Monday, 20 March 2017

The Catholic Man


This is not new but I have only just come across it and thought it worth sharing.  I know that some priests have been starting up groups specifically for men to explore their faith and develop some sort of spirituality in the modern world - and in the modern Church. 

I was reminded of my time in VI Form and school Chaplaincy, where my best access to pupils and ways in to discuss matters of faith, was often through the welcome given in departments well away from the Religious Education Department. For example, the Head of Sports happened to be a committed and practising Catholic (and "no" that is rarely a given in our "Catholic" schools today). He rarely talked about his faith directly but he had strict rules about things like bad language and fairness on the games field and being seen giving a welcome to the Chaplain encouraged the students to welcome me too. 

The quiet assurance and manifestation of the Faith in the ordinary course of the workplace or school is all too rare today - particularly among men, I think. This is precisely where the Second Vatican Council speaks of the vocation and mission of the laity out there in the world. A strange paradox that since then, all those organisations of lay men engaging with the world seem to be floundering - the SVP... YCW... men's solidarities and walking days etc.

I'm reminded also, that it is possible to run a Catholic school with Catholic staff where the Faith is given pride of place in a way which makes it an ordinary and expected part of everyday life - in  a place like Chavagnes International College.

This from Roman Catholic Man.

In a powerfully worded apostolic exhortation, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, Arizona, has urged men to “not hesitate to engage in the battle that is raging around you.”

In a 23-page exhortation, entitled “Into the Breach,” Bishop Olmsted challenges men to join in a “primarily spiritual” battle against forces that are “progressively killing the remaining Christian ethos in our society and culture, and even in our homes.”

“Men, do not hesitate to engage in the battle that is raging around you, the battle that is wounding our children and families, the battle that is distorting the dignity of both women and men. This battle is often hidden, but the battle is real. It is primarily spiritual, but it is progressively killing the remaining Christian ethos in our society and culture, and even in our own homes.

The world is under attack by Satan, as our Lord said it would be (1 Peter 5:8-14). This battle is occurring in the Church herself, and the devastation is all too evident. Since AD 2000, 14 million Catholics have left the faith, parish religious education of children has dropped by 24%, Catholic school attendance has dropped by 19%, infant baptism has dropped by 28%, adult baptism has dropped by 31%, and sacramental Catholic marriages have dropped by 41%. This is a serious breach, a gaping hole in Christ’s battle lines …

One of the key reasons that the Church is faltering under the attacks of Satan is that many Catholic men have not been willing to “step into the breach” – to fill this gap that lies open and vulnerable to further attack. A large number have left the faith, and many who remain “Catholic” practice the faith timidly and are only minimally committed to passing the faith on to their children. Recent research shows that large numbers of young Catholic men are leaving the faith to become “nones” – men who have no religious affiliation. The growing losses of young Catholic men will have a devastating impact on the Church in America in the coming decades, as older men pass away and young men fail to remain and marry in the Church, accelerating the losses that have already occurred.

These facts are devastating. As our fathers, brothers, uncles, sons, and friends fall away from the Church, they fall deeper and deeper into sin, breaking their bonds with God and leaving them vulnerable to the fires of Hell. While we know that Christ welcomes back every repentant sinner, the truth is that large numbers of Catholic men are failing to keep the promises they made at their children’s baptisms – promises to bring them to Christ and to raise them in the faith of the Church.

This crisis is evident in the discouragement and disengagement of Catholic men like you and me. In fact, this is precisely why I believe this Exhortation is needed, and it is also the reason for my hope, for God constantly overcomes evil with good. The joy of the Gospel is stronger than the sadness wrought by sin! A throw-away culture cannot withstand the new life and light that constantly radiates from Christ. So I call upon you to open your minds and hearts to Him, the Savior who strengthens you to step into the breach!


STUDY CONFIRMS NEED FOR FATHERS TO TAKE THEIR FAITH SERIOUSLY

A rather large and important study conducted by the Swiss government in 1994 and published in 2000 revealed some astonishing facts with regard to the generational transmission of faith and religious values. In short, the study reveals: “It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.”

The study reports:

1. If both father and mother attend regularly, 33 percent of their children will end up as regular churchgoers, and 41 percent will end up attending irregularly. Only a quarter of their children will end up not practicing at all.

2. If the father is irregular and mother regular, only 3 percent of the children will subsequently become regulars themselves, while a further 59 percent will become irregulars. Thirty-eight percent will be lost.

3. If the father is non-practicing and mother regular, only 2 percent of children will become regular worshippers, and 37 percent will attend irregularly. Over 60 percent of their children will be lost completely to the church!

What happens if the father is regular but the mother irregular or non-practicing? Amazingly, the percentage of children becoming regular goes up from 33 percent to 38 percent with the irregular mother and up to 44 percent with the non-practicing. This suggests that loyalty to the father’s commitment grows in response to the mother’s laxity or indifference to religion.

In short, if a father does not go to church – no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions – only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular). One of the reasons suggested for this distinction is that children tend to take their cues about domestic life from Mom while their conceptions of the world outside come from Dad. If Dad takes faith in God seriously then the message to their children is that God should be taken seriously.

This confirms the essential role of father as spiritual leader, which I would argue is true fatherhood. Fathers are to love their wives as Christ loves the church, modeling the love of the Father in their most important earthly relationship. Fathers are to care for their children as our Father in heaven cares for us and finally, fathers play a primary role in teaching their children the truth about reality. It is the father who should instruct his children in their understanding of the world from a consciously and informed Christian worldview. It is the father who is essential for sending his children forth with a biblical view of reality and a faith in Jesus Christ that is rooted in solid understanding.

It is time for fathers to return to honorable manhood and reconsider their priorities and realign them with God’s commands, decrees, and laws, teaching these things to your children “when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:7).

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Journal of the Chavagnes Studium


The latest issue of the Journal of the Chavagnes Studium is now available on-line, with some interesting articles on 
"Why we need the Truth".

It is also advertising their next Summer Conference on 

Mary and Martyrdom.

Click on poster to enlarge.

You can read some reports of last year's great conference 


and 


and plenty of photos HERE.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Clergy Day at Warrington



Food and fellowship at St Mary's. Always a friendly welcome from the Fathers and a chance to meet.

Next Clergy Day: Wednesday 15 March
At St Mary's Warrington, car park accessed via Smith Street WA1 2NS

1pm Lunch at nearby restaurant (meet at St Mary's at 1pm and walk there together)
2pm Coffee and 30mins Talk on 'St Joseph: a model for priests' - by Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP

For Satnav, access our car park by Smith Street WA1 2NS

Should you wish to arrive earlier to pray:
Church open from 11am, with Rosary at 11.30am and Confessions from 11.40am until 12.05pm, followed by Mass at 12.10pm.

https://www.facebook.com/fssp.england/

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Can Liturgy Heal a Secular Age?



Via the New Liturgical Movement I came across an article by Timothy O'Malley in Church Life Journal: Can Liturgy Heal a Secular Age? It's an interesting read, starting from the premise of Fr. Lambert Beauduin, often regarded as the founder of the liturgical movement, that:
renewed attention to liturgical formation would re-awaken Christian vigour in society. That Liturgical prayer would be the key to avoiding secularization, to forming men and women, in a public religiosity that could transfigure cultural and social life with the Eucharistic love of Christ.
In the intervening years, it’s fair to say that the hopes of the liturgical movement have been unmet. Participation in the sacramental life of the Church has not flourished since the Second Vatican Council.
He goes on to put into academic terms one of my constantly recurring themes in my own preaching: that we have lost the connection with our Tradition and replaced it with secular markers and means of assessing efficacy:
Religion provides a privileged culture whereby we can connect our narrative to those in the past. We see ourselves in a broader story, one that is ultimately connected to God. With the loss of religious memory, the human person is no longer able to see one’s identity as linked to the communion of saints, to the Scriptures, to the Tradition: all those markers we employ in assessing Catholic identity. Thus, all that is left is the naked individual who can assess the “efficacy” of a religious tradition by the way that said tradition moves him. If it doesn’t move the person, then it has no value, because it is an isolated fact rather than part of a coherent narrative.
He continues by reminding us that the Liturgical Movement's account presumed that understanding alone would be able to bring about this renewal. But then notes that in recent times this classical understanding has been critiqued. That what really makes ritual "work" is not merely understanding it from an academic or intellectual viewpoint  (the world "as is", as he puts it) but rather by it giving us something to experience that connects us with a larger whole on a more emotional, aesthetic and intuitive level, (creating a world as it might be "as if", as he puts it):
In this sense, one could argue that liturgical catechesis and reform about the Second Vatican Council was inadequate relative to how ritual action actually works. It sought to explain. It assumed that if more was taught, then more would be caught. Yet, explanation is not the function of liturgy. Ritual does something before it communicates something.
This restoration of a broken world through ritual action is essential to understanding how liturgical might “heal” in a secular age. Liturgical prayer isn’t about communication of information. It is about creating a world “as if,” one that Catholics understand as a sacramental world not yet visible to the naked eye. Authentic participation in the rite can thus take place even when someone does not entirely understand what is unfolding in the Eucharistic assembly. One can understand, through ritual bracketing, that this action is about the restoration of communion between heaven and earth, between God and humanity, between neighbor and neighbor.
The more that our liturgical practice seems drawn from the present world, from that which emphasizes comprehension and sincerity of belief, the less the contemporary human person will see ritual as necessary.
It struck me that the same understanding is very much on show in the political sphere of recent times. Disillusioned people who voted for Mr Trump or for Brexit have not necessarily done so having understood all the intricacies and consequences but because the overall narrative (the "liturgy" of the campaigns) moved their hearts to what they would like the world to be: not the "as is" they have been experiencing but the "as if" they connect to and hope for as something better, greater and more cohesive.

What is good about the article is that in the final part he gives some direction answering the questions instead of just posing them, which we don't often hear!
Liturgical prayer should be understood as part of the chain of memory. We should admit to ourselves that some of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, not intentionally, cut us off from dimensions of this memory that linked us to our forebears. The suppression of certain liturgical feasts, the disappearance of much liturgical art, the decline of devotional dimensions from Catholic life—all of these have created a gap in the chain of memory that linked the Church to the past. We cannot go back and restore this chain of memory as some traditionalists seem to argue. Liturgical prayer will always take place in a post-conciliar Church even if it is the Extraordinary Form. But we can acknowledge that the story of salvation commemorated in liturgical prayer was present in every age, connecting us to those who have gone before... What is needed in Catholicism is a form of liturgical study and research that draws upon all the practices of the Church through the ages. The next liturgical reform should not privilege one era because it was viewed as an authentic way for communicating Christian identity (versus another era in which all was wrong). Instead, the whole scope of Christian identity as a story through the ages should enter into the picture of liturgical renewal and reform. And where it is appropriate in the present rite, it would be acceptable to introduce aspects of the past in today’s liturgy. The possibility, for example, of ad orientem worship, should not be dismissed as some bygone, retrograde, conservative conspiracy. It is simply a restoring of a posture of prayer that has been performed in the past and could be again, connecting us to Christians who have come before. It has theological validity. And it could be attractive precisely because it provides a missing link in a chain of memory.
Restoring a Culture: Lastly, Romano Guardini himself noted that the renewal of the liturgy required a restoration of civilization... Perhaps, the most important dimension of counteracting secularity through liturgy today is not related to the liturgy. It’s related to alternative forms of education that teach children to contemplate, to appreciate, to love, and thus to find themselves worshiping. It is about restoring the capacity to perceive the world “as if,” in art and literature, music and science. It is about wonder. If this capacity for wonder is not restored in homes and in schools, it will never appear in Church. And secularity will continue to be a highly effective catechetical program, more than anything that we can offer...
In other words,what is most important is not the understanding of the liturgy but the "falling in love with it" and connecting to the memory of salvation in beauty, art, wonder experienced through ritual.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Church Music


We are very fortunate here at St Catherine's to have the talents of gifted and dedicated musician to lift the standard of the liturgy up towards something approaching what we believe the Church asks us to aspire to. That is to say, not just the "hymn sandwich" and with some awareness that church music has a little longer and richer history than the last 50 years. Not to mention the Church's ACTUAL directives on music in church, pointing us to chant, latin, the use of the organ and the summoning up of an atmosphere of silence and reverence during the liturgy.

Thus at the main (OF) Sunday Mass with music...

We enter to the Introit chanted in Latin. 
The Psalm is often chanted responsorially with the congregation.
Kyrie / Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus are always a setting of one of the traditional chants set by the Church.
Offertory and Communion chants in Latin from the Missal.
Very often the Pater noster and following is sung.
And yes, we have two or three suitable, seasonal hymns.

And no, Mass isn't very long to fit all that in, because there are no accretions to the liturgy which are not mentioned in the Missal - such as the sending out of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion or the receiving of extraordinary gifts by reams of children at the Offertory, or the gathering of "little church" processions, nor the insertion of "extra" homilies by Father at eh start or end of Mass (or anywhere else).



This week saw the 50th anniversary of the Instruction Musicam Sacram (promulgated March 5, 1967). To mark this occasion, a Declaration “CANTATE DOMINO CANTICUM NOVUM”, was signed by over 200 musicians, pastors, and scholars from around the world, has been published in six languages (English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and German). This declaration argues for the continued relevance and importance of traditional sacred music and critiques the numerous serious deviations from it that have plagued the Catholic Church for the past half-century.

I've placed the whole text below and it makes some excellent points.

Vatican Radio also reports this week that Pope Francis received the participants in a major international conference on sacred music, a half-century after the promulgation of the Conciliar document, Musicam sacram.

Over 400 people taking part in the gathering organised by the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pontifical Council for Culture around the theme: "Music and the Church: cult and culture fifty years after Musicam sacram", met in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace to hear the Holy Father.

Notable are Pope Francis’ remarks of perhaps, unintended consequences of poor implementation of Vatican II: 

“Certainly,” said Pope Francis, “the encounter with modernity and the introduction of [vernacular] tongues into the Liturgy stirred up many problems: of musical languages, forms and genres.”

The Holy father went on to say, “Sometimes a certain mediocrity, superficiality and banality have prevailed, to the detriment of the beauty and intensity of liturgical celebrations.”

Myriad reasons contribute to our culture of mediocrity in the liturgy: an acceptance of superficial comfort food as status quo. As such, Pope Francis goes on to urge renewal of our traditions with an emphasis on “quality”.

The Pope encouraged the various actors in the field of liturgical music – from composers, conductors, musicians and choristers, to liturgical animators – to do their best to contribute to the renewal of sacred music and liturgical chant, especially as far as the quality of sacred music is concerned.

He goes on further to emphasize the urgent need for musical education especially in seminaries:
“To facilitate this process,” Pope Francis said, “we need to promote proper musical education, especially for those who are preparing to become priests – in dialogue with the musical trends of our time, with the demands of the different cultural areas, and with an ecumenical attitude.”

God deserves our best. God’s people deserve our best! Pope Francis is calling for music education and for a greater attention to quality.


St Cecilia, pray for us.

“CANTATE DOMINO CANTICUM NOVUM”
A Statement on the Current Situation of Sacred Music

We, the undersigned—musicians, pastors, teachers, scholars, and lovers of sacred music—humbly offer to the Catholic community around the world this statement, expressing our great love for the Church’s treasury of sacred music and our deep concerns about its current plight. Introduction Cantate Domino canticum novum, cantate Domino omnis terra (Psalm 96): this singing to God’s glory has resonated for the whole history of Christianity, from the very beginning to the present day. Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition alike bear witness to a great love for the beauty and power of music in the worship of Almighty God. The treasury of sacred music has always been cherished in the Catholic Church by her saints, theologians, popes, and laypeople. 

Such love and practice of music is witnessed to throughout Christian literature and in the many documents that the Popes have devoted to sacred music, from John XXII’s Docta Sanctorum Patrum (1324) and Benedict XIV’s Annus Qui (1749) down to Saint Pius X’s Motu Proprio Tra le Sollecitudini (1903), Pius XII’s Musicae Sacrae Disciplina (1955), Saint John Paul II’s Chirograph on Sacred Music (2003), and so on. This vast amount of documentation impels us to take with utter seriousness the importance and the role of music in the liturgy. This importance is related to the deep connection between the liturgy and its music, a connection that goes two ways: a good liturgy allows for splendid music, but a low standard of liturgical music also tremendously affects the liturgy. Nor can the ecumenical importance of music be forgotten, when we know that other Christian traditions—such as Anglicans, Lutherans, and the Eastern Orthodox—have high esteem for the importance and dignity of sacred music, as witnessed by their own jealously-guarded “treasuries.” 

We are observing an important milestone, the fiftieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Instruction on Music in the Liturgy, Musicam Sacram, on March 5, 1967, under the pontificate of Blessed Paul VI. Re-reading the document today, we cannot avoid thinking of the via dolorosa of sacred music in the decades following Sacrosanctum Concilium. Indeed, what was happening in some factions of the Church at that time (1967) was not at all in line with Sacrosantum Concilium or with Musicam Sacram. Certain ideas that were never present in the Council’s documents were forced into practice, sometimes with a lack of vigilance from clergy and ecclesiastical hierarchy. In some countries the treasury of sacred music that the Council asked to be preserved was not only not preserved, but even opposed. And this quite against the Council, which clearly stated: 
The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy. Holy Scripture, indeed, has bestowed praise upon sacred song, and the same may be said of the fathers of the Church and of the Roman pontiffs who in recent times, led by St. Pius X, have explained more precisely the ministerial function supplied by sacred music in the service of the Lord. Therefore sacred music is to be considered the more holy in proportion as it is more closely connected with the liturgical action, whether it adds delight to prayer, fosters unity of minds, or confers greater solemnity upon 2 the sacred rites. But the Church approves of all forms of true art having the needed qualities, and admits them into divine worship. (SC 112) 
The Current Situation.

 In light of the mind of the Church so frequently expressed, we cannot avoid being concerned about the current situation of sacred music, which is nothing short of desperate, with abuses in the area of sacred music now almost the norm rather than the exception. We shall summarize here some of the elements that contribute to the present deplorable situation of sacred music and of the liturgy. 

1. There has been a loss of understanding of the “musical shape of the liturgy,” that is, that music is an inherent part of the very essence of liturgy as public, formal, solemn worship of God. We are not merely to sing at Mass, but to sing the Mass. Hence, as Musicam Sacram itself reminded us, the priest’s parts should be chanted to the tones given in the Missal, with the people making the responses; the singing of the Ordinary of the Mass in Gregorian chant or music inspired by it should be encouraged; and the Propers of the Mass, too, should be given the pride of place that befits their historical prominence, their liturgical function, and their theological depth. Similar points apply to the singing of the Divine Office. It is an exhibition of the vice of “liturgical sloth” to refuse to sing the liturgy, to use “utility music” rather than sacred music, to refuse to educate oneself or others about the Church’s tradition and wishes, and to put little or no effort and resources into the building up of a sacred music program. 

2. This loss of liturgical and theological understanding goes hand-in-hand with an embrace of secularism. The secularism of popular musical styles has contributed to a desacralization of the liturgy, while the secularism of profit-based commercialism has reinforced the imposition of mediocre collections of music upon parishes. It has encouraged an anthropocentrism in the liturgy that undermines its very nature. In vast sectors of the Church nowadays there is an incorrect relationship with culture, which can be seen as a “web of connections.” With the actual situation of our liturgical music (and of the liturgy itself, because the two are intertwined), we have broken this web of connection with our past and tried to connect with a future that has no meaning without its past. Today, the Church is not actively using her cultural riches to evangelize, but is mostly used by a prevalent secular culture, born in opposition to Christianity, which destabilizes the sense of adoration that is at the heart of the Christian faith. Pope Francis, in his homily for the feast of Corpus Christi on June 4, 2015, has spoken of “the Church’s amazement at this reality [of the Most Holy Eucharist]. . . An astonishment which always feeds contemplation, adoration, and memory.” In many of our Churches around the world, where is this sense of contemplation, this adoration, this astonishment for the mystery of the Eucharist? It is lost because we are living a sort of spiritual Alzheimer’s, a disease that is taking our spiritual, theological, artistic, musical and cultural memories away from us. It has been said that we need to bring the culture of every people into the liturgy. This may be right if correctly understood, but not in the sense that the liturgy (and the music) becomes the place where we have to exalt a secular culture. It is the place where the culture, every culture, is brought to another level and purified. 

3. There are groups in the Church that push for a “renewal” that does not reflect Church teaching but rather serves their own agenda, worldview, and interests. These groups have members in key leadership positions from which they put into practice their plans, their idea of culture, and the way we have to deal with contemporary issues. In some countries powerful lobbies have contributed to the de facto replacement of liturgical repertoires faithful to the directives of Vatican II with low-quality repertoires. Thus, we end up with repertoires of new liturgical music of very low standards as regards both the text 3 and the music. This is understandable when we reflect that nothing of lasting worth can come from a lack of training and expertise, especially when people neglect the wise precepts of Church tradition: 
On these grounds Gregorian Chant has always been regarded as the supreme model for sacred music, so that it is fully legitimate to lay down the following rule: the more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savor the Gregorian form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple. (St. Pius X, Motu Proprio Tra le Sollecitudini) 
Today this “supreme model” is often discarded, if not despised. The entire Magisterium of the Church has reminded us of the importance of adhering to this important model, not as way of limiting creativity but as a foundation on which inspiration can flourish. If we desire that people look for Jesus, we need to prepare the house with the best that the Church can offer. We will not invite people to our house, the Church, to give them a by-product of music and art, when they can find a much better pop music style outside the Church. Liturgy is a limen, a threshold that allows us to step from our daily existence to the worship of the angels: Et ídeo cum Angelis et Archángelis, cum Thronis et Dominatiónibus, cumque omni milítia cæléstis exércitus, hymnum glóriæ tuæ cánimus, sine fine dicéntes... 

4. This disdain for Gregorian chant and traditional repertoires is one sign of a much bigger problem, that of disdain for Tradition. Sacrosanctum Concilium teaches that the musical and artistic heritage of the Church should be respected and cherished, because it is the embodiment of centuries of worship and prayer, and an expression of the highest peak of human creativity and spirituality. There was a time when the Church did not run after the latest fashion, but was the maker and arbiter of culture. The lack of commitment to tradition has put the Church and her liturgy on an uncertain and meandering path. The attempted separation of the teaching of Vatican II from previous Church teachings is a dead end, and the only way forward is the hermeneutic of continuity endorsed by Pope Benedict XVI. Recovering the unity, integrity, and harmony of Catholic teaching is the condition for restoring both the liturgy and its music to a noble condition. As Pope Francis taught us in his first encyclical: “Self-knowledge is only possible when we share in a greater memory” (Lumen Fidei 38).

5. Another cause of the decadence of sacred music is clericalism, the abuse of clerical position and status. Clergy who are often poorly educated in the great tradition of sacred music continue to make decisions about personnel and policies that contravene the authentic spirit of the liturgy and the renewal of sacred music repeatedly called for in our times. Often they contradict Vatican II teachings in the name of a supposed “spirit of the Council.” Moreover, especially in countries of ancient Christian heritage, members of the clergy have access to positions that are not available to laity, when there are lay musicians fully capable of offering an equal or superior professional service to the Church. 

6. We also see the problem of inadequate (at times, unjust) remuneration of lay musicians. The importance of sacred music in the Catholic liturgy requires that at least some members of the Church in every place be well-educated, well-equipped, and dedicated to serve the People of God in this capacity. Is it not true that we should give to God our best? No one would be surprised or disturbed knowing that doctors need a salary to survive, no one would accept medical treatment from untrained volunteers; priests have their salaries, because they cannot live if they do not eat, and if they do not eat, they will not be able to prepare themselves in theological sciences or to say the Mass with dignity. If we pay florists and cooks who help at parishes, why does it seem so strange that those performing musical activities for the Church would have a right to fair compensation?

Positive Proposals.

It may seem that what we have said is pessimistic, but we maintain the hope that there is a way out of this winter. The following proposals are offered in spiritu humilitatis, with the intention of restoring the dignity of the liturgy and of its music in the Church. 

1. As musicians, pastors, scholars, and Catholics who love Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony, so frequently praised and recommended by the Magisterium, we ask for a re-affirmation of this heritage alongside modern sacred compositions in Latin or vernacular languages that take their inspiration from this great tradition; and we ask for concrete steps to promote it everywhere, in every church across the globe, so that all Catholics can sing the praises of God with one voice, one mind and heart, one common culture that transcends all their differences. We also ask for a re-affirmation of the unique importance of the pipe organ for the sacred liturgy, because of its singular capacity to elevate hearts to the Lord and its perfect suitability for supporting the singing of choirs and congregations. 

2. It is necessary that the education to good taste in music and liturgy start with children. Often educators without musical training believe that children cannot appreciate the beauty of true art. This is far from the truth. Using a pedagogy that will help them approach the beauty of the liturgy, children will be formed in a way that will fortify their strength, because they will be offered nourishing spiritual bread and not the apparently tasty but unhealthy food of industrial origin (as when “Masses for children” feature popinspired music). We notice through personal experience that when children are exposed to these repertoires they come to appreciate them and develop a deeper connection with the Church. 

3. If children are to appreciate the beauty of music and art, if they are to understand the importance of the liturgy as fons et culmen of the life of the Church, we must have a strong laity who will follow the Magisterium. We need to give space to well-trained laity in areas that have to do with art and with music. To be able to serve as a competent liturgical musician or educator requires years of study. This “professional” status must be recognized, respected, and promoted in practical ways. In connection with this point, we sincerely hope that the Church will continue to work against obvious and subtle forms of clericalism, so that laity can make their full contribution in areas where ordination is not a requirement. 

4. Higher standards for musical repertoire and skill should be insisted on for cathedrals and basilicas. Bishops in every diocese should hire at least a professional music director and/or an organist who would follow clear directions on how to foster excellent liturgical music in that cathedral or basilica and who would offer a shining example of combining works of the great tradition with appropriate new compositions. We think that a sound principle for this is contained in Sacrosanctum Concilium 23: “There must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing” (SC 23). 

5. We suggest that in every basilica and cathedral there be the encouragement of a weekly Mass celebrated in Latin (in either Form of the Roman Rite) so as to maintain the link we have with our liturgical, cultural, artistic, and theological heritage. The fact that many young people today are rediscovering the beauty of Latin in the liturgy is surely a sign of the times, and prompts us to bury the battles of the past and seek a more “catholic” approach that draws upon all the centuries of Catholic worship. With the easy availability of books, booklets, and online resources, it will not be difficult to facilitate the active participation of those who wish to attend liturgies in Latin. Moreover, each parish should be encouraged to have one fully-sung Mass each Sunday. 

6. Liturgical and musical training of clergy should be a priority for the Bishops. Clergy have a responsibility to learn and practice their liturgical melodies, since, according to Musicam Sacram and other documents, they should be able to chant the prayers of the liturgy, not merely say the words. In seminaries and at the university, they should come to be familiar with and appreciate the great tradition of sacred music in the Church, in harmony with the Magisterium, and following the sound principle of Matthew 13:52: “Every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” 

7. In the past, Catholic publishers played a great role in spreading good examples of sacred music, old and new. Today, the same publishers, even if they belong to dioceses or religious institutions, often spread music that is not right for the liturgy, following only commercial considerations. Many faithful Catholics think that what mainstream publishers offer is in line with the doctrine of the Catholic Church regarding liturgy and music, when it is frequently not so. Catholic publishers should have as their first aim that of educating the faithful in the sane Catholic doctrine and good liturgical practices, not that of making money. 

8. The formation of liturgists is also fundamental. Just as musicians need to understand the essentials of liturgical history and theology, so too must liturgists be educated in Gregorian chant, polyphony, and the entire musical tradition of the Church, so that they may discern between what is good and what is bad. 

Conclusion.

Pope Francis, in his encyclical Lumen Fidei, has reminded us of the way faith binds together past and future: 
As a response to a word which preceded it, Abraham’s faith would always be an act of remembrance. Yet this remembrance is not fixed on past events but, as the memory of a promise, it becomes capable of opening up the future, shedding light on the path to be taken. We see how faith, as remembrance of the future, memoria futuri, is thus closely bound up with hope. (LF 9) 
This remembrance, this memory, this treasure that is our Catholic tradition is not something of the past alone. It is still a vital force in the present, and will always be a gift of beauty to future generations. “Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel” (Is 12:5–6). 

Burns' Night Supper raises £1,250


Our Burns' Night Supper organised for the Order of St Lazarus raised a great amount this year for those suffering from leprosy in Sri Lanka.
We had a great evening!
Thanks to everyone taking part.


There are a great selection of photos if you click here for Order's blog.