Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Looking back over the last 5 years...

Someone just asked me to explain the "plan" that Fr. G and I had as we improved the music and liturgy at St. P. Well, we didn't really have much of a "plan," we mostly just did what seemed like a good idea at the time, thinking at every step to try and make the liturgy more like the Church envisioned it, and with the only other clear goal to teach the congregation the Latin Mass Ordinary that all Catholics were expected to know after Vatican II, as complied by Pope Paul VI; "Jubilate Deo,."

It seemed appropriate for me to think through this, as I only have a few more weeks at St. P. :-(

Looking back on this 5-year period, I must say that I am quite impressed with what has been accomplished!

Here's the timeline as I remember it-
-I started working at St. P
-immediately began phasing out 1970s popular style music, and replacing with more traditional hymns or other acceptable (sometimes contempoarary) music
-I began singing Communion antiphon for the first couple minutes of Communion every Mass (she would sing the English translation first)
-taught/reminded translation of simplest "Agnus Dei"
-created and put in pews a small hymnal supplement that contained some latin as well as english translations of chant (and other hymns/prayers we thought might be useful)
-several of the (female) choir members were interested in joining me in singing the communion, I would send them a recording and they would learn it on their own every week
-taught/explained translation of and began using "mortem tuam," (but this was discontinued soon afterwards)
-meanwhile, more traditionally-minded parishioners were starting to come to St. P, who came deliberately for the combination of better music choices we offer as well as the preaching/reverence/etc of Father G.
-Put the communion rails back up from where they had been in front of the first pews.
-meanwhile, congregation singing more chant, especially english translations of things like Adoro Te and Jesu Dulcis
-Introduced chanting of english translation of Introit at 10:30 Mass, set to a gloria-patri tone (based on Anglican Use Gradual); provided a photocopy in the pews for people every week. Explicitly taught to congregation the first few weeks, then just let them follow the choir afterwards (since the melody remains the same every week)
-taught simple Sanctus to congregation at all Masses (it was included with a word-for-word traslation in the hymnal supplement we made.)
-began including a very simple, shortened version of the Proper Offertory (set to a simple psalm tone,) on the same page as the introit. Began using it; we treat it similar to the responsorial psalm: I sing it, the congregation sings it, I sing verses of the appropriate Psalm alternating with the congregation singing it for the remainder of the Offertory (following an Offertory hymn.)
-re-introduced "mortem tuam" memorial acclamation
-invited the congregation to begin receiving communion at the communion rail at the 10:30 Mass (I believe that most people do, since that is the most popular Mass for the more traditionaly-minded people to go)
-taught and began using latin "Gloria" at all Masses (over the past 4-5 years, as we have been teaching all the latin Mass Ordinaries, we have not usually been doing all of them at the same time. We have usually just done one or two at a time, with other settings, like Proulx's Community Mass. It has only been the past few months [a year?] that we have been doing them all in Latin.)
-began offering a monthly Extraordinary Form Mass
-invited the congregation to receive communion at the communion rails, if they wished, at all masses. (the option still remains to receive standing, usually from an EMHC.)
-Sometime in the next few months, we plan on updating our hymnal supplement to a more permanent book, which will include more chants (also in latin, like Veni Creator,) as well as all of the Introits that we will need, in the English settings described above.

Two other things to note that don't really fit in the time line:
- I would NEVER have attempted anything close to this without the full support of the pastor.
- As a result of his support, at every step of the way, we both worked together at catechizing the people and explaining and teaching everything. I don't know how you would do that without a supportive pastor, and I do not think the people would appreciate it or get much benefit from it if they did not understand why we were changing things.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Low Mass and High Mass?

Interesting conversation going on at my favorite forum (uh oh, maybe it's becoming second favorite. well, regardless, I'm not telling you where the other one is... ;-) )

It was mentioned, that one of the things (among many, as we know) that has really changed after Vatican II, was the distinction between Low Mass and High Mass.

Now, I realize this may not have been so cut and dry in every parish, but if my understanding is correct, then at most parishes, most of the Masses were 45 minutes (or even 30), music-less, or else with a smattering of hymns. Then, every parish had it's "main Mass," which was High Mass, and while I'm not sure exactly how long that would normally be, it was the one with all the frills, and was definitely going to be longer than the other Masses. And you knew which one it was!

So, people who wanted Mass to be quick and easy, went to one of the Low Masses, and those who wanted the full "experience," could go to High Mass.

SINCE the Catholic Church is pretty much the only one that "requires" weekly Mass attendance, and now that we have lost this distinction, if Mass goes over 60 minutes, everyone is complaining and leaving as soon as they can.

Wouldn't that be interesting if we brought back this distinction? (For many other reasons also than the ones I've just mentioned.) Say, at St. P, if people KNEW that the 4:30 pm and 8 am were going to be less than an hour, with no incense, not even any sung Mass Ordinary (ok, now I'm getting into dangerous territory,) and Father would talk on the faster side; and then that the 10:30 am Mass would easily be 1.5 hours, with LOTS of singing... and it was always this way every week, then people wouldn't complain about the long Mass, since they would only be there if they wanted.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

This could be about any priest...

This could happen to any priest. In fact, when I first came across this website, I thought, "oh here we go again. Another priest who is whining because he has been "censured" by the Church authorities for preaching things that maybe were contrary to official teaching..."

Ooops, I assummed too soon, once I realized as I skimmed through it and gasped when I read the author's name at the bottom.

But I did find it interesting that much of what he said could have been from any priest--orthodox or heterodox!

(not to be airing the Church's dirty laundry or anything...)

Having no idea what was going on, or even any prior experience of Fr. Corapi, I was slightly confused about why he referred to himself as "no longer Father..." but this article helps me understand how I feel-

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dear bishop of xxxx diocese (to which I am moving)

Why does it have to be so hard to find a job? All I want to do is serve the Church, really, honestly! I don't even have to paid a lot of money! All I want to do is to provide high-quality, sacred music, just like the Roman Catholic Church directs.

And the pastors and churches in your diocese are not exactly making it easy.

Here's a description of the last three full-time job openings in your diocese--

The most recent parish sounded very promising. They claim to appreciate both contemporary as well as traditional music, and say that their mission is in line with the values of the Second Vatican Council. Well, apparently we must not have read the same Vatican II documents, because after browsing around on their website for only a couple of minutes, I came upon a video of a large Mass from a couple years ago, and not only was the viewer blessed by "liturgical" dance, but the Mass also involved a large glass bowl filled with little pieces of leavened bread at the offertory. How original. (Um, the Eastern Churches beat you to that by a couple thousand years. Sorry guys, how about you stick with the directives for the ROMAN Catholic Church.)
I think I would cry every weekend if I worked there.

Also recently posted, is a parish that requires "comfort in various liturgical styles," as well as a Bachelor of Music, but declares that "no experience is necessary" for the applicant. Wow. Not sure how that would work. I was curious to discover more of what this church values, so I went to their website to read their mission statement. In the very first sentence of it, they call themselves an "open and welcoming Catholic community, centered in the Eucharist and celebrating God's gift of Diversity." Well, "Diversity" can be nice, but to put it right up there with the Eucharist? Hmmm... It appears that everywhere else on their website or bulletins that they use certain buzzwords, they are always capitalized, like "Peace and Justice" or "Diversity," but won't capitalize the word "bread" even when referring to the Eucharist. I only bothered to look at 3 of their recent bulletins, but 2 of them included pre-Vatican II bashing in the priest's bulletin article, as in "the bad old days when no one but priests or nuns were allowed to read the Bible." Moving along...

Prior to that, a parish that I had recently visited for a concert publicized a job opening. While at the concert, I noted that they had a pretty nice, new, organ, but that the "Stations of the Cross" around the sanctuary (which I believe are required in every Catholic Church?) were not exactly scenes from the Way of the Cross...they were more like "Happy Scenes from Jesus' Life." A church that does not appreciate the value of suffering, especially Christ's Redemptive Suffering, is not somewhere I want to be.

So, dear Bishop, please help me. Either find me somewhere to work; like I said, I really don't need a lot of money! I just want somewhere that will appreciate me! Somewhere that I can use music to glorify God, and not a parish whose theology centers around making people "feel good." Or else, please just lay the smack down in your diocese. Kick some butt, please. You're the bishop! I know of priests who get letters sent to the bishop because they preach things that are true and beautiful, (and those priests hear about it!) so why don't you do anything about priests who are actually disobedient to the directives of the Church? I know you won't do anything. Why bother.

With all respect,

(A letter which I very seriously will consider sending if nothing changes in the next couple months!)