and religious have confessed. There’s no doubt that the thousands of cases which have come to the attention of the justice system represent only a small fraction of the true total, given that many molesters have been covered and hidden by the hierarchy.”

An editorial from a great secular newspaper in 2010? No: It’s a speech of May 28, 1937, by Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945), Minister of Propaganda for the Third Reich. This speech, which had a large international echo, was the apex of a campaign launched by the Nazi regime to discredit the Catholic Church by involving it in a scandal of pedophile priests.

Two hundred and seventy-six religious and forty-nine diocesan priests were arrested in 1937. The arrests took place in all the German dioceses, in order to keep the scandals on the front pages of the newspapers.

On March 10, 1937, with the encyclical Mit brennender Sorge, Pope Pius XI (1857-1939) condemned the Nazi ideology. At the end of the same month, the Nazi Ministry of Propaganda headed by Goebbels launched a campaign against the sexual abuses of priests. The design and administration of this campaign are known to historians thanks to documents which tell a story worthy of the best spy novels.

In 1937, the head of the counter-espionage service of the German military was Admiral Wilhelm Canaris (1887-1945). He became gradually anti-Nazi, and at the time was maturing the convictions which led him to organize the failed assassination attempt against Hitler in 1944, following which he was hanged in 1945. Canaris disapproved of Goebbels’ maneuver against the Church, and instructed a Catholic lawyer named Josef Müller (1878-1979) to carry to Rome a series of highly secret documents on the subject.

In different phases, Müller – before he was arrested and sent to the Dachau extermination camp, where he survived, and later became the post-war Minister of Justice in Bavaria – carried the secret documents to Pius XII (1876-1958), who asked the Society of Jesus to study them.

With the approval of the Secretary of State, the study of the Nazi plot against the Church was entrusted to the German Jesuit Walter Mariaux (1894-1963), who had inspired an anti-Nazi organization in Germany called “Pauluskreis.” He was later prudently sent as a missionary in Brazil and in Argentina. There, as leader of the Marian Congregation, he exercised his influence over an entire generation of lay Catholics, among whom was the noted Brazilian Catholic thinker Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira (1908-1995), who attended his group in São Paulo. In 1940, in London in English and in Argentina in Spanish, Mariaux published two volumes on anti-Catholic persecution by the Third Reich under the pseudonym “Testis Fidelis.” They contained over seven hundred pages of documents with comments, which aroused great emotion in the entire world.

The expression “moral panic” was only coined by sociologists in the 1970s to identify a social alarm created artificially, by amplifying real facts and exaggerating their numbers through statistical folklore, as well as “discovering” and presenting as “new” events which in reality are already known and which date to the past. There are real events at the base of the panic, but their number is systematically distorted.

Even without the benefit of modern sociology, Goebbels responded to the encyclical Mit brennender Sorge in 1937 with a textbook case of the creation of a moral panic.

As always in moral panics, the facts are not totally invented. Prior to the encyclical there were some cases in Germany of abuse of minors. Mariaux himself considered a religious in the school of Bad Reichenall guilty, as well as a lay teacher, a gardener and a janitor, who were condemned in 1936, although he believed the sanction imposed by the Ministry of Public Instruction in Bavaria – revoking the authorization to run scholastic institutes of four religious orders – to be entirely disproportionate, and he linked it to the desire of the regime to undercut Catholic schools. Also in the case of the Franciscans of Waldbreitbach, in Rhineland, Mariaux was open to the hypothesis that the accused were guilty, although later historians have not excluded the possibility that they were framed by the Nazis.

The cases, which were few, but real, produced a very strong reaction from the episcopate. On June 2, 1936, the Bishop of Münster – Blessed Clemens August von Galen (1878-1946), who was the soul of Catholic resistance to Nazism, and who was beatified in 2005 by Benedict XVI – had a declaration read at all the Sunday Masses in which he expressed “pain and sadness” for these “abominable crimes” that “cover our Holy Church with ignominy.” On August 20, 1936, after the events at Waldbreitbach, the German episcopate published a joint pastoral letter in which they “several condemned” those responsible and underlined the cooperation of the Church with the tribunals of the state.

By the end of 1936, the severe measures taken by the German bishops in reaction to these very few cases, some of which were doubtful, seemed to have resolved the real problems. Quietly, the bishops also pointed out that among teachers in the state schools and in the very youth organization of the regime, the Hitler Youth, the cases of condemnations for sexual abuses were much more numerous than among the Catholic clergy.

It was the anti-Nazi encyclical of Pius XI that led to the great campaign of 1937. Mariaux proved it publishing highly detailed instructions sent by Goebbels to the Gestapo, the political police of the Third Reich, and above all to journalists, just a few days after the publication of Mit brennender Sorge, inviting them to “reopen” the cases from 1936 and also older cases, constantly recalling them to public opinion. Goebbels also ordered the Gestapo to find witnesses willing to accuse a certain number of priests, threatening them with immediate arrest if they didn’t collaborate, even if they were children.

The proverbial phrase “there’s a judge in Berlin,” which in German tradition indicates trust in the independence of the court system from the political power of the moment, applied – within certain limits – even in the Third Reich. Of the 325 priests and religious arrested after the encyclical, only 21 were condemned, and it’s all but certain that among them some were falsely accused. Virtually all of them ended up in extermination camps, where many died.

The effort to discredit the Catholic Church on an international scale through accusations of immorality and pedophilia among priests, however, did not succeed.

Thanks to the courage of Canaris and his friends, and to the persistence of the Jesuit detective Mariaux, the truth was already out during the war. The perfidy of the campaign of Goebbels aroused more indignation than the eventual guilt of some religious. The father of all moral panics in the area of pedophile priests blew up in the hands of the Nazi propagandists who had tried to organize it.

Massimo Introvigne is an Italian sociologist of religion. He is the founder and managing director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR). This is a translation of his article in the Italian newspaper L’Avvenire (April 16). Reprinted with permission.

Wednesday 28 April 2010

The Side Altar: Use it!

Courtesy of Rorate Caeli reporting on a conference held between 12th to 16th April by the Latin Mass Society in England and Wales (LMS) to train priests in the celebration of the Extraordinary form of Mass and traditional liturgy; a conference held in Ushaw College, the seminary for the dioceses of the north of England, we see this image of a Private Mass being said in a side chapel that, only last year, was being used to store a drum kit.

How many churches and cathedrals in our own day have glorious side altars that continue to go unused.  Given Catholic belief that the altar represents to body of Christ, too, what does thistell us?


Sunday 4 April 2010

A Blessed Easter!

Resurrexi, et adhuc tecum sum, alleluia: posuisti super me manum tuam, alleluia: mirabilis facta est scientia tua, alleluia, alleluia   Ps: Domine, probasti me, et cognonvisti me: tu cognovisti sessionm meam, et resurrectionem meam.  Gloria Patri...

I arose, and am still with Thee, alleluia; Thou hast laid Thy hand upon Me, alleluia; Thy knowledge is become wonderful, alleluia, alleluia.  Ps: Lord, Thou hast searched Me, and known Me; Thou knowest My sitting down and My rising up.  Glory be to the Father...

- Introit (Psalm 138. 18, 5, 6); Easter Sunday

Sunday 28 March 2010

Abuse by clerics: a culture of laxity (but not where the Mass Media would have you think)

Culture change in the Church

Father Raymond J. de Souza, National Post

Published: Thursday, March 25, 2010

There has been much advice given to the Catholic Church in regard to the sexual abuse scandals. There are, though, only two real options. The Church can become more Catholic, or less Catholic.

Much commentary favours the latter approach. If the Catholic Church were to become less distinctively Catholic -- begin to teach as false what she now teaches as true, modify her traditional practices, adopt democratic modes of governance -- she would fix the problem. Though rarely put so bluntly, the advice to Catholics is to become more like Protestants.

The alternative is for the Church to become more fully who she already is--a preacher, a teacher, a mother, a mediator, a ruler. The sexual abuse scandals are a result of the Church's infidelity to her own identity and mission. That demands the response of being more Catholic, not less.

Obviously that's the case for the perpetrators of sexual abuse. Sin, especially such grievous sin and criminal activity, is a betrayal of the graces of baptism and ordination. The scandals, though, have been as much about a failure of governance and oversight; it's from the Greek for "overseer" that we get the word "bishop".

In the 1960s, like much of society and after the Second Vatican Council, the Church simply abandoned her disciplinary life. Doctrinal dissent was not corrected, but often celebrated. Liturgical abuses, both minor and outrageously sacrilegious, were tolerated. Bishops simply stopped inquiring into priestly asceticism, prayer and holiness of life. Non-Catholics often have an image of the Catholic Church as a ruthlessly efficient organization with a chain of command that would make the armed forces jealous. The reality for most of the 1960s to 1980s was the opposite. A priest could preach heresy, profane the Holy Mass, destroy the piety of his people and face no consequences. The overseers decided to overlook everything. It is any surprise, then, that when accusations of criminal immorality emerged they too were dealt with inadequately, if at all?

Pope Benedict, in his bluntly-worded letter to Irish Catholics last week wrote that the bishops "failed, at times grievously, to apply the long-established norms of canon law to the crime of child abuse." Too many bishops weren't Catholic enough. They failed, for example, to follow the clear direction of the 1983 Code of Canon Law that a cleric who commits sexual sin with a minor "is to be punished with just penalties, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state if the case so warrants."

A culture of laxity had so infected bishops that their disciplinary muscles had severely atrophied. It was not as if they were vigilant rulers in all aspects, but perversely indulgent of sexual abuse. Indulgence was shown to abuses of all kinds. So latitudinarian had the clerical culture become that even modest attempts at doctrinal discipline were widely mocked -- or do we forget that the progressive press, inside and outside the Church, calling Joseph Ratzinger "God's Rottweiler"?

The great task for the Holy See then has been to restore those disciplinary muscles. On doctrine, a universal catechism was issued in 1992 to make plain the orthodox teaching of the Church. In the liturgy, instruction after instruction has declared the age of endlessly inventive innovations to be over. The Holy See wrested control over translations of the Mass away from national bishops' conferences, deeming a failure three decades of rhetorically insipid, theologically dubious and linguistically dishonest work.

On sexual abuse? In the late 1990s Cardinal Ratzinger launched a review of how such cases were being handled. In 2001, he and Pope John Paul II lost patience. That year -- before, it should be noted, the explosion of the American scandals in 2002 -- local bishops were told they no longer could handle the canonical aspects of such cases on their own authority. All cases of sex abuse had to be reported to Rome. The age of majority was raised from 16 to 18, the statute of limitations was extended and often lifted altogether, and speedier dismissals from the priesthood were authorized. If local bishops would not govern, then the Holy See would intervene directly.

Like doctrine and liturgy, the attempt was to effect a culture change -- precisely because any existing rules are useless in a culture of laxity. It takes time to change a culture, but what does culture change in the Church look like?

Since 2001, Rome has dealt with some 3,000 cases stretching back a half century or more. Canadian bishops were ahead of the curve; since 1989 there have been strict protocols in place. The current one for the Archdiocese of Toronto requires reporting abuse to civil authorities within one hour. Just last week my superiors dispatched a letter to another diocese I intend to visit testifying to my probity -- including criminal checks, sobriety and soundness of morals. That's now routine.

On Tuesday, the American bishops released their annual national audit of all charges in the last year. It reports that there were 398 new allegations in the entire United States last year. Six of them were from current minors; the rest were older incidents only now being reported. Over 70% of alleged offenders are already deceased, suspended from ministry, or dismissed from the priesthood. In a Church of some 60 million Catholics, aggressive action has seen the problem reduced to six cases of alleged current abuse. That did not make the news.

The backlog from the sins, shame and secrecy of the past is still to be dealt with. It will take some time. The victims' pain endures, the Church's shame remains. The abdication of discipline in the Church has taken a terrible toll. Slowly though we are becoming more Catholic and restoring the years that the locust hath eaten.


And these facts in response to Christopher Hitchens' unsuccessful attempted hatchett job.

Monday 15 March 2010

Prayers requested

Prayers are requested for a personal intention of the blog's authorship.  Thank you and God Bless.

Monday 1 March 2010

Veluti si Deus daretur: live as if God existed

"The attempt, carried to the extreme, to manage human affairs disdaining God completely leads us increasingly to the edge of the abyss, to man’s ever greater isolation from reality. We must reverse the axiom of the Enlightenment and say: Even one who does not succeed in finding the way of accepting God, should, nevertheless, seek to live and to direct his life “veluti si Deus daretur,” as if God existed. This is the advice Pascal gave to his friends who did not believe. In this way, no one is limited in his freedom, but all our affairs find the support and criterion of which they are in urgent need."

- Cardinal Ratzinger on Europe's Crisis of Culture (Part 4), Christianity: "The Religion According to Reason".

Monday 15 February 2010

What Liturgy with the "Groups of Anglicans" uniting with Rome use? Bishop Peter Elliot has something to say.

Courtesy of The Anglo-Catholic (a must read on the journey of traditional Anglicans), is reported recent comments from Bishop Elliot covering the journey of Traditional Anglicans reconciling with Rome.

Importantly, Bishop Elliott includes some comments on the Liturgy to be used.  Below are those excerpts, but see here for the full address entitled WHAT IS THIS “PERSONAL ORDINARIATE”?, Bishop Peter J. Elliott, Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne, on Understanding Pope Benedict’s Offer to Traditional Anglicans, An address given to Forward in Faith Australia at All Saints’, Kooyong, Melbourne, on Saturday, February 13th 2010, together with comments from The Anglo-Catholic site.

...A Postcript: The Future Liturgy of the Ordinariates

Anglianorum coetibus authorizes the Ordinariates to use books that carry the Anglican liturgical heritage: “so as to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared.” Note those last words. What the distinctive “Anglican rite” liturgy of the Ordinariate will be is yet to be worked out. When that project is completed it will need the recognition of the Holy See. But some speculation at this stage may be of interest.

Considering its history and strong influence in the first editions of the Book of Common Prayer, the Sarum Rite might well be a major source. Queen Mary I published a national edition of the Sarum Missal to replace all those missals for the diocesan uses that went into the fire when the first Book of Common Prayer appeared in 1549. Therefore the Sarum Use was the last version of the Roman Rite in England before the universal Missale Romanum, Roman Missal, was authorised by St Pius V in 1570. At the end of the nineteenth century when Westminster cathedral was being built, it was proposed that the Sarum Rite be revived as the use proper to the cathedral. Nothing came of this project, lost I suspect in the cross-currents of liturgical controversies and an Ultramontane trend to standardise liturgy along Counter-Reformation lines, even down to the shape of chasubles.

[TAC: In 1541 (eight years before the publication of the Book of Common Prayer), Henry VIII ordered Convocation to suppress the uses of York, Bangor, and Hereford and ordered the universal adoption of the use of the diocese of Salisbury (the “Sarum Use”). This Use was the sacred liturgy of the Mass elaborated by St. Osmund around the year 1085. St. Osmund had come over to England with William the Conqueror in 1066 and was consecrated bishop of Salisbury in 1079.]

The various editions of the Book of Common Prayer will obviously influence the preparation of this use for the Ordinariates. Yet a note of caution is necessary. Cranmer’s prose is majestic, but all his doctrine is not sound. Some editing will be needed to deal with expressions which are not in harmony with Catholic Faith, particularly those that come down from his severely Protestant 1552 edition of the Book of Common Prayer. In Anglo Catholic circles you have tried to manage these matters, as may be seen in the English Missal and the Anglican Missal.

[TAC: It should be noted that the American 1928 Book of Common Prayer was accepted for use in the Western “rites” of several Orthodox jurisdictions with only very minor emendations and additions. For any traditional edition of the Book of Common Prayer, the edits required should be minor; I believe that this concern gets blown out of proportion. The rites of the Prayer-book should be judged by the text alone — not by the questionable private theological opinions of her editors.]

I give one example that concerns me as a sacramental theologian. “Do this in remembrance of me” should never appear in a Catholic rite. “Do this in memory of me” is a more accurate rendering of the original languages and takes us away from “memorialism”. The meaning of the Eucharist as the great sacrificial Memorial is set out in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1362-1367.

[TAC: I would counter that “remembrance,” “memorial,” and “in memory” are all interchangeable in this context; they certainly are in the Prayer-book and in the Authorized Version of the Bible. Any confusion should be resolved — as it has been amongst Catholic Anglicans for centuries — through catechesis rather than the mutilation of the text.

From The Catholic Religion by Vernon Staley (pp. 247-249):
The Holy Eucharist is a feast upon a sacrifice. The Body and the Blood of Christ are first offered to the Eternal Father, and then partaken of by the communicants. This offering is termed by St. Paul “the shewing the Lord’s death.”"

In saying “This do in remembrance of Me,” our Lord used words which here really mean,—


It has often been shewn that the word translated “do,” is very frequently used in the Greek Version of the Old Testament for “offer.” It is so used in the following passages to which the reader may refer for himself: Ex. xxix. 36, 38, 39, 41; Lev. ix. 7, 16, 22 : xiv. 19: etc. In each of these places, the word translated “offer,” is the same as that used by our Lord when He said, “Do this.”

The Greek word for “remembrance” has likewise a distinctly sacrificial meaning. It is used but twice in the Old Testament, and but four times in the New. Three times in the New Testament the reference is to the Holy Eucharist. Let us briefly examine the three remaining passages, where the Greek word 1 I Cor. xi. 23, etc. * Ibid. 26.

In Heb. x. 3, we read,—”But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.” The allusion is to the sacrifices offered yearly on the Day of Atonement. These sacrifices were offered to God, to procure pardon of the sins of the priesthood and of the nation. The high priest entered the Holy of Holies, where, unseen by man, he made “a remembrance of sins” before God. The same word is again used.

We have now examined the only three passages in the Bible in which the Greek word for “remembrance” is found, apart from the accounts of the institution of the Holy Eucharist. In each case it is used of A REMEMBRANCE BEFORE GOD, AND NOT BEFORE MAN; and it is only reasonable therefore to suppose that in those instances in which it is used of the Holy Eucharist, it is intended to express the same meaning which it has elsewhere in Holy Scripture, viz.; that of A MEMORIAL BEFORE GOD. That this is the true idea is confirmed by St. Paul’s words spoken of the Holy Eucharist,— “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come.” (I Cor. ix. 26.) In connection with this important subject the reader is asked to refer to what was said on pages 195, 196, concerning the relation which exists between the Eucharistic Sacrifice and our Lord’s pleading in heaven.]

Next year a new ICEL translation of the Mass of the Roman Rite will come into effect. More gracious poetic English will mean that the beauty of the language used in the Ordinariates will not clash with the banal and inaccurate old ICEL “translation” we currently endure.

[TAC: Deo gratias!]

Let me add that an “Anglican use” will add to the diversity of uses that already exists within the Roman Rite, starting with the two forms. “ordinary” (Novus Ordo) and “extraordinary” (Usus antiquior, traditional Latin liturgy), and including efforts to revive the uses of religious orders and regional uses. In Milan there are now two forms of the venerable Ambrosian Rite, ordinary and extraordinary. This variety is reported from time to time in the New Liturgical Movement website, also an indicator of Pope Benedict’s liturgical project and vision.

One dream of mine is that the churches of the Ordinariate will resound with fine music – from Stanford to Palestrina, from Vaughan Williams to Bruckner. We need the kind of music that gives greater glory to God and also “a treasure to be shared” by all Catholics.

Sunday 14 February 2010

Has every Council of the Church been fruitful? No. According to someone who should know

"Not every valid council in the history of the Church has been a fruitful one; in the last analysis, may of them have been a waste of time. Despite all the good to be found in the texts it produced, the last word about the historical value of Vatican Council II has yet to be spoken."
Ratzinger, Joseph. Principles of Catholic Theology: building Stones for a Fundamental Theology. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987, p. 378.

It is often said that Lateran V is an example of a Council which, though valid, was not very fruitful.  The Holy Father, in employing his Hermeneutic of Continuity (rather than Rupture) is trying to ensure that what is good in Vatican II is available for the benefit of the Church. 

Missale Romanum: A new version for the Altar

Courtesy Rorate Caeli, we have this notification of how to get the new edition of the Messale Romanum for the Extraordinary Form (Missal of Blessed John XXIII (1962), available for the Vatican publishers:  Pax Book []iussum=monstraScriptumEditum&numerus=31969

Thursday 14 January 2010

Abbe' Franck Quoex (1967-2007): In Memoriam

Abbe' Franck Quoex: 1967-2007

We have not really paid tribute before to persons on this Blog.  But the more we read about this holy priest, liturgist and academic - who, above all, was both a simple priest and one of the most significant liturgists in the Traditional Latin Mass and who died at a tragically young age of 39 - the more it seems deserving of bringing his life and work to the attention of our readers.  So, please read his remarkable achievements from New Liturgical Movement.

Monday 11 January 2010

The Myths of Church Music: an article from America

Courtesy of New Liturgical Movement, here is an American article by Father Christopher Smith published April 23, 2009, The Catholic Miscellany, entitled: "What are the Eight Myths About Church Music?: Dispelling eight myths about church music".  We reproduce it in whole (with our emphases):

Myth 1. When it comes to music, there's no debating taste

Many people think that the choice of music for Mass is just up to the pastor and his musicians. Some parishes have more traditional music, others more contemporary. Many parishes have a little bit of everything under the sun.

Most Catholics know that there are laws which govern church structure and worship, but many are not aware that the popes often have set down rules for what music is admissible in church worship.

In 1967 the Vatican issued Musicam Sacram as the musical legislation binding in the Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council.

Music for the Mass is not arbitrary. Certain texts are designed by their very nature to be sung, such as the Alleluia. Others, although they may be recited, lend themselves to congregational or choral singing, such as the responses and the ordinary texts of the Mass like the gloria.

The church does not issue blacklists stating that certain songs are prohibited, but she does offer general principles in her liturgical documents. While the treasury of sacred music is broad indeed, what is sung at Mass must be consistent not with the tastes of liturgy planners, but with the celebration itself. Bishops and pastors may rule that certain selections are inappropriate based on their content, associations, or irrelevance. Music at Mass is not based on what we like, but on what is appropriate for the celebration.

Myth 2. Music at Mass is just a nice addition; it's not like it's necessary or anything.

Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy calls sacred music an integral part of the liturgy. It is not an embellishment unrelated to the rites. The verb “to sing” is one of the most frequently used words in the Bible. Christian liturgy in ancient times was always sung.

In the Eastern Churches today the entire eucharistic liturgy is sung. “Saying” Mass became popular around the Middle Ages when private Masses multiplied, such that a distinction was made even ceremonially between a Low Mass with no music or hymns and a Sung Mass where the actual texts of the Mass were set to music.

Vatican II provides for the principle of progressive solemnity. Depending on various situations, more or less of the Mass may be accompanied by music. A cathedral on Easter Sunday should be different than a private Mass on a weekday. But the church’s preference is always for sung liturgy. He who sings prays twice [He who sings WELL, actually], said St. Augustine, and the church’s prayer has inspired some of the most beautiful art and music in history.
Myth 3. Choirs are only there to support congregational singing.

In the early church, the faithful sang much of the Mass. There were, however, certain melodies and texts that developed over time that some found difficult to sing.
Choirs, or scholae cantorum, were developed with trained singers who not only supported congregational singing, but also performed some pieces on their own. Europe saw the development of famous choir schools and Catholic education has always included the teaching of music in its curricula. The advent of part-singing made choirs even more necessary to the Mass.
Choirs can be beneficial in leading the faithful in song, but they also can have their own role apart from the congregation. Active participation does not mean that everyone has to do the same things at the same time; it implies an interior participation by listening and contemplation as much as engaging in following the Mass and observing ritual gestures.

Paid professional cantors and choirs have been a part of the Catholic musical tradition for many centuries and continue to inspire Christians in their worship beyond what is accessible to the ordinary pew-singer. Vatican II explicitly urges the development of such choirs and musical education in schools.

Myth 4. We are supposed to sing four hymns at Mass.

Catholics in the United States have become used to singing a hymn at the entrance, at the offertory, during Communion and at the recessional at Sunday Mass. This “four-hymn sandwich” actually harkens back to pre-Vatican II days in which congregations who could not pull off Latin music were allowed to sing English hymns at Low Masses.

When English was allowed in the Mass and the rite of Mass changed, many parishes continued this practice, albeit often with different music. While hymns are allowed at Mass, they are not actually what the church asks for during those times.

The missal, the large book from which the priest reads the prayers at Mass, provides short scriptural sentences called antiphons for the entrance and communion. In the church’s legislation on sacred music, these antiphons have pride of place for singing in the Mass. The antiphons are intimately connected with the other prayers of each Sunday’s Mass. The church allows for substitutions with other appropriate songs, but they should be modeled in character after those antiphons.

Hymns are not a part of the Roman eucharistic liturgy; they belong more properly to the Liturgy of the Hours. The church prefers the antiphons drawn from the Bible to hymns composed by people.

Myth 5. Vatican II abolished Latin in the Mass.

Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy states, “The use of the Latin language is to be preserved.” The council fathers commanded the use of Latin while allowing for some use of the vernacular.

The same document also calls for the faithful to be able to sing parts of the Mass together in Latin. Latin gives the church a universal language.

In an increasingly mobile culture of globalization, Catholics able to follow the Mass in Latin and in their own tongue can actively participate in their church anywhere in the world. The use of Latin also frees us from being too narrow-minded and too centered on our own nation or culture; it connects us with our history and paves the way for our future.

The point of Latin [one of: along with its own sacrality and beauty, which many, including Pope Paul VI recognised explicity whilst introducing the Novus Ordo] is not to make the rites impossible to understand; it is to make real the universality of the church.

One can often see people at international Masses who can all make the Latin responses and sing some things together in Latin. A powerful experience of the church’s unity is when we all sing with one voice the same words that Catholics have always sung at Mass.

Myth 6. The church does not have her own hymnal.

The Graduale Romanum is the official hymnal for the Roman rite. It contains Latin chants for the entrance, the Psalm and Gospel acclamation, the offertory and Communion, which are collectively called the Propers of the Mass, for every Mass of the year.

They also provide Latin chants for Lord have mercy, glory to God, the creed, holy holy holy and Lamb of God, collectively called the Ordinary of the Mass. Music at Mass should always refer to these texts.

What is called Gregorian chant is the music proper to the Roman rite and is the church’s own composition. Much of the music sung since ancient times was gathered by Pope St. Gregory the Great in the sixth century, and the church has amplified the texts from time to time.
The monks of Solesmes have done several critical editions of this hymnal, including one which can be used for the reformed liturgy. Pastors and musicians may provide for other music at Mass, and even develop other hymnals, but Gregorian chant has, as Vatican II tells us, pride of place in the liturgy. The Graduale Romanum is an indispensable tool for the church musician.

Myth 7. Chant is too hard for people today to sing.

There are two principal obstacles to chant today. Many people are no longer fluent enough in Latin to understand or even pronounce it properly, and even most musicians are unfamiliar with its notation.

Just as it takes practice and education to play an instrument well, it takes time and patience to learn the language and the markings of chant. There are resources for musicians to learn the chant properly, and teaching choirs and congregations chant may take time, but it will yield amazing results.

Many people sing things that are actually more difficult. Consistent effort will break down barriers and open up new possibilities for people to sing.

When Msgr. Martin Hellriegel became pastor of Holy Cross in St. Louis in the 1950s, nobody in his parish had ever heard chant. He started teaching the school children, and the adults were inspired to learn. Within a few years, his people knew several chant Masses and could sing out of the church’s official hymnal, the Graduale Roman­um.

Dedication and perseverance gave the people confidence that they could sing Gregorian chant and many people today still know from memory the music they learned in the parish.

Myth 8. Music is supposed to make me feel good at Mass.[This is the biggie]

Music, especially at Mass, can be very powerful. The point of sacred music, though, is not to make us feel good. Sacred music accompanies the church’s rites to bring us beyond our own emotions and experiences to a transcendent experience of the divine.

The haunting beauty of the church’s traditional funeral music, for example, stresses the mystery of death and the hope of the resurrection. It is far superior to singing a loved one’s favorite radio tune as a memorial.

Because the Mass is an unbloody re-presentation of the one sacrifice of Calvary, music which is theatrical and which inspires us to the worldly or to the irreligious is inappropriate to the dignity of the liturgy.
The solemnity of the church’s music need not be boring or saddening, however. Sacred music can be a powerful tool in helping us see beyond ourselves to heaven.

All liturgy is essentially a revelation of God to us. If the music at Mass reveals more about what we like and what makes us happy, it is doing us a disservice. If it brings us to true prayer and helps us contemplate the beauty of God’s holiness and love, it can reveal God to us in amazing ways.

Father Smith is the parochial vicar at St. Francis by the Sea Church on Hilton Head Island and a member of the Church Music Association of America. He has directed chant scholas both in Italy and the United States.

Article by
Father Christopher Smith
Published April 23, 2009, The Catholic Miscellany, Used with Permission, June 1, 2009

Benedict XVI celebrates the Novus Ordo ad orientem again

Again, on the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, the Holy Father, Benedict XVI has celebrated Holy Mass in the Ordinary Form ad orientem. 

As these celebrations take place in the Sistine Chapel, the Holy Father is demonstrating that ad orientem is fine, remains part of our tradition and should be used.

- this is a "regular" Sunday celebration of Mass
- this is the Novus Ordo, not the Extraordinary Form
- this is celebrated in Italian, not Latin.

Slowly, more and more parishes the world over, taking their lead from the Holy Father, are turning to ad orientem worship for the Ordinary Form (Novus Ordo), for all the right reasons. 

Other elements in continuity with tradition, can be noted from the pictures made available on New Liturgical Movement:

- the use of 4 deacons (2 deacons of the Mass and 2 cardinal deacons)
- the, by now, standard use of the universal law for the distribution of communion - those receiving from the Holy Father, receive on the tongue whilst kneeling at a prie-dieu.
- the vestments.