Thursday, April 3, 2014

From another blog ......... this is simply great.

Since I came to Assumption Grotto in 2005, I've watched Fr. Perrone work to transform the parish church to more closely match it's original state.  When walls were cleaned last year, holes that held up speakers, bulletin holders, and other things were patched. Strict instructions came from the pastor, "No more holes!" There were two sanctuary lights - the one seen in the center above, hanging from the ceiling, and another that had been in disuse that was off to the right.  I understand that is now gone. 

Last Sunday, parishioners were met with a rather serious change: The table altar, or low altar,  which had fallen into disuse several years ago, is now in a new home and the parish has a portable one that can be used if a visiting priest or bishop would like to celebrate, versus populum.  Even Archbishop Vigneron used the high altar when 
he celebrated Mass on August 15, 2009 - his first Assumption Day as the archbishop of Detroit.

Fr. Perrone offered the explanation below in last week's bulletin.
A rather left-leaning priest once asked traditionally-minded religion students, ‘Which furnishing in the church is more important: the tabernacle, or the altar?’ Most answered: the tabernacle which, of course, was the wrong answer. This man, who has since left the priesthood, took delight in undoing the catechetical lessons and religious sensitivities the students had acquired. Even so, in this case, the impious priest was correct, though, cruelly, he did not explain to his students why. The tabernacle surely acquires an exalted dignity when it houses the Blessed Sacrament, but in itself, as a liturgical accouterment, the altar certainly holds a higher place since it is the place (Latin: locus) where the sacrifice takes place, where Christ is immolated. (Here’s an example of how someone–the priest–can be wrong, giving scandal and injuring the faith of his students, while himself being technically right.) This ‘correct’ liturgical understanding, by the way, is among the reasons often invoked for the setting aside of the tabernacle to a side position in many churches after Vatican II, an act that was not–one must hope–a deliberate and blasphemous snubbing of the Eucharistic Lord. 

I write about the altar today because many of you, though not all, noticed a change in the sanctuary of the church last weekend. The low altar had been removed, allowing the high altar to shine in its full original splendor. Although I had intended to write to you about this in advance of its ouster, events moved too swiftly for me to do that. Our Parish Council members had been foretold of this intention sometime ago. No one then showed any dissatisfaction with the proposal. Indeed, everyone seemed intrigued to know how the church would have looked at its construction. I offer a brief ‘unscientific’ history of this subject.

The sanctuary now looks much as it did when the church was built in 1929, except for the two missing banks of ‘choir stalls’–those pews on each side, where altar boys sometimes now sit. (What could be done to restore the now absent stalls is a subject for another time). After the Second Vatican Council there was a popular movement in liturgical circles to have the Mass celebrated with the priest facing the people, even though this was never mandated by the Council nor by any subsequent directive of the Holy See. Grotto Church, like most others, began the practice with a temporary altar set up in the great open space before the high altar (which space had been created for the old solemn ceremonies of the Latin liturgy) so that a priest could celebrate Mass towards the people. While everyone could now see what was going on at the altar, the priest had his back symbolically to the Lord (the Eastward direction) or actually so (if the tabernacle were behind him). There were other logistical problems created by celebrating towards the people, such as in getting altar servers and concelebrating priests to look and perform decorously at Mass (which is one reason why so many Masses of recent decades have been celebrated so sloppily.) In 1978 Monsignor Sawher decided to replace the temporary low altar with a dignified and indeed beautiful marble altar that would in many ways be harmonious with the existing decor.

When I carefully studied the book The Spirit of the Liturgy by then-Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), I realized that we ought to be facing East once again and not towards the people since that position inadvertently created a “closed circle” that did not aim towards heaven, towards God (East), but towards man (symbolically indicating that man and not God was the focal point of the Mass). In the early years of my pastorship here, the low altar was used variously: first, facing the people; then facing East; and then, with a move of the altar farther back some feet towards the main altar, with the priest still facing East. We were getting progressively more in line with an ideal. 
 In addition, there was a problem having two altars. There ought to be only one altar prominent (main) in a church, not two. Moreover, for the celebration of the Tridentine Mass (now once again available to us), the low altar kept getting in our liturgcal way.

Fine, you may say, but what is to be done should a visiting priest want to celebrate Mass facing the people? We have already provided for that in having readily available an altar that can be set in place in a matter of minutes. It too is suitably made, containing a true altar stone and thus worthy of Holy Mass.

So, there you have it: The Story of the Low Altar in Grotto Church. My final word is a personal one. Although the former low was well designed and well crafted, it did obscure the complete view of the high altar and it did impede the liturgical movement in the sanctuary (I even now tend to avoid walking in the space where it once stood, imagining that I might run right into it). I believe that this elimination of the extra altar is a case where the saying holds true: Less is more.

Fr. Perrone

I don't know anyone who didn't want the low altar to be removed.  Grotto-goers expect Mass to be celebrated ad orientem, and at the high altar. 

In this photo from Holy Thursday (2009), you can see how the low altar obstructs the view, and the
workings of ministers and altar boys as they move about.  There was no such thing as a straight line to the high altar as there is now, with only one altar.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

"Truth About Communion in the Hand While Standing" from New Liturgical Movement

Fr. Richard Heilman, brings us our guest post for today on the questionable origins of communion in the hand. This was Father's homily today which he wrote into a post for NLM. He compiled most of this from various articles and sources. Fr. Heilman is a priest of the Diocese of Madison, WI.

In my efforts to restore a sense of the sacred in the liturgy, I have often been accused of being “pre-Vatican II.” I usually correct them by saying I am exactly Vatican II. The Second Vatican Council called for few changes in the liturgy, understanding that there had been a great many changes to the Roman liturgy over the centuries, to be sure, but they had been gradual and organic, and typically imperceptible. However, in all of church history, there was never anything like what happened in the years following this Council, in respect to the liturgy.

This weekend we had our first Masses with the new Communion rail. After one of these Masses I was talking with one of the old guard parishioners (great guy), and he loved the rails. He told me that "years ago" (I love that expression), they had a Parish Council meeting, and Fr. X wanted to remove the side altars (along with many other alterations), in this beautiful church. The old guard parishioner said, "It was a hard fought battle that night, but we wore him down and he did only minor alterations.” I said, "My ... how times have changed ... that priest got criticized for trying to remove sacredness ... now I'm getting criticized for trying to bring it back."

Since we were celebrating our new Communion rails, and the Gospel saw Peter, James and John fall prostrate before the presence of God - I deemed it a perfect time to shed some light on one of those post-Vatican II innovations – Communion in the hand while standing. We began with a little history lesson …

An Indult Born Out of Disobedience

The practice of receiving Holy Communion in the hand first began to spread in Catholic circles during the early 1960s, primarily in Holland. Shortly after Vatican II, due to the escalating abuses in certain non-English speaking countries (Holland, Belgium, France and Germany), Pope Paul VI took a survey of the world's bishops to ascertain their opinions on the subject. On May 28, 1969 the Congregation for Divine Worship issued Memoriale Domini, which concluded: "From the responses received, it is thus clear that by far the greater number of bishops feel that the present discipline [i.e., Holy Communion on the tongue] should not be changed at all, indeed that if it were changed, this would be offensive to the sensibility and spiritual appreciation of these bishops and of most of the faithful." After he had considered the observation and the counsel of the bishops, the Supreme Pontiff judged that the long-received manner of ministering Holy Communion to the faithful should not be changed. The Apostolic See then strongly urged bishops, priests and the laity to zealously observe this law out of concern for the common good of the Church.

Despite the vote, in 1969 Pope Paul VI decided to strike a compromise with his disobedient bishops on the continent. Given “the gravity of the matter,” the pope would not authorize Communion in the hand. He was, however, open to bestowing an indult – an exception to the law – under certain conditions: first, an indult could not be given to a country in which Communion in the hand was not an already established practice*; second, the bishops in countries where it was established must approve of the practice “by a secret vote and with a two-thirds majority.” Beyond this, the Holy See set down seven regulations concerning communion in the hand; failure to maintain these regulations could result in the loss of the indult. The first three regulations concerned: 1) respecting the laity who continue the traditional practice (of receiving kneeling and on the tongue), 2) maintaining the laity’s proper respect of the Eucharist, and 3) strengthening the laity’s faith in the real presence.

Bernardin’s Campaign: So how did Communion in the hand come to America?

In 1975 and again in 1976, Archbishop Joseph Bernardin, the president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) attempted in vain to garner two-thirds of the bishops to vote in favor of receiving Communion in the hand. The following year – which coincided with the end of Bernardin’s term as president – brought one final attempt. Bernadin appointed Archbishop Quinn, who became Bernardin’s immediate successor as NCCB president, to be the chief lobbyist for Communion in the hand. During the proceedings a brave bishop requested a survey of the bishops be taken – this survey would ask each bishop whether or not Communion in the hand was widely practiced in his diocese, for without the practice’s current wide-use the first condition of the indult would not be satisfied.

Though his request was seconded and supported in writing by five other bishops, Bernardin had the motion dismissed as “out of order.” The bishops then voted ... only to once more fall short of the two-thirds majority. This, however, did not end the matter. Bernardin decided to (unlawfully) begin gathering “absentee votes” from any bishop he could find – including retired bishops who no longer administered any dioceses. Consequently, the number was adjusted to meet the two-thirds majority.

Pope Paul VI’s Regulations – Have they been met?

So, what about Pope Paul VI’s regulations that could result in the loss of the indult?

1) Respecting the laity who continue the traditional practice (of receiving kneeling and on the tongue)

Reports are now widespread of priests refusing Communion to those who wish to receive kneeling and on the tongue. Even reports of priests berating people for this. A friend of mine said he was traveling and attended Mass where he proceeded to kneel and indicate that he wished to receive on the tongue. The minister of Holy Communion refused and ended up walking away from him. He remained. Finally, the priest came over and said, “Get up son, we don’t do it that way here.” My friend said, “So, you are refusing me Communion?” The priest said, “Yes I am.” He got up, walked out and reported him to the chancery. It is a severe infraction against canon law for any priest to do this.

2) Maintaining the laity’s proper respect of the Eucharist

While I can relate to many of the following, here is a testimony from a Deacon:

I've watched a mother receive communion, her toddler in tow, then take it back to the pew and share it with him like a cookie.

At least four or five times a year, I have to stop someone who just takes the host and wanders away with it and ask them to consume it on the spot.

Once or twice a month I encounter the droppers. Many are well-intentioned folks who somewhere, somehow drop the host or it slides out of their hands and Jesus tumbles to the floor.

I've found the Eucharist in a hymnal, under a pew, in the bathroom and in the parking lot.

The Vatican does not allow communion in the hand … one reason is because tourists were taking the Holy Eucharist home as a souvenir of their trip to Rome.

Not too long ago, I was alerted to someone who did not consume the Host. After Mass I confronted the young man, and he pulled it out of his shirt pocket. It seems he wasn’t Catholic and didn’t believe, and so didn’t know what to do. But, I am very worried these days, with the rise of satanic cults who use the Eucharist in their rites. In fact, someone shared this story of his youth, as he admitted these satanic cults are everywhere now …

When I was in junior high I started hanging out and getting high with some of my older brothers’ friends. They would “play around” with ouija boards and tarot cards. They would get dropped off at “youth group” at church – go in the front door and out the back into the woods for sex, drugs, and booze. They would brand each other with pentagram rings and even sacrifice small animals. I never participated in it – cause I was the “little brother” – but they would talk about the Black Mass all the time. There was an older guy – our dealer – in his late twenties who claimed to be a wizard and showed us his pyx (I didn’t know what it was at the time) that he would use, because the priest at the Catholic Church he went to wouldn’t pay much attention, “well, they have a pyx, they must be legit!” He even said he could find hosts after most Masses on the floor or sometimes between hymnal pages, like bookmarks. I remember that, when he opened it to show us, he told us it was Jesus and that we were gonna “have a party” with him … well, I chickened out and went back to “youth” group – a couple nights later…our friend, after the “Jesus party” with the “wizard,” decapitated his sleeping aunt with a samurai sword because he “heard voices” telling him to … she was a regular Mass-attending woman; the only one left in the family. He’s locked up in a mental institution for life. When I started learning about Catholicism, I always remembered that awful time, and couldn’t – can’t – shake the feeling that my friend opened himself up to demonic possession by participating in the Black Mass that night…there were no drugs in his system when they arrested him that night.”

3) Strengthening the laity’s faith in the Real Presence:

In 1950, 87% believed in the Real Presence. Today, that number has plummeted to a mere 34%. The abusive and hurried manner in which the practice of Communion in the hand was imposed after Vatican II lead to a widespread lack of reverence for the Eucharist and caused great pain for many in the Church. It disoriented many people, who with real justification — especially in light of the recent and overwhelming loss of faith in the Eucharist as the real presence — feared that the very heart of Catholic belief had been compromised.

So, we see that Pope Paul VI’s regulations for maintaining the temporary indult are not even close to being realized.

Scholars and Saints Speak: Why Kneel?

Pope Benedict XVI, has noted that kneeling is "an expression of Christian culture, which transforms the existing culture through a new and deeper knowledge and experience of God." He reminds us that "the word proskynein alone occurs fifty-nine times in the New Testament, twenty-four of which are in the Apocalypse, the book of the heavenly liturgy, which is presented to the Church as the standard for her own liturgy."

In his book The Spirit of the Liturgy, Pope Benedict speaks of a "story that comes from the sayings of the Desert Fathers, according to which the devil was compelled by God to show himself to a certain Abba Apollo. He looked black and ugly, with frightening thin limbs, but, most strikingly, he had no knees. The inability to kneel is seen as the very essence of the diabolical."

Why Receive on the tongue?

Despite the widespread practice of Communion in the hand, the universal discipline of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue has not changed. A bishop, for example, may forbid the practice of Communion in the hand but not the practice of Communion on the tongue. The Church strongly encourages the latter but not the former. With respect to Communion in the hand, the Church speaks only in a cautionary tone because of the many abuses that often accompany this practice.

St. Thomas Aquinas reminds us, with respect to Communion in the hand … that reverence demands that only what has been consecrated should touch the Blessed Sacrament. He writes:

The dispensing of Christ's body belongs to the priest for three reasons. First, because . . . he consecrates in the person of Christ . . . Secondly, because the priest is the appointed intermediary between God and the people, hence as it belongs to him to offer the people's gifts to God, so it belongs to him to deliver the consecrated gifts to the people. Thirdly, because out of reverence toward this sacrament nothing touches it but what is consecrated, hence the corporal and the chalice are consecrated, and likewise the priest's hands, for touching this sacrament. Hence it is not lawful for anyone else to touch it, except from necessity — for instance, if it were to fall upon the ground, or else in some other case of urgency.

In his apostolic letter Dominicae Cenae, Pope John Paul II also states: "How eloquent, therefore, even if not of ancient custom, is the rite of the anointing of the hands in our Latin ordination, as though precisely for these hands a special grace and power of the Holy Spirit is necessary. To touch the sacred species, and to distribute them with their own hands, is a privilege of the ordained, one which indicates an active participation in the ministry of the Eucharist."

Mother Teresa reportedly said, "Wherever I go in the whole world, the thing that makes me the saddest is watching people receive Communion in the hand." Even the great Pope John Paul II reportedly said: "There is an apostolic letter on the existence of a special valid permission for this [Communion in the hand]. But I tell you that I am not in favor of this practice, nor do I recommend it.”

Become less so that you can then become more.

Communion on the tongue helps to foster a proper sense of reverence and piety. To step up to a communion rail, and kneel, and receive on the tongue, is an act of utter and unabashed humility. In that posture to receive the Body of Christ, you become less so that you can then become more. It requires a submission of will and clear knowledge of what you are doing, why you are doing it, and what is about to happen to you.

Frankly, we should not only be humbled, but intimidated enough to ask ourselves if we are really spiritually ready to partake of the sacrament. Kneeling means you can't just go up and receive without knowing how it's properly done. It demands not only a sense of focus and purpose, but also something else, something that has eluded our worship for two generations.

It demands a sense of the sacred. Just like Peter, James and John before our Transfigured Lord, it challenges us to kneel before wonder. It insists that we not only fully understand what is happening, but that we fully appreciate the breathtaking generosity behind it. It asks us to be mindful of what "Eucharist" really means: Thanksgiving.

From Cornelius the Roman: Understand this: The vast majority of changes, both in theology and in the way we worship, post Vatican 2 were not of "Vatican II." It had really and truly " called for few changes in the liturgy" as the article says. And the only viable theological purpose behind these changes centered on the deconstruction of God's transcendence and an avoidance of any feeling of guilt among His people for their sins. It was meant to make people "feel good".  At some point God's Truth must be proclaimed despite "feelings and emotions". Souls depend upon it.

*Of course, everyone knew that Communion in the hand was not a previously established practice in the United States.

Lest so many words complicate a simple question

Edward Peters, JD, JCD, Ref. Sig. Ap.

Dr. Peters has held the Edmund Cdl. Szoka Chair at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit since 2005. He earned a J. D. from the Univ. of Missouri at Columbia (1982) and a J. C. D. from the Catholic Univ. of America (1991). In 2010, he was appointed a Referendary of the Apostolic Signatura by Pope Benedict XVI. For more infomation on Dr. Peters, see CanonLaw.Info.
March 19, 2014

Catholic discipline that precludes holy Communion for divorced-and-remarried Catholics rests on three simple points. Assuming the specifications and nuances that should flesh out these points, they are:

Catholics obstinately persisting in manifest grave sin should neither approach for nor be administered holy Communion. Canons 915, 916.

Catholics living in post-divorce ‘marriages’ are in a state of public and objective grave sin (specifically, a form of chronic adultery). CCC 2380, 2381, 2384.

Such ‘marriages’ are adulterous because true marriage is an exclusive union lasting until death. Canons 1055, 1134, 1141.

       Abandon any of these three points and Church discipline in this area collapses. If marriage is not an exclusive union till death, if living in pseudo/second marriage is not objective grave sin, or if the Eucharist is not precluded for those persisting in grave sin, then divorced-and-remarried Catholics can begin receiving holy Communion today and the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family can turn its attention to other pastoral issues facing the family. But if these three assertions are sound, then the present Eucharistic discipline demands, as a matter of personal integrity and public honesty, observance by faithful and hierarchy alike, and the Synod must grapple with its pastoral ramifications.
       Now, no one (at least, no one being taken seriously) in this debate denies that marriage is an exclusive union lasting until death, and few formally deny that living in pseudo/second marriage is objectively wrong—though many are confusing commission of objective sin with the incurring of personal culpability for sin and, based on their confusion, are rejecting the objective evilness of pseudo/second marriage itself. That confusion must be addressed elsewhere.
       Instead, the aspect of this matter under the greatest challenge is, I suggest, whether Catholics who live in an objectively sinful state (such as pseudo/second marriage has always been reckoned) should bear the primary sacramental consequence that has always been expected regarding those known to be persisting in an objectively sinful state, namely, deprivation of holy Communion. Whatever crisis of faith some might harbor regarding Jesus’ teaching on the permanence of marriage, or whatever crisis of courage some might experience in having to call some sins by their true names, the most visible aspect of the current crisis over divorce and ‘remarriage’ concerns, I think, the reception of holy Communion thereafter.*

        And so one may ask a simple question:  what do we suddenly know about marriage, human falleness, and the Eucharist that the Apostles, the Fathers, the Doctors, and the Saints did not know before us? What do we face for upholding one of the Lord’s hardest sayings that they did not face before us?  If, as I suspect, the answer to both questions is “nothing” (or at least, nothing persuasive of, let alone compelling, change) by what authority do we consider so great a departure from the course so-long steered by the Church?

+ + +

* Yet another idea, I pause to note, being floated these days, one whereby divorced-and-remarried Catholics ‘confess’ their sin (specifically, remarriage after divorce) but not be required to put off their sin, threatens serious harm to the sacrament of Penance as well as to Marriage and the Eucharist, but we can only deal with so many heads of this hydra at one time.

Alert readers will note that I offered a version of this argument back in December 2013. I recast it here.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Well said, from "New Liturgical Reform" .....

The Growing Realization of the Irreparable Failure of the Liturgical Reform

As I had occasion to point out some weeks ago in connection with mounting critiques of the post-conciliar liturgical calendar (see here), it seems we are entering a phase of great honesty and frankness in assessing not only the false principles behind the Pauline liturgical reform and the worldwide damage it has wrought—a sobering assessment that has certainly not been lacking over the past 40 years—but also, in particular, the possibility of a correction of this reform that would preserve its core while removing abuses or re-integrating foolishly discarded elements.

The new and more realistic phase to which I refer is captured succinctly in Fr. Thomas Kocik's recent article at NLM, "Reforming the Irreformable?," which has attracted a remarkable amount of attention. In essence, the conclusion is this: a "reform of the reform" is not, in fact, possible. The Pauline rite is so radical a deconstruction and reconstruction of the Roman liturgy that it does not exist in the same tradition of organic development. It is a new departure, a new thing, not a revision of the old thing that had been handed down over the centuries. As an artificial liturgical entity constructed out of pieces of the Roman heritage combined with modern scholarly inventions, any future reform of it would be no more than a variation on the new theme. The only way forward is not to tinker any more with this "fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product" (as Ratzinger called it in 1992), but to return steadfastly and stalwartly to the Catholic and Roman liturgical tradition embodied in the preconciliar Missal.  Indeed, only in this way can the deepest aims and aspirations of the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy be achieved and even applied.

Fr. Kocik's bracing honesty was the long-awaited and necessary announcement that "The Emperor has no clothes." There are many people who have said similar things over the years, but people perk up when an educated priest who has specialized in the study of the Roman liturgy and who, for a long time, defended and promoted the reform of the reform, finally cashes in the chips and says, "The only long-term solution and path into the future is to celebrate everywhere theusus antiquior, with full, active, and conscious participation." It has a way of clearing the air so that we can breathe freely. Here's a brief round-up of some of the best writing from recent days that, either expressly or implicitly, takes its cue from Fr. Kocik.

Dom Mark Kirby, Prior of Silverstream Priory, at Vultus Christi: "Let Nothing Be Preferred to the Work of God"
I was, at one time, as deeply committed to the reform of the reform as was Father Kocik, having contributed to the Beyond the Prosaic conference at Oxford in 1996 and to the book that followed it. Like Father Kocik, although several years earlier, I came to see the futility of trying to repair something that, at bottom, is structurally unsound. Nowhere is the old adage, “Haste makes waste”, truer than when applied to the precipitous reform of liturgical rites and the books that contain them. In most places the liturgical landscape has become a dreary wasteland. The liturgical rites and books prepared so feverishly in the wake of the Second Vatican Council have been tried and found wanting.
          There are, it is true, liturgical oases here and there, where the reformed rites are carried out intelligently, with dignity, reverence, and devotion—I am thinking of certain communities, monasteries, and parishes, the Communaut√© de Saint–Martin, for example—but these subjective qualities cannot make up for the objective flaws and structural weaknesses inherent in the same rites.
          ... The passing of the years has demonstrated the intrinsic inadequacies of the reformed liturgical books of the post-conciliar era. The cracks in the post–conciliar liturgical edifice became evident almost as soon as the new rites began to be “lived in.” Today, the same edifice appears like so many shabby buildings put up hastily during an economic boom, now revealing their structural flaws, and threatening imminent collapse.

Fr. Hugh Somerville-Knapman of Dominus mihi adjutor: "The Lament of a Liturgical Loner"  (a very remarkable soul-searching article that deserves to be read in its entirety):
If liturgy was a live issue before the Council of 1962-65, it has become in the wake of that Council an explosive issue. Liturgy seems never to be at rest. For some, the Council gave a licence to change comprehensively the performance of the Church’s liturgy, and the change has been unrelenting. For others the changes were unjustifiable, unconscionable even, and they reject them outright. For others still, liturgy has been something to be coped with, an unavoidable battlefield on which they try to find shelter in some compromise that acknowledges the reality of change and seeks somehow to keep it organically connected to the Tradition of the Church. Few have been satisfied.
          We might ask ourselves: where is my foxhole, my bunker, my bastion, on this battlefield? So much of my reading the past year or more has shown my foxhole [i.e., the reform of the reform] to be filling with mud, slowly but ever more surely. It is not a tenable position in the long-term. ...
          [I]t is hard not to conclude that the structure and the rubrics of the new Mass lend themselves to such a [cavalier, creative] practice and attitude. If you remove so many of the sacralizing elements of a ritual, of course it is going to end up secularized. Rather arbitrarily included after the Council among “useless repetitions” the same Council had deprecated, nearly all the signs of the cross and genuflections and kissings of the altar were removed from the Mass. To one not formed under the old Mass, these gestures can appear to be fussy and pedantic and almost obsessive. They seem to cry out for some rationalization. But is such a principle appropriate to the symbolic and sacred ritual of the Mass? Are time-and-motion principles suited to something that should take us out of time and out of ourselves? ...
          In other words, there is a disjunction between what we are taught happens at Mass and what seems so often to be happening. There is an incongruence between the words and the actions. It is possible to do the new Mass properly; but the new Mass seems to have the inherent flaw that it is so easy to do improperly.

Fr. Richard Cipolla, "The End of the 'Reform of the Reform'" at Rorate:
This [article by Kocik] is indeed “Tract 90” for the "reform of the reform" and sounds the death knell of any serious attempt to hold onto the fiction of continuity between the 1970 Missal and the Traditional Roman rite.  Just as Tract 90 marked the end of Newman’s attempt to find a Catholic continuity and a Via Media in Anglicanism, so does Fr. Kocik’s public articulation of the abandonment of his attempt to find a liturgical and theological continuity between the Novus Ordo and the Traditional Roman rite mark the end of the Reform of the Reform movement. What must be done now—and this will require much laborandum et orandum—is to make the Extraordinary—ordinary.

Those of you who read Nicholas Postgate's piece "Is It Divisive to Speak of a Crisis?" will recall his unambiguous stance:
The Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the Missal of Paul VI, is irreparably broken. Due to the false principles, exploded assumptions, and rationalistic method behind its composition, it was wrong from the first day, and it remains wrong, no matter how well it is celebrated. Its very prayers and rubrics embody a hermeneutic of discontinuity that cannot be cured without a complete reworking that would bring it substantially back into line with the preceding liturgical tradition. In the language of the philosophers, it would require not an accidental but a substantial change. As far as incremental reform goes (for example, if we look to how some Oratorians celebrate the new rite), nearly every successful step has involved adding or substituting something from the old Missal, or removing something painfully novel. In most respects, the Ordinary Form becomes better by becoming the Extraordinary Form. As such, the Ordinary Form does not so much need to be reformed as it needs to be retired, so that the genuine Roman Rite may once again occupy its proper place in the life of the Catholic Church, as it had done for centuries before.

We have come a long way since the optimism of the 1990s, when it seemed as if one might somehow restart the process of organic development from within the Novus Ordo. If these authors are correct in their assessments, that is a fool's errand. No one thinking with the mind of the Church disagrees for a moment that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should always be celebrated as beautifully, reverently, and solemnly as possible regardless of the form in which it is offered, whether the historic traditional rite that nourished Catholics for a millennium and a half and continues to prove its durability, or the newly created rite of Paul VI that is already showing its age in an unflattering fashion. But it is no longer necessary to pretend that, with a certain yet-to-be-found alchemy, we can transmute lead into gold.

The Fellowship of St. Alban: Roman Catholic member of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle

A Christian website I’ve come across boasts that its reach extends to over 36,000 different denominations. I did a double-take when I saw that number, but on reflection I realized that it’s a sad testament to Christian disunity in our day. At the same time, it made me grateful to be a member of the Catholic Church, united in belief under the teaching authority of the Pope and our bishops.

We celebrate this teaching authority today, the Memorial of the Chair of St. Peter. When we speak of Peter’s "chair," we speak of the teaching authority Jesus gave to Peter and the popes who followed him, an authority we call the "Magisterium," from the Latin word for "teacher."

As someone who began his Christian life and professional ministry outside the Catholic Church, I’ve come to cherish the Magisterium as a precious gift. Firsthand experience has made it clear to me that without a divinely-instituted teaching authority, what you’ll wind up with is fragmentation, disunity, and schism. In other words, over 36,000 Christian denominations.

That’s certainly not our Lord’s will. He wants us to be one, which is why he established the Magisterium in first place. Today, let’s celebrate the unity of faith we have, and pray for reunion with those who don’t.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I am really excited about this. We have a talented quartet to support our talented organist as we do Willan's Missa Brevis no.2 in F minor.

Choral mass: Healey Willan

posted 23 hours ago by Rochester Ordinariate   [ updated 23 hours ago ]

This Sunday, the Ordinary of the mass will be sung to Healey
"Patrimony" Willan's mass, Missa brevis No. 2 in F minor.

This is a mass for choral quartet (A Capella, SATB), 
happily organized by our music director, Aaron James (a fellow Toronto organist).

Willan's religious compositions occupy an important role in
 Anglican liturgy, and the St. Alban fellowship's usual 
congregational settings are mostly Willan.  The high quality 
of the compositions represent some of the best aspects 
of Anglican patrimony to be imported into the Catholic Church.  
Just as our Byrd mass was an excellent example of historic
English Catholic liturgy we wish to embody, this is an excellent 
example of how parts of the historical Anglican musical
 tradition can enrich the larger Catholic world through the Ordinariate.

From his biography:
Healey Willan, C.C. (b. Balham, England, Oct. 12,1880; d.
 Toronto, Feb.16,1968) composer, organist and teacher. 
Admitted as an Associate of the Royal College of Organists, 
1897 and Fellow, 1899, from 1903–13 he was organist and 
choirmaster at St John the Baptist Kensington. He moved to 
Toronto in 1913 as Head of the Theory Department of the Toronto 
Conservatory of Music (Vice-Principal 1920–36). From 1921 till his 
death he was Precentor of the church of St Mary Magdalene, Toronto, 
which became a mecca for church musicians. He was appointed Lecturer 
and Examiner for the University of Toronto (U of T) in 1914. In 1934 
he founded the Tudor Singers, which he conducted until 1939. In 1937 
he was appointed Professor of Music at U of T, a position he held until his 
retirement in 1950. An influential teacher, Willan was also active 
as the University Organist. In 1953 he was commissioned to write 
an anthem for the coronation of Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey
 (O Lord Our Governour) and in 1956 he received the Lambeth Doctorate,
 Mus. D Cantaur from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
More than half of his output of 800 compositions was sacred works
 for choir which include many anthems, hymn anthems and mass settings.
His secular music includes over 50 choral works, over 100 songs and song arrangements for voice and piano, many works for piano, for voice and instrumental ensemble, for voice and orchestra, two symphonies, a piano concerto, chamber works, incidental mu and the opera Deirdre.
Willan was a staunch conservative, grounded in counterpoint and fugue. Interested in new trends, he saw no reason to abandon his roots, and in Deirdre, which he regarded as one of his finest works, he centered on a post-Wagnerian idiom. His choral music composed for St Mary Magdalene has had a significant influence on composers of all denominations. His major works signaled the acceptance in Canada of large scale composition. Frequently known as the "Dean of Canadian Composers", he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada at its inception in 1967.

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I was an Anglo Catholic Episcopal priest till I figured out you can't be Catholic, Anglo or otherwise, unless you really are a Catholic.