San Francisco: new “Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship”

The “Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship” is being founded in San Francisco. This Sunday at 4pm, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone will introduce the new institute at Epiphany Vespers at St. Sebastian’s Catholic Church in San Rafael, California. Afterwards, Fr. Samuel Weber OSB will give a talk on the spirituality of chant.

Fr. Weber, a monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, was recently appointed to a teaching position at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, CA. Earlier, he was founder and director of the “Institute of Sacred Music” established by then-archbishop (now Cardinal) Raymond Burke in St. Louis in 2008. He is highly regarded as an expert in chant and sacred music.

This is interesting: the website of the new Institute in San Francisco has an online survey for a new annual congregational missal to be published by Ignatius Press in collaboration with the new Institute:

Ignatius Press, in collaboration with the Pope Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship (Archdiocese of San Francisco) and Lighthouse Catholic Media, plans to publish an annual congregational missal that is fully consistent with the directives of Sacrosanctum Concilium.

The survey asks readers’ opinions on a variety of Mass settings published by GIA, OCP, WLP, and others. Of course no promises are made about the contents of the forthcoming missal – one wonders how they would negotiate the copyright difficulties in including the most well-known Mass settings.


  1. Is this the first institute or course of study named for the pontiff emeritus, at least in North America?

    One of the pitfalls of traditionalism is the very mistaken notion that chant is extrinsic to Mass, a “value added” feature. Chant is brought outward from the assembly in our participation, and not forced into the assembly through beautiful melismas that complement the glittery altar set. Mary, undoer of knots, intercede on our behalf so that the sacred accompaniment of the Mass is not aestheticized or sentimentalized, but prayed.

  2. I’m curious about the multiplcation of adjectives in contexts such as this. On the snark, why not divine music and sacred worship? And why do we suddenly attach “holy” to Mass these days? Does it imply a grace that was denied to us as long as we used metered music accompanied by stringed percussion instruments? A recovery of acknowledgement of the sacred revealed to the “faithful” remnant?

    And is the nod to recent and famous people part of a modernistic cult of celebrity? A nod to idolatry? A “Great University” attributed to John Paul? A 16th institute of music and worship?

    Who names these efforts, anyway? The archbishop? A PR firm?

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #2:
      Regarding: ” And why do we suddenly attach “holy” to Mass these days? Does it imply a grace that was denied to us as long as we used metered music accompanied by stringed percussion instruments?”

      – View from the Pew: Use of “holy” in these circumstances is very much like the use of “authentically” in the phrase “authentically catholic”. The usage turns the words into code and shibboleth for those who identify themselves as the in crowd who are fully in the know. That is, not like those others. What actually is being indicated is that those who use the phrase “holy Mass” in the above mentioned contexts are not fully convinced that the Mass is holy. Nothing an human can do makes the Mass anymore holy. In the same way one is catholic, that is orthodox. Understanding of course that orthodoxy is lived in various ways. Being authentic does not make one more catholic.

      On the other hand and in other circumstances when someone says that they go to “holy Mass” it might indicate that he or she is working to hold in the intellect the holiness that is yet apparent to him or her. The same for anyone who self identifies as an “authentic catholic”. It could mean that that person is self reminding of the path that has been chosen the end of which is orthodoxy.

    2. @Todd Flowerday – comment #2:
      It could be as simple as people imitating other cultures, in my experience Italians, Mexicans and Poles are raised to say “holy mass” instead of just mass.

      1. @Brian Palmer – comment #9:
        No idea. Didn’t know that or if they were interested in the arts at all.

        It is interesting and illustrative to read the commentary at CMAA about this thread. Seems like less a knot to be untangled and more a great divide to be bridged. Two decades ago, I had hopes that the great Catholic chasms were largely behind us, and that post-conciliar music had absorbed a degree of quality, professionalism, and discernment that was serving us well. Now it seems like it’s all getting ripped apart again.

        I’m glad the internet isn’t the only, or even the main outlet for Catholic music. If it were, I’d think we’d regressed back to circa 1970, only with the political bile of post-1994.

  3. Apparently, the Archbishop has decided to enjoy the power that has been bestowed on him. If he actually believes that all his pastors are going to adopt a uniform missalette that will likely omit much of the music their flocks have made their own over many decades, I fear for his emotional health.

  4. Mr. Zarembo – No, it is not the first. There are already Benedict XVI Institutes in (at least) Minnesota, Kansas, and Texas.

    Mr. Flowerday – Your recommendation for a better name?

    Fr. Feehily – Apparently, yes. Just as many newly-ordained priests seem to enjoy saying Mass and consecrating the Eucharist. Imagine.

    Isn’t this all more fodder for the Mary-as-Girl-Scout knot untying project just begun on this very website? How about we learn what this newly-announced Institute is going to do before we go about castigating it?

    1. @Sean Keeler – comment #5:
      One of the saintly patrons of music: Hildegard, Cecilia, or Gregory, perhaps? An American composer of sacred music, or perhaps a renowned church musician: Hellriegel, Marier, Peloquin. Somebody dead, most of all.

      I’m not castigating, just asking questions. It is too bad we live in an age where the mere name of an institute is cause for politicization.

  5. Posted on the Musica Sacra Forum early this morning:

    “As of 10:30 PM PT, the video’s no longer available due to someone’s copyright claim.”

    And at the Institute’s website,

    the deleted video title says the copyright infringement claimant is Clayton Richard Long.

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