Friday, August 27, 2010

Great article: Lost Meaning of Sacred

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Gregorian Chant

We remember Pope Saint Pius X especially for his famous Motu Proprio of November 22, 1903 on the reform of Sacred Music and the restoration of the Church’s plainchant. Like Pope Benedict XVI today, Pope Pius X was a musician; he was above all concerned that the faithful of the Catholic Church might pray in beauty. He recognized in Gregorian Chant the native idiom of the Roman liturgy. Gregorian chant shines with an evangelical poverty. It is chaste in its expression. It is entirely obedient to the Word of God that it clothes, carries, and delivers.


Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have reiterated his insistence on the primacy of Gregorian Chant and the value of the traditional Roman polyphony in the liturgy of the Church. On November 22, 2003, the anniversary of Pius X’s Motu Proprio, Pope John Paul II said, “With regard to compositions of liturgical music, I make my own the general rule that St Pius X formulated in these words: 'The more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savour the Gregorian melodic form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple.’” On June 24, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI spoke in similar terms: “An authentic renewal of sacred music can only happen in the wake of the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony.”


Singing Gregorian chant made possible for me and many people I know to expereince humility and true divinity of God. One can read documents merely intellectually and try to reason endlessly, or simply try and experience the teachings and the tradition of the Church. Simplicity and humility are essential than intellect to learn the true love of Christ and His sacrifice. Although there have been several stages in my faith journey, only through Gregorian chant I fell in love with the Church, her liturgy and ultimately with God, and come out of 'self-centered worship.'

I believe there are stages to reach the ideal of sacred music in Liturgy, and those stages to be 'honored.'

Schola: September Calendar

At OLPH (practice on Mondays at 7:30)
Saturday Mass (8:15AM) (Warm - up starts at 7:40)
September 4, 18

Kyrie XVII
Gospel Accl.
Sanctus XVIII
Mysterium Fidei and Amen
Agnus Dei XVIII
Qui manducat
Salve Regina

At Resurrection Church (practice on Tuesdays at 7:30 PM)
Satruday Mass (9AM) (Warm-up starts at 8:30)
September 11, 25

Kyrie XVII
Gospel Accl.
Sanctus XVIII
Mysterium Fidei and Amen
Agnus Dei XVIII
Qui manducat
Salve Regina

At St. Martin's (Little Sisters of the Poor)
September 19, Sunday, 10:30 (warm-up at 10AM)

Introit: (schola)
I am the Savior of all people, says the Lord.
Whatever their truobles, I will answer their dry,
and I will always be thier Lord.

Entrance Hymn: All People that on Earth Do Dwell (313)

Kyrie (857)
Gloria (858)

Responsorial Psalm:
Praise the Lord who lifts up the poor

Gospel Acclamation
Though our Lord Jesus Christ was rich, he became poor,
so that by his poverty you might become rich.

Offertory : Proper (schola)
You stretch out your hand and save me

Sanctus (859)

Mysterium Fidei (priest)

Mortem tuam annuntiamus Domine,
et tuam resurrectionem confitemur, donec venias

(We proclaim Thy death, O Lord,
and we confess Thy resurrection, until Thou comest.)

Doxology: Amen

Agnus Dei (862)

Communion Proper (schola)
You hve laid down your precepts to be faithfully kept.
May my footsteps be frim in keeping your commands

Communion Hymn: Jesus, the Very Thought of You (731)

Recessional: Salve Regina (708)

Children's Schola (practice on Mondays at 1:30 at OLPH)
First Friday Mass, September 3
OLPH 8:15 AM (warm up starts at 7:45 AM)

Ave Maria(prelude)
Kyrie XVI
Gospel Accl.
Veni Creator
Sanctus XVIII
Mysterium Fidei and Amen
Agnus Dei XVIII
Anima Christi

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Obedience vs. Conscience

Obedience vs. Conscience
Help Lapsed Catholics Return by Teaching Them to Fall in Love With Christ and His Church

By JANET SMITH 08/13/2010 Comments (1)

What to do about all the lapsed Catholics? Those Catholics who don’t come to church because they reject the Church’s teachings on such matters as contraception, the ordination of women to the diaconate, and married priests.

Father Joseph Breen of Nashville proposed in a video posted last month on his parish website (and since removed) that these individuals are under the erroneous view that they need to accept these teachings. He says that as adults they need to be obedient to nothing but “the spirit of God”: The conscience is supreme.

Ironically, Father Breen invokes a Church teaching to defend rejecting Church teaching. He likely has in mind the principle found in the Catechism: “A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience” (No. 1790). He rejects the principle articulated in Lumen Gentium No. 25: “In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent.” Father Breen chooses to believe what he wants to believe and rejects the rest.

How can it be simultaneously true that Catholics must follow their consciences and that Catholics must follow Church teaching?

First, we must understand that the conscience is not equivalent to our thoughts or our opinions or our judgments. The Catechism (No. 1776) defines the conscience as an inner sanctuary in which we listen to God’s voice for guidance about our actions. So when someone is consulting his or her conscience, the question being asked is not “Do I think this action is good or bad?” but “Does God judge this action to be good or bad?” And God speaks to the consciences of Catholics through the Church.

If a Catholic is considering doing something that the Church teaches to be wrong, he can be certain that he is not listening to his conscience, but some other “voice” that has caught his attention.

Consider a question of conscience of this sort: “My wife has been in a persistent vegetative state for years. Would it be immoral for me to have relations with my lovely, lonely, unmarried secretary? We would get married if we could, but until my wife dies, I am not free to marry.”

Suppose this unfortunate, lonely husband said he thought his conscience was clear on this point — he was not really committing adultery because his wife was not available as a wife. Now, only God knows the extent of this man’s confusion and how honestly he has tried to work through the issues. But wouldn’t a Catholic priest have to say to this man, “I am sorry, but you are not properly consulting your conscience. God is clear on this point: Adultery is having sexual intercourse with someone who is not your spouse, and that is precisely what you would be doing.”

Such a man ignoring Church teaching would certainly be welcome to attend Catholic services, but would not be welcome to receive the Eucharist.

Let’s consider another question: “Should I have a baby through in vitro fertilization?” I suspect a Catholic asking the question in the proper fashion — “Would God approve of me having a baby through in vitro fertilization?” — when talking with God in her inner sanctuary, would hear God’s voice say: “You are a Catholic; I have set up the Church to guide you in such decisions; turn to the Church for guidance, and you will be hearing my voice on this matter.”

She must now do what Catholics are obliged to do: “Form” her conscience (Catechism, Nos. 1783-87). Truly forming the conscience involves reading Church documents, seeking clarification on difficult points, and praying that God will lead one to the truth. After all that, suppose she still is not convinced that IVF is moral. Is she free to utilize IVF and still remain a Catholic in good standing?

Only God can know the source of her confusion, but any Catholic priest should tell her she is violating God’s law and would not be free to receive the Eucharist, though she is certainly welcome at church.

Would Father Breen maintain that the above individuals are doing what is right when they follow their “consciences”? Would Father Breen hold that there are any teachings of the Church from which a Catholic is not free to dissent on the basis of conscience? Teachings on racism, greed etc.?

He may respond that different kinds of teaching require different levels of obedience. It is correct that the Church itself teaches that different teachings require different levels of adherence, but all of those listed by Father Breen as nonbinding the Church teaches require “religious assent.”

What should we do to bring lapsed Catholics back to the Church? Father Breen recommends that we turn the Church into a more inviting place, and he believes the Church would be more welcoming were it to become more like Protestant churches which accept contraception, women ministers and married priests.

What will Father Breen provide that these churches don’t? Some even have plush seating and Starbucks coffee. What can compete with that? The sacraments?

Well, the validity of the sacraments is dependent upon a certain structure of the Church that is rooted in the validity of the papacy. But Father Breen is questioning the papacy, and he encourages his flock to do the same. A huge flaw in his proposal is that Protestant churches are rapidly declining in membership, not growing. I suspect their flocks will decline further as those lapsed Catholics who have found their way there eventually cease worshipping altogether.

Let me offer a proposal for winning back lapsed Catholics: something worth coming back to.

Priests should evince a tremendous love for Christ and his Church and the papacy. They should do everything they can to help their congregation fall in love with Christ and his Church; they should encourage them to read Scripture and receive the sacraments; they should find a myriad of ways to help them understand and accept Church teaching on difficult issues and inspire them to live lives of radical Christian service.

These Catholics will then go out into the world as powerhouses of grace and as knowledgeable witnesses to their faith. I suspect both lapsed Catholics and those who are entirely “unchurched” might find the Catholic Church has something to offer them found nowhere else in the world.

Janet E. Smith is the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Explanation of the Ceremonies of Holy Mass, Part 5: Communion and Dismissal

No one was there when Jesus rose from the dead. But he appeared on the evening of His Resurrection to two disciples walking on the Road to Emmaus. They do not recognize Him until He breaks bread with them. In the Mass, no one sees the Resurrection, even in symbol, for no symbol could ever do it justice. But the priest breaks the consecrated bread so that we may recognize the presence of the Crucified and Risen Christ in the Eucharist as surely as the disciples knew Him in the breaking of the bread. Just as the angel, removes the stone from the tomb, the deacon removes the pall from the chalice. The priest breaks the host into three parts, signifying that Christ was in three parts: His body was in the tomb, His Blood poured out upon the earth, and His soul was freeing the just from hell. The priest places one section of the three into the chalice. Jesus’ Body and Blood are reunited in the Resurrection and this commingling of Body and Blood is the eloquent and simple sign of that Resurrection.

All the while, the choir and people sing, Agnus Dei, Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. The priest raises the Host, the sacrificed Lamb, and exclaims in the words of John the Baptist when he sees Jesus: Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! The people respond with some of the same words as the Centurion said to Jesus when asking Him to heal his sick child: LORD, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

The priest consummates the sacrifice by reverently consuming the Host and the Precious Blood, couching that moment of union with his God by preparation and thanksgiving. The sacrifice has been made and consummated. Now the fruits of that sacrifice can be shared with those who have participated in that sacrifice, who have been witnesses to it in faith. The fruits of the sacrifice of redemption are shared in the sacrament of Holy Communion. Baptized faithful who have been taught the faith and are in communion with the Church can approach the altar to commune, become one, with God, through this great sacrament.

The faithful who have mystically participated in the teaching and ministry of Christ in the Liturgy of the Word, in his Passion and Death in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, in his Resurrection through their prayerful and reverent preparation for Communion, now come forward to consummate their union with Christ in the sacrament of Holy Communion. While all of the rites and ceremonies of the Church are now open to all, while all may gaze upon them and participate in them, Holy Communion is not for every one. The Church has always had a strict discipline for who is to be admitted to Holy Communion. Saint Paul admonishes believers, Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the LORD in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning he body and blood of the LORD. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.

Sacramental communion with God presupposes two things: union with Christ through grace and union with Christ’s Body through the Church. Only baptized and practicing Catholics who are not in the state of mortal sin may approach Communion, and then only if they have been fasting for at least one hour. It is not something to be taken lightly, for it is like passing through fire – a fire which purifies some and makes them shine and which destroys others and compounds their misery.
Just as the priest is consecrated from among men to offer the sacrifice, he is also deputed to administer the sacrament. At ordination his hands are anointed with sacred chrism to set them apart for blessing, consecrating, and administering the mysteries of God. He is the ordinary minister of the Eucharist, and others administer Holy Communion only when licensed by the Bishop to do so in cases where priests are lacking for Communion to be distributed in a timely and reverent manner.
The preferred method for receiving the Host is directly on the tongue. Just as birds open wide their mouths to receive from their mothers all they need to sustain life, the faithful reverently open their mouths and receive the Bread of Life from Christ. For much of history, Christians in the West have received Communion kneeling, that profound symbol of humility and adoration. Where Communion is received standing or in the hand, by the Church’s permission but not by her preference or tradition, care must be taken that no one approaching the sacrament does so out of a sense of right or that it is due to them. We should always approach the altar not like the Pharisee, proudly standing, assured of our own righteousness, but meekly kneeling, beating our breast like the publican, LORD, have mercy on me, a sinner.

When the distribution of Holy Communion is finished, the priest consolidates what is left of the consecrated bread and places it in the tabernacle of the church, that receptacle which recalls the Ark of the Covenant where God’s presence dwelt with the Israelites and in which the Bread of Heaven is kept so that we may visit and adore the LORD’s wondrous presence. The vessels are carefully purified so that not even the slightest particle or drop may remain. The altar is despoiled of the Missal and the sacred vessels, prepared for another celebration of the Divine Sacrifice.

We have seen the true light! We have received the heavenly Spirit! We have found the true Faith! Worshipping the undivided Trinity, who has saved us. The Eastern rites sing this hymn after Holy Communion. Our true faith and worship have brought us to celebrate the mysteries of Christ in the worship of the Trinity. The priest sings a final prayer and then calls down God’s blessing upon us once again through the sign of the life-giving Cross. Recalling the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and Mary at Pentecost, the priest in the person of Christ blesses the faithful disciples in the church gathered at the sacred assembly. They have had the Holy Spirit poured out upon them at Holy Mass so that they can go forth from the church into the world, united to Christ by grace to share what they have witnessed and experienced. The deacon sings, The Mass is ended, go in peace, sending forth the baptized faithful into their mission territory, the world. All sing back to him, Thanks be to God, in one simple phrase summing up the nature of the Eucharistic celebration itself: giving thanks to God for His Sacrifice and for giving us the fruits of His Sacrifice in Holy Mass.

The priest gives a final kiss of gratitude to the altar and genuflects before the Holy Presence before he and his ministers return to the sacristy. Going out of the people’s sight, he enters the place where he vested, just as then Christ ascended into heaven, the clouds took him from the sight of those who gazed upon Him. And tomorrow, the whole drama of the LORD’s sacrifice will be repeated once more and God will be glorified as he has been adored through the Mass at every moment every day until the last priest says the last Mass and the LORD comes to proclaim a new heaven and a new earth.
at 12:46 PM
Labels: Fr. Christopher Smith

Explanation of the Ceremonies of Holy Mass Part 4: Offertory and Eucharistic Prayer

Explanation of the Ceremonies of Holy Mass Part 4: Offertory and Eucharistic Prayer
Posted by Fr Christopher Smith
The altar must be prepared for the sacrifice. The Missal, the book out of which the priest signs the prayers, is placed on the altar along with the sacred vessels, all made from precious metals. The chalice in which the LORD’s Precious Blood will become present is placed on the altar under a veil. There are many veils in the church, and all of them have the same symbolism. A veil partially or completely covers something, pointing to the fact that what is beneath it is a mystery not entirely accessible to man. Thus, much of what has to do with the sacrifice is veiled. The chalice is veiled. The tabernacle where the Blessed Sacrament is veiled, like the tabernacle of old. Inside the tabernacle are to be found veils, which symbolise the veil separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple. The ciborium which contains the Sacred Host has a veil on it after the hosts inside are consecrated.

Saint Paul in even instructs women to veil their heads when they pray: any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonours her head . . . a woman ought to have a veil over her head because of the angels . . . if anyone is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God.

The altar itself is often veiled with an antependium, a covering over the whole altar. In the Middle Ages a large veil called the hunger veil hid the entire sanctuary from the people at Mass during Lent, to highlight the separation of man from God by sin. In the East, an iconostasis, a large wall covered with holy images, blocks the view of the people so that they may not gaze on the mysteries and have contempt for them. In the West, rood screens and grilles are often seen in churches to underscore that God and the things of God are sacred, removed from the profane, wholly other. The language of Latin also serves as a veil; the words which are used in sacred worship are different than ordinary words, consecrated for divine use to emphasize that the actions that are taking place now are truly from another world.

In ancient times, the faithful often made the bread and wine for Mass and brought them, along with all kinds of gifts for the poor and the needy, to the altar. The deacons would distribute them from the altar while the priest went with the bread and wine to the altar. In the Ordinary Form it is common to have a procession during which monetary offerings for the good of the parish are brought up along with the bread and wine for the Eucharist. The bread is unleavened, just like the bread used by Christ at the Last Supper on Passover. The wine is ordinary wine made from grapes with nothing else added or taken away. The bread is fashioned into smaller and larger hosts. The word host comes from the Latin hostia, victim, because the bread of the host then becomes Christ who is both Priest and Victim. A larger host is placed on a paten, a large dish, and smaller hosts in ciboria.
In the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, the subdeacon takes the paten away from the altar and stands with it wrapped in a humeral veil placed around his shoulders. During the entire Eucharistic Prayer, he stands with the paten over his face, to symbolise the cherubim who covered their faces from the Divine Presence in the Book of Ezekiel, again calling to mind the mystery of the God hidden underneath the sacramental veils of bread and wine.

The priest and deacon prepare the chalice with wine, careful to use a purificator, a linen cloth, to wipe away drops which adhere to the sides of the chalice, A small quantity of water, no more than a drop, is added to the wine. The wine is a symbol of Christ, and is not blessed. The water symbolizes us, and is blessed before it is placed in the wine, just as by baptism in water we are blessed in Christ and then submerged into his divine life. When water is mixed with wine in the chalice, the people are united to Christ. The sacred vessels are placed on another linen cloth called a corporal, from the Latin corpus, or body, because the Body of Christ will become present in the Host which rests upon it. The chalice is covered by a rigid piece of cloth to protect it called a pall, the same word used for the covering of a coffin at a funeral Mass. Everything on the altar at this moment makes reference to the death of Christ, which the Mass commemorates. The round paten is the stone rolled over the tomb. The Chalice is the sepulcher. The purificator and pall are the winding sheets and the veil used to cover the face of Jesus in the tomb. The stage is set for the Sacrifice of Calvary to be re-enacted in an unbloody manner.

These gifts of bread and wine, work of human hands, are now set apart from any use other than that of sacrifice. In the temple in Jerusalem, there were three sacred spaces, an altar of incense, an altar of bread and the Holy of Holies. The church melds all three sacred spaces onto the altar which is the Cross on which Christ is sacrificed and upon which bread and wine are transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Christ. The priest imposes incense in the thurible once more. In the Extraordinary Form, he asks the blessing, not of the angel standing at the right hand of the altar in heaven in John’s dream of the Apocalypse, but of the Archangel Michael, the prince of the heavenly hosts. Just as the Cross was the battle by which Christ vanquished the Father of Lies and the Prince of Darkness, the Church invokes the blessing of him who offers us protection from the wickedness and snares of the Devil as our prayers ascend before the Father on His Celestial Throne. The priest incenses the gifts, the Cross, the altar, all in groups of three, which recalls the three comings of Mary Magdalene to anoint the LORD with aromatic spices: at the house of Simon the Pharisee, t the house of Simon the Leper, and at the empty tomb.

The priest is then incensed, and one by one, every one in the sanctuary is also incensed in order of rank, and then the faithful assembled in the church. This hierarchical incensation is a reminder of the hierarchical nature of the Church. Just as there are nine choirs of angels, there is a hierarchy in the order of grace and in the order of nature.

When the priest has been incensed, while the thurifer incenses others in the church, filling it with the smoke which hearkens back to the pillar of cloud in the Book of Exodus which guided the people of Israel and the fragrance of holiness, the priest washes his hands. In ancient times, the priest frequently became dirty from handling all of the material gifts the people brought at Mass and the use of incense. Now, it is generally a ceremonial washing. But it is still important. As the priest quietly prays, Wash me, O LORD, from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin, he reminds himself that he must be entirely pure to be admitted into the presence of the LORD and that his life must be coherent with his preaching. He returns to the altar, the words of Psalm 26 accompanying his movement, I wash my hands in innocence, and go about thy altar, O LORD.

The priest invites the people, Pray, brethren that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father. The sacrifice of the priest is different from, although not unrelated, to that of the people. Only a priest can offer sacrifice; only a priest can celebrate the Mass because he is ordained by God to do so. He offers the sacrifice in the person of Christ the Head. Yet, where the head is, so too the Body, and the faithful unite the sacrifice of their praise and their lives with the action on the altar.

After saying another prayer, the priest engages in a dialogue with the people that is present in all forms of worship from all times. He shouts out, Lift up your hearts and raises his hands from where they have been resting on the corporal in that priestly gesture of prayer. He then bows low before the Divine Majesty as he says, Let us give thanks to the LORD our God. The moment of sacrifice has arrived, the death of Christ comes upon us. But it is not a sad and tremendous occasion as it was on Calvary. We look upon the unbloody re-enanctment of this one sacrifice with great joy as the price for our redemption, paid once for all on a green hill far away, is made present in the here and now of our lives. And we rejoice as the priest prays the Preface, a prayer to recall to us the mystery of salvation, sung according to the same melodies the Greeks used to welcome their heroes home fro the Olympic Games. The priest calls upon the angels and the saints to be present on the altar before the choir representing the blessed in heaven along with the Church militant on earth and the Church suffering in purgatory all cry out, Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus.

Holy, Holy, Holy LORD, God of hosts, heaven and earth are filled with your glory. The heavens open to unite themselves with earth and the cry of the angels in the Book of Revelation becomes ours as we proclaim the awesome majesty of God. We cannot help but cry out in the primitive language of the Church, Hosanna, save us, the Hebrew invocation to Jesus as he rode triumphantly amidst palm and olive branches into Jerusalem. The veiled vision of the glory of God inspires us to call out to Him to save us and we are reminded of that great truth, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD, affirming that the man who has faith to come to God to ask for mercy has is truly blessed in this moment when the doors to heaven are mystically opened to the believer in the Mass.

Part 5: The Eucharistic Prayer

Holy Thursday meets Good Friday in the most sacred part of the Mass, the Eucharistic Prayer. This prayer of consecration changes bread and wine into Christ Himself. This is the kernel of the Mass, the actual sacrifice. Christ bent over bread and wine during a Passover meal and said, This is my Body, which is given up for you, the same body which would be given up for men the next day on the Cross .

Christ’s actions on that first Holy Thursday night were not yet another re-enactment of the traditional Jewish Passover meal. There was something different about this meal, as evidenced by how Jesus celebrated it. Christ gives the definitive meaning to this meal only the next day, when he dies. The sacrifice of Christ, which is ordered to be commemorated by the memorial of eating bread and drinking wine which is His Body and Blood, is the fulfillment of Passover, the passing over of Christ from death to life in the Resurrection.

What happens in the Eucharistic Prayer is no more an exact replica of the Last Supper meal than Jesus exactly replicated the Passover meal. In fact, what is called the Institution Narrative, the words that surround the consecration of the bread and wine, are not taken exactly from the scriptures at all, but is an amalgamation of scriptural texts into the form of the sacrament. The reality is that what Christ did is commemorated in a way which makes the entire Christ present, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, under the outward appearances of bread and wine.

Up until the liturgical reforms after Vatican II, the entire Eucharistic Prayer was said in silence. The priest never turned to face the people, intent on contemplating the divine alone, and raised his voice only seven times from the beginning of the Offertory until Communion, reminiscent of the seven words of Jesus from the Cross. The entire church was plunged into silence, rapt in the mystery of what was happening before them. The silence is there, not to obscure the prayer, but to draw attention to the fact that Christ is doing something on our behalf which is beyond our rational comprehension, it is something to be submitted to in faith.

The text of the first Eucharistic Prayer, or Roman Canon, was fixed already by the end of the second century. In the Ordinary Form of the Mass it is heard aloud, as are the new Eucharistic prayers introduced in 1970. During the first part of the Canon, the Church prays that the LORD will accept the gifts, offerings, unspotted sacrifices she offers to Him. She then prays for the living and remembers the apostles and martyrs before beseeching the LORD to accept this offering as a sacrifice to deliver the elect from eternal damnation.

Then something wonderful happens. The priest then spreads his hands over the gifts of bread and wine. Just as the priests of the Old Law placed their hands on animal sacrifices to set them apart and sacrifice them to the LORD, the priests of the New Covenant do the same to the bread and wine, praying the Father that they become the Body and Blood of His Son, Jesus. This moment of the Mass is called the Epiclesis, the invocation of the Holy Spirit who will change the elements into God Himself. The graceful motion by which the priest’s hands flutter over the gifts symbolizes the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the gifts to change them.

The priest then proceeds to the Institution Narrative, the Consecration. The bread and wine are consecrated separately just as they were at the Last Supper, using the very words of Our LORD as appear in the scriptures, although not in any one place. After each consecratory formula, the priest holds the element aloft for the faithful to see. The Body of Christ under the form of bread is showed to the faithful so that they may be stirred to devotion and hope in their salvation. As the LORD said, If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all things to Myself, and He brings to Himself at that moment all who gaze upon Him with living faith under the sacramental veils of bread and wine. The priest replaces the Host and the Chalice on the corporal, and genuflects: he bends the knee in adoration before the Divine Majesty.

The priest continues to pray that this sacrifice may be carried to the Father in glory and that all who participate in the sacrifice may be blessed. He remembers all the holy dead who sleep in hope of the resurrection, the souls in purgatory. Then, remembering his own sinfulness, the priest asks on behalf of the people that the LORD will remember all sinners and grant them entrance into the heavenly Kingdom. After Christ died, the centurion beat his breast and said, Truly, this is the Son of God and the priest does likewise, showing forth the humility of the sinner before the great sacrifice of Christ which he has just witnessed by touching his heart with a sign of repentance.

The Canon ended, the sacrifice is over. At this moment the Church dare not invent a prayer as she stands beneath the Cross of Jesus. Her sins taken away by the Passion and Death of Christ just re-presented, all the Church can do is pray the words that her LORD taught her to pray: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. This LORD’s Prayer contains seven petitions, and symbolises the seventh day of the week, when Jesus rested in the tomb. The priest prays the Embolism, Deliver us, LORD, from every evil, afterwards; in the Extraordinary Form it is prayed in the silence of the sepulcher. The Church awaits the Resurrection.

Letters from my Windmill

Letters from my Windmill
Posted by Fr Christopher Smith

I have loved most of my life in cities. As a child, when I had to go and visit my grandparents in the country, visits which came with an alarming frequency, I always grumbled because I knew I would be Bored with a capital B. Accustomed as I was to television, cassette players, friends in the neighborhood and prank calling on the telephone, I never came to appreciate the pastoral beauties of rolling green hills, the smell of fresh hay, and the sounds of rivulets of water and whinnying horses. In fact, I pitied the country folk with the same kind of childish compassion that I had for the starving famine victims in Ethiopia my mother called to mind when I refused to eat collard greens. How sad that they could not live in a city.

The first time I came across Hilaire Belloc’s Path to Rome, I expected a book detailing the intellectual Sturm und Drang that accompanied converts to Catholicism like myself. Instead I found a travelogue which read like an enthusiastic anthropologist’s account of joys of Catholic peasantry. While I appreciated the oft-quoted line, “Wherever a Catholic sun doth shine, there’s always laughter and good red wine,” I imagined myself sipping a meticulously bioengineered Bordeaux at CafĂ© Flo in Paris while explaining why St Anselm’s arguments for the existence of God were meaningless, not drinking pastis out of a jug at a game of petanque with old men in Nimes.

Belloc’s “How to Travel Disguised as a Catholic Peasant” meant nothing to me at the time, because my own experience of the faith was wrapped up in extracting myself from fundamentalist Protestantism of the South and the spirit-eating virus of secularism everywhere.

I am firmly convinced that there is a way to develop a Catholic culture in the heart of the city. European immigrants to America had a Catholic culture in large cities like Boston and New York. Some will argue that such a culture still exists. My own experience of what remains of it has led me to see it as a Catholicism of convention rather than a Catholicism of conviction, something unable to sustain neither the convention nor the conviction in the long run.

I would like to think that celebrated liturgical centers like the Oratory in London and St John Cantius in Chicago can provide an oasis in the desert for urban-dwellers, that curious creature whose name is disturbingly close etymologically to bottom-dwellers. Yet, at the same time, even as I participated in a glorious Rogations Procession in an Anglo-Catholic garden in Manhattan, I still had the sense that there was a disconnect between liturgy and life.

There is a lot of talk about how to bring the liturgy to the people where they really are. If I live in the city and my idea of harvesting is a sale at Dean and DeLuca, can I really appreciate the earthy language of Rogations? Would it not be better then to scrap Ember Days entirely and replace them with something more “relevant,” like a protest against nuclear war? Need the language of faith be tied to an ancient agricultural world that none of us, including today’s farmers, inhabit?

It was reasoning like that which led Annibale Bugnini to argue that, since the hours of the day are no longer divided into seven Roman-inspired hours, the Breviary had to reflect that we now live in morning, afternoon and night. Prime was suppressed, and Terce, Sext and None have become Mid-some time of-day Prayer. Liturgical progress was declared a fait accompli because finally the liturgy was adjusted to the real life of believers. Just as no one would ever build a library of cassette tapes today when one can do marvels with MP3s and MP4s and I-things and other abbreviated devices that make our lives more efficient, many wish to remake the Church according to the mind of reason and plain common sense.

Anyone under the age of 30 can see that living together is the best preparation for marriage, so the Church must adjust its teaching to what young people reason as common sense. Young people love loud music and spectacle, so the liturgy does not lose any of its essence, the Church does not become any less Catholic if we all “get with the program” and cast off the shackles of anachronism and embrace the wisdom of the modern city. And so on and so on and so on.

Meanwhile accomodationist Catholicism of this very type has ended up in churches deprived of youth and the older folks engaging in pew-and-blog warfare over what they think the Church should be about. In trying to separate the wheat of the essence of the faith from what is taken to be the chaff of historical accretions and traditions and beliefs fallen into desuetude, no one seems to be able to make a hearty loaf of bread anymore that anyone wants to eat.

But that hearty loaf of bread which was Catholic culture was not the result of a recipe fabricated by rationalist gastronomes. It was the place where Catholic belief, prayer and practice, regulated by a liturgical rite, permeated the ordinary life of ordinary people. Belloc’s peasants did not set about to analyze or produce Catholic culture. They just lived it.

I am getting a glimpse of what this really means, and much to my chagrin, I see that the symbiosis of rural life and Catholic culture is quite natural in a way that the modern urban intellectual, especially if he is a Catholic of conviction, cannot always perceive. Authors like Flannery O’Connor, Evelyn Waugh, Jacques Maritain, or Francois Mauriac are all exemplars of a certain self-conscious Catholicism. They are all part of what has been termed a Catholic literary revival, even when their characters or theses are not “explicitly” Catholic at all.

All of them lived as urban-dwellers for whom the faith was an assent of the intellect to divine truth which formed their lives. Their faith is certainly authentic, but it is still essentially apologetic, because it is at variance with other conceptions of the human person, God, and the Church. Even though O’Connor’s stories reflect the life of the rural South, her theological anthropology is often the result of urban academia, of Teilhard de Chardin’s quest for meaning in the face of modern questions.

Compare this self-conscious, apologetic Catholicism with that of Alphonse Daudet. Practically unknown outside of France, this prolific nineteenth century writer lived the tension between the simple pleasures of a happy boyhood in Provence and the tortured glitterati of Paris. Catholicism permeates his stories of Southern France, not because of a desire to develop characters or a moral with a Catholic idea behind them, but because he describes the inhabitants of down-home country Provence as they are: shorn of pretext and filled with humour. Letters from My Windmill is a collection of stories of people Daudet knew growing up around Nimes. The faith of the characters is not self-conscious, but it is remarkably liturgical.

Today’s liturgical iconoclasts repeat like a mantra that, in the bad old days, no one knew what was going on because Mass was in Latin and the priest’s back was to the people. The characters of Daudet’s book, set as it is amidst Provencal peasantry of another century, would be all totally ignorant if the mantra were correct. The liturgoclasts would laugh at the shepherd explaining to Stephanette that a shooting star was a soul going up to paradise. But have they constructed any community-building rite more touching than that of an entire village continuing to give Old Cornille corn to grist in his windmill when everyone was sending their corn off to fancy new factories in the city?

One imagines the horror with which the modern liberated Christian reads an entire paragraph describing sumptuous processions, “the Pope’s soldiers singing in Latin, the rattles of the begging friars,” only to end in the bald assertion, “That was how the Popes of Avignon governed their people; that was why their people missed them when they were gone.”

Every page mentions causally that some event happened after Vespers, of how the Blessed Sacrament was exposed in every church so the faithful could pray for the sick Dauphin, why “there was not a soul about in the village streets, all were at High Mass” because “our lovely Provence, being Catholic, allows the soil to rest on Sundays.” The book is filled with amusing tale about the village clergy: how the chaplain of the chateau forgot to say Midnight Mass on Christmas because he was thinking of food, how Father Balaguere kept saying Benedicite instead of Dominus vobiscum and how “like hurrying wine-harvesters treading the grapes” priest and server “splatter about in the Latin of the Mass, sending splashes in all directions.”

One of the most side-splitting stories in the book is that of how a Norbertine canon saved his monastery from starving by inventing an elixir of fragrant herbs that everyone wanted. The priest then gets addicted to his potion, and even the Prior’s addition of prayers at the end of the Office for “Father Gaucher who is sacrificing himself in the interests of the community” can’t stop him from singing in his stupor. Daudet calls the clerical medicine man a “worthy parish priest” who then muses aloud, “Mercy me, suppose my parishioners heard me!”

I think that Daudet’s book is illustrative of many things: it gives the lie to the criticism that “fossilized Tridentine worship” had no place in the hearts of the people, and it shows that simple faith lived in a community of neighbors, priests and laity alike, produces joy. He does so not by making an argument, but by describing people whose lives were shaped by the faith. Daudet’s churchgoers are not angrily marking their territories as clergy or laypeople; their relationship is harmonious precisely because they accept the tradition as it has always been handed down to them, without rationalizing it or analyzing it. These are not unintelligent or unsophisticated people. They know their history, they know their crafts, they know their faith.

Crawling into Daudet’s abandoned windmill and enjoying these stories for their literary value has meant a lot to me. If I knew my faith, my craft, my history from my vantage point in the secular city as they did theirs from abandoned windmills! I no longer fear that leaving the city will bore me or that my faith will be shipwrecked if I can’t parry with the truly uncivilized, who live, neither in the countryside nor in the metropolis, but where God is a mystery to be ignored or exploited and not three Persons with whom to share an endle
at 12:19 AM
Labels: Fr. Christopher Smith

Monday, August 2, 2010

Why Humility Opens Doors

"Nice guys finish last," says the world. "The last will be first," replies Jesus. My guess is that the Lord of creation knows best who really wins in the end. And he says in this Sunday's gospel, "whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted" (Luke 14:11) To understand why the humble get ahead and why the meek shall in.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Without Chant, the Catholic People Have No Voice

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Without Chant, the Catholic People Have No Voice
Posted by Jeffrey Tucker

Fr. Ruff posts this fascinating article from Orate Fratres, Feburary 22, 1936. It is called Why People Do Not Like Chant. The author is stricken with grief that everyone but Catholics seems interested in Gregorian chant. Meanwhile, as regards Catholics, "the people have truly no voice at all which can be claimed Catholic." If the situation was improving, which it was, this was interrupted by the ghastliness of the slaughter and upheaval called World War II.

I've attempted an HTML export here. I'm sure it has typos, but you get the drift.

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 t,emple, 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 ofappreciation, 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 ave 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.

at 8:20 AM
Labels: Jeffrey Tucker
Andrew said...
I think this article is revealing. Imagine if Christians gradually ceased to pray the psalms. Over time the language and imagery of the psalms would become foreign to them and in a few generations the people would find very little in them that they could really take hold of and make spiritually their own. This is exactly our present problem with the chant. Much of its inner beauty and power is only intelligible to a select few who have taken it upon themselves to educate themselves in it. What a sad state we are in. If only the Second Vatican Council's mandate for active participation had led to a real effort to form the People of God in this wondrous music. The liturgical movement of the early 20th Century was certainly sabotaged by something foreign to the spirit of the liturgy....

July 31, 2010 11:18 AM
Jake Tawney said...
Rather than posting a short comment, I wrote a follow piece on this article available here:

In general, however, I though the article was timely enough to have been written just yesterday. In fact, on my first skim through the piece, its publication date alluded me. It was only on my second pass through that I realized it was written in 1936.

July 31, 2010 12:57 PM
Anonymous said...

When Jews returned to Isreal, when they did not speak Hebrew people would say: Speak like a Jew. It was their cry to re-establish Hebrew as a spoken Language.

Perhaps we should have a similar statement: Sing like a Catholic!

July 31, 2010 6:21 PM