Organ Postludes

"The traditionally appropriate musical instrument of the Church is the organ, which, by reason of its extraordinary grandeur and majesty, has been considered a worthy adjunct to the Liturgy, whether for accompanying the chant or, when the choir is silent, for playing harmonious music at the prescribed times … Let our churches resound with organ-music that gives expression to the majesty of the edifice and breathes the sacredness of the religious rites; in this way will the art both of those who build the organs and of those who play them flourish afresh and render effective service to the sacred liturgy." — Pius XI, Divini Cultus (1928).

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The Use of Esztergom (Ritus Strigoniensis)

We are pleased to present this article on the Use of Ezstergom (Ritus Strigoniensis) by Miklos Istvan Foldvary, whose paper summarizes the work of his colleague, Fr. Atilla, a priest of Galanta, Slovakia. Fr. Atilla is an expert on the Use of Ezstergom, having obtained his PhD doing studies on the Ritus Strigoniensis. He  currently offers the Mass according to the Use of Ezstergom with permission of his Ordinary. The Latin liturgy lived in many variants in the Middle Ages. With respect to their cha­racter and history of development, we may distinguish two major periods, and accor­dingly two principal types of ritual variants. The first group comprises the ritual va­riants dating to the period prior to the process of Romanisation at first supported and later commanded by the Carolingian rulers, the second includes the post-Ca­ro­lin­gian variants which were later discontinued in the wake of the Council of Trent.

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Philippine Bishop: Stop Homily Abuse

One thing we have often stressed on this website and blog is the importance of decent homiletics. This pertains not only to the content of a homily, but also to its delivery and length. It is ironic that homiletics is in such a particularly dismal state today, given that the post-Vatican II Church was supposed to "break open the Word of God" to the people with increased Scripture readings, more Gospel-themed homiletics, and a focus on the "pilgrimage of the People of God." These "fruits", like others of the "new springtime", have not materialized. By and large priests today do not know how to give a homily. They flounder about looking for ways to make the Gospel "relevant": we get anecdotes from sports, banal personal stories, terrible jokes, interpretations of the Scriptures that we fluffy or doctrinally suspect, and worst of all, it all goes on too long.

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Mandatum: Liturgical History

The Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper is distinctive for two unique features: the foot washing ceremony known as the Mandatum, and the Eucharistic procession to the Repository, which sets the stage for the services of Good Friday. Both features are well attested in the history of the East and the West and serve to highlight the Mass of the Lord's Supper as the opening of the Triduum, the "Still Days" preceding the celebration of our Blessed Lord's Resurrection on Easter. The washing of the feet has its origin in the actions of our Lord after the Last Supper, as narrated in the Gospel of St. John; it later became a sign of service in the early Christian community and eventually found its way into the liturgies of Holy Thursday. In this article, we will hypothesize about the origin of the foot-washing ritual, trace the history of the Mandatum in the Latin rite and examine the different forms it has taken over the centuries.

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Is liturgy really a big deal?

It is no surprise that liberal Catholics have traditionally placed a low value on the quality of liturgical celebrations; not on liturgy itself, because progressives think liturgy is extremely important - that is, so long as it is an anthropocentric, horizontal affair. It is not liturgy per se they disparage, but liturgy done well - that is, liturgy that is transcendent and God-centered. "Why be so finicky about the liturgy?" they say. "There are more important issues to get upset about! Issues like poverty, war, abortion and social justice!" Unfortunately, it is also common for conservative Catholics to hold dismissive attitudes towards the liturgy as well, adopting a minimalist approach that the externals of liturgical action are dispensable, can be discarded or changed without consequence, that all that matters is having a valid Eucharist, etc. Similarly, the charismatic movement tends to foster an attitude of undue casualness in the presence of the Lord. All of these are deficient approaches to the Sacred Liturgy.

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"It's all about God"

A certain priest I know operates a homeless shelter in one of Ohio’s larger cities. It is a humble, welcoming ministry - the kind of that goes on patiently doing good largely unbeknownst to the outside world. Every day a constant stream of homeless persons file looking for a hot meal and a clean bed for the evening. There is no limit on who can come or how frequently. The only condition placed upon the poor for receiving this aid is that they attend one of the daily Masses offered in the shelter’s chapel...

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Multiple Voices in the Passion Readings

The most distinguishing feature of the Palm Sunday liturgy, whether modern or ancient, is of course the blessing, distribution and procession with palms, from whence the common name of the feast is derived. However, this is not the only distinctive feature of this Mass; it is also noteworthy for the reading of the Passion narrative in multiple voices. This is recalled in the Roman Rite, where the current official name for this feast is Palm Sunday of the Passion of Our Lord. The ancient Gelasian Sacramentary (c. 750) makes no mention of a procession with palms but simply calls the feast Dominica in palmis, De passione Domini; many other names, ancient and modern, make reference to Jesus' passion. The reading of the Passion narrative on this day is very ancient. In this article we will trace the history of this practice, focusing in on the use of different lectors to represent the different voices in the Gospel narrative.

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Truth about the Kyrie

The Kyrie Eleison offers an interesting distinction between old Mass and New, but its history also provides an interesting challenge to contemporary myths about liturgical development. It is often supposed today that the Kyrie is a remnant of a time when the Mass was said in Greek, and thus a sign for us that just as the Mass was changed from Greek to Latin, it should be changed to the vernacular of the people. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the Kyrie was a later addition, unknown in the sub-apostolic era. Modern approaches to the Kyrie actually introduce foreign elements into the liturgy, as demonstrated in classic article by Ryan Grant.

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Free 11 Page Guide to Gregorian Chant!

For many months here, we have been bringing you an ongoing series on forming and training a Gregorian choir in the parish. In our previous article in this series, Best Practices for a Gregorian Choir, we recommended training the Gregorian choir in actual chant notation - real, square, Gregorian notation. This may seem imposing, but it is really not as difficult as you may think. Though there may be a little more work up front, modern notation is inferior for conveying the interconnectedness of the melody and text and natural grouping of notes in Gregorian chant. The singing of speech will be clunky and lack nuance. Thus, a well-trained choir must understand Gregorian notation.

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Best Practices for a Gregorian Choir

It is easy for a choir to become focused on technical details and social interaction within the group. While these things are fine on their own, it must be remembered that the purpose of the Gregorian choir is to chant liturgical prayers. The liturgical choir must be developed with this in mind. It is not a concert choir or early music performance group. It exists for the purpose of singing liturgical music in its native context. There should be some awareness of the meaning of the prayers and this also improves performance. The following advice is the result of my own experience in directing a Gregorian Schola for 5 years, and discussions with other directors of Gregorian Scholas, as well as training postulants for a religious order in the art of chant.

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Comparing the New and Traditional Lectionaries

In commentary after commentary of defenders of the Novus Ordo, from liberals to so-called conservatives, a constant point that is stressed in favor of the liturgical innovations of the post-Conciliar era is the supposed superiority of the lectionary of the Novus Ordo to that of the Traditional Latin Mass. The argument goes "Since the majority of the Bible is read in the course of three years, Catholics are exposed to more scripture now than in the Traditional Liturgy, which had only a narrow selection of readings". We need to establish that this is not a dispute about translation. To be fair, I'm not concerned with issues of translation. The best arguments against the Novus Ordo are against the Latin Novus Ordo, not the ICEL translation. Defenders of the new rite can always appeal to a bad translation to explain away the endless problems with the fabricated liturgy of Bugnini's Concilium.

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Dynamics of the Parish Schola

If you have been following this series you are familiar with what Gregorian Chant is, and why it’s important. Let’s suppose you want to get involved with reintroducing it into your parish. How do you get started? The details on getting chant reintroduced at your local Sunday Mass will vary greatly depending on context. Every situation is different. Regardless of the individual situation, one thing that must be done is to form a Choir or Schola to sing the chant. Let me mention right now that getting the current choir to switch over to chant is probably not realistic. Parish choirs are typically made up of volunteers, if the current choir is singing Eagles Wings and Gather Us In with tambourine accompaniment it’s because they want to. If you are the director or Pastor you may be able to get the current choir to sing some chant and you may pick up a few interested singers from the current choir, but to do things right you need a fresh group.

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Mosebach on Losing our Liturgical Innocence

One of the most formative books in the development of my own thought on Catholic liturgy and tradition was The Heresy of Formlessness by German author Martin Mosebach (Ignatius Press, 2006). Though relatively unknown in America, Mosebach is a well-known voice for Catholic Tradition in the German speaking world. Heresy of Formlessness is truly an illuminating book that puts the liturgical rupture of the past four decades in perspective from the point of view of the layman in the pew. Particularly fascinating is Mosebach's notion that the liturgical problems since the 60's have caused us all to lose what he calls our "liturgical innocence." What does it mean to lose our liturgical innocence?

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Unofficial Chant Books

Continuing our overview of chant books for use in the liturgy, the following books are not official liturgical books but are useful for the liturgical choir. For the most part they contain extractions from the official books. There are of course many other books containing collections of chant music.

The Liber Usualis (translates the “usual book”,) often referred to simply as ‘the Liber’ is for the Extraordinary form. This work was created by Dom Andre Mocquereau of Solesmes Abby. The first edition was published in 1896, prior to the creation of the 1908 Roman Gradual and 1912 Roman Antiphonal. Subsequent editions were updated to conform to the official versions of the melodies.

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