From the Colloquium: Vespers, July 5

On Friday evening of the Sacred Music Colloquium in Philadelphia, Vespers were celebrated for the feast of St. Anthony Maria Zaccaria according to the traditional Roman office, with Fr. Robert Pasley, chaplain of CMAA, presiding. The choir was conducted by the Rev. Mr. Edward Schaefer, and the organist was Professor Ann Labounsky.

A tale of two Catholicisms

A few years ago I wrote the following here. It only seems to have grown in relevance since, so I am taking the liberty of re-running it.

Live, from the orphanage

There is an interesting discussion going on about the reformed liturgy as practiced since Vatican II. The discussion concerns an expression of Cardinal Sarah’s: “too much man and not enough God.”

I would like to propose that this expression, while accurate, does not reach to the heart of the problem, which is philosophical and theological. The real liturgical question is this:

Is the firmament permeable, or not?

1) If God is absent from the world, separated by the bright line of an unbridgeable horizon from earthly life and in a noumenal realm, then we are on our own. We are orphan children of an absent God, making our own way, and depending primarily on each other. Petitions and hymns are discussions among ourselves about values. The congregation is the primary instantiation of community. The most appropriate posture is humans facing humans, closing the circle. Intelligibility is of highest importance.

2) If God is actively at work in the world here and now, on earth and in earthlings, continually strengthening and raising us, then liturgy is a privileged opportunity to meet God. Liturgical language expresses our dependence on God’s help. Petitions and hymns ask for more and more divine intervention, and not only for those present in one time and place, but for all people, living and the dead. The most appropriate posture involves all of the people facing the divine presence. Receptivity to grace is our highest action, and God Himself is of the highest importance.

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Obviously there are multiple possible reasons for believing in one or another of these admittedly schematic theories of life, the universe and everything. But may I suggest that one possibility is the error of Esau, who sold his birthright for a nice dish of stew.

If God were absent from the world–which He is not–then we would be able to make our own morality. Right and wrong would be up to us. But it is not. And the cost of license would be much too high to pay.

One of the motivations for the reform of the reform–certainly my motivation–is that the reformed liturgy in its casual iterations leaves us feeling lonely for God. It distracts from prayer, rather than fostering recollection. It proposes a worldview in which we are stuck, alone, with what we have and who we are, rather than accurately expressing the truth, which, thanks be to God, is this:

the sky’s the limit.

 

Catholic Unbelief in the Eucharist

Much food for thought in this video. Even with good catechesis, will catechesis influence lives, without the concomitant formation of the imagination?

I remember talking with a 5th grader who said of the term transubstantiation “We’ve been haunted by that word for years!” I knew his good, teaching  pastor well, and was glad and not too surprised to hear that the teaching had been passed along. But now I wonder. Five years have passed since that conversation. The boy is a teenager, starting his sophomore year in high school. How is he doing? How will he be in 10 years?

Thankfully, as is often the case, his good teaching pastor is also attentive to beauty in the liturgy. We really need both of these elements to be built back up for our people.

Catechetical failure? Or a catechetical success of the wrong kind?

Many have said that the Pew study reflects a catechetical failure. I fear the opposite: it reflects a certain kind of catechetical success. It is the result of an unwritten catechesis that American Catholics have been slowly learning. Through a deracinated, spiritualistic, and emotivistic treatment of the Eucharist, many Catholics have learned their faith from a generation of pastors who stripped the altars, razed the bastions of reverence around the Lord in the sacrament, and who generally treated the Most Holy Eucharist itself as something to be passed out like a leaflet rather than received in awe, as people prostrate before the fire of divinity. Far too many have received this kind of unwritten catechesis.

Chad Pecknold writes much more here.

The Holy Father’s Letter to Priests

On this Feast day of St. John Vianney, Pope Francis has issued a beautiful letter to priests.

The prayer of a pastor is nourished and made incarnate in the heart of God’s People. It bears the marks of the sufferings and joys of his people, whom he silently presents to the Lord to be anointed by the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is the hope of a pastor, who with trust and insistence asks the Lord to care for our weakness as individuals and as a people. Yet we should also realize that it is in the prayer of God’s People that the heart of a pastor takes flesh and finds its proper place. This sets us free from looking for quick, easy, ready-made answers; it allows the Lord to be the one – not our own recipes and goals – to point out a path of hope. Let us not forget that at the most difficult times in the life of the earliest community, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, prayer emerged as the true guiding force.

Much more here.

A basketball star, and a nun

As a parish music director, I was able to accomplish many things that should have been impossible, given the limits of my abilities. I knew that the real powerhouse behind our parish programs was the Poor Clares monastery within our parish boundaries, where our priests said Mass.

On the occasion of her 25th jubilee, ESPN celebrates the life of one of the monastery’s nuns, a former basketball star.

But Pennefather did have the most beautiful shooting touch in all of women’s basketball. She scored 2,408 points, breaking Villanova’s all-time record for women and men. She did it without the benefit of the 3-point shot, and the record still stands today.

Much more here.

A Marian Mass in Spanish (Colloquium Mass audio)

Again this year the Sacred Music Colloquium included a Mass celebrated in Spanish: this time a votive Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe, with wonderful music of the Spanish Renaissance, on Thursday, July 4.

The Mass setting was La misa Caça by Cristobal de Morales, and the Mass included motets by Guerrero and de la Torre.  The propers were sung in new plainchant adaptations by Janet Gorbitz and Jennifer Donelson.  Music for the Mass can be viewed in the colloquium repertoire book at pages 103-134, except for a motet by Cornelius Verdonck of the Spanish Netherlands, which was a late substitution.

Photos by Charles Cole are on-line at New Liturgical Movement, and here are audio excerpts:

    1. Prelude: Bach, Fantasia super “Komm, heiliger Geist” (BWV 651)
    2. Processional interlude
    3. Introit: Un gran señal
    4. Kyrie: Morales: La misa Caça
    5. Gloria: Morales, La misa Caça
    6. Psalm: Tú eres la honra de nuestro pueblo (Mahrt/Cabezon)
    7. Alleluia, Dichosa tu
    8. Offertory: Dios te salve, Maria
    9. Interlude
    10. Motet: Verdonck, Ave gratia plena
    11. Interlude
    12. Sanctus/Benedictus: Morales, La misa Caça
    13. Padre nuestro
    14. Agnus Dei: Morales, La misa Caça
    15. Communion: Nos ha hecho
    16. Interlude
    17. Motet: Guerrero, O celestial medicina!
    18. Interlude
    19. De la Torre: Adoremoste, Señor
    20. Vierne: Toccata from Suite Nr. 2, op. 53:

Thanks to the anonymous attendee who posted a video of portions of the Mass on-line; the above image is a screenshot from it.