Thursday, October 29, 2009

Benedictine Altar Update!

I have a picture of the Ordinations on October 24th at the Cathedral of the Epihpany, Venice Florida. In it, you can see the Benedictine Altar arrangement on full display!

This was a "first" for the Diocese at a major event such as this.

You can see the complete slideshow here.

If things can change here in Venice Florida, they can change ANYWHERE!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Makes You Say "Hmmm..."

It has been the case with Pope Benedict so far in his pontificate that he puts ideas "out there" in the form of history lessons...showing how where we are and what we are doing now can be guided by where we have been and what we have done in the past. I can't help but draw some interesting conclusions from today's General Audience. Why is he saying this right now...makes you say "Hmmm..."
(My emphasis)


VATICAN CITY, 28 OCT 2009 (VIS) - During this Wednesday's General Audience celebrated in
St. Peter's Square the Pope spoke about a series of events that, during the twelfth century,created a renaissance in Latin theology.

"During this time," he explained, "a relative peace reigned in Western Europe, which ensured society's economic development, consolidated political structures, and favored vibrant cultural activity thanks also to contact with the East. The benefits of the vast movement known as the Gregorian Reform were felt in the Church, which led to "a greater evangelical purity in the Church, above all in the clergy" and an expansion of religious life. As fruits of this development,figures such as St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure would appear in the thirteen century.

Benedict XVI affirmed that in this context two different models of theology arose: that of "monastic theology" and that of "scholastic theology". Regarding the first, the monks "were devoted to the Sacred Scriptures and one of their main activities consisted in lectio divina, that is, a meditative reading of the Bible". It was precisely the 2008 Synod of Bishops on "the Word of God in the Life and the Mission of the Church" that recalled the importance of this aspect.

"As monastic theology is listening to the Word of God", he said, "it is necessary to purify one's heart to welcome it and, above all, one must be full of fervor to encounter the Lord. Theology therefore becomes meditation, prayer, a song of praise, and the impetus for sincere conversion".

The Holy Father emphasized that "it is important to reserve a certain time each day for meditation on the Bible so that the Word of God will be the lamp that illuminates our daily path on earth".

Continuously referring to the method of "scholastic theology", the Pope pointed out that "it is not easy for modern mentality to understand. The quaestio, which consisted of a theme for discussion," was essential to its process.

"The organization of the quaestiones led to the compilation of evermore extensive syntheses, the so-called summae that were vast dogmatic-theological treatises. Scholastic theology sought to present the unity and harmony of Christian Revelation with a method, called precisely scholastic', that grants faith in human reason".

Benedict XVI concluded by emphasizing that "faith and reason, in reciprocal dialogue, tremble with joy when they are both animated by the search for intimate union with God. ... Truth is sought with humility, welcomed with wonder and gratitude: in a word, knowledge only grows if one loves the truth". today's news: Continuing discussions with the Eastern Churches...The Year for Priests...The 2008 Synod for Bishops...serious questions and discussions concerning theology with the SSPX...
Why is he telling us this particular story right he looking towards a second "Gregorian Reform"?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Benedictine Arrangement Comes To Venice!

Venice Florida, that is! The "Benedictine Arrangement" of the altar made it's first big debut here at the Ordination Mass on Saturday, October 24th at the Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. This date is also significant in that it is the 25th Anniversary of the Diocese of Venice. I will hopefully be able to post photos of the altar here as soon as they are available (I was in the choir, and so was unable to get any pictures).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Diocesan Music Committee

Sitting at our Diocesan Music Committee meeting right now... reminded about how inefficient anything involving a committee can be.

Confusion reigns regarding the workshops for the upcoming new translation...nobody seems to know what's going on.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Blended" Liturgy? An Excellent Image...

I was recently having a discussion with a fellow member of our Diocesan music committee about so-called "blended" liturgies. This term is most often now used to describe a Mass in which a variety of musical styles are made use of, for instance a Contemporary Christian selection for the procession, followed by a Taize style Kyrie and perhaps the Gregorian Chant Gloria. This kind of trade off would ostensibly continue throughout the Mass in an attempt to please everyone.

In fact, I imagine that Masses of this sort (they DO exist) please nobody, and for the following reason. The Canadian talk-show host Mark Steyn offered an excellent image to illustrate why such an idea will necessarily fail to acheive it's goal. He was speaking of bi-partisan political compromise, but the image actually works better for blended liturgy:

"Let's say, for instance, you mix a pint of gourmet macademia nut ice cream with a pint of, well...doggy doo-doo. The resulting mixture will not taste halfway like macadmia nut and halfway like doggy doo-doo. It will, in fact taste completely like doggy doo-doo because that's what happens when you mix crap with something that isn't. The total result is crap."

How true that is for liturgy. Admit anything that is crap and it brings the whole thing down.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The History of the Folk Mass Movement

Ken Canedo's latest book, Keep the Fire Burning: The Folk Mass Revolution, has made quite a hit at various altitudes in the liturgical blogosphere. For the Progressive, it is a tribute to the brave forebears and their wisdom and ingenuity at the dawn of the new liturgical age fostered by the Second Vatican Council. Ray Repp, The Dameans, Carey Landry... these are the Children of the Revolution who bravely fought off the efforts to establish vernacular chant as the new music and instead established a new paradigm founded on the revolutionary sounds of Folk-Pop stars like the Kingston Trio, Bob Dylan and Peter-Paul and Mary. To the Progressive, this book is a testament to their endurance and lasting indication of their permanence.

To the Traditionalist however, the same book is an important illustration of the price of dissent and the folly of what happens when ego-driven individuals set out to remake the liturgy in their own image. Canedo's account and examples put the puzzle together - what you make of the picture when he's done depends on where you stand on the issue.

Ken Canedo participated in a telephone interview for Catholic Radio 2.0 earlier this week and discussed the book and his views on the history of contemporary liturgical music. This is an interview worth listening to. Some of the musical examples will bring back memories for those of us who were there, while simultaneously making you cringe. I am the resurrection! (clap...clap) and the life! (clap...clap...clap...clap)..... hwooook! Almost didn't make it to the little room in time....
Seriously... listen to this interview and wonder at how this happened to the Catholic Church, and take heart in the fact that we are, as we speak, making our way back to where we were supposed to be going so many years ago.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Baby Steps

This morning (well...last night at the anticipated Masses actually...) we began our parish's discovery of chant at Mass. Humble, to be sure, but a beginning. And we at least have a plan...first the Agnus Dei, then the Mass XVIII Kyrie and the Agnus Dei. Next, the Sanctus will be introduced either this coming Spring (Lent) or the Fall of 2010.

It seems like such a dragging out of something that should be so simple, but I have come to realize the wisdom of taking time. Within this time, we will also begin forming a Schola, learning a Mass setting and perhaps a few Chant Hymns at first, and then maybe moving on to Introits and Communion Antiphons. All of this...probably in a period of three years or so. Maybe by the time the new translation is introduced they could be singing at Mass.

Perhaps within this time there will be some kind of reforms made from "up above" as well....if so, that will move things along that much faster, but even if not, things will be moving along. Perhaps the most important aspect of all of this is the support from the Priests. I truly believe they want better and more reverent liturgy. They have been led in all directions by liturgists, musicians and well meaning but misguided advice. It is time to "take the reigns" and lead in another direction.

I was speaking with another parish musician the other day, who cautiously commented ..."I think the days of bad music are starting to come to a close...". I would at least partially disagree.... I think they have already come to an end, but there are still stragglers who haven't kept up with the pack and are now so far behind that they can't see where we are now. The church has been led in a new direction these past several years; we need to follow that lead.