Thursday, March 25, 2010

Annunciation: Angelus ad Virginem

The Solemnity of the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary is March 25. Here is a medieval "carol" for the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, called Angelus ad Virginem.
Take a listen to the carol being performed by the Tallis Scholars (2:35).

Here's another version (only the first two verses) sung in a rather different (and considerably more medieval-folk sounding) style, by The King's Singers (1:15).

Here are the words with a translation:
Angelus ad virginem
Sub intrans in conclave,
Virginis formidinem
Demulcens, inquit: Ave!
Ave regina virginum;
Caeli terraeque Dominum
Et paries intacta
Salutem hominum;
Tu porta caeli facta,
Medela criminum.
When the angel came secretly
to the Virgin in her room,
soothing the maiden's fear,
he said: "Hail!
Hail, Queen of virgins.
While yet untouched by man
you shall conceive and bear
the Lord of heaven and earth,
salvation for mankind.
You have become the gate of heaven,
a remedy for sins."
Quomodo conciperem
Quae virum non cognovi?
Qualiter infringerem
Quod firma mente vovi?
Spiritus Sancti gratia
Perficiet haec omnia;
Ne timeas,
Sed gaudeas, secura
Quod castimonia
Manebit in te pura
Dei potentia.
"How can I conceive,
since I have not known a man?
How can I break the vow
I made with firm intent?"
"The grace of the Holy Spirit
shall bring all this to pass.
Fear not,
but rejoice, secure in the
knowledge that pure chastity
shall remain yours
through God's mighty power."
Ad haec virgo nobilis
Respondens inquit ei:
Ancilla sum humilis
Omnipotentis Dei.
Tibi caelesti nuntio,
Tanti secreti conscio,
Et cupiens videre
Factum quod audio;
Parata sum parere,
Dei consilio.
To this the noble Virgin
replied, saying:
"I am the lowly handmaiden
of Almighty God.
I bend my will to you,
O celestial messenger,
who share so great a mystery,
and I long to see performed
what I now hear.
I am ready to yield myself
to God's design."
Eia mater Domini,
Quae pacem redidisti
Angelis et homini,
Cum Christum genuisti:
Tuum exora filium
ut se nobis propitium
Et deleat peccata:
Praestans auxilium
Vita frui beata
Post hoc exsilium.
Ah, mother of the Lord,
who gave back peace
to angels and mankind
when you bore Christ,
pray your son
to be gracious to us,
and wipe away
our sins,
granting us aid
to enjoy a blessed life
after this exile.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Vatican II and the Laity

I'm giving a brief (10-15 minute) talk to a group of Catholic graduate students at Princeton University this Thursday evening from 6pm to 8pm (the evening begins with a simple meal, followed by my talk, followed by discussion and some Q&A) on "Participation in the Liturgy and Beyond".  The outline of the talk is:
  1. Promotion and Reform
    1. Vatican II addressed liturgical instruction before it addressed liturgical reform
    2. Excerpts from Sacrosanctum Concilium 9-11
  2. How do we participate in the Mass?
    1. Through baptism, we have the right and duty to participate
    2. True participation is only possible through baptism
    3. Three degrees of participation
      1. Internal:  perception of the sacred mysteries (cf. De Musica Sacra 22, Musicam Sacram 15)
      2. External:  manifesting internal participation (cf. De Musica Sacra 22, Musicam Sacram 15)
      3. Sacramental:  receiving Holy Communion (cf. De Musica Sacra 22, Musicam Sacram 23)
      4. There is a need for instruction before the faithful can achieve intelligent and active participation in the Mass (cf. De Musica Sacra 22)
    4. Joining ourselves to Christ, and our sacrifices to Christ's
      1. Sacrosanctum Concilium 48
      2. Lumen Gentium 11, 34
      3. Presbyterorum Ordinis 2, 5
      4. When?  Collect, Prayer of the Faithful, Offertory, Consecration, etc.
  3. How do we participate outside of Mass?
    1. Dismissal = Mission = Sending
    2. What are we sent out to do?
      1. Gospel of John has several "As the Father... so the Son..."
      2. Two of these extend to us:
        1. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Abide in my love. (John 15:9)
        2. Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. (John 20:21)
      3. Sent for what?
        1. To save the world (cf. John 3:17)
        2. To utter the words of God (cf. John 3:34)
        3. To do the will of the Father (cf. John 6:38)
        4. To lose nothing of all that He has given us (cf. John 6:39)
        5. To teach the Father's commandments (cf. John 7:16)
        6. To be a sign of unity (cf. John 17:20-21)
  4. The Apostolate of the Laity
    1. Apostolate = apostolic activity = mission
      1. Jesus was the Father's "apostle"
      2. Jesus chose His own apostles
      3. The whole Church shares in the work of the apostles ("apostolate")
      4. The laity have a share in the apostolate
    2. Pope Pius XII
      1. Address to 2nd World Congress of the Lay Apostolate (1957)
    3. Vatican II
      1. Lumen Gentium 33-42 (1964)
      2. Apostolicam Actuositatem (1965)
    4. John Paul II
      1. Christifideles Laici (1988)
The first half is about liturgical participation, and the second half is about what liturgical participation should move us to do:  participate in the lay apostolate in the world.  What does the Church say about the lay apostolate?
  • The "consecration of the world" is "essentially the work of the laity." (Pius XII)
  • "Giving the world ... a Christian form and structure [is] the greatest task of the apostolate of the Catholic laity." (Pius XII)
  • The lay apostolate "must always remain within the limits of orthodoxy and must not oppose itself to the legitimate prescriptions of competent authorities." (Pius XII)
  • The laity "exercise the apostolate in fact by their activity directed to the evangelization and sanctification of men and to the penetrating and perfecting of the temporal order through the spirit of the Gospel." (Vatican II)
  • The "success of the lay apostolate depends on the laity's living union with Christ [which] is nourished by spiritual aids which are common to all the faithful, especially active participation in the sacred liturgy." (Vatican II)
  • In both the spiritual and temporal orders, "the layman, being simultaneously a believer and a citizen, should be continuously led by the same conscience." (Vatican II)
  • The lay apostolate "does not consist only in the witness of one's way of life; a true apostle looks for opportunities to announce Christ by words addressed either to non-believers with a view of leading them to faith, or to the faithful with a view to instruction, strengthening, and encouraging them to a more fervent life." (Vatican II)
  • "The laity must take up the renewal of the temporal order as their own special obligation." (Vatican II)
  • The best exercise of the apostolate of the laity is found in organizations which have as their immediate aim "the evangelization and sanctification of men and the formation of a Christian conscience," which "cooperat[e] with the hierarchy" while maintaining "responsibility for the direction of these organizations," in which the laity "act together in the manner of an organic body," and in which "the laity function under the higher direction of the hierarchy." (Vatican II)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thoughts on liturgical catechesis and reform

The following excerpts come from an email conversation with a "QV", a Catholic from Texas.  Text in blue is from QV.  This post is kind of long, but I think it's well worth reading (and not only because I wrote it).

What really were the 'needs of modern man' that were used as a foundational principle in Sacrosanctum Concilium for advocating the Liturgical Reforms after Vatican II? What made 20th Century Man so different from our ancestors?

Wow, that's a good question (and one which my books do not even begin to address, since they are not about the liturgical reform, per se, but about the reformed liturgy). I will think about it and try to provide some possible answers.

20th century man, at least in first- and second-world countries, has a lot of advantages (and disadvantages) that our ancestors did not have. The technological revolution has changed our way of looking at things. We have the ability to be entertained 24/7: TV, TiVo, OnDemand, pay-per-view, etc. We can be "busy" without being mentally engaged. Mystery has given way to explicitness, silence has given way to noise. All this makes the older liturgy seem immediately unattractive.

I agree with you that the problem was not necessarily the liturgy but our ability to participate in it, our understanding of what sort of participation the liturgy requires. The liturgy requires silence, prayer, attention, recollection, but it does also require verbal responses, gestures and postures. We cannot worship God only in motionless silence, as that denies our bodies their role in true worship.

It seems to me that our culture fosters short attention spans, a desire to be entertained, a desire to be "doing something". Perhaps modern man needs more assistance than his predecessors to be receptive to the traditional form of liturgy.

To me, this means modern man needs to be educated (catechized) better. The "modern" liturgical reform, in its earlier stages (in the 19th century), was more about reforming the liturgical attitude of the people than it was about reforming the liturgy; it was about liturgical catechesis before it was about liturgical changes.

I agree with you completely when you said "We can be 'busy' without being mentally engaged. Mystery has given way to explicitness, silence has given way to noise." However, the Traditional Mass addresses those very shortcomings in our culture — it clearly provides a spiritual "oasis"...

I agree that the Extraordinary Form of the Mass addresses those shortcomings and is a spiritual oasis... but only if a person knows he is thirsty will he approach to drink. Part of the crisis we face today is that "thirst" has been falsely quenched, and the feeling of "thirst" has been described instead as something else. It's like calling evil good and good evil.

I think you are right on the money when you say "Perhaps modern man needs more assistance than his predecessors to be receptive to the traditional form of liturgy." I do think that the Council Fathers were definitely led by the Holy Spirit in Sancrosanctum Concilium paragraph 19 when they wrote: "With zeal and patience, pastors of souls must promote the liturgical instruction of the faithful, and also their active participation in the liturgy...."

I agree:

But in order that the liturgy may be able to produce its full effects, it is necessary that the faithful come to it with proper dispositions, that their minds should be attuned to their voices, and that they should cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it in vain. Pastors of souls must therefore realize that, when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration; it is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects. (SC 11)

In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit; and therefore pastors of souls must zealously strive to achieve it, by means of the necessary instruction, in all their pastoral work. Yet it would be futile to entertain any hopes of realizing this unless the pastors themselves, in the first place, become thoroughly imbued with the spirit and power of the liturgy, and undertake to give instruction about it. A prime need, therefore, is that attention be directed, first of all, to the liturgical instruction of the clergy. (SC 14)

It is no accident that in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the section titled "The Promotion of Liturgical Instruction and Active Participation" comes before "The Reform of the Sacred Liturgy".

It seems to me that the reforms to the Liturgy tried to address the "active participation" aspect (albeit wrongly, in my opinion), but nobody did anything to address the "liturgical instruction of the faithful".

Yes, I agree that the "reform" issue was addressed but the "catechesis" issue was not addressed very well at all.  I've made that same statement many times:
  1. "The Council recognized the need for both liturgical catechesis and liturgical reform. Not one or the other, but both. (And I would argue that the Council documents expected a catechesis on the liturgy  as it was in 1962, which would mean the Council did not expect a complete re-write of the Missal thus rendering the theological liturgical catechesis of the 1962 Missal null and void!)"
  2. "Comprehension is a major factor -- that's why Vatican  II stressed the need for liturgical catechesis of the faithful alongside  liturgical reform -- but it is often overlooked."
  3. "Vatican II called for full, conscious, active participation by the faithful at Mass first and foremost through proper catechesis by their priests!"
  4. "The Second Vatican Council called for catechesis  (education, formation) above all else in liturgical matters. Re-read Sacrosanctum Concilium n. 14 and see how it envisioned that 'full, conscious, active participation' would be brought about."
  5. "The Council called for liturgical catechesis  above all, before it mentioned its few changes to the liturgy. (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 14) And one wonders if the desired understanding of the Mass was even accomplished."
  6. "One of my biggest grievances is the liturgical catechesis  called for, and echoed numerous times since then, is still wanting. Instead of catechesis, things are dumbed down; instead of catechesis, numerous abuses are introduced (because people just don't know any better!); instead of catechesis, the things that need explaining are omitted and replaced with banality."
  7. "I would say that, rather than reform being de facto promotion, promotion is de facto reform, because promotion of the liturgy (meaning better catechesis  for the laity and the clergy) would lead to a more zealous and devout and informed and reverent celebration of the Mass, which would yield greater fruit in greater abundance. This is not to say that a reform-by-promotion would require no changes, but that fewer changes (and less dramatic ones at that) would be necessary."
  8. "What is needed is a liturgical movement which does two things: 1) reads Vatican II in light of the liturgical tradition of the Church, one of organic development rather than redesign-by-committee, and 2) emphasizes liturgical catechesis as a necessary precursor to any liturgical reform."

My position can be summed up with these five words of mine:


Also, I opined that "Bishops expected that the reform (and specifically the introduction of the vernacular) would make catechesis less necessary" in a thread with you. Don't have any proof, just a hunch. Maybe replace "Bishops" with "the Consilium".

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Another glowing review of Praying the Mass

Here are a few excerpts from the latest review of Praying the Mass: The Prayers of the People, by Rev. Michael Cullinan in the April 2010 issue of The Sower.
Jeffrey Pinyan, an American layman, has written and published (privately, it would appear) an extremely good guide to the Mass, based on the forthcoming English translation. [...]

This is a work of liturgical, indeed mystagogical, catechesis, of the sort that is very much needed today. [...] Pinyan adopts a hermeneutic of continuity with tradition, citing works from the Douay Catechism of 1649 through Richard Challoner and Joseph Ratzinger to, most recent, a 2007 work by Thomas Kocik. [...]

[...] Pinyan goes slowly through the Mass in 12 chapters, from the fast before Mass to the mission we receive at the Dismissal.  Each chapter ends with ‘Questions for Reflection’ which are often thought provoking and do not simply lead back to the text for answers. [...] The text is attractive, easy to read, and remarkably free from typographical errors. [...]

A short review cannot do justice to all the things one can learn from this book. [...] Errors and omissions are hard to find [but their] extremely minor nature [...] only goes to show the quality of this work, which I am happy to commend warmly as an excellent and very widely useful piece of modern liturgical and catechetical writing.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Household chemical waste disposal day

On my way to work this morning, I saw a sign on US Route 1 for "Mercer County Household Chemical and Electronics Waste Disposal Day". Three Saturdays a year, Mercer County offers a 6-hour window when people can drop off various household chemicals (aerosol cans, propane tanks, etc.).

Sponsored by the

8 a.m. – 2 p.m. • Rain or Shine
John T. Dempster Fire School
Bakers Basin/Lawrence Station Road • Lawrence Township

“Household Chemical and Electronics Waste
Disposal Days are a great opportunity to remove
dangerous chemicals or materials from your
home and dispose of them in an environmentally
friendly and safe manner without making a lot of
effort. Just gather up your chemical containers
and old electronics, bring them to the Dempster
Center, and let Mercer County do the rest.”
– Brian M. Hughes, County Executive
What's stopping the county -- and homeowners -- from disposing of these chemicals and materials on a regular basis?  What homeowner wants to stockpile old aerosol cans in their house until one of these three Saturdays comes along?  I'm sure there are facilities around the county where such things can be disposed of at leisure, but I don't know where they are or what their hours are.

I think this is a decent analogy for the general attitude (at least in some dioceses in the United States) towards the sacrament of Reconciliation.  While some parishes have the sacrament celebrated weekly, it isn't given great publicity.  There are communal penance services (with individual reception of the sacrament, of course!) during Advent and Lent, but does this promote the proper theology of this sacrament, the proper theology of sin?  It's unhealthy and improper to hold onto mortal sins for months at a time (keeping them "under the kitchen sink", if you will) all the while going about like nothing's amiss.

Mortal sins, like volatile chemicals, deserve (even demand) immediate attention.  If priests can make the sacrament of Reconciliation more available to those souls under their care (and any other souls who happen to be passing by), and speak up about the necessity, importance, and beauty of this sacrament, then maybe we'll regain a sense of sin and a sense of personal responsibility for our conduct as Catholics, and (God-willing) we'll become more faithful, charitable, and moral people.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A hermeneutic of (priestly) continuity

From the Vatican News Service:
VATICAN CITY, 12 MAR 2010 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy Father received participants in a theological congress promoted by the Congregation for the Clergy, and which is being held on 11 and 12 March in the Pontifical Lateran University on the theme: "Faithfulness of Christ, faithfulness of Priests".

In a time such as our own, said the Pope, "it is important clearly to bear in mind the theological specificity of ordained ministry, in order not to surrender to the temptation of reducing it to predominant cultural models. In the context of widespread secularisation which progressively tends to exclude God from the public sphere and from the shared social conscience, the priest often appears 'removed' from common sense". Yet , the Pope went on, "it is important to avoid a dangerous reductionism which, over recent decades ... has presented the priest almost as a 'social worker', with the risk of betraying the very Priesthood of Christ.

"Just as the hermeneutic of continuity is revealing itself to be ever more important for an adequate understanding of the texts of Vatican Council II", he added, "in the same way we see the need for a hermeneutic we could describe as 'of priestly continuity', one which, starting from Jesus of Nazareth, Lord and Christ, and over the two thousand years of history, greatness, sanctity, culture and piety which the Priesthood has given the world, comes down to our own day".

Benedict XVI affirmed that "it is particularly important that the call to participate in the one Priesthood of Christ in ordained Ministry should flower from the 'charism of prophecy'. There is great need for priests who speak of God to the world and who present the world to God; men not subject to ephemeral cultural fashions, but capable of authentically living the freedom that only the certainty of belonging to God can give. ... And the prophecy most necessary today is that of faithfulness" which "leads us to live our priesthood in complete adherence to Christ and the Church".

Priests, the Holy Father continued, "must be careful to distance themselves from the predominant mentality which tends to associate the value of Ministry not with its being, but with its function". Our "ontological association with God", he said "is the right framework in which to understand and reaffirm, also in our own time, the value of celibacy which in the Latin Church is a charism imposed by Holy Orders, and is held in great esteem by the Oriental Churches. ... It is an expression of the gift of the self to God and to others".

"The vocation of priests is an exalted one, and remains a great mystery. ... Our limitations and weaknesses must induce us to live and safeguard this precious gift with great faith, a gift with which Christ configured us to Himself, making us participants in His mission of salvation. Indeed, the understanding of priestly ministry is linked to faith and requires, ever more strongly, a radical continuity between formation in seminaries and permanent formation".

The Holy Father concluded by telling his audience that "the men and women of our time ask us only to be priests to the full, nothing else. The lay faithful will be able to meet their human needs in many other people, but only in the priest will they find that Word of God which must always be on his lips, the Mercy of the Father abundantly and gratuitously distributed in the Sacrament of Penance, and the bread of new life".
H/T to Rich Leonardi.

Faith by democracy?

From a letter to the Cincinnati Catholic Telegraph:
It is important for us to keep in mind that Catholic morality is not determined by voting majorities. The commission was not a legislative body; it was an advisory one. If the method for determining Catholic morality should be democratic rule, then we should go a step further than the Papal Commission: We should put such decisions before all baptized Catholics (practicing or not) to be decided.

Some people advocate a version of this in their misinterpretation of the sensus fidei or “appreciation of the faith” as mentioned in the chapter on the laity in Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium (35). However, we do not want a church that puts morality up to popular vote or opinion polls. The crowds cheered Jesus at His entry into Jerusalem, and they condemned Him later that week, calling for His crucifixion. The crowd is fickle; the Holy Spirit is not.
H/T to Rich Leonardi.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Compendium of the Catechism via Twitter

See the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church condensed into 140 character summaries!  Follow me on Twitter and watch for #C4 tweets.

What follows is Part 1, Section 1 of the Compendium (nn. 1-32; cf. Catechism nn. 1-182). Please excuse the crude abbreviations; I only use them to meet the 140 character limit of Twitter!

#C4 1. God cre8d man out of love 4 man 2 share in His life. God sent His Son Jesus 2 b r Savior from sin & make us God's adopted children.

#C4 2. Man desires God b/c we r made in His image. even if we ignore this desire, God continues to call man to commmunion with Him.

#C4 3. Man can, by natural reason alone, know God as the origin & end of the universe, as the highest good & as infinite truth & beauty.

#C4 4. Natural reason alone is insufficient 2 grasp the MYSTERY of God, though. This is why man is in need of God's REVELATION.

#C4 5. Man & all creation reflects (poorly) God's infinite perfection. Our language can never fully xpress God's mystery, but we must try.

#C4 6. God, in goodness & wisdom, reveals Himself 2 man: His saving plan of love centered in Christ, in whom we r 2 b God's adopted sons.

#C4 7. God 1st revealed Himself 2 Adam & Eve, r first parents, inviting them 2 communion w/ Him. After the Fall, God continued w/ Noah.

#C4 8. Next God called Abram, Isaac & Jacob (Israel). God took Israel, His chosen people, out of slavery & made them a kingdom.

#C4 9. God's full revelation IS His Son, the Word-made-flesh, Jesus Christ. In Jesus & the Holy Spirit, revelation is complete.

#C4 10. Priv8 revelation is helpful only if it leads one to Christ. Priv8 revelation can't surpass/change Christ's public revelation.

#C4 11. God wants all men to know Jesus & b saved, so Christ commanded His disciples to teach all nations, transmitting God's revelation.

#C4 12. This is "Apostolic Tradition", by which Christ's message is handed on, in the Holy Spirit, via Scripture, preaching, worship, etc.

#C4 13. Apostolic Tradition is found in Sacred Tradition (living transmission of God's word) & Sacred Scripture (revelation in writing).

#C4 14. Sacred Tradition & Sacred Scripture are united. Each flows from the same divine source. Both make up the one deposit of faith.

#C4 15. The deposit of faith was entrusted by the Apostles to the whole Church which, guided by the Holy Spirit, receives and lives it.

#C4 16. The Magisterium (Bishops) of the Church has the task of authentically interpreting the deposit of faith.

#C4 17. Scripture Tradition & Magisterium r so united that one can't stand w/o the others. Each operates in the Holy Spirit to save souls.

#C4 18. Scripture teaches the truth because God is its author, Who inspired men to write it. Scripture is inspired and is w/o error.

#C4 19. Scripture must b read 1) as a whole, 2) w/in the Church's tradition, and 3) respecting the harmony of the truths of the faith.

#C4 20. The "canon" of Scripture is those books received through Apostolic Tradition by the Church as inspired: 46 OT books & 23 NT books.

#C4 21. Christians respect the Old Testament b/c it's truly God's word, attests to His saving love, and prepares for the coming of Christ.

#C4 22. The New Testament conveys the ultimate truth of divine revelation. The 4 Gospels r the main witnesses 2 Christ's life & teachings.

#C4 23. Scripture (OT & NT) is one because God's Word is one, His saving plan is one. The OT prepares for the NT; the NT fulfills the OT.

#C4 24. Scripture gives support to the Church's life. It confirms faith & feeds the soul. God's word is a lamp 4 r feet & a light 4 r path.

#C4 25. Man, by divine grace, responds 2 God's revelation w/ obedience of faith: surrendering ourselves to God & accepting His truth.

#C4 26. Abraham and the Blessed Virgin Mary are prime witnesses to "obedience of faith" in the Scriptures: "let it b according 2 your word."

#C4 27. Believing in God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) means entrusting yourself 2 Him & assenting 2 all the truths He reveals b/c He IS Truth.

#C4 28. Faith: supernatural virtue REQUIRED 4 salvation; free gift from God; a human act; works thru LOVE; keeps growing; taste of Heaven.

#C4 29. Faith is above reason, but doesn't contradict science b/c both come from God. God gives us the light both of reason & of faith.

#C4 30. Faith is a PERSONAL act, but also an ECCLESIAL act of the whole Church: we believe IN and BY the Church, our teacher & mother.

#C4 31. Formulas of faith are important b/c they express, celebrate, & share the truths of the faith w/ others through a common language.

#C4 32. The Church has ONE faith, despite diversity of languages, cultures, and rites, b/c of the ONE Lord Who revealed it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sorry for the silence...

It has been a really hectic couple of weeks, so I apologize for not having much new content on my blog lately. I'm going to finish looking at Bishop Nickless' pastoral letter and I'm going to continue going through Vatican II's Inter Mirifica.

But for the time being, I'm busy at my office, busy reading (That Hideous Strength, The Gargoyle Code, and the Bible), busy writing (Praying the Mass: The Prayers of the Priest), and busy preparing religious education material.