Organist Job Opportunity

Just in case there are any organists out there for looking for work, here is the official job notification for a position at Prince of Peace, my parish!
Prince of Peace Catholic Church in suburban Greenville, SC is seeking qualified applicants for the position of Parish Organist. This parish community prays the Mass in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms on a daily basis with 4 sung Masses per weekend in a beautiful church dedicated just 10 years ago. Sung Vespers, Stations and other seasonal and devotional services are included through the church year as well.
The 3-manual Allen Renaissance (2003) organ, located in the gallery, was skillfully installed and voiced
to take full advantage of the spectacular acoustical properties of the space. The successful candidate
will work with a full-time Director of Music with extensive knowledge and experience in sacred choral
literature and chant.
The current work load for this position is approximately ¾-time in scope, qualifying for the Diocesan
benefits package. Some collegial duties are necessary to assist in administration of the music program.
The salaried compensation will be tailored to the individual with careful attention to AGO guidelines for
education, work-load, skills and experience.
This position is available as of 1 June and applications will be closed as of 31 May. Qualified applicants
should submit their resume to: organist@princeofpeacetaylors.org.

In case you want to know more, Prince of Peace is a 1900 family church in the buckle of the Bible Belt.  We have an interesting church building which is a blend of modern and traditional elements.  The parish has a long history of liturgy and music after the school of Pope Benedict XVI.  We have a lot of sung liturgies, in the context of a Reform of the Reform English liturgy as well as the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite which does sung plainchant and organ masses.  It’s a lot of work, but it is also a great environment for the right kind of person! 

Bringing the Campion Missal to our Parish


In theory, one of the most attractive things about the Extraordinary Form is that is the same everywhere.  Yet the liturgical culture that any particular place has, and all kinds of practicalities, dictate how it is celebrated.  There are places where Low Mass with one server in absolute silence is the standard practice.  There are places where the Dialogue Mass has caught on, or where Low Mass is buried under (shudder) hymns.  And there are those beautiful places in the vineyard of the Lord where there are Sung or even Solemn Masses where the propers and the ordinary are sung.  Even then, is there a schola, do the people sing, is there polyphony and/or chant, is it Rossini or the Graduale?
My parish, Prince of Peace (www.princeofpeacetaylors.net), is an interesting place.  We have consciously modeled the life of the parish and her liturgy on the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI.  We have both forms of the Roman Rite every day (except for the occasional practical reason when we go down to one English Mass).  On weekdays, we have Low Mass.  On most Sundays of the year, we have a Missa Cantata, where a schola sings the propers and a choir the Ordinary.  During the summer, we usually have an Organ Mass. 
The EF has had a stable presence in the life of the parish for about 10 years now.  Some of those who come regularly experienced the rite in a dizzying array of different ways (but, Father, in the 1950s in New Jersey we didn’t do that…).  The vast majority, however, have come to appreciate and love the EF here in our parish.  We have tried to make strides in getting the people to sing the Mass, but I confess that has been a hard sell.  Even though many of our people love the Sung Mass, they also love for the choir (we frequently have paid choral scholars) to sing their parts.
From time to time, we give a class in how to follow the Missal.  There are those who bring their hand missals with them to the Mass.  In the pews we have had the red Ecclesia Dei missalettes (Mary Kraychy be praised!) for years, and many people have remain glued to them, even as they fear the recent Angelus Press hand missals that we have been encouraging our people to buy.  For all sung Masses, we do a music sheet with the Latin and English texts for the Mass and the Ordinary in chant.
So we have experimented with a variety of ways to help people participate in the Tridentine Mass. 
I have been looking, however, for years, for something that we could put in the pews.  A sturdy, pew-ready book that had everything that you could possibly want to participate in the Latin Mass, which was also stunningly beautiful.  But who had ever seen such a thing as what I had in mind?
Well, apparently Jeff Ostrowski.  His knowledge of the liturgy and its music, his aesthetic sensibility, and his publishing know-how met right on with a keen sense of pastoral responsibility and what people need.  The St Edmund Campion Missal is the fruit of an amazing work which has been incredibly done.
But, even if such a beautiful thing had been made, how could we ever afford it?
I have a parish of some 2000 families, and we get around 200 at a Sunday EF Mass.  Many of those families are homeschooling families with many children. And, with a church that seats 1200, how could I ever make this work?
One Sunday, I put a sample copy of the Missal in the narthex for the people to view, and kept it out there for a couple of Sundays.  I was amazed at the response.  “It’s beautiful!”  “It’s just what we need in the pews!”  “Can I contribute towards the cost?”  And so, I launched out into the deep and asked for donations.  Within 72 hours we had not only covered the cost, but also had more donations than we could possibly use for that project. 
We have lived with the Campion Missals in the pews for a couple of months now.  The instructional video on how to use the Missal was posted on our website and Facebook pages, and people viewed it.  The response has been incredibly positive.  What’s more, parishioners who never frequent the EF, and who never picked up the red misalettes in the pews, are using it for their private prayers and meditation.  I had more than one person say, “I wish we had something this nice for the Novus Ordo Mass.”
In short, the adoption of this Missal in my pews, one book per rack, has been incredibly popular.  The people use them, and like them, and it has also brought the community together. It has also had the added benefit of introducing people to the EF who might have never known anything about the Mass at all if it weren’t for a book that was attractive they couldn’t help but obey that tiny voice saying, “Tolle, lege!”
Of course, now I am wondering what to do for the Ordinary Form Masses.  I hate disposable missalettes as a general rule, but they do have the advantage, being dated material, of being very user friendly.  Of course, none of them approach the beauty of the Campion Missal.  I also am facing the possibility of adding Spanish Masses to the schedule as well.  My original intent to also purchase the Lumen Christi Missal for the OF has been put into question by the need for bilingual materials.  I’m not sure how many parishes have EF and OF in English and Spanish, but we do, or will soon, and there is only so much space in a pew rack.  Maybe Jeff and his team at Corpus Christi Watershed can bring their brilliance to bear on that thorny pastoral problem, too.  In the meantime, however, the Campion Missal was one of the most successful projects our parish has undertaken.  Just watch how the people respond!      
      

Benedict XVI: Towards a Liturgical Theology of Liberation?

It was especially the Latin countries that developed the idea that the Church is the “Church of the poor.”  This assertion undoubtedly lends itself to many interpretations and misinterpretations.  A certain sentimentality could lead to a kind of romanticizing of poverty, which is harmful to nobody as much as the poor themselves.  But the idea is essentially sound and may be seen as the expression of an important spiritual reawakening.  The Church has for a long time looked like a Church of baroque princes.  It is now returning to the spirit of simplicity which marked its origins – when the “servant of God” chose to be a carpenter’s son on earth and chose fisherman as his first messengers . . . In the footsteps of Christ the Church is sent especially to the forgotten and to the outcasts.
I just read this quote to a friend of mine and asked her, “What Pope wrote this?”  She did not hesitate to respond, “It sounds very Pope Francis to me!”  In reality, they are the words of Josef Ratzinger in Theological Highlights of Vatican II (New York: Paulist Press, 2009, 77), the collection of the young German theologian’s thoughts after each of the sessions of the Council. 
Those who see Benedict and Francis as matter and anti-matter are going to have problems understanding this.  A carefully constructed mythology has painted Ratzinger as the dying gasp of the Counter-Reformation papacy, with its monarchical trappings.  They liken the Bavarian theologian’s appropriation of symbols put in abeyance to the hyperdramatic rituals of Julian the Apostate who failed to read the signs of the times in reviving pagan rites no one cared about anymore.  Benedict’s successor’s apparent dislike for what are being called the trappings of the papal office has even led senior churchmen to declare that the monarchical papacy and the pomp of the Renaissance court, briefly revived, is dead.  “Moving from HIGH church to LOW and humble church! What a blessing that we are encountering Jesus without all the trappings!”  “So long, papal ermine and fancy lace”  “SIMPLE is IN, extravagant is out.”  These were all tweets supposedly from a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church.
So how did we get from the Ratzinger who spoke so eloquently of a spiritual reawakening of the Church of the poor to a Ratzinger who is implicitly criticized by cardinals on Twitter for aggrandizing himself with the detritus of a sixteenth century court, which he himself earlier had recognized as inauthentic as an expression of the Church?
An oft-repeated response refuses to consider that question and says that, since there must be continuity instead of rupture, what seems to be the discontinuity between Benedict and Francis isn’t really rupture at all.  In fact, these are all externals that can be changed by papal fiat anyway.  None of the essentials of the faith and morals are affected, so what appears to be two entirely different expressions of the exercise of papal authority in terms of liturgy and protocol is a non-issue.  As a result, the choices of Pope Benedict XVI to recover certain ritual elements and vesture appear as personal taste, and indeed, as an eccentricity.  The choices of Francis need not even look like a contrast, for they are also merely personal choices, and hence, don’t matter all that much.
Yet, for all that this position indicates that they don’t matter all that much, there surely has been rather a lot of blogink spilled on trying to understand what those choices mean. 
A few weeks before the abdication of Pope Benedict, commentator George Weigel issued a book called Evangelical Catholicism.  In it he advances a theory that the entire Church since Leo XIII has been struggling to free itself of the stranglehold of the Counter Reformation, with the weight of its pomp and circumstance on the papal office.  Once the Church is free at last from all of that, she will come into her own as truly evangelical Catholicism, as Catholicism pure and undefiled.
I will refrain here from commenting on Weigel’s invention of an entire historical hermeneutic which he proposes as the Urprinzip of a carefully elaborated proposal by which he assures us the Church can be saved.  Hans Küng in Infallible? and Marcel Lefebvre in Open Letter to Confused Catholics both attempted, in their own ways, much the same thing. 
I will zero in on some comments he made about the liturgy on p. 168 of his book: “The reform of the reform of the liturgy will not be advanced by a return to the use of the maniple, or by the widespread revival of fiddleback chasubles, or by a proliferation of lace surplices and albs, or by other exercises in retro-liturgy.”  He contrasts this with “evangelical Catholic liturgy” which he describes as “high” but “not precious, and it is most certainly not prissy.”
As I read this chapter of Weigel’s book, which does contain many profound insights, I wondered how Weigel would explain all of those actions attributed to Benedict by others as “exercises in retroliturgy.”  Also, how would he explain a cardinalatial tweet which implies that we return to the Gospel precisely in moving from “high” to “low” Church, and that Francis’ return to simplicity requires the abandonment of “high” Church?
The age has dawned upon us when the fractious system of parties within the Anglican Communion has been grafted onto the Catholic Church as if their existence were a fait accompli, and I have yet to see anyone object.  The acceptance of this division has produced a widely accepted narrative describing two disparate concepts of ecclesiology and liturgy: There is a High Church party which does retro-liturgy because it is on a pharisaical nostalgia trip and fears modernity, so it takes refuge in Counter-Reformation Renaissance pomp.  And then there is the True Church of Jesus, the True People of God, the Evangelical Full Gospel Catholic Church which is being led by the Spirit to shed all of that as they joyfully sing a new, relevant Church into being. 
Then, I guess there are those in between.  But where does Benedict fit in with all of this?
One of the questions I have asked myself is: why did Benedict choose to restore some things and not others?  For many people, why he did doesn’t matter, because any pope has the power to come to a different conclusion anyway, and it’s all in the realm of the unimportant.  Yet, if anything, those of us who have spent time with Ratzinger’s theology can attest that the way he has acted as Pope has been very much in coherence with his theology.  He restored the papal fanon, but not the tiara.  He adopted acres of man-lace, but declined to be carried in the sedia gestatoria.  Did he just not have time to bring back all of the accoutrements of the Counter Reformation papacy?  Or is there something more going on here?
I would like to suggest something that my readers might need time to grapple with. 
In 1977, Josef Ratzinger gave a speech that has recently been republished as “Primacy of the Pope and the Unity of the People of God” in Fundamental Speeches From Five Decades (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2012, 13-33).  In it he discusses Reginald Pole’s book De summo Pontifice.  In a dense section on what he calls the martyrological structure of the primacy, he discusses the titles of Christ:
“The majestic titles pertain to Christ as God by nature; according to his humanity, however, he receives them only after his humiliation.  Analogously, this is true for the representative: the majestic titles are effective and possible only in and by way of humiliation.  The only way to participate in Christ’s majesty is concretely through sharing in his lowliness, which is the sole form in which his majesty can be made present and represented in this time.  Hence the authentic place of the Vicar of Christ is the Cross: being the Vicar of Christ is abiding in the obedience of the Cross and thus repraesentatio Christi in the age of this world, keeping his power present to counterbalance the power of the world.”  (p. 29)
What does this have to do with vesture and symbols?  At a superficial level, it may seem that Benedict restored an ambience reminiscent of a Baroque prince, and certainly associable with the papal court of the past.  Yet, we have ample evidence from his own writings that the papacy should not and could not be a Baroque court.  Was he being incoherent or disingenuous?  I think not.  He very carefully avoided those things which could be confused with purely earthly power, such as the tiara and the sedia gestatoria.  But he did bring back, or use at a very high level, other things.
A priest blogger recently commented, “Many of the trappings of the hierarchy are derived from Imperium more than from Evangelium, and from time to time it is useful for the Church to ponder this distinction and make whatever changes will bring the Gospel more clearly to the center of the Church’s life.  Here we have several things: 1. the externals of the liturgy are already put into the realm of trappings, and hence are disposable by the Church.  2. a distinction between Imperium and Evangelium.  At first glance, it may seem obvious that the two are different and distinct.  And we must acknowledge that some of what are called the trappings of the papacy have their historical derivation from the Imperium.
Should not then the Church in the modern world dispense with the symbolism of the Imperium, which seems so arcane and out of touch with modern sensibilities, especially when that symbolism does not touch the essence of the Faith? 
On the surface, it would seem so.  The entire thrust of the postconciliar period seems to argue for it.  The battles over ecclesiology and liturgy, the books written by Küng, Lefebvre and Weigel, much of the last 50 years all manifest the struggle to understand where Evangelium will begin (again) and Imperium (should) end.
I contend that, Benedict has done something so revolutionary the effects of which have yet to be discerned.  If one reads the recovery of symbols in the context of Ratzinger’s theology of the primacy and of liturgy, something very interesting emerges: a liturgical theology of liberation.
In our age, the monarchical spirit has yielded to democracy, for better or for worse.  The Church is one of the last places where the trappings of Imperium exist.  Are they a confusing relic of the past, destined to obviate the Church’s progress into the future?  On the contrary, Benedict, in choosing the elements are not incompatible with the office of pope, has desecularized them and oriented them all towards another end.  The ceremonial grandeur of the Benedictine papacy has redeemed the time in historical continuity with the past and put all of the earthly signs of temporal power not contrary to the faith at the service of the sacred liturgy.  He has sacralized them, the same way that the organ or Latin or clerical vesture, none of which are sacred of themselves, have been removed from profane use and set apart for divine worship.
But why these elements, which seem so closely associated with the Age of Absolutism?  Let us remember Pope Pius XI’s encyclical Quas primas.  This letter on the kingship of Christ has often been interpreted (and hence affirmed or rejected) as an attempt for the Church to perform a hostile takeover of the secular world and the State.  Is it possible for Benedict to do something radical, and read Quas primas in the light of Lumen gentium, Dominus Jesus, and Spe salvi, thus taking the symbols of earthly power, desecularizing them, sacralizing them, and orienting them towards the liturgical celebration of the sovereignty of Christ?
From Quas primas: “Men must look for the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ; and that We promised to do as far as lay in Our power. In the Kingdom of Christ, that is, it seemed to Us that peace could not be more effectually restored nor fixed upon a firmer basis than through the restoration of the Empire of Our Lord” (1) and “It was surely right, then, in view of the common teaching of the sacred books, that the Catholic Church, which is the kingdom of Christ on earth, destined to be spread among all men and all nations, should with every token of veneration salute her Author and Founder in her annual liturgy as King and Lord, and as King of Kings. And, in fact, she used these titles, giving expression with wonderful variety of language to one and the same concept, both in ancient psalmody and in the Sacramentaries. She uses them daily now in the prayers publicly offered to God, and in offering the Immaculate Victim. The perfect harmony of the Eastern liturgies with our own in this continual praise of Christ the King shows once more the truth of the axiom: Legem credendi lex statuit supplicandi. The rule of faith is indicated by the law of our worship.” (12)
The pope, far from being personally self-aggrandized by the pomp and circumstance of a Renaissance court, finds himself truly as Vicarius Christi in obedience to the Cross of faith and handing on the Tradition.  The papacy becomes the repraesentatio Christi in the world not as an earthly potentate, but as Christ the King.  The person of Peter’s successor disappears into a symbolic reference to the Prince of Peace. 
The Scriptures present this kingdom of peace as one which men enter through the interior regeneration of faith produced by the external rite of baptism.  This kingdom, opposed to Satan and the world, demands detachment from riches and earthly things, a spirit of gentleness, hunger and thirst after justice which comes from the carrying of the Cross in penance.
The papacy which presents this Kingdom to the world, in this optic, is relativized and minimized in terms of power, and instead manifests the pope’s function as the first Leiturgos.  The pope disappears into Christ the King, and performs a holy work through the sacramental economy entrusted in a special way to the Bishop of Rome.
The pope as a mere world leader with some temporal power and recognized spiritual power now appears as something else, something mystagogical.  Christ the King in persona Papae Romae, presiding over His Church in charity, through the Sacred Liturgy ushers in the Kingdom of Justice and Love, which is the true liberation of man from sin, oppression and injustice.  The Church of the Poor then becomes, not a Church of wealth, but truly free.  The sacraments and the liturgical tradition become no mere human traditions, but the way to liberation, a liberation of the human person which will then in turn affect human society.
Far from being a blip on the screen as the dying gasp of the Counter Reformation Church, the Benedictine papacy, with all of its liturgical richness, is actually a powerful theology of liberation.  It frees human attempts at liberation from romanticized patronizing of poverty and the futility of earthly means.  Orienting the human desire and activity for liberation liturgically and sacramentally in communion with the Roman Pontiff develops a truly powerful theology of liberation.  It is powerful not because of the man who wears the Fisherman’s Ring and exercises spiritual and temporal power on behalf of humanity, but because the grace of Christ the King acting through and with the Pope, and the Church in communion with him, in the Civitas Dei which replaces the City of Man deep in the heart of each one of us through grace.
No greater symbols can I find of this high theology of liberation than the ferulae of Francis and Benedict.  The brutal, grey Scorzelli staff is an image of ugliness, of human suffering, of pain.  It is where the Church begins, and on this earth always dwells, at the side of the poor and the marginalized, the sick and the lost.  But the glorious gold ferula of Benedict , stamped with the Agnus Dei, classical symbol of the Lamb slain for sin, reflects the eschatalogically fulfillable glory which is ours in the liberation of the Cross (cf. Revelation 5.6-14).  They are not before and after, they are not pre or post, they are both inseparable parts of the life of the Church, and of the ministry of Peter. 
Superficiality fails to recognize the history and the symbolic import of Benedict’s reappropriation of certain elements, his recontextualization and even sacralization of them.  A deeper look into them reveals something terrifyingly beautiful, the revelation that the Kyrios of Glory and the Servant of the Slums are one and the same Lord.  They are both part of the same mystery where latria is ascribed to the Lamb/Ancient of Days (cf. Revelation 5.8-14).  A hermeneutic of continuity has no need of contrived explanations for differences in the Church Visible under Benedict and Francis.  It need only take account that a humble German professor has integrated the last of the Imperium into the Evangelium, read not in the Good Book but in the whole life of the Church, and that an Argentinian pastor makes that Christ of Glory present in humility and charity in those places that need it most.       
  

Is There a Rupture Between Benedict and Francis?

We are only a few days into the reign of Papa Francesco, and already there are many people trying to scrutinize the tea leaves to read into every word, action and gesture some interpretation of what the Franciscan papacy will be like.  The blogosphere has already become a battlefield with people taking sides based on their interpretation of what they have seen.  The basic narrative, however, seems to be this: there is a rupture between Benedict and Francis.  For some, this is a source of joy, because they like the latter and did not like the former.  For others, it is a source of great anxiety, and because of it, they are tempted to question the motives of the new pope.  Then there are many who see all of this as just ridiculous and that the people who are freaking out on either side need to “get a life” and do something more useful with their lives
I should like to offer an observation which undergirds my contention of why all three reactions are misplaced: it shows what is wrong with an essentially Ultramontanist view of the Roman primacy.  It is no secret that, after the loss of the Papal States and the accession of Blessed Pius IX to the Throne of Peter, the influence of the papacy and Roman administration has become more prevalent in the daily life of the Church.  After the proclamation of the doctrine of papal infallibility and the rise of modern mass media, the influence of the papacy would be increasingly felt throughout the world.  Vatican II sought to do what was supposed to have happened at Vatican I, but which was made impossible because of the Franco-Prussian War: place papal infallibility in the context of the ministry of all the bishops.  At Vatican II itself, there was quite a war between what we call papal maximalists in the Ultramontane vein and papal minimalists in a basically Conciliarist vein. 
Vatican II chose to see the relationship between Pope and bishops in terms of collegiality, and the relationship between Pope, bishops and People of God, less in terms of papal absolutism and more as a communion.  The reality, however, is that how this theological vision is lived in the Church has also competed, to a certain extent, with the brilliant personal charisma of many of the Popes of the post-Vatican II period, particularly Blessed John Paul II.  People now have certain expectations of how the Pope should act because of the way in which Papa Wojtyla incarnated the post-Vatican II papacy.
So when Josef Ratzinger became Pope, many people were watching very closely to see how he “did” the papacy.  In an age in which visual images and soundbites are supremely important, everything he did was up for scrutiny.  One of the principal themes of Pope Benedict’s pontificate was the “hermeneutic of continuity.”  His principal point was that the Church of post-Vatican II is not radically altered or different than the Church of pre-Vatican II, a corrective against the revolutionary rhetoric of both progressive and sedevacantist alike.  But that vision was also seen in the gradual reintegration into papal vesture and liturgical celebration of visible elements in continuity with the papacy before and after Vatican II.
He was alternately celebrated and pilloried for the ferula, for the fanon, for ad orientem worship, for chant and polyphony, for lace and for fiddleback chasubles.  The prophets of rupture saw these things as a return to the pre-Vatican II Church in all of her ecclesiology and liturgy.  Those who interpreted these things in this way celebrated or pilloried him as a result.  Yet, anyone who has read Ratzinger’s theology in depth also knows that his theology of the Roman primacy is anything but a facile reappropriation of a supposedly pre-Vatican II ecclesiology of papal monarchy.  It is anything but Ultramontane and anything but revolutionary at the same time, and is much more.
Yet, the post-Vatican II reincarnation of the Ultramontane spirit welcomed the recovery of these signs and symbols as beautiful and as highlighting the papacy.  Yet it was not that spirit which animated Benedict XVI to reintegrate these things into the liturgy.  It was quite another.
What do I mean?  The classical liturgical movement of the 20th century, particularly as influenced by men such as Louis Bouyer, Pius Parsch and Josef Jungmann, had a severe allergy against Tridentine Baroque liturgical form.  They saw it as a decadent devolution from a truer liturgical spirit which breathed only in antiquity and which needed to be rediscovered and retranslated in modern idiom.  I think we cannot underestimate the power of this allergy against the Tridentine Baroque in the thought of the liturgical reform.  Because they saw the papal court with its traditions and liturgy as fossilized into that form, they loudly called for its rejection.  The aesthetic crafted under Paul VI and Virgilio Noe sought to bring about the de-Baroquicization of the papal liturgy and the formation of a papal vision coherent with the pride and prejudice of that classical liturgical movement.
That aesthetic was a powerful exercise in a hermeneutic of rupture, even as it was intended to give visible form to the ecclesiology of Vatican II, which in many ways was a continuation of the theological development of papacy, hierarchy and ecclesiology of the preconciliar period and Magisterium. 
Previously, there was a powerful idea that the Pope bore the weight of the tradition, not just in sense of what Congar would see as Tradition versus les traditions,“ but in all of its particularities of vesture, behavior and the papal rites.  It is probably apocryphal, but Blessed Pius IX’s “Io sono la Tradizione” incarnates that idea.  In some ways, it is analogous to Louis XIV’s, “L’etat, c’est moi.”  For an American, unused to the highly stratified and specific culture of court etiquette, it seems all a bit effete, overwrought, and hardly in symphony with evangelical simplicity. 
Yet, monarchy perpetuates itself, not like an inspirational idea like the American Dream, but as a complex language of rites, customs and symbols into which monarch and ruled live and dwell and use.  The papacy has always had that kind of weight of tradition assigned to it.  That is why every single visible change to the way things are done around the Pope has weight.  For many people, the visceral reactions to Pope Benedict and now Pope Francis, prove this principle, but others do not grasp their importance: they see it as all adventures in missing the point.  They do not understand the weight of the ceremonial life in which the Roman Pontiff goes about being Peter. 
With Pope Benedict, we had a rich theological treasure and Magisterium which helped us to understand why he insisted on recovering aspects of the papal liturgy and ceremonial as an exercise in the hermeneutic of continuity.  He was profoundly influenced by the classical liturgical movement, but also clearly saw its tendency towards rationalism and puritanism.  His cultural idiom was forged by the Bavarian and Italian Baroque, and he was able to see these elements of continuity for their own beauty and shorn of any sinister ideological interpretation.   
Pope Francis, however, is an entirely new player on the papal stage.  He is a Jesuit, first of all, and we all know the conventional wisdom about Jesuits and liturgy as being like oil and water.  And he also comes from Latin America, a continent which I would offer is the land that the liturgical movement, both classical and new, forgot.  It is important not to jump to conclusions about why the first steps of his papacy seem to be so radically a rupture with the last steps of his predecessor.  But, at the same time, the weight of tradition, volens nolens, upon the Roman Pontiff is so serious that he cannot for long continue to “do his own thing” without it being interpreted in various ways not according to his intention.  Perhaps that is why the Popes for so long were content with being their own men, but conforming to the expectations of the ceremonial life of the Pope of Rome.  Such conformity may (and arguably should) be personally uncomfortable, agonizing and even annoying.  It is also a reminder of Our Lord’s words to Peter in John 21.18, Truly, truly I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would: but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.  Papal conformity in this way avoids individual holders of the office arbitrarily and eccentrically undertaking words, gestures and rites which may be interpreted in a way far from their actual intention.  Far from glorifying the papal office overmuch, it actually conforms the man to the office and holds him accountable to it and not his own preferences.  It causes him to disappear behind the office and become Peter and less himself.
It is also important to note that in the Church’s life, there has always been a tension between visible exuberance and simple austerity.  In the Middle Ages, Bernard of Clairvaux with his Spartan Cistercian simplicity arrested Europe just as much as Abbot Suger with his soaring riots of color and glass and precious materiel.  Yet Bernard and Suger belonged to the same Church.  The same Church produced the rococo churches of Austria and the mud huts of the Tamanrasset.  The tension between the two must not be capitalized upon by ideologues who see only one or the other as the true Gospel: they must live in communion with each other.
Three people in the Church’s tradition saw this very well.  The great Jesuit Robert Bellarmine lived in a time in which the Church desperately needed great reform.  His personal life was one of unmitigated austerity.  The people knew that underneath the pomp and circumstance of the office to which he was called, his was a life of penance and interior and exterior mortification.  Humility for him was not casting aside the weight of his office, with all of its expectations, but an interior virtue of obedience to it all.  And it was that, combined with a life of piety and zeal, which made him into the great reformer.  Blessed John XXIII was concerned to made the Gospel accessible to modern people, but he loved the ceremonial and liturgical splendor of the Church.  He embraced it and reveled in it, but his human warmth and virtue made all of it seem, not alien and weird, but even more beautiful. 
The deacon Francis was a servant of the Church because he was a servant of God.  His love of poverty and simplicity did not cause him to go off on revolutionary crusades against the Church’s rich liturgical and artistic patrimony.  He instead infused all of that patrimony with the presence of Christ.  Now the Pope who has taken his name, and seeks to rebuild the Church which has fallen into ruins, has the chance to live the virtue of humility and obedience by taking up the weight of the papal tradition in a hermeneutic of continuity.  If he infuses that tradition with his own personal love for the poor and the marginalized, his own personal simplicity and desire to not be on the world stage, he just might be the most incredible witness for Christ and His Church we have seen in a long time.                  

The Unfinished Liturgical Work of Benedict XVI

One of the things that I hoped against hope for during the pontificate of Benedict XVI was an encyclical on the liturgy marking the 50th anniversary of Sacrosanctum concilium.  That will now never come to pass.  Only the future can tell how much the liturgical theology of Joseph Ratzinger will continue to enter into the life of the Church via the Roman Magisterium.  That liturgical theology, of course, is itself the heir of the classical Liturgical Movement, applied to the problems of today in such a way as to herald a New Liturgical Movement.  This renewal movement, like its early 20th century predecessor, has not been a uniform one by any stretch of the imagination.  But it clearly reflects the thought of Joseph Ratzinger.
But there are also some significant lacunae that present themselves at the end of this papacy as well, that his successor will have to in some way address.  There is much in Ratzinger’s theology, which never saw itself translated into anything concrete via the munus regendi of the Roman Pontiff and the Curia.  There are other things which found their counterpart in things the Pope did by way of example, but were never enshrined in any other way.  A question burning in the hearts of many a disciple of the Pope of the Liturgy is whether any of those things will find their way into the next pontificate.  Or will they remain as they were in the papacy of Benedict XVI: quiet provocations to thoughtful people to integrate them into the ars celebrandi, not by force but by their intrinsic worth becoming more visible (or not) with time?  It can also be asked, and must be, whether the Reform of the Reform was a “quixotic movement doomed to extinction” as a priest friend once said of the Traditionalist Movement, a force which will lose its guiding star, fading before the burning sun of secularist might?  Or is now the moment of its greatest epiphany, as Pope Benedict leaves to his followers the shadow of a blueprint for how to go about it all?
I don’t think anyone can adequately answer these questions.  But we can look at the work that has been done in the years of Pope Benedict’s papacy and then surmise what is left to accomplish if we are to advance the goals of the New Liturgical Movement.       
Reorientation of the Liturgy
If I had to say what I thought is the single most important accomplishment of Pope Benedict’s liturgical magisterium, I would have to say the reorientation of the liturgy.  That might surprise you.  After all, the only public papal ad orientem celebrations were on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, in the context of what otherwise might have been an ordinary Italian Novus Ordo parish Mass.  No edict issued forth from Rome encouraging the type of celebration that Klaus Gamber and Joseph Ratzinger argued had an inherent and irreducible liturgical symbolic weight.  What has come to be called the Benedictine arrangement, which in reality is just the post-Tridentine arrangment of cross and candles on altars in Roman Basilicas where a confessio precluded celebration of the Mass in front of the altar, appeared in the papal liturgy and was imitated all over the world.  It had no legal force behind it.
But Ratzinger/Benedict was very clear on the christological orientation of the Sacred Liturgy.  The Mass had to be oriented towards the Christ of the Paschal Mystery.  His insistence on this principal was a needed corrective to a one-sided emphasis on self-celebrating community and the meal aspect of the Mass.  It serves to reduce the temptation of clerical presiders to be protagonists in creating the liturgy, and puts priests and liturgy commissariat apparatchniks in their place, which is not in the center of the celebration, but in its service.
Yet how is this principle translated into action?  It is foremost a spiritual principle which can be made visible in liturgical celebration in various ways.  The challenge for the future is that, now that more and more celebrants are choosing to celebrate the Mass facing what is now described as liturgical East, will it remain an eccentric option able to be marginalized, and hence manipulable by those who claim it causes division?  Will it grow unencumbered by discriminatory retributions on the part of those who despise it in principle and in action?  Or will a future edict of the Pope, the Congregation for Divine Worship, or Bishops’ Conferences mandate or proscribe it?
Leadership from on high will be needed if the movement towards ad orientem worship is going to contribute to the unity of the Church and not detract from it.  And that leadership cannot ignore the fundamental Christ-centered liturgical action of Benedict’s teaching.
Two Forms of the Roman Rite
The 2007 document Summorum pontificum and its 2011 follow-up Universae ecclesiae introduced a radically new notion into the life, and the law, of the Church.  The Roman Rite was henceforth to consist of two forms, an ordinary one (the 1970 Missal of Paul VI) and an extraordinary one (the 1962 Missal of Blessed John XXIII).  This declaration is unparalleled in the history of the Church.
But what has it actually done?  First of all, it has removed the stigma that ambiguously marked millions of Catholics who were attracted to the classical form of the Roman Rite.  No longer second-class citizens, traditionalist-minded faithful all of a sudden found themselves (at least most of them) no longer questioned for their loyalty to the Church.  What’s more, the traditionalist critique of men such as Lefebvre and Siri and their heirs has once more began to be heard in the open, and no longer in secret enclaves.  Whether this should be the case or not, it is, and a newer generation of clergy and young people are asking questions that were stifled only a decade ago.
Second, it has enshrined the principle that there is such a thing as legitimate liturgical diversity even within the one Roman Rite.  This has been used to free other ancient uses as well, such as the rites of the religious orders, and can be applied also to other historic uses. 
Third, it puts the Missal of Blessed John XXIII, and the pre-reformed rites, front and center in the Church’s life again. It is no longer marginalized, and cannot be.  The steady increase of the older missal’s adoption marks a new stage in the faithful’s expectations of liturgy. 
Yet, since the proclamation has done all these things, it also brings up numerous unresolved issues.  Will the Church revisit Vatican II and seek out its authentic interpretation?  How will the Church do this?  By another council, by the Synod of Bishops, by theologians laboring to bring it forth, by Roman decree?  How can the traditionalist critique that the liturgical reform was a rupture be integrated into a Church which has been oriented by Benedict XVI to seek out a hermenutic of continuity?  
The diversity of the Roman Rite also presents its own challenges.  Does that diversity only apply to preconciliar expressions of worship, or can it also apply to things like the Zairian Rite, the newer liturgical customs of individual monasteries, LifeTeen Masses and the Neocatechumenal Way?  In what does the Roman Rite consist now?
Greater access to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII also has had the effect of raising some searching questions about the preconciliar liturgical reform.  How will the Church address the growing momentum to reconsider the reforms of the Pontifical and Holy Week before Vatican II, and liberate the usage of previous forms of them?  Likewise, how will the Church address the ways in which Liturgiam authenticam inspired translations of the Ordinary Form which have not always been received well by liturgists and pewsitters alike and through processes which have not always been accepted by them either?  Will any of the indications of Sacrosanctum concilium, such as the use of the vernacular, be brought to bear on the Extraordinary Form?
Pastors, theologians and liturgists have a weighty task now in evaluating how the christological reorientation of the liturgy in this papacy, and its accompanying recontextualizing of the Roman Rite, looks in practice. 
Reform of the Reform
Ratzinger had indicated that the time was propitious for there to be a Reform of the Reform.  But in what does that consist?  For all of the rumoring of various propositions that were supposed to be coming out of the Vatican which would give flesh to a Reform of the Reform, nothing has ever seen the light of day.  Did Pope Benedict have a Marshall Plan for the reform of the liturgy, or was that a fanciful notion driven by wishful thinking and some inside knowledge?  Regardless, the motor which drove forward the whole project, the person of Pope Benedict XVI, has now been removed from the vehicle of the liturgy.  Can that motor be replaced by another charismatic person who understands what must be done, or by a series of liturgical and legal proposals to bring the liturgy to a state of what would make its Christocentric nature more apparent?
“Something must be done” has been on the lips of many Catholics about the liturgy for a very long time.  But the question now becomes what that something is, and how it can be done in a way so as to not compromise the unity of a Church which finds itself pressured from inside and out by dividing forces?
Can the proposals for how the liturgy should be reformed enter into a dialogue with the whole Church, with theologians, liturgists, pastors or lay faithful?  Or will they be imposed by the hierarchy?  Will their imposition by the hierarchy yield long-time benefits despite short-term discomfiture?  When do the Pope, the Curia, Bishops and pastors know the time is right to advance the Reform of the Reform, and in what does it consist?
Mutual Enrichment
The placement side by side of the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Missal was done with a hopeful view to mutual enrichment.  Some people have claimed that such enrichment has been too one-sided.  How are the two Missals supposed to enrich each other?  How can they do so if the mixing of the two forms is forbidden?  Is there a tertium quid which will recognize the merits of both and combine them in some fashion into a once again unified Roman rite?
Sacred Art and Music
The Liturgical Art and Sacred Music Commission of the Congregation for Divine Worship has been formed under the leadership of the Pope.  But what is its competency?  What is it supposed to do and how can it be used as a tool for the Reform of the Reform?  Will black lists of music and art be published, or will general guidelines for the arts in church be crafted?  How can they take into account what actually exists in the Church and the many different situations in which the Church’s worship is celebrated throughout the world?  Will the Congregation for Divine Worship oversee the Reform of the Reform as Consilium did the original reform?  How will the new commission be integrated into that project, if it ever sees the light of day?
Inculturation
Theologians and liturgists continue to puzzle over the guiding principles of inculturation in various spheres of the Church’s life: theology, liturgy, discipline, clerical formation, and more.  They also continue to puzzle over what that looks like in the concrete.  Where are the boundaries of such inculturation?  What limits do Revelation, canon law, or common sense impose on the experimentation which drives inculturation?  Will inculturation increase the diversity of the Roman Rite, or will there cease to be a recognizable Roman Rite?  Does inculturation apply only to mission countries in the developing world, or is there a sense in which the nations of Old Christendom need their own inculturation of the Gospel as well?
Ceremonial
The Pope, in all of his thought on the liturgy, avoids discussion of minute details of how the liturgy should be celebrated.  An exaggerated rubricism seems hardly amenable to the spirit of the times, but how does the papal vision look when it is celebrated according to the principles which guide it?  If it is up to individual interpretation, it is hard to see how the liturgy can remain a unifying factor in the Church’s life.  The Reform of the Reform advanced in an individualistic way can risk the same type of protagonism alien to Benedict’s conception of the ars celebrandi.  Greater guidance is needed from the Roman Curia on how to craft a workable ceremonial which incarnates the principles.  Greater guidance is needed to see how such a ceremonial may be adapted to the different situations in which the Church worships.  Is it too much to hope that a new General Instruction of the Roman Missal and an accompanying Ceremoniale Presbyterorum, rich in catechetical and theological depth alongside the necessary rubrics, may end the stop-and-go gradual transformation of the liturgy according to Benedictine principles and create a harmonious whole for the Ordinary Form just as the old books did for the Tridentine liturgy?
Reception of Holy Communion
The various indults allowing Communion in the hand have continued to exist and be granted, even in the papacy of Pope Benedict.  The norms for the reception and distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds remain what they are according to the third typical edition of the Roman Missal.  The norms for standing and kneeling remain what they are.  Yet, Pope Benedict himself chose to distribute Holy Communion to communicants who knelt at a prie-Dieu and received under the form of bread alone and directly on the tongue.  This mode of reception of Holy Communion, so closely associated with preconciliar practice and the rubrics of the Extraordinary Form, was clearly preferred by Pope Benedict XVI.  Books like that Athanasius Schneider’s Dominus est! provide a loud call for a return to that mode of reception.
In what sense can that mode be called traditional and preferred when there are many counterindications to its perduring historical presence?  What does it mean when the Roman Pontiff mandates it at his Masses, does not allow those receiving at his Masses to exercise all of the options allowed to them by liturgical law and at the hands of every other celebrant in the Roman Church, and clearly prefers it?  Do other modes merely indicate greater diversity in liturgical practice, and are they helpful for unity in worship?
The way in which Pope Benedict XVI distributed Holy Communion at his Masses reflects much of the thought in traditionalist and Reform of the Reform quarters, and goes against everything the Liturgical Establishment has said for 50 years should be the norm.  Perhaps during this Year of Faith there can be a reflection on how modes of distribution of Holy Communion should be located in the context of what it means to be properly disposed to receive, and how they have positively or negatively affected faith in the Real Presence.  It is time to address whether, and to what extent, Communion in the hand, Communion under both species, and Extraordinary Ministers have contributed to the growing crisis of faith.  It is also time to address whether aspects of the liturgical celebration, such as the mode of reception, should be conformed to the practice of the early Church, to pre-Vatican II practice, or to current needs, especially in light of confusion as to sacramental theology.  For decades now the Roman Magisterium has urged proper catechesis to go along with what has become accepted practice in many places for the current modes, but can a case be made for the modes themselves obviating or obscuring what is done in the catechesis?
Also, given that we have this struggle between norms in liturgical books and indults, local exceptions and eccentric practices, is it too much to ask that the Roman Magisterium clarify or mandate one form of reception for Holy Communion for the Roman Rite?  If Holy Communion is supposed to be a sign par excellence of the unity of the Body of Christ, can this bewildering diversity of practices in the modes of reception of Holy Communion really manifest and help preserve that unity? 
Papal Liturgy and the Roman Tradition
People for centuries have looked to Rome for how to celebrate liturgy (or how not to, as well).  Modern media have made it possible for everyone to analyze and imitate (or react against) what they see, particularly at papal liturgies.  The aesthetic cultivated under Pope Paul VI and Virgilio Noë became a standard for what the post-conciliar liturgy should look like, and how it should be celebrated.  Continuing under Bl. John Paul II and Piero Marini, this aesthetic formed opinions about how the reformed rites should be celebrated.
Under Pope Benedict XVI, however, something different has happened.  While the Noë look continues to a certain extent in the Vatican Basilica liturgies and in international celebrations, there has been a progressive adoption, at least in papal liturgies at the Roman Basilicas, of an ars celebrandi, from vesture and vestments to interpretation of rites, which to many recalls the papal liturgy before the Second Vatican Council.  To those who live outside the clerical culture of Italy, this has become a source of concern.  Many have interpreted it as a symbolic repudiation of the ecclesiology and liturgical reform of Vatican II.  Some have charged that it is a return to triumphalism, mediated by the restoration of a style associated with the now-abolished Papal Court and too tied to Baroque ceremonial traditions.  While many of those who make these comments are of a reformist, self-identifying liberal bent, this is not the case of all of the detractors.
Even conservative columnist George Weigel in his recent book Evangelical Catholicism identifies this trend with what he sees as “Counter-Reformation Catholicism” whose time has come and gone, and is no longer applicable to today’s needs.  As more and more younger clergy reproduce this new/old style in their own spheres, he intimates that it is “precious” and “prissy” and must be rejected as an unwelcome effeminate accretion to the liturgy.
It can be easy for critics of this Benedictine style to charge that these elements are all exercises in “retro-liturgy.”  Because many people associate so-called fiddleback chasubles, lace albs and surplices and birettas with the pre-Noë aesthetic, they also surmise that their use is evidence, at best, of nostalgia, and at worst, of moral degeneracy. 
Yet, outside of the Vatican, these same things are not interpreted, at least in Italian clerical circles, the same way.  The dichotomy applied to them is not liberal/traditionalist, but antico/moderno.  The choice for their use depends on a complicated calculus which includes the aesthetic of the church building (are you in a Baroque building, a Bauhaus church, or a Neo-Gothic chapel), the degree of solemnity (is it a feria of Lent or is it Easter Sunday), and the rank of the celebrant (is it a permanent deacon doing a Baptism or the Pope at a canonization).  While to outsiders, it may seem entirely too much falderol, it does represent a certain continuity with what came before.  It is a cultural thing which is peculiarly Roman, and has little to do with ecclesiology and liturgical questions in se.
The Roman basilica aesthetic and ars celebrandi is a tradition which has been handed down.  Gromier and Dante’s cultivation of it had its successor in Franck Quoëx’s application of it to the Extraordinary Form in our time and in Guido Marini’s reapplication of it, d’après la scuola liturgica siriana-genovese, to the papal liturgy.
But is the cultivation of this style in the Benedictine papacy a secret attempt to force effete nostalgia via Counter Reformation frocks upon an unwilling Pilgrim Church?  Is it an exercise in the hermeneutic of continuity, by stressing that the post-Vatican II papacy is in communion with that, both of Paul VI and Pius XII, at least in some visible way?  Is it simply bringing forth things new and old from the Church’s storehouse?  Or is it just a sign that polyester is out and brocade is back in?  And why have many younger people, particularly clergy, responded so enthusiastically to it?
Part of this question also involves concrete actions which have a symbolic weight.  Until recently, the Pope in the reformed liturgy was the only person who did not wear a Eucharistic vestment proper to his rank.  The restoration of the fanon brought back an important liturgical principle.  That action was rejected by many, because they depart from an esentially conciliarist principle that the Pope is really primus inter pares, and if anything should dress like any other Bishop, or any other Christian.  Difference is interpreted as a sign of willful clericalist discrimination.  Or the fanon is seen as an incomprehensible piece of nostalgia for people who like dressing up.
In reality, the fanon is the liturgical complement to the nota previa to Lumen gentium.  Just as the conciliar constitution on the Church had to have an appendage to salvage a proper understanding of the Roman papacy against the just clarification of the episcopal office by Vatican II, the fanon underscores the papal office against the anti-papal court style of the reformed rites.
Even though the Holy Father himself neverly celebrated the Extraordinary Form publicly, his unleashing of Summorum pontificum has led to a renewal of interest in both the papal and pontifical forms of that liturgy.  But that has led to some thorny issues.  Are celebrations of Bishops and the Pope in the Extraordinary Form to be brought in line with Pontificalis Domus of 1968, for example?  Are they subject to the 1983 Code of Canon Law (forbidding Mass coram Ss.mo)?  Or are they carried out according to the terms of the old liturgical books without reference to current legislation?  The fact that these are happening is already leading to calls for a revision of the austere pruning of Pontificalis Domus and the gutting of the Pontifical and Ceremonial in the revised rites.
In short, is the reappropriation of certain elements of Roman Basilica style in this reign a blip on the screen?  Were they just pushed by the private taste of Marini II and Gänswein?  Or are they part and parcel of a Reform of the Reform which will continue on into the next pontificate?
Conclusion
Nobody doubts that Ratzinger’s rich teaching and Benedict’s beautiful practice of the liturgy has been tremendously influential in a brief space of time.  But has it had time to take root, and will it be appreciated and advanced in the next pontificate?  The liturgy in our time is in a delicate situation, in a time of transition.  Only the Spirit can say how the next generation will engage the Sacred Liturgy, and whether Benedict’s unfinished work will morph into an enduring legacy.   

Benedict XVI and the Mustard Seed



On 19 April 2005 I made it into Piazza San Pietro just as smoke was coming out of the chimney of the Sistine Chapel.  It was a grey cloudy day, so it was hard to make out whether the smoke was white or black.  The bells were supposed to ring to announce the election of the successor to John Paul II, but nothing happened, so we were all confused.  The Piazza began to fill with more and more people, seminarians, sisters and laypeople running down the Via della Conciliazione as fast as they could.  The atmosphere was electric, because we all knew that we were going to participate in something historic.
Rome had been my home for almost seven years by that point.  I had moved there after graduating from Christendom College because I wanted to live in the heart of Christendom, close to the Holy Father.  I also was desperate to find my place in the Church, to find my vocation. When I entered seminary a year after my move to the Eternal City, I passed through the portals of the Roman Major Seminary, the house of formation for the Diocese of Rome.  I was bonded to Rome, to Peter and to the Church, and began to find my place in the Church and in the world.
Those were the declining years of John Paul II’s reign.  I had several opportunities to meet and serve the Pope, and I was always awed in his presence.  To see him so sick and suffering, but carrying on as he did, was amazing.  But there was another figure who had always been close to me: Joseph Ratzinger.  Even as I was always close to John Paul II, it was Ratzinger who inspired me from an early age.  I had read Vittorio Messori’s The Ratzinger Report when I was in high school, and at college read deeply from the rich canon of Ratzinger’s theological works.  I knew that to be steeped in Ratzinger’s thought was not always to make oneself appreciated.
Shortly after I entered the seminary, Ratzinger’s long awaited The Spirit of the Liturgy came out.  I had devoured all of his other writings on the liturgy, and longed to see how his teaching on the sacred liturgy and music could be lived in the heart of the Church.  But the other seminarians warned me that to identify myself too closely with Ratzinger was “career suicide.”  All I had ever wanted to be was a parish priest anyway, so I was not worried about that.  Yet I was a New Man at the seminary and so I exchanged the Ignatius Press cover of that seminal work for a 1970s bookcover of the encyclicals of Paul VI.  Needless to say, I fooled no one.  That book sparked endless discussion at the seminary, in favor and against, and I increasingly began to imbibe the Ratzingerian view of the world, the Church and theology.  A professor at the Gregorian nicknamed me Ratzinger because I always invoked his name, a moniker of which I was humbled and proud, even if it was meant as a light-hearted jab.
For a seminarian in Rome in the early years of the Third Millennium, Ratzinger was a formidable personage.  I heard him speak several times, and wanted so much to spend hours in a room picking his brain on so many things.  The only regret that I take with me from those years in Rome is that I was so struck by his humility I could never bring myself to crowd around him like the others did.  But my devotion was total.  From time to time, I would serve the early Masses at St Peter’s Basilica, and come across the Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith as he ambled across the Piazza to go to to work.  And I always shouted out, Buon giorno, Eminenza! hoping one day to serve him in some capacity.
After John Paul II’s death, Ratzinger’s presence, quiet, serene and hopeful, dominated the Roman scene.  I participated in so many Masses both for the mourning for the passing of the only Pope I had never known and the election of the next Peter.  As the cardinals filed by, there were sounds of enthusiasm from the faithful.  But whenever Ratzinger walked by, the sound was deafening.  If vox populi, vox Dei had any weight with the porporati at all, they could not have ignored the visible and audible response of the People of God to the Bavarian theologian.
He is a theologian of incomparable stature.  When the Bishop of Charleston assigned me to study dogmatic theology for my license, it was not my first choice. I had never thought of it before; I wanted to be a liturgist.  But in Ratzinger I uncovered the fact that liturgy, and its reform and restoration, finds its deepest meaning in the Christ which dogmatic theology encounters in awe and wonder.  Dogma became the academic road ecclesiastical obedience laid out for me, and it bound me even more to the man who would be elected as the Successor to St Peter.
I cannot adequately describe what I felt to hear the word Joseph as the Dean proclaimed the new Pope.  I knew it had to be him.  I knew for weeks it had to be him.  I count the day of his election as one of the happiest of my life, because it was so personally significant to me.  A man who had inspired me to be a priest, a theologian and a Christian engaged with both the Tradition and the modern world at the same time now reigned from the Throne of the Fisherman. 
The Mass of the Inauguration of the Petrine Ministry and his Enseatment at the Lateran Basilica were moments of pure joy for me.  I wanted to call them coronation and enthronement, they were so glorious.  But more impressive than the ceremonies surrounding these historical events I was privileged to take a part in, was listening to him teach as Peter.  Clear, distinct, and poetic all at the same time.  A master class with one of the greatest professors in human history was being offered to all of humanity, if we would just listen and learn.
During the Mass at the Lateran Basilica, I was given the great honor to distribute Holy Communion.  I was upset, however, to discover that I was to go all the way outside of the Basilica and down the Piazza and out into the streets to perform my appointed task.  Selfishly, I balked at the idea of not being able to participate in the end of a liturgy which meant so much for me.  But as I looked back at the grand doors of the Mother and Head of all the Churches of the City and the World, carrying Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament in my hands, I was flooded with a sense of completion.  Formed close to the heart of the Church, I was imbued with spirit of Eternal Rome, the vision of Pope Benedict XVI and the mission of the fishermen.  It would not do for me to tarry around Rome while the man I revered as my greatest Teacher made the world into his classroom.  Like any good student, I had to go back into my mission field to hand on what I had received. 
The only Pope I have ever named in the Canon has been Benedict.  Today, the day on which he announces his resignation, I offered the Ordinary Form in English and said his name like I have every day of my priesthood.  I offered that Mass, on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, and prayed for him, knowing he was sick, and all the sick on this World Day dedicated to them.  After Mass, I discovered the news by text message from a friend I had called from the Piazza on Election Day.  Later that day, I offered the Extraordinary Form in Latin.  I’m not sure if what I did was rubrically correct, but to the prayers of this day’s feast I added the prayers for the Pope.  And I freely admit how hard it was for me to say that name that I have pronounced every day since my Ordination shortly after his election with such gratitude. 
I am a priest of the Benedict XVI Generation. 
The way that I approach theology, liturgy, preaching, pastoral life, everything, has been profoundly influenced by this amazing man.  I will always thank God for his constant presence in my life, and in the lives of those I touch because of his example to me.  I have enough sentiment in me to want to write the Holy Father personally to tell him all this, but I know that he will never receive it.  But even in that he continues to teach me.
Few understood the rich symbolism involved when Benedict XVI visited the grave of the oft misunderstood Celestine V and placed his pallium upon it in 2009.  Now, in hindsight, it comes across as a prophetic moment.  As the Sovereign Pontiff, our sweet Christ on Earth, transitions into a life of prayer and penance, in a hidden Nazareth within the walls of the Vatican, he shows us that the Church belongs to Christ.  The sign of the mustard seed becomes a reality in the 265th successor to St Peter.
In 1996, in his famous interview with Peter Seewald, he said, Maybe we are facing a new and different kind of epoch in the church’s history, where Christianity will again be characterized more by the mustard seed, where it will exist in small, seemingly insignificant groups that nonetheless live an intense struggle against evil and bring good into the world – that let God in.  
It is the hallmark of a man who practices what he preaches.  Pope Benedict XVI shows us the way by example of how to live as a Christian in a world increasingly hostile to the Gospel and the Church: as mustard seeds of faith.  He may not know it until the Final Judgment, but Joseph Ratzinger has inspired countless young men and women, priests, religious and laypeople to be just like those mustard seeds.  We are privileged that he has shown us the way.   Viva il Papa!       

Vespers and Compline in a Southern City

My first assignment as a priest was at St Mary’s in Greenville, SC, the parish that was mentioned in George Weigel’s book Letters to a Young Catholic.  One of the first projects the pastor, Fr Jay Scott Newman, and I had was to find ways to introduce the Divine Office to the people there.  So we decided for Advent and Lent to start Vespers and Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament.  I have to admit that it took some time just to get everything together in order to do it.  We had to create our own worship aid that was easy enough for someone to follow who had never seen Evening Prayer before.  We enlisted the Choir’s help, and thus started a new phase in the life of a parish whose liturgical life was exemplary, and also had formed me as a young man to think liturgically.
It is now several years later, and Advent and Lent Vespers is a fixed event of the area’s Church year.  One of my old altar boys called me last night to tell me that the church, which seats about 450, was comfortably full.  I paused to think how many more people were at Vespers in my home parish than there would be at St Peter’s in Rome or Notre Dame in Paris, places where I often attended Sunday Vespers when I lived in those amazing cities.


your humble scribe at St Mary’s during Advent Vespers 2006

St Mary’s uses the Liturgy of the Hours in English for the service, with one of the Hymns from the Solemn Mass celebrated earlier in the day and with the Psalmody according to the St Meinrad tones.  The Choir supplies an Anthem after the sung Reading and often the Magnificat, in settings either according to the Roman School of Palestrina or the Anglican tradition.  Vespers has become a bit of an ecumenical event, as well, with Episcopalians and Lutherans and even the stray Presbyterian making Vespers at St Mary’s a usual part of their Kalendar.
Of course, anyone who knows the parish likes to tease that it puts Canterbury Cathedral to shame in how Anglican it feels.  It is no surprise then, that after Vespers the Anglican Ordinariate Community celebrates Mass there.  But it is a place which is Catholic to the core, and the celebration of Vespers has been the source of numerous graces for many people in Upstate South Carolina.
I am now across town at the daughter parish, Prince of Peace.  St Mary’s, in its neo-Gothic Anglican-ish splendor, represents the best of the Reform of the Reform.  Prince of Peace is one of the most interesting churches I have ever seen. It is a postmodern take on Romanesque, and combines everything from steel and concrete to marble and wood.  There, the ethos of the Roman Basilicas prevails, with both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite celebrated every day. 
We already recite Night Prayer often during the week according to the Liturgy of the Hours, and POP is the kind of place where you see 20 and 30-somethings sitting in our Perpetual Adoration Chapel reading the Divine Office of John XXIII on their IPad Minis.
During Eastertide of last year, we decided to do Sunday Vespers and Benediction in Latin according to the Liber usualis.  We did several Sundays where the Curate, Fr Richard Tomlinson, taught about the spirituality and history of the Divine Office and the Latin of the Office, and I taught the chant.  I knew that, when the time came to do it, it would not be quite as polished as what goes on at the Mother Church down town, but I wanted to get the people to have the confidence to tackle such a difficult thing as Sunday Vespers in the traditional form.  They did quite well, but it was a big thing to accomplish.  Entirely a cappella, the Curate and the Servers did a fine job of carrying off the ceremonies while we capably sang the services those Sundays, even though there were a few hiccups here and there.


Prince of Peace during Assumption Solemn High EF Mass 2012
I did not want to compete with the Mother Church for Advent and Lent, and by chance I came upon a booklet of Sunday Compline in English and Latin, with music for both, from Collegeville’s Popular Liturgical Library from way back in the day.  Our excellent Director of Music, Mr Alan Reed, who also directs the Chicora Voices choir for young people in the city, set about producing something similar for us at Prince of Peace. 
We decided to do Compline in the traditional form in English, to get more of the parish involved.  Last night we had our first go at it.  I was a little worried, because I was the only person in the church who had ever seen this done before, in English or in Latin, and I wondered how it would go.  We had the people in the two choirs in opposite transepts, and we set about doing it. 
I was so proud of my little parish!  People came from both the OF and EF parts of the parish, and the two choirs went back and forth with the Gregorian psalmody like they had done this all their life.  It was not perfect, but it was beautiful.  The simplicity of the rite itself, the darkened church, the plainsong without the organ: we all had the confidence to pray in this form, although it was entirely new to everyone there. 
So if you happen to be in Upstate South Carolina on a Sunday in the tempi forti, check out Vespers at 5pm at St Mary’s downtown and then truck out to the suburb of Taylors at 7.30pm for Compline.  Both are very different experiences of the Liturgy of the Hours, but beautiful ones.  It is a great grace to live in the buckle of the Bible Belt and have such an embarrassment of riches to have to say, “Where can I go for beautiful liturgy in two forms of the Roman Rite?  There are too many choices!”       

Léon Gromier: Liturgical Reform Between Rupture and Continuity

Msgr Léon Gromier (1879-1965)


Up until a few years ago, any peep of concern about the 1970 Missal of Paul VI was adduced as evidence of schism and obscurantism.  Klaus Gamber’s The Reform of the Liturgy, first published in 1981 in Germany and in English translation in 1993, changed all that.  Likewise, in traditionalist circles, peeps of concern about the 1962 Missal of John XXIII were squelched.  Today, however, searching questions about the Pauline Reform are being asked out loud from the halls of the Vatican to blogs with a readership of 2, and questions about the liturgical reforms of both John XXIII and Pius XII are beginning to be taken seriously.  Now, there are still some quarters where the very mention of such criticism is laughed at.  Those who suggest a closer analysis of the pre-Vatican II liturgical reform are often accused of wanting to found a Society of Pope Pius II.5, since X and V already exist, and they are rejected as hopelessly wedded to “older is better” in the face of scholarship and common sense.
Yet, there are thinkers in the Church who are earnestly trying to understand where a hermeneutic of rupture has been applied to various aspects of the Church’s life, and just how continuity is or is not reform.  The only approved form of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is the 1962 Missal and its associated books.  But the provision in Universae ecclesiae 52 allowing religious orders to use their proper rites may give hope to some that a further liberalization to employ previous editions of the Roman Missal, such as those pre-dating the 1955 Pian Reform of Holy Week, is possible. 
But why should we even bother looking at the pre-Vatican II liturgical reform?  The Church’s current liturgical law only allows the 1962 Missal and most EF enthusiasts seem perfectly content using it.  But if we are to discern, under the Church’s authority, where a hermeneutic of rupture has been applied to the liturgical life of the Church, it seems nonsensical to stop at an arbitrary date or edition of the Missal such as 1970, 1962, 1955, or even 1570.  Is every abridgement, replacement or omission evidence of rupture, or can they be seen as little pieces of thread in the larger tapestry of liturgical reform?  I should like to argue that a closer look needs to be paid to the pre-Vatican II liturgical reform.
Recently I came across a name that I had never heard before, and I would bet that even the most seasoned of Chant Café readers are unlikely to be familiar with him either.  Léon Gromier (1879-1965) is best known as one of the Ceremonieri of Pius XII’s papal liturgy.   But this priest of Autun had been in Rome since his ordination in 1902 and was a consultor on matters liturgical from the time of St Pius X.  As early as 1936, he expressed loud reservations about the trajectory of liturgical discussions, such as that of restoring the Easter Vigil to celebration during the night.  With characteristic aplomb, he made his opinions loud and clear, and did not rise in an ecclesiastical career, but his knowledge was such that even those who disagreed with him still respected him. 
You can find some information on Gromier and excerpts of his works in Italian and French here.  He is best known for his commentary on the old Caeremoniale Episcoporum, which I have tried in vain to obtain.  But what struck me as the most interesting was a conference Gromier gave in Paris in 1960.  You can read it in its original French or in its English translation by the always interesting-to-read Anthony Chadwick. 
This conference makes for interesting, if difficult, reading.  As the transcription of a talk, it often reads, especially in its translation, not very linearly.  One must be patient with editorializing and the occasional shot across the bow at his liturgical adversaries.  But there is also much here that I find fascinating.
An impression that I have gotten from studying the successive series of texts of the Holy Week ceremonies, as well as their accompanying rubrics, is of a certain amount of “cut and paste.”  Anyone who is familiar with the Breviary of St Pius X who has then switched to that of John XXIII knows of those awkward moments where et reliqua is preceded by a mental ma da dov’é abbiamo cominciato qua?  Gromier in this talk often points out where the “cut and paste” mentality has produced some very difficult to explain things in the liturgical reform up to 1960.  One wonders if these were things which Evelyn Waugh found so irksome in his letters to Cardinal Heenan.
But before we look at what some of those things are, there is an observation in order.  Before we cut anything, it behooves us to really understand why what was there, was there in the first place.  Often, we invent a reason why something should be changed or removed, which does not respect the reason for its existence and also does not foresee unintended consequences.  This is true in many aspects of our life, and, as Gromier points out, is also true in the liturgy. 
Gromier makes a distinction between what he sees as the true Roman liturgical spirit embodied in the texts, rubrics and ceremonial traditions of the Roman liturgical books, and a very different spirit animating those he calls les pastoraux, what we might call the “pastoral liturgists” one assumes were imbued with Liturgical Movement ideas more akin to Guardini than Guéranger. 
He begins his talk with the indication that the proposed restoration of Holy Week was to commence with the timing of the service.  Fifty years out from Sacrosanctum concilium, many priests and lay faithful are shocked to hear that, up until the middle of the last century, centuries had gone by with the Triduum services celebrated in the morning.  The usual quips about the “Mass of the Lord’s Breakfast” and the flame of the paschal candle not being able to be seen because of light bathing the church usually come up.  Most liturgists just dismissed the idea of having services at those times as an inexplicable anachronism tied to some idea that Mass was not supposed to be celebrated after noon.  But Gromier points out that the timing was intimately connected with the Church’s ancient discipline of fasting, which of course had been significantly relaxed. 
He talks about the renaming of the services.  He asks why the ancient name of Good Friday as In Parasceve had to be replaced by the Passion and Death of the Lord, when passion as a concept included death, and if so, why not call the Passion Gospel the Passion and Death Gospel?  He talks about why the Passion and the Gospel were two distinct things, which were then in 1955 melded into one history.   Gromier also complains of the fact that in the 1955 Holy Week, Vespers is omitted in Holy Thursday and Good Friday and Compline on each day of the Triduum. 
One of the more interesting parts of the talk is when he takes issue with the adjective solemn as applied in the 1955 Reform.  He writes, “The solemnity of liturgical services is not an optional decoration; it is of the nature of the service . . . Outside of this, so-called solemnity is not an amplifying enticement, to impress and score the goal .  . . we made a prodigious use of the word solemn even for necessarily or intrinsically solemn acts.  We use words, believing that we can put more solemnity into the Procession of Palms than into that of Candlemas, more solemnity into the Procession of Maundy Thursday than that of Good Friday (abolished as we shall see).  Always on the same slippery slope, we learn that the Passion of Good Friday is sung solemnly, as if it could be sung in another fashion.”
Here Gromier identifies a crucial characteristic of the Reformed Liturgy that I had never been able to put into words.  Theologians often talk about the svolta antropologica, a man-centered volte-face of theology after Rahner.  Here we have a clear liturgical complement.  Solemnity no longer arises from the nature of the Christological mystery being celebrated, but of how we go about celebrating it, and what we do to celebrate it.  The Eucharistic Processions of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday were solemn before because of their reference to Christ being carried to and from the Sepulchre.  After 1955, Maundy Thursday remains solemn because incense and song and candles accompany the Procession.  Good Friday ceases to be so because those things that we do are omitted.  I think this is a point worthy of further reflection.  How often in our parishes, basilicas and papal liturgies have we seen attempts at solemnization of the liturgy interpreted as our use of Latin, candles and incense rather than the solemn nature of certain ceremonies rising from their intrinsic Christological import? 
Our French liturgist here also speaks at length about blessings being done no longer on the altar or as close to the altar as possible (ashes, palms, candles, oils) but on a table in front of the people.  He also points out that, after placing these blessings in front of the people so they could ostensibly see what was going on, the rites were so drastically simplified so that there was not much left to see.     
He blames the pastoral liturgists for creating a situation which introduced several ambiguities and contradictions within the ceremonies themselves.  He points out the fact that the clergy are instructed to no longer hold palms on Palm Sunday during the Passion, forgetting that the reason the clergy held the palms was in deference to a reference to St Augustine, whose homily was read that day in Matins.
Often the changes in rubrics belie confusion as to their origin.  The change of color in the Palm Sunday liturgy is an example.  In the pre-Pian liturgy, Gromier, claims the Roman color was always purple (and black in Paris and red in Milan).  In 1955, the Procession is in red and the Mass is in purple, stemming from the introduction of the idea of red and triumphant, and downplaying the predominant theme of Passion in the Palm Sunday liturgy.  Now, of course, Palm Sunday and Good Friday in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite are entirely in red, a sign of the capitulation of the Roman liturgy to the idea of triumph which, arguably for Gromier at least, is not a properly Roman liturgical idea.
While Gromier derides the symbolic and liturgical value of the changes, he also indicates the practical ramifications of the changes.  The celebrant having to walk around sprinkling palms everywhere in the church, introducing laymen into the sanctuary for the Mandatum, the lack of instructions as to the veiling of the processional cross or the altar for Palm Sunday, the removal of the Cross from the altar just to be brought back to it on Good Friday, the changes of the vestments on Good Friday, carrying a large and heavy paschal candle, etc. 
It is common nowadays to hear that the central focus of the liturgical action is the altar.  Some argue that the tabernacle should not even reside on or near the altar because it “distracts” from the Action during Mass.  Everyone is taught that the altar is the symbol of Christ and is worthy of respect with a bow.  But Gromier states, “The Roman Pontifical teaches us that we do not greet a new altar before having placed its cross.  The altar itself is not the object of veneration, but the cross that dominates it, and to which all prayers are addressed.  The altar without a cross, if it is worthy of being kissed, has no right to a bow or genuflection . . . for an altar is not invoked.”  Common practice today is for the Cross to not be on the altar at all, and for the altar as table to occupy much of the attention in reverence.  One wonders what Gromier would say about the later rubric which directs the Celebrant at the Oremus for the collects to bow towards the book and no longer towards the cross.  Today, the altar and the cross have been separated as if they no longer belong together, much as altar and tabernacle have been separated (malgré Pius XII’s admonition against it).  Pope Benedict XVI’s custom of having the Cross on the Altar, referred to as the Benedictine arrangementalthough it is perhaps more accurately referred to as the Roman basilica arrangement, has restored the unity between Cross and Altar and re-oriented liturgical prayer towards the Cross and away from the Celebrant at the Altar.  I have no idea if Josef Ratzinger, developing this idea in The Spirit of the Liturgy was aware of Gromier’s critique on this point or not, but it is a happy phenomenon that clergy are imitating the papal liturgy in this fashion and giving priority to the cross as a focus of liturgical action, no longer separated from the altar. 
The confusion of symbolism in the 1955 Holy Week led to some oddities that Gromier criticizes.  “The procession of Maundy Thursday, definitively instituted by Sixtus IV (+1484), and that of Good Friday, instituted by John XXII (+1334), therefore by the same authority, have the same object, same purpose, same solemnity, except the festive character of the first and the mourning of the second.  Why abolish one and keep the other?”  He asks why, when fonts, baptismal water and baptisms go together, they are separated out during the Vigil: “the pastorals make baptismal water and baptize in a basin, and in this container they carry it to the font, singing the song of a thirsty deer, which has already drunk, and which is going towards a dry font.”  Why is the renewal of baptismal vows from the custom of First Communion of children inserted into the Vigil after baptisms have already been done, and if so, why not renew the marriage vows of all present at a wedding?
It may be easy to surmise in reading Gromier’s talk that the man was just a curmudgeon opposed in principle to all novelty.  Yet he does not argue entirely against the reform of the times of the Triduum, even as he protests against the removal of them from the context of their fasting discipline and Breviary accompaniment.  He does not argue against the distribution of Communion at the Good Friday Liturgy of the Presanctified, even as he lambastes the rubric of eating the Host without also drinking the ablutions associated with it, as if anyone ever ate without drinking.  The impression that comes across is that Gromier issues a pointed challenge to the pastorals to provide better theological, historical and practical rationales for all they accomplished during the reform.               
As Gromier declares, “Certain modifications of tradition, so well-known, are just as dishonest as they are daring.”  It is a lapidary statement, meant to provoke.  Fifty-two years after he made it, these words still provoke strong reactions.  If we are to explore how Vatican II is an exercise in continuity with the tradition, and to see how the liturgy can be reformed and still be in conformity with the tradition, we must go back to the sources.  Far from accepting tout court the accepted history of the liturgical reform and Vatican II as proffered by the Bologna School and the Liturgical Establishment, we have an opportunity for true ressourcement.  We need not discard the words of criticism of the liturgical reform, whether it be Léon Gromier’s often acerbic analysis of the changes in the liturgy in the pre-Vatican II period, or the linguistic observations of those who express reservations against the new English translation of the third editio typica of the Pauline Missale Romanum.  All of these critiques should be entertained, not out of a sense of ideological protest or loyal dissent, but in an effort to serenely ascertain what has happened, why it happened, and how to recover the spirit of the liturgy, ever ancient and ever new, for today and tomorrow.   

Pontificia Academia Latinitatis

Latina lingua, Pope Benedict XVI’s recent motu proprio establishing the Pontifical Latin Academy, is a great gift to the entire Church.  It recalls that almost unknown document of Blessed John XXIII, Veterum sapientia , a document many people in the Church had given over for dead.  But it also plans for the future.  Now, of course, those who are unfamiliar with Pontifical Academies may not entirely be sure what they do.  Often they serve as high-level think-tanks for scholars in the Church.  One thinks of the prestigious Real Academia Española or the Academie française, and posits that the Church may, with this new initiative, have a decisive rôle in the preservation and propagation of Latin.

The establishment of the Pontifical Latin Academy complements the work already being done in the Secretariat of State and the Institute for Higher Latin Studies at the Salesianum in Rome.  But it also ups the ante, so to speak, in giving a forum for scholars.  I also think that it has the opportunity to be a part, not only of the New Evangelization, but of the outreach the Holy Father has so adroitly encouraged among non-believers, such as the Courts of the Gentiles.

Catholic intellectuals have often bemoaned their increasing isolation in academia.  As many abandoned Latin as a force of energy in the life of the Church, in many places the only people who kept Latin alive were academics in classics departments in institutions of higher learning.  While there have always been some Catholics among them, Classics is now often a discipline where to be an orthodox Catholic is frowned upon.  Yet the Catholic Church, more than any other grouping in society, is poised for a renaissance of Latin learning, language and scholarship.  This encouragement from the Magisterium of the Church is a clear indication that classics studies are important to the Church, that vibrant intellectual scholarship (as opposed to ideologized hack “scholarship”) is part of the Church’s understanding of her role in promoting the artistic and intellectual patrimony of humanity.

But there are still far too many quarters in the Church where Latin is still derided, not just in the celebration of the sacred liturgy, but even in attempts to study it.  How many parochial schools and colleges require any Latin at all any more?  Even in Italy, where the famed liceo classico turned out generations of top-notch Catholic classicists, pressures increase to move away from classical instruction in schools.  In many Catholic seminaries, even after repeated requests from the Holy See, seminarians are lucky to get two years of Latin at the most.  In many American seminaries, lip service is paid to the idea that Latin is part of the curriculum, but ask a third year theologian to translate an easy passage from the Liturgia horarum, even with a dictionary, and the results are often less than adequate.

In the meantime, Reformed seminaries spend much of their time teaching their future pastors Greek and Hebrew, so that they can all read the Scriptures in their “original languages” (although that description is itself open to debate).  Classics departments all over the world continue to churn out competent researchers and teachers.  But how many Bishops demand that their seminarians know Greek, Hebrew and Latin at the level to do serious reading?  How many Bishops have sent young priests to study theology and canon law, only to discover that they do not have the tools in classical languages to do their work properly?  How many departments of theology have to water down their requirements because more and more students, and even professors, cannot read Latin?  How many Bishops send their young priests to do advanced work in the classical languages, to teach in seminaries, colleges and high schools?

Like many other young priests, I feel like I am spending a lot of time catching up.  I had two years of Latin, a year of Greek and a semester of Hebrew as an undergraduate.  But when I went off to the seminary, I was constantly dispensed based on the fact that I did well in those classes.  But I knew that I was woefully unprepared to do the work that I needed to do.  I was fortunate enough to do two years with the famous Reginald Foster in Rome, but when I wanted to do more, I was told by my seminary superiors that it conflicted with my house job as architriclinus, so I had to abandon my Latin studies to keep the kitchen going.  Now, while I do not regret all the time I spent in the kitchen during my seminary years, a skill for which I am eternally grateful, I always felt like, had I been able to complete Foster’s five year cycle, I would be in much better shape to do my studies.  When I went off to do my doctoral studies, I had to do my work in modern theology, because my grasp of modern languages was much better than my classical languages.  But it still limits me.  I am reading Augustine’s De civitate Dei in the Loeb edition now, and constantly refer to the English.  Would I even have been allowed to be ordained years ago without being able to read Augustine without translation, much less be granted a licentiate and doctorate in sacred theology?

I mention all of this, because I have talked with many young clergy and laity who are theologians who feel this lack of tools to do serious work.  I am now a parish priest, so my Latin is sufficient to celebrate the Extraordinary Form and teach the school kids (who have 4 years of Latin) how to sing Gregorian chant for Mass.  But what about my friends who want to be theologians in the heart of the Church?  What about my priest confreres who want to be able to serve the Church, and need a better level of classical languages in order to do so?

I am very excited about the possibilities of the Pontifical Latin Academy.  But I also hope, maybe against hope, that it might be the beginning of a movement to train classicists to serve in dioceses, schools, universities and seminaries.  Will it be just another team of scholars who engage in purely academic discussions about Latinity (as wonderful as that is), or will the Church be able to use it to restore Latin’s rightful place to the Roman Church, something that cannot be done without addressing the real and practical issue of having enough clerical and lay leaders in the world who actually know Latin?
   

A Priest On Using All of these Musical Resources!

The CMAA has so many projects going on, I can hardly keep up with them all.  I know that most of the people who read this blog are musicians or ordinary Catholics who appreciate the Church’s treasury of sacred music.  I also know that many of my brother priests are out there who love Chant Café, but they are at a loss as to how to figure out how to use all of this embarrassment of riches on the ground in their parishes.  So, reverend and dear Fathers, and the lay faithful who love you and want you to be successful in your efforts to restore the sacred, let me share some thoughts about how we can go about using all of this wonderfulness CMAA is putting out there.
I know a lot of parishes have a hymnal in the pews.  Sometimes two, as the Worship/Gather combination has become standard at least in my part of the world.  I grew up with the Baptist Hymnal and learned to love the Episcopal Hymnal.  But in those churches, we knew how to use them!  The Minister of Music would lead us to find the right hymn, whose title and number were already on our Order of Worship.  Sometimes there was even a screen we could find the name and number, and sometimes even lyrics and music!  In the Anglican Church, we had an Order of Worship, and I could set out my Book of Common Prayer and Hymnal on the pew with that perfect ridge in it so I could set the books out and mark them with the bulletin or ribbons according to the numbers proudly displayed on the hymn board which was visible to me no matter where I sat.
As I found out very quickly after I started to go to the Catholic church, such preparedness or enthusiastic alacrity in finding the right hymn in the right book was rare to find.  When I became a cantor, I was instructed in how to try to prepare the people for those moments in the Mass where people had to find their page in Worship or Gather.  At least we only used one hymnal and each Mass.  Good morning and welcome to St Mary’s!  Today is the Solemnity of the Assumption.  Let us stand and greet our celebrant with number (whatever it was) Hail Holy Queen, number (whatever it was).  (Pause for facepalm.)  Some of you may still be doing this routine.  Cantor at a stand near the altar, coaching the people.  It may sound like a good way of encouraging the faithful to actively participate, but I am still convinced that we need to get away from it and ring the bell and get on with things, and see the cantor as less of a protagonist in the celebration. 
But how then, should we go about communicating to the people what to sing?  My first parish and my current parish use music sheets that are designed to be one-stop shopping for all the music you will need to sing at Mass.  With the introduction of the new translation of the Roman Missal, there is the pew card and the music sheet, which complicates things a bit.  In my second parish, I bought the St Michael Hymnal, the fruit of the tireless labor of the indomitable Linda Schaefer from St Boniface in Lafayette, Indiana.  Especially at the time, it was the only hymnal I felt that provided original hymn texts and a plethora of music for a Catholic parish on its way to restoring the sacred.  I have not seen the new edition of the hymnal, but I am sure it is a very good product indeed.  When there is no hymnal, the music sheet is a useful tool.
If a music sheet is printed on nice paper, has beautiful clip art, nice fonts, and a good layout, it is a pleasure to sing from.  But it has its limits.  It is time consuming: if the Music Director does not have a volunteer assistant or the Pastor has a staff member do them, Music Directors can spend a lot of time doing them.  But, it is also a way to introduce the Propers as well as Hymns into the Mass. 
But why would we want do that?  The CMAA speaks very much about the Paradigm for liturgical worship: a fully sung Latin liturgy with the proper chants.  The Graduale Romanum really is one-stop shopping for all your musical needs.  The only place where I have ever seen it used outside of monasteries by laypeople in the pews is Saint Nicholas-du-Chardonnet, in Paris, where the faithful bring their own copies of the Liber usualis to Mass and Vespers and sing from them as if it were the most normal thing in the world, and, as far as singing congregations go, they do a pretty nice job of it! 
I don’t know about your parish, dear readers, but I know none of the parishes I have blessed to serve are quite at the level of that lovely SSPX church in the Cité des Lumières.  But the Propers are there.  They are in the Roman Missal, begging to be used.  And so we print them in the music sheet.  At our 10a Solemn English Mass every Sunday, the Proper Entrance, Offertory and Communion Antiphon are sung from the Simple English Propers.  The cantor sings them before the Entrance and Offertory Hymns, and at the beginning of the distribution of Holy Communion.  One day, I hope we can encourage everyone to sing them.  At the other sung OF Masses, we do not sing the Propers, but they are printed, and from time to time I call attention to the people to meditate upon those texts.  In my parish, we have the EF every day, so we have read and sung Propers there, and every Sunday we have a nicely produced sheet.  For Low Mass (which is during the summer), we use the Una Voce Orange County sheets, and for Sung Masses, we produce a beautiful music sheet with everything in English and Latin.
Music sheet vs. hymnal is a difficult question.  I continue to remind people that hymns are not a part of the Roman Eucharistic Liturgy.  But the 4-Hymn Sandwich, originating in a Low Mass mentality, is unfortunately ingrained in many of our faithful, so I think it is important that, for some parishes, there be a “safety valve” Mass where hymns and propers can co-exist.  One way to introduce Propers is the way we do it at my current parish, by pairing Propers and Hymns.  Advent and Lent are good times to introduce Introits, in English and then in Latin, and encourage congregational participation in the Simple English Propers.  Of course, doing that means that a hymnal is of limited use.  Many congregations are not up to the task of switching back and forth between music sheet with propers and hymnal with hymns. 
This is where the Vatican II Hymnal can be useful.  If the Choir sings the Propers in Latin or in English, or even if the Congregation is urged to sing the Propers in simple English tones that are accessible, the Vatican II Hymnal is a great resource, because it has the texts for those Propers.  I am not aware of any other hymnal on the market that includes those texts.  Because the Propers and not Hymns, are integral to the Roman liturgy, a wise pastor seeking to inch towards the Paradigm, will find the Vatican II Hymnal a great resource.
The Vatican II Hymnal is also a great resource for another very practical reason.  It does not only offer good hymns and non-bawdlerized texts.  It also presents the readings for Sunday.  Now, I used to love going to the Traditional Latin Mass with my Missal with the Latin and English.  It was a great way to prepare for Mass, and a good way to follow the Mass, especially as I was learning Latin.  I cannot, for the life of me, understand why people would want to follow along in a book the readings at Mass while they are being proclaimed in a vernacular they understand.  It is entirely non-sensical to me.  But many do.  And, in any given congregation, there will be people for whom English is not their mother tongue.  And there are those who, thanks be to God for them, like to prepare for Mass by reading through the readings before Mass.  In my parish, we have a congregation with Tagalog, Vietnamese, French, German, and of course, Spanish speakers.  It is helpful for them, as well as those who like to pray over the lectionary as part of their spiritual life.
But how do you do that?  The disposable Missalettes from OCP and Liturgical Press and other companies fill a need.  Many of them are well produced and they sit nicely in pew racks.  They are easy to handle and people like to take them home.  But they always give a sense of transience, of tenuousness, to the liturgy.  A beautiful and well-produced book like the Vatican II Hymnal provides all of the texts for the liturgy, without the connotation of a liturgy made in loose-leaf.  It can be a serious investment for a parish, but a very good one for parishes which want to introduce Propers, still have hymns and also provide for the lectionary readings.
So why have I not bought the Vatican II Hymnal for my parish?  Well, good question. We have a large Hispanic population in my area, and so the bilingual missalettes are the only resource around for a bilingual congregation, let alone a congregation like mine, which has many cultures and languages.  Also, we have the Ordinary and the Extraordinary Form every day.  We do not have Low Mass with Hymns, so the Vatican II Hymnal is not as helpful as it would be for congregations which have OF and EF with hymns.  Also, I like the flexibility of the music sheets even as it is not very green! 
Another thing I like about the music sheet as opposed to hymnal is that we can pick and choose from the numerous good offerings CMAA is putting out for the Responsorial Psalm.  Now, of course, I am all in favor of the Graduale Romanum for that, too, but many parishes are still wedded to the Responsorial Psalm.  So, as long as we are going to continue to use them, we might as well have dignified settings of them.  The Vatican II Hymnal has very good options, but those options are in the text of lectionary.  The other settings, which are not in the readings themselves, are good but entail a greater complication in how the faithful are supposed to get to them.  Are they announced, are they written in a music sheet or in a hymn board?
At my parish we have been using the Chabanel Psalms for nearly a year, replacing the Guimont compositions.  We have a schola do the proper Gradual, Alleluia or Tract on certain occasions, but the faithful have taken to the easily accessible Chabanel Psalms very well. 
Now that Arlene Oost-Zinner’s Parish Book of Psalms is out, there is yet another wonderful resource of good, accessible music for the Psalms.  For parishes that employ a music sheet and do not want to be tied down to what is in the Vatican II Hymnalin the Lectionary section, this is a great way to have some variety in selections for the Psalms, and the nicely produced book will also be a great boon for any choir loft.
Another CMAA resource that is coming out soon that I am very excited about is the Lumen Christi Missal.  This beautiful tome can have a home in just about any Catholic parish.  For the pastor who wants to be rid once and for all of the disposable missalettes, then this is the best way to replace just that and at the same time have music which can be used to introduce the Propers.  In the hands of a competent liturgist and musician, it can even lead to the singing of Propers and other texts at Daily Mass, which could create an amazing liturgical culture in a parish.  You can use those psalms directly within their lectionary context, psalms which are easily singable and noble compositions.  If you continue to use a music sheet, you don’t clog up the pew racks but still provide a nice book for the readings as well as Mass Ordinaries.  Because it also has a wealth of devotional material, it is also a great spiritual resource for the people in the pew.  If a parish is already at the point of doing the switchover from hymns to propers, or even if it is the early stages of introducing propers, then this is a phenomenal book.
Of course, no review of good CMAA material is complete without a glance at the Parish Book of Chant.  I know several priests, liturgists and musicians who rave about this book.  If Gregorian chant is the music of the Church, parishes need something which provides the repertoire that every Catholic should have in his treasure chest.  This book is excellent for parish and school choirs, obviating the need for photocopies or several books of Gregorian chant.  If a choir does the propers at Mass, then they can have the Graduale Romanum and the Parish Book of Chant.  While it is nice to have the Kyriale, the Offertorium, the Graduale Triplex, the Cantus Selecti, the Processionale Monasticum, and the Liber cantualis all at your fingertips, the reality is that, for most choirs, and certainly for most congregations, that is a lot of books and a lot of money.  The Parish Book of Chant is great for choir and pews, especially if the parish uses a lot of Latin chant.  In many ways, it is the new “useful book,” the Liber usualis of our times.  The fact that is equally valid for the Ordinary and the Extraordinary Forms makes it helpful for those places, which have either or both.
I know that this has been a long commercial for CMAA-related materials.  Here is a summary of my recommendations to pastors and to the musicians who get the job done:
– If you are in a parish that uses lots of Latin chant, at the Ordinary and/or Extraordinary Form, buy the Parish Book of Chant, first for your choirs, then for your school, and then for your pews.
– If you are in a parish that has an English Mass that uses hymns and you want a hymnal that has the benefit of the readings in it, the texts of the propers, good music and traditional texts, buy the Vatican II Hymnal for choir, school and pews.
– If you still use music sheets but can’t fit in either readings, ordinary or texts for the propers, or you want something with those things in it to supplement a hymnal that is not the Vatican II Hymnal, then start the campaign to put the Lumen Christi Missal in the pews.
– if you just want to get rid of disposable missalettes, then buy the Lumen Christi Missal.     
– pastors, buy your choir director a copy of the Simple English Propers and the Parish Book of Psalms and give them the link to the Chabanel Psalms website.  Throw out the dated materials from the music publishers that come out new and not always improved from the usual editing houses, and go for something more permanent.
– pastors, but your choir director and choir copies of the Graduale Romanum and the Parish Book of Chant and send as many as you can to the CMAA Chant Workshops and the annual Colloquium.  Even if you are not able right now to move towards the Paradigm, get into the hands and consciousness of your people that there is more out there!
At my parish, we have both the Ordinary and the Extraordinary Form, so we have a lot of Latin and a lot of English.  I hope to equip music director, choirs and faithful with the best the treasury of sacred music has to offer.  Seven years ago when I was ordained, I despaired for lack of truly usable materials to assist in the propagation of the Extraordinary Form and the Reform of the Reform.  Now, we have almost too many resources at our fingertips.  Hopefully this will help us wade through all of this loveliness and put in the hands of the People of God the tools with which they can praise God in beauty and truth!