The Church is nine days away from burying the Alleluia for the Season of Lent, and most parishes will sing in its place the Verse Before the Gospel as it is found in the Lectionary, paired with a Lenten Gospel Acclamation.It may be a nice opportunity t…
Today in a press conference the Holy See announced the symposium “Sacrosanctum Concilium: Gratitude and commitment for a great ecclesial movement”, organized by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments which will take place five days from now, February 18-20, in Rome. The symposium will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Council Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium.
Cardinal Canizares Llovera, who was appointed prefect of the CDWDS by Pope Benedict in 2008 and confirmed by Pope Francis in this role in December, was quoted heavily in the report:
Cardinal Canizares commented that the [Second Vatican] Council was “an invitation to the Church to be herself, as God wished her to be and created her, and to act in a manner coherent with her vocation and with the mission that God Himself has given her. … With this beginning, which focuses on the theme of the Liturgy, the emphasis is unequivocally placed on the primacy of God in the Church; God first of all. … When God is not in first place, everything else loses its way”.
The Vatican Council II Fathers demonstrated this priority first by approving the Constitution “Sacrosanctum Concilium”, clarifying that “worship comes first; God comes first. Therefore, beginning with the theme of the Liturgy, the Council explicitly turned attention to God’s primacy and at the same time indicated it as a sure point of orientation for the path to be followed in the future”.
With regard to “gratitude” and “commitment”, the prelate added, “We must, indeed, thank God for this first fruit of the Council … not only for the Constitution itself, but also for the renewing dynamism of the Church that it has given rise to, and continues to provide. At the same time, urgent commitment on our part to the continuation and deepening of the liturgical renewal hoped for by the Vatican Council II is now called for. It is true that much has been done, but there remains much still to do”.
Fr. Douglas Martis, director of The Liturgical Institute, offers a powerful reflection:
Everytime I’m at Mass, I can’t help but think that we have the most beautiful, poetic prayer possible, but if what we say does not resonate in our hearts, then it is empty and meaningless.
It is lip service.
There are three things that we must always remember:
1. Who God is.
2. Who we are.
3. What Mass is.
WHO IS GOD? Thinkers have for centuries tried to describe, to put into words what God is like.
What is especially unique to Christianity is that we believe in a triune God, a Trinity who is a relationship of persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Everyone knows St. Patrick’s image for the Trinity: the clover leaf.
Pope Benedict describes the Trinity as a song of love. He says that essential to God is the quality of communication, communion.
The Trinity is a dialogue, an eternal song of love. And what is song but a combination of word and breath. Here we have the most perfect word: Jesus. And the sweetest breath, the Holy Spirit.
WHO ARE WE? Another thing that we have got to remember, that we often forget, is that WE NEED NOT BE.
We are contingent.
We do not have to exist.
It is only God who keeps us in existence at every moment. And that is something we ought to be grateful for all the time.
WHAT IS THE MASS? Why do we have Mass? What’s its purpose? We answer this question at every Mass. At the Orate fratres, we say the purpose of Mass: For the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church.
That’s it. We come to Mass to praise God (for what he’s done for us in Christ—and for keeping us in existence) and to pray for our needs (ultimately that we will be united with him forever in heaven). The Mass isn’t so much about what we can get out of it, but what we give in praise to God.
Here’s more about the Liturgical Institute:
Today marks the one-year anniversary since the abdication of the Chair of St. Peter by Pope Benedict XVI. This event came as a shock, especially to those of us who had been working so hard in the liturgical apostolate during the past pontificate, and who excitedly followed the Holy Father’s lead and example daily.
When the Pope announced that he would be stepping down, and we soon realized that there would be a conclave within a matter of weeks, a certain anxiety began to set in.
Would his successor carry on according to the same mind? Some optimists thought that the resignation effectively doubled the life of Benedict’s papacy.
Would his successor somehow reverse the legitimate progress made by Benedict XVI? This latter concern, it must be admitted, struck many of us between the eyes when we saw Papa Bergolio step out on the balcony for the first time. Something didn’t seem to be quite right. Signs were indicating that significant changes could be looming.
And changes definitely have come.
Pope Francis has been a worldwide sensation, and he clearly is setting an example for the Church on what it means to roll up your sleeves and be the New Evangelization.
But is Pope Francis’ style and approach to the papacy a rejection of Pope Benedict’s focus on the dignity and sacredness of the liturgy?
After being with Francis for nearly a year now, and in light of his recent encyclical and daily reflections, we can most certainly say that it is not.
This can be seen most clearly in Pope Francis’ papal liturgies. Sure, there are things that strike us as odd after seeing the grand ceremonial and ars celebrandi of Pope Benedict XVI, such as the plain vestments, black shoes, lack singing from the priest celebrant, among other curiosities.
But there is something that we haven’t seen in Francis’ celebration of the Mass that some might have expected.
Where is Francis’ palpable joy? Where is his glowing smile? Where is the Pope Francis that we all know and love, jumping out of his Ford Focus to kiss babies and to greet the poor?
Where is the Pope Francis who once said in a daily homily that “Often Christians behave as if they were going to a funeral procession rather than to praise God”. Or, similarly, that “We aren’t used to thinking about Jesus smiling, joyful. Jesus was full of joy, full of joy… Joy is true peace: not a static peace, quiet, tranquil. Christian peace is a joyful peace, because our Lord is joyful.”
Shouldn’t we be seeing the bubbly Pope Francis during his celebration of the liturgy that we see in the news and all over the web?
Perhaps some think that we should. But we don’t.
Watch any papal liturgy to see the stark contrast to this image. You will find a man with a stone cold face, breathing heavily, almost panting and appearing in discomfort, speaking the prayers of the Mass softly and without much definition, gazing almost aimlessly upward and and then with eyes closed in contemplative prayer. You will also hear sacred music that is more solemn and beautiful than we ever heard it under Pope Benedict.
Why do we not see this Pope Francis when he celebrates the Mass?
“We would do well today to ask the Lord to give to each of us [a] ‘sense of the sacred,’ this sense that makes us understand that it is one thing to pray at home, to pray in Church, to pray the Rosary, to pray so many beautiful prayers, to make the Way of the Cross, so many beautiful things, to read the Bible… The Eucharistic celebration is something else. In the celebration we enter into the mystery of God, into that street that we cannot control: only He is the unique One, the glory, the power… He is everything. Let us ask for this grace: that the Lord would teach us to enter into the mystery of God.”
This echos the statement of the Pope in his recent enyclical, Evangelii Gaudium:
“Evangelization with joy becomes beauty in the liturgy, as part of our daily concern to spread goodness. The Church evangelizes and is herself evangelized through the beauty of the liturgy, which is both a celebration of the task of evangelization and the source of her renewed self-giving.”
The effect evangelization has on the liturgy is different from the role of evangelization on the street corner. The joy of the Gospel, as it is spread in the happenings of daily life, becomes something entirely different when it enters the liturgical sphere for Pope Francis. It is not chaos, it is not feverish elation, it is not unbridled energy and glowing smiles of happiness.
In the Eucharistic liturgy, according to Francis, we enter a different realm: A realm where evangelization with joy becomes beauty, where a life of private devotion leads into a participation in the “theophany”, where we “really enter into the mystery of God” and “allow ourselves to be brought to the mystery and to be in the mystery”.
This dichotomy is clear in the life of Pope Francis. He clearly is in the world, but is not of the world.
In the liturgy, the Church steps out of the realm of the world, and steps into the realm of the sacred, where there is true, substantial, and transcendent contact with the divine. This is as true for Pope Francis as it was to Pope Benedict, and remains equally true for the entire Church – as it always has been and as it always will be.
The gaze on the face of those who fully and actively participate in the sacred mysteries of the liturgy is one of contemplation. It is the face as it is portrayed in an icon, not on the cover of Time Magazine. It is the face that encounters the real, substantial and beautiful presence of Christ. It is not a face of gloom or misery; it is not the face of a Christian lacking joy. It is the face of a Christian who’s joy is complete.
The continued work of bringing a sense of the sacred into our parishes and dioceses is not over, one year following the abdication of Pope Benedict. In many ways it is only beginning.
Pope Francis is showing us that beauty in the liturgy is central to, though distinct from, the task of evangelization. As the source and summit of the life of the Church, without the liturgy the Church would have no source for its missionary zeal. The world is hungry for Christ, and it is hungry for beauty – The world is hungry for the liturgy, beautifully celebrated.
This is why we must continue our diligent work in the liturgical apostolate. The success of the New Evangelization depends upon it.
This is why efforts for the renewal of sacred music have continued, and are gaining momentum. It is what is driving efforts like the Lumen Christi Series, which will is about to see the addition of the Lumen Christi Simple Gradual, the natural successor and fulfillment of Simple English Propers. These efforts must continue, and the work on the ground in parish life must continue, and they are continuing. Signs of this are all around us.
As today we remember the legacy of the great liturgical pope, let’s be reinvigorated by its mission. Pope Francis is depending on Pope Benedict’s achievements in liturgical renewal – this could not be more clear.
As Benedict once said, and surely would Francis agree: “Concern for the the proper form of worship…is not peripheral but central to our concern for man himself” (Feast of Faith, p. 7). If evangelization with joy is to be successful, we must worship God well, we must allow beauty in the liturgy to transform, and we must draw our missionary zeal from its true source. Let’s not let the work of liturgical renewal slip away – let’s carry forward the work that Pope Benedict has begun, and that Pope Francis is relying upon.
Composer Frank La Rocca is continuing his magnificent project in English Choral Propers with three new pieces for Lent, Holy Week, and Easter – all of which are available for free download for a limited time from Illuminare Publications.You can pr…
This year we will experience liturgical feasts and solemnities in an unusually powerful way. Unless we are regular daily Mass goers, most of us rarely encounter the Presentation of the Lord, the Solemnity of SS. Peter and Paul, the Triumph of the Cross, the Feast of All Souls, and the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica.
But this year these all fall on a Sunday, and therefore trump the the Sundays in Ordinary Time that would otherwise be celebrated.
This Sunday, for example, will not be the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Church universal will instead celebrate the Presentation of the Lord, and will have an opportunity to engage parishioners in the iconic and ancient blessing of candles and procession before Mass.
The 3rd Edition of the Roman Missal offers some of the chants for the procession, both in Gregorian chant and in a few English chant adaptations.
Illuminare Publications is happy to offer a digital edition for free download, that contains all of the chants for this liturgy, including the ones that the Roman Missal leaves out.
Additionally, you will find the full Proper of the Mass in simple English chant settings, utilizing the new translation of the Roman Missal, in both cantor/choir and accompaniment editions.
You can download them here:
PRESENTATION OF THE LORD (free download)
This is an example of the pre-publication releases that are available weekly from Illuminare Publications. These editions interface completely with the Lumen Christi Missal, and are samples from forthcoming titles in the Lumen Christi Series. Learn more »
The O magnum mysterium is a one of the most beloved ancient Christmas texts in the Christian tradition. It is properly found in the liturgy as a responsory for Matins of Christmas, but through the choral settings of Victoria, Palestrina, Poulenc, and – perhaps most popularly in our time – Morten Lauridsen, it has become a standard part of the Christmas choral repertoire, especially for Midnight Mass.
Composer Frank La Rocca has now given the Church a setting of his own, which powerfully penetrates the mystery of the incarnation. It is not overly flashy or florid, but is pregnant with mystery and humility, much like text which it carries. His O magnum surely will surely be regarded among the greats for years to come.
O magnum mysterium, et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum, jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt portare Dominum Christum. Alleluia.
O great mystery, and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord, lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy to bear Christ the Lord. Alleluia!
The name Frank La Rocca should not be new to those who are following the recent renewal in Catholic sacred music. If you have not heard any of his music, here is a taste, compliments of Rudy de Vos and the Oakland Cathedral Schola Cantorum:
La Rocca’s journey is not too dissimilar to that of a few of his contemporaries. The story goes like this:
A composer who was trained as an academic modernist reaches a point of crisis and withdraws to silence and soul-searching, reflecting deeply upon that which is true, beautiful and good, and then re-emerges having undergone a transformation of faith, aesthetics and compositional language that is deeply rooted in the timeless beauty and ancient origins of Western music.
This journey of Frank La Rocca’s was recently recounted by the Washington Times where he is placed within the context of some of the great living composers of our day: Arvo Pärt, and James MacMillan. We also should add to this list other modern composers of sacred choral music such as Morten Lauridsen, Eric Whitacre, and Ola Gjeilo.
La Rocca undoubtedly deserves to be situated among these, but in an even more distinctive way: The majority of the work of those just listed is sung in concert performance settings, with some exceptions. Frank La Rocca’s aim is to not only write for concert and performance choirs, but most especially for choirs that sing in service of the sacred liturgy.
He has proven this intention with two new SATB, a capella pieces that set the proper Communion Antiphons in English for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, and for the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass.
His choral propers Behold, a Virgin Shall Conceive (Ecco virgo) and In the Splendor of the Holy Ones (In splendoribus) can now be downloaded freely as part of an introductory offer at illuminarepublications.com.
Dr. La Rocca set these two particular texts as a starting point in what he hopes can be a larger scale compositional project, setting the proper antiphons of the Mass in English in his distinctive choral style. These two introductory settings are relatively simple in style, in an SATB arrangement, and are well within the capacity of established parish choirs.
There is still time to get these in the hands of your choirs for use this Advent and Christmas season. Although they would most properly be sung in the proper placements, both of these pieces can also be sung as choral motets throughout the Advent and Christmas seasons.
It’s that time of year again.
Parishes all across the country are faced with the annual decision of whether to cancel their disposable missal subscriptions, or to renew it again “for just one more year”.
Almost everyone knows that these subscription missals are not only of extremely poor quality – often getting beaten up, dogeared, and virtually torn apart by regular use in a matter of months – but that they are also at least 75% more costly to their parishes than permanent, dignified, long-lasting books for the pews.
Why do 3 out of 4 parishes continue to participate in this cycle of waste, degradation of the liturgy, and disrespect for the Word of God and the liturgical texts? The latest mailer from the leading disposable missal publisher makes the case very compellingly for why the majority of parishes today choose disposable liturgy.
Firstly, one of the most striking and utterly ironic features of this mailer – recently sent out to every parish in the country – is that it is very attractive: It is glossy, in full color, and printed on heavyweight paper. It is eight pages long and has very little text on each page, featuring instead a substantial amount of beautifully printed photography. The irony in this brochure is that the quality of this advertisement, which is instantly bound for parish trash cans after a single glance, is ten times the quality of the annual newsprint publications which it is promoting. Perhaps it is not ironic at all, but instead is a clever bit of marketing. Holding this beautiful, heavyweight promotional booklet certainly creates the illusion of quality products.
Next, we find the most important selling point, seemingly seeking to instill fear into the minds and souls of pastors: What if your needs change? How will you respond?
The pitch continues with the repetition of several key words and points that highlight the benefits of disposable missal programs: diversity, confidence, changing needs, fresh, flexibility, versatile, evolving, etc., etc.
Let us ask ourselves for a moment – are these the words that should be used to describe the liturgy of Catholic Church?
For each of them we can find a counterpart that better describes the true nature of the Church’s liturgical worship: universality, stability, catechesis and formation, timelessness, tradition, common to all, constant, etc.
Which words better describe the authentic nature of the liturgy to you?
Continuing on, the main selling point in this pamphlet couldn’t be more clear than the narrative found on the first page:
“Having a missal program that adapts to your changing needs, celebrates faith with an unmatched repertoire, and keeps you confident – knowing you always have the latest approved texts and music in hand – is invaluable.” (Emphasis as in original).
“Invaluable” is perhaps one way to put it. “Exorbitantly expensive” is another.
What might be helpful to pastors and music directors in assessing the true value of these products is a simple cost analysis between the leading disposable missal program and the leading permanent missal for the pew. This is simply an objective, dollars-and-cents comparison, apart from any means of instilling emotional or psychological distress.
A typical parish might maintain a subscription of 500 copies of the leading disposable missal program. The hard, published cost of this is $3,775.00 per year plus an annual shipping charge of approximately $800 per year. The total cost for this parish per year for this subscription is $4575.00.
This price is certainly lower than the cost of virtually any hardbound book, and it surely can be an attractive number when considering only the limits of a strapped annual budget.
But it is not the first year that breaks the bank for parishes. It is the second, the third, the fourth, the fifth… the tenth, even more.
The liturgy is not disposable – it is eternal. You can help shift the expectations of your parish from the fear of constant change and vulnerability that is fostered by the leading disposable missal publishers, and instead focus it on a sense of stability, permanence, and timelessness with one single change.
The choice to make the switch has never been easier.
Learn more at www.illuminarepublications.com.
Alexis Kutarna (check out her blog Oh, for the Love of Chant) has spent the past week at St. Meinrad Archabbey at the feet of the inestimable Fr. Columba Kelly, OSB, student of Dom Eugene Cardine, in pursuit of the art of Gregorian Semiology.
I believe that Alexis already has two or three music degrees, and is currently completing graduate studies in liturgy, so she is certainly well-primed for the intensity of Dom Kelly’s pedagogy. Here are a few of her newly found insights after just one week with him:
1) The secrets in the signs from Laon and St. Gall (the other notations in the Graduale Triplex) are SO much more expressive than square notation (and certainly than modern notation!) We need to consult them, understand them, and FEEL them to be able not only to do justice to the Latin chants but to express the meaning of the texts, to make music, to enjoy the chants, and to pray. Metering our chant cannot have the same effect. Anyone who says plainsong is boring may be right – if it really is just plain song. Let’s make it CHANT.
2) We need to be able to be clear with our diction and not be afraid to pause the appropriate lengths in our public speaking as well as our public canting. This is not metered or unnatural hanging pauses though, these are pauses expressive of the meaning of the text, or of natural breaths.
3) Latin is not (gasp) the only way. Chant CAN be incredibly well-done in the vernacular. It doesn’t work by forcing English to fit the Gregorian melody just because you think you have to preserve that tune intact. No, you have to respect the natural accents and flow of the English language also. It works perfectly if this is thought through. If you don’t believe me, come to St. Meinrad Archabbey and see, and certainly check out one of the many sources of English chant propers for the Mass (most are FREE!). We do, however, need to get something going and widely available in French and in Spanish too – this is where it is going, and we will lose out to bad music if we don’t work diligently on these tasks.
4) It is incredibly sad that more people can’t experience this. Yes, definitely go to one of Fr. Columba’s workshops. But I mean that people aren’t hearing this is their parishes. It CAN be done. It can be done WELL and BEAUTIFULLY. We need to show people. If they hear it, they will get it. Of course, good and faithful liturgical praxis otherwise is also necessary.
5) I now know even more how much I don’t know! I need to do this again. That is one smart monk!!!
Here’s the full post.
I have said it before, and I will say it again: Anyone who is serious about Gregorian chant must find a way to learn from this 82 year old master. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime.
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