Thursday, June 28, 2007

Misconceptions about Tridentine Mass

The word is that the long awaited Motu Proprio liberalizing the celeberation of the traditional Latin Rite Mass, AKA the Tridentine Mass or the 1962 Missal, will be issued on July 7.

However, in reading the news reports, one cannot but be struck by the ignorance regarding this Mass and the Vatican II reforms.
  1. Vatican II never, ever, forbade the use of Latin. In fact, the Conciliar Document dealing with the Liturgy stresses that, while the vernacular be permitted in parts of the Mass, Latin be maintained as the language of the Mass.
  2. Vatican II never, ever, mandated that the priest face the people. In fact, it never suggested it.
  3. In the Tridentine Mass, the priest doesn't necessarily face away from the people; the priest faces east, towards the rising sun, because Christ is the Sun of Righteousness. Accordingly, most Catholic church are traditionally built so that the priest and the people both face east. Within this symbolism, the priest facing the people is symbolically turning his back on Christ (but, I hope, this is not truly the case in the heart of the priest). However, at St Peters Basilica in the Vatican, when the priest faces east, he is facing the people.
  4. The new Liturgy, the Novus Ordo, can be celebrated in Latin. Indeed, watch any Mass from the Vatican, and Latin is indeed the language. All of the typical editions of the various liturgical books are all in Latin.
  5. The Tridentine Mass need not be celebrated in Latin; the 1965 Missal, which was a direct result of the Council, has this Mass in the Vernacular. However, I doubt that this usage will be included in the Motu Proprio.
It is a pity that the press consistently misrepresents the substance of the Vatican II reforms.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Vatican's Abandoment of the Divine Office

The further I delve into the study of chant, the more I realize that the Church does little more than give lip service to the public celebration of the Divine Office, the Liturgy of the Hours.

Why do I say this?
1) Consider the fact that, 20 years after the publication of the second edition of the LOTH, there is still no official english translation of it. The official translation of the 1974 edition is so poorly presented that, unless one is a liturgical scholar, knowing which texts to select becomes an exercise in futility. And the psalm translation used is presented in such a way that it is far from conducive to the use of Gregorian Chant.
2) Consider the fact that, 30+ years after the new Office's official promulgation, it is rare to hear it even recited at the parish level. In November 1995, newly received into the Catholic Church, I wrote to the local Latin Ordinary, reminding him of section 100 of Sacrosanctum Concilium: “Pastors of souls should see to it that the chief hours, especially Vespers, are celebrated in common in church on Sundays and the more solemn feasts. ” He wrote back to me, suggesting that I speak to the rector and organist of the Cathedral. I did that, and, although I spent the next 2-1/2 years as a cantor there, there was never a celebration of the Vespers, let alone any other hour. The reason? In the words of the rector, “We have to find the right time to do it.” When is not the right time to pray?
3) Consider the fact that no chant has been officially promulgated for the antiphons in the new office. Yes, Liber Hymnarius, vol. 2 of the new Antiphonale Romanum has been published, and, thankfully, contains many newly recovered old Latin hymns (but, again, not english translation is yet available, after 24 years). But there is no music for the antiphons. Contrast this with the last major reform of the Office, Pius X's Breviarium Romanum of 1911. The companion Antiphonale Romanum was published in 1912 - the next year.

As to the Eastern Catholic Churches, I cannot say for sure. I know that my own parish does not regularly celebrate the Office; Great Compline on Christmas Eve, Great Friday Matins (on Thursday evening), Great Friday Vespers, Jerusalem Matins, and an abbreviated Paschal Matins is the extent of it.

If the Divine Office is indeed the prayer of the Church, why is it not better promoted?
If the Divine Office is the means whereby the Royal Priesthood is exercised, why is it not better promoted?

Why don't the Catholic Churches truly support this gift from God?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Are Evolution and Reality in conflict?

I received this in an email from a friend, and I thought the information was worth passing along. Lou


An example often given to try to convince students of the evolution theory is the long discredited idea that the embryo growing in the mother has "gill slits."

Ernst Haeckel, a German embryology professor, invented this silly idea in 1869, after he read Darwin's book. He claimed that the embryos of all different animals look very similar as they develop inside their mother. He even made huge charts of his drawings of these different unborn creatures and traveled all over Germany and converted people into believing the evolution theory.

The truth of the matter is, he lied. His own university held a trial and convicted him of fraud. While it is true that the human embryo has little wrinkles of skin under its head, these are not gill slits. They never functioned as a breathing appartus at any time. Actually, the little folds of skin develop into bones in the ear and glands in the throat. To teach that the has gill slits is simply a lie.

This teaching needs to be removed from real science text books.

It is interesting that this idea has been proven wrong since 1875, yet it is still used in textbooks all across the world as evidence of evolution. It appears that someone is trying to brainwash you into believing this theory. It is also a heart-rending fact that this is the only scientific evidence used to justify abortion.

Abortionists would like for us to believe that the baby growing inside the mother is not yet a human being. Nothing could be further from truth!
(You can read more at his web-site

Daniel Barton (Catholic Christian who believes that God created everthing in His plan).

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Devil Especially Hates Prayers In Latin, Says A Priest Known As 'Rome's Exorcist

This is from Spirit Daily originally appearing on May 30, 2007, and is used by permission.

A secular book about exorcism says that one thing rankles demons.
"The devil doesn't like Latin," writes Tracy Wilkinson in The Vatican's Exorcists. "That is one of the first things I learned from Father Gabriele Amorth, long known as Rome's chief exorcist, even though that has never been his formal title.
"Now past the age of eighty, Father Amorth has dedicated the last decades of his life to regaining a measure of respectability for exorcism. Despite his advancing age, he continues to perform the rite several times a week at his office in Rome.
"Scores of people seek him out. He prefers to use Latin when he conducts exorcisms, he says, because it is most effective in challenging the devil."
That tidbit comes to us at a time when Benedict XVI is ready to loosen restrictions on Latin Mass. It's in the new book -- a secular and sometimes skeptical but fascinating glimpse into the world of Italian priests who see their job as casting out demons.
While the numbers dwindle in countries like the Canada, France, and the U.S., exorcists are on the rise on the Vatican's home turf -- thanks largely to priests such as Father Amorth.
In Italy the number of exorcists has grown tenfold in the past decade, according to the priest (who is himself author of two bestsellers, An Exorcist Tells His Story and An Exorcist: More Stories). Credit is also due to the legacy of John Paul II -- who made the notion of exorcism, which was founded by Jesus Himself, respectable again.
Father Amorth was born in Modena in northern Italy and has been a priest since 1954. In 1986 he began performing exorcisms under the tutelage of the vicar for Rome.
According to Wilkinson, Father Amorth accepted the task "after praying to the Virgin Mary for her steadfast guidance and protection."
"On the walls of Amorth's exorcism chamber, eight Crucifixes and pictures of the Madonna are hanging, plus a picture of Saint Michael the Archangel," says the book. "A two-foot-high statue of the Virgin Mary, the Madonna of Fatima, sits on a corner table.
"There are also pictures of the late Pope John Paul II; the popular saint Padre Pio; Amorth's mentor, Father Candido; and Father Giacomo Alberione, the founder of the Society of Saint Paul Congregation."
Father Amorth them "my protectors," adding that "the more recent addition of John Paul's has been especially effective and helpful."
"The demons become very agitated at his presence," Father Amorth says of the late Pope -- who himself performed several exorcisms during his pontificate and warned of the rise of dark forces both in 1977 and then in 2005 just days before he lapsed in his final bout with illness.
How is exorcism done? There is the Crucifix. There is the Holy Water. There are the ritual prayers. Many times, those afflicted have to come back on a regular basis -- the process a gradual one.
In Father Amorth's appointment book, women outnumber men by three to one. That is perhaps because they are more in tune with the spiritual, says the exorcist, or because they are special targets as the descendants of Eve.
The very word "hysteria" -- so often seen in the possessed -- comes from the Greek word hyster for womb. Greeks believed it was caused by abnormalities in the uterus.
"I maintain that in part, the reason is because women are the ones who do the most praying," says the priest. "Another reason is women are more inclined to approach a priest than are men, in case of need."
In some cases, say other exorcists, the devil attempts to mask possession as insanity. This sets up conflict with the far newer practice of psychology -- which looks down on exorcism as the psychiatrist's couch has replaced the confessional.
"An exorcism is the residue of a medieval practice completely devoid of any foundation in reason," the book quotes Sergio Moravia, a philosopher at the University of Florence, as saying. "I don't think it's crazy. It's worse."
Exorcists counter that psychological diagnoses such as "multiple personality" and "schizophrenia" are clinical covers for an infestation.
That opinion is shared by the many who have sought the services of Father Amorth -- finding relief when the devil was cast away after years of frustration at the hands of psychiatrists who saw their problems so differently.
Blessed salt and Holy Water are often used not just by the exorcists themselves, but by those who have been exorcised -- to stave off further disturbances.
Extraordinary strength, preternatural knowledge, speaking in foreign tongues unknown to the victim, vomiting of strange objects, and violent aversion to holy objects make pure psychological explanations suspect in strong cases.
Prayer, of course, also chases the devil and his manifestations away -- apparently, Latin in particular.
Bishop Andrea Gemma of Isernia -- who himself performs exorcisms -- ascribes the Church's move from Latin as part of a global plot to undermine Christianity.
"The devil is happy with the near-disappearance of Latin," said the bishop.
Does exorcism mask psychological illness with the supernatural, or is psychology itself a ruse, at least in certain instances, to prevent deliverance?
We have only to study the ministry of Jesus to know the answer.
[resources: The Vatican's Exorcists, An Exorcist Tells His Story, and An Exorcist: More Stories]

You can purchase my book, Pray it in Latin at or at the Byzantine Dominican Store

Monday, June 18, 2007

On Sequences

God has graced me by allowing me to live my spiritual life breathing with both lungs of the Church, both east and west. And, as a cantor, one of my great joys is knowing the chant, and the liturgical propers, for both the Roman and Byzantine rites.

Two years ago, I had been approached to full an organist position at a local Roman parish. During the interview, I noted that the first Sunday that I would minister in the parish would be Pentecost, and I asked if they wanted the chant version of Veni Sancte Spiritus, or if there was a preferred hymn setting. The response I received was "O, we don't do that here". And, my immediate inward response was "and I won't minister here".

Parallelling the Byzantine Kontakion, the western Sequence (also called Prose) is an important part of the western spiritual heritage. Originating in the tenth century, or earlier, it is a liturgical hymn of praise, proclaiming the theme of the feast, sung between the Alleluia and the Gospel (the Novus Ordo places it before the Alleluia). By the time of the Council of Trent in the 16th century, there were literally hundreds of sequences.

Trent cut back the number of sequences to 4

  1. Victimae Paschali Laudes, for Easter
  2. Veni Sancte Spiritus, for Pentecost
  3. Lauda Sion Salvatorem, for Corpus Christi
  4. Dies Irae, for the Requiem
In the 17th century, Stabat Mater was added to this list, for Our Lady of Sorrows.
Vatican II eliminated Dies Irae as a Mass sequence and added it to the Office as an optional hymn.
Before Vatican II, some of the Orders retained special sequences. The Dominican Gradual has sequences for St. Dominic, St. Francis, and Christmas; the Benedictine appendix to the current Roman Gradual has a sequence for St Benedict.
One can argue the wisdom of eliminating the vast majority of sequences. But the fact that these few remain make them all the more important, all the more precious. They are part of the liturgical patrimony of the west, and ought not be discarded, but cherished.
And, maybe, just maybe, would should think about singing the sequences devotionally, or perhaps before Mass. After all, Trent didn't forbid them, just took them out of their place after the Alleluia.