Wednesday, December 24, 2008

People Look East!

As I have mentioned before, I write a monthly column on liturgical matters for the newspaper of the Diocese of Kalamazoo, The Good News.

For this month's column, which appeared this past Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Advent, I wrote about the use of Ad Orientem:

(I am indebted to Fr. Cavanna Wallace of Oceanside, CA for some of the material in this column.)

Living the Liturgy

“People, Look East”


One of my favorite Advent hymns is the old French carol “People, Look East”. It has always seemed to me to exemplify the joyful expectation of the Advent season. While I’m not sure what, if any, expert consensus there may be on the matter, I’ve always thought of it as a late Advent hymn – one to sing in the week or two before Christmas, and maybe even on Christmas eve. The hymn urges us to get ready: Love, in the Christ child, is on the way! He’s almost here, as the last verse tells us:
Angels, announce with shouts of mirth
Christ, who brings new life to earth.
Set ev’ry peak and valley humming
With the word, “The Lord is coming.”
People look East, and sing today:
Love, the Lord is on the way!

Christ is the light of the world, as Simeon prophesied in the temple (Luke 2:32), and as John wrote in his Gospel (John 1:4-5). He illuminates the souls of those who belong to him. So the Church, from the earliest times, has seen the light of the sun, particularly at dawn, as a symbol and image of Christ. Zechariah refers to the coming Messiah as the “daybreak from on high” (Luke 2:78). At the end of the book of Revelation, Jesus describes Himself as the “bright morning star” (Rev. 22:16). The early Church, reflecting on this symbolism, attached great importance to worshipping Christ at dawn, especially on the first day of the week, which was also the day of resurrection.

The early Church attached great importance to facing towards the dawning light in its prayer as well. Early churches were built so that, when the assembly gathered for prayer, they faced the East. When Mass was celebrated, priest and people faced not each other, but together faced the altar, toward the East. St. Clement of Alexandria (150 – 216 AD) explained:
... And since the dawn is an image of the day of birth, and from that point the light which has shone forth at first from the darkness increases... In correspondence with the manner of the sun’s rising, prayers are made looking towards the sunrise in the east. (Stromata Book IV, ch. 7)

Even when, as the Church grew, it was no longer possible to build every church so as to have the altar facing eastward, the custom remained of having priest and people together face the altar during the Eucharistic liturgy, facing the Daystar who came to be with His people on that altar.

This posture of priest and people facing the altar is known as ad orientem, which is the Latin for “toward the East”. Most Catholics who are aware of this posture would probably associate it with the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, that is, the Mass as it was celebrated before the liturgical reforms of the 1970’s. Indeed, one of the liturgical changes most associated with Vatican II is that of turning the priest around so that he faced the people. Many Catholics would probably imagine that this change was mandated by Vatican II, and that the former posture of ad orientem had been abolished. But this impression, widespread though it is, is incorrect. In point of fact, no document of Vatican II and nothing in the rubrics of the modern Roman Rite either requires the priest to celebrate Mass facing the people or abolishes celebrating Mass ad orientem.

Our Holy Father Pope Benedict, while he was still Cardinal Ratzinger, wrote of the desirability of returning to the ancient practice of ad orientem celebration, expressing himself very strongly:
...A common turning to the East during the Eucharistic Prayer remains essential. This is not a case of something accidental, but of what is essential...What matters is looking together at the Lord.
(Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 81)

As Pope, Benedict has gone so far as to publicly celebrate Mass using the ancient ad orientem posture. And many priests and parishes, all over the United States and indeed, the world, are beginning to take up the Pope’s lead in restoring this tradition. At my own parish we have begun using it from time to time, and several other parishes in the Kalamazoo diocese have adopted ad orientem, some even doing so entirely.

What this ancient posture underscores is the essential message of the liturgies of Advent: We are all to be turned toward the Lord, waiting for His coming. For some two millennia the people of Israel waited for the coming of the Messiah. He has come, but we still have the experience of waiting expectantly for Him, every time we celebrate the Eucharist. And if we are turned towards Him, if we are oriented in the direction of His coming, then we can have blessing which was given to the shepherds on the night of His birth – the glimmer of a faint purple light in the East, growing to the ray of light from the Daystar. A light shining not from the sky, but from an infant, who is Himself the Light of the World. People, look East! Love, the Lord is on the way!

Sung Mass in the Extraordinary Form In January!

I will again offer a




Sung Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite
(Missa Cantata)


Sunday, January 11, 2009
(Feast of the Holy Family)
1:00 PM

St. Stanislaus Catholic Church
1871 136th Avenue
Dorr, Michigan


I will be the celebrant.

Music will again be provided by the Schola of the Chair of St. Peter


I hope that Catholics from Michigan and beyond will come and participate in this beautiful offering of the most perfect Sacrifice of worship and praise.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Catholics and Politics: A Faustian Bargain

My article "Our Faustian Bargain: Catholics Caught Between Parties" appears today over at Inside Catholic. The article is the fruit of my observation of, and growing impatience with, Catholics seeming to accommodate the principles of our Faith to the two dominant political parties. We, and the faith, are the losers in this process:
Many of us are volunteering to cooperate with evil, because we see no way out of the dilemma of aligning ourselves with one party or the other. In essence, faithful Catholics are forced to accept whatever bones the major parties and candidates throw us: If we think the Democrats offer more compassionate social policies and the prospect of ending the war in Iraq, we must tolerate their embrace of abortion and same-sex unions. If we think the Republicans offer the best hope of eliminating abortion-on-demand and defending marriage, we have to be willing to tolerate their embrace of "preventive" war and so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. Catholics, it would seem, are being forced to make Faustian bargains every time they enter the voting booth.

It seems to me that we are giving up too much in our willingness to play the political game by the rules the two parties give up. Rather than transforming our parties and politics, as our faith teaches we should, we are compromised and co-opted, and end up transformed (and not in good way) by our politics.

It seems to me that if we were serious about transforming our parties and policies by making the gospel the starting point of our politics, things would look a lot different:
If Catholics were really serious about "transforming" our parties and politics, things would look much different than they do today. For example, where is the Congressional Catholic Caucus? There is a Congressional Black Caucus, a Congressional Hispanic Caucus, a Serbian Caucus, and even a Congressional Boating Caucus. So where is the caucus devoted to bringing Catholic representatives and senators together across party lines to promote, defend, and advance Catholic teaching on matters of justice and the common good?

Where are the Catholics in politics? We have Republican Catholics, and Democrat Catholics. How many of us are willing to be Catholic, first, foremost, and without compromise?

Read the whole piece.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Extraordinary Form Mass a Success!

Last Sunday, as previously mentioned, we offered a Sung Mass in the Extraordinary Form here at St. Stanislaus. I am happy to say that it was a wonderful occasion: We had a good turnout - approximately 80 people assisted. The Schola of the Chair of St. Peter sang very well, and my servers, who have been working to learn the Mass since the beginning of August, acquitted themselves wonderfully. I'm also happy to be able to report that, while I made a few mistakes, they were relatively minor ones (for example, once I raised my arms in the orans posture when I shouldn't have). I found celebrating the Mass an exhilarating experience.

Unfortunately, in my busyness in preparing for the Mass, I forgot to bring my camera over and have someone take photos! So I have no pictures of the Mass. I'm hoping that some of those in attendance took pictures.

Starting next Sunday, November 9, I will begin offering the Extraordinary Form regularly, on the second and fourth Sundays of each month. So in November, we will have Masses on the 9th and the 23rd. Masses on both dates will be at 9:30 AM.

As I mentioned, my servers worked for a couple of months to learn to serve the Traditional Latin Mass. And they did a superlative job on Sunday, due in large part to their preparation and work. Last Friday, October 24, we had our final practice and run-through for the Mass. Fr. Scott Haynes and Br. Robert of the Society of St. John Cantius in Chicago came up for the evening and helped me with rounding out their training. Fr. Haynes has also been good enough over the last month or so to work with me and give me some advice and criticism in developing my own ars celebrandi. I'm very grateful for all their help.

So, while I don't have any photos of the Mass, I do have some photos of our server training marathon from last Friday, which I hope will be of some interest:


Fr. Haynes and I work with the boys on the Gospel Procession
click on the photos to enlarge


One of the things that really pleased me about my servers was their ability to deduce for themselves some of the principles of serving the Mass without having to be told every detail repeatedly. For example, once they were shown how to move around the sanctuary for the incensation of the altar at the beginning of Mass, they simply went right into applying the same patterns for the incensation at the offertory. To see them thus anticipating and truly learning how the Mass works was a real pleasure.


Fr. Haynes demonstrates the use of the communion paten


Here's the whole crew of us:



I am very proud of my guys!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Update on Extraordinary Form at St. Stanislaus

As previously announced, next Sunday, October 26, I will celebrate a Missa Cantata at my parish of St. Stanislaus. This is my first public celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass, and the first such celebration at my parish in nearly 40 years.

I am very happy to announce that, starting on Sunday, November 9, I will begin offering the Traditional Latin Mass on a regular basis. I will offer the Mass twice a month, on the Second and Fourth Sundays of each month.

On Sundays when Low Mass is celebrated, Mass will be at 9:30 AM. On Sundays when Mass is sung, Mass will be at 1:00 PM.

The Masses on November 9 and November 23 will be Low Masses, and therefore will be offered at 9:30 AM. Complete schedules of Extraordinary Form Masses will be published periodically in the parish bulletin, on the parish website, and here at Thrown Back.

I hope, eventually, to be able to offer Mass in the Extraordinary Form every Sunday. If we develop good turnout and support for this effort, that will certainly move things along! I hope that many people, both from St. Stanislaus parish and beyond, will avail themselves of this opportunity to participate in the worship of the Church as it has been experienced by countless generations of our ancestors.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Extraordinary Form Coming to St. Stanislaus!

After much prayer, study, and preparation, I am pleased to announce that:

In Joyful Accord With the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum
of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI,


St. Stanislaus Catholic Church will offer a




Sung Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite
(Missa Cantata)


Sunday, October 26, 2008
(Feast of Christ the King)
1:00 PM

St. Stanislaus Catholic Church
1871 136th Avenue
Dorr, Michigan


I will be the celebrant.

Music will be provided by the Schola of the Chair of St. Peter


I hope that Catholics from Michigan and beyond will come and participate in this historic event! This will be the first time in almost 40 years that the Traditional Latin Mass will be offered publicly at St. Stanislaus.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Coming Soon: Introductory Chant Workshop!

Attention Catholics in Michigan and Beyond!


Chant for Beginners

An Introductory Chant Workshop


Presented by Fr. Rob Johansen and Fr. David Grondz.

The Workshop will include presentations on:

Reading Chant Notation
History and Spirituality of Chant
Some Fundamental Chants of the Roman Rite

No previous knowledge of Chant required - This is truly for beginners!


Saturday, October 18, 2008
9:00 AM - 3:00 PM

St. Therese Catholic Church
128 Cedar Street
Wayland, Michigan

(Wayland is located approximately 30 minutes North of Kalamazoo, right off of US -131.)

Cost: $20.00 per person (includes lunch)

Co-sponsored by the Diocese of Kalamazoo: Office of Christian Worship, St. Philip Neri House, and St. Therese Catholic Church.

For more information e-mail Fr. Rob.


Fr. Rob Johansen has an extensive background in music, having studied voice, ‘cello, and conducting at the University of Illinois. He studied Chant at the Catholic University of America, and continued his Chant studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary under Calvert Shenk. He has degrees in Religious Studies, Classics, and Patristic Greek and Latin. He currently serves as Pastor of St. Stanislaus parish, Dorr.

Fr. David Grondz received his S.T.B. from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and was ordained to the Priesthood in 2006. Fr. Grondz has studied Chant for 13 years, and served as assistant organist at the Pontifical North American College. He is currently the Parochial Vicar of St. Mary Church, Kalamazoo, where he regularly celebrates the Sung Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.


Friday, September 19, 2008

The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Last Sunday, I celebrated the Masses of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross ad orientem, as I did the previous weekend. These celebrations are to commemorate the restoration of the high altar and Mary altar here at St. Stanislaus.

This weekend, we did it up a little bit "higher", liturgically speaking, than last. The 11:00 Mass on Sunday was sung, with incense.


Incensing the Altar at the Procession
(all photos may be viewed full-size by clicking on them)



Chanting the Collect


Speaking of incense, I usually use either the "Regal Jasmine" or "Bulgarian Rose" from Holy Transfiguration Monastery. Holy Transfiguration Monastery is an Orthodox monastic community descended from Mount Athos. Their incenses are hand-made of frankincense and natural fragrant (mostly floral) oils, period. I've never encountered sweeter and more fragrant incenses anywhere. Many people who ordinarily say they don't like incense or can't tolerate it have been pleasantly surprised by these incenses.

Here I'm incensing the altar at the Offertory:



The vestments I'm wearing are my own. I really love the darker burgundy color. They're from The House of Hansen in Chicago. I have many vestments, and a cassock, from House of Hansen, and I'm extremely happy with them all. The staff there are excellent and their workmanship is of the highest quality. Not only that, but, compared to other high-quality makers, their prices are quite reasonable.


Chanting the Canon


I had many positive remarks about the liturgies of this weekend. Many parishioners complimented the beauty of the high altar, and there were a number of positive remarks about the ad orientem celebration. One visitor to the parish exclaimed to me after Mass, "I love coming to this parish!". I replied, "Well, come back, then!"

I have made a few observations about these celebrations of Mass ad orientem, the first such public celebrations at my parish in 35+ years. I'll share those in a post next week.

The Purveyors of the Dominant Culture - Gang Rape is "Humor"

In case you were wondering how low the "freakish enemies of the normal" could go, Sandra Bernhard finds an even deeper cesspool to wallow in, warning Sarah Palin "not to come into Manhattan lest she get gang-raped by some of Sandra’s big black brothers..."

Yes, that's what counts as "cutting edge" political humor today amongst the trendy bien pensant left.

The critics loved Bernhard's act, saying that she showed "beauty, variety, vitality, and intelligence."

I hope every normal American sees and hears this, because this kind of demonic pervsersity is precisely what is fueling the engine of the leftist dominant culture.

Make no mistake, the left hates Sarah Palin because they hate us.

A Few Days Away...

I was away for a few days visiting my aunt and cousins in Wisconsin. They live on and around Castle Rock Lake, which is on the Wisconsin River.

My aunt's house is right on the lake. I believe you could file this under the heading "idyllic":


The view from the front porch
(all photos may be viewed full-size by clicking on them)


We enjoyed some fun on the water:


My cousin, my nephew, and myself


My nephew loves being on the boat, and he loves "driving". There was a bit of a chop on the water that day, and consequently some spray, but that didn't faze him at all. Here he is "driving" with my cousin:


"Faster, go faster!"


I had a wonderful visit, closed by a beautiful evening watching the sun set over the lake.



Friday, September 12, 2008

Parish Bulletin Article on Ad Orientem

I published this brief article about ad orientem in my parish bulletin this past weekend:

Ad Orientem – Turning Towards the Lord

In order that the parish can see our newly restored altar in its full beauty, and used as it was intended when it was built by our forefathers, during this weekend and next I am celebrating the Masses at the high altar ad orientem, that is, facing the high altar rather than “facing the people” at the small altar as most of us are accustomed. The phrase “ad orientem” means “toward the East”, and this phrase is used to describe this posture because, in the early Church, most churches were built so that the altar faced the East. The East, being the direction of the rising sun, was seen as symbolic of Christ, as He is our Sun of Righteousness, the Light of the World, and the Daystar of the new dawn. Sometimes people refer to the posture of ad orientem as the priest celebrating Mass “with his back to the people”, but this is a mistaken way of looking at it. The idea isn’t that the priest “has his back to the people”, but that he and the people are facing the same direction, that is, united in facing the Lord at the altar. Our holy father Pope Benedict has encouraged the re-appropriation of this ancient custom, urging us to “turn toward the Lord”, and has used it himself in public celebrations of the Eucharist. As I have mentioned before, contrary to what many people have been led to believe, the Second Vatican Council did not mandate that Mass must be celebrated “facing the people”, and indeed, the rubrics and instructions of the Roman Missal, in several places, clearly presume that Mass will be celebrated according to the immemorial custom of ad orientem. Thus, to use this posture is perfectly legitimate, even in the “new Mass”. There is a great richness and depth in celebrating the Mass so that people and priest are facing the same direction, united in prayer. I hope that we all may have our faith enriched and gain a new perspective on the liturgy by making use of this ancient tradition over the next two weeks.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The High Altar Restored at St. Stanislaus

This past weekend, our newly restored high altar and Mary altar were "unveiled".


The Sanctuary
(all photos may be viewed full-size by clicking on them)



A Closer View of The High Altar



The Mary Altar


The high altar has a frieze of the Last Supper on its front, which the portable novus ordo altar obscures. It was repainted by our 8th grade teacher and some of her students.



I did the best I could with my camera and the lighting in the church, but photos don't do them full justice. One thing I am going to look into is redirecting some of the sanctuary lighting to bring out the gold detail a bit more. The detail is gold-flake paint, as well as 23 K gold leaf on the cross, scrollwork, and finials of the high altar. The crucifix niche of the altar also has gold leaf in the half-dome and half-pillars. I hope you can get some idea of how beautiful they are from the photos. The monogram on the Mary altar has also been done in gold leaf.

Not only have we restored the appearance of the high altar, but we have also "restored" the high altar to use as it was intended! This past weekend, I celebrated all the Masses Ad Orientem, something that hasn't been done publicly at St. Stanislaus for 35 years or more.


Singing the Gloria


During the restoration, the Blessed Sacrament was reserved in the Sacred Heart altar (on the right side of the church), so as to facilitate the work without the danger of irreverence to Our Lord. The Sacred Heart altar has not been restored yet (it will be done later this fall), so it provides a a point for comparison to the newly restored altars:



During the Saturday vigil Mass, after my homily, I transferred the Blessed Sacrament back to the tabernacle in the high altar. Here I am reverencing the Sacrament before the transfer:



And the reposition:



Mass continued with the Eucharistic Prayer:


...Do this in memory of me...



Behold the Lamb of God...


And, of course, Mass concluded with the final blessing:



I have celebrated Mass ad orientem privately on many occasions, but this is the first time I have done so publicly. I have already noticed a couple of things, and I'm sure more observations will occur to me as I go forward.

I'll save those for the moment, though - I will share what insights and observations I have after I have done this some more. Which leads me to mention that I will be celebrating the Masses ad orientem again this weekend, for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

I'll have more photos up next week from those celebrations.

Our 9-11, and Another 9-11



Of course, today is the infamous day when Muslim terrorists, in a cowardly act of mass murder, killed over 3,000 innocent civilians in the World Trade Center. May God have mercy on the twisted and perverted souls of those who committed these acts, and on all who would seek to imitate them.

But the half-life of such evil is relatively short, as it always is. There was another time when it seemed that the Islamic imperialists had a knife to the West's throat.

In 1683, the Muslim armies had been advancing across Europe, and had besieged Vienna for months. It seemed that Vienna was bound to fall. But then King Jan III Sobieski of Poland led his army of over 80,000 men to the relief of Vienna, and drove off the besieging army, effectively ending the Muslim advance.


The Battle of Vienna


September 11, 1683 happened because Christian Europe was willing to rise up and defend itself. September 11, 2001 happened because America let down its guard and preferred to deny reality. Let us never forget that terrible lesson.

Word to Conservatives: Don't Get too Cocky

While I too have gotten many chuckles out of the ongoing spasms of outrage, impotent fury, and downright disgusting displays of what Mark Shea so aptly calls the "Freakish Enemies of the Normal" (prime example here), I would caution conservatives not to count Barack Obama and his devoted worshippers out yet.

Politics is notoriously volatile. So far, Palin and McCain have been able to take the initiative from Obama, and Obama's surrogates haven't been able to find an attack on Palin that sticks.

But rest assured, they're going to keep trying.

The campaign that has sent a "mini-army of 30 lawyers, investigators and opposition researchers into Anchorage, the state capital Juneau and Mrs. Palin's hometown of Wasilla to dig into her record and background" won't rest until they find something.

And it's almost inevitable that they will, eventually, find something that gains traction. Why? Because Sarah Palin is a limited, fallen creature like everyone else. That means she has made mistakes, and yes, has done things she would not be proud to have made public.

It may not have any objective political significance. It may indeed be something that really doesn't bear upon her fitness to govern. But politicians have been undone by trivial misdeeds in the past, and as I said, politics is notoriously volatile.

Conservatives need to beware of imitating Obama's hubris and arrogance. It's undoing Obama now, but it can just as easily undo McCain/Palin.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Restoring the Sacred At St. Stanislaus

Here at St. Stanislaus, we began a project last month of restoring the high altar and Mary altar in our church. They are wooden, and date to the original construction of the church in 1892.

It's been close to twenty years since any substantive maintenance was done on them, and they've been showing it. Paint was peeling, there were numerous chips and dings, and other wear and tear.


The High Altar before restoration, with statues removed
(all photos may be viewed full-size by clicking on them)



The Mary Altar, with statue removed


So my pastoral council and I decided to begin the restoration work. There is another side altar, dedicated to the Sacred Heart, which we will restore later this fall. Then we will proceed to the angel statues that flank the high altar, the communion rail, and so on.

We recruited a number of volunteers from the parish to do much of the work. We also retained Tim Schoonard of Marywood Studio to provide overall supervision and to do the finer work. Tim has done work here for us before: he made the impressive presider's chair and server's chairs that are in our sanctuary. Tim has also done excellent work in parishes all over Michigan, including the Cathedral of St. Augustine in Kalamazoo. Tim is a solid Catholic, and has a large family, most of whom help him in his business.

The work began a few weeks ago: scraping, sanding, filling dings and dents. Here are Tim and his crew at work:




Tim and his son at work on the high altar


Once the sanding and scraping were done, then the white areas were re-painted. Gold flake paint was used for trim and detail, and gold leaf applied to some select places. One of the advantages of having a large family, as the Schoonard's do, is they can get a lot done at once. Here are some of Tim's kids at work on the Mary altar:



And when some of the family are working, others are praying:


Some of the Schoonards praying the Rosary


The altars have been completed, and they will be officially "unveiled" this weekend.

As part of putting our newly restored altars in their rightfully prominent place, I will celebrate the Masses this weekend and the following weekend (The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross) Ad Orientem. I have spent some time explaining and catechizing my parish about the use of ad orientem in the past few weeks. The re-introduction of this posture is something of a landmark here, as I'm pretty sure the high altar hasn't been used for a public celebration of Mass in 30 years or more.

I'll have photos up of the finished altars, as well as of our historic Ad Orientem liturgies, posted next week!

Sorry to Have Been Away So Long...

But I've had a busy month of August!

August was indeed busy. I took a couple of short trips to visit friends. I also participated in the conference of the International Society for McIntyrean Philosophy, held at St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana.

At the conference I presented a paper, "The Subjectivized Liturgy and the Good Life". My paper used certain concepts Alasdair McIntyre elucidated in After Virtue to analyze the ideological nature of post-Vatican II "deformations" of the liturgy, and how those deformations interfere with the end of liturgy as the contemplation of God. I'm going to clean it up a bit and see about publishing it. I hope to have it available here soon.

I also went down to Florida for a week to visit my mother, and then drove back with her to Michigan, where she's now visiting me for a couple of weeks. We got to drive through tropical storm Fay, which was just loads of fun...

Anyway, I'm getting back into the swing of things now.

By the way, I realize I never got around to putting up the third in my series of homilies about the "static" that interferes with our proper participation in the liturgy. I promise I'll get that up in the next couple of days.

Friday, July 25, 2008

We Do Not Know How To Pray As We Ought

Homily for the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Wisdom 12:13, 16-19
Romans 8: 26-27
Matthew 13:24-43




In our second reading from St. Paul, he tells us that “we do not know how to pray as we ought.” And don’t we know that from our own experience? I’m sure many, if not most of us, have had the experience of thinking that we needed something, and even praying for it, only to get it, and realize that we didn’t really need it, or even that we don’t really even want it. You’ve all heard the saying, “be careful what you pray for, you just might get it!”

“We do not know how to pray as we ought.” This problem is compounded by millions if we take the whole Church. How are we supposed to know how to pray for the whole Church, if we don’t know even how to pray for ourselves? Well, St. Paul gives us the answer. He says “the Spirit himself intercedes for us...” How does this work? Well, no doubt, in the moments when we are least able to articulate the needs of our souls, the Holy Spirit prays for us, individually. But even more so, the Holy Spirit offers intercession for the whole Church, and the Spirit does this through the liturgy. Why, because the Church is the Body of Christ, and the Mass is the perfect prayer of Christ, offering Himself to the Father, and us with Him.

Remember, when we say that the Church is the Body of Christ, that isn’t just a figure of speech – we really mean what we say. We are, the whole Church as it is today, down through the ages since the apostles, and on into forever, actually incorporated, made into, Christ Himself. The Church and Christ are one.

The Church is also the Bride of Christ. And as such she knows the mind of Christ. Here’s an example: How many of you who are married know what your wife or husband will say about something before he or she says it? (hands go up across the congregation) Exactly, most of you. That’s because husbands and wives are in communion with one another, and you come to know the mind of your spouse. Well, how much more so will this be the case between the Church and His spouse, the Church? Christ and His Church are in even more profound and intimate communion than any husband or wife. Indeed, the Church and Christ are in perfect communion. So when the Church teaches, she teaches with the mind of Christ. And when she speaks, she speaks with the voice of Christ.

And she does this first and foremost in the Mass. Who gave us the Mass? (someone in the congregation says “Jesus”) Exactly, Christ himself gave us the Mass. Now, it seems to me that it’s safe to say that Jesus is the most perfect pray-er ever. Does anyone want to contest that statement? No? Good. So if Jesus is the most perfect pray-er ever, and we want to pray perfectly, then the best way to do that would be to unite ourselves to His prayer. And that prayer is the Mass. But we have to do this through the Church, since Christ gives us the Mass through the Church. So if we want to pray this perfect prayer in unity with Christ, then we have to do it in and through His bride, the Church. And that means we have to do so according to the mind and heart of the Church.

Which brings me back to the issue of “static” that I have been talking about for the past couple of weeks. Many of us frequently bring with us sources of spiritual static that interfere with our receiving all the graces that our Lord offers in the liturgy, much like the static on a radio interferes with our receiving everything the station is broadcasting.

And one of these sources of static is what I would call a false separation or distinction between our faith, our relationship with Christ, and the Church. We tend to think of these things as separate entities. We think well, there’s Jesus here, and there’s the Church over here. We tend to approach our spiritual lives as a “me and Jesus” kind of thing.

Now, on one level, this is an understandable error. That’s due, in large part, to our cultural and religious surroundings as early 21stcentury Americans. America, you see, is a predominantly Protestant nation. And the culture in which we are immersed is predominantly Protestant. This phenomenon led one priest I know to say, “the problem is that, in America, everyone is Protestant, even the Catholics.” And the thing is, to look at our spiritual lives as a “me and Jesus” thing, to see our relationship with Christ and the life of grace as separate from the Church is in fact a very Protestant approach.

Let me give an example: How many of you have ever had a missionary or evangelist from a protestant church come to your door? (many hands go up in the congregation) Now, I would be willing to bet, that in the course of your conversation, you were asked something like this: “Have you accepted Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?” Now let’s reflect on that for a moment. “Have you accepted Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?” Now what is missing in that question? What is missing in that concept? Let me ask you: where does the Church appear in that question, or the concept behind it?

The answer, of course, is that it doesn’t. The Church doesn’t figure in that equation, so to speak. To think of our faith and our relationship with Christ in this way is in fact not a very Catholic approach at all. Now, this doesn’t mean that those protestants are bad people, or that they’re bad Christians. But it does mean that they don’t share in the fullness of the Faith that comes from the apostles. And isn’t that what we want? The fullness of the Faith of the apostles? The fullness of the grace and power of Christ that comes to us through the Church, which Christ founded on the apostles?

You see, the problem is that, if we see Christ and the Church as these separate things, then we tend to approach what the Church offers us not as people needing to receive and be fed, not as disciples needing to learn. Rather, we tend to set ourselves up as those who evaluate or judge for ourselves what the Church offers us. We become like diners at a buffet table: well, I’ll take a little of this, and a little of that, but none of that, thank you very much.

And that mindset profoundly limits our receptivity to the grace of Christ. Because, during Mass, there’s something under the surface, always judging “do I like that”, “how do I feel about that?” That’s not the spirit of a disciple.

When the Church holds something out to us as good and holy, we’ll find that thing either appealing or unappealing. Now, if we find that thing unappealing, if we’re approaching the Church as our mother and teacher, we’ll try to accept and learn to love what she gives us. If we’re approaching our Faith as a “me and Jesus” thing, we might very well reject what the Church offers us, because it’s unappealing at the moment, and we’re not seeing that what the Church offers us, Christ Himself offers us – because Christ and His Church are one.

And notice on what basis we end up rejecting what the Church offers us. We reject it because it’s unappealing to us. And that brings me back to a point I made last week: the temptation we’re always up against is the temptation to make the Mass about ourselves. To approach our faith and worship in a “me and Jesus” way, without approaching Christ in and through the Church, is in the end to succumb to the temptation to make the liturgy about ourselves.

The remedy for that temptation is to approach Christ in the heart of and according to the mind of His bride, the Church. And we do that by receiving and participating in the liturgy as the Church gives it to us – and remember, not just as we see it here and now, but as it has been given to us down through the ages. Pope Benedict reminded us last year: what was good and holy for previous generations is good and holy for us as well.

So let’s not limit ourselves to being receptive only to what we, here and now, think is appealing or congenial to us. Let us open ourselves up to the whole treasury of grace, beauty and power that Christ gives in the Church’s liturgy. Christ gives us the fullness of His grace and power in the Mass. And if we’re trying to receive that fullness while focused on judging or evaluating the liturgy according to what appeals to me, then we will necessarily miss out, because you and I, each one of us, is too narrow and small. The Church, however, is vast and wide, and in her we will find all that we seek, and much more besides. In her, and her alone, can we be that wheat that our Lord speaks of, that yields abundantly, and that He will gather together to Himself.

Friday, July 18, 2008

What Is Mass Really About?

This is the first in a series of three homilies over the next three weeks about the different attitudes, expectations, and ideas that can be an obstacle to our truly participating in and receiving the fullness of graces Christ intends to give us in the Mass. Check back next week for the next installment!

Homily for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Isaiah 55:10-11
Romans 8:18-23
Matthew 13:1-23



In St. Paul’s letter to the Romans today, we hear that “all creation was made subject to futility.” All created things are futile, that is, in the end they will come to nothing – except, that is, in and through the saving and redeeming power of Christ. In and through Christ, St., Paul tells us, all creation will be set free and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. This is similar to what we heard last week, also from St. Paul – that we are not debtors to the flesh, but rather, we have power over the flesh – we have power over the world and sin.

But, as I explained last week, we don’t seem to really live in, really make use of this power that we have been given in Christ. In Christ we are called to “live differently”, and through Christ we have been given the power to live differently, but that power and grace of Christ often goes untapped in our lives.

Last week I explained that there is spiritual “static” that, like the static we hear on the radio, interferes with our receiving the full outpouring of the grace and power which Christ gives us in every Mass. Like the static which can drown out a program on the radio, this spiritual static can interfere with our receiving the “signal” that Christ is sending us in the liturgy. But unlike the static on the radio, which comes from an outside source, most of the time the static that gets in the way of receiving everything we’re meant to in the Mass comes not from an outside source, but from ourselves.

When we come to Mass, we bring our own preconceptions, attitudes, and ideas with us. But often these attitudes and ideas come from the world, come from our surrounding culture rather than our faith – and these attitudes and ideas are actually obstacles to truly receiving the graces of the Mass.

In our gospel, the Lord tells us the parable of the sower: Now Jesus is speaking literally here of the Word of God, but there is a deeper meaning and signifance here. For Jesus himself is the Word of God become man. And where do we receive Jesus? (a parishioner says "at Mass".) . Of course, in the Mass. So this parable also tells us something about what can interfere with our receiving the fulness of graces in the Mass.

Jesus first refers to the seed that falls on the path, which is immediately eaten up, and tells us that this refers to those who hear the Word without understanding it. Well, if we don’t understand what the Mass really is, if we don’t understand what the Mass is really for and what it’s supposed to do, then it’s power never really has a chance to bear fruit in our lives.

The first problem with understanding what the Mass is for comes from confusing purpose and result. We can see how this can cause trouble if we look at the problem in another area of our lives. (points at a parishioner) Now, Ann, you work at the school, right? Ok, now, would it be correct to suppose that you’ve become friends with some of your coworkers? Yes, good. Now, would you say that the purpose of your job is to provide you with friends? No, of course not. Purpose and result: they’re not the same. And I would imagine that, if you began to treat your job as though it’s purpose was to provide you with friends, that would get you into trouble, sooner or later.

Well, the same sort of thing happens with regard to the Mass. We tend to have certain associations and experiences at Mass, and so we come to think, almost unconsciously, that that is what Mass is for. It’s a natural enough thing to happen. After all, when we have similar experiences repeatedly, our minds naturally connect them. For example, I would imagine that for most of us, most of the time, when we go to Mass it’s an uplifting experience – we feel good after Mass, or at least better than we did beforehand. But we only have to think about it for a moment to realize that’s not what Mass is for. God didn’t give us the Mass in order to give us certain kinds of emotions or a certain kind of experience. Again, purpose and result. The fact that a certain result tends to happen when we attend Mass doesn’t mean that that’s the purpose of Mass.

This brings me to something that happened in my previous parish. I’ve related this story before, but it applies here so I’ll use it again: I once got a phone call from a parishioner, who was very angry with me about what happened at Mass the previous Sunday. He said, “I’ll never come to one of your Masses again, Fr. Rob! I felt terrible when I left Mass.” I didn’t know what else to say, so I said, “I’m sorry that happened”. He then said, “I don’t go to Mass to feel bad. I go to Mass to feel good. I don’t need you to make me feel bad at Mass.” I said, “you go to Mass to ‘feel good'? Every time?” “Well,” he said, “most of the time, anyway.” I replied, “well, I can’t say specifically, but perhaps God is trying to show or tell you something that’s challenging or difficult, and that’s why you felt bad. Maybe you needed to feel bad about something.” “I don’t need this”, he retorted. And he hung up.

So here’s the problem: this man had gotten it into his head that the purpose of Mass was to make him “feel good”. Now, he is an extreme example, but I’d be willing to guess that most of give in to that kind of thinking, at least occasionally. But here’s the thing: even if we never felt we got anything out of Mass, it would still be the most noble, holy, amazing, and important thing we could ever do – because the Mass isn’t about us. The Mass is about giving the perfect honor, glory and worship to God, through making present to us here, on this altar, the eternal self-offering and sacrifice of Christ. The Mass is about Jesus, not about us.

The temptation is always to try to make the Mass about something else, rather than God. It’s a temptation that has been there from the beginning of the Church. If you read the letters of St. Paul you’ll see the problem is there already. And the temptation to make the Mass about something else is really just a cover for the real underlying temptation, which is to make the Mass about us. That’ the old man, that’s the damage of original sin, working in us. So, for example, another thing that has gotten tossed around a lot over the last 20-30 years is the idea that the Mass is a “celebration of community”. Now that’s one of those things that sounds good when you first hear it: a “celebration of community”. But once you start to look a little more closely, you realize, well, no... it isn’t. The Mass isn’t the community celebrating itself. Making the Mass about “community” is just making the Mass about us. And the Mass isn’t about the community of us. It’s about offering the perfect honor, glory and worship to God, through making present to us here, on this altar, the eternal self-offering and sacrifice of Christ. The Mass, once again, is about Jesus, not about us.

Here’s an illustration: (I call up a parishioner.) Now, imagine we have never met before. Suppose I came up to you and introduced myself, and, after you introduced yourself, I were to do this: ( I put my arm around parishioner.) Would you be my friend? Please would you be my friend? Won’t you please, please be my friend? (etc.) If I did that, would you be likely to become my friend? No, of course not. Indeed, you would probably try to avoid me. Why? Because that’s not how friendship works.

Friendship doesn’t happen as a result of trying to get it directly. It comes about “along the way” as the result of doing some other good thing together. It’s the same way with the good things that we receive as a result of participating at Mass. We receive them because we’re doing a far more important good thing – giving God honor, glory, and worship through Christ His Son. We don't receive them because we seek them in and for themselves.

We have to stay focused on what the Mass is really about – Christ. If we’re concentrating on, worrying about what “I” am getting out of the Mass, then we’re misplacing our energy. If I’m thinking about what “I” am getting out of Mass, then I’m thinking about me, not God. And if my mind isn’t on God, then I’m not really, fully participating in Mass. And if I’m not fully participating, then I’m not open to receiving the fullness of grace and power that Christ offers us. So, if we want to “live differently”, if we want to gain the full power of Christ’s offering of Himself in the Mass, then we need to put worshipping Him first, and all else will be given us besides.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

More Musical Heaven: Solemn Vespers at the CMAA Colloquium

As promised in my post of the Requiem Mass, I have photos and audio files from the Solemn Pontifical Vespers from the "Seven Days of Musical Heaven" at the CMAA Colloquium in Chicago last month. I won't post recordings of everything sung, as the whole service was almost an hour long. I'll provide some highlights, though.

We sang "Votive Vespers of the Holy Cross", meaning that the texts and antiphons all centered around giving honor and glory to Christ in His sacrifice on the cross. I was privileged to sing in the choir that provided the polyphonic psalmody for the celebration. We were led by Dr. William Mahrt, the president of the CMAA, and a renowned scholar and intepreter of chant and early music. Here is Dr. Mahrt with us in one of our rehearsals:



We had quite a bit of material to master in only 3 or 4 rehearsals. Some of the polyphony was fairly simple, but some was quite challenging. Everybody dug in and worked very hard, and I think it came together pretty well.


Rehearsing in the Chapel Before Vespers
(photo courtesy of Roseanne Sullivan)


We were honored to have Bishop Salvatore Cordileone (auxiliary of San Diego) as celebrant for Vespers, assisted by Fr. Haynes of the Society of St. John Cantius and several other priests in choro. The organist played an improvisation on the opening versicle for Vespers, Deus, in adjutorium meum intende for the procession, then, having reverenced the altar and proceeding to the chair, Bishop Cordileone intoned the versicle.




The Procession



The Bishop at the chair, Intoning the Versicle


This first recording includes the conclusion of the organ processional, the versicle, and the first antiphon and psalm.




Versicle & Psalm 109
(Recording by Aristotle Esguerra, edited and optimized by me)

Bishop: Deus, in adjutorium meum intende.

Choir:  Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.
            Gloria Patri et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto,
            Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper,
            et in saecula saeculorum, Amen.


Bishop: O God, incline to my assistance.

Choir: Lord, hasten to help me.
            Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
            as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
            world without end, Amen.

Antiphon: O magnum pietatis opus! Mors mortua tunc est, in ligno quando mortua vita fuit.

"O great work of compassion: death was destroyed on the tree, when life died on it, Alleluia."



The first psalm is psalm 109 (110), set in a falsobordone by Lorente de Anchuelo:

Psalm 109 (110):

The Lord said to my Lord: sit at my right hand,
until I make thy enemies thy footstool...


The Psalms were sung alternately in chant or polyphonically. The second psalm was psalm 110. The third psalm was 111 (112) in a setting by Ceballos. The antiphon for the third psalm was:

Ecce Crucem Domini, fugite partes adversae:
vicit leo de tribu Juda, radix David, alleluia.


"Behold the Cross of the Lord, flee, O ye His enemies:
he has vanquished, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, Alleluia."

Psalm 111 (112)

Blessed is the man who fears the Lord:
he shall delight exceedingly in His commandments...



Antiphon & Psalm 111
(Recording by Aristotle Esguerra, edited and optimized by me)




The Sanctuary and Choir During Vespers


The fourth and fifth psalms were 112 (113) and 116 (117). Psalm 112 was chanted, and Psalm 116 was another falsobordone setting, this time by Cabezon. The antiphon for Psalm 112 is:

Nos autem gloriari oportet in cruce Domini nostri Jesu Christi.

"We ought, moreover, to glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."



Psalm 112 (113)

Praise the Lord, O ye children: praise the name of the Lord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord, from henceforth now and forever...



The antiphon for Psalm 116 is:

Per signum Crucis de inimicis nostris libera nos Deus noster.

"By the sign of the Cross, save us from our enemies, O our God."

Psalm 116 (117)

O praise the Lord, all ye nations:
praise Him, all ye people...



Psalms 112 & 116
(Recording by Aristotle Esguerra, edited and optimized by me)




Another photo of Dr. Mahrt and the choir (I'm the one in black in the center)


Following the psalmody was the capitulum, the "little chapter" or short scripture reading. This was from Phillipians 2:5-7:
Have among yourselves the same attitude
that is also yours in Christ Jesus,
Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance.



Bishop Cordileone and the ministers


The Responsory after the readings was sung by the advanced men's chant schola, also directed by Dr. Mahrt:

O Crux gloriosa! O Crux adoranda!
O lignum pretiosum et admirabile signum!


O glorious Cross! O adorable Cross!
O most precious wood and admirable sign!
*Through which the devil is conquered and the world redeemed
by the blood of Christ, alleluia.
V.Let us adore the Sign of the Cross, through which we
have received the sacrament of salvation.
*Through which the devil is conquered and the world redeemed...
V.Glory to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
*Through which the devil is conquered and the world redeemed...




Chapter and Responsory: O Crux Gloriosa
(Recording by Aristotle Esguerra, edited and optimized by me)




Dr. Mahrt and the advanced men's schola


The service continued with the singing of the ancient hymn Vexilla Regis:

"The banners of the King come forth;
brightly gleams the mystery of the Cross,
on which Life suffered death, and by his death,
obtained for us life..."

Finally, Vespers concluded with the singing of the Magnificat the final prayer and blessing, and the singing of the Salve Regina in the solemn tone.




Bishop Cordileone incensing the altar during the Magnificat


The Colloquium was a fantastic experience, and being able to sing such wonderful music in the context of real liturgy, rather than in merely a concert setting, brought home to me how this music was written and intended first and foremost as prayer.

Indeed, a spirit of prayerfulness permeated the whole of the Colloquium. While the atmosphere wasn't retreat-like or POD, nonetheless everyone there knew what we were there for, and what the Colloquium (and sacred music) is all about: the praise and glorification of God in music.

One of the things that impressed me the most was the instructors for the Colloquium. Quite apart from the fact that they were all superlative musicians and teachers, they all took very seriously the sacredness of what we were doing. It was quite clearly more than a job or profession or even something they loved very much. I observed in them a genuine and deep devotion and love for our faith. I was genuinely touched on a couple of occasions by things that either Dr. Mahrt or Wilko Brouwers said regarding music, faith, and prayer. It was this gently pervading sense of pietas, in the truest sense of the word, that raised the whole experience to something more than just enjoying good music.

I hope that pietas comes through in the recordings of the music presented to you here.

Something More From the CMAA Requiem Mass

I would have posted this earlier, but the circumstances explained in the previous post prevented it.

At the Requiem Mass I celebrated at the CMAA Colloquium, the chant scholae also sang the traditional sequence for the Requiem Mass, the Dies Irae:


Dies Irae
(Recording by Carl Dierschow, edited and optimized by me)


Dies iræ! dies illa
Solvet sæclum in favilla
Teste David cum Sibylla!


"Day of wrath, O that day,
which will dissolve the world in ashes,
as David and the Sibyll gave witness!"


(Go here for a complete text and translation)

Interestingly, though this sequence is not included in the Mass for the Dead in the modern Roman rite (Mass of Paul VI), it has never been suppressed, and exists as a "supplemental" text in the modern Breviary. Where it may be sung in the modern rite is a subject of some debate. At the Colloquium, it was sung, in keeping with Tradition, as a Sequence.

I am always moved on singing or hearing this, as it is a chant of great power and profundity, evoking the Last Things and our hope in Christ's mercy.

Sorry I've Been Away...

But here at St. Stan's the thunderstorms which have been ripping through the Midwest have hit us as well. Not as badly as in parts of Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska, thank God, but they've done their mischief here.

Last week we were hit by an almost-direct lightning strike, which wreaked havoc on our communications. The lightning strike traveled along some of our phone and data lines, and blew out:

(1) the parish/school digital phone system
(2) our gateway router
(3) 2 network multi-port switches
(4) the wireless router in the school
(5) the firewire card on my computer (that one's rather puzzling)
(6) 2 (count them) UPS Back-ups.

The gentleman who helps out as our volunteer IT pro said he's never seen so much damage from a single near-miss lightning strike. Oh, well, I guess it was our turn.

So, we were rather disabled here for a while, and I've been busy replacing equipment and getting things back up and running.

However, posting will be resuming now. Hopefully we will avoid the lightning (or it will avoid us).

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Of Course, This Happens Now...

After I go to the trouble to install Haloscan comments, and pay for their "premium" service, what happens?

Haloscan goes all wacky, and stops working.

Sheesh, great job, people.

Sorry for any inconvenience. Hopefully they'll get it sorted out soon.

[Update (5:15 PM): Oh joy, unconfined! It appears that Haloscan is working again. Here's hoping it stays that way.]

A Week of Musical Heaven In Chicago!

I participated in the annual Church Music Association of America (CMAA) Sacred Music Colloquium in Chicago during the week before last. It was billed as "7 Days of Musical Heaven", and that description wasn't far off at all. I had the opportunity to work with some world-class experts in sacred music, priests who were veritable fonts of liturgical knowledge, and make some great new friends. This year's Colloquium was held at Loyola University in Chicago, which was an excellent venue. But in addition, being there was a nifty experience for me, as I had lived just four blocks North of Loyola for three years after college. So it was kind of a homecoming for me as well. Loyola is set right on Lake Michigan, and is quite picturesque:



(Note: photos have been kept small to make loading of the blog less taxing - all photos can be viewed full-size by clicking on them.)

I had looked forward to going to the Colloquium. But after the first couple of days, I realized that I had really needed something like it. This thought struck me after my second rehearsal with Dr. Mahrt's polyphonic choir. I thought, "Wow! I really needed this." Being surrounded by, and being in the midst of making, so much beautiful music was a spiritual tonic.

The liturgies at the Colloquium were beautiful and inspiring. There was an even mix of Masses celebrated according to the Missal of Paul VI and that of Pius V (Extraordinary Form). What they all shared, regardless of form, was reverence, devotion, and superlatively beautiful music. All the liturgies were celebrated in Loyola's Madonna Della Strada Chapel, which is quite lovely, as well as having great acoustics:


A View of the Chapel



The Interior of the Chapel


On Thursday, June 19, Fr. Robert Pasley celebrated a sung Mass in the Extraordinary Form (Missa Cantata). Fr. Pasley is the Rector of a Extraordinary Form parish in the Diocese of Camden, New Jersey.


Fr. Pasley Incensing the Altar


On Friday, June 20, we had the privilege of having Bishop Salvatore Cordileone (auxiliary of San Diego) celebrate Mass in the Ordinary form. It was a votive Mass for the Holy Father, and so, fittingly, one of the polyphonic choirs sang Palestrina's Tu Es Petrus ("You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church..." Matthew 16:18-19):


Tu Es Petrus
(Recording by Aristotle Esguerra, edited and optimized by me)

But one of the biggest moments for me, personally, came on Wednesday, June 18, for on this day I was the principal celebrant for a sung Requiem Mass in the Ordinary Form, celebrated ad orientem, with complete Gregorian propers. It was truly a privilege for me to celebrate this liturgy, and one of the highlights of my priesthood thus far. I was ably assisted by Fr. Scott Haynes and several servers from the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius. Here am I, Fr. Haynes, and some of the servers getting ready for Mass:


(photo courtesy of Jeffrey Ostrowski)


Here am I with the concelebrants, processing into the church (Photos courtesy of Roseanne Sullivan):


Note the black vestments!



Preparing to incense the altar.


And of course, while we were processing in and incensing, the women's schola sang the Introit, Requiem Aeternam (Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord...):


Requiem Aeternam
(Recording by Carl Dierschow, edited and optimized by me)



Chanting the Collect


Here is the men's schola chanting the Gradual, Requiem Aeternam:


Requiem Aeternam - Gradual
(Recording by Aristotle Esguerra, edited and optimized by me)

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and may perpetual light shine upon them.
V.The righteous shall be remembered forever;
he shall never fear evil tidings.



A good view of the sanctuary while I am chanting the Gospel.
(photo courtesy of Jeffrey Ostrowski)


In addition to the chant, there was excellent polyphony as well. One of the polyphonic choirs, directed by Horst Bucholz, sang Hernando Franco's Circumdederunt Me at the Offertory:


Circumdederunt Me
(Recording by Carl Dierschow, edited and optimized by me)

The groanings of the dead have surrounded me,
the sorrows of the netherworld have compassed me about.


Here I am chanting the Canon:


(photos courtesy of Roseanne Sullivan)


During Communion another polyphonic choir, under the direction of Scott Turkington, sang one of my favorite pieces of all time, William Byrd's Ave Verum Corpus (Hail true body...):




Ave Verum Corpus
(Recording by Carl Dierschow, edited and optimized by me)

Hail true body, born of the Virgin Mary,
truly suffering, sacrificed on the cross for mankind:
From whose pierced side flowed blood and water;
Be for us a foretaste in the final trial.
O sweet, O merciful, O Jesus, Son of Mary,
Have mercy on me. Amen.


We concluded Mass, and the ministers and I processed out, with the singing of the In Paradisum, sung by the whole congregation. Hearing this sung by some 250 people sent shivers down my spine!


In Paradisum
(Recording by Carl Dierschow, edited and optimized by me)

May the angels lead you into paradise:
may the martyrs receive you at your coming,
and lead you into the holy city, Jerusalem.

May the choir of angels receive you,
and with Lazarus, who once was poor,
may you have everlasting rest.



The congregation, ministers, and myself as we began the Recession.
(photo courtesy of Jeffery Ostrowski)


This was just one of the liturgies that week! And, musically speaking, it was perhaps the most "low-key" of all the liturgies. For real magnificence, I'll have another post up soon with photos and recordings of the Solemn Pontifical Vespers from the Friday evening of Colloquium week.