Thursday, August 05, 2004

Dominican Rite Mass

If you're in the San Francisco area tonight around 7:30pm, you may want to check out the Dominican Rite Mass held at St. Dominic's Catholic Church in honor of Feast of the Dedication of St. Mary Major with the St. Dominic's Schola Cantorum. The musical setting includes Josquin Desprez's Ave Maria in addition to other pieces taken from Edmund Rubbra's Missa in Honorem Sancti Dominici.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

We need a Jester!

England has decided to bring back the court jester, and they have already put out advertisements.
An ad appearing in Thursday's editions of The Times laid out the qualifications: "Must be mirthful and prepared to work summer weekends in 2005. Must have own outfit (with bells). Bladder on stick provided if required."
This would be the first court jester since 1649. Isn't it true that the jester was always the first to lose his head? Which leads to my second question, has the position been opened to women?

Monday, August 02, 2004

The Relics of Polycarp

A scene from the early church concerning the remains of St. Polycarp after his martyrdom, written 2nd century AD:
Accordingly, we afterwards took up [Polycarp's] bones, as being more precious than the most exquisite jewels, and more purified than gold, and deposited them in a fitting place, whither, being gathered together, as opportunity is allowed us, with joy and rejoicing, the Lord shall grant us to celebrate the anniversary of his martyrdom, both in memory of those who have already finished their course, and for the exercising and preparation of those yet to walk in their steps.

The Martyrdom of Polycarp, Chapter XVIII
Today, we continue to value the relics of our saintly forebears, and we commemorate their anniversaries as feast days all throughout the year. Praise be to God.
St. Stephen's in Sacramento

I got back from the Sacramento area last Tuesday. Got the chance to see all around the area, including Gold Country and the Capitol Building. On Sunday, we went to the 10:30am High Mass at the Church of St. Stephen the First Martyr, staffed by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. Though I have worshipped at several low masses over the last few years, this was my first experience of the Tridentine high mass, and I absolutely loved it. The mass inspired a wonderful sense of the sacred. I was also very impressed by the celebrant, Fr. John Berg, FSSP. His homily was among the best I have heard.

However, during this experience, I did find that my post-conciliar sensibilities often got the better of me. I entered the Church in 1997, and most of what I understand about liturgy has been formed based on my experiences with the post-concilar mass. I couldn't resist, for example, the urge to join in on the choir's singing of the Gloria, the Credo, and the Sanctus. I also couldn't resist the Domine, non sum dignus.... One of the things that I truly appreciate about the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council is the desire that the faithful be able to actively join in saying or singing parts of the ordinary together, as mentioned in Article 54 of Sacrosanctum Concilium:
... steps should be taken so that the 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.
It seems to be that these things, particularly the Credo, have their fullest meaning when they are said together. But that's just my very humble and limited opinion. I recall the dialogue mass I experienced in Houston a few months back. Wonderful, although not the norm. On the other hand, a setting of sacred polyphony would suit very me well even though I would not be able sing along!

One other thing, which may draw the wrath of some of my readers, though I am open to your input and instruction. I found the endless stream of people moving about for confession during the mass, even during the homily, to be very distracting. I know that the practice is not novel, but it seemed completely inappropriate. It gave me a strange conception of what it might have been like prior to the council, when most individuals were, by and large, merely spectators who did their own private devotions during the mass and took their turn for confession with no intention to receive Holy Communion, or if so, infrequently. Don't get me wrong - I have no window into anyone's soul, so I will not make judgments upon anyone at the mass doing this, nor do I have anything against regular confession. But generally speaking, it seems more fitting that the sacrament of penance, while intimately connected to the liturgy, should not occur simultaneously with the liturgy so as to blur the distinction between the two actions. I appreciate the reform indicated by Article 48 of Sacrosanctum Concilium:
The Church, therefore, earnestly desires that Christ's faithful, when present at this mystery of faith, should not be there as strangers or silent spectators; on the contrary, through a good understanding of the rites and prayers they should take part in the sacred action conscious of what they are doing, with devotion and full collaboration. They should be instructed by God's word and be nourished at the table of the Lord's body...
We can argue about the substance of the reforms and their implementation, but there's no doubt in my mind that reforms were needed, and the council did a just thing in addressing them.

At any rate, I'm sure I'll be back to St. Stephen's next time I am around. In spite of the few things I didn't agree with, I still have a wonderful appreciation for the pre-conciliar liturgy, and I will not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Songs and Hymns

Songs and Hymns of the Earliest Greek Christian Poets

An Evening Hymn

Praise the Lord, O ye His servants,
        Praise the Name of the Lord:
We praise Thee, we hymn Thee, we bless Thee
        For Thy great glory.
O Lord the King, the Father of Christ, the Lamb without blemish,
        Who taketh away the sin of the world,
To Thee belongeth praise, to Thee belongeth the hymn, to Thee belongeth glory,
        The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
        Throughout all ages. Amen.
Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart, O Lord,
        According to Thy word, in peace:
For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation,
Which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people,
A light to lighten the Gentiles, and (to be) the glory of Thy people Israel.


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