Thursday, July 2, 2015

An Open Letter to Colloquium 25 Colleagues at Duquesne

My dear CMAA sisters and brothers at the 25th Colloquium,

Eight years ago I sat in some auditorium at Catholic University in D.C. and listened to Professor William Mahrt lay forth the the blueprint for what we now call by a number of names: the Reform of the Reform, Progressive Solemnity, Brick by Brick, et cetera. I am unable to be with you all this year, particularly as I love Pittsburgh and Duquesne with special affection and despite having separated my shoulder on her city streets after the second colloquium.

But with a special, almost burning joy, I want to let you all know that the prophetic remedies for the liturgical and musical sorrows and desert that Dr. Mahrt has provided all within ear and eye shot through his whole life, these are and will continue to bear great fruit. It’s dinner time back in Pennsylvania as I type this. I just came home from the latest in a series of tutorials for one of our associate pastors. Essentially, when he came to the parish not even a year ago as a fairly new priest ordained only one year, he had no essential chanting skills that would enable him to negotiate all the celebrant’s orations in the Missal. By rote memory he would intone a “Per ipsum” that he’d acquired in seminary. After a few months, he asked if I would be willing to help him learn to sing the Mass. Sing the Mass. Well, now as I type, he can chant the whole Third Edition from the “In Nomine…to the Ite Missa est.” Indeed, Deo gratias! I come from every one of these sessions fully of holy joy, for the Lord has sent this priest to us, a sign of His care for His people and their worship of Him in holy and fit manner.

This associate pastor is also now competent and has celebrated the Missa Lecta in the Usus Antiquior, and we are now talking about moving towards both the celebration of a fully sung Novus Ordo in Latin, and a Missa Cantata in the Traditional Latin Mass. So, it can be done. Anywhere, by anyone (like our new priest) who will devote themselves to the simple disciplines laid out for us in our documents, and in study volumes such as Professor Mahrt’s MUSICAL SHAPE OF THE LITURGY will experience my joy. If this is your first colloquium, and you’re going to return this weekend to a parish stultified by mediocrity, do NOT despair. In time, with learning, experience and repeated practice, the things you are doing this week become a real possibility at your home parish.

Fare thee well, my colleagues.