Saturday, July 20, 2013


Photo by Fr. Pat Foley, taken at the chapel of the mother house of the Nashville Dominican Sisters, who know how to do religious life right!

I just returned from the Thomistic Institute's conference for priests in Nashville. The theme was "Priest as Teacher of the Faith."

I will summarize a few of the points. Fr. Paul Scaliawhose father is: spoke of speaking the truth in and out of season. Many of the participants wanted to know how to teach what the Church teaches about marriage and sexuality given the fact that the Supreme Court has opened wide the door to same sex marriage throughout the land. How do we as Catholics teach the truth of marriage and sexuality without coming across as bigots or being painted as bigots for political purposes.

Father Scalia along with Fr. Michael Sherwin helped us with moral issues on a pastoral way.

We simply teach the truths of sexuality as it applies to people, whoever they are and whatever their sexual orientation. We don't single out any group, but speak of chastity within marriage and outside of marriage. We teach that marriage is linked to fecundity and the begetting of children and we shore that up with Natural Law in addition to Scripture and Tradition. We make clear that for us Catholics, we rely on the three legs of Scripture, Tradition and Natural Law to uphold the truths of God revealed to us by God through these three sources. It really is quite simple.

We are also grateful to God that he has used the HHS mandate to let the government bring up artificial birth control in our culture at large to enable us as Catholic priests to make clear our teachings are in terms of natural law and the use of artificial contraception. We have to begin with heterosexual relationships even in marriage that have become as sterile as homosexual sex by rendering it infertile by mechanical means and thus has opened the door to the acceptance of homosexual sodomy as well as the heterosexual type as well and placed it on an even par with fertile love in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

The Liturgies we celebrated at the conference were in the Ordinary Form and facing the nave. However, the music was classic chant in English and Latin. The official Introit, Offertory and Communion Antiphons were chanted in English, the other parts in Latin.

This was a mature celebration of the OF Mass, dignified and solemn. It was contemplative and imbued with internal and external participation. It did not rely upon hyped up secular melodies with sacred words that are paraphrases of Scripture or worse yet, ideological hymns that make a political or religious point.

Given the abysmal style of active participation we have today that relies on hymns that produce a narcotic effect upon its participants, we have a long way to go in helping our Catholics to discover the true nature of Catholic spirituality to be found in Chant and the forsaking of hymns in order to sing the proper chants of the Mass.

A hymn was sung at the recession. That's the best place for it. And certainly at parish Masses motets and other good quality hymns could be chosen in addition to the Offertory and Communion chants as filler. But the hymns chosen should be of the same quality and style as the chants in English or Latin that evolve from Gregorian Chant an polyphony.

Finally, it must be noted that when the congregation relies on the glories of the congregation and communal prayer as the substance of the Liturgy and the other Sacraments we go astray with the truly superficial.

Fr. Romanus Cessario, OP reminded us that we must rediscover the medicinal aspects of the Liturgy and other sacraments to heal the sin sick soul. Our passions are disordered and the Sacraments, especially the Mass, are meant to order our disordered lives. If we emphasize the communal in the liturgy and other sacramental celebrations and turn them into purely horizontal, feel good celebrations filled with hype and no substance, we reduce the fecundity of these celebrations and render them secular and sterile.

Ultimately, our liturgical and sacramental celebrations should heal us for eternal life in heaven which the Mass is a foretaste. We must emphasize the vertical and what God gives us in terms of our ability to worship Him and be healed by Him. We must be open to God ordering our disordered passions that lead us into spiritual disease and everlasting damnation. Ordering the disordered passions of our lives leads to healing and wholeness, holiness and eternal life in heaven.

Fr. Jeremy Driscoll, OSB helped us to understand the parts of the Mass and that we should allow God's grace to open our minds and hearts to all God desires for us as we enter into and contemplate the Sacred Mysteries. The new richness of the reformed translation lifts us to a elevated communication with God and we shouldn't ad lib during the Mass with a folksy way of speaking.

It was a very good conference.


Pater Ignotus said...

"Narcotic effect" of hymns? What brilliant analyst came up with this absurd view? Why is hymnody more "narcotic" than chant?

"Long Live The Pope," is "written in a is written in the style of a military march, with certain strong hints in favor of the temporal power." It is as ideological as they come. "All hail the Shepherd King of Rome,"... "And yet amid the din and strife The clash of mace and sword"...

Anonymous said...

Not wishing to indulge the sins of envy or covetousness, but just saying I wish I could have been there instead of here!!

Henry said...

"Long Live The Pope," is "written in a is written in the style of a military march, with certain strong hints in favor of the temporal power." It is as ideological as they come. "All hail the Shepherd King of Rome,"... "And yet amid the din and strife The clash of mace and sword"

Agree. Both examples illustrate the fact that hymns are not a proper part of the Roman liturgy. Whether good, bad, or indifferent, they simply are not liturgical.

It's not a question of whether they are good or bad musically, whether or not they are faithful doctrinally. Only the liturgy itself is proper to the liturgy, and participation in the liturgy itself should not be interrupted for non-liturgical activities.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Amen Henry, so many malformed by faux musical renewal in the last 50 years just don't get it! We'll have to exercise the nuclear option of the biological solution for this grand liturgical malaise to come to a happy end.

Gene said...

Ignotus decided to limn
A vapid response about hymn.
But, Henry's reply
Was a poke in his eye
Revealing he's really quite dim.

Pater Ignotus said...

ACTUALLY.... the comment on "Long Live the Pope" is a dee-rect quote from Jeffrey Tucker, editor of the New Liturgical Movement blog . . .

Gene said...

Doesn't quoted it approvingly, Ignotus.

Pater Ignotus said...

Regarding "Long Live the Pope," Tucker continues: "It strikes me as the kind of nostalgia that is best left to nostalgia, not real life. Its German-band style militarism runs contrary to Benedict XVI's well-documented opposition to the temporal power, and its triumphalism contradicts his own belief that the church's influence is primarily cultural, not political."

And, "Should it be used in Mass today? I can see no case for it."

Good Father McDonald writes about music in a dignified and solemn OF mass, "It did not rely upon hyped up secular melodies with sacred words that are paraphrases of Scripture or worse yet or worse yet, ideological hymns that make a political or religious point."

Curioser and curioser...

Joseph Johnson said...

"We shouldn't ad lib during the Mass." And our new pastor says "The Lord IS with you" after Communion.

I KNOW he knows better but I doubt bringing it to his attention will cause him to adhere to the approved Missal text.

This is the kind of thing that causes me to lose patience with the Ordinary Form (not in and of itself but the way some priests take liberties with it) and just want the Extraordinary Form (because the type of priest who will take liberties with the OF will most likely, on principle, refuse outright to offer the EF).

Anonymous 2 said...

“How These Catholics Love One Another”

There once was a blogger named Gene
The likes of whom no one had seen:
“Although very smart
Where is his heart?
His comments are so dreadfully mean!”

“But you don’t understand,
I can’t just be bland.
If I’m to get their attention
For things worthy of mention
I have to be a real fir’brand.

So even the Pope
Has not a hope
Of being spared
Correction that’s shared
To enlighten the benighted dope.

James said...

This is a little off topic but since you did bring up artificial contraception and a begetting of children...

Baby pronounced dead ‘comes back to life’ in Brazilian chapel

Jornal de Noticias reports that Yasmin was born to mom Jenifer da Silva Gomes, 22, and dad Cleverson Carlos Gomes, 26, on Tuesday morning.

But she stopped breathing almost immediately. Doctors tried to revive her several times to no avail. They declared her dead at 11 a.m. and issued a death certificate.

Dr. Aurelio Filipak, who fought for more than an hour to save Yasmin's life after she was born, said he was completely perplexed by the incident.

"In 20 years of medicine, I have never witnessed anything like this," he revealed.

rcg said...

Hymnody has the tune as its focus and the need to wedge some thought into the meter of the tune. It can't be helped because people will sense that a tune is 'clunky' if the words 'don't fit' the frame of the tune. That distracts from the message. Likewise, if you adapt the message with a 'dynamic equivalence' you have a significant risk the the hymns will conflict in some or many ways with the Liturgy or the sermon. There are hymns that don't have this issue, of course. But they are often musical scores for known prayers.

The problem is that we want to further complicate the MAss rather than delve deeper into it. There is time enough, letter, for singing hymns.

FWIW, just to show that the battle is still on, my old Parish, Carol's old one, too, just hired a new Musical Director who comes fresh from a parish with Liturgical Dancers!

Gene said...

Anon 2,

More Love

Ol' Dickens was really a gas
Not giving bureaucracy pass,
But, he had true insight
And was certainly right
When he said that "the law is a ass."

Joseph Johnson said...

"We shouldn't ad lib during the Mass."

If the use of Latin was required (as in the EF), only a priest who is a conversant Latinist would be able to ad lib (if he dared do so) and his ad libs would not be understood by a congregation who, at best, would only understand the Latin words which are translated in their hand Missals and which they hear, repeatedly (such as "The Lord be with you), at each Mass.

The Latin requirement in the older form was a very effective bulwark against priests imposing their own words over the approved texts in the Mass. Maybe "progressives" who want the Mass in a language that we actually speak want it, in part, because it affords some of them the opportunity for ad libbing.

John Nolan said...

Actually, 'Dominus vobiscum' has no verb, and therefore may be indicative or subjunctive. Because the priest extends his hands, we infer the subjunctive (Dominus sit vobiscum). But when the deacon sings those words, he has his hands joined, so a reasonable inference might be that the indicative is meant (Dominus est vobiscum). Two weeks ago the excellent Fr Hunwicke preached on the two words 'Sursum corda'. Why do we say "Lift up YOUR hearts"? Because Cranmer translated it thus. But it actually means "Hearts up!" and applies to the priest as well, since the next thing he says is in the first person plural, "Gratias agamus".

The moral being that you're much better off leaving everything in Latin.

Pater, hymns belong in the Office and extra-liturgical devotions. As for mind-numbing narcotic effect, check out the video of Pope Francis's Lampedusa Mass. The opening hymn (song?) goes on for 15 minutes with endless repetitions of a trite refrain. Even you would be tearing your hair out.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - Hymns are also proper to the liturgy. I suspect the lengthy opening hymns often experienced in papal masses are used to accompany the procession. If the processions is shorter, the music will be shorter.

Joseph Johnson said...

John Nolan,
You make a very good point about no verb in "Dominus vobiscum." I had thought about this too even in the context of how we pray the Ave Maria ("Ave Maria gratia plena Dominus tecum .."). Still, my point is that priests MUST use the text of the Mass as it is given to them by the Church (in approved translations if vernacular is used). Priests do not have the authority to ad lib parts of the Mass. It is also annoying when they insert little explanations and connectors in their own words between the official parts. They should just "say the black and do the red."

John Nolan said...

"Long live the Pope", like Wiseman's "Full in the panting heart of Rome" is rarely sung nowadays, but is sung in England to the tune Wolvercote by WH Ferguson, which is familiar to Anglicans as it is used for "O Jesus I have promised".

I had to look up the Ganss setting, and found it to be a fine stirring tune, which when belted out on a grand organ is a welcome antidote to the insipid and sentimental ditties that keep cropping up in modern "liturgies". The words aren't particularly triumphalist, either; "His signet is the fisherman's; no sceptre does he bear; in meek and lowly majesty, he rules from Peter's chair". I don't agree with Tucker here - there is nothing to really suggest the temporal power, which by 1870 was no more. As for militarism, BXVI resurrected the papal anthem with those trumpets, and we are the Church Militant after all.

As for hymns at Mass, I don't object to chanted Office hymns provided they don't displace the Propers.