Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Tag Archives: Liturgy

Encourage & Teach: 5 Tips for a Successful School Year at Home

My wife Christine, writes her first blog post on Encourage and Teach:

Christine3It is that time of year again. You homeschooling moms know what I am talking about. The new materials are waiting and we are trying our hardest to garner up the enthusiasm to begin another year of teaching. (I know I am!) For me, this school year is looking very different with junior and a rising freshman heading off to Franciscan University of Steubenville in just four days. This means that for the first time in a very long time, I am only teaching two kids here on the home front. It will be a very strange experience for me.

I have been a homeschooling mom for 15 years now and while each year brings its own uniqueness, some things never change. The bookshelf that holds all the school materials is getting organized, talk of earlier bedtime schedules has begun and squeezing out every last bit of summer break is in full swing. We have set the date to begin and all systems seem to be a go!

If you are a veteran homeschooling mom or just beginning or considering this path in your future, here are five quick tips for success I have learned over the years:

Read More…

Happy Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows!

our_lady_of_sorrows_by_wooferduff-d4hjfj9Happy Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows! Wait?!? You thought it was September 15? Silly Catholic, you are correct. However, prior to the reform of the liturgy at the Second Vatican Council, there were two Feasts of Our Lady of Sorrows…and one of them, was today.

«Continue Reading»

Holy Mass and Apocryphal Warnings

php_hell_01This week I am preparing to start a summer study session on the Divine Liturgy. During my research on the Liturgy of St. James, I came across a scary, albeit apocryphal, writing entitled, “The Vision of St. Paul.”

This account of hell was likely composed in Egypt around the year 250. Why mention it? Because the author has a very special place in hell for liturgical abuse:«Continue Reading»

Reviving Our Spirituality through the Liturgy

feast_of_st_john_cantius_2008_2The other day I posted a meme about How to Know that You are Dying Spiritually. One of the comments asked for remedies. So, I thought about it and decided to suggest a liturgical remedy.

Yes, I know and so just say it, “Deacon, you do not know what my liturgy looks like and you haven’t heard the homilies.” Probably, but I think there is a way to look beyond the abuses and what may or may not be said by recollecting on the meaning of the ceremonies at Mass. Regardless of how they are celebrated the very actions themselves have meanings that can still enlighten our minds and stir our hearts for love and union with Him.
«Continue Reading»

The Next Pontiff on Cult and Culture

Ratzinger, pontifical High MassThe word culture comes from the Latin cultus where we also receive the word cult. A culture is defined by what it worships – what is at the center of its heart.  Blessed John Paul II in Crossing the Threshold of Hope stated that we live in a culture of death – or the worship of death.  It is for this reason that liturgy is neither an expression of religious piety not an ancient ritual reserved for the initiated. It is both and far, far more. Liturgy is how we will renew and revive the culture:

It is fitting that liturgical celebration tends to express itself in the culture of the people where the Church finds herself, though without being submissive to it. Moreover, the liturgy itself generates cultures and shapes them. (CCC1207)

Thus the liturgy has primacy of place as a catechesis for the Church and culture. It is here where God Himself teaches us and forms us. In fact,  Servant of God Paul VI during his “Address for the Closing of the Second Period, December 4, 1963, AAS [1964], 34″ (Papal Message) said the following:

In this event we observe that the correct order has been respected of the values and duties: thus we have recognized that the post of honor is reserved to God; that as first duty we are called to raise prayers to God; that the sacred Liturgy is the primary source of this divine exchange in which the life of God is communicated to us; it is the first school of our soul, it is the first gift that must be made by us to the Christian people. [emphasis mine]

Not only is it the formative principal of our lives and culture but the “source from which all of the Church’s power flows” (Sacrosanctum Concilium,10).

It is for this reason many have noted that the confusion in the liturgy since the Second Vatican Council has seriously contributed to the confusion in the culture. Louie Verrecchio in his February 15, 2013 article, “Spiritual warfare and the Pope’s resignation,” provides some great insight into the renewal of the Church, through the liturgy, after the Council. Pope Benedict XVI said during his 2005 Christmas address to the Curia, that

the “hermeneutic of reform”, of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.

He continued saying,

The hermeneutic of discontinuity risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church. It asserts that the texts of the Council as such do not yet express the true spirit of the Council. It claims that they are the result of compromises in which, to reach unanimity, it was found necessary to keep and reconfirm many old things that are now pointless.

Of course, this is clearly seen in the pre/post-Council liturgy. When the Holy Father wanted to heal the dicontinuity he issued Summorum Pontificum. Now, while I have a great appreciation for the Extraordinary Form (EF) and the rich symbolism and tradition it provides for us, I appreciate just as much the Novus Ordo (properly celebrated) for its patristic nobility the Council Fathers desired to communicate. That being said, I would prefer that they would learn from each other in order for us to experience more of the continuity from past to present and give us a liturgy that is faithful to our Tradition which in turn, will effectively communicate to this generation.

Mr. Verrecchio boldly concludes his article stating,

Mark my words: We will know what the immediate future holds for the Church based upon just one observation; namely, the liturgical mindset of Pope Benedict’s successor.

If the man who is chosen has a distaste for the Traditional Mass, then rest assured, regardless of any apparent orthodox bonafides the new pope may have, the modernists will succeed in making Catholic life difficult.

If, however, they elect a man who loves the Tridentine Rite, celebrates it often, and continues to do so as pope, know for a fact that while tribulation is most certainly coming, we are moving in the right direction.

If this is the case, then the following cardinals have celebrated the Traditional Latin Mass (Provided by Rorate Caeli). They include:

  1. Philippe Cardinal Barbarin
  2. Raymond Cardinal Burke
  3. Carlo Cardinal Caffarra
  4. Antonio Cardinal Cañizares Llovera
  5. Velasio Cardinal De Paolis
  6. George Cardinal Pell
  7. Albert Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith
  8. Jean-Pierre Cardinal Ricard
  9. Franc Cardinal Rodé
  10. Juan Cardinal Sandoval Íñiguez
  11. John Cardinal Tong Hon
  12. André Cardinal Vingt-Trois

Could it be that one of these men are our future pontiff? We will see. Until then, I thought I would provide some more food for thought. Would love to hear yours!

Thoughts on the Next Pope


My Spy Wednesday

Most of us know that the price of Jesus’ betrayal was thirty pieces of silver. But did you ever consider what precipitated this unspeakable tragedy? Perfume, albeit expensive perfume. You remember don’t you:

Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said,  “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”  (John 12: 3-5)
At first glance, Judas seems to have a heart for the poor. But Sacred Scripture makes it very clear in verse 6 stating,
This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it.
This certainly is a warning for us to beware of the world’s trappings but I would like to suggest another thought for our consideration and meditation.

It is often suggested that our Lord’s preferential option for the poor means that He deserves the least because there is someone who could better use the resources. And, this is true – at least materially. Except, whatever happened with building churches that assisted in revealing the majesty and splendor of His Kingship and love? It seems to me that Our Lord told us that we will always have the poor (John 12:8) and in a world that has lost it’s sense of wonder, well, you know. It has also been my experience that this gutting of the sublime is not reserved to our material possessions but also with our spiritual efforts.

For myself, just a cursory reflection makes it painfully clear that I am no better than anyone else. For example, I leave my prayer for the end of the day when I have expended the days energy. I offer God my leftovers and not the first fruits of the day. Everyone else gets my best and my Lord gets the dregs.

Monday’s and today’s gospels are a painful reminder that I am just as willing to sell out my Savior for a day’s wage or even worse, the hope that people are impressed with my work product. Thirty pieces of silver is the price of a slave and for some reason I always want to put my shackles back on.

Tomorrow He gives me the strength for the Triduum journey – enough to sustain me to receive His forgiveness on Friday. Tomorrow I join my Bishop, his priests and my brother deacons at the cathedral. We will renew our commitment to the Church and liturgically enter into battle with our Lord for His bride. The Chrism Mass will stir into flame the graces of our ordination, feed us the bread of sorrow and the drink of compunction and then send us to our respective parishes in order to lead the people of God to the resurrection through Calvary.
Will you join me to redouble our efforts to make the best of this Triddum?
Jesus said, “Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of my burial. The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” (John 12:7-8)

The First Sunday of Advent: New Meditations with the Third Typical Edition

The United States this evening begins our new liturgical year with of course New Year’s. And our New Year’s gift?  The Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal. The fruit of the second Vatican Council is finally realized in Holy Mass.

I thought that we could start off this New Year’s with a resolution to pray the Divine Liturgy better. So, for the next year I am committed to looking at a portion of the Divine Liturgy each Saturday to prepare myself for “full and active participation” in Holy Mass. Should the Lord permit I will share some of the nuggets that find a place into my heart. Hopefully, they may also bear some fruit for you.

Just for kicks and giggles I have also provided for comparison the now abrogated First Typical Edition text. I think that you will agree that the revised translation provides richer material and tradition for meditation.

The Collect

First Typical Edition (1973)

God, increase our strength of will for doing good that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven.

Third Typical Edition (2011)

Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Some Nuggets for Meditation

Notice that the 2011 Collect begins by reminding us that we gather our prayers into one before not just God but Almighty God. There is no limit to His power. Creation, keeping all that is in existence, and answering our every prayer requires no effort on His part. The Collect also properly addresses what the will needs – resolution.

The Third Typical Edition also specifically tells us that we are to present to Christ our righteous deeds which is far more than just doing good. Righteous deeds are those deeds that are imbued by grace and are in accordance with His will and statues – not just the mere effort of our own will power or to meet any need we see before us. As Pope Benedict has said on numerous occassions, people do not need an social service organization but Christ Himself.

We are encouraged to run. Run what? The race of course. This is not by accident. The prayer should immediately bring a number Scriptures to mind:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.      (1 Corinthians 9: 24-25)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12: 1-2)

For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4: 6-8)

The Collect also does not leave us without instructions for the race. We are to gather at His right hand. The 1973 Collect calls us to God’s side. My question is, “To His left or right?” God’s right hand is not only a symbol of our privileged place by virtue of being part of the mystical body of Christ but the right hand of power. The hand of Christ has also pledged the power of Christ to assist us through our life if we are but willing to accept His grace. Why do we need His power? Because on our own we are unable to possess heaven:

…they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.

Of course, the revised Collect ends with the traditional invocation of the Most Blessed Trinity. Notice in contrast to the 1973 version the revised Collect is directed specifically to God the Father. This is most prominently seen in the doxology as the celebrant prays,

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

And so, our forty-year wait has ended. A richer text that throws the ancient maxim: lex ordani, lex credendi into high definition. My youngest children will never no the difference but we who feel parched now have a new wine in the Roman Missal to drink deeply from. Happy New Year!

Music and Pope Benedict XVI

Music in the Post-conciliar Catholic Church

An appraisal of the current situation based on a talk given to the Panel of Monastic Musicians
by Nick Gale, 8 September 2008, St Cecilia’s Abbey, Ryde

The cosmic character of liturgical music stands in opposition to the two [prevailing] tendencies of the modern age…music as pure subjectivity, [and] as the expression of mere will. We sing with the angels. Cardinal Ratzinger wrote these words in his book, The Spirit of the Liturgy.

The pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI has once again placed Liturgy at the centre of the Church’s concerns, and rightly so, for as the then Cardinal wrote in 1997, the true celebration of the Sacred Liturgy is the centre of any renewal of the Church whatever.

There can be no doubt that we are currently in the midst of a period of great change in the Church. We are also in a crisis in terms of the Music of the Church. Despite the numerous documents to come out of Rome, both before and after Vatican II, despite the call of the Holy Father to raise the standards of liturgical celebration, despite the restoration of the Chant, largely undertaken by the Monks of Solesmes in the late 19th century, work that still continues today. Despite the fact that the Monks of Heiliger Kreuz Monastery in Austria have been at the number one slot in the charts for months, with their disc of Gregorian Chant. Despite the efforts of notable Catholic musicians who, in may cases, feel reluctantly compelled to work for other, separated brethren because the feel they are fighting a losing battle with the Catholic Church. Despite the many places where choirs exist and are being created to help rediscover the riches of liturgical music which is the Church’s inheritance, and the wealth of new music being written by talented composers in the service of the church. Despite the fact that the monasteries, institutes and congregations which have restored traditional liturgy and chant are gradually filling up once more, whilst many other communities sadly dwindle and die.

In spite of all this, we still will not accept that music in the liturgy is not offered for us, but to God, and must therefore be of the very highest quality that we can muster, both in terms of its composition and its performance, and that the faithful are remarkably receptive to good music, when they are fortunate enough to hear it and, better still, sing it! That is not so say that old music is good and that anything that has been written for the liturgy following the Council is bad. However, the general view of the clergy seems to imply the reverse – that all pre-conciliar music is ‘old hat’ and irrelevant, and that the only music that truly ‘speaks’ to the people of God and draws them into the liturgy is the contemporary ‘popular’ music which we hear in most parishes across the world.

This view is not only false, but extremely dangerous. The Holy Father, again speaking as Cardinal Ratzinger, warns us that ‘mere archaism does not help matters along but neither does mere modernisation’. In 1975 he wrote: ‘We must be far more resolute than heretofore in opposing rationalistic relativism, confusing claptrap and pastoral infantilism. These things degrade the Liturgy to the level of a parish tea party and the intelligibility of a popular newspaper. With this in mind we shall also have to examine the reforms already carried out…’ Ten years later he further commented: ‘since I wrote those lines, other aspects which should have been guarded have been neglected; many treasures that were still intact have been squandered away.’

Music is inextricably linked to the Liturgy and, as we are reminded by the Holy Father, that music be of the best possible quality. Of course, this leads us into the realms of what is to be considered ‘good’, as well as the purpose and effect of music. Is music, including liturgical music, adequately treated when it is left as simply a matter of ‘taste’, of individual response to what pleases? Music is about formation, and not just expression. A constant theme across the centuries is the balance of the need for contemporary musical expression with the responsibility of using music that will truly “sanctify the faithful”. Music should enhance the formative power of the liturgy already represented by the celebration of Holy Mass.

St Pius tells us, in his great motu proprio Tra la solicitudine that, since sacred music is an integral part of the Liturgy, its aim must be the same as that of the Liturgy itself; ie, in St Pius’s words,

the sanctification and edification of the faithful. The ‘chief duty’ of church music is, he goes on to say to clothe the liturgical text, which is presented to the understanding of the faithful, with suitable melody; its object is to make the text more efficacious, so that the faithful through this means may be more roused to devotion, and better disposed to gather to themselves the fruits of grace which come from the celebration of the sacred mysteries.

One of the most shamefully ignored aspects of Sacrosanctum Concilium was its acknowledgement of ‘Gregorian chant as proper to the Roman liturgy’, and thereby having pride of place in liturgical music. Just ten years before the Council began, the French Dominican, Dominique Delalande wrote a theology of the Chant. I am indebted, here, to an excellent talk given by Aidan Nicholls at the Catholic Directors of Music Conference last year for his summary of Delalande’s work.

In his book, Delalande called the chant a ‘given’, which theologians must integrate with their work. The structure and ethos of the Church’s official prayer – the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours – cannot be fully grasped, he wrote, without reference to the music that accompanies it. In the case of the Roman Liturgy, that music is Gregorian chant, though, as he explained, the Eastern liturgies possess some analogue of Western plainchant – a monodic music, archaic, pure, with a solemn, sacral character, a consecrated music whose origins are lost in immemorial time, but existing, it may be, alongside a more developed or a more popular music, generally of highly questionable value.

Delalande reminds us of the multiple sources of the chant – Jewish, Syrian, Greek –as well as the anonymity with which composers of genius re-worked its materials at various stages of its long history. Delalande calls this a providential anonymity, which enables us to say the more readily: this music comes from the Church as Bride of Christ, assisted by the Holy Spirit.

In his controversial but fascinating book The Bugnini Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform, the Hungarian musicologist and liturgist Lázló Dobszay laments the loss of the Chant in the liturgy of the post-conciliar church. One of his most frequent objections to much post-Vatican II liturgical practice is that attempts to set antiphon texts for the Novus Ordo has given way to what he terms ‘insertion music’ ie strophic hymns, or has contented itself with settings that cannot of their nature bring out the full meaning of the Scriptures. Perhaps increased celebration of the Missa Cantata in the now commonly know as Gregorian Rite encouraged by the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum will remind the faithful that the chant has for centuries successfully and beautifully rendered vocal the precise texts of the liturgical books. Nor should the complexity of the chants of the Graduale put people off – the Graduale Simplex (for the Novus Ordo), the Chants abrégés (a wonderful resource containing simplified chants for the Gradual, Alleluia and Tract) and even the Rossini propers allow even the most modest choir to sing the proper texts of the Mass in either ordinary or extraordinary form. The Church Music Association of America’s spectacular website provides us with every possible resource to achieve this, and all free of charge – I commend to you a thorough exploration of the resources available through

Moving away from the Chant and more towards the general situation of church music in the present day, we find a contradiction between the Church’s historic practice and the present day preference for what Dobszay terms ‘utility music’, whose usefulness at the Liturgy consists in encouraging vocal participation by the people however minimal the artistic standards of the music concerned. This brings up the much-debated question of the nature of participation – the conciliar ACTUAL participation, and the mistranslation often used to justify such impoverished musical contributions – ACTIVE participation. Such a deliberately misguided interpretation of the aims of the Second Vatican Council has given us the increasingly grim impoverishment which follows when beauty for its own sake is banished from the Church.

To return to Cardinal Ratzinger’s writings: One shudders at the lacklustre face of the postconciliar Liturgy as it has become, or one is bored with its banality and its lack of artistic standards. He raises more than a question of taste when he adds in this connexion that such utilitarianism will soon percolate into attitudes to the Liturgy itself, to the Church herself and indeed to the rest of theological reality. He found implicit in this pragmatic and minimalist standpoint a catalogue of errors:

a functionalism which asks only what works for the man in the market-place, an iconoclasm suspicious of beautiful form as such, a congregationalism which rejects the corporate treasury of musica sacra in the name of what appeals to some group here and now, and a Puritanism which fails to recognise the importance of splendour as an intrinsic dimension of the festal. Reverence, receptivity and the humility that is ready to serve by participating in the great works that have already issued forth necessarily stand at the beginning of great sacred music. (Benedict XVI)

Of course, Gregorian Chant is not the only music of the Roman Rite. Sacrosanctum Concilium reminds us also of the wealth and beauty of the polyphonic repertoire, and of the need for new generations of composers to work in the service of the Liturgy. The contemporary composer of sacred music in the wake of the Council has phenomenal possibilities, but always in continuity with the best of tradition – as the council fathers remind us, the contemporary composer of sacred music is not working alone, in isolation, but at the end of a long line of liturgical musicians stretching back through Bruckner, Mozart, Byrd, Gombert and the medieval chant-writers whose names we know not.

So where does this leave us now? We are faced with dwindling numbers attending Mass on a regular basis. We are faced with rapidly emptying convents, monasteries and religious houses. We are faced with dwindling vocations to the secular priesthood – back home in Southwark we are fortunate to be sending eight seminarians to study this year. However, in Wales, where I grew up, a Benedictine friend of mine informs me that there has not had a successful vocation to the Archdiocese of Cardiff for five years. The same can be said for several other dioceses across the UK. We are we are faced with a society that neither know nor cares about God.

However, it is worth pointing out some positive facts. Some of the newer monastic foundations, notably in France, are flourishing – I refer mainly to those institutions which have revived the Missal of 1962 and restored the Latin Office. Le Barroux (and its foundation), Notre Dame de Fontgombault, Notre Dame de Randol, Notre Dame de Triors and the Canons Regular of Lagrasse. The FSSP, the Institute of Christ the King and the Institute of St Philip Neri in Berlin are also flourishing. The Monastery of Solesmes, which has an exclusively Latin, Gregorian Liturgy, in their case rooted in the Novus Ordo, does not lack vocations. The Oxford Oratory, after having been forced to turn away vocations for years due to a lack of space, is now building a new wing so as to take on some of the many young men who wish to give their lives in the service of God through the Oratory of St Philip Neri. The recent renaissance in the Liturgy, brought about largely by Summorum pontificum, has also healed schism, in the case of the Transalpine Redemptorists, and has thrown open new windows for dialogue between the Church and separated groups such as the SSPX, the members of which are currently anticipating a lifting of their excommunication following that of their bishops in yet another generous gesture from our Holy Father.

There has been a recent spate of interest in Gregorian Chant, with workshops all over the UK and the US, not to mention non-English speaking countries, and new choirs being established, full of young men and women eager to embrace music which challenges and stretches them, which is both educating and edifying, and which gives glory to Almighty God.

I have been fortunate enough to combine my work at the Cathedral with teaching at the London Oratory School, a post I held for 7 years. The boys there are taught the Chant from the age of seven, and they sing their paternoster and their Marian antiphons with gusto, as well as their classical masses, Palestrina motets and newly-composed works written for the post-conciliar liturgy by composers such as James MacMillan and Roxanna Panufnik. The Music Department is staffed by a dedicated team of professional musicians, under the leadership of Lee Ward, who also directs the famous London Oratory School Schola, and the School is leading the way among Catholic Schools in the teaching of liturgical music to boys and girls of all ages and abilities. The pupils are not interested in passing musical fads, in liturgical imitations of music that their parents once danced to in the 70s and 80s! Children, more than any of us perhaps, are only too well aware of what is passing, and what is timeless. They recognise and appreciate quality. They understand when they are being stretched and when they are being led to an understanding and appreciation of something truly great. Young people know when they are being patronised, when things are dumbed-down, and when people of previous generations try to ‘get down to their level’ by eschewing quality and artistic merit in favour of pop-like ditties in order to encourage them back to Mass. It is these children who are the future of the Church, and it is our duty to bequeath to them an understanding and appreciation of the power of real church music to lead people to God.

I spoke earlier of the renewal of the liturgy in various religious houses and congregations. This renewal in the liturgy is inseparable from a renewal in liturgical music. Perhaps more than any other art form, music is able to both clothe the Liturgy and reach the hearts of the faithful in a unique way. The Church recognises this fact, and has emphasised it throughout Her history, up to, including and beyond the Second Vatican Council. We ignore her teaching at our peril.

There is a new mood within the world of professional church musicians in the years following the election of our Sovereign Pontiff. His love for the liturgy and music, and his recent pronouncements, have given us hope and encouragement. The renewed interest in the Chant is spreading to the parishes and the schools, and the renewed interest and celebration of the Usus antiquior is, as the Holy Father intended, beginning to have an effect on the celebration of the Novus Ordo, and vice versa. I have been asked to speak to the CCDM (Catholic Cathedral Directors of Music Conference) in Salford this year and to direct chant classes for them – in response to this renewed interest in the Chant. The musical provision for the Usus antiquior was also the topic for an enlightened homily given at the last CCDM conference in Liverpool by a priest of the Metropolitan Cathedral. This is all very positive indeed.

The new liturgical texts prepared by ICEL present us with a unique opportunity – that of being able to discard vast numbers of, frankly, shoddy, banal settings, and has given composers the chance to look, once again, at settings of the Mass. The new texts have a poetry lacking in the last translation, and lend themselves more easily and fluently to musical setting. The recent proclamation concerning the use of the tetragrammaton will remove from the hymn repertoire various liturgical songs of questionable theological, musical and poetic substance, and the Church’s keenness that we should begin to use the proper antiphon texts, in place of strophic hymns, will not only please Mr Dobszay, but give composers a fresh opportunity to look at those parts of the Mass which have been so shamefully ignored for the past 30 years. It is also worth noting at this point that Dobszay is currently working on an ‘English Gradual’, with assistance from many of my fellow UK Catholic Church musicians – I look forward to seeing the fruits of their labours, though I remain sceptical as to the setting of vernacular text to a Gregorian repertoire so intrinsically linked to the Latin text for which it was created.

I make no apology when I say that I hope that the years of experimental liturgy and music are over, and that we can, as the Holy Father wishes, return to a more dignified, solemn celebration of Holy Mass and begin, once more, to offer music that is worthy of the worship of Almighty God, who has given us this great gift in order that we might glorify Him. St Augustine reminds us Qui cantat, bis orat; he who sings prays twice. I hope that henceforth our prayers will include the development of music in our monasteries and convents, in our parishes, cathedrals and schools, and the musicians who are working so hard in order to facilitate good musical practice for the glory of God. And for vocations to our convents and monasteries – may our music lead people to a greater knowledge and love of God.

Bless O Lord our hearts and our minds
and grant that what we sing with our lips we may believe in our hearts,
and what we believe in our hearts we may practise and show forth in our daily lives.
Through Christ our Lord, Amen. Ss Gregory and Cecilia, pray for us.

Nick Gale, September 2009


Doxology and Amen

“Doxology” comes from a Greek word meaning “words of praise.” The Eucharistic Prayer ends with a doxology addressed to the triune God: “Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever.” It is an exclamation of praise, honor, and glory to God, reminding us that we receive everything from God through the Son, in the power of the Spirit. At the consecration, the priest held up the host and then the chalice for us to see and adore. During the doxology, the host and chalice are held up again, but this time they are held up and offered to God the Father. With the doxology, the Eucharistic Prayer ends, as it began, with words of praise addressed to the Father: truly, it is right and just to give God praise, and we assent to this in our whole-hearted acclamation, “Amen.” Never was more meaning packed into so short a word. This “Amen,” sometimes and fittingly called “the great Amen,” is our response to the entire Eucharistic Prayer. — Corinna Laughlin, © Copyright, J. S. Paluch Co.

Proper Disposing of the Sacramentary on November 27, 2011

We are quickly approaching the new liturgical year. On teh First Sunday of Advent, we will innagurate the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal. Many questions have come forth asking what we are to do with the then abbrogated Sacramentary. The Adoramus Bulliten republished selections of the USCCB’s Committee on Divine Worship Newsletter that addresses these questions.

How to Dispose of Liturgical Books

In the March-April Newsletter of the US bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship, the Secretariat responded to questions about the disposition of copies of the current Sacramentary once the new Roman Missal has been implemented. Following are excerpts from the response:

“There is relatively little written about exactly what to do with liturgical books which have been replaced by updated or revised editions, but some related writings, as well as some common sense, can provide some context…

“Whether or not the Sacramentary has been blessed by an official rite, it is appropriate to treat it with care as it has been admitted into liturgical use. Its disposal should be handled with respect. The Secretariat recommends burying the Sacramentary in an appropriate location on church grounds, or perhaps in a parish cemetery if there is one.… In lieu of burying old liturgical books, they could be burned, and the ashes placed in the ground in an appropriate location on church grounds. It is advisable to retain a copy of the Sacramentary for parish archives or liturgical libraries”.

The Newsletter mentions the new Missals may be blessed before use, and that this “could take place during a Mass on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, at the last weekday Mass prior to the First Sunday of Advent, or outside Mass at a separate gathering of liturgical ministers or other parish leaders”.

Regarding outdated hymnals and other participation aids (such as hand missals) some copies may be kept for archives or might be “offered to parishioners for their own private devotional use, or donated to other small communities that could effectively make use of them”, the Newsletter said. However, annual hymnals and periodical participation aids should be discarded after their prescribed period of use and cannot be retained for other uses.

Source: BCDW Newsletter, Vol. XLVII, March-April 2011