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- 04/19/17--18:57: _Inculturation Throu...
- 04/20/17--05:12: _Yale Conference on ...
- 04/20/17--19:19: _The Theology of the...
- 04/21/17--05:00: _Holy Thursday Photo...
- 04/21/17--19:41: _The Readings and So...
- 04/22/17--20:14: _Tenebrae at Wyoming...
- 04/23/17--20:37: _1909 Dominican Rite...
- 04/24/17--04:30: _Introducing the Met...
- 04/24/17--09:55: _Restoring the Sacre...
- 04/24/17--20:57: _The Problem of “Spi...
- 04/25/17--05:00: _Bridging the Gap - ...
- 04/25/17--21:00: _Holy Thursday 2017 ...
- 04/26/17--05:00: _Concerts of Newly C...
- 04/26/17--09:00: _Registration for Fo...
- 04/26/17--21:03: _Tenebrae Photopost ...
- 04/27/17--05:00: _St Mary’s Schola Is...
- 04/27/17--09:00: _Choir Books
- 04/27/17--21:26: _A Vestment Maker’s ...
- 04/28/17--05:00: _Solemn Mass in Hono...
- 04/28/17--21:48: _Good Friday 2017 Ph...
- 04/19/17--18:57: Inculturation Through Tradition - Guest Article by Claudio Salvucci
- 04/20/17--05:12: Yale Conference on Medieval Rites This Weekend
- 04/20/17--19:19: The Theology of the Novus Ordo Good Friday Liturgy
- 04/21/17--05:00: Holy Thursday Photopost 2017
- 04/22/17--20:14: Tenebrae at Wyoming Catholic College
- 04/23/17--20:37: 1909 Dominican Rite Breviary Available for Download
- 04/24/17--04:30: Introducing the Metropolitan Catholic Chorale
- 04/24/17--09:55: Restoring the Sacred in Catholic Art
- 04/24/17--20:57: The Problem of “Spiritual Illiteracy”
- 04/25/17--21:00: Holy Thursday 2017 Photopost (Part 2)
- 04/26/17--09:00: Registration for Fota Conference in July Now Open
- 04/26/17--21:03: Tenebrae Photopost 2017
- 04/27/17--09:00: Choir Books
- 04/27/17--21:26: A Vestment Maker’s Birthday Present for Pope Benedict XVI
- 04/28/17--05:00: Solemn Mass in Honor of St Francis di Paola in Brooklyn, April 29
- 04/28/17--21:48: Good Friday 2017 Photopost (Part 1)
Our thanks to Mr Claudio Salvucci for sharing this article with NLM.
“…pastors must take care to introduce current liturgical reforms in a manner conducive to the cultural expression of worshiping communities as mandated by Vatican II. African American culturally based worship models are forward looking, progressive, creative and universal in nature and will never fit into a pre-Vatican II mold.”
In this thinking, Vatican II represents a kind of cultural zero point. The Novus Ordo Missae is granted a lofty status as a de-Romanized, de-Europeanized, culturally “neutral” Catholicism—as the only truly primeval base from which true authentic inculturation can then properly begin.
The sentiment is very typical of the last half century: that the classical Roman Missal has little or nothing to contribute to the liturgical and devotional life of modern Catholics. That attitude is not restricted to liturgical inculturation proponents, of course, but among them it seems particularly pronounced.
Whether that thesis is historically defensible we’ll come to in a minute.
|From the canonization ceremony of the Martyrs of Uganda in St Peter’s Basilica, October 18, 1964.|
There is a plain fact about the Novus Ordo Missae that we must finally acknowledge. And that is that the radical break in 1970 was not solely a single rupture with a wider, general patrimony of the Western Church. It was also a thousand ruptures with local, national, and cultural patrimonies—many of them non-European and hundreds of years old. In my book The Roman Rite in the Algonquian and Iroquoian Missions (2008), I discussed how just such a break played out in the Indian Missions of Eastern Canada and the U.S. In the 1940s, priests who visited the town of Kahnawake, the site of St. Kateri’s shrine, marveled at the sheer wealth of local liturgical tradition they found there—including plainchant and polyphony in the Mohawk language. This tradition was broken with the introduction of the English Mass at Kahnawake—and there and elsewhere, many American Indians felt betrayed by the loss of what they themselves called, tellingly, “the Indian Mass.”
Whatever we want to argue about the Novus Ordo Missae, there is one thing we can never say about it: that it was the Mass of our ancestors. And that is universally true no matter who our ancestors were. St. Kateri and the Kahnawakeronnon who hunted in the forests of Quebec did not know it. The Servant of God Augustus Tolton and other former slaves who battled racial prejudice did not know it. The English recusants who sailed to Maryland on the Ark and the Dove did not know it. My great-grandparents who labored under the Italian sun did not know it. No one anywhere in the world knew it.
This is not a mere rhetorical point; it is a glaring unacknowledged contradiction at the heart of our liturgical life. How can we assert the inviolate nature of non-Catholic customs and demand their preservation in the Church, while simultaneously discarding our native Catholic customs and culture in the process? A case has been made by Monsignor Pope for gospel music in predominately black churches, and no doubt many self-declared progressives would heartily agree with his arguments. But Monsignor also offers his parishioners the Traditional Latin Mass. After all, it would hardly make sense to promote the music of black Protestantism as the ne plus ultra of black religious culture while rejecting the liturgy and music that defined black Catholicism for centuries. Inculturation may make use of cultural norms that are Protestant in origin (Advent wreaths and the Ordinariates are good examples). But it must give priority to that culture’s Catholic heritage wherever it can, or it is intrinsically self-defeating.
Bishop Joseph Perry of Chicago is among those successfully realizing this principle. His Excellency is a notable proponent of the traditional Roman Mass. He has also served as chairman of the USCCB committee on African American Catholics, vice-president of the National Black Catholic Congress, and postulator for the sainthood cause of Father Tolton. In a discussion of inculturation he argued:
“It occurs to me that what is black and Catholic is not wholly the same as what is black and Protestant. Although black Christians hold membership in greatest numbers in the Protestant traditions and have fine-tuned a black Protestant style, what is black and Catholic carries its own genius. We must explore what is uniquely ours and enrich it. We must steer clear of adapting wholesale Protestant modes in order to impress African Americans with our brand of religion.”
I’d like to pause on that verb “creating” for a bit.
Can we not see from His Excellency’s good example that there is no loss of cultural creativity and progress in promoting the traditional Mass? There is no room to talk of fossilization, of stagnation, of repressively stifling traditionalism in an environment where black Catholics delve ever deeper into their own pre-Vatican II historical material, discover lost treasures mostly forgotten by other liturgists and scholars, and reintroduce them to new generations. I do not know whether “good Father Gus” ever had the time or resources to deliberately bring composers like Nunes Garcia into the schola of St. Monica’s. But with the resources we have, we can now do that. And so much more besides.
No matter what our ethnicity, the Church’s long, long tradition is like a treasure trove in the attic, most of which has just been collecting dust and is ever in need of enterprising scholars to sift through, analyze, and bring into the present.
Old St. Joseph’s church in Philadelphia had a community of black parishioners since the late 1700s—the French diplomat François Rene de Chateaubriand wrote a hymn specially for them that was then translated into English and was regularly sung into the turn of the century. A special Sunday Mass was offered for black Catholics, as well a Sunday Vespers service known as “Evening Hymn”. The band of celebrated black composer Francis Johnson (1792–1844) and the black vocalist Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield (1809?–1876) were featured, attracting crowds of all colors with music that was “sweet and silvery beyond description“. And that all from one single black Catholic community! Most of the great orders and organizations that form the pillars of black Catholicism today—the Black Catholic Congresses, the Society of St. Joseph, the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the Knights of St. Peter Claver—arose in the pre-Vatican II period, and their archives no doubt contain many, many more fruitful avenues for research.
|Old St Joseph’s Church in Philadelphia (image from Wikipedia)|
We should also remember the degree to which, from the very beginning, black Catholics consciously repatriated the heritage of Roman Africa, already present within the Latin Church but long since uprooted by the Islamic invasion. By repeatedly naming churches after St. Augustine, St. Monica, and St. Cyprian, black churches were not merely selecting heavenly patrons. They were also locally modifying the Roman liturgical calendar in an African direction, because the patronal feast of a parish church was automatically raised to the highest rank and given an octave for all the clergy attached to it. (Here perhaps we realize what damage was done with the 1955 decimation of liturgical octaves!)
Moreover, we have already seen how St. Benedict the Moor’s feast was kept with great festivity by members of the African diaspora. But this feast is not found in the general Roman or American calendars either pre- or post-Vatican II; it is a peculiarity of their own tradition, long shared only with local calendars in the Franciscan order and Sicily, and now spread to African nations like Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria. There is certainly ample opportunity for more additions along these same lines, as the Roman Martyrology lists dozens of African saints that are not found in the general calendar.
If we wish to make use of all this history, the way forward should now be clear. Creative inculturation ought to come not at the expense of tradition, but through tradition. It must continue to build on any new information that comes to light and revive old practices that have been allowed to lapse, while respecting the integral character of the rituals already used, expected, and cherished by the people over generations.
Cutting ourselves off from traditional Catholicism does not keep us from being contaminated by excessive European influence. It just keeps us from discovering the fascinating ways over the centuries that non-European communities and cultures interacted with the faith, enriched it, and made it their own.
Claudio Salvucci is the founder of Ancilla Press and the author of The American Martyrology (Arx Publishing, 2015). His current projects include a traditional Roman Missal for Afro-American communities.
Moving beyond the notion that writing was simply a means of coordinating ritual activity, or an alternative to oral transmission, Medieval Rites: Reading the Writing will explore the breadth of possible literate interactions with Christian liturgy during the Middle Ages, in both Eastern and Western traditions. ”
The complete schedule of the talks is given on the Institute’s website: http://ism.yale.edu/event/conference-medieval-rites-reading-writing
The Friday sessions of the conference will be held at the famous Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, located at 121 Wall St., in New Haven; those of Saturday and Sunday in Stoeckel Hall Room 106, at 96 Wall St. The conference is free and open to the public.
This article continues an ongoing series on the theology of the various Good Friday rites, covering that of the Novus Ordo. I have decided to break it into two parts, this one on the ceremonial aspects of the rite; the next part will discuss the textual changes. The previous articles discussed the rites in the Missal of St Pius V, and the revised Holy Week of Pius XII; I would suggest reading at least the latter before reading this one.
Several of the ritual peculiarities that separate the Solemn Liturgical Action from the rite of Mass are removed. The sole prayer of the Mass of the Catechumens is said in the usual manner of the 1969 Missal, as are the first two readings. The solemn prayers are said from the same place that the general intercessions are usually said. At the end of the rite, the prayers have returned to an order which is the same as that of the Mass, with a single Postcommunion and blessing of the people.
|Reading on Good Friday at the London Oratory|
The Cross may be brought into the church from the sacristy, as in 1955, and unveiled in three stages, as in both 1955 and 1570. A second option is also provided, that it be carried in from the door, and raised at the words “Behold the wood of the Cross…” at three stations, the door, the middle of the nave, and before the sanctuary. In this latter case, the Cross is not veiled and uncovered in three stages, an entirely pointless innovation. In either case, the rite may be also be done by the deacon or “another suitable minister”; the “suitability” of the latter is not defined, and no specific circumstances given when this may be done. It is therefore always licit (but never required) for the Cross to be presented to the faithful by someone other than the celebrant of Mass, diminishing the priestly nature of the rite.
The adoration of the Cross itself is done in the simplified manner of the 1955 ritual, by a simple genuflexion “or another appropriate sign according to local use, e.g. by kissing it.” Of course, one might just as well decide that the “local use” be the one that all localities were using before the 1955 reform, namely, a triple genuflexion, kiss, and single genuflexion before moving away.
One of the very worst features of the 1955 reform, by which it is permitted to merely hold up the Cross for the faithful to see and briefly adore at a distance, without coming forward to kiss it, is somewhat improved in 1970. The 1955 version foresaw this if the congregation were too large, and only for them; the new version says that at least “part of the clergy and the faithful” (my emphasis) do the adoration first. Again, we can only hope that no one has ever actually put this deplorable idea into practice. The Communion rite is fundamentally identical to that of the 1955 reform; as noted above, the conclusion of the ceremony is the same as that of an ordinary Mass of the new rite.
There are a number of textual changes to the very ancient readings, chants and prayers of the ceremony; I will discuss these in a separate post. They are not insignificant, but strange as it may seem to say, the most important theological change is the abandonment of black vestments in favor of red.
|The reading of the Gospel in the Ambrosian Rite Good Friday ceremony.|
However, the post-Conciliar reformers had very little interest in the medieval Uses, and if they had a specific source in mind for changing the vestments on Good Friday to red, it was almost certainly the Ambrosian Rite. None of the many things putatively borrowed from other rites came into the Novus Ordo in their integrity, i.e. as they were actually done or said; at Milan, from very ancient times, red was a color of mourning, and thus used for the whole of Holy Week, including Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday. (Marco Navoni, Dizionario di Liturgia Ambrosiana.) No suggestion seems to have been made to borrow the Ambrosian custom of using black on the ferias of Lent, even this is also attested by Durandus for the Roman Rite.
It should hardly need saying, therefore, that the change from black to red must be understood within the context of the Roman Rite as it was when the change took place, and not in reference to any putative source, or putative return to an earlier custom.
Why then is it important?
The liturgical celebration of the events of Our Lord’s life is not a series of commemorations of events in the dead past. We live though these events as things for which we are really present, and in which we really participate. In Advent, we repeatedly invite Him to come to us; we do not thank Him for having come 2000 years ago. The first Invitatory of the season is “Come, let us worship the King who is to come”, not “the King who was going to come.” At Christmas, we sing “For unto us a Child is born”, not “was born”, at Epiphany, “Behold, the Lord has come to rule.” At Easter, we join our Byzantine brethren in saying “Christ is risen”, not “Christ rose.” (This last is particularly significant because in the original Greek, the verb “anesti” is an aorist, and should technically be translated as “rose”; nevertheless, in all languages that distinguish between the perfect tense and the simple past, it has been received as “Christ is risen”, and rightly so.) Dozens more examples might be adduced to the point.
“All seasons, most beloved, engage the minds of Christians with the mystery of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection; nor is there any service of our religion in which the reconciliation of the world and the taking-on of human nature in Christ are not celebrated. But now, the whole Church must be instructed with greater understanding, and enkindled with more fervent hope, when the very greatness of the matters is expressed by the recurrence of these holy days, and in the pages of the Gospel; so that the Lord’s Pasch should be not so much remembered as a thing past, but rather honored as a thing present.” (non tam praeteritum recoli quam praesens debeat honorari. Sermon 64, 13th on the Lord’s Passion)
In the same vein:
“Therefore, all things which the Son of God did and taught for the reconciliation of the world, we know not only in the history of deeds in the past, but we also feel in virtue of the present works.” (Sermon 63, 12th on the Lord’s Passion. See also Sermons 42 (8th on Lent), 36 (6th on Epiphany), 26 (6th on Christmas) etc.)
This may very rightly be seen as a development from the central rite which the liturgical year enshrines, the celebration of the Eucharist, and the historical understanding of it; at every Mass, the Sacrifice of the Cross is not remembered as a thing past, but honored as a thing present.
With this idea of the liturgy as the living representation of the events of Christ’s life, Good Friday is not simply a day to remember His Passion, but to mourn over it as if we ourselves were present for it, no less than His Mother and St John. It was therefore quite natural that the Roman church’s liturgical color scheme should evolve in such a way as to restrict black to Good Friday and the other principal occasion of mourning, the Requiem Mass.
As I explained in the first article in this series, this is very much the animating spirit behind all the rites of the historical Good Friday ceremony. The “communion” which we receive on that day is the kissing of the Cross; the Mass of the Presanctified imitates the rite of Mass to express the union of the first Mass, the Lord’s Supper, with the Sacrifice of the Cross, and therefore of every Mass with the Sacrifice of the Cross. At a normal Mass, the Fraction rite, the reunion of Christ’s Body with the Blood shed for our redemption, represents the Resurrection; on Good Friday, the Resurrection is not made manifest, because the Body is broken, but not reunited with the Blood.
All of this is very much attenuated in 1955 by the simplification of the adoration of the Cross, the elimination of the Mass of the Presanctified, and the restoration of Eucharistic communion to the faithful. This attenuation carries over into the Missal of 1970, and is exacerbated by the removal of black vestments, the vestments of mourning which are worn when a dead body is present. While violet for the day would have been less in keeping with the historical tradition, in the context of the modern rite, it would have been a far more appropriate choice, as the normal color for a funeral. The use of a color principally associated with the deaths of the Apostles and Martyrs does not emphasize the fact that Christ shed His blood for us on Good Friday, but rather deemphasizes what makes the shedding of it unique and uniquely important.
Previous articles in this series:
- On the Mass of the Presanctified.
- On the 1955 “Solemn Liturgical Action” of Good Friday.
- On the ceremonial aspects of the Novus Ordo Good Friday Ritual.
In the Novus Ordo, the ancient prayer “Deus a quo Judas…” is entirely suppressed from both days, and “Deus qui peccati veteris” is given as the second of two options on Good Friday. The first option, “Reminiscere miserationum tuarum…”, is in the Gelasian Sacramentary as the Collect of Holy Monday. The 1955 Holy Week had incorporated it as one of the three Post-communion prayers of the Solemn Liturgical Action of Good Friday; when the decision was made to return to a ceremonial order more in keeping with that of the Mass, the prayer “Reminiscere” was moved to the beginning. By some miracle, the text of both of these as given in the Missal is very close to that actually found in the Gelasian. The post-Conciliar reform specifically suppresses the word “Oremus” before the opening prayer, whichever one is said, and ends it with the minor conclusion, an unfortunate carry-over from the 1955 reform.
Folio 47r of the Gellone Sacramentary, of the Gelasian type, ca. 780-800. The prayer “Reminiscere” is here given as the Oratio super Populum of Spy Wednesday. (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Latin 12048)
St Jerome begins his commentary on the Prophet Hosea by saying “If we need the Holy Spirit to come to us when explaining any of the prophets, … how much more must we pray the Lord (to help us) in explaining Hosea… especially since he himself attests to the obscurity of his book at the end, where he writes, ‘Who is wise and shall understand these things, intelligent and shall know them?’ ” Such a mysterious book is eminently appropriate for a day of such ineffable mysteries, when the Church stands present at the death of the Creator Himself.
“... He will revive us after two days: on the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. We shall know, and we shall follow on, that we may know the Lord. … For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice: and the knowledge of God more than holocausts.” This is explained by the words of the Tract which follows, taken from Habakkuk 3 according to the Old Latin translation of the Septuagint: “O Lord, I heard Thy report, and was afraid: I considered thy works, and was amazed. Between two living creatures Thou shalt be known”; the “two living creatures” were first understood by St Augustine to be the two thieves crucified alongside the Lord. Thus the Tract shows us that we attain to “the knowledge of God” in beholding the Crucified Lord. And likewise, as Hosea says “For I desired mercy…”, the Tract says, “in wrath Thou shalt remember mercy,” an expression of the idea, “a scandal to the Jews, and foolishness to the gentiles,” that God’s supreme act of mercy was to undergo His Passion, in the very midst of which He prayed for the forgiveness of those who inflicted it upon Him.
The second reading from Exodus 12 describes the slaying of the Paschal Lamb under the Old Law, which was of course taking place in Jerusalem even as Christ was undergoing His Passion. This choice is grounded in the Christian understanding of Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, of whom St Paul writes, “Christ our Pasch has been sacrificed”; but also in the very nature of the ancient Good Friday ceremony, the vivid representation of the death of Lord, for which we are truly present. In the new lectionary, this passage is removed to the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, an expression of the equally important point that the Lamb was sacrificed not merely to be sacrificed, but to be consumed. It is replaced on Good Friday by a passage from Hebrews, 4, 14-16 and 5, 7-9, on the priestly offering which Christ makes of Himself in His Passion. The first part of this is read at Tenebrae of Good Friday; per se, it is a perfectly reasonable choice as an Epistle, though also a very obvious one.
Traditionally, the reading from Exodus is followed by a Tract from Psalm 139, a text long associated with the Passion of Christ. In the official Ordo Cantus Missae, it is replaced by the famous Gradual Christus factus est, formerly sung on Holy Thursday and at all the Hours of the Triduum, another very obvious choice. The fact that the new order of the chants, tract before gradual, is completely contrary to the tradition, is mostly beside the point. It is impossible to escape the impression that the reformers felt a strong need to make everything as obvious as possible for the “benefit” of a Catholic laity which they saw as otherwise completely uneducable, unable to endure anything mysterious, complex or lengthy, even when celebrating the deepest and holiest mysteries of our redemption.
The Passion of St John is left undisturbed; blessedly, an alternative shorter form of it is NOT given, as was done for the Synoptic Passions read in the three-year rotation on Palm Sunday.
In regard to the Solemn Prayers of Good Friday, no less a figure than Abp Bugnini himself expressed in his memoire trepidation at the idea of altering such an ancient and venerable series of prayers (La Riforma Liturgica, 1948-75, p. 130), although this did not in the least stay his hand from altering them; they are simply too laden with ideas that Modern Man™ finds unpalatable. A single example may suffice to demonstrate the tenor of the changes. The first invocation traditionally reads in the Missal of St Pius V, “Let us pray, beloved unto us, for the Holy Church of God, that our God and Lord may deign to grant Her peace, unity and protection throughout the world, subjecting to Her principalities and powers, and grant us, as we live a quiet and peaceful life, to glorify God the Almighty Father.” (These texts are substantially the same in all the ancient sacramentaries.) In the 1970 revision, the words “subjecting to Her principalities and powers” are of course suppressed. All of the prayers now end with the short conclusion.
Two very peculiar and wholly unnecessary ritual changes are also introduced. The invocations, which were always sung by the celebrating priest, are now to be said by a deacon or layman. This is contrary to the universally attested tradition of how the prayers were done, but wholly in keeping with the modern rite of Mass. Where each invocation was traditionally followed by “Oremus. Flectamus genua. Levate.”, “Oremus” is now suppressed, and “Flectamus genua. Levate” are made optional. The blight of optionitis must cover all things, and this rubric is followed by another which gives local episcopal conferences the possibility of adding their own intercessions, while another permits the same “in case of grave public necessity” (undefined) to individual bishops.
The tedious subject of the prayer for the Jews has been rendered all the more tedious by the bad-faith efforts to use it as a weapon against Pope Benedict XVI and the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, and I have no intention of addressing the matter here.
Here are some photos, from both nights.
Tenebrae of Maundy Thursday
Tenebrae of Holy Saturday
I am happy to announce that, through the kindness of the author of Breviarium S.O.P. and Mr. Richard Chonak, I am now able to make available for download pdf versions of the edition of the Breviarium juxta Ritum S. Ordinis Praedicatorum published at the direction of Bl. Hyacinth Cornier, Master of the Order, in 1909. The download links for the two volumes are found on the left sidebar ofDominican Liturgy.
This edition was the last printing of the Dominican Breviary in its medieval format with the original Psalter. Later editions of the Breviary reflect the new Psalm arrangement mandated by Pope St. Pius X and have other modifications. This edition is especially useful because the layout of the text parallels that in modern Pre-Vatican-II Breviaries, something that makes it much easier to consult than the earlier versions. In his History of the Dominican Liturgy Fr. William Bonniwell, O.P. described this edition as "the finest edition of the Dominican breviary ever published."
When you go to download this file, do also check out our new offerings at Dominican Liturgy Publications.
The Metropolitan Catholic Chorale (MCC) is dedicated to singing the Catholic Church’s treasury of sacred music—Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony—in the context of the sacred liturgy in the New York metropolitan region, and to helping others discover, understand, and love the Church’s sacred music. In keeping with the purpose of sacred music, our aim is to glorify God and sanctify and edify those who hear us.
The MCC desires to serve well both the parishes we visit and the singers who join our ranks. Following in the footsteps of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale in Minnesota, we also hope this project will serve as a model for those looking to promote the renewal of sacred music in their own communities.
The Metropolitan Catholic Chorale will sing for Mass for the first time during this, our inaugural season, on Tuesday, April 25th, the feast of St. Mark, at 8:00 p.m. at the Church of St. Rocco in Glen Cove, New York (18 3rd Street). All are cordially invited to attend. The MCC will sing the Missa Tertii Toni by Rodrigo de Ceballos (1525-1591), motets by John Stainer and William Byrd, and Gregorian chant Mass propers. The Mass will be followed by a traditional rogation procession which includes chanted Psalms and litanies. This Mass at St. Rocco’s follows a successful workshop on the basics of reading and singing Gregorian chant that was held at the parish on April 1st. The workshop was attended by about 30 singers from the parish and area music directors.
The next Mass this semester for which we will sing will be a Marian votive Mass on Tuesday, May 16th at 7:00 p.m. at the Church of St. Barnabas (Bronx, New York), at which we will sing Gregorian and English propers, motets by Allegri and Byrd, hymnody, and the Missa Che fa oggi il mio sole by Gregorio Allegri.
The MCC is a mixed choral ensemble under the direction of Dr. Jennifer Donelson, Director of Sacred Music at St. Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie). Members of the auditioned ensemble are singers from around the metropolitan New York region who want to sing Gregorian chant and sacred polyphonic works, developing both their skills as choral singers as well as their understanding of the Church’s teachings on sacred music.
Rather than singing the Church’s sacred music in concert settings, our aim is to learn how better to pray at the Church’s sacred liturgy through singing its sacred music. To do this, we pursue musical excellence in tandem with a deeper understanding of the theological content, historical context, and liturgical meaning of the texts and music that we sing.
How often and where does the MCC rehearse and sing?
We rehearse weekly at St. Barnabas Church in Woodlawn (Bronx, NY) on Tuesdays from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. throughout the academic year. Each semester, we accept two invitations from parishes in the metropolitan area to sing a solemn Mass. The Masses are arranged according to the schedules of both the host parish and the singers of the MCC. Masses are usually on a weekday evening so that music directors do not have scheduling conflicts with their weekend responsibilities.
What sort of outreach does the MCC do?
We strive to help other people encounter Christ through beautiful sacred music and the graces that flow from the Church’s sacred liturgy. In addition to the MCC singing for a Mass, the ensemble’s director is able to offer talks and/or workshops on sacred music and Gregorian chant in the host parish in preparation for a visit of the MCC. These talks and workshops can be tailored to a general parish audience or a smaller group like the parish choir or youth group.
Especially for parishes with limited financial resources, the MCC desires to serve as a resource to help parishioners better understand the Church’s teachings on sacred music. The singing, talks, and workshops of the MCC can also serve as a catalyst for growth in a larger program of development of a parish’s sacred music program, educating members of the choir, and inspiring ideas for the advancement of a program.
What is the MCC’s repertoire?
We focus mostly on Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony (masses and motets), but we also sing choral works of excellence from all eras, including works by living composers, as well as chant in the vernacular (Spanish and English) and excellent hymnody. The MCC also places special emphasis on singing classical choral music from the great cathedrals of Latin America.
How do I join the MCC?
Our roster of singers is already set for the spring 2017 semester, but we'll be holding auditions again in August 2017 for the 2017-2018 season. Stay tuned for more information at our website or Facebook page. We'd love to have you join us!
How do I find out more information or invite the MCC to my parish?
More information is available here. There is no fee for hosting the MCC in your parish.
Members of the Catholic Art Guild |
touring the Art Institute of Chicago
“We want to support artists in offering their gifts for the greater glory of God in an effort to harness the power of Beauty and its necessity in the work of evangelization,” says founder and president Kathleen Carr.
The Catholic Art Guild will achieve its mission by presenting speakers, workshops, and networking opportunities for artists and students in the visual arts.
The guild hosts monthly events to explore the philosophy of aesthetics and the power of the visual arts for evangelization, as well as offering skill-based training in crafts such as gilding, illumination, stained glass, and traditional drawing techniques, as well as a juried exhibition.
The first annual conference, “Beauty and the Restoration of the Sacred,” will be held be this October in Chicago. This full-day presentation will feature English philosopher Sir Roger Scruton, well-known for his BBC documentary “Why Beauty Matters,” as well as architect Duncan Stroik, artist Anthony Visco, and art historian and educator Dr. Denis McNamara.
The Church has always seen art as an integral part of its liturgical worship and recognized the power of Beauty to evangelize. The visual arts flow from the wellspring of the Sacred Liturgy, and both the Church and her artists flourish when this is understood and embraced.
Father C. Frank Phillips, C.R., pastor of St. John Cantius, saw the need to foster the visual arts. As a student of Msgr. Martin Hellreigel, an early leader in liturgical renewal, Father Phillips first experienced the power of the liturgy to evangelize through the sacred arts.
“We have had many organizations that enliven our vibrant parish, particularly in sacred music, liturgy, catechesis, youth and young adult ministry. It was time to establish a program for the visual arts and the training of artists,” says Fr. Phillips.
Kathleen Carr, an award-winning, classically trained painter, illustrator, and designer approached Fr. Phillips with her inspiration:
“We want to bring together artists and the Church as partners to proclaim the Gospel to all who enter our doors or will hear our message. I was inspired by the Catholic vision that all art flows from the altar. It seemed natural to form an artist guild with the support of a religious community that lives and breathes the liturgy,” says Carr.
Interested visual artists, designers, architects, art educators, and art lovers looking to join a community centered around the ‘restoration of the Sacred’ are welcome to join the Catholic Art Guild.
Further links: more information, the 2017 event calendar and membership.
Is it not striking, and frightening, that it is quite the same with the majority of mainstream Catholics, when it comes to most of the 2,000-year heritage of the Church—in her liturgy and devotions, her theology and magisterium? After the great purge and superficialization of the teaching and practice of the Faith that took place ca. 1965–1975 and that has never been seriously challenged or supplanted in the majority of parishes and schools, we are facing an ever-increasing obstacle to the restoration of the traditional Faith, namely, what might be called “spiritual illiteracy.” Once the language of symbols is abolished, the people cannot read the symbols any more, and are therefore cut off in principle from access to the riches of the Church. It’s not like someone who knows how to read but is lazy or distracted or too busy to do so. It’s much more like someone who is incapable of reading, and therefore has no idea what he is missing, or what he could be gaining. Is this too pessimistic a comparison? I do not think so. The evidence is not hard to come by.
Those who are fortunate to be literate, to one degree or another, must first of all be grateful to the Lord for having deigned to bestow this grace of knowledge. It is given in order to support and increase our charity—first and foremost for Him and then for our neighbors. We exercise that charity in a special way by teaching spiritual literacy to catechumens and fellow Catholics. This is the educational work most demanded by our times, and, not surprisingly, least appreciated. It is not appreciated for the very reason given above: the awareness of the need for it is utterly lacking. A person born blind will never know what it is like to see colors, and if other people around him were not constantly talking about colors, he would never know they existed. In a community of blind people, without input from the outside, color would never be a subject of conversation; indeed, if one of their number invented the concept and shared it, the others would probably laugh him down.
We could also think of our situation this way. We learn, as rational animals, through hearing and speaking language. If we grew up like a feral child in the woods, raised by wolves, we would never have learned how to think and speak like humans; our very intellectual growth would have been stunted. Or if we grow up hearing only one language, it’s no surprise that we will be greatly at a disadvantage when it comes to moving in other linguistic circles, picking up their languages. (Contrast those Europeans who, because of the history and location of their countries, learn several languages from the time of their infancy.) Up until quite recently, Catholics grew up with the language of the Church — her pageantry of symbols, her liturgical rites and special music and cycle of feasts and fasts, her catechism. A few, namely the clergy and religious, acquired some proficiency in the more demanding language of theology. But now most of this is absent from the majority of Catholics, including the clergy. We have several generations of Catholics who have grown up speaking only the language of the world, the secular speech, with a feeble smattering of Catholic phrases, comparable to those one would find in a Berlitz guide: “Good morning,” “Thank you,” “The bill, please.”
The sad thing is that they are stuck, in a way: they cannot understand the beautiful stories, the lyrical poems, the potent prayers, the sweet secrets, that centuries of Catholic culture have bequeathed to us in a language once universal, and so they truly have no clue what they are missing, nor can they realize that what they are missing is the bulk of Catholicism’s legacy—like the part of the iceberg under the water, as compared with contemporary Catholicism’s tip of the iceberg. If they don’t know it, how easy is it to fling it aside contemptuously: “It’s not worth it, because I can still serve God and save my soul without it.” That’s what they think, even though it is not true: eventually the loss of the language and literature of Catholic tradition will allow the domination of a mixture of primitivism, emotionalism, and communal narcissism that will end either in idiocy or lunacy, total bankruptcy or volatile ideology. Catholicism is not incidentally but essentially based on tradition; therefore those who are not vitally and deeply united with the tradition will end up on the outside of it. One could call it schism in slow motion. As the world awoke to find itself Arian in St. Jerome’s day, so are huge sectors of the Catholic Church awakening to find themselves secularist, liberal Protestant, and modernist.
It will take Catholics a special grace of conversion to believe that there is something wonderful they are missing out on, to trust in those who can teach it to them, and to make the effort demanded in learning any new language. Traditionalists have their work cut out for them: to build up communities in which a sufficient number are, to so speak, fluent in tradition and have created, with God’s help, a small society, a microcosm of the Church of all time, where the unchanging truth and the immense interior beauty of the Faith can flourish outwardly. This will happen most of all by the worthy celebration of the traditional sacred liturgy (Mass and Divine Office) and public devotions. It also needs to happen in social events, catechetical offerings, and a network of friendships, families, and businesses. Those who are aware of something missing, a nagging sense “there’s got to be more,” and who begin to search will then be able to find the wealth that can heal their poverty of meaning.
A final thought. Languages considered to be “dead” have been revived by those who sufficiently cared, the most remarkable instance being the revitalization of Hebrew as the national language of Israel. Something analogous can and must be done in the Catholic Church with Latin and the entire theological, cultural, and liturgical patrimony embodied in this mother tongue of Western Christianity. If this seems an impossible project, be assured: it is. But the Lord who multiplied the few loaves and fishes will do the same with our efforts, if we are not unbelieving but faithful. As it says in Scripture, in the more literal translation of the Douay-Rheims: “No word shall be impossible with God” (Lk 1:37).
This is, as far as I am aware, the way it was always done. The number of people who formally study Christian culture in school or college is not great today, but it is still probably far greater in number than ever before. How many of those who converted to Christianity in the days of the early Church within the Roman empire had a liberal arts education, I wonder? I do not know, but I’ll bet it wasn’t many. Yet once it was given freedom to flourish, a Christian culture emerged from a pagan cultural foundation, just as it can emerge again from the neo-pagan cultural background that predominates in the West today.
If those who animate, design, direct, paint, sculpt, write and compose get it right, then their work will engage people today and stimulate their receptivity to God. Ultimately that most likely happen in connection with the artistic forms that are used in the liturgy, and in an encounter with God in the Eucharist, but it might also happen via intermediary aspects of the culture that derive from and point to the liturgy. This is like the layers of an onion, or the spheres in an Aristotelian universe, in which the outer ring directs us to the next inner ring, and so that by degrees we arrive at the center.
To illustrate with the example of music, we still need composers of three-minute popular ditties as much as we need composers of highly elevated music or liturgical music. In today’s fragmented culture, we need a whole variety of different forms that will appeal to different types of people at a superficial level, and which in turn stimulate in them the beginnings of a desire for something greater. At the heart of the diagram below, at the end of the Christian’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, is the Eucharist. Christ is the node through which we pass and which connects us to the outer Prime Mover from which all of this originates. (Incidentally, I would say that looking from where we sit right now, the earth is the center of the universe, as it is quite reasonable to consider the place of the other heavenly bodies relative to where we view them from...but that’s another debate!)
The measure of such modern creativity’s quality is the power and nature of the effect it has on those who hear it. The best music will be accessible to its intended audience, which not be all people, but most likely a particular section of the population, and stimulate in them a desire for something higher. The highest forms are those which are connected to the liturgy, and the function of these is to lead people to God Himself in the Blessed Sacrament. This is why, however popular Christian “popular” music might be, and however many people might attend Masses with such music in the context of the liturgy, there is no place for such musical forms. (In fact it usually isn’t really all that popular, despite what people may say; see my article here on the subject.) Just because people are listening to something and enjoying it, doesn’t mean that it is doing the work of directing people to the Eucharist as powerfully as it should.
We need exclusively liturgical forms, with chant having preeminence, which have the highest potential to open hearts to God in the context of the worship of Him. Even here we must have new compositions too. I would not want to displace the canon of chants for the Mass, but there must be, I believe, newer compositions that participate in this tradition, for the overall impact to have real power with the greatest number of people.
As mentioned, while there is no place for superficiality in the liturgy, superficiality does have its place outside the church! There is a place for superficiality, and that is to engage people on a superficial level and prime them to engage with something deeper. Therefore we need inspired composition and creativity across the whole spectrum of entertainment in wider culture too.
The argument applies to all art forms, not just music, even to those art forms that have no direct place in the liturgy, such as film and video. Creativity in these areas ought to stimulate the potential for receptivity of the forms that are in the liturgy. The drama of movies, for example, will prime the viewer to be receptive to the presentation of the human story of redemption which is realised in the Mass, as explained here. Movie-makers who do this will not only do the greatest service to mankind, but will also make the most popular and lucrative films!
Recently, I was sent this video of a performance of Schubert’s Ave Maria for the Italian senate by the Italian trio, Il Volo (h/t Gareth Genner, President of Pontifex University).
Here is evidence that beautiful music can be very popular if performed well. By all accounts, these three young men (whose pop-star good looks no doubt draw in a few additional admirers) speak without inhibition of the importance they place on family values. It is a good thing that such music is still popular, but we can not rely solely on the good music of the past to do this..
While Schubert can be heard occasionally in the context of the liturgy, it is not, I suggest, genuinely liturgical music. Rather, it is highly elevated profane music that bridges the gap between the sacred and the mundane; its true place is the concert rather than the liturgy. This particular piece of music was not originally written for the Latin prayer at all, as it happens; it was a setting for the German translation of a poem by Sir Walter Scott, beginning with the same words, “Ave Maria.” For all the power which it still has, it will have been most powerful in fulfilling its function with the original text and for the ears of its original intended audience, the Austrians of 1825.
We need Schuberts for today too, who will compose this “bridging music” for us today in the concert hall. To my mind, such a person is the American composer Frank La Rocca, whose music has its place in that first concentric ring outside the strictly liturgical. Unlike Shubert’s Ave Maria, much of his music is inspired directly by sacred texts and themes, and so is certainly not out of place as meditative or devotional music in the context of the liturgy; but it is as likely to be as effective, and therefore popular, in the concert hall. May there be more like him!
Frank has a newly composed piece, Ne irascaris Domine (“Be not angry, O Lord”), that premiers in a variety of locations in Europe and the US in April and May. There are concerts in Galway, Ireland, and Oakland, California on April 29th, and in London on May 7th. Judging from the regularity of concerts of his music taking place, as indicated on his website, Frank is steadily gaining ground in connecting with people today.
You can hear examples of his music on his website here: www.franklarocca.com/cd-recordings.
The subject of the conference is Resourcing the Prayers of the Roman Liturgy: Patristic Sources, and will be explored by a panel of experts drawn from the United States, Germany and Ireland, among them Prof. Manfred Hauke (Lugano), Prof. Dieter Boehler (Frankfurt), Prof. Joseph Briody (Boston), Gregory DiPippo (New Liturgical Movement), Dr. Johannes Nebel (Austria), Fr. Jao-Paolo Mendanca Dantas, (Fortaleza, Brazil), and Fr. Kevin Zilverberg (St. Paul, Minnesota.)
Registration for the Conference is now open and may be made through the attached form.
Taking its title from the first words of the Introit of the Mass at Dawn, the CD includes motets by William Byrd, Alfonso Ferrabosco, and Walter Lambe. The entire CD presents a Mass “in context,” including all the Gregorian propers, as well as the Scripture lessons, Preface, Collect and Post-Communion.
“Not only is this the first recording made by the St Mary’s Schola Cantorum, to our knowledge it is the only William Rasar composition ever recorded. If not for the manuscript of his Mass, this gifted composer might have been lost to history. In addition, the Propers for the Mass at Dawn of Christmas Day are beautiful but not frequently recorded, and we believe they deserve a wider audience.
“Pre-Reformation English composers are widely recognized as having produced extraordinary music,” said Charles Weaver, associate director of music at St Mary’s and a Schola musician. “The Tallis Scholars and other ensembles, for example, have popularized music from English composers such as John Taverner and Robert Fairfax. We believe Rasar’s Mass deserves to be ranked among pieces by the great composers of this period.”
|The Schola: Front row -- Elizabeth Baber Weaver and Judith Malafronte.|
Back Row -- Terrence Fay, Charles Weaver, David Hughes and Richard Dobbins.
|The cover art of Lux Fulgetbit.|
“One of the most important ways of restoring beauty to the Mass is through the use of music. The music of the Mass must be sacred music, not merely religious music, because the Mass is the icon of the worship of God in heaven. At St Mary’s, we offer Mass adorned with music written specifically for it by some of the greatest composers in history. Lux Fulgebit will help more people experience the beauty of Rasar’s music and the ancient and venerable Tridentine Rite.”
The St Mary’s Schola Cantorum is a professional ensemble of five talented musicians, proficient in singing the most complex polyphony in the canon of Western sacred music: soprano Elizabeth Baber Weaver, mezzo-soprano Judith Malafronte, countertenor Terrence Fay, tenor Richard Dobbins and bass Charles Weaver. The St Cecilia Society is the support organization tasked with funding the program, and is under the chairmanship of Thomas B. Heckel.
The second comes from Philippe Guy: antiphonaries and other choir books in the library of the monastery of St Mary in Paris.
We are very grateful indeed to Mrs Clare Short of DiClara Vestments for sharing with NLM this account of her recent meeting with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI; on this occasion, she presented him with a new set of vestments as a present for his 90th birthday, which he celebrated on Easter Sunday, April 16th.
With my husband recovering from long-term illness and unable to work, I knew I had to do something to provide our family with some income. And with 3 young children, I knew the only viable option was to work from home.
Running a small business from home wasn’t a new thing for me. I had experience of working from home before with a wedding cake business that I was forced to close due to the change in the marriage laws. And after a priest friend suggest I “have a go at making some vestments…” I realised that there was a need in the market for good quality, affordable vestments that brought beauty and reverence to the liturgy.
|Making the front section of the chasuble.|
Beauty is something that draws us out of ourselves into an encounter with the transcendent. C.S. Lewis gets to the heart of the matter when he says that “created beauty provokes in us a longing to be united with, to receive into ourselves, and to enter into that infinite Beauty of which all created beauty is but a reflection.”
It was my aim with this 90th Birthday set of vestments to surpass anything I have ever made previously. For the design of the embroidery, I was inspired by one of Pope Benedict’s favourite Marian shrines – Our Lady of Altötting. On her dress you can see a sunflower, edelweiss and vines.
|Our Lady of Altötting|
The full set includes a Roman style chasuble, spade end stole and maniple, chalice veil, burse and pall.
I can imagine you asking – how did you manage to present the vestments to Benedict himself, and at such a short notice? That’s where my friend Alessandra Dee Crespo comes in.
She is Maltese and a great admirer of Benedict, and runs a very successful Facebook page dedicated to him. I asked her for suggestions on what design to use, and she immediately came back with Our Lady of Altötting. In fact, when she saw my post on crowdfunding the vestments, she got in touch and offered to advertise the project among her thousands of followers on her page. She then asked the inevitable question. How are you going to give it him? When I told her “By post” she was horrified, and offered to get me an appointment, which she managed in record time.
Approaching the Pope Emeritus was one of the most surreal moments of my life. When greeting him we each knelt and kissed his hand and ring. There was nothing but joy and love in his eyes. He kept insisting on holding our hands as he spoke to us, which just confirmed his kind and gentle nature.
Archbishop Georg Gänswein was very friendly and accommodating, and did everything he could to put us at ease and help the meeting to run smoothly. I noticed how he anticipated every need of Pope Benedict and was always one step ahead of what was required. He seemed to be a truly humble servant of God who obviously adores Pope Benedict.
When I took out the chasuble from the suit bag and wished him a Happy 90th Birthday, Benedict’s face shone. When Archbishop Gänswein saw it, he exclaimed “Altötting!” I explained the design, and Benedict particularly loved the Edelweiss motif. I then told him the most important bit about the chasuble, showing him the list of the donors embroidered in the lining and read out the inscription inside. We all know that Benedict is a man of a few words ,so when he saw the names of the people who donated on the lining in the chasuble, he (obviously moved) blushed and said in a soft voice, “Thank you, thank you.”
|Part of the embroidered inscription from the lining of the chasuble|
|The list of donors who offered the vestment to Pope Benedictis sewn into the lining.|
It is traditional when you have a private audience with a Pope to bring along a white skull cap called a zuchetto, which he will then take and wear for a time. It will then be delivered back to you with an inscription stating that this zuchetto has been worn by a particular Pope; my son was in charge of this duty and Pope Benedict was more than happy to oblige! The Pope Emeritus asked to be called ‘Father Benedict’ in one of his interviews, but when speaking to Alex, he was more like a kind grandfather.
|Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI with Alessandra Dee Crespo, Clare Short and Alex Short|
Alessandra and I both chose to wear mantillas out of respect, and also because they too are just extremely beautiful – something different from ordinary life, something reverent. So many women want to veil and it just takes one person in a parish to have the courage to be the first one. I wanted to offer mantillas to my customers as they too, in their own way, bring beauty and reverence to the liturgy. What is going on in the outside is simply a reflection of what is going on in the inside. Certainly all of our communities could stand to reflect more deeply on what we are doing to make the liturgy, and our faith life, something that draws us out of ourselves into an encounter with the transcendent.
The fact that an invitation to meet with Pope Benedict was issued almost immediately was in my opinion all down to Our Lady. The Carmelite order is the order of Our Lady and everything I have and do, including all my talents and my business, have been consecrated to her. The vestment set, although it is not blue, is still a Marian set, and as we knelt to be blessed by Pope Emeritus at the end of the meeting, I could only thank our Blessed Mother for her intercession in all of this.
You can see more of my vestments at www.diclara.co.uk, or contact me directly at email@example.com. Worldwide shipping available.
St Francis of Paola was the founder of the Order of Minims, though he himself was never ordained to the priesthood. He was renowned for curing the sick, performing miracles, the gift of prophesy and his personal holiness. He died in 1507 and was canonized in 1519. He is the principal patron saint of Calabria, and a patron saint of both the city of Naples and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, one of the most revered saints in all of southern Italy.
Good Friday Vespers