"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Monsignor Grau President of the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music

Continuing on with our coverage of some of the presentations given at the FIUV's 20th general assembly in Rome this past November, we now turn to Msgr. Valentin Miserachs Grau's considerations of sacred music. [NLM emphases]

* * *


Monsignor Valentin Miserachs Grau
President of the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music

The Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music was founded by Pope Saint Pius X in 1911. The Papal Brief Expleverunt in which the new School was approved and praised is dated on the 14th November of that year, even if the academic activities had started several months before, on the 19th January. A Holy Mass to impetrate graces was celebrated on the 5th January. The whole Academic Year 2010-2011 has been dedicated to commemorate the centenary of the foundation of what was originally known as “Superior School of Sacred Music”, later included by Pope Pius
XI among the Roman Athenaeums and Ecclesiastical Universities under the denomination of “Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music”.

In the atmosphere of liturgical and musical renewal that characterized the second half of Nineteenth Century and in the frame of the research of the pure sources of Sacred Music that leaded to Pope Saint Pius X’s Motu proprio Inter sollicitudines [Tra le sollecitudini], it became evident it would not have been possible to carry on the programme of the reformation without schools of Sacred Music. It was within the Associazione Italiana Santa Cecilia (AISC) [Italian Association of Saint Cecily that the idea of settle a superior school in Rome, the most suitable place for that, as being the center of the whole Catholic world. From the first projects until the
opening of the School thirty years elapsed!

The Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music was foreseen since its very beginning –and it has remained substantially faithful to this vocation– as a centre of high formation specialising in the main branches of Sacred Music: Gregorian chant, composition, choir conduction, organ and musicology. It is not then about a conservatoire, with the study of different musical instruments, but about a university centre specifically devoted to Sacred Music. It is obvious, of course, that music in general underlies Sacred Music: in the course of composition, for instance, one must start, as in any conservatoire, with the study of harmony, counterpoint and fugue; then follow with the study of variations, the sonata form, and orchestration, before arriving at the great exquisitely sacred forms (motet, Mass and oratory). The Pontifical Institute has recently adhered to the Bologna Convention and has consequently adapted its own syllabus and courses to the new parameters proposed by it. It is in this spirit that a superior biennium of piano has been newly introduced, although this subject was already largely present as a complementary matter in our curriculum.

I should underline the fact that in the year just elapsed the Pontifical Institute has reached a historical maximum of students with 140 inscriptions, a third of whom coming from Italy and the remainder coming from the five continents. In addition to the study of the various musical disciplines, we have to record other exquisite musical activities like the beautiful season of concerts –with the relevant participation of our teachers and students– and, of course, periodical solemn liturgical celebrations in chant.

The Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music is not a body in the Church with normative character, but a school where to learn, with the study and practice, how to become leaven and a model for service to the different churches throughout the Catholic world.

In order to commemorate in a suitable way such an auspicious anniversary, we began by organizing the Concert season 2010-2011 according to the historical framework of these last hundred years, with reference to the subjects of our teaching, and to the most relevant figures that distinguished themselves in the life of the Pontifical Institute. I would like to mention the Holy Mass celebrated by myself in the Ancient Roman Rite in the church of Santi Giovanni e Petronio in the Via del Mascherone on the 5th January 2011, exactly as it happened a century ago, on the same day and in the same church, when our first president Father Angelo De Santi, S.I., wanted to open the activity of the infant school with a Holy Mass celebrated “in the intimacy”, with the attendance of a few professors and students. I have celebrated in the Ancient Rite both for historical accuracy and for giving joy to a number of professors and students that since some time ago asked me to celebrate the Holy Mass in the extraordinary form.

The most relevant acts took place in the last week of May: the publication of a thick volume entitled “Cantemus Domino”, that gathers the different and many-sided features of our hundred-year history; the edition of a CD collection of music by the Institute; the celebration of an important International Congress on Sacred Music (with the participation of more than one hundred speakers and lecturers), that was closed by an extraordinary concert and a Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving. During the Congress, three relevant figures related to Sacred Music were conferred with the honorary doctorate and held brilliant and highly-valued magisterial lectures.

I would like to underline that the Holy Father Benedict XVI has been in some way present in the centennial commemoration through a Letter addressed to our Grand Chancellor, The Most Eminent Lord Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, in which His Holiness remembers the merits of the Institute along its hundred-year history and insists on how important it is for the future to continue working along the furrow of the great Tradition, an indispensable condition for a genuine updating (aggiornamento) having all the guarantees that the Church has always requested as essential connotations of liturgical Sacred Music: holiness, excellence of the forms (true art) and universality, in the sense that liturgical music could be acceptable to everybody, without shutting itself in abstruse or elitist forms and, least of all, turning down to trivial consumer products.

This one is a sore point: the rampant wave of false and truly dreadful liturgical music in our churches. Nevertheless, the will of the Church clearly appears in the words of the Holy Father I have just mentioned. He had already addressed to us in the allocution pronounced during his visit to the Pontifical Institute on 13th October 2007. Moreover, it is still fresh in our memory the Chyrograph that the Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote on 22nd November 2003 to commemorate the centenary of the Saint Pius X’s Motu proprio Inter sollicitudines (22nd November 1903), by which Pope Wojtyla assumed the main principles of this fundamental document without forgetting what the Second Vatican Council clearly expressed in the Chapter VI of its Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium on Sacred Liturgy. By doing that, Blessed John Paul II practically walked the same path traced by that Holy Pope who wanted his Motu proprio to have validity as the “juridical code of Sacred Music”. Now we must wonder: if the will of the Church has been clearly declared also in our times, how is it possible that the musical praxis in our churches distances itself in so evident a way from the same doctrine?

We must consider several problems at the root of this question, for instance the problem of repertoire. We have hinted at a double aspect: the risk of shutting oneself in a closed circle that would wish to essay new compositions considered as being of high quality in Liturgy. We must say that the evolution of musical language towards uncertain horizons makes the breach between “serious” music and popular sensitivity to become more and more profound. Liturgical music must be “universal”, that is acceptable to any kind of audience. Today it is difficult to find good music composed with this essential characteristic. I do not discuss the artistic value of certain contemporary productions, even sacred, but I think that it would not be opportune to insert them in the Sacred Liturgy. One cannot transform the “oratory” into “laboratory”.

The second aspect of the problem derives from a false interpretation of the conciliar doctrine on Sacred Music. As a matter of fact, the post-conciliar liturgical “renewal”, including the almost total lack of mandatory rules at a high level, has allowed a progressive decay of liturgical music, at the point of becoming, in the most cases, “consumer music” according to the parameters of the most slipshod easy-listening music. This sad practice sometimes determines attitudes of petulant rejection towards genuine Sacred Music, of yesterday and today, maybe composed in a simple manner, but according to the rules of Art. Only a change of mentality and a decisive “reforming” will –that I am afraid is far to come– would be able to bring back to our churches the good musical praxis and, together with it, also the conscientiousness of celebrations, that would not lack to entice, through the value of beauty, a large public, particularly young people, currently kept away by the prevailing amateurish practice, falsely popular and wrongly considered –even in good faith– as an effective instrument of approaching.

Regarding the power of involvement of which the good liturgical music is capable, I would like to add only what is my own personal experience. By a fortunate chance, I am acting after almost forty years, as Kapellmeister at the Roman Basilica of Saint Mary Major, where every Sunday and on feast days the Chapter Mass is celebrated in Latin, and with Gregorian and polyphonic chant accompanied by organ (and by a brass sextet in highest solemnities). I can assure you that the nave and the aisles of the basilica get packed and not rarely there are people that come after the ceremonies to express their gratefulness, moved to tears as they are, especially by the Hymn to the Madonna Salus Populi Romani (Our Lady, Salvation of the Roman People). They often cannot hold back the excitement and arrive to burst out clapping. People are thirsting for good music! It goes directly to the heart and is capable of working even resounding conversions.

Another compass of good liturgical music –always reminded by the Teaching of the Church– concerns the primacy of the pipe organ. The organ has always been considered as the prince of instruments in Roman Liturgy and consequently has enjoyed great honour and esteem. We know well that other rites use different instruments, or only the chant without any kind of instrumental accompaniment. But the Roman Church, and also the denominations born from the Lutheran Reformation, see in the pipe organ the preferred instrument for Liturgy. In Latin countries, the use of organ is almost exclusive whilst for Anglo-Saxon tradition the intervention of the orchestra is frequent in celebrations. This fact is not due to a whim or by pure chance: the organ has very ancient roots and has been praised along the centuries in the path of its historical improvement. The objective quality of its sound (produced and supported by the air blown into the pipes, comparable to the sound emitted by the human voice) and its exclusive phonic richness (that makes of it a world in itself and not a mere ersatz of the orchestra) justify the predilection that the Church fosters towards it. It is rightly so that the Second Vatican Council dedicates inspired words to the organ when stating that “it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man's mind to God and to higher things” (SC, 120), in which it does no other thing that to recall the preceding doctrine both of Saint Pius X and Venerable Pius XII (especially in the splendid Encyclical Letter Musicae sacrae disciplina). By the way, I would like to remark that the publication of the PIMS that has got more success is the booklet Iucunde laudemus, that gathers together the most relevant documents of the Church’s Magisterium regarding Sacred Music. Just in these days, since the first edition was sold out, we have re-edited this work updated with further ecclesiastical documents, both from the preceding teaching and the one of the reigning Pope.

In our quick review of the main points underlying a good liturgical musical praxis, we have now arrived to a last but not least question, one that should be firstly considered: the Gregorian chant. It is the official chant of the Roman Church, as the Second Vatican Council reasserts. Its repertoire includes thousands of ancient, less ancient, and even modern pieces. Certainly, we can find the highest charm in the oldest compositions, dated back to the Xth-XIth Centuries. In this case also it has to do about an objective value, since the Gregorian chant represents the synthesis of the European and Mediterranean chant, related to the genuine and authentic popular chant, even that of the remotest regions of the world. It is a deeply human and essential chant that can be traced in its richness and variety of modes, in its rhythmic freedom (always at the service of the word), in the diversity and different degrees of its single pieces, according to the individual to whom the execution is assigned, etc. This is a chant that has found in the Church its most appropriate breeding ground and constitutes a unique treasure of priceless value, even from the merely cultural point of view.

Therefore, the rediscovery of Gregorian chant is a sine qua non condition to give back dignity to the liturgical music and not only as a valid repertoire in itself, but also as a source of inspiration for new compositions, as it was the case of the great polyphonists of the Renaissance, who –following the guidelines of the Council of Trent– created the structure bearing their wonderful works departing from the Gregorian subject matter. If we have in Gregorian chant the master path, why not follow it instead of persisting in scouring roads that in the most of cases drive to nowhere? But to undertake this work it is necessary to count on talented and well-prepared people. This is the goal of the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music. This is because of these noble ideals that it fought along the last hundred years and will continue to fight in the future, in the conviction of paying an essential service to the universal Church in a primary field such that of liturgical Sacred Music. Saint Pius X was so persuaded as to write in the introduction of his Motu proprio these golden words:
Among the cares of the pastoral office, not only of this Supreme Chair, which We, though unworthy, occupy through the inscrutable dispositions of Providence, but of every local church, a leading one is without question that of maintaining and promoting the decorum of the House of God in which the august mysteries of religion are celebrated, and where the Christian people assemble to receive the grace of the Sacraments, to assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar, to adore the most august Sacrament of the Lord's Body and to unite in the common prayer of the Church in the public and solemn liturgical offices (…) We do therefore publish, motu proprio and with certain knowledge, Our present Instruction to which, as to a juridical code of sacred music, We will with the fullness of Our Apostolic Authority that the force of law be given, and We do by Our present handwriting impose its scrupulous observance on all” (Inter sollicitudines).

It would be desirable that the courage of Saint Pius X finds some echo in the Church of our times.

Rome, 2011.
Mons. Valentín Miserachs Grau
President of the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music.
What About the Other Victims of Abuse?
Michael J. MattPOSTED: October 5, 2010
Editor, The Remnant 

There was a time not so long ago when a man's apology meant he was actually sorry for having caused harm or injury to another. Even a child knew that it didn’t do much good to apologize just because he’d gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Eddie Haskell-types may have given it the old college try but that was the joke: “Gee Mrs. Cleaver, I’m really sorry and that’s an awfully nice dress you’ve got there!”  Real world parents, like real world judges, knew that a defendant’s expression of deep regret was typically part of his plea bargain, not his defense. 

That’s not quite how it is anymore. Everyone these days seems to be demanding apologies front, left and center. The world’s become like a gigantic kindergarten, in fact, where Teacher (usually the media) spends most of her time extracting apologies by demanding little Johnny say he’s sorry to little Mary or else, and little Susie and Billy do likewise

Even the Pope is expected to deliver one of these highly publicized apologies every time he lands in a new country. But hasn’t he already apologized, over and over again? How many times must he repeat the apology? And who decides when enough is enough? These apologies are becoming the media centerpiece of papal visits, seemingly designed to parade the sins of the Church up one side of the street and down the other, crippling her moral authority in the process. 

Granted, the offenses perpetrated by a comparative few Catholic priests over the years are reprehensible beyond words (as are the chancery office cover-ups that inevitably followed) and the Holy Father clearly wishes to do the right thing.  But demanding this endless papal apology has obviously taken on a political dimension.  It's like sticking a TV camera in a politician’s face and shouting: “Are you sorry for beating your wife?” If he answers yes he’s just as guilty as if he answers no, and nobody’s actually going to investigate whether the woman was even beaten in the first place.  It’s not about her. It’s never about the victims so much as the political mileage that can be gained from the forced apology and public humiliation.

Nevertheless, when the Holy Father visited the UK he issued the prerequisite apology to victims of clerical sexual abuse, even as hordes of protestors staged one of the largest anti-Pope protests in London’s history. You could have cut the irony with a knife. Here we had protestors carrying signs blasting the Holy Father’s “homophobia” when their outrage was supposedly the result of the Church’s failure to properly prosecute the crimes of mostly homosexual predators.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, touched on this at a news conference in Chile back in April: “Many psychologists and psychiatrists have demonstrated that there is no relation between celibacy and pedophilia. But many others have demonstrated…that there is a relation between homosexuality and pedophilia. That is true. That is the problem.”

So, according to our protesting friends in the UK, the Holy Father is evidently homophobic for being too lenient with homosexuals.  Go figure!

Added to this absurdity is that most of the protestors identify with the campaign to lower (or even eliminate) the age of consent in the UK, arguing that the “freedom of sexual expression is not only a matter of choice which is fundamental to the individual – it is also particularly important to young persons as they proceed through the stage of adolescence into young adulthood. Age of consent laws place artificial limits on this freedom.”

Yes, these characters are shocked—just shocked!—to learn that the Catholic Church didn’t do quite enough to protect the young from the sexual advances of adults.

So what’s really going on here? A massive campaign to discredit the Catholic Church, of course!  Why?  For a whole host of reasons, not the least of which are the Holy Father’s stand against women priests, condom distribution and homosexual acts.

But the Holy Father, ever conscious of the sufferings of the victims and their families, elected to again apologize rather than risk further scandal. Thank God for Benedict’s wisdom in dealing with the militant secularists and their storm troopers in the media. His humility undermines their wicked machinations every time.

Speaking of victims, there is one group that could stand a spare apology here and there from the Catholic Church. I'm thinking of the millions of disillusioned and even disenfranchised Catholics who were left spiritually maimed and emotionally scarred for life by errant churchmen over the past half century of revolution in the Church.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger expressed sympathy for those who've suffered at the hands of churchmen when he wrote the following on the occasion of the death of 30-year Remnant columnist and undisputed lay traditionalist pioneer, Michael Davies: “I have been profoundly touched by the news of the death of Michael Davies. I had the good fortune to meet him several times and I found him as a man of deep faith and ready to embrace suffering. Ever since the Council he put all his energy into the service of the Faith and left us important publications especially about the Sacred Liturgy. Even though he suffered from the Church in many ways in his time, he always truly remained a man of the Church…”

We all know Catholics who have similarly “suffered from the Church in many ways” in their time. I remember one old gentleman, for example, who, Sunday after Sunday, shuffled into the church of his baptism he could no longer recognize because the “renovators” had torn out the Communion rail, smashed the high altar, sold the venerable statues, ripped out the confessionals—removed all the things for which he, his father and grandfather had paid dearly at the collection plate for nearly a century.

To add insult to injury, his 7 children all apostatized after having gone through 12 years of “progressive” Catholic education which he also paid for on his laborer’s salary. Nobody ever acknowledged his suffering.  Quite the contrary! When he attempted to kneel to receive Our Lord on the tongue, exactly as he’d been taught to do by the nuns when he was a little boy, his pastor was known to give him a tongue-lashing for being “disruptive” to the service. This was the same pastor, by the way, who would refuse him a traditional funeral Mass when the old man passed away. It was his last request. 
No apology for him.  Why not?

I know a lady who’d spent years teaching her five little ones to love Jesus and practice careful reverence for Him in the Blessed Sacrament. She would sometimes express regret when her lessons were expertly undermined every Sunday by the chitchatting "gathering rite" before Mass, the gaggle of Eucharistic ministers handing out Hosts like they were cookies, and boisterous choristers crowding the sanctuary, refusing to kneel even during the Consecration. 
Deprived of a Catholic example even in church, disillusioned by the shenanigans that went on in the Catholic school, robbed of their father by an annulment he was granted by the diocese— all her children save one eventually drifted out of the Church.

Where’s her special victims’ outreach program. Oh, that’s right, she left the Church a couple of years back. She’d endured it all and managed to keep the Faith—until the day her mother lay on her deathbed. Twice she called the parish priest, and twice he’d promised to stop by the next day.

The next came and went, and so did the day after that, but no priest came.  Finally, the telephone rang: “Did you want me to stop by and see your mom today?”
“Don’t bother, Father, she passed away last night without the Last Rites.”
That was the last straw. She left the Church the following week. 

How many millions of similarly disillusioned Catholics left the Church after the Mass was Protestantized, the schools liberalized, the nuns feminized, and the priests modernized?  Are they not victims of an abuse nearly as traumatic as that suffered by victims of sexual abuse? Separated from their children and spouses, they were given stones rather than bread, and eventually off they went in search of something more. 

Today, thousands of Catholic homeschoolers stand in silent witness to the sense of utter abandonment felt by the Catholics that stayed on.  Mothers and fathers who can’t even trust Catholic schools to teach the Faith, are forced to take on a job that once required the talents and education of entire orders of nuns and priests. They’re on their own because all too many Catholic schools can’t (or won’t) teach the Rosary, the basic prayers of the Faith, even sound doctrine—preferring instead to scandalize students with obscene Theology of the Body classes and other sex-ed programs that cry to heaven for vengeance.  

Many Catholics find themselves driving hours across town just to find a Mass on Sunday morning that’s reverent, that doesn’t scandalize their children, and that resembles the Mass of their childhood. They’re not renegades! They were taught by Catholic nuns and priests in Catholic schools. They were quite literally indoctrinated with the tried and true ideas about reverence at Mass, kneeling in front of the Blessed Sacrament, genuflecting before the tabernacle, revering Sacred Music and Gregorian chant (rather than piano music and guitar riffs), receiving communion on the tongue and while kneeling (rather than in the hand while standing)—all those “medieval trappings” of a Catholic identity that was still being instilled in Catholic school children even as late as the 1970’s—the very same rubrics, prayers and rituals that were insisted upon even by the decrees of the Second Vatican Council.

Catholics born in the 40’s and 50’s can well remember the confidence they once knew in a Church that, like Christ Himself, would be the same today, tomorrow and forever. The Mass was the rock, offered by priests who faced God in the tabernacle, exactly as priests had done for a thousand years and throughout the whole world; Mass was heard and seen and prayed exactly as every saint, martyr and pope had heard and seen and prayed it back to the days of the Apostles.

For Catholics—not just in the Middle Ages, but in living memory—the Holy Father was infallible, the Mass was in Latin, the priest was in the confessional, scapular enrolment was universal, rosaries were lifelines, nuns were in cloisters and classrooms, mothers were in the homes, families were made up of numerous children, Christ was in the tabernacle, and the Catholic Church was the shining city on the hill.

And then one day it all blew up—sabotaged not by a visible invading army but by forces from within who thought they knew better. The Mass of all time was thrown out and replaced by something utterly foreign to every Catholic who'd ever lived. The nuns threw off their habits and became agents for “social justice”. The priests rejected the sacrificial symbols of their holy office and became our buddies. Women invaded the sanctuaries while men abandoned the pews. The seminaries and churches became laboratories for pop theology and experimental psychology. Catholics had declared war on themselves. 

If you wanted to pass out Holy Communion, reject Humanae Vitae, hold hands at the Our Father, shake hands at the kiss of peace, or belt out the latest ditty that’d replaced Sacred Music—you could stay on.  But if you didn’t want all that, but preferred instead to continue to practice the Faith as you'd been taught in Catholic school and as your father and mother had always done, you had to make sure not to let the door hit you in the backside on your way out.
Some stayed and suffered like Magdalene beneath the Cross. Others went along with the madness. Most walked away, never to return. And today much of the remnant of the Catholic faithful  is either white-haired and fading away or, bereft of any Catholic identity whatsoever, cheering on Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama.

Young people from the best families may continue going to Mass for a few years, at least until they’re 16 or so.  They may even show up for weekend retreats and overnights when the idea of getting out of the house on their own is still appealing. But soon enough all too many of them will join the rest of the “Catholic Christian” community today that quite simply is losing the Faith. If they're unfortunate enough to attend a Catholic college or university, it's a slam dunk!
According to a new poll conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life forty-five percent of Roman Catholics don’t even know that the consecrated bread and wine of Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
Clearly, the fort has been betrayed.

A few Traditionalists remain, of course, but we’re partly “divisive”, mostly “in schism” and entirely “uncharitable”, so we don’t count. One way or another we’re all on our own—forgotten victims of a Church whose human element is becoming increasingly irrelevant to the lives and souls of what’s left of the faithful.

While most of us were never sexually abused by our priests (thank God!), nearly all of us can empathize with those that were.  We’ve all suffered the loss and humiliation of the scandal. We’ve all become damaged goods. And unless Tradition is restored and the Great Experiment abandoned, the only hope any of us has is that what’s left of our faith after all this time will not fail us when we need it most.  Death, after all, comes to us all, and, as it approaches, we can only look on in disbelief as our churches close by the dozen, our priests disappear or are sent to jail, our children grow restless with the Faith of their fathers, and our Pope is forced to apologize over and over again for the sins of Christ's Church.

Who are we anymore?  What are we? Without the priests and the nuns and the schools and the Mass and the orthodoxy and the universal Catholic infrastructure—can we still pass on the Faith to our children? Is our survival as Catholics even still possible when so many of us stand naked and defenseless in a pasture so vulnerable even our own Shepherd admits to his fear of the devouring wolves that are closing in on us all?

To the victims of abuse Pope Benedict offered the following comforting words during his UK visit: “I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes, along with my hope that the power of Christ’s grace, his sacrifice of reconciliation, will bring deep healing and peace to their lives. I also acknowledge with you the shame and humiliation that all of us have suffered because of these sins and hope this chastisement will contribute to the healing of the victims, the purification of the church…”

Indeed, let us hope and pray for that intention, and for all the victims of abuse (in whatever form) in the Church today—that our faith will not fail us. And in the meantime, there is only one thing to do: restore the old Traditions, reclaim the old Mass, recapture the old Faith! Everything else is stuff and nonsense.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Meanwhile...Heretics React to Corrected Translation

In the face of church's change, new liturgy is really 'Whatever'

Dec. 28, 2011

People stand in prayer during Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)
We were visiting family over the holidays and attended Mass at a parish where there was evidence of the ongoing tussle with the new liturgy. At one point during an attempt to keep up with that unnecessarily unwieldy construction of "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof," someone nearby got tongue-tied and finished it off with, "Whatever."
I chuckled. It was good to laugh about it.
Those of us who by virtue of our circumstances (religion writers, for instance, or professional liturgists) know the back story to the changes are more likely than not to bristle at the rather saccharine presentation of reasons for the changes. The reality, of course, is that the changes were as much as anything else about power and maintaining control, rolling back the language that came to reflect the changes in theology and community disposition that occurred as a result of the Vatican Council of the 1960s. Yes, yes, it was to restore some of the majesty and awe, some of the precision of the Latin upon which the prayers are based, to restore anew the sense of mystery and to re-establish the distance between priest and people.
But those who know the story in its fullest details know that the "new" translation, a reform of the reform, was actually commandeered by a group of men who met secretly and, in a matter of days, undid a process that had occurred under two popes and with the wide participation of bishops and professionals in the English-speaking world. (See Fr. Richard McBrien's writing on the same subject here.)

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Even after the initial ambush of the translation and the remaking of agencies responsible for the translation, the secret manipulations continued. That's why even some who were on board for the reform of the reform bolted, angered at the process -- or rather, lack of it. Some of us are privy to far more information than most in the pews have the time or inclination to take in. And I say, good for them.
So I am one of those who simply has to get over it for the moment. The first Sunday I attended a Mass in which the new language was used, I decided to adopt a Ghandian strategy toward the ecclesiastical shenanigans. I decided that I could absorb the silliness, knowing that it really didn't alter much. "Whatever" makes the point.
On Christmas morning, another related point came to the fore, one that's fascinated me and that underpinned much of what I learned writing the book The Emerging Catholic Church: A Community's Search for Itself. The simple reality is that the church has changed dramatically in the last half-century and shows no signs of slowing down the change curve. The Catholic community is living in a state of flux. You can apply all the old language you want, you can put up altar rails and resist having female altar servers and insist that lines be drawn anew between people and priests with their ontological distinction. But all of that won't change the facts on the ground where, despite all of the new line-drawing and determining of who's in and who's out, one keeps running into the intersection in which need meets theology. And all at once, we're struck with how different things have become.
Before the Mass began on Christmas morning, the priest, by this point fully vested, went to the front of the church, got hold of the microphone and announced that because of reasons unexplained, none of the Eucharistic ministers who were supposed to be on duty showed up.
So he needed volunteers. Six of them. Yes, he pointed, you and you and you, and so on. He quickly had the six. "And we'll figure out the wine and the bread" on the run, he said.
When I got home, I looked up the old "prayer for a worthy communion" in my tattered St. Joseph Daily Missal that sits on my bookshelf, a remnant, with its worn ribbons, as unused today as the antique Remington typewriter a friend gave me years ago. There I found the phrasing as I had known it as a child: "Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst come under my roof."
And that brought back vivid memories of that time of certainty and clarity. When the rectory was filled with priests and the convent was full of nuns whom I would occasionally encounter on my way to 6:30 a.m. Mass. They crossed the street with veils in front of their faces, two by two, specters moving like those Russian dancers in long dresses who seem to dart about on a cushion of air.
There was, to be sure, mystery, separation between the ordained and all other mortals, rules for everything, answers to everything. We've learned since that there was considerable corruption, too, and we've learned that faith based on certainty isn't faith at all. Neither I nor any of the priests I knew at the time could ever have imagined that one day a celebrant would get up before the congregation on Christmas morning and seek volunteers to help distribute Communion.
We are living in that tension between the yearning for the old certainties -- the old prayers that "worked" in a less complicated time, the clean lines that everyone understood -- and the reality that priests today have to do something as informal and lacking in decorum and majesty as asking for volunteers to aid in one of the most sacred moments in our liturgy.
The tacit admission (and I must note here, the priest in this instance seemed to have no problem at all dealing with the informality; in fact seemed to enjoy it) is that priests can no longer do it alone. The moment for me was symbolic of the sometimes holy chaos evident in contemporary Catholic life and the approach -- "Can you give me some help?" -- that works best where there is a sense of ownership, of genuine community, of a people educated to those tasks.
About that language that would suggest something other? Whatever.
[Tom Roberts is NCR editor at large. His email address is troberts@ncronline.org.]

Dealing with the new translation of the Mass


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There used to be an anti-liturgical joke circulating that said that the only difference between a terrorist and a liturgist is that you can negotiate with a terrorist.
By the same token, there is a seriously mistaken impression abroad that the new translation of the missal was inspired and promoted by liturgists. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The great majority of liturgical scholars were opposed to the new, literal translations. Those who favored the changes were adherents of the so-called "reform of the reform."
In other words, the changes were inspired and promoted, not by liturgists, but by traditionalists in the hierarchy and a minority of ultra-conservatives within the Catholic church generally.
Such Catholics were never supportive of the liturgical reforms initiated by the Second Vatican Council: turning the altar around so that the priest would face the congregation during Mass, receiving Holy Communion in the hand, celebrating the Mass in the vernacular, having altar girls as well as altar boys, and so forth.
In the extreme, they attended Latin Masses wherever they were available. Their celebrants continued to wear the so-called fiddle-back chasubles and birettas. A Catholic Rip Van Winkle awakening from a long sleep beginning sometime in the 1950s would assume that nothing had changed in the meantime.
To be sure, the advocates of the "reform of the reform" have won only a partial victory with this new translation (for example, "I believe ..." rather than the more communal "We believe ..." in the Credo). But the Mass is still in the vernacular; the altar is still turned around; the great majority of people receive Communion in the hand; and there are more likely to be altar girls in the sanctuary than boys.

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Such changes as these are anathema to traditionalist Catholics, who continue to receive Com-munion on the tongue (as is their right), grit their teeth when they see girls serving Mass and attend a Latin Mass from time to time.
But they are happy nonetheless to see so many of their fellow Catholics out of sorts because of the new translation of the Mass. They know that it galls Catholics for whom Pope John XXIII is a hero and Vatican II was a great event.
I've heard Catholics say that their pastors, though not conservative, have praised the new translations. Either their pastors are not being honest because they don't want to be reported to their bishop or they are deep-down right-wing in their thinking.
A retired pastor I heard prepare his congregation the week before the changes were to go into effect had the congregation practice giving the simple response, "And with your spirit." But he said by way of introduction that the "what" of the changes he and they could handle; the "why" he would leave to the Holy Spirit.
I suspect many older priests had the same reaction. Only some of the younger (or not-so-young), conservative priests, ordained during the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, would more likely be in favor of the changes than opposed to them.
But what good would come of outright opposition? A well-respected priest in Seattle led a movement recently to have the U.S. bishops slow down the process until all the kinks could be worked out, but that movement, though it gained thousands of supporters, fizzled and died in the end.
The Vatican had already made up its mind, and the largely conservative U.S. hierarchy would not buck the Vatican, even if it were disposed to do so.
Some Catholics may continue to say "And also with you" rather than "And with your spirit," or "We believe ..." instead of "I believe ..." in the Creed, or "one in being with the Father" instead of the highly technical and indecipherable "consubstantial," also in the Creed.
Presiders at Mass will have the most difficult time because there have been many tongue-twisting changes in the texts of the Eucharistic prayers.
Those priests who have been reciting these prayers for many years will inevitably stumble over the new wording, and those priests whose eyesight has failed them and who have memorized unchangeable parts of the Mass will continue to recite the words with which they have been long familiar. At least, that is what I would advise them if they were silly enough to ask.
This column will return to this subject a number of times in the future because it affects us all. In the meantime, I wanted to dispel a few of the most common misunderstandings about the new translations and their origin.
© 2011 Richard P. McBrien. All rights reserved. Fr. McBrien is the Crowley-O'Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame.
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Cardinal Ranjith on the Usus Antiquior and Reform of the Reform

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Latin Makes a Comeback

From language immersion classes to interest in the origins of the new Mass translation, a ‘dead language’ reveals new strength.

 12/21/2011 Comment
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While Patrick Owens, a Latin instructor at Wyoming Catholic College, climbed to the summit of East Temple Peak last fall with a group of his students, not a word of English was spoken. The hike was sponsored as part of the college’s Latin-immersion program.

Standing near the summit, Owens recalled, “It suddenly hit me that we were surveying the grandeur of God and speaking Latin.” 

This emphasis on Latin at the five-year-old Wyoming Catholic, where students read and discuss classical and Christian authors entirely in Latin, appears to be one indication of an emerging trend: an upswing of interest in Latin among Catholics. But it is far from being the only sign.

For the first time an audio recording of the New Testament read entirely in Latin is available from a nonprofit called Faith Comes By Hearing. It was recorded by Father Peter Stravinskas, president of the St. Gregory Foundation for Latin Liturgy.

“Everywhere, elements of Latin are introduced into the standard vernacular Mass — the Gloria, the Sanctus or the Paternoster — there is a groundswell of interest in Latin, especially among younger Catholics,” Father Stravinskas said. 

J. G. Halisky, secretary of a group called Familia Sancti Hieronymi — a society named after St. Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin, creating the Vulgate — notices an uptick in interest. The organization is dedicated to spreading the use of Latin among the laity. It holds retreats that are conducted completely in Latin.

Today, instruction in spoken Latin departs from the dry course of studies followed by previous generations that had too many sullen Latin students reciting the ditty about how Latin “killed the ancient Romans, and now it’s killing me.” 

Nancy Llewellyn, the architect of the program at Wyoming Catholic College, designed a course that employs techniques similar to those used in modern language classes. Students start speaking only in Latin on the first day.

“When we treat Latin as a dead language to be dissected,” Owens said, “we make a mockery of our linguistic patrimony as Catholics.”

Owens speaks Latin at home with his wife and children.

Crucial for Catholics
While the revival of Latin may be welcome on purely academic terms, the language has special meaning for Catholics. “Latin per se didn’t attract me, but it was Latin as the language of the Church that drew me,” said Halisky, a lawyer, who speaks Latin fluently.

Llewellyn is convinced that the renewal of Latin is crucial for Catholics. “It’s essential for the strength of Catholic identity to get our Latin heritage back,” said Llewellyn.

“We are attempting a revival of Latin,” Owens said, “not a revival with cobwebs, but a revival of our language, the Church’s language, as a living language. How better can we show that we love the Church than to learn her language?”

Llewellyn and Owens both studied spoken Latin in Rome. As a college student, Owens spent his summers studying in Rome with Father Reginald Foster, a Discalced Carmelite and now retired from serving many years as papal Latinist. Father Foster was once responsible for the Latin in documents coming from the Vatican. He was also a staunch advocate of spoken Latin. “I am part of an unbroken chain,” Owens likes to say. 

Llewellyn, a graduate of Bryn Mawr College who holds a doctorate in classics from UCLA, has a Licenza in Christian and Classical Letters from the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome.
When Wyoming Catholic College was being established, those involved got in touch with Llewellyn.
“The main reason I took this job was that I learned to my joy and astonishment that they wanted an active Latin approach. I knew this was the place for me because we were on the same page,” she said.

All Wyoming Catholic College students take at least two years of Latin, but advanced courses — conducted only in Latin — are also available. Students are invited to defend their senior thesis in Latin. Those in the more advanced classes are accustomed to writing papers on the works of such Catholic theologians as Thomas Aquinas or the patristic writers entirely in Latin. 

Reading a work in the original Latin rather than in translation can have a powerful effect, Owens said. “Our students sometimes end up falling in love with authors they thought they hated and hating authors they thought they loved,” Owens said with a chuckle. The college teaches the works of both classical and Christian writers.

Letter From Cardinal Burke
One of the most popular exercises for his sophomores, Owens said, is writing letters in Latin to bishops. “Cardinal [Raymond] Burke, along with several other bishops, recently responded to letters, which individual sophomores wrote in Latin,” Owens said.  “Cardinal Burke replied in his own hand with beautiful Latin.”

To promote spoken Latin, there is always a Latin table in the cafeteria. Owens said it fills rapidly. Each semester features a Latin-immersion weekend, when students leave their dorms and sleep in the church basement, where they play games and participate in other activities entirely in Latin. 
“It’s amazing how many people say Vatican II got rid of Latin and that is not true. It is still the official language of the Church and is used in pontifical documents of many kinds,” Llewellyn noted.

She added that in the early days of the Second Vatican Council, which authorized the Mass in the vernacular, Pope John XXIII issued Veterum Sapientia, a ringing endorsement of the use of Latin in the Catholic Church.

Llewellyn is founder of Salvi, which promotes spoken Latin. Salvi sponsors Rusticatio, a week of workshops at Claymont Mansion, a historic house in Charles Town, W. Va. No English is spoken during the week.

When Father Stravinskas originally approached Faith Comes By Hearing about doing a New Testament in Latin, he received an email saying that the organization only produced recordings of the Bible in living languages. 

The priest shot back with his own email: “I said Latin is a living language for 2.2 billion Catholics,” he recalled. 

Father Stravinskas used the Neo-Vulgate, the Church’s official Latin version, and enlisted a team of 15 Latin speakers to help. The recording was done much like the Holy Week readings of the Passion. Wherever canticles appear in the New Testament, they are chanted and there is monastic music between books of the Bible.

The priest said there is anecdotal evidence that interest in Latin is not restricted to college campuses. Father Stravinskas recently visited a Catholic elementary school. “I coincidentally walked into a second grade Latin class,” he said. “I said to this little fellow, ‘Quid agis?’ And he replied immediately, ‘Bene.’” A second child answered, “Optime,” but a third, who apparently was having a bad day, replied “Pessime.”

Ironically, the introduction of the new Roman Missal in English may end up contributing to a revival of interest in Latin, said Father Nicholas Grigoris, editor of the Catholic Response magazine and another advocate of Latin.

“It’s evident from this new translation,” said Father Nicholas Grigoris, “that the Church regards Latin as normative. The new English translation is going to help people realize how important Latin is. If Latin is not important, why would we go back to the Latin to retranslate it?”

Register correspondent Charlotte Hays writes from Washington.

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