Lauds and Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica

This morning I celebrated Lauds with the canons of St. Peter’s Basilica at the invitation of Fr. Pierre Paul OMV, choirmaster of the Cappella Giulia (and thus successor to Palestrina). After Lauds I concelebrated at the 10:30 Mass in the basilica. I’m in Rome to consult on the Vesperale (evening prayer in Latin chant) which I’m preparing for Sant’ Anselmo, the Benedictine headquarters.

There were about 15 canons and a handful of other clergy at morning prayer in the canons’ chapel.

Canon cathedral

The liturgy was entirely sung from beginning to end. Very handsome leaflet, prepared by Fr. Pierre, gave us everything we needed (in Latin) to join in. Celebrant and two assistants, all in cope. About 6 altar boys. All sung according to the reformed Roman rite, beginning with Invitatory and Psalm 95. Psalms in alternation between cantors (five very capable singers) and the rest of us. Cantors sang antiphon before psalm, all could join in on its repeat at the end of the psalm. No pause between psalms, alas, but I wasn’t expecting that either. Altar incensed during the Benedictus.

There was constant traffic of people walking through the basilica behind the chapel during our prayer. It wasn’t that loud, and I was pretty much able to focus on our sung prayer. But I wished it were possible to move the big doors so the curtains could be pulled shut to absorb a bit more of the sound.

I shared this thought with Fr. Pierre: After such a beautiful and dignified reformed liturgy, why would anyone hanker after the unreformed preconciliar one?? This celebration was so coherent, so rooted in tradition and yet so carefully renewed and improved. Fr. Pierre heartily agreed with me. He suggested – I’m paraphrasing loosely here – that the abuses and silliness in some places after the Council perhaps set up an overreaction where some seek refuge in the wrong places. That sounds right – that plus some other things, no doubt.

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Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica was all Latin chant, except Italian responsorial psalm. (Readings in Italian and Spanish, petitions in several languages.) People were given a well laid-out booklet with most everything in it, and entire Order of Mass (but not propers) helpfully translated into four languages. I heard some singing from the congregation, but from a distance I couldn’t really tell how much. I suspect it was rather weak, given the proficiency of most Catholics in Latin chant. But hey, I’ve heard weak singing in English in plenty of places in the U.S.

Mass XII – and this is rather humorous. As much as I’ve sung and worked with Latin chant propers for so many years and know the Graduale quite well, the fact is that I’ve never had reason to sing many of the Latin chant Mass ordinaries. This is the first time in my life I’ve sung this Mass, and first time also for the beautiful Credo IV.

At one point in my life I sang the Latin invitatory antiphon and Psalm 95 of the Office of the day at the beginning of each day for about a half year so I’d become familiar with this repertoire. Maybe I need to do the same with Mass settings. But singing an invitatory psalm alone feels right to me, a good way to pray in private and start the day, whereas it seems rather odd to sit in my monastic room singing a Mass setting out of context. I’ll think about this.

They asked me to read the English-language petition. It was about those who have wandered away from the Church because of our lack of charity, that God bring them back to himself. I accidentally said “love” instead of “charity.” But mistakes sometimes happen in the liturgy.

You know, “caritas” really shouldn’t be rendered “charity,” for that latter has narrow connotations in contemporary English of donating a handout to a good cause. “Love” is deeper and richer. I know, I know, there are several words in Latin that can be translated as “love” in English, and some want a new English word for each different Latin word so things line up. I don’t think that’s a reason to pick a bad English word. And of course in the case of Mass petitions, we’re free to draft in vernacular and don’t need to work from a Latin original.

Bread and wine and paten and chalices etc. were brought to the altar near the end of the Creed. GIRM doesn’t allow that, does it?? BTW, did you know that our word for a little table, credenza, is related to “credence table,” and this comes from the unfortunate custom of going to the table to get things while the Creed was still being sung?

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One of the concelebrants looked very much like Piero Marini, so I made brave, and butchered the Italian language, by greeting him and telling him that we published his book in English, A Challenging Reform: Realizing the Vision of the Liturgical Renewal.

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Archbishop Marini was delighted to hear that I teach liturgy in Collegeville. He wished to embolden me to keep teaching the history of the liturgy and its renewal, especially at a time when some want to rewrite that history and undo the renewal.

Then Marini told me who the next prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship will be, but I don’t feel that I should divulge that here. I’ll tell you right after it’s announced.

What, you don’t believe me?

awr

26 comments

  1. Credo IV has always been my favourite! I can still sing it from memory all these years later.

    And, on the subject of what GIRM doesn’t allow, you can find all the liturgical abuses you’ve ever thought of (and some that you hadn’t) in the churches of Rome. I’ve often wished I could have given Cardinal Arinze a guided tour — perhaps he wouldn’t have hectored the rest of the Church so much.

  2. “After such a beautiful and dignified reformed liturgy, why would anyone hanker after the unreformed preconciliar one?”

    Oh, maybe because saints and mystics loved this liturgy and grew close to our Lord through it for well over 1,000 years? And maybe the reform took place too rapidly and clumsily, chopping out too much? But maybe those are not good enough reasons…

    But I’m glad you enjoyed Mass XII and Credo IV. Magnificent chants, deserving of a much wider use.

    1. @Peter Kwasniewski – comment #2:
      It’s a different age now. People are no longer illiterate and dying off young. Clergy are educated now. The modern Roman Rite is superior in nearly every way to the TLM, and more suitable for our age. In another 30,000 years both forms will be consigned to a honored retirement. Hopefully with far less infighting.

      As for the CDWDS head, I’m still hoping for a lay person. Besides the archbishop-elect of Chicago, haven’t all the liturgists in the episcopacy been purged in the JP2-B16 era?

      1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #16:

        Well, to name just two more off the top of my head, Mark Seitz of El Paso, a thoroughly nice man who got a degree in liturgy from St John’s, Collegeville, no less, has not been purged — quite the reverse. I am looking forward to his presence at FDLC next week. And Wilton Gregory of Atlanta is another trained liturgist.

        I am sure others can add to the list.

      2. @Paul Inwood – comment #17:
        One more: My classmate at Notre Dame, Archbishop Albert LeGatt of St. Boniface, Manitoba, received his Masters in Liturgy in 2001, before becoming Bishop of Saskatoon.

  3. We sing Mass XII on the even-numbered Sundays in Ordinary Time. XI on the odd-numbered ones. (Though we ‘dilute’ it a bit with English chants on Sundays when our school students are here.)

    Love your wicked gloss on the origins of the credence table!

  4. Fr. Pierre heartily agreed with me. He suggested – I’m paraphrasing loosely here – that the abuses and silliness in some places after the Council perhaps set up an overreaction where some seek refuge in the wrong places. That sounds right – that plus some other things, no doubt.

    Why, you almost sound like Pope Benedict, speaking in a reform-of-the-reform mode 🙂

  5. “After such a beautiful and dignified reformed liturgy, why would anyone hanker after the unreformed preconciliar one?? This celebration was so coherent, so rooted in tradition and yet so carefully renewed and improved.”

    Experience is the arbiter of truth. What you see as improved, another sees as insufficient. Perhaps live their way of worship and prayer for a year and reflect upon what you’ve found.

  6. Fr Anthony, we are all certain the next prefect will be His Eminence, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke. This felicitous news was what His Grace told you, confirming everyone’s suspicions, no?

  7. Sorry, David, but Raymond Cardinal Burke already has a new full-time position. A prince of the Church does not serve both as a prefect of a Vatican congregation and as spiritual leader of the Knights of Malta.

    It seems fairly clear that the only sights the good Cardinal will have on the Vatican for the foreseeable future will be through the Aventine Keyhole, and whatever crusade he may lead won’t be liturgical.

    1. @Fr. Jim Chepponis – comment #8:
      I wonder too, Jim.

      This is getting tiring, the emotional roller coaster of wondering who will go to CDW! Let’s see if this rumor is true… there have been so many.

      awr

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #9:

        Anthony, although you are “high-ranking,” I’m not aware that you’re a prelate… yet! Or perhaps in pectore?! ; )

        On a serious note… yes, the emotional roller coaster has been tiring. Let’s hope that we hear some good news soon!

      2. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #9:

        If Marini gets it, good for him. As I understand it, he headed the helm of revision of the rites of burial and installation of the bishop of Rome. Those liturgies were well done, so, it was surprising that he was reassigned in 2007. He bid his time and did his thing. I certainly don’t understand the paranoia surrounding the possibility of him receiving the post. Maybe I’m missing something.

        Then again, it could be someone entirely off radar.

        It would be nice if it were someone who would make it his mission to have a chanted (whether the vernacular or Latin) as the norm in the Roman Church. I suspect that won’t happen, both due to the responsibilities of the position and the reality “on the ground,” as it were.

  8. Cardinal Burke could run across the street from the Maltese keyhole and borrow that wonderful liturgical space at San Anselmo or down the street at Santa Sabina.

    Assisting the Camaldolese with their soup kitchen in that vicinity might get His Eminence into the pope’s good graces.

  9. Re the new CDWDS appointment — after Saturday’s (very wonderful) surprise for Chicago, it could very well be “someone entirely off radar.”

  10. Peter Kwasniewski : “After such a beautiful and dignified reformed liturgy, why would anyone hanker after the unreformed preconciliar one?” Oh, maybe because saints and mystics loved this liturgy and grew close to our Lord through it for well over 1,000 years? And maybe the reform took place too rapidly and clumsily, chopping out too much? But maybe those are not good enough reasons… But I’m glad you enjoyed Mass XII and Credo IV. Magnificent chants, deserving of a much wider use.

    Didn’t B16 somewhere write that mystics like T of J and J of the C did not find the liturgy to be a direct source of their spirituality?

    1. @Lee Bacchi – comment #15:
      Here’s an interesting passage from St. Teresa’s Autobiography, chapter 33:

      “Now the devil began to spread the news from one person to another, that I had received some revelation about this matter, and people came to me in great alarm, saying that these were difficult times, that some charge might be raised against me, and that I might have to appear before the Inquisitors. But this merely amused me and made me laugh. I never had any fear on that score. I knew quite well that in the matter of faith no one would ever find me failing to observe even the smallest ceremony of the Church, and that for the Church or for any truth in Holy Scripture, I would sacrifice my life a thousand times.”

      1. @Peter Kwasniewski – comment #22:
        Great quotation, but I don’t see ‘liturgy’ in it. She speaks of “observ[ing] even the smallest ceremony of the Church,” which is something rather different than liturgy.

  11. I had a conversation about “love” vs “charity” with someone a few years ago. She preferred “charity” because it implies love as well as action. You can love all you want from the comfort of your home, but you have to get up and do something for it to be charity. “Charity” also implies a more general sort of love that can extend to unlikeable people. To her, “charity” was the richer word.

    Sounds like it was a wonderful liturgy. It’s a shame such Masses are almost nonexistant unless you attend the EF. Todd, do you consider liturgy to be a topic that is objective enough to declare the new rite superior in every way?

    1. @Jack Wayne – comment #19:
      Not really. I’m just poking back at those who think a 1570 prefabrication is somehow superior to a Rite more deeply rooted in Scripture and in the language of the people.

      The core issue is about quality, not rite. Quality includes the reality of reform and renewal for the age in which we live.

    2. @Jack Wayne – comment #19:
      The “love” vs. “charity” thing reminds me of the objections people made to the new translation — as if people don’t need to be continually catechized, continually educated, about the meaning of the mysteries of the faith. It’s not self-evident and it will never be obvious. All one has to do is read St. Thomas’s article on how love (amor) and charity (caritas) differ, and the beginning of Pope Benedict’s encyclical “Deus Caritas Est,” to see why agape/caritas should NOT be translated “love.”

  12. ‘After such a beautiful and dignified reformed liturgy, why would anyone hanker after the unreformed preconciliar one?? This celebration was so coherent, so rooted in tradition and yet so carefully renewed and improved. Fr. Pierre heartily agreed with me. He suggested – I’m paraphrasing loosely here – that the abuses and silliness in some places after the Council perhaps set up an overreaction where some seek refuge in the wrong places.’

    If only the writer truly were interested in understanding why people want the old liturgy, instead of answering his own question and soliciting agreement from his fellow traveller cleric. If only the die-hard Bugninists really did care about the feelings of the disaffected…But I don’t really think they want to know.

    Keep in mind that the liturgy described in this post is much different than that most Catholics are able to experience. But mutatis mutandis, Paul VI’s ‘reformed’ liturgy (how that adjective irks!) still falls far short. In Ramsgate, both EF and OF are offered, including the OF as few Catholics are able to experience it—as reverently as possible, in Latin, the priest facing ad orientem with the people, the lot. It still can’t measure up to the EF. It just can’t.

    What’s distressing is that the proponents of Paul VI’s Mass are so convinced their ‘reformed’ liturgy is superior that they insist on imposing it on an unwilling church and preventing others from worshipping in the way that suits them best. We have no idea how many hundreds of thousands of faithful we’ve lost because of the new mass. Most don’t join the SSPX; they just fade away. But when has the hierarchy ever been able to admit it’s made a mistake? Will it ever be able to?

  13. Re: Mr. Phillips at #25: I have been posting rather regularly about people attempting to articulate the assumptions behind their assertions on this blog, since so much of the conversation seems to present irresolvable conflict. I do the following with some trepidation, but I believe that a re-casting of Mr. Phillips’ post (mutatis mutandis) may point to the need for Lonergan’s functional specialty dialectic (and the conversions leading the functional specialty foundations) to help us to move foreword.

    “If only the writer truly were interested in understanding why people want the new liturgy, instead of answering his own question and soliciting agreement from his fellow travelers. If only the die-hard crypto-Lefebrites really did care about the feelings of the disaffected…But I don’t really think they want to know.

    Keep in mind that the liturgy described at Ramsgate is much different than, e.g., a 15 minute mumbled Low Mass. Here the ‘traditional’ EF liturgy (how that adjective irks!) still falls far short of the OF celebrated reverently. It still can’t measure up to the OF. It just can’t.

    What’s distressing is that the proponents of Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum are so convinced of their ‘traditional’ liturgy is that they insist on imposing it on an unwilling church and preventing others from worshipping the way that suits them best. We have no idea how many hundreds of thousands of the faithful we’ve lost because the ‘new mass’ (how that adjective irks!) has yet to fully embrace inculturation. Most don’t join another religious body; they just fade away. But when has the hierarchy ever been able to admit it’s made a mistake, e.g., creating an Anglican Ordinariate or issuing Universae Ecclesiae? Will it ever be able to?”

    Notice I do NOT subscribe to the paragraphs above in quotation marks. It just strikes me that so much of what is asserted in our posts could benefit from 1) supporting data and 2) clarifying assumptions in interpreting that data.

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