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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

MY DECEMBER NEWSLETTER ARTICLE FOR OUR PARISH ON ADVENT AND LITURGICAL CHANGES


The Church's Advent season is all about preparing for the coming of Christ by celebrating His birth and anticipating is Second Coming at the end of time and the General Judgment of the living and the dead. Like the Lenten season, Advent is a penitential season although not as severe. Unfortunately, the commercialization of Christmas makes Advent a confusing season. Many of us are so swept up in shopping, baking and singing Christmas carols at home and other gatherings that the Church’s austere approach to Advent strikes us as a disconnect from what society is doing. Then, just as the Church starts to sing Christmas carols on the Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord, (Christmas) everyone else quits. Some people even throw out the Christmas tree and decorations on Christmas Day.

Of course as Catholics we know that Advent ends the morning of December 24 and Christmas begins the Vigil of December 24th or Christmas Eve. This year the Christmas season concludes in the Ordinary Form Roman Calendar on January 9, the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord. In the Extraordinary Form Roman Calendar, the Christmas/Epiphany Season normally concludes on February 2, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. This includes blessing of liturgical candles and thus is also known as “Candlemas.” Some people keep the manger scene or some remnants of their Christmas decorations up until February 2. Your choice, you decide, but please don’t take things down before New Year’s Day. The eight days beginning with December 25th and concluding with January 1st is known as the “Octave of Christmas (8 Days) and extends Christmas Day for eight days, making eight days one big day to celebrate this wonderful feast. We do the same with Easter and its Octave.

We are making some minor changes to our parish custom of celebrating the Mass. No longer will we pray before Mass the Prayer for Stewardship and the Diocesan Prayer for Vocations. These will remain in the hymnal and I ask that you pray them on your own. Rather, we will pray the Diocesan Prayer for Vocations as the last petition of the General Intercessions and include an intercession for our Stewardship intentions based upon the prayer in the hymnal. The reason for this is that we shouldn’t be adding things to the Mass prior to the Mass beginning. The Processional Hymn begins the Mass as well as the official Entrance Antiphon. We need silent prayer before Mass begins.

In terms of the official texts and music of the Mass did you know that the hymns we sing from our hymnal are not the official prayers or music of the Mass? The official words and music of the Mass are the following:

1. Official Entrance Antiphon (Introit)
2. Kyrie
3. Gloria
4. Responsorial Psalm
5. Gospel Acclamation
6. Credo
7. Official Offertory Antiphon
8. Sanctus
9. Mystery of Faith
10. Great Amen
11. The Our Father
12. Agnus Dei
13. Official Communion Antiphon

All the metrical hymns and anthems that we sing, such as the processional hymn, offertory anthem, communion hymns and recessional hymn are chosen solely at the discretion of the music director with the approval of the pastor. They may be incorporated into the Mass, but are not essential, but we’ll continue to sing these in addition to the official chants.

Thus, beginning the First Sunday of Advent, our choir or cantor will chant every Sunday the official Entrance Antiphon (Introit) after the processional hymn, once the celebrant is at his chair. The same will occur at the offertory. We will continue the custom already established for chanting the Communion Antiphon. This way, we will begin to hear the actual preferred chants for the Mass, which most of us haven’t heard for 40 years.

I pray that you have a very blessed Advent Season. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the reason for this season. It’s not “Seasons’ Greetings” but Merry Christmas! God so loved the world that in the fullness of time He sent us His only begotten Son, not to condemn the world but to save it. God bless you and Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year of 2011 in the Year of our Lord.

22 comments:

pinanv525 said...

Excellent...But,does this mean my hymn request for "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder" will be denied?

Paul said...

I'm shocked and disappointed to see that my favorite hymn, "Dropkick me, dear Jesus, through the goalposts of life" is not part of liturgy.

Frajm said...

Yes, but we will sing that all time favorite Christmas Carol, "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth."

Anonymous said...

"care must be taken to ensure that the faithful may also be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them." (SC 36, 54)

The Latin hymns at St. Joseph are for the most part unsingable and are an impediment for full participation by many of the faithful in the Mass

pinanv525 said...

Of course, we can't omit, "I Looked Up When He Reached Down for Me." This will probably require a banjo.

Frajm said...

At St. Joseph we only sing Enlgish hymns, but the Sanctus during Advent and Lent is the one in the hymnal as well as the Agnus Dei and these are the two simplest ones in Latin. I would need some clarity on this one.

pinanv525 said...

The Sanctus and the Agnus Dei in Latin are nice. I think everyone can probably sing those. It is good, I think, to sing in the ancient language and to hear the Latin Mass. It is a reminder of the antiquity and continuity of the Church's life. I have a protetsant friend who says, "You know, when you go to one of those old Catholic Churches and hear the Latin and the chanting,you think,'Wow! God has been here a long time."

SqueekerLamb said...

I for one am GLAD to have more and more parts of the Mass in Latin, for the resons pin described!

Gee, as matter of fact, I was thnking shortly before reading this post that I would love to have an OF Mass in all Latin, with a missal to translate of course.

People, get off the lazy-boy. Not everything in life should be spoon fed to you. Can't you crack open a hymnal? That's what's wrong with folks these days. Make it EASY for me, don't make me have to look something up. Ask any teacher, if you don't believe me.

The Latin is an impediment? Well, only at first. Aren't you better off knowing both the Church's official language AND your own vernacular language?

Too much whining going on.

Anonymous said...

There was a cantor in our parish years ago that would send chills down my spine with the 'Agnus Dei'. The priest at that time would chant in Latin. He is an Italian tenor. I still hear his voice when we chant the 'Kyrie'. Yesterday a woman told me how much she disliked him, "Too much fire and brimstone". Heh, heh, heh. Dear God look after that man, I miss him. I hope he's my chaplain when we take the Gates of Hell.

Tonight is a Reconciliation Mass. My wife said I have to go. Now I have to figure out what I need to recall.

rcg

pinanv525 said...

RCG,I'm not sure there is any hope for you...just wrap your body in barbed wire, beat yourself with a large heavy object on the way to the Church, and cast yourself upon the mercy of the Divine Judgement. Maybe there is a Priest somewhere who isn't afraid of being scorched by the flames as you confess. LOL!

Anonymous said...

St. Joseph Anonymous here.
Despite the posts of some here I am well educated, orthodox, and conservative.
Look forward to the revised translation of the OF when it kicks in November 2011. Hope the English vernacular makes a comeback then - until then I will continue to struggle and make effort to fully participate.
Do some of the folks posting here believe that good strong Catholics can't be so if they love the OF in English when it is celebrated full of grace?

SqueekerLamb said...

Anonymous at St. Joseph, with all due respect, the Mass isn't about what you or I love. Since we all speak English, we all can maore easily understand English.
What kind of Mass nutured the Church for 1965 years???
To not make the effort to learn it and appreciate it translates into 'please spoon feed me'.
It not about ME (or YOU).

Now, also I fully understand that some Fact Finder brains are wired to appreciated history on a more deep level and actually need history. While other brains are wired to care less about history.
No one here is in anyway againsta well celebrated OF Mass in the vernacular.
As much as I love Latin and the history it represents, I have to admit I enjoy and have a totally different spritual experience from English.
Did you know that the new Anglican Ordinariate in Australia is going to celebrate Mass Ad Orientum using a 500 year old Liturgy in English?
I never cared about visiting the "southern hemisphere's version of the USA, but now I have a reason to not only visit, but to move there...wish I could...and some of you probably wish I would.

Why is it politcally correct to Latin bash, but not Latin love. That reminds me of what my professor husband says about students. It seems pc to say "Oh, I hate math. I'm no good at math";it;s almost a badge of honor to say such stuff. but if someone says "I love math. Math unlocks the keys to scientific discovery, etc., etc." then they are frowned upon and shnned by their peers.
So why not also embrace the Latin? Really, why not?

Anonymous said...

St Jo Anon: Please don't take the next couple of sentences personally, but I read this blog daily and am unaware of anything on this blog ever being aimed at you personally. Your love of English is well placed, but consider that Latin is the mother tongue of the Church for a reason: it is the language used for the primary texts of doctrine and theology. Because Latin is 'dead' it is not undergoing change that would confuse users as we find in English, a very alive language, with texts only a few years old. Even when other languages were the source of important thoughts and doctrine they were labouriously translated into Latin so the thought would be crystalised and accessible to the rest of the world through subsequent, equally labourious, translation.

There are thoughts so basic and fundamental they are considered objects in their own right. Language is the act of physically forming those thoughts in our brains so they can be examined. Learning only a tiny amount of Latin gives you access to those thoughts in their original form. You can then capture them quickly and not let them escape through a weak or over-long substitute in another language.

English, as any other language, can be an excellent platform to meditate at length on what we learn in Latin. This has been done in verse and prose in many languages.

Try this: listen to the first ten minutes of Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung. The vocalist starts by singing only sounds and verbal forms, no words. Yet the music and the inflection of the sounds incites thoughts in your head, flashes of things. Eventually, of course, they become words. But this demonstrates the creation of the thought and the power of the basic and fundamental form to communicate better than any translation.

rcg

Frajm said...

Again, I remain somewhat discombobulated as to the nature of the complaint concerning St. Joseph Church as the only Latin we use in the Ordinary Form of the Mass are the greetings and preface dialogue. During the season of Advent and Lent, we sing the Sanctus using the very easy one in our hymnal as well as the Agnus Dei that is there. So the concern about the Latin does seem out of place and maybe even a "strawman"

Anonymous said...

I can see a possible reason. People are intimidated by Latin if they are not instructed and, well, shepherded through it. Even in the past reasonably educated people accused the Church of incantations for this reason. It can also be a form of contra elitism. The good news is that it also empowering for the people to learn it. That previous sentence was not an intentional pun.

Well, you know what pinan always says about Latin: Verbum sat sapienti est.

rcg

pinanv525 said...

RCG, Don't you mean,"Verbum sapienti satis est?" (Absit invidia)LOL!

Anonymous said...

St. Joseph Anonymous here again.
Frajm: you are loved dearly as my pastor. It is not a "strawman" - the Sanctus is unsingable for myself and others. There is a sense of distance being made with the use of the Latin and I do not believe this "distancing" is purposefully intended to leave others behind. The English vernacular is missed - the new translation of the English is long overdue and will be much welcomed. Thank you for being my pastor.

Frajm said...

St. Joseph Anon... thanks for the compliment, but you wrote in an earlier comment a direct quote of Vatican II:
"care must be taken to ensure that the faithful may also be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them." (SC 36, 54)

That's what we are trying to accomplish as St. Joseph and the setting of the Latin that we use is in our hymnal beginning at #107 and is in fact the easiest of the Gregorian chants in Latin. I don't know of any others that are easier to sing, although I realize singing in Latin is more of a challenge for some and that they need the text in front of them, that's why we use the setting in the hymnal and only during Lent and Easter (although at my weekday Masses we sing these and all seem to belt it out and from memory).

So apart from desiring English, how do you recommend we follow what you quoted from Vatican II above, what Latin setting should we use to be faithful to Vatican II's desire to maintain the Latin?

Anonymous said...

CONSTITUTION ON THE SACRED LITURGY SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM states in 54 "faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them."
Note it is "faithful may also be able to say or sing" and not "faithful must also say or sing".

And it also says in 36:
"...the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people..."

Thank you for being my pastor.

Frajm said...

This is true thus Sacrosanctum Concilium makes clear that the mother tongue and Latin are not mutually exclusive. Therefore I think we have made a pastoral decision about the use of Latin at St. Joseph that respects both sentiments thus making us a very post Vatican II parish, not picking and choosing between Latin and English as though it is either or, but rather both and.

SqueekerLamb said...

St Joeseph anonymous you wrote: "the Sanctus is unsingable for myself and others"

Why is this unsingable for you and others? Would you please kindly explain?

And how old are you? What is your Catholic history?

Perhaps some further information and clarification would be helpful in helping your pastor be your pastor, by helping others to understand where your coming from.

Anonymous said...

Pin, yes, I did. Too much multi-tasking. Festina lente. (That's not on the menu at Starbuck's)