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Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Liturgical Alamo

For many a Texan, March 6th holds a very special place in our hearts as today marks the 175th Anniversary of the Battle of the Alamo.   For those who may not be familiar with Texas history, about 186 Texan defenders valiantly held off  Mexican general (and dictator) Santa Anna and his troops until the pre-dawn hours of March 6, 1836.  All of the Texan defenders died, giving rise to the battle cry "Remember the Alamo".  In fact, the remains of three of the Alamo's most celebrated defenders, Col. William Barrett Travis, David Crockett and James Bowie, are housed in a marble sarcophagas in San Antonio's San Fernando Cathedral.  Another interesting thing about the Alamo is that it used to be a mission, San Antonio de Valero.  A quick walk through the actual chapel and one can see where the sanctuary, sacristy and nave were.

In liturgy, I think that at some point, we face our own Alamos.  It is a very disheartening and discouraging feeling to be the only one trying to stand up for liturgical integrity when everyone else is apathetic, including the one person that you thought you could count on for support.  What is worse is when your own friend tells you that you are myopic, unhealthy and not being pastoral enough.  Like Travis and company, one feels very alone when trying to defend the liturgy in the face of an onslaught.

Yet, liturgical integrity is a battle worth waging.   Now, it's not a question of straining at gnats (like whether or not the bells should be rung during the consecration or if we should have felt banners); rather, it's about using Mass settings that are word-for-word faithful to the official texts of the Roman Missal, defining who can preach, going over the rubrics for Lent and Holy Week and proper procedures for the distribution of Holy Communion.

It's just that sometimes, we suffer more from the Church than for the Church and the unkindest cuts of all come from the folks whom we trust the most.  Maybe it's no accident that the battle of the Alamo was actually fought inside of a church.


  1. I agree with you that liturgical integrity is in danger.
    There is, however, some light at the end of the tunnel because of the motu proprio summorum pontificum.
    But there is no time to wait passively for a big wave back to the true liturgical roots.
    Good things must start actively from small cells, offering the gregorian liturgy even in the diaspora by priests and musicians being faithful and obediant to Rome and our Pope Benedict XVI.
    Musicians and Conductors, do not hesitate to find singers and to bring up new gregorian scholas. Though it may look complex in the beginning, e.g. cosidering the gregorian square notation at first, believe me this is not the case. Listen to mp3 files as presented on www., start practicing and sing the ancient chants in the holy mass, in both the ordinary and extraordinary form. There is not much you can do wrong here.
    Print flyers which offer translations of what you are singing, thus increasing the acceptance and understanding.

    Unfortunately i can only give you examples of what i do as a schola founder in Germany.
    Possibly, you might not be able to translate the flyers, but take a look at them and you will understand how we try to acchieve our goal - the true understanding of the solemn gregorian rite of the holy mass.

    God bless you

    English is not my mother language, so please forgive me possible spelling and grammar errors.

  2. Thank you, Christian. Your words offer me some hope.

    By the way, your English is pretty good!!!

    God bless you!