Sunday, March 27, 2011

Michel Ozorak to Receive Golden Rose Award on April 3

Tridentine Community News (March 27, 2011):
In recognition of his contribution to the musical patrimony of the Church, the Society of St. John Cantius will bestow the Golden Rose Award upon Windsor’s own Michel Ozorak next Sunday, April 3, at the 12:30 PM Extraordinary Form High Mass at Chicago’s St. John Cantius Church, one of North America’s leading sites for traditional liturgical music.

Since 2007, without fanfare and without compensation, Michel has been spending several hours per week creating sheet music to help celebrants chant the Collect (Opening Prayer), Epistle, Gospel, and Postcommunion Prayer. Almost every Sunday and major Feast Day of the year has been completed; lesser Feasts are being worked on now. To fit most any circumstance, or parish or celebrant preference, Michel has created Chant Sheets in the Festívus and Solémnis Tones (melodies) for the Collect and Postcommunion. The Gospel is available in the Antíquior, Evangélii, and Ad Líbitum Tones. His work is available on the Chant Sheets page at

Priests from around the world, the Fraternity of St. Peter Seminary, and EWTN have contacted Michel and have used his Chant Sheets, because there is no other set of sheet music like this. Altar Missals and Lectionaries only contain the text of these Propers, and not sheet music, because in previous eras it was assumed that priests had been trained in the various Tones and could adapt the text to their preferred Tone on the fly. Since that is no longer the case (and arguably may never have been for many priests), a tutorial work was in order. What started as a manually scribbled set of sheets to assist Fr. Hrytsyk with learning Gregorian Chant took on a life of its own once Fr. Josef Bisig, co-founder of the FSSP, discovered Michel’s work and promoted it within the Fraternity.

The Golden Rose is an award traditionally awarded by Popes to accomplished Catholics. The Society of St. John Cantius is following in this custom and has certainly identified someone who has made a significant contribution to the Church. We congratulate Michel – and his family, who have undoubtedly given up time with him so he could work on this project – and wish them God’s blessings for persisting in creating such an important body of sheet music. The restoration of Gregorian Chant to everyday parish life depends on such efforts.

The Mass and award presentation are open to the public, so readers who may be in Chicago next Sunday might find it interesting to attend.

Propers for the Ferias of Lent

You may have noticed that there are more Ferias than usual on the Church Calendar during Lent. Outside of Lent and Advent, Ferias are usually Fourth Class Feasts on which the Mass of the previous Sunday is repeated. A Votive Mass may be substituted on a Fourth Class Feria, including the Daily Mass for the Dead (Requiem Mass). In Lent, however, Ferias are Third Class Feasts and may not be overridden so easily. They have their own Propers and are not repeats of the Sunday Mass. In the event that a special Feast Day overrides a Feria, such as the First Class Feast of St. Joseph on March 19, the Collect, Secret, and Postcommunion of the Feria are prayed as Commemorations after the primary Orations of the Feast. The generally lengthier Scripture readings during Lent are meant to convey progressing themes during the liturgical season.

Ferias of Lent can have unique structure. For example, there is usually a Prayer Over the People following the Postcommunion Prayer at the end of Mass. There may or may not be a Tract specified. There may be more than two readings: On Ember Wednesday in the First Week of Lent, for instance, there are two readings before the Gospel instead of the usual one, each of which is preceded by a Collect prayer.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Mon. 03/28 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Feria of Monday in the Third Week of Lent)

Tue. 03/29 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Feria of Tuesday in the Third Week of Lent)

Sun. 04/03 12:30 PM: Pontifical Low Mass celebrated by Bishop Earl Boyea at Old St. Patrick, Ann Arbor (Lætáre Sunday)
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for March 27, 2011. Hat tip to A.B.]

Saturday, March 26, 2011

When Mass is bad for soul AND body?

You may remember Cardinal Burke's recent comments about circumstances under which Mass may undermine faith. He said (as related here by Voris): "If we err by thinking we are the center of the liturgy, the Mass will lead to a loss of faith." Cardinal Burke's remarks were apparently offered at a book launch on a new work entitled, How to Go to Mass and Not Lose Your Faith, so far available only in Italian.

Now it comes to our attention that a blogger has written a post, "Novus Ordo not just bad for your soul, but your body too!" (Introibo ad altare Dei, January 17, 2011), arguing that the mode of administering Communion under both species in Novus Ordo liturgies has let to the spread of Hepatitis A in New York: "Health officials say more people may have been exposed to hepatitis A while receiving communion at a Long Island church.... Health officials will return to the church on Friday, offering vaccines to anyone who may have been exposed."

Vatican: more philosophy for seminarians

The Holy See Press Office held a press conference a few days ago on the newly-published Decree on the "Reform of ecclesiastical studies of philosophy" (Vatican Information Service, March 22, 2011):
The reasons for the reform are, [Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect for the Congregation for Catholic Education] explained, "on the one hand, the shortcomings in philosophical formation at many ecclesiastical institutions, where precise points of reference are lacking especially as regards the subjects to be taught and the quality of teachers. ... On the other hand there is the conviction - expressed in John Paul II's 1998 Encyclical 'Fides et ratio' - of the importance of the metaphysical component of philosophy, ... and the awareness that philosophy is indispensable for theological formation". For this reason today's decree of the congregation aims to re-evaluate philosophy, above all in the light of that Encyclical, ... restoring the 'original vocation' of philosophy; i.e., the search for truth and its sapiental and metaphysical dimension".

... The reform also concerns the first cycle of studies in ecclesiastical faculties of theology and affiliated institutes, defining the duration of formation and explaining that "strictly philosophical disciplines must constitute at least sixty percent of the number of credits in the first two years". This condition also holds for affiliated major seminaries.
[Hat tip to J.M.]

Hell's Bell

Between coverage of the earthquake aftermath in Japan and The Bachelor finale, about 6,000 people tuned in online recently to watch Rob Bell discuss his book Love Wins to a crowd in New York City. Even before his book was published, Bell was making waves. See, for example, Eric Marrapodi, "Firestorm grows over 'Christian heresy' book" (BeliefBlog, March 8, 2011).

Bell was interview recently by Lisa Miller, the Religion Editor of Newsweek, though for some reason I can't find a video clip of the interview at present. But here is a decent interview: "MSNBC Host Makes Rob Bell Squirm: "Youre Amending The Gospel So That It's Palatable!" (YouTube, March 15, 2011).

Bell's book was outselling the latest release by Pope Benedict XVI on even before its release, which tells you just how fashionable his sort of universalist Gospel has become -- and Catholics can hardly assume that their numbers are immune.

All the more relevant now is the perspective of Fr. Alvin Kiemel's in "Counting the Saved" (Pontifications, February 16, 2008).

The reader who sent me the links above commented: "What is encouraging about the Bell book is the fact of the volume of controversy it raises. Orthodoxy has a voice: in this instance I think it will come more from outside the Church." He suggests that conservative Evangelicals and traditionalist groups like the SSPX may be responsible in some respects for assisting in the maintenance of the witness historically entrusted to the Roman Catholic Church.

[Hat tip to J.M.]

Bad 'good' music

Whenever I hear the warbling amplified voice of a soloist leading the congregation in the Gloria over the pipe organ in a Catholic church, even if it a basilica that has what is considered the "best" music program around, I shudder and give thanks that we have an option locally that spares us of such distracting froth. It may not be all as bad as I feel, but it's as if I've developed a severe allergy that's triggered every time I'm exposed to the phenomena.

Of course, then I remember Thomas Day's charming and illuminating book, Why Catholics Can't Sing: The Culture of Catholicism and the Triumph of Bad Taste (Crossroad Classics, 1992), a must read for anyone interested in why music is as it is today in most Novus Ordo parishes of the Catholic Church.

Abp Dolan: fixing the Church's image problem

Tom Crowe, "Archbishop Dolan Wins 60 Minutes" (, March 21, 2011):
Morley Safer of CBS’ 60 Minutes spent some time talking with one of my favorite Catholics, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York. Dolan is a gregarious Irishman with a smile that doesn’t quit, a magnetism that holds your attention, an eloquence that instructs without overburdening, and honesty and fidelity that inspire....

The main thrust of the interview was Dolan’s gift of the gab, his magnetic personality, openness, and, of course, his unwavering “conservatism.” The topics were typical: sex abuse scandal, women’s ordination, abortion and contraception, priestly celibacy, and how the Church in America reverses the trend of Catholics no longer simply calling themselves “bad Catholics,” but actually declaring that they are no longer part of the Church.
[Hat tip to J.M.]

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fr. Ross Bartley Celebrates First Tridentine Mass

Tridentine Community News (March 20, 2011):
Many readers of this column know Fr. Ross Bartley, former Assistant Pastor of Windsor’s Assumption Church. Fr. Ross has long had an interest in the Extraordinary Form of Holy Mass and often sat in choir during the Masses at Assumption.

Now assigned to the cluster of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, and Our Lady of Mercy Churches in Sarnia, Ontario, Fr. Bartley celebrated his first Tridentine Holy Mass on Saturday, March 5 at St. Edward on the Lake in Lakeport, Michigan, just north of Port Huron. A number of individuals from Assumption and St. Josaphat attended.

We congratulate Fr. Ross and look forward to his celebrating the Extraordinary Form again soon – and often.

Pontifical Mass in DC Cancelled

On the national scene, we have some good news and bad news to report. Bad news first:

The previously announced Pontifical Solemn Mass at Washington, DC’s National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, originally scheduled for Saturday, April 9, has been canceled. The celebrant, Archbishop DiNoia, had to bow out, and permission for an alternate celebrant could not be obtained. The Paulus Institute, organizers of the event, promises similar events in the future.

First Tridentine Mass at St. Paul Church, Cambridge, MA

Now for the good news, something that seemed inevitable someday, yet it nevertheless a pleasant surprise:

St. Paul Church in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts, will be holding its first Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form this Friday, August 25 at 6:00 PM, for the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Harvard Knights of Columbus Chapter and the newly-formed Harvard Latin Mass Society are the organizers of this Mass. At press time, the first Mass was scheduled to be a Low Mass.

Regular readers of this column will recognize St. Paul’s as the home of the Boston Archdiocesan [Boys’] Choir School, founded by the late Gregorian Chant scholar Dr. Theodore Marier, and for most of its recent history led by Dr. Marier’s assistant and worthy successor, organ scholar John Dunn. This year, former Canterbury Cathedral Assistant Organist and choir conductor John Robinson took over as Music Director, promising to continue the school’s tradition of musical and liturgical excellence. During the school year, the boys’ choir sings at the weekday 8:00 AM Mass, and on Sundays is joined by the parish’s Men’s Schola for the 11:00 AM Choral Mass, both of which are Ordinary Form Masses accompanied by English and Latin chant and polyphony. Learn more about the Choir School at their newly revamped web site,

In this writer’s experience, St. Paul’s is the “perfect storm” of a world-class liturgical music program, superlative church acoustics, and two organs precisely matched to a beautiful, historic church building. A Tridentine Mass celebrated there with the prodigious musical talents available would likely set a very high standard, in line with their renowned Novus Ordo Masses. Let us pray that St. Paul’s will offer a High Mass in the future, ideally involving the Choir School and Men’s Schola. In the meantime, the architecturally intact church will make a fitting home for the Traditional Mass, even without musical accompaniment.

At least one of our readers is planning to attend this Mass and will file a report for us.

Bishop Anthony Daniels Appointed to Grand Falls

Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI has named Diocese of London, Ontario Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Daniels as Bishop of Grand Falls, Newfoundland. Bishop Daniels has been a good friend to the Windsor Tridentine Mass Community, having provided wise counsel and assistance over the years. We ask your prayers for His Excellency as he embarks on this new assignment.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Mon. 03/21 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Feria of Monday in the Second Week of Lent)

Tue. 03/22 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Feria of Tuesday in the Second Week of Lent)

Fri. 03/25 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for March 20, 2011. Hat tip to A.B.]

Monday, March 14, 2011

Why there is no looting in Japan

The question is raised by Ed West, "Why is there no looting in Japan?" (The Telegraph, March 14, 2011). This question is popping up a lot of places, and many, like Ed West, seem at a loss for an answer. He writes:
The landscape of parts of Japan looks like the aftermath of World War Two; no industrialised country since then has suffered such a death toll. The one tiny, tiny consolation is the extent to which it shows how humanity can rally round in times of adversity, with heroic British rescue teams joining colleagues from the US and elsewhere to fly out.

And solidarity seems especially strong in Japan itself. Perhaps even more impressive than Japan’s technological power is its social strength, with supermarkets cutting prices and vending machine owners giving out free drinks as people work together to survive. Most noticeably of all, there has been no looting ...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Divine Office – Part 8 Terce from Two Very Short Little Offices

Tridentine Community News (March 13, 2011):
Today we present the Hour of Terce (mid-morning prayer) from the shortest indulgenced Little Offices. These particular Little Offices do not vary from day to day; every Hour of these Offices is comprised of the same prayers every day.

Praying the Hours from these Little Offices takes very little time. At least one of these Hours can be fit into almost anyone’s day. They are an excellent way to become familiar with the daily flow of the Divine Office and are quite practical to be prayed by busy laypeople whose schedules do not permit praying Hours from the Full Breviary.

Friday, March 11, 2011

8.9 earthquake & tsunami hit NE Japan

Remember those first estimates of 300 some casualties? And now this: "10K dead in Japan amid fears of nuclear meltdowns" (Weekend Edition, March 13, 2011). I can't look at these pictures without tears. I spent the first twenty years of my life among these people. I went to their public schools with some of them, to one of their universities. It's awful. I've received emails indirectly from one of them, but some are incommunicado. Cell phones are out. Trains aren't running. It's far worse than 9/11. There's not even the "benefit" of an enemy to focus their outrage. It's just vast devastation. Horrible. Pray for the Japanese people.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

When Mass becomes a near occasion of sin

I have thought for many years how amazing it is to find individual men and women and families who persevere amidst great affliction in parishes with minimal or no reverence, multitudes of liturgical abuses, romper room music, and those whom George Weigel calls (in the latest issue of Adoremus Bulletin), the "chattering [before & after Mass] classes." It's amazing. Perhaps you know some of these folks -- women in their fifties or sixties who are the mother of 8-12 children, with disheveled hair getting up from their kneelers after a prayer of thanksgiving after a bongo Mass and then coming up to greet you and raving about the BLESSING of it all, how they sensed the ANGELS all around them praising the Lord with the Seraphim of Heaven ... Fathers who persevere in holding fast to the Faith and keeping a close oversight of their family's devotional life, getting up at 3:00am to take their turn at Holy Hour in a chapel with the Blessed Sacrament, serving as Grand Knights in the local K of C Council, leading an annual bus load of people from area parishes to the January March for Life in DC.

How do they do it? Of course it's the Lord's grace -- pure, beautiful divine grace that takes these rather "humble, ordinary vessels," as they would surely see themselves, and makes them into shining examples of saints that will surely reign in high places in Heaven. Compared to these, I sometimes feel like a spiritual cripple. I feel inadequate, like a diabetic who needs good and sacred traditional liturgy as his dialysis. I feel like a refugee orphan who has not long ago escaped the concentration camps of bongo Masses and We-Are-Church parishes of St. Narcissus. I drink deeply from the liturgical Oasis granted to us in the Lord's Providence, but I stand in amazement at how the Lord raises up saints like the magnificent Lotus flower from a pond of sludge and mud.
[Hat tip to Roger Lessa]

Lent and the judgment of God

Fr. Peter Hrytsyk preached a robustly engaging homily this evening at our Ash Wednesday liturgy at St. Josaphat Church. He pointed out how in recent years the accent in Lenten homilies has been on the kinder, gentler themes of springtime, in keeping with the etymology of the term Lent [from the Old English lencten for "spring"], with analogies drawn to the "spring cleaning" of our souls, and so forth. These 'softer' and more 'comfortable' contemporary readings of the meaning of Lent, however, may gloss over what lies closer to the heart of the Lenten message in the Church's liturgy, he suggested.

The most effective way to bring one's spiritual understanding into focus, Fr. Hrystyk suggested, is to look closely at what liturgical prayers of the Church bring into focus for the season and to let our own thinking and sentiments be guided by the mind of the Church. He read the English translation of portions of the prayers for the Blessing of the Ashes in the Ash Wednesday liturgy, illustrating the emphasis of the Church's prayers, which are much more pointed and spiritually incisive than any cheery emphasis on "spring cleaning." Let's have a look.

The first of the four prayers for the Blessing of the Ashes in the extraordinary or Tridentine form of the Roman rite states (the added emphasis is mine): "O almighty and everlasting God, spare those who are penitent, be merciful to those who implore Thee; and vouchsafe to send Thy holy Angel from heaven, to bless + and hal+low these ashes, that they may be a wholesome remedy to all who humbly implore Thy holy name, and who accuse themselves, conscious of their sins, deploring their crimes before Thy divine mercy ..."
[Psssst! Hey, when's the last time you've hear anything like THAT in your parish?]
The second prayer implores God, "who desirest not the death, but the repentance of sinners," to look down graciously upon the frailty of human nature and bless the ashes to be placed on our heads "in token of our lowliness and to obtain forgiveness," so that "we who know that we are but ashes, and for the demerits of our wickedness are to return to dust, may deserve to obtain of Thy mercy the pardon of all our sins ..."

The fourth prayer is particularly poignant: "Almighty and everlasting God, who dist vouchsafe Thy healing pardon to the Ninivites doing penance in sackcloth and ashes, mercifully grant that we may so imitate them in our outward attitude as to follow them in obtaining forgiveness...."
[Get a load of THAT! Remember the Ninivites? Those were the pagans whom Jonah called to repentance -- after God used some extreme measures involving a whale to elicit his cooperation -- and they were so notoriously wicked, that Jonah was actually upset when they repented and God showed them his mercy! And here the Church is upholding the Ninivites as models of repentance for us to emulate!]
Why should we find it so bracing -- so refreshing -- to hear a sermon on the importance of God's judgment and repenting from sin today? It has become such a rarity in our culture to hear these truths today that we tend to get lulled into a spiritual stupor by the flaccid therapeutic banalities promoting self-esteem, self-empowerment, and self-indulgence all around us.

There's something like the shock of a cold bucket of water being dumped on us when we are given a description of our own condition that resonates with authenticity and rings true to our experience. We know in our hearts that we are sinners, that we need God's mercy and forgiveness; and we see as in a mirror our own condition and our own deepest need in the abrasive realism of the Church's prayers imploring God to spare us of our sins and wickedness. The cold water, leaving us dripping and shivering, tells us: "Wake up! This is for real!"

Into the long silence ...

"Remember man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return."
(see Gen 3:19)

"Repent ye, and believe the Gospel." (Mk 1:15)

The name dies cinerum (day of ashes) which it bears in the Roman Missal is found in the earliest existing copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary and probably dates from at least the eighth century. On this day all the faithful according to ancient custom are exhorted to approach the altar before the beginning of Mass, and there the priest, dipping his thumb into ashes previously blessed, marks the forehead -- or in case of clerics upon the place of the tonsure -- of each the sign of the cross, saying the words: "Remember man that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return." The ashes used in this ceremony are made by burning the remains of the palms blessed on the Palm Sunday of the previous year. In the blessing of the ashes four prayers are used, all of them ancient. The ashes are sprinkled with holy water and fumigated with incense. The celebrant himself, be he bishop or cardinal, receives, either standing or seated, the ashes from some other priest, usually the highest in dignity of those present. In earlier ages a penitential procession often followed the rite of the distribution of the ashes, but this is not now prescribed.

("Ash Wednesday," Catholic Encyclopedia)

The Teutonic word Lent, which we employ to denote the forty days' fast preceding Easter, originally meant no more than the spring season. Still it has been used from the Anglo-Saxon period to translate the more significant Latin term quadragesima (French carême, Italian quaresima, Spanish cuaresma), meaning the "forty days", or more literally the "fortieth day."

("Lent," Catholic Encyclopedia)

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The debate over lying: a roundup

So if you were hiding Jews in the attic during WWII and Gestapo agents came knocking and asked whether you'd seen any Jews, would you lie?

LiveAction, Planned Parenthood and the Truth about Lying (a roundup) (Against the Grain, March 6, 2011) provides an excellent overview of the theoretical issues involved in the debate over lying that were sparked by the sting operation against Planned Parenthood by activist Lila Rose (pictured left) and her organization Live Action.

[Hat tip to C.B.]

Sunday, March 06, 2011

New to RC Church? Find the basics here

Here's a relatively new website called "Waking Up Catholic," carrying the description: "RCIA information and resources." This is a welcome clearinghouse for anyone seeking basic information about the Catholic Faith. There are other sources of information, of course, but not always geared as pointedly as this one toward RCIA (Right of Christian Initiation of Adults).

Anyone familiar with the RCIA process over the last 30 years will know what an embarrassment it has been in far too many parishes, because of the way any newcomer starved for the solid red meat and red wine of Catholic resources was sent away instead with a Twinkie, soda pop and pendant with the embossed lyrics to "Kumbaya" on it.

Should have been called "Rite for Care-bear Initiation of Imbeciles" instead. Sorry: there were some good programs too, I admit, though they have been rare.

"Waking Up Catholic" may not give you the metaphysics of absolute divine simplicity or a summary of Garrigou-Legrange's tome on Predestination, but it will give anyone a good start, largely by steering him in the right direction.

Thanks, Mr. Chad Torgerson, for this resource.

Upcoming Special Masses Ember Day Masses at St. Josaphat

Tridentine Community News (March 6, 2011):
For the first time in over 40 years, St. Josaphat Church will offer Tridentine Masses on the Ember Days of Lent: Wednesday, March 16 and Friday, March 18, both at 7:00 PM. Ember Saturday is superseded this year by the Feast of St. Joseph; a special Tridentine Mass will be held on March 19 at noon at St. Joseph Church.

Ember Days are a Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of one week on which the Church calls for prayer in thanksgiving for the gifts of the earth. These were also historically days on which ordinations were held and thus are fitting days of prayer for vocations. There are four seasonal sets of Ember Days, observed on the weeks after December 13 (Feast of St. Lucy), the First Sunday of Lent, Pentecost, and September 14 (Exaltation of the Holy Cross). While no longer mandatory, it is traditional for the faithful to fast and abstain on the Ember Days.

When the Calendar was revised in 1969, Ember Days were not officially discarded, but were relegated to be decided upon by national Bishops’ Conferences. Unfortunately, they seem to have been forgotten in Canada and the U.S., perhaps because the concurrent relaxing of the fasting laws made their non-observance no longer a mortal sin. Fasting laws are matters of Canon Law and not Liturgical Law, and for the time being are aligned with the Ordinary Form Calendar.

Next St. Albertus Mass In Two Weeks

The next Tridentine Mass at St. Albertus Church will be held on Sunday, March 20 at noon. The celebrant will be Fr. Louis Madey.

Bishop Boyea to Celebrate Tridentine Mass in Ann Arbor

As part of His Excellency’s plan to establish and support four principal sites for the Extraordinary Form in the Diocese of Lansing, Bishop Earl Boyea will celebrate a Pontifical Low Mass at Ann Arbor’s Old St. Patrick Church on Lætáre Sunday, April 3, at 12:30 PM. With this visit, His Excellency will have celebrated the Tridentine Mass at all four of those locations.

Another Tridentine Mass at the National Shrine in DC

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Lent is coming!

Quinquagesima Sunday tomorrow: Prepare for battle!

[Hat tip to Fr. Z.]

Old Mass at primary school for kids aged 9-11

From The Hermeneutic of Continuity (March 5, 2011), this:
The LMS Birmingham and Black Country reports on a Mass celebrated according to the usus antiquior for St John Fisher Primary School at West Heath, Birmingham last Thursday. The parish priest, Fr George Grynowski said a Votive Low Mass for the Blessed Sacrament for the school children aged 8-11. Fr Grynowski described how the Mass came about:
The Mass started out as a casual comment from myself to Melanie Bullivant. I said something like "wouldn't it be great if the school had the opportunity of experiencing the Extraordinary Form so that they can appreciate something about the richness of the Church's traditional liturgy, which is after all part of their heritage". This would have been as recently as about December last year. I didn't expect much to come from it, certainly not in the immediate future. Melanie mentioned it to the headteacher, and to my great joy I was told that she was quite happy for one of the regular scheduled school Masses to be in the Extraordinary Form. We decided on today, 3 March, to give time to prepare for it.
[Hat tip to Fr. Z]

Friday, March 04, 2011

Build-a-Bear, Build-a-Liturgy

A friend of mine recently told me a story that I think most of you would enjoy hearing. Earlier in his life, he spent some years at a seminary in another state. During those years, he had a class in liturgics in which the instructor was a woman who was, shall we say, somewhat left-of-center in her sensibilities.

One of the projects they had to undertake in the class was to build a liturgy that embodied the spirit of Vatican II. Using the blackboard, the instructor pointed out how the traditional communion rail places a divisive barrier between the priest and the worshiping community. Stressing the communal nature of the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving that is the source and summit of the Christian faith, she stated that rightly-ordered contemporary liturgy must have, therefore, no communion rail. Likewise, there ought to be a free-standing altar so that the priest does not offend against the spirit of community by having his back turned on the people, but face toward them, welcoming them to the feast set for them on the table of plenty. The usual drill.

One of the students in the class (I don't remember whether it was my friend), when it was his turn, went up to the blackboard to show how he would build-a-liturgy. He began by pointing out a feature of the instructor's diagram that troubled him. He pointed out that a sharp barrier between the priest and the community was created by her placement of the altar. The altar was divisive, he suggested, separating the priest from the people, creating a rift in their experience of community and solidarity.

[The teacher nodded encouragement, doubtless congratulating herself: By George, I think these young seminarians have finally got it ...]

The student continued. What he would prefer, he said, was to push the altar up against the front, and bring the priest around to the side of the worshiping community, thereby removing the offending barrier between the priest and the people.

[The teacher was still nodding encouragement ...]

Then, added the student, he would have the priest turn around, and, in solidarity with the worshiping community, face the same direction as the congregation.

At this point, the emerging pattern dawned on the instructor, her face fell, and she realized she'd just been had.

[Hat tip to T.F.]

Thursday, March 03, 2011

"The King's Speech" - American version

You gotta admit it's pretty funny.

“Global Missal Dissent System” & "Liturgical Optionitis"

I just couldn't resist these two beautiful zingers, from Louie Verrecchio, "Liturgy’s effect on gay 'marriage' debate" (CNA, Marcy 2, 2011), as mediated by Fr. Z (WDTPRS, March 3, 2011).

Verecchio's more serious point, summarized more briefly by Fr. Z, is that "liturgical optionitis," reflecting a culture of personal preferences rampant since the sixties, has helped to foster an ethos in which a higher percentage of self-identified Catholics now see "gay marriage" as an acceptable social option than in American culture at large. No surprise.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

CDF - SSPX: does anyone care?

The question is not meant to be obnoxious, though doubtless some will read it that way. This response would be understandable, given the minute profile cut by the tiny fraternity largely written off as 'renegade' since the laetae sententiae excommunications of the late Abp Lefebvre and his illicit ordinations of four bishops in 1988, even after these excommunications were lifted for the surviving four in 2009. SSPX clerics lack proper faculties and continue to operate under suspension.

The most common sentiment in the secular media toward the fraternity, since SSPX Bp. Richard Williamson's denial of the historicity of the Nazi holocaust, has been contemptuous dismissal. Most mainstream Catholics, if they have an opinion at all, seem to wonder how anybody who loves the Church could possibly have a problem with the Second Vatican Council and persist in stubborn schism. That's the sort of language one hears.

The upshot is this: almost nobody seems to really care about this small, inconsequential group of traditionalists or the talks they are having with representatives of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican -- almost nobody, that is, but the Holy Father.

Some of you may remember the hot water Pope Benedict got himself into with critics both inside and outside the Church when he lifted the excommunications on these SSPX bishops. Remember how the Pope's good name was dragged through the mud because of this act in the public media in guilt-by-association links drawn to the scandalous holocaust denials of SSPX Bp. Williamson? Remember the howls of execration from the Catholic liberals in the media? They conjured images of the Holy Father, former head of the CDF himself, in the mantle of the Spanish Grand Inquisitor, Tomas de Torquemada, ready to re-institute the auto-da-fé -- a bracing image I find rather charming, although that's beside the point.

The point is that the Holy Father has had a long-standing pastoral sympathy and solicitude for members of this fraternity. As we noted in "His Holiness responds to the wolves" (Musings, March 13, 2009), Pope Benedict wrote in his Letter to Catholic bishops concerning his remission of the excommunication of the SSPX bishops:
Can we be totally indifferent about a community which has 491 priests, 215 seminarians, 6 seminaries, 88 schools, 2 university-level institutes, 117 religious brothers, 164 religious sisters and thousands of lay faithful? ... I think for example of the 491 priests. We cannot know how mixed their motives may be. All the same, I do not think that they would have chosen the priesthood if, alongside various distorted and unhealthy elements, they did not have a love for Christ and a desire to proclaim him and, with him, the living God. Can we simply exclude them, as representatives of a radical fringe, from our pursuit of reconciliation and unity? What would then become of them?

... At times one gets the impression that our society needs to have at least one group to which no tolerance may be shown; which one can easily attack and hate. And should someone dare to approach them – in this case the Pope – he too loses any right to tolerance; he too can be treated hatefully, without misgiving or restraint.
He warned, furthermore: "... if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another."

If you are not praying for the Holy Father's intentions concerning these talks between the CDF & SSPX, or the Holy Spirit's guidance in the ongoing proceedings (which nobody should expect to be resolved overnight), then I want to know why.

So many things in Catholic history, as in life itself, are not what they at first seem. I first began to see this when, as a Protestant, I began a slow, painstaking investigation into the claims of the Catholic Church and began to see my prejudices and illusions crumble, one-by-one. I have never reached the point where I've been satisfied that I have all the answers, pertinacious though I am wont to be; but I have attained the satisfaction of learning, from experience, that for every question I have, there is in Catholic Sacred Tradition a sufficient answer, provided I am willing to do the painstaking work of investigating the issue.

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