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Tuesday 24 May 2011

Pastoral Letter on Roman Missal

It is encouraging to see such a positive pastoral letter from the Bishops of England and Wales on the corrected translation of the Roman Missal. I hope we can see something similar soon from our bishops giving their desire for a positive reception. H/T to Mike and Caritas in Veritate:


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

At the beginning of Advent this year, when we gather for Mass, we shall be using the new translation of the Roman Missal. This will be the case not only in England and Wales but throughout the English‐speaking world. The Mass will remain the same but parts of it will sound different.

Since the Second Vatican Council, the Church has produced three Latin editions of the Roman Missal. At present, we are still using a translation of the first edition which was published in 1973. Although the texts we have been using have served us well, since that time there has been much development in the liturgical texts themselves and in our understanding of them.

We all become very accustomed to the words we hear; and the fact that we have been praying in a certain way for so long has imprinted that style of language and words upon our consciousness and made them very special. The changes in the language now to be introduced, however, do not represent change for change’s sake, but are being made in order to ensure greater fidelity to the liturgical tradition of the Church. In the earlier translation not all the meaning of the original Latin text was fully expressed and a number of the terms that were used to convey the teachings of the faith were lost. This was readily acknowledged by the bishops of the Church, even back in the 1970s, and has become an increasing cause of concern since then.

There is an old adage in Latin which states that the way we pray forms the way we believe. So words and language are important for the teaching and the handing‐on of the faith.

So what does this new translation offer us? First of all, there is a fuller expression of the content of the original texts. Then, there is a closer connection with the Sacred Scriptures which inspire so much of our liturgy. Also, there is a recovery of a vocabulary that enriches our understanding of the mystery we celebrate. All of this requires a unique style of language and expression, one that takes us out of ourselves and draws us into the sacred, the transcendent and the divine.

The publication of the new translation of the Missal is a special moment of grace in the English‐speaking world. It offers an opportunity to deepen our knowledge and understanding of the mystery we celebrate each week. This itself will help us to move towards that fuller and more conscious and active participation in the liturgy to which the Church invites us. It will help us also to examine the dignity with which we celebrate the ‘source and summit’ of the Church’s life.

At the end of his visit last year, Pope Benedict asked us to use this moment for genuine renewal. He said: “I encourage you now to seize the opportunity that the new translation offers for in‐depth catechesis on the Eucharist, and renewed devotion in the manner of its celebration. ‘The more lively the Eucharistic faith of the people of God, the deeper is its sharing in ecclesial life in steadfast commitment to the mission entrusted by Christ to his disciples’” (Sacramentum Caritatis, 6).

In order to achieve this, the bishops have produced resources for all our parishes and, as from September, we will gradually begin to use the new liturgical texts at Mass and hear why certain changes have been made. Each diocese is already preparing its priests and deacons, catechists and liturgical ministers. Programmes for schools are being developed and new musical settings are being composed. From September until Advent everyone will have the opportunity to study the new texts and familiarise themselves with the prayers and chants. In addition, this period of preparation will allow us to pray these new texts.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist is a gift, something we receive from God through the Church. Saint Paul spoke of it as coming from the Lord Jesus himself. Writing to the Church in Corinth, he said, “for I received from the Lord what I in turn also handed on to you” (1 Corinthians 11:23). So Eucharist is not something of our making but a gift received. Like Saint Paul, therefore, let us receive it with reverence and care, knowing that we are being faithful to what the Lord himself passed on to the Apostles, which has been handed on since, in faithfulness, by their successors to every generation of the Church.

Let us welcome the new translation of the Roman Missal as a sign of our unity and a powerful instrument of God’s grace in our lives.

Published by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales
Thursday 12 May 2011
To be read on the Sixth Sunday of Easter, 29 May 2011

Saturday 14 May 2011

St. Philip's Seminary Graduates and Toronto Ordinations

This is an important weekend for the Church in Toronto. Last night at Holy Family Church, this years graduates at St. Philips Seminary received their degrees and at 10:00AM this morning, three men will be ordained for the Archdiocese of Toronto at St. Michael's Cathedral by Archbishop Thomas Collins.

St. Philip's Seminary at the Toronto Oratory began twenty-five years ago after the late Emmett Cardinal Carter asked Father Jonathan Robinson, Cong. Orat., to begin a Philosophy program there for the Archdiocese. Father Robinson was formerly the Head of the Philosophy Department at McGill University in Montreal. Up until then, Seminarians for Toronto had to study Philosophy in secular universities or other church affiliated schools. The liberal, modernist protestant dominated Toronto School of Theology, an ecumenical initiative, is thankfully losing its influence over Toronto's future priests as more and more is being taken "in-house" so-to-speak. Cardinal Carter and Archbishop Thomas Collins deserve great credit for this. The current Archbishop has assigned a number of priests to study in Rome and elsewhere to eventually return as Professors to teach at St. Augustine's Seminary. This thankfully includes, liturgy.

Last night, sixteen young men from the Archdiocese of Toronto, the Diocese of Pembroke, Peterborough, St. Catharines and Hamilton in Ontario, Cincinnati, Ohio and the international Redemptoris Mater Seminary received their degrees in Thomistic Philosophy and Catholic Thought. The Holy Mass was celebrated in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, "ad orientem" with a packed church singing joyfully and praying for these young men and the future of the Church. This year's graduating class is the largest ever. Next years will be larger, twenty! There are currently over 60 young men studying at St. Philip's Seminary.

The Mass was celebrated by Father Derek Cross and the homilist Father Paul Pearson, the Dean of St. Philip's Seminary announced that in the twenty-five years of its existence, the Seminary has graduated young men who are now total over 140 priests, many in the United States. Over the years I can recall many from Lincoln, Nebraska prior to Bishop Bruskewitz's building of a Seminary there, seminarians from the Fathers of Mercy in the United States and now there are six or more Norbertines from Orange County, California. St. Philip's Seminary's influence is near and far.

Solidly formed priests. Morally, intellectually, spiritually and liturgically now in both Forms of the Roman Rite-Extraordinary and Ordinary.

At 10:00 this morning, Reverend Mr. Russell Asch, 39, Reverend Mr. Eric Mah, 34 and Reverend Mr. Allyn Rose, 34 will be ordained to the Holy Priesthood for the Archdiocese of Toronto. I am honoured to know two of these men, one from a summer placement at his home parish where for a short-time I consulted on the liturgy and formed a Sacred Music Choir still in existence there and another whom I had the pleasure of coming to know as he was part of a small Schola which I directed for the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite whilst the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter was in Toronto.

Last year, there were two ordinations for Toronto, this year three. This is not good. An Archdiocese the size of Toronto needs no less than fifteen per year to cope with growth and retirement. There were challenges in the past. Moribund vocations attempts and a promotion of vocations that a priest "has more day off than teachers" did nothing to inspire young men, at least not here; and if they had a calling, they took it elsewhere.

Archbishop Thomas Collins deserves much credit; it is turning the situation around but it takes time and his good work won't be seen yet for a few more years. I can tell you that he meets personally with young men interested in the priesthood and Serra House has been strengthened with a solid new Vocations Director and it is full. One will be spending the summer at the Vox estate as a little contribution to sponsorship of his vocation.

Say a prayer today for all these young men and let us pray that more young men will set aside the "false allures of the world which opes its magic coffers" (Bl. J.H. Newman) and instead hear the call of the LORD of the harvest for His sake and ours.

Friday 13 May 2011

Universae Ecclesia--The Instruction

This is a a "no-hitter" in baseball terms as Father Z recently described. It is a great day for the restoration of the liturgy and it is justification for all who suffered for this day. It is a firm and clear Instruction from a Vatican dicastry and it is unambiguous as to their authority to act in this regard. It is a clarion call for all Catholics and a warning to all in the Episcopacy and their underlings to obey.

If Summorum Pontificum (The Supreme Pontiff) of the Universae Ecclesiae (Universal Church) are not appropriate enough names of these documents to gain the attention of the episcopacy, then I don't know what would.

It is going to be hated by the National Catholic Fishwrap and the hippie crowd. It will be detested by those who have for almost half a century undermined the Church through a debasement of Her liturgy. It is a smack-down to those talking-head, media clerics who opine about "affectations" and other such nonsense. It states that those who think that Summorum Pontificum was only about the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X are wrong and any priest who thinks otherwise, is simply wrong.

  • No Altar Girls!

  • No Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion!

  • No Communion in the hand (not even during H1N1)!!!

  • No vernacular music (except in the appropriate Missa Lecta et Musica permissions from 1957).

  • No Communion under both species (obviously the Precious Blood is available due to allergies of gluten).

  • No standing for Holy Communion (unless impeded due to health, age).

  • No Lay proclaiming scriptures (some provision for the Epistle in a Missa Solemis for a "straw-man" Subdeacon and there may be some permission for a "commentator" outside the sanctuary as was permitted prior to 1962.

  • No Concelebration (except under the usual Ordination pattern).

  • Triduum may be celebrated, even in the same parish as the Triduum in the Ordinary Form.

  • Any priest is qualified in Latin if he is by law permitted to celebrate the Holy Eucharist.

  • No bishop can prevent a priest from celebrating the EF!!!!!

  • No minimum number on a "stable group"!!!!!!!

  • A priest in your parish must allow another priest and laypeople access to the parish church for a Mass in the EF if he can not/will not provide it.

  • In a Missa Lecta (Low Mass) the Epistle and Gospel may be read in the vernacular languages without first reading them in Latin. In a Missa Cantata or Missa Solemnis they can be read in the vernacular only after being sung in Latin.

  • New Saints and Prefaces can be added and will be upon a future Instruction.

  • More, you're a grown up Catholic and you can read it all by yourself. You don't need any media cleric or chancery official or professional Catholic to tell you anymore. You have rights, God has given them to you, Christ has ordered it, Mary has guided it and the Vicar of Christ has ensured it.
Now, note this:

"8. The Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum constitutes an important expression of the Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff and of his munus of regulating and ordering the Church’s Sacred Liturgy.3 The Motu Proprio manifests his solicitude as Vicar of Christ and Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church...."

Bishops, priests, professional Catholics, talking-head media types; Let me tell you what this means in language you can understand; Benedict XVI, Papa Ratzinger, is THE BOSS AND HE MEANS WHAT HE SAYS. Can you understand that now?

Laudeter Jesus Christus et hoc usque in saeculum!

Vivat Jesus!

Long live the Pope!


There is no better analyst and commenter in this matter than Father John Zuhlsdorf. This link will take you to a location on his blog where all his posts on this topic are summarised.

Go; get educated.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

How a New Mass Composition SHOULD Sound!

One of the joys of having a blog are the little gems we find in the combox.
Dear Vox,

As an alternative to a lot of this awful music, I have written a congregational setting of the new translation with SATB choral writing, that I invite you to listen to. Perhaps this might relieve you of your despair - not all new Church music is bad...


Yours in prayer and beauty,


Dear Chris,

Thank you for leaving the note and thank you for your beautiful composition. I can't stop listening to the Sanctus, it is exceptionally well crafted, beautiful with dignity; it lifts the mind and heart, I want to sing this next Christmastide! Yes, you are correct, not all new music is "bad." There is much good work being done by you, Keven Allen, Jeff Ostrowski and so many others. This is such great news and your music above shows how unfortunate the offerings being put forward by Canada's bishops.

Friends, Chris is right, there is good music being written today. But you need to ask for it to introduce it to your pastor or choir director and not accept the drivel being put forward in your parish. This is not just a matter of preference like wanting anchovies on your pizza. Some things are just plain wrong, like pineapple on pizza as an example.

You're a grown up Catholic now.

You have the internet, you don't need the "professional liturgist" or talking-head media cleric to tell you, you can find it for yourself.

Now, go forth and sing!

Tuesday 10 May 2011

New Roman Missal for Canada, Canadian Compositions

Oh Vox is in the mood for a rant!

Of course the good news is that the corrected translation of the 2002 Roman Missal will implemented in Canada in November on the First Sunday of Advent.

The bad news is the musical setting of at least one of the Masses commissioned by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

If you can stand any more than about 20 seconds, I'll be surprised.

Go here and listen.

Yeah, that's what I thought you'd do.

The most fundamental papal document about sacred music is the Motu proprio of St. Pius X, Tra le sollecitudini of November 22, 1903 in which the Saint wrote:

“Sacred music must, therefore, possess in the highest degree the qualities which characterize the liturgy. In particular it must possess holiness and beauty of form: from these two qualities a third will spontaneously arise—universality.”

This composition is as far from this sentence as one can get!

As someone who has worked for twenty-five years in church music and its restoration, as someone who is published and who is educated in what the Church desires in Her worship, this is not it.

The Gloria in particular is simply unsingable by a congregation; then again, I did not get past the first 30 seconds because I couldn't stand it. Where is the "actuoso participationem" in this musical drivel?

I will attend the Toronto workshop in a few weeks to see and hear for myself the rest of these settings. If these are no better than this piece of banal musical garbage that the so-called "professional liturgists"at the CCCB think is in keeping with sacred music then they should be literally, fired for incompetence.

To think, royalties from your parish will be paid to the composer of this trash.

Now what do I know, after all, according to an American-born, Toronto-based Toronto media cleric, I am not a "professional liturgist" so what do I know.

I will not sing or promote this trash and if the other two compositions are of the same calibre it will be another ajbect failure on the part of Canada's bishops to restore the liturgy.

Instead, it will be up to young Priests, Cantors and Choir Directors to be strong and motivated to do that which is in harmony with the mind of the Church and it is not this musical drivel.

So, at the parish in Toronto where I provide the music as Cantor for the Ordinary Form, this is the plan.

1. Concentration on the ICEL setting which are based on the Gregorian tones and only ICEL settings of the Memorial Acclamations.

2. Continued use of existing Kyrie and Agnus Dei from Father Somerville's New Good Shepherd, Proulx's Community and Togni's Parish Masses.

3. Easy adaptation of "power and might" to "hosts" in the Sanctus of all three. In fact, the Good Shepherd and Parish Mass were originally scored for "hosts" for the 1965 Missal and had to be adapted for the incorrect translation we've been forced to endure for forty years.

4. A re-introduction of Father Stephen Somerville's original Good Shepherd Gloria from 1965 (I am fortunate enough to have a copy) with the change of one word, "men" on a quarter note to "people" on two eighths. This Gloria was always the correct translation.

5. Slow and cautious introduction of new compositions which follow the principles of sacred music so much of which is offered for free by the Church Music Association of America and Corpus Christi Watershed.

Now, in case you are wondering what it should sound like as far as chant is concerned which can be best described as "sung prayer" here is an example of the Gloria, lovingly sung, to the tone from Mass XV which will be in the new Missal. This is based on the ancient Gloria and is the oldest known of all Gregorian settings from the 900's. Yes, you read that correctly, the tenth century.

Now, did you listen to this? Can you compare it to that composed by Dawson?

Which to you evokes prayer and worship and solemnity and devotion and the Catholic liturgy?

Now, my question for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, John Dawson and the other "professional liturgists" out there, of which I am not one is this: "If this is actually in the new Roman Missal and it has been available on the web from ICEL for almost a year, why did you not consider that this in fact, is the style of music most suited to the Roman Liturgy? Or, did you actually consider it and you chose simply to ignore it?

Priests, friends and colleagues in Church music. You don't need the CCCB's settings. You don't need the banality of this pulp. You don't need any more ugliness. You can find everything you need for the liturgy, free on the web and above are just some of the links.

Now, my next question; "Where are the Propers?"

Oh, they're here in the Simple Propers Project which I use every Saturday Vigil Mass in Toronto.

For something more elaborate; feast your eyes and ears on this soon to be published gem.

Sunday 8 May 2011