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Saturday, February 26, 2011

The case against Lord of the Dance

One of the songs on my list of questionable pieces in GIA's forthcoming version of Worship IV is Lord of the Dance, the lyrics having been written by Sydney Carter.  Inasmuch as the song has been a part of GIA's repertoire since the days of Worship II, I was hoping that the publishing house would finally purge the piece out of its rotation.
While the Shaker melody may not necessarily be the ideal music for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the lyrics, themselves, I believe, border on heresy.

Here are the lyrics:

I danced in the morning when the world was young
I danced in the moon, and the stars, and the sun
I came down from Heaven and I danced on the Earth
At Bethlehem I had my birth

Dance, then, wherever you may be
I am the lord of the dance said he
And I lead you all wherever you may be
And I lead you all in the dance said he

I danced for the Pharoah and the pharisees
They wouldn't dance, they wouldn't follow me
I danced for the fishermen James and John
They came with me so the dance went on

Dance, then, wherever you may be
I am the lord of the dance said he
And I lead you all wherever you may be
And I lead you all in the dance said he

I danced on the Sabbath and I cured the lame
The holy people said it was a shame
They ripped me and they stripped me and they hung me high
Left me there on the cross to die

Dance, then, wherever you may be
I am the lord of the dance said he
And I lead you all wherever you may be
And I lead you all in the dance said he

I danced on a Friday when the world turned black
It's hard to dance with the devil on your back
They buried my body; they thought I was gone
But I am the dance, and the dance goes on

Dance, then, wherever you may be
I am the lord of the dance said he
And I lead you all wherever you may be
And I lead you all in the dance said he.

While these words may seem innocuous, that may not necessarily be the case.  Upon doing some research, I found similarities to the heretical Acts of John, which purports itself to have been written by the beloved Apostle, himself.   This particular "Acts" is part of the writings of the gnostics, a misguided group of souls that believed that the body was bad and that only the spiritual was good. What this song does is, in effect, reduce the salviffic acts of our Redemption to a mere prancing around the global stage and does not take the glorious work of Jesus very seriously. It makes light of Jesus' supreme sacrifice.

Here is the section from the "Acts" in question:

Grace danceth. I would pipe; dance ye all. Amen.

I would mourn: lament ye all. Amen.

The number Eight (lit. one ogdoad) singeth praise with us. Amen.

The number Twelve danceth on high. Amen.

Whole on high hath part in our dancing. Amen.

Whoso danceth not, knoweth not what cometh to pass. Amen.

A door am I to thee that knockest at me. Amen.

A way am I to thee a wayfarer. [amen].

96 Now answer thou (or as thou respondest) unto my dancing. Behold thyself in me who speak, and seeing what I do, keep silence about my mysteries.

Thou that dancest, perceive what I do, for thine is this passion of the manhood, which I am about to suffer. For thou couldest not at all have understood what thou sufferest if I had not been sent unto thee, as the word of the Father. Thou that sawest what I suffer sawest me as suffering, and seeing it thou didst not abide but wert wholly moved, moved to make wise. Thou hast me as a bed, rest upon me. Who I am, thou shalt know when I depart. What now I am seen to be, that I am not. Thou shalt see when thou comest. If thou hadst known how to suffer, thou wouldest have been able not to suffer. Learn thou to suffer, and thou shalt be able not to suffer. What thou knowest not, I myself will teach thee. Thy God am I, not the God of the traitor. I would keep tune with holy souls. In me know thou the word of wisdom. Again with me say thou: Glory be to thee, Father; glory to thee, Word; glory to thee, Holy Ghost. And if thou wouldst know concerning me, what I was, know that with a word did I deceive all things and I was no whit deceived. I have leaped: but do thou understand the whole, and having understood it, say: Glory be to thee, Father. Amen.

97 Thus, my beloved, having danced with us the Lord went forth.
Here is more from the false "Acts":

101 Nothing, therefore, of the things which they will say of me have I suffered: nay, that suffering also which I showed unto thee and the rest in the dance, I will that it be called a mystery. For what thou art, thou seest, for I showed it thee; but what I am I alone know, and no man else. Suffer me then to keep that which is mine, and that which is thine behold thou through me, and behold me in truth, that I am, not what I said, but what thou art able to know, because thou art akin thereto. Thou hearest that I suffered, yet did I not suffer; that I suffered not, yet did I suffer; that I was pierced, yet I was not smitten; hanged, and I was not hanged; that blood flowed from me, and it flowed not; and, in a word, what they say of me, that befell me not, but what they say not, that did I suffer. Now what those things are I signify unto thee, for I know that thou wilt understand. Perceive thou therefore in me the praising (al. slaying al. rest) of the (or a) Word (Logos), the piercing of the Word, the blood of the Word, the wound of the Word, the hanging up of the Word, the suffering of the Word, the nailing (fixing) of the Word, the death of the Word. And so speak I, separating off the manhood. Perceive thou therefore in the first place of the Word; then shalt thou perceive the Lord, and in the third place the man, and what he hath suffered.
102 When he had spoken unto me these things, and others which I know not how to say as he would have me, he was taken up, no one of the multitudes having beheld him. And when I went down I laughed them all to scorn, inasmuch as he had told me the things which they have said concerning him; holding fast this one thing in myself, that the Lord contrived all things symbolically and by a dispensation toward men, for their conversion and salvation.

The heretical Acts of John aren't necessarily clear what this "dance" is.  It seems to me that both this gnostic text and Carter's lyrics reduce the great acts of our Redemption to a leap and a prance. That does not make for good Catholic theology.   Unfortunately, gnosticism rears its ugly head ever so often. Lord of the Dance is just one of those instances.

The Passion of Jesus is not something to be taken lightly. Jesus did not float through the Passion, as this song would suggest. He didn't waltz through the agony. He didn't promenade throughout the beatings, the scourgings and the humiliation. The Blessed Mother wasn't dancingnd  around in front of the Cross, nor were Sts. John and Mary Magdalene for that matter.

The Lord of the Dance is based on some heretical and alleged gnostic text, but, it is not the true Gospel. As St. Paul tells us, he is not preaching to us some cleverly concocted myth. He preaches to us Christ crucified. Crucifixion means suffering and wounds, not some tip-toe through the proverbial tulips.

To reduce the Passion, Crucifixion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ to some prancing and dancing is to entirely miss the point of everything He endured for us. It is to make a mockery of his sufferings. 

When Sydney Carter was interviewed about the piece, even his own explanation and justification was somewhat odd.  Here is what he says:

"I see Christ as the incarnation of the piper who is calling us. He dances that shape and pattern which is at the heart of our reality. By Christ I mean not only Jesus; in other times and places, other planets, there may be other Lords of the Dance. But Jesus is the one I know of first and best. I sing of the dancing pattern in the life and words of Jesus."

Evidently, he also seems to have also gotten his inspiration from a statue of a dancing Shiva that he had on his desk.  I do not believe that is how inspiration for composing music used for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass works.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Possible Shape of Things to Come

If only this beautiful picture of Sacred Music could be an audible experience that any parish could experience on a regular basis.  However, the reality is, for the most part, the four-hymn sandwich.

One curious side-effect of the coming corrected (as Fr. Z calls it) English translation of the Roman Missal is that some of the music publishes are, in turn, revising their own musical offerings.  GIA, known as the Gregorian Institute of America, is currently preparing the fourth installment of its Worship hymnal.

Here is a PDF of what could be things to come:

At first glance, things seem to look well.  GIA certainly gets high marks for giving pre-eminence to the ICEL chant settings (which will appear in the coming Roman Missal).  The ICEL settings appear front and center.   The Mass settings by the late Richard Proulx also show up, although the Mass of the City seems to be missing (he may nor may not have revised the original prior to his death). 

However, when one comes to the actual song list, there are some glaring pieces whose inclusion seems to boggle the mind.   Before delving into some of the questionable pieces, I direct your attention to Sacramentum Caritatis No. 42:

Liturgical song
42. In the ars celebrandi, liturgical song has a pre-eminent place. (126) Saint Augustine rightly says in a famous sermon that "the new man sings a new song. Singing is an expression of joy and, if we consider the matter, an expression of love" (127). The People of God assembled for the liturgy sings the praises of God. In the course of her two-thousand-year history, the Church has created, and still creates, music and songs which represent a rich patrimony of faith and love. This heritage must not be lost. Certainly as far as the liturgy is concerned, we cannot say that one song is as good as another. Generic improvisation or the introduction of musical genres which fail to respect the meaning of the liturgy should be avoided. As an element of the liturgy, song should be well integrated into the overall celebration (128). Consequently everything -- texts, music, execution -- ought to correspond to the meaning of the mystery being celebrated, the structure of the rite and the liturgical seasons (129). Finally, while respecting various styles and different and highly praiseworthy traditions, I desire, in accordance with the request advanced by the Synod Fathers, that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed (130) as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy (131).

In my opinion, there are some selections that, unfortunately, would fall under the category of "generic improvisation".  In addition, these questionable pieces involve the "introduction of musical genres which fail to respect the meaning of the liturgy".  In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, these "should be avoided".

These are the songs that I believe do not meet the test presented in SC No. 42:

Amazing Grace (questionable theology more than anything, as it promotes a Calvinistic view of grace)
Gather Us In
Glory and Praise to Our God
Here I Am, Lord
I Danced in the Morning (singificantly waters down the sacred Paschal Mystery and is somewhat heretical)
One Bread, One Body
Pan de Vida
Pescador de Hombres
We are Many Parts
We Remember

Three of these come from Marty Haugen, one of GIA's composers   Gather Us In.  We are Many Parts and We Remember not only  have a musical genre that does not quite respect the meaning of the liturgy, they also water down significantly the sacred mysteries that unfold before us at every Mass.  In We Remember, Haugen refers to the litrgy as a simple meal, when it is more than that, it is both the Holy Sacrifice and the Sacred Banquet.  Gather Us In  is more a celebration of the community than a hymn of praise.  It is as though the community is doing everything, especially in the second verse of the song.  We are Many Parts also places undue emphasis on the role of the faithful and makes them the principle actor, when the focus and the orientation should be on Christ.  While Pescador de Hombres also places undue emphasis on the individual, it is also, sadly, misused as a Communion song when the piece has nothing to do with the Holy Eucharist.

Amazing Grace is based on a false Calvinist theology concerning salvation.  It is not consistent with Catholic theology.  Just because other Catholic publishers include this song in their collections, that does not necessarily justify its use for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  The songs to be included for the Mass need to accurately reflect Catholic teaching as well as the Church's sacramental and liturgical theology.

Alabare has musicality that is not consistent with the sacred nature of the Mass.  The same holds true for most of the selections.  Sadly, they sound more along the lines of pop songs that were in vogue at the time that these pieces were written.  Here I Am, Lord has a tune that sounds, oddly enough, as though it could be merged with the theme from a 1970s situation comedy.  One Bread, One Body also sounds like pop music that was popular in the 1970s. 

 I Danced in the Morning  has serious theological issues that border on heresy.  It makes light of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord.  It is something that, in my opinion, has no real place in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  Musically, this piece might be better suited for the actual "Lord of the Dance" productions than for the liturgy.

Perhaps GIA should use some of the writings of the Supreme Pontiffs as benchmarks by which to measure the music that is presented for publication.  The Venerable Pope John Paul II certainly makes some very concrete observations.  Please note what he writes in his Chirograph on Sacred Music:

4. In continuity with the teachings of St Pius X and the Second Vatican Council, it is necessary first of all to emphasize that music destined for sacred rites must have holiness as its reference point:  indeed, "sacred music increases in holiness to the degree that it is intimately linked with liturgical action"[11]. For this very reason, "not all without distinction that is outside the temple (profanum) is fit to cross its threshold", my venerable Predecessor Paul VI wisely said, commenting on a Decree of the Council of Trent[12]. And he explained that "if music - instrumental and vocal - does not possess at the same time the sense of prayer, dignity and beauty, it precludes the entry into the sphere of the sacred and the religious"[13]. Today, moreover, the meaning of the category "sacred music" has been broadened to include repertoires that cannot be part of the celebration without violating the spirit and norms of the Liturgy itself.

St Pius X's reform aimed specifically at purifying Church music from the contamination of profane theatrical music that in many countries had polluted the repertoire and musical praxis of the Liturgy. In our day too, careful thought, as I emphasized in the Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, should be given to the fact that not all the expressions of figurative art or of music are able "to express adequately the mystery grasped in the fullness of the Church's faith"[14]. Consequently, not all forms of music can be considered suitable for liturgical celebrations.

5. Another principle, affirmed by St Pius X in the Motu Proprio Tra le Sollecitudini and which is closely connected with the previous one, is that of sound form. There can be no music composed for the celebration of sacred rites which is not first of all "true art" or which does not have that efficacy "which the Church aims at obtaining in admitting into her Liturgy the art of musical sounds"[15].
Even as the former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI made a very strong case for care in choosing particular styles of music for use in the Mass.  In his book, The Spirit of the Liturgy, he writes that:

On the one hand, there is pop music, which is certainly no longer supported by the people in the ancient sense (populus). It is aimed at the phenomenon of the masses, is industrially produced, and ultimately has to be described as a cult of the banal. "Rock", on the other hand, is the expression of elemental passions, and at rock festivals it assumes a cultic character, a form of worship, in fact, in opposition to Christian worship. People are, so to speak, released from themselves by the emotional shock of rhythm, noise, and special lighting effects. However, in the ecstasy of having all their defenses torn down, the participants sink, as it were, beneath the elemental force of the universe. The music of the Holy Spirit's sober inebriation seems to have little chance when self has become a prison, the mind is a shackle, and breaking out from both appears as a true promise of redemption that can be tasted at least for a few moments.

One could argue that these are his opinions.  However, these are not ordinary opinions.  These are the thoughts of the prefect who became Pope Benedict XVI.  In fact, it is not too much of a stretch to find similarities between what he wrote in The Spirit of the Liturgy and what he wrote in Sacramentum Caritatis, specifically No. 42.

The settings for the Mass are also cause for concern.   While I applaud GIA's inclusion of the ICEL settings, I question the reasoning behind repeated insistence on the use of a responsorial Gloria.  The Gloria was never meant to be sung in a responsorial manner. Furthermore, the excessive musical introductions to some of the Mass settings make me wonder if GIA's composers are putting the liturgy at the service of the music when it should be the other way around.  I would suggest that perhaps GIA might look into using the setting that McMillan composed for use during the Holy Father's visit to the UK in September 2010.  The setting is called "Mass for Blessed John Henry Newman".  It is excellent music and certainly befitting of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Even though, perhaps, one could make the case that we have Sing to the Lord as a guide, the entire document is only binding when it cites what the Holy See has promulgated, since "SttL" does not have the recognitio of the Holy See.

GIA, in my opinion, has always been superior to OCP in many respects.  However, when GIA starts including some of the OCP songs into their books, it does, in my opinion, lessen the quality of the music the company is offering to parishes.  Even within GIA's own composers, I do find some instances where perhaps a study of Sacramentum Caritatis No. 42 would also be in order. 

I care deeply about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the form of music that is used for it.  The law of prayer is the law of belief.  The music used for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should reflect this essential truth.  

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Marriage Takes Three

In an interview with a British journalist, the late Diana, Princess of Wales, famously lamented that the reason why her marriage to Prince Charles failed was because "there were three people" involved:  Diana, Charles and Camilla.

In one sense, the late princess was correct, but, in another, she was sadly mistaken.  Obviously, the other woman's presence was wrong.  However, the real third person in the marriage seems to have been either ignored or never even invited.   A good and holy marriage actually entails the involvement of three people.  The husband, the wife and Christ.  In the Church's Rite of Marriage, the priest (or deacon) tells the couple that "Christ abundantly blesses this love.  He has already consecrated you in baptism."  Christ sanctified the Sacrament of Marriage by his presence and participation in the Cana Wedding feast.  He was not merely a guest; He was the integral element.  Furthermore, Christ is the embodiment of marriage because in His person is the eternal union between God and man.

Sadly, it seems that this aspect of marriage appears lost.  This evening, I was watching the local television news.  The reporter covered a story about an upcoming bridal fair that the station was going to be sponsoring in two weeks.  The angle the reporter took was that due to the economic situation, many brides and grooms are adopting cost-cutting measures when planning their weddings.  One of these cost-cutting measures involves combining the venue for the wedding and the reception. 

The reporter interviewed a bride who said that she thought it was a great idea.  She could have her red-carpet moment down the aisle and then have the reception of her dreams all in one place.   In fairness to the bride, I was not sure if she was Catholic; however, given the statiscial data for our little corner of the South Texas border, there was probably a good chance that she was.  Somehow, I don't think that she meant going from the church into the parish hall.

I am not a crumudgeon when it comes to romance.  However, I think that our culture fixates too much on the magic of the moment and the fairy tale.  Our culture forgets that while a wedding may last a few hours, a marriage lasts a lifetime.  Perhaps the bigger issue is where Christ  fits into all of this.  Sure, Charles and Diana had a grand church ceremony, but, was the marriage grounded in a solid Christian principle?  Was the real "third person" somehow left behind in the magnificent grandeur of St. Paul's Cathedral? 

And what of the bride in tonight's news piece?  Perhaps she and her future groom, if he, too, is Catholic, are not properly catechized in the Faith to know that they run the risk of entering into an invalid marriage.  Some will blame the Church for making couples wait six months before they get married.  However, this waiting period is to ensure that the couple receive the proper formation and guidance from both their pastor and the diocese.  The Church cares about the welfare of her children, especially when they are about to embark on a lifelong commitment.  The Church wants to ensure that the man and the woman know what they are about to do.  The Church also wants to make sure that when the couple does enter into marriage, Christ will be more than a guest at the wedding.  He will be an intergral, permanent part of the marriage.

Sadly, though, this does not seem to be the message that engaged couples are getting in the media and at bridal fairs.  In fairness to the secular media and the bridal industry, perhaps this is not their message to give. 

I pray for the young bride and her intended.  I also pray for Prince William, Charles' and Diana's son, and his own bride, Catherine Middleton.  I pray that these young couples will come to the realization that a marriage does, in fact, need three people:  the husband, the wife, and Christ.  May Christ abundantly bless their love.  May these couples, in turn, invite Him not only to the weddings, but to be an integral part of their marriages.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Who Preaches is Just as Important

Fr. Z alerted readers to a sad development in the Twin Cities (Minnesota) area.  As noted in the Star Tribune's online blog by writer Rose French:

At a recent Sunday Mass at St. Edward Catholic church in Bloomington, a woman stepped up to the podium on the altar -- and started to preach.

For at least one parishioner, the act of a female lay person (albeit with a master’s degree in theology from St. Paul seminary) addressing the congregation during the homily portion of the worship service was too out of bounds.

So the parishioner contacted the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis after the Jan. 23 service. And not long after, the Rev. Peter Laird, the archdiocese vicar general, spoke to St. Edward’s pastor, the Rev. Mike Tegeder, about the situation.

According to Tegeder, Laird said it was not appropriate for a lay person to preach during the homily, the part of the Mass when priests or deacons usually reflect on the Gospel and scripture. Tegeder said Laird indicated it was only OK for lay people to preach or make comments after Holy Communion, near the end of Mass.

Tegeder, however, stands by his move to allow the woman to address the congregation about the issue of adult faith formation at St. Edward, an area she’s in charge of leading at the church -- one of the largest in the Twin Cities with nearly 6,400 members.

Tegeder maintains lay parishioners have many skills and gifts to offer churches and their talents should not be wasted.

“She probably is more competent than most priests when it comes to putting together a good message,” said Tegeder, a frequent critic of Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt. “She has basically the same training as a priest.”
As many parishes across the country (including those in the Twin Cities) struggle with a growing shortage of priests, lay participation in church ministry (or lack thereof) can have very real impact on a church’s existence, proponents of lay preachers say. Also, they maintain that lay preachers allow for a diversity of voices and views to be heard within the church.

For decades, the Catholic Church did allow for lay followers to preach during Mass -- a practice approved of in the 1960s at the Vatican II council. The idea behind lay preaching was to encourage greater participation by non-clergy members in the Mass and other church activities.

In 2004, however, the Vatican amended the practice to say lay people could only preach or make comments following Holy Communion, near the end of Mass.

Twin Cities archdiocese spokesman Dennis McGrath said the archdiocese is following the policies of the Vatican.

“The purpose of the homily at the Mass is to interpret the Gospel,” McGrath said. “Normally a priest is far more qualified to deliver that message. Also there’s an opportunity there for wrong teaching or misinterpretation (with lay preachers).”

Tegeder said the woman parishioner is scheduled to preach at an April 11 Lenten penance service at St. Edward’s, which is not a Mass. He’d also like her to preach at a Mass celebrating Mother’s Day in May. He said he’s not sure yet if he’ll ask her to preach during the homily or after communion.

This is wrong on so many levels.  Fr. Z pointed out that "lay preaching" is outright forbidden by Redemptionis Sacramentum:

[64.] The homily, which is given in the course of the celebration of Holy Mass and is a part of the Liturgy itself,142 "should ordinarily be given by the Priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it to a concelebrating Priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, to a Deacon, but never to a layperson.143 In particular cases and for a just cause, the homily may even be given by a Bishop or a Priest who is present at the celebration but cannot concelebrate".144

[65.] It should be borne in mind that any previous norm that may have admitted non-ordained faithful to give the homily during the Eucharistic celebration is to be considered abrogated by the norm of canon 767 §1.145 This practice is reprobated, so that it cannot be permitted to attain the force of custom.

However,  while Ms. French states that the Vatican issued this mandate in 2004, it seems to me that she did not do her homework.  Ecclesia de Mysterio, what many consider to be the precursor to Redemptionis Sacramentum, states that:

The homily, therefore, during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, must be reserved to the sacred minister, Priest or Deacon(69) to the exclusion of the non-ordained faithful, even if these should have responsibilities as "pastoral assistants" or catechists in whatever type of community or group. This exclusion is not based on the preaching ability of sacred ministers nor their theological preparation, but on that function which is reserved to them in virtue of having received the Sacrament of Holy Orders. For the same reason the diocesan Bishop cannot validly dispense from the canonical norm(70) since this is not merely a disciplinary law but one which touches upon the closely connected functions of teaching and sanctifying

Fr. Tegeder extols the woman's gifts .  However, this is not about how wonderful a speaker she may be; it is about the fact that because she is not ordained to the diaconate nor to the priesthood, she cannot preach during the Mass.

As a woman, I am not offended in the least that I cannot preach.  In fact,  I find both Fr. Tegeder's actions and the woman's cooperation in this matter troubling and disconcerting.   The norms and rubrics that the Church mandates for her liturgies are there to give us the freedom to worship God in a proper and authentic form.  From the very beginning of the Church's history, Christ charged the Apostles and their successors, the bishops, and their collaborators, the priests and the deacons, with the duty of preaching the Word of God.   Women like St. Mary Magdalene and Sussanna, gave of their time and resources to minister to Jesus and tend to the welfare of the Apostolic band.   The Blessed Mother, for her part, constantly reminds us to "do whatever He tells you."

This "doing whatever He tells you" also means obeying the mandates of the Church in their entirety. 

Sadly, Fr. Tegeder is not the only one who seems to see fit to disregard and defy the mandates of the Holy See.   There have been instances when even those who are studying for the priesthood, the seminarians, have taken the pulpit during the time reserved for the celebrant to preach the homily.  Redemptionis Sacramentum also applies to them as well:

[66.] The prohibition of the admission of laypersons to preach within the Mass applies also to seminarians, students of theological disciplines, and those who have assumed the function of those known as "pastoral assistants"; nor is there to be any exception for any other kind of layperson, or group, or community, or association.146
This repeats the language found in Ecclesia de Mysterio, which also states that:

For the same reason, the practice, on some occasions, of entrusting the preaching of the homily to seminarians or theology students who are not clerics(71) is not permitted. Indeed, the homily should not be regarded as a training for some future ministry.
Vocations Directors should know better than to allow this.  Seminarians should also know better.   If seminarians and the laity feel this compelling need to preach, they can certainly do this away from the Church's liturgical celebrations.   Even Fr. Tegeder's suggestion that the woman in question preach during the Lenten communal penance celebration is suspect.  Inasmuch as this is not the Mass, because this service is done in conjunction with the Sacrament of Penance, it should, I believe, fall to the priest to do.  

If Fr. Tegeder believes that the woman has gifts, perhaps she can share them by writing weekly reflections in the bulletin (so long as they remain consistent with Church teaching).

In any event, we should pray for Fr. Tegeder and other pastors who allow the laity (seminarians, included) to preach.  We should pray to St. John Vianney that he intercede and guide these individuals to follow with docile humility what the Church requires.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Importance of the Chair

Today, the Universal Church marks the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter.   The Church invites us to reflect on the meaning of the authority of the Holy Father as the Successor of St. Peter. 

Authority, in the eyes of the Church, is always tied to servanthood.  We see this most profoundly expressed in the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper.  In St. John's Gospel account, Jesus, who is Lord and Master, takes on the posture of a slave:

He cometh therefore to Simon Peter. And Peter saith to him: Lord, dost thou wash my feet? [7] Jesus answered, and said to him: What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. [8] Peter saith to him: Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him: If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with me. [9] Simon Peter saith to him: Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head. [10] Jesus saith to him: He that is washed, needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly. And you are clean, but not all.
[11] For he knew who he was that would betray him; therefore he said: You are not all clean. [12] Then after he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, being set down again, he said to them: Know you what I have done to you? [13] You call me Master, and Lord; and you say well, for so I am. [14] If then I being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another's feet. [15] For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also.
One of the Holy Father's titles is "Servant of the Servants of God."   While the Holy Father does not literally bend down and wash our feet, the Vicar of Christ spends himself in the service of the Church on a daily basis.

Part of this service involves his ministry as the Church's chief teacher.  When he speaks officially, he does so ex cathedra, from the Chair.  In this case, that Chair is housed at the Basilica of St. John Lateran.  Perhaps the best explanation of this important aspect of the Petrine office comes from Pope Benedict XVI, himself, in the homily he preached the day he took possession of the Cathedra at the Lateran Basilica, the Pope's Cathedral:

The power and grace required for this service are conferred upon Bishops through the sacrament of Episcopal Ordination. In this network of witnesses, the Successor of Peter has a special task. It was Peter who, on the Apostles' behalf, made the first profession of faith: "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God" (Mt 16: 16).

This is the task of all Peter's Successors: to be the guide in the profession of faith in Christ, Son of the living God. The Chair of Rome is above all the Seat of this belief. From high up on this Chair the Bishop of Rome is constantly bound to repeat: Dominus Iesus - "Jesus is Lord", as Paul wrote in his Letters to the Romans (10: 9) and to the Corin-thians (I Cor 12: 3). To the Corinthians he stressed: "Even though there are so-called gods in the heavens and on the earth... for us there is one God, the Father... and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom everything was made and through whom we live" (I Cor 8: 5).
The Chair of Peter obliges all who hold it to say, as Peter said during a crisis time among the disciples when so many wanted to leave him: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe; we are convinced that you are God's holy one" (Jn 6: 68 ff.).
The One who sits on the Chair of Peter must remember the Lord's words to Simon Peter at the Last Supper: "...You in turn must strengthen your brothers" (Lk 22: 32). The one who holds the office of the Petrine ministry must be aware that he is a frail and weak human being - just as his own powers are frail and weak - and is constantly in need of purification and conversion.

But he can also be aware that the power to strengthen his brethren in the faith and keep them united in the confession of the Crucified and Risen Christ comes from the Lord. In St Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, we find the oldest account we have of the Resurrection. Paul faithfully received it from the witnesses. This account first speaks of Christ's death for our sins, of his burial and of his Resurrection which took place the third day, and then says: "[Christ] was seen by Cephas, then by the Twelve..." (I Cor 15: 4). Thus, the importance of the mandate conferred upon Peter to the end of time is summed up: being a witness of the Risen Christ.

The Bishop of Rome sits upon the Chair to bear witness to Christ. Thus, the Chair is the symbol of the potestas docendi, the power to teach that is an essential part of the mandate of binding and loosing which the Lord conferred on Peter, and after him, on the Twelve.
Interestingly enough, even though the Holy Father preached these words on the Solemnity of the Ascension, they incorporate some of today's antiphons and readings.  In today's Entrance Antiphon, Jesus tells St. Peter that he is to strengthen his brothers in the Faith.  In today's Gospel, the key scriptural reference to the Petrine ministry, Peter makes the profession of Faith declaring Jesus to be the Son of God.  One could say that this was the very first Papal declaration.  In the Communion Antiphon, Peter makes his declaration concerning Jesus, while Jesus makes his proclamation concerning Peter.  He gives Peter His own authority to bind and loosen, adding that whatever decision the Prince of the Apostles makes will be ratified in heaven.  Jesus has given St. Peter and his successors, the everlasting assurance of His protection and support.

In the homily that the Holy Father preached the day after he ascended to to the Chair of St. Peter, Pope Benedict XVI expounded on that dialogue between Jesus and St. Peter:

I am thinking back at this moment to what happened in the neighbourhood of Caesarea Philippi some 2,000 years ago. I seem to hear Peter's words:  "You are the Christ..., the Son of the living God", and the Lord's solemn affirmation:  "You are "Peter' and on this rock I will build my Church.... I will entrust to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven" (cf. Mt 16: 15-19).

You are Christ! You are Peter! I seem to be reliving the same Gospel scene; I, the Successor of Peter, repeat with trepidation the anxious words of the fisherman of Galilee and listen once again with deep emotion to the reassuring promise of the divine Master. Although the weight of responsibility laid on my own poor shoulders is enormous, there is no doubt that the divine power on which I can count is boundless: "You are "Peter', and on this rock I will build my Church" (Mt 16: 18). In choosing me as Bishop of Rome, the Lord wanted me to be his Vicar, he wanted me to be the "rock" on which we can all safely stand. I ask him to compensate for my limitations so that I may be a courageous and faithful Pastor of his flock, ever docile to the promptings of his Spirit.
Today, more than ever, the Successor of Peter needs our prayers and our support.  He is being attacked from all sides.  Jesus wanted Pope Benedict XVI to be the "rock" that supports us, that rock on which the Church Christ founded stands.   Let us storm heaven, asking the Lord to bless and protect the Holy Father. Let us ask for St. Joseph's intercession, that he may assist his namesake with the task of safeguarding the Church.  Let us implore the Blessed Virgin Mary to keep leading Pope Benedict to "do whatever" her Divine Son tells him to do.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tu Es Petrus

In anticipation of tomorrow's Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, here is a stirring rendition of "Tu Es Petrus".

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Rallying for the Holy Father

During the homily that he preached at his Installation Mass, Pope Benedict XVI asked something very important of us:

 My dear friends – at this moment I can only say: pray for me, that I may learn to love the Lord more and more. Pray for me, that I may learn to love his flock more and more – in other words, you, the holy Church, each one of you and all of you together. Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves. Let us pray for one another, that the Lord will carry us and that we will learn to carry one another.

Now, more than ever, our Shepherd needs our prayers.  He is being attacked on from all sides.  We need to stand with him and for him. 

Fr. Z has asked that we join our spiritual forces and rally behind Pope Benedict XVI by committing to offer a spiritual bouquet for the Holy Father.  Here is a link to Fr. Z's blog:

Spiritual Bouquet for Pope Benedict XVI on the Feast of St. Joseph

Please join the effort.  Let us rally behind Pope Benedict XVI and help him with our prayers!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Funny Video

From Fr. Z comes this rather humorous take on the dreaded "Gather" hymnal from GIA. Actually, the credit goes to fellow blogger, the Crescat.

The video is hysterical. Unfortunately, you might recognize some of the songs, as these are what many of us are subjected to week after week.

In any case, it is funny.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cardinals Amato and Ranjith Taking Possession of Their Titular Churches in Rome

Cardinals Amato and Ranjith Taking Possession of Their Titular Churches in Rome

From our friends at the New Liturgical Movement come these photos of the two Roman princes as they take possesion of their titular parishes. This is certainly ars celebrandi at its most beautiful!

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Tip from Tyler

One of the best things about the Society for Catholic Liturgy Conference was the opportunity to network with folks in other dioceses to see how they are doing things.  Such networking leads to learning.

Such was the case at the SCL Conference.  A solid contingent from the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, attended the conference.  Their bishop, the Most Rev. Alvaro Corrado del Rio, SJ, served as the featured speaker Thursday night.  Because I had arrived late Thursday evening (more like 1AM Friday morning), I missed his address.  However, having spent some time with the Tyler contingent, I can certainly see why Bishop Corrado was chosen to deliver the keynote that night.

Tyler is a young diocese, 24 years old, to be exact.  It is a vibrant diocese, as evidenced by its healthy representation.  It is also a diocese that takes its liturgy seriously, thanks to Bishop Corrada's leadership.  Here is a shepherd who has taken the time to reinvigorate the faithful in the beauty of the liturgy.  Here is a shepherd who has taken the initiative to formulate guidelines for his diocese so as to ensure the integrity of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 

A visit to the diocesan website yielded a treasure trove of liturgical documents that Bishop Corrado has issued throughout his tenure as Tyler's ordinary.  One such document that leapt out at me was one that he issued concerning the Mass as a Communal Celebration.  There seems to be a trend that has permeated throughout the Church in the United States concerning Children's Liturgies of the Word and Youth Masses.  Here is Bishop Corrada's directive on this matter:

Special interest focused liturgies are problematic and should not be encouraged. Youth-focused liturgy has to be careful not to send a message that youth are more involved if they serve as ushers and lectors and other ministries of service. Rather, we must consistently call all the faithful to full conscious active participation.

Therefore, in the Diocese of Tyler there should not be Masses in the parish that are targeted to particular segment of the community, like so called 'youth-focused' Masses. People of all ages are to be welcomed at any Mass. Every Mass should be open to incorporating properly trained people of all ages in service of the liturgy.

It is not that Bishop Corrada is against children or the youth.   The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the Church's universal prayer.  The Mass is for everyone.  In his directive, he also reminds parents that they are the primary teachers of their children in the Faith:

In the Diocese of Tyler, there shall be no practice of having a "Children's Liturgy of the Word" wherein the young people are taken out of the church to have a 'special' liturgy of the Word. It is appropriate that children be with their parents/guardians who are their primary teachers.

Bishop Corrada has also issued other directives to help ensure the proper celebration of the Mass, especially during the season of Lent and Holy Week.  One such directive, effective this Holy Thursday, specifically mandates that the ancient custom of washing the feet of 12 men during the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper be maintained.

The main celebrant is to wash the feet of men (adult males). Generally 12 men are selected, but the ritual does not require 12 (may be adjusted for example to accommodate a small space). In the context of the Holy Thursday liturgy, the ritual of washing the feet of men suggests that strong connection between Christ’s washing His Apostles’ feet and the institution of the Eucharist and Holy Orders. Christ chose on this occasion the twelve men he had chosen to be Apostles. We must conclude, then, that the ritual is intimately connected to the priesthood and the institution of the Eucharist. Its symbolism cannot be reduced to a general theme of service to the whole Church. Therefore, the priest should wash the feet of a select group of men only. Other types of "washing", i.e. washing of hands or members of the congregation washing each other’s feet is not allowed.
These directives are not meant to restrict and constrain parishes; rather, they are meant to provide them with the proper means of celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  The fact that Bishop Corrado has taken the time to formulate policy is something to be commended.  

Certainly the Tyler approach could very well be the model for many diocese throughout Texas to follow, including my own. 

May God bless Bishop Corrado for his leadership!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cardinal Ranjinth Takes Possession of Titular Church

Today, at around midday, His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjinth took possession of his titular church, the beautiful San Lorenzo in Lucina.   I had the privilege of meeting His Eminence when he was still Archbishop Ranjnith, then-Secretary to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments back in 2008 during the Gateway Liturgical Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. 

Most folks may not know this, but, there are three orders within the College of Cardinals:  Cardinal Bishops, Cardinal Priests and Cardinal Deacons.  The Cardinal Bishops, as Fr. Z explains in his excellent blog, "What Does the Prayer Really Say", are those who "become Prefect of one of the most important Congregations, such as the 'Suprema' (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith).  The former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, for example, had the rank of Cardinal Bishop.

Cardinal priests are those cardinals who are Metropolitan Archbishops.  To this rank belong Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Justin Cardinal Rigali and now, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjinth.  Cardinal priests get their own titular parishes, as was the case today with Cardinal Ranjinth.

The last order, that of Cardinal deacon, is assigned to those cardinals who are in the Roman Curia.  Among the Cardinal Deacons are Raymond Cardinal Burke, since he serves as the Prefect for the Apostolic Signatura, and Angelo Cardinal Amato, Prefect for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

San Lorenzo in Lucina, Cardinal Ranjinth's new titular church, is a minor Basilica in Rome.  Named after St. Lawrence, the Roman deacon and martyr, it dates back to the fourth century.  The fascade dates back to the 12th century, the time that it was rebuilt by Pope Paschal II.  According to Wikipedia, the interior went through a renovation in the mid 17th century.

This beautiful basilica holds relics sacred to the memory of the venerable  Roman martyr St. Lawrence. 

This picture shows the reliquary housing the gridiron on which St. Lawrence received the crown of martyrdom.  He was roasted atop the gridiron for the Faith. 

When the Roman prefect demanded that St. Lawrence give him the treasures of the Church, the holy deacon assembled the poor and the infirmed.  "These are the treasures of the Church," he told the prefect.

For me, it is no accident that Pope  Benedict XVI assigned the titular church of San Lorenzo in Lucina to Cardinal Ranjinth.  During his time as Secretary for the CDWDS, Cardinal Ranjinth did his best to safeguard the treasures of the Church, mainly her Liturgy and her Sacraments.  Now more than ever, the Church must remain steadfast in safeguarding the integrity of her liturgical celebrations.  With the recent developments concerning the implementation of the revised English translation of the Roman Missal, wherein priests are engaging in open revolt against the Holy See, we need St. Lawrence's intercession more than ever. 

May St. Lawrence intercede for the CDWDS and for Cardinal Ranjinth as he takes his place as a member of that Congregation. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Wonders of Walsingham

The last time that I had assisted at an Anglican-Use Mass was back in the mid-1990s, during my days as a legislative employee at the Texas Capitol.  I would occasionally attend the Anglican-Use Mass at St. Margaret of Scotland Parish.  It was beautiful, reverent and a liturgical oasis. 

When His Emincence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo welcomed us during the Society for Catholic Liturgy Conference dinner, he invited us to experience one of the five different rites in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.   One of the options that leapt out at me right away was the Anglican-Use Mass at Our Lady of Walsingham.  I decided that I would go to Mass there on Sunday.

I wound up heading to Our Lady of Walsingham a little earlier than I had expected.  I accompanied a small group from the conference on Saturday evening to assist at a Mass that would take place after the parish's regular Saturday evening liturgy.  When we walked into Our Lady of Walsingham, I was immediately struck with the beauty of the church.  Immediately, as one enters the building through the front entrance, the first thing one sees is a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Walsingham. 

It was just the beginning.   Since we were there early, our gracious hostess led us up to the choir loft so that we could get a better view.  We came in during the homily, which was being preached by the deacon.  The noble simplicity of the church really made an impact on me.  It was as though I were transported back in time to medieval England.   The organ repertoire had a Westminister feel to it.  Our hostess quietly explained that this was the "low" Mass and that tomorrow would be the "high" one.  The priest I was accompanying guided me through the rubrics (I had forgotten a few things).  We knelt throughout the entire Liturgy of the Eucharist.  The only time that the faithful stood was to walk to the communion rail in order to receive Holy Communion by intinction. 

After Mass, we got to walk around the church a bit.  It was really beautiful.  Here is a close-up picture of the altar:

Given that our Mass would begin very soon, I did not get a chance to further explore the church.  That would have to wait until Sunday.  (For my report on the Saturday Mass, please see the blog post "An Unexpected Privileged Moment of Grace").

Sunday morning was dreary, rainy and cold.  However, I was able to make it to Our Lady of Walsingham with plenty of time to spare. I happened to find some other members of the conference who decided to also go to Mass there.  Our hostess from last night was certainly right.  The 10:30AM Mass was the "high" one.  The music was incredible.  The introit was in Latin and the hymns were in English.  Even though the settings for the parts of the Mass were initially unfamiliar, they were easy to sing.  To my joyful surprise, everyone sang.

The liturgy itself was solemn, beautiful and majestic.  The smell of the incense wafting from the thurible permeated the whole building.  It was indeed very conducive to prayer.  I was happy that my new priest friend walked me through the liturgy the night before so that I did not appear too lost.  Even though I had been to this particular kind of liturgy a decade ago, there were some variances in that there was lots of singing and I did not recall having to kneel for the entire Liturgy of the Eucharist (not that this is a bad thing, mind you). 

The language of the prayers was beautiful.  It made me all the more anxious for the day when our own Mass will have nearly the same elevated language.   The prayer that both the celebrant and the faithful recite prior to receiving Holy Communion is something that I now say on my own (our hostess graciously let me keep the paper-bound prayer book).  Here it is:

We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies.  We are not worthy so much as to gather the crumbs under thy Table.  But thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy.  Grant us, therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of they dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us.  Amen.

The triple "Domine non sum dignus" was prayed in English, using language that is quite similar to what we will be saying after November 26, 2011. 

After Communion, the celebrant and the faithful prayed a beautiful prayer, thanking God for the gift of Himself in Holy Communion.  I have also made this prayer my own and use it after I have received Holy Communion.  Here it is:

Almighty and everliving God, we most heartily thank thee for that thou dost feed us, in these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son, our Savior Jesus Christ; and doest assure us thereby of thy favor and goodness towards us, and that we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of thy Son, the blessed company of all faithful people; and are also heirs, through hope, of thy everlasting kingdom.  And we humbly beseech thee, O heavenly Father, so to assist us with thy grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honor and glory, world without end.  Amen.

The Holy Father wrote of mutual enrichment when he issued his Motu Propio liberalizing the use of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form.  Perhaps the same concept of "mutual enrichment" could apply between the Anglican-Use Mass and the Ordinary Form.  While the language in the revised translation of the Roman Missal will certainly be more sacral, something that the Ordinary Form could certainly borrow from the Anglican-Use liturgy is the quality of the music used for the Mass and the intensive solemnity of this particular form. 

I suppose that it was no accident that the Mass in the Extraordinary Form that I had experienced Saturday evening was sandwiched in between the beauty of the Mass in the Ordinary Form that I assisted at on Friday with Cardinal DiNardo and the nobility of Sunday's Anglican-Use liturgy.  The Extraordinary Form was majesty in its purist form with a deep sense of prayer.  The Anglican-Use, which is, in my opinion, the English-language version of the Extraordinary Form, was a fitting conclusion to my weekend in Houston.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

An Irish Archbishop Tells It Like It Is

From Rorate Caeli comes this refreshing bit of news.  The Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, Ireland, preached a homily this past Sunday during the Dublin Diocesan Liturgical Resource Center.  In light of the precarious situation concerning the Association of Catholic Priests, an Irish clerical group vehemently opposed to the coming translation of the Roman Missal, Archbishop Martin's words provide a much needed spiritual boost to Ireland's faithful:

You do not simply go to Mass. The liturgy is not a performance but an action in which God’s people actively participate. The liturgy is however in the first place the action of God. Active participation is not just about us saying and doing things. There is an active participation which is fostered through silence and reflection and interiorly identifying ourselves with what is taking place. In today’s world there is anyway a superabundance of words and a fear of silence. The liturgy must always lead people beyond the superficial and fleeting character of much of contemporary culture.

Where the liturgy becomes performance we can very easily end up with banalities and with what some have called the "disneyisation" of the liturgy. Such banality is often linked also with a sense of personal protagonism, at times by the priest or of a musical group or even of guest speakers. Our reading this morning reminds us that “we have nothing to boast about to God”. The liturgy is not our work.
Archbishop Martin's characterization of the "disneyisation" of the Mass is particularly on target.  Sadly, a lot of the musical settings for the Mass wind up sounding like something from Shrek or Beauty and the Beast.  The musical interludes certainly appear to place the liturgy at the service of the music, as opposed to making the music serve the liturgy. 

The archbishop's words serve to reinforce what Pope Benedict XVI has said about banality.  In his book The Spirit of the Liturgy, Pope Benedict uses the word "banal" to characterize the infiltration of the "pop/rock" genre into the Mass.   A lot of the songs seem to turn into elaborate musical numbers that emphasize the "performance" more than the prayer.

A huge tip of the Texas stetson certainly goes out to the blog Rorate Caeli for posting this key part of Archbishop Martin's homily, and, a bigger tip of the stetson goes to Archbishop Martin for his wise words.

Poll Time

At Fr. Z's invitation, I post this poll and ask that you participate in a survey that he is conducting:

Fr. Z's Blog – What Does The Prayer Really Say? Slavishly accurate liturgical translations & frank commentary on Catholic issues – by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf o{]:¬)

In order for him to get a good sampling, he needs universal participation! I've already voted.

Breaking News from the Congregation for Divine Worship

From our friends at the New Liturgical Movement and Fr. Z's blog comes this news of great importance:

In the coming weeks a document of Benedict XVI will be released which reorganizes the competences of the Congregation for Divine Worship, entrusting it with the task of promoting a liturgy more faithful to the original intentions of Vatican II, with less room for arbitrary changes, and for the recovery of a dimension greater sacredness.

The document, which will take the form of a motu proprio, is the fruit of a long maturation - it has been reviewed by the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts and the offices of the Secretariat of State -, and is motivated mainly by the transfer of jurisdiction over matrimonial cases to the Roman Rota. These are the so-called "ratum sed non consummatum" causes, i.e. regarding the marriages which took place in church but have not been consummated because of the lacking carnal union of the spouses. There are about five hundred cases a year, and they mainly affect some Asian countries where there are still arranged marriages with girls of a very young age, but also Western countries for those cases of psychological impotence to perform the conjugal act.

Losing this section, which will go to the Rota, the Congregation of Divine Worship will de facto not be concerned anymore with the sacraments and retain only jurisdiction in matters liturgical. According to some authoritative leaks, a passage of the motu proprio of Benedict XVI might explicitly mention that "new liturgical movement" of which has spoken in recent days Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, speaking during the consistory of last November.

Cañizares told Il Giornale, in an interview published on the eve of last Christmas: "The liturgical reform was carried out with great haste. There were very good intentions and a desire to apply Vatican II. But there was precipitancy... The liturgical renewal was seen as laboratory research, the fruit of imagination and creativity, the magic word then." The cardinal, who had not been unbalanced in talking about the "reform the reform", had added: "What I see as absolutely necessary and urgent, according to what the the Pope wishes, is giving life to a new, clear and vigorous liturgical movement throughout the entire Church", to put an end to "arbitrary deformations" and the process of "secularisation, which unfortunately is at work even inside the Church."

It is known how Ratzinger has wanted to introduce in the papal liturgies significant and examplary gestures: the cross at the center of the altar, communion kneeling, Gregorian chant, the space for silence. It is known how much he values beauty in sacred art and how much he considers it important to promote Eucharistic adoration. The Congregation for Divine Worship - which some would also like to rename [sc. Congregation] for the Sacred Liturgy or for Divine Liturgy - will thus have to concern itself with this new liturgical movement, also by opening a new section of the dicastery dedicated to sacred art and music.

The report comes from Andrea Tornielli, one of Italy's most notable Vatican reporters.   The news is certainly welcome.   Fr. Z calls Pope Benedict XVI the Pope of Christian Unity and there is certainly merit to this designation.  However, for me, Pope Benedict XVI is also the Pope of the Reform of the  Reform. 

An Irish Rebellion

The winter of discontent continues.  It seems that on the heels of Fr. Anthony Ruff's letter, more negative reactions to the coming Roman Missal  have filled cyberspace.  Evidently, some priests in Ireland have also taken up the banner in protest against the coming English translation of the Roman Missal.

Here is what they said in their press release:

The celebration of the Mass is central to our work as priests and, more importantly, to the lives of the people we serve.  In the words of the central document of Vatican II, Lumen Gentium  (The Light of the People), the Mass is “ the source and summit of the Christian life.” (LG11). Our concerns flow from our experience as pastors who attempt each Sunday to celebrate the liturgy with our people in a meaningful, dignified and prayerful way.  Many bishops, priests, lay people, theologians and liturgists across the English speaking world share our concerns

Opposition on the grounds of the Language used
  • A word-for-word translation from Latin into a vernacular language, mandated by the document Liturgiam Authenticam (March 2001), demonstrates a lack of awareness of the insights gained from linguistics and anthropology during the past 100 years. Translators in other international bodies follow the ‘dynamic equivalent’ norm which means translating according to the sense of the original text, rather than literally.

  • The ACP is gravely concerned that this literal translation from Latin has produced texts that are archaic, elitist and obscure and not in keeping with the natural rhythm, cadence and syntax of the English language.  In fact, from the few available samples of the new texts, it is clear that the style of English used throughout the Mass will be so convoluted that it will be difficult to read the prayers in public. In the words of Bishop Donald Trautman, former chair of the United States Bishops’ Liturgical Committee, this is a translation where “the vocabulary is not readily understandable by the average Catholic…  how can someone read the text in public when some of the sentences contain 70 or 80 words.” 

It is particularly ironic that this Latinised, stilted English is being imposed on Irish people who are so blessed with world-renowned poets, playwrights, and novelists.
  • Catholics should be allowed to pray publically in their own language.  Jesus used the language of the people when he was speaking with them. The New Testament is written in the language of the ordinary people, not classical Greek.

  • The ACP is aware of the history of this translation. It regrets that the expertise of scholars in many disciplines was spurned. Many of these scholars gave their time and talents freely to help the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), produce acceptable texts.  In 1998 the ICEL translation was accepted and approved by every conferences of bishops in the English speaking world.

  • The translation is also in conflict with the Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy which has a whole section on norms for adapting the Liturgy to the temperament and traditions of people. This allows for legitimate variations and adaptations. (No. 38).

  • This translation runs contrary to one of the main goals of our Association, namely: That liturgical celebrations use rituals and language that are easily understood, inclusive and accessible to all

Sacrosanctum Concilium, contrary to popular myth, did not necessarily mandate that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass be celebrated entirely in the vernacular. 

36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.
2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the Liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.

The ACP also seems to forget that Liturgiam Authenticam, promulgated by soon-to-be-Blessed John Paul II, also takes its root from Sacrosanctum Concilium:
3. These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See. And, whenever it seems to be called for, this authority is to consult with bishops of neighboring regions which have the same language.
4. Translations from the Latin text into the mother tongue intended for use in the Liturgy must be approved by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned above.

While the Association of Catholic Priests' seems to echo some of the same arguments that Bishop  Trautmann made when he was trying to stall the approval of the revised texts, the ACP seems to not quite understand neither Liturgiam Authenticam nor Sacrosanctum Concilium.  Neither document indicates that priests, let alone, the faithful, needed to have been consulted in matters concerning the translation.  It just seems to me that pride has overtaken fidelity in this case.