Monday, November 27, 2006

we ought to see this matter primarily as the occasion for an examination of conscience

From Cardinal Ratzinger's address to Chilean Bishops. As someone pointed it out to me, it is no use saying that the other side is wrong if we don't actively correct our own faults too. Ergo,

For all these reasons, we ought to see this matter primarily as the occasion for an examination of conscience. We should allow ourselves to ask fundamental questions, about the defects in the pastoral life of the Church, which are exposed by these events. Thus we will be able to offer a place within the Church to those who are seeking and demanding it, and succeed in destroying all reason for schism. We can make such schism pointless by renewing the interior realities of the Church.

On New Mass vs Old Mass

We must avoid falling into the trap of arguing which is better, or which should exist, and so on. What is good for one section of the church benefits the entire church (from Fr Z).

It is a fact that for now, many people are simply too used to the New Rite and will find the Old Rite totally foreign, and so any action taken for the good of the New Rite, eg. better translations, more reverent celebrations, will be good for the whole church.

At the same time, to deny that the Old Rite has a place in the church now is to ignore the exalted place it had in the Church after the Council of Trent. Any assertion that the old rite is no longer relevant or not needed is faulty. We keep on learning from the past, in studies of scripture, the writings of the Church fathers, the Saints. We still recite the Nicene Creed today. The Mass of St Pius V, which was the Rite in use by the Roman Curia, as well as the other rites, Sarum, Dominican, Carmelite etc etc are no exception. Along with the Eastern Catholic liturgies, they are treasures for us to learn from in their diverse expressions of the one True faith.

It is a tragedy that the Old Rite is thought to be associated with sectarian and polemical groups. Such groups are surely on the slippery slope towards separation, and this is the case whether you are left-leaning or right-leaning (eg. so-called "pro-choice catholics", Archbishop Millingo etc etc) .

There is nothing to be gained if we do not work together for the good of the Church. There is nothing to be gained if all there exists is criticism for the old rite, yet not acknowledging the deficiencies of the new rite, and not working towards better celebrations of the new rite. Very often we hear people say, "you know in the Old Rite if the priest left out certain things it would be mortal sin!", without actually having a certain familiarity with it. Heh - in the New Rite, if the priest left out the words of consecration ... .There is also nothing to be gained if the new rite is scorned and derided. Any assertion that the new rite is sacrilegious because of its faults is utterly ridiculous - the Church can never lead us to sin.

Keeping the old rite alive and encouraging its wider use serves to remind us that it still belongs to us, the whole Church, not to sectarian interests. Keeping the old rite alive serves to be an example for the rest of the new rite people to follow. Keeping the old rite alive serves to show the rest of divided Christendom that we have, like them, great respect for our traditions.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Your Bloggers: A Definition

Norman --


Extremely extreme!

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

Constantine --


A hermit living in the big city

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

Edward --


Tastes like fried chicken

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

Michael --


Fuzzy to the touch

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Panagia Ierosolimitissa

To those whom I gave prayer cards to during the past two weeks, if you were unable to read the (modern) Greek at the back, I have received a translation from Maria of the Greek consulate:

Panagia Ierosolimitissa (Theotokos of Jerusalem)

This is Gethsemane's Panagia, overlooking the empty tomb of the Most Holy Theotokos, blessing the numerous pilgrims to the Holy Land of Jerusalem. Today's small underground tomb is situated at Gethsemane, next to the Mount of Olives where the Saviour often prayed with His disciples. It was there that the Apostles gathered and buried the most-pure body of the Mother of God. Her icon remains there as an endless spring of blessings for all the Christians, celebrated (or venerated) by the name 'Panagia Ierosolimitissa'.

I hope this helps.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

33rd sunday in ordinary time

It is interesting to spot a thread that connects the propers in the liturgy. The collects speak about eternal life. The propers speak about praying without ceasing, and God's assurance that He will hear us. And the Gospel speaks about Him coming in glory. Look at what we lose if we ditch them for hymns arbitrarily chosen!

Ergo, We are taught in this Sunday to pray without ceasing, so that one day we may be with Him in the glory of eternal life.

In today's Introit, we have the following
The Lord said, "I am pondering thoughts of peace and not of affliction; you shall call upon me and I will hear you; and I will bring you back from all the lands where you are held captive."
and what do we call upon him in the Collect? From Fr Z
Grant unto us, we beg thee, O Lord our God, always to rejoice in your devotion, for happiness is perpetual and full, if we serve constantly the author of good things.
We ask in the Prayer over the Gifts that
acquire for us the effect of a happy eternity
The Alleluia Verse and Offertory verse reminds us of a very common attitude we must have when praying,
Out of the depths I have cried to you O Lord, Lord hear my voice/prayer.
Yet, the Gospel in year B assures us of
"And then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power"
and the Introit comes to mind,
"you shall call upon me and I will hear you"
We are reminded again in the Communion antiphon that
Amen, I say to you whatever you ask in your prayers, believe that you shall receive it, and it shall be granted unto you.
and of course, God gives us what we need, not what we want, and our aim is to be close to Him in heaven.

Friday, November 17, 2006

comparing sacrosanctum concilium and ...

Tra Le Sollecitudini, by Pope St Pius X.

Point 1. The Liturgy is for the glorification of God and the sanctification of the faithful, and Sacred Music plays an important role in this.

SC, 7.

To accomplish so great a work, Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. [snip] Christ indeed always associates the Church with Himself in this great work wherein God is perfectly glorified and men are sanctified.
TLS, 1.
Sacred music, being a complementary part of the solemn liturgy, participates in the general scope of the liturgy, which is the glory of God and the sanctification and edification of the faithful.
To be continued.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

For Pope Benedict XVI (Part II)

It will be good to pray the Spiritual Pilgrimage with Pope Benedict XVI, as he embarks on his trip to Turkey.

random thoughts on Gregorian Chant

I had it put to me the other day, "Gregorian Chant is young music - it is music of the Church's youth." Wow! *speechless*

I told a bunch of people the other day,"We walk the way of the Church fathers when we sing Gregorian Chant". This thought came to me after I attended, ironically, an Eastern liturgy. That's because these liturgies are ancient, and even though they may be in the vernacular today, they retain much of their liturgical traditions. They have something to teach us Latins on that.

On Tertullian

From The Fathers of the Church, by Mike Aquilina, pg 92 - 93

Inspired by the courage of Christian martyrs, Tertullian converted to the faith when he was in his late thirties. [snip] Once in the Church, he wielded his pen like a blazing brand, to expose error by the light ot truth (one of his favourite words), and to immolate falsehood with the flames of his invective. It was Tertullian who first used the Latin word Trinitas (Trinity) to describe God.

Problems arose when he encountered infidelities, apostasy, cowardice, lukewarmness and immorality among his own people. He came, more and more, to excoriate those who called themselves Christian but who fell into mortal sin. Calling for a purer Church, he fell under the influence of the schismatic Montanus, who claimed to speak by the power of the Holy Spirit. In time, Tertullian came to invent a distinction between the "spiritual church" and the "church of a bunch of bishops." He joined the Montanist sect - though, ultimately, he would find even them unsatisfactory. He then founded his own sect, the Tertullianists, which would survive till St Augustine's day.

Get the book if you haven't. It makes for captivating reading, to learn about how the early Church was like, and to discover many parallels with the modern Church today.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Quo Primum was a disciplinary document

and I cannot for the life of me understand how people will take it as "dogmatic" or use it to argue that the Church has no right to regulate celebrations of the old Mass. Take for example this article from Zenit, on the legal force of Quo Primum:

Another correspondent writing from the Middle East offers the parallel case of the 1568 document "Quod a Nobis" which introduced the new Roman breviary two years before the new missal. This document contains many expressions similar to "Quo Primum" regarding, for instance, the perpetual force of law, the obligation of use in all places, and the total prohibition of adding or omitting anything.

Our reader then comments: "As you are undoubtedly aware, St. Pius X radically rearranged the ancient Roman Psalter and changed a few lessons for a few days, and provided contracted lessons, among other changes in 1913. Moreover, he forbade the use of the old Psalter. This clearly shows that he was not bound by the prescriptions issued in 'Quod a Nobis' and since these are similar to those of 'Quo Primum,' those must not be binding either.

"I have found using 'Quod a Nobis' more effective because the adherents to 'Quo Primum' argue that it is restricted to the Ordinary (either whole or from the Offertory to Last Gospel), or to the Temporale only (despite evidence in encyclicals like 'Grande Munus' to the contrary). Since the Psalter is the most fundamental part of the breviary, no such statement can be made with regard to 'Quod a Nobis.'"

Of course I favour more celebrations of the old Mass (per Cardinal Ratzinger's comments), but I really can sympathise with bishops who hold back the indult because of people who will end up creating trouble for them. When (and that's a big when) Pope Benedict relaxes restrictions on it, one of the messages that action will carry is that the old Mass belongs to the Roman Church, not just to sectarian and polemical interests. [updated] A hasty action will serve only to act against the future of the Missal of St Pius V, just like how the introduction of the New Rite was like. As Catholics, united under the Vicar of Christ, we can offer up our prayers for the Holy Father, so that he may have the wisdom to discern when the right time is. In all things, charity, understanding and patience.

updated 16 Nov 2006.

Friday, November 03, 2006

For Pope Benedict XVI

Given the state of affairs in the Muslim world, can we, Catholics and Orthodox, dedicate a day of fasting and penance for Pope Benedict's trip to Turkey? It is on 28 Nov to 1 Dec.

There are many intentions for this, including:
  • a safe trip for Papa Bear
  • better relations between Cats and Dox
  • Turkey lifts its oppression against Christians

Patriarch hopes Papal trip to Turkey will help Orthodox minority

All Saints

Helped organize All Saints Mass on campus. Given the kind of singers I had and the time available for preparation, this is the best that I could do. Comparing with the kind of Masses we usually get (ie. Organizing Mass = Choose 5 Favourite Hymns with Mass of Creation/Celtic Mass), I'd say it was a minor coup of sorts.

There were the usual concerns "The Mass is not a performance and these songs are unfamiliar" to which I said, "we cannot have Everyone Sing Everything, but we can have As Many People to Sing As Many Things Possible". I restrained myself from saying "The Mass is not Karaoke either". So we did a run through before Mass and I was surprised that people picked it up quickly. I set the vernacular Gloria and Credo to Psalm tones and people took to it like fish to water. I made sure I explained that the point for doing so is to help people focus on the words, not being distracted by the melody, and I guess you can't dispute that kind of argument. Heh.

We started the evening with Sung Vespers in English set to Latin Psalm tones. We did not provide much explanation, but very soon everyone was singing along. Amazing! The powerpoint slides showed traditional line art and did not show one bit of modern music notation - we used the four-line notation. Who says Gregorian Chant can't work? Who says simple chanting can't work? Sorry, Mass settings like this silly and crappy one don't work anymore. Chant is the way to go.

The cooperation that I had from my uni-mates were first-class - we were doing it together, not me just barking orders. Recognizing that the Catholic community on campus is now international, we followed the example of the Vatican and had the intercessions in 8 languages. Of course, what came out in the end was not ideal. I left the Mass of Creation in to avoid too big a drastic change. I actually want the Propers to be sung and the entire mass in Latin, walking the way of the Church Fathers who had their liturgy this way. It is possible to sing the Propers to simple melodies. Maybe next time :).

Not forgetting the priest who gave a wonderful homily and for working tirelessly among the students on campus. It can only be good if the priest is so involved with the students on campus. I don't think I even know the depth and extent of the problems he has to deal with.

Entrance. For All The Saints. Sine Nomine, Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Kyrie. Taize Setting.
Gloria. Psalm Tone.
Responsorial Psalm. English, adapted from melody found in Simple Gradual.
Alleluia. Chant, adapted from chant melody.
Credo. Psalm Tone.
Prayer of the Faithful. Recited, adapted from Anglican Use Liturgy, Intercession II.
Offertory. O God Beyond Our Praising. Thaxted. Gustav Holst.
Sanctus. Mass of Creation.
Mysterium Fidei. Mass of Creation.
Per Ipsum. response was just "Amen".
Pater Noster. Latin Chant.
Agnus Dei. Chant Mass XVIII.
Communion. Panis Angelicus, Cesar Frank. (this choice was made by someone else)
Post-Communion. Soul of my Saviour.
Recessional Hymn. Holy God We Praise Thy Name.