At youth synod, Abp. Fisher apologizes for failures to hand on Catholic tradition

At the Synod on Youth, Archbishop Anthony Fisher, O.P., of Sydney has made a quite unconventional apology to Catholic youth: not only for wrongful acts committed, but also for failures to hand on the faith in its fullness, including “unbeautiful liturgies” and poor preaching.

The Catholic Herald writes:

In addition to apologising for the Church’s failures with clerical sexual abuse, the archbishop also apologised for the ways in which the Church had failed to “introduce you to the person of Jesus Christ, his saving word and his plan for your life.”

“And for the times when you were searching for your sexual, ethnic or spiritual identity and needed a moral compass, but found Church people unsympathetic or ambiguous: I apologise,” he said.

The Catholic Church, Archbishop Fisher said, often “sold you short” by not challenging young people to live up to their baptismal call to holiness, by offering them “unbeautiful or unwelcoming liturgies” and by not sharing with them Church traditions such as the sacrament of reconciliation, pilgrimages and Eucharistic adoration.

He apologised for “poor preaching, catechesis or spiritual direction” that failed to inspire conversion and for families, dioceses and religious orders that adopted a “contraceptive mentality” that did not even try to give birth to new vocations.

In addition to his apology, the Sydney archbishop pleaded with young people: “Never give up on Jesus because of our failures. Never give up on the Church that you can help make more faithful. Never give up on the world that, with Christ and the Church’s help, you can make a better place.”

Photo credit: screenshot from Twitter.

Guest Post: The devotion of a bygone time

Musician Randolph Nichols offers reflections on a work of art that depicts the Kingship of Christ among the lowly:

A year ago this Corpus Christi Sunday I listened to Fr. Michael Kerper, pastor of St. Patrick’s Church in Nashua, NH, develop his homily around a painting of the Irish artist Aloysius O’Kelly (1853-1936). Until that moment I was unaware that Ireland had produced any prominent painters. I suppose one can be forgiven that lapse given that O’Kelly’s work in question, “Mass in a Connemara Cabin” (1883) – the only painting of an Irish subject ever to be exhibited at a prestigious Paris salon – vanished at the end of the nineteenth century and remained missing for a century before turning up in a rectory in Edinburgh. That painting now resides in the National Gallery of Ireland.

“Mass in a Connemara Cabin” by Aloysius O’Kelly (1883)

As a painter, O’Kelly doesn’t demonstrate any of the breakthrough developments of his more famous contemporaries like Monet, Manet, or Degas and the religious subject of the aforementioned painting was by then out of fashion. There is something about “Mass in a Connemara Cabin,” however, that compels. It successfully captures the mood and atmosphere of a particular time, place and people and the viewer senses the religious, political and economic repression without having to know the details of 19th-century Irish life.

Looking closely at the painting, many factors come into play: the claustrophobic feel of enclosure, the women’s well-worn yet evocative shawls and scarves, the kneeling bodies directed toward the focal point – the young white-clad priest (even the cupboard dishware leans toward him); and of course, there is that dramatic gesture of the woman in the lower right corner.

As its title suggests, the painting reflects the deep piety of parishioners crowded into someone’s home as a young priest says Mass. Others see more, particularly since the priest seems to be giving the final blessing and that Aloysius O’Kelly and his family were steeped in revolutionary politics. His three brothers were Fenians and his sister married into the family of James Stephens, founder of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. After the failed Rising of 1867 two of the artist’s brothers were exiled to New York and during this period Aloysius moved to Paris to begin studying at the École des Beaux-Arts.

After O’Kelly returned to Ireland in the early 1880s, he began to visually capture the bleak existence of working class people on the west coast during very turbulent times. Against the backdrop of the struggle between tenants and landlords, the celebration of Mass was often a precursor to social and political gatherings. The significance of O’Kelly’s Mass may not be the Mass itself but what comes after, the unseen but anticipated.

However you read this painting, I find painful irony contrasting recent events in Ireland with this scene of devotion from the early 1880s.

The Duruflé Requiem at 70

Maurice Duruflé
(image from Wikimedia)

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Duruflé Requiem, and an article in the Boston Globe tells a bit of the work’s  and the composer’s history.

For those in the area, there will be an opportunity to hear the work Friday, March 9, when the Choir of St. Paul’s sings the Requiem at St. Paul Church in Cambridge:
https://stpaulparish.org/2018/02/maurice-durufles-requiem-march-9th/

July 2018: Sacred Music Symposium in British Columbia

News from the north:

Saints Joachim & Ann Parish, Aldergrove B.C., will be hosting the inaugural B.C. Sacred Music Symposium, July 20-22, 2018. 

The aim to bring together musicians of all skill levels, and all people of good will with a general interest in sacred music, for a weekend of instruction, collaboration and fellowship. There will be an opportunity to attend practical workshops (beginner, intermediate and masterclass) and lectures; and to experience the riches of the Church’s musical tradition in the celebrations of Mass (in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms) and the Divine Office.  

We are also very excited to announce that our keynote speaker and celebrant of the symposium’s principal Mass will be Bishop Joseph Perry, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Early registration for the symposium opens January 2018. Please see the parish website for more information: http://www.stsjoachimandann.org/symposium .

Blessing of a Church; Dedication of an Altar (official texts)

A generous reader has sent in a document that came his way, comprising two rites excerpted from the Pontificale Romanum: the Order of Dedication of an Altar, and the Order of Blessing of a Church.

It’s not often easy to locate a copy of this specialized liturgical book, so we are happy to share it. If anyone has a church construction or renovation project underway, it could come in handy for preparing those services.

This (partial) book (11 MB) contains the edition issued by Pope Paul VI in 1977, with instructions and text, all in Latin, for those two rites, and it provides the relevant chants for the psalms to be sung at the various stages of each rite.

Sept. 18-22 “Culmen et Fons” conference

This September, a five-day conference on liturgical formation and sacred music will be held in the Boston suburb of Peabody, MA, with distinguished speakers and musicians, under the title “Culmen et Fons”.

September 18 to 22, 2017 (Monday to Friday)
St. Adelaide Church, Peabody, MA

Speakers:
Dom Alcuin Reid, author of The Organic Development of the Liturgy 
Fr. Thomas Kocik, author of The Reform of the Reform? A Liturgical Debate 
Fr. Marco Testa, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, Port Perry, ON
Fr. Neil Roy, author and editor; chaplain at the Saint Benedict Center, Still River, MA

Audience:
The conference is intended for priests, deacons, seminarians, religious, masters of ceremonies, liturgical musicians and singers, and other members of the laity.

Music track:
In addition to the principal curriculum of liturgical formation for sacred ministers, Culmen et Fons will also feature a parallel conference track for all those engaged in the field of liturgical and sacred music. Rehearsals will prepare for providing the chant and polyphony for the sacred liturgies during the conference week. Repertoire will include Hassler “Missa Secunda,” Guerrero “Missa Ecce Sacerdos,” and choral/organ Masses by Duruflé and Widor.

The sessions in sacred music will be directed by
Michael Olbash, music director, St. Adelaide Church, Peabody, MA
David Hughes, music director, St. Mary Church, Norwalk, CT

More information on talks, schedules, and registration is at the conference website, http://culmenetfonsma2017.com .

At the Met: Lerolle’s The Organ Rehearsal

[Organist Randolph Nichols brings to our notice a once-famous work by painter Henry Lerolle (1848–1929).]

As some of my local colleagues know, besides being an organist and chant enthusiast I’m also a painter, a passion inherited from my mother. Sometimes those interests converge, as is the case in my admiration for Henry Lerolle’s The Organ Rehearsal, an oil on canvas painting dating from 1885 in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Having spent so much of my life in church lofts, it’s natural I would have a strong connection to this painting. With the exception of the fashion in women’s clothing, nothing much seems to have changed since 1885. Besides the artist’s deft drawing skills, solid use of perspective lines and division of the painting into dramatic value contrasts, I am drawn to the artist’s rendering of the dust covered floor (lofts are always the last place in a church to be swept), the blurring of the soloist’s feet and soft edges of her face (devices to integrate the figure into the scene so as to avoid a “pasted on” look), and the intentional omission of an organ music stand (a vertical shape at that juncture in the composition would be disruptive).

The rehearsal takes place in the choir loft of Lerolle’s parish church, Saint-François-Xavier in Paris, and features members of the artist’s family: his wife (seated to the left with gloved hand to cheek), his mother (standing behind the unidentified organist), his wife’s sisters, one seated in front (scandalously bareheaded and the wife of composer Ernest Chausson) and the soloist (the focal point of the painting). The painter himself, second from left, gazes vacantly to the side while the man standing to his left is thought to be Chausson. The young male figure behind the painter has not been positively identified.

While Lerolle was friend and patron to fellow artists such as Degas and Renoir (the latter painted several portraits of Lerolle’s daughters and of Lerolle himself), he was also a violinist and composer whose home was a meeting place for musicians that included d’Indy, Debussy and Dukas. (Debussy dedicated several piano works to Lerolle’s daughter Yvonne, including three of the Images.) It is not surprising then that a music rehearsal scene would be a subject of interest to the painter.

Within eleven years from its creation The Organ Rehearsal had become a picture held in high regard. Yet by 1928, it was relegated to the bowels of the Metropolitan and only re-discovered, cleaned, repaired and brought out of storage in 2007 and 2008.

If you would like more detailed information about the history and restoration of Lerolle’s most famous painting, I highly recommend this 30 minute lecture by Isabelle Duvernois of the Paintings Conservation department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSGxgHXfElE