Apr 052018

During Mass on Holy Thursday during the elevation instead of bells I heard a more wooden sound. I was wondering what was going on?

The Fascinating Story Behind the Rarest of Liturgical Devices: the Crotalus.

In the Roman Rite, altar bells are not supposed to be rung after the Gloria in the liturgy on the evening of Holy Thursday, and are supposed to remain unused until the Gloria on Holy Saturday. This is supposed to make things more somber as we remember the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But, during this short period of time, is anything supposed to take its place? That’s where the crotalus comes in. The Church’s liturgical rubrics don’t prescribe a replacement for altar bells, but there is a long-standing tradition of using a wooden clapper or noise-maker in its place. This serves to both mark the same events as the altar bells, but in a less “sweet” way and thus maintain the somber tone.

More specifically in Paschale Solemnitatis from the Congregation for Divine Worship.

  1. During the singing of the hymn “Gloria in excelsis,” in accordance with local custom, the bells may be rung but should thereafter remain silent until the “Gloria in excelsis” of the Easter Vigil, unless the conference of bishops or the local ordinary, for a suitable reason, has decided otherwise. [56] During the same period, the organ and other musical instruments may be used only for the purpose of supporting the singing. [57]

Or maybe the continuous ringing of the altar bell during the Gloria leaves the bell ringer too tired to do it during the consecration. Well not really.

Apr 052018

When I went to the Diocese of St. Augustine Eucharist Congress, I heard a couple excellent talks from Fr. Larry Richards.

In one he was asking those attending about belief in the Eucharist – going through stages asking us to affirm this belief. Then he asks – then why don’t you go to daily Mass then.

At the time I felt rather satisfied about myself since I do attend daily Mass. Still this question got me thinking more about this and what caveats and distinctions this questions entails.

For one, fully believing in the reality of the Eucharist and not going to daily Mass is certainly not necessarily proof that you “don’t actually believe”.

I remember scouring through Masstimes.org trying to find a Mass I could go to before work. My criteria being first that it is early enough that I can get to work on time in the morning. Second that the distance is somewhat reasonable.

The first criteria pretty much reduced my list to only two possibilities. All other Mass times, even living in a large city. were too late. The parishes most directly on route to work had morning Mass after I needed to get to work. Getting to work by 8:00 A.M. is probably a normal situation for many people.

So I consider myself lucky that of my two choices – one does not take me too far off my route to work. The other choice takes me more time – but is great when I want to be able to go to confession on a First Friday or other circumstances.

If these choices had not been available, my only other choice would have been a Mass after work which would have been an hour drive one way. Traffic at the time would have likely made this longer and also likely me getting their late. Still I could have seen myself trying this a couple days during the work week if I did not have my primary choices. So does this mitigate my belief in the Eucharist? Perhaps in some aspect it does as I put limits on what I am willing to do. Overall I think not as I would be happier to not be put in such a circumstance.

It does make me wonder how much consideration is done by parishes when they set their morning Mass times? Apparently not much since all the other parishes had Mass times after 8:00 A.M. Or maybe I am not taking in how much this is dependent on the availability of priests and all the demands on their time.

Even if all the parishes had earlier Mass times how much would this enable more people to be able to attend? I remember one wit on Facebook mentioning that if you want to feel young, go to daily Mass. It’s funny because it is mostly true. The mix seems to be mostly people who are likely retired. I’m no spring chicken at 59 years of age – but often am close to the youngest one there. Still no doubt there are people who work and would love to be able to attend Mass. Plus there are plenty of other situations such as those taking care of children who logistically would find it difficult to attend.

Still I would like parishes to make allowances where possible to increase access to daily Mass and to encourage people to go. I remember how the late Fr. Leon had set the time for the noon Mass to 12:10 to allow people working downtown to have time to get to Mass during lunch hour. This beside having a 7:30 A.M. Mass. The parish I attend morning Mass at actually has a 7:00 A.M. and 9:00 A.M. Mass. One parish I use to go to had a 5:00 P.M. Mass which enabled my wife and I to go together. I believe this Mass was cancelled because there was some annoyance that many of the people attending were from other parishes. I remember being quite surprised when I first heard this was considered an annoyance.

So getting back to what Fr. Larry Richards said as a challenge, no doubt he had the necessary caveats in mind. Still it was a question meant to be a challenge in that if you do truly believe do you act on this belief. I am pretty grateful that circumstances do allow me to attend daily Mass – I need all the help I can get.

Mar 062018

This article in Crux Gregorian chant gives Catholics elevated liturgical experience originally from the Catholic News Service is pretty informative and positive.

Still I had to laugh at this one paragraph quoting Elizabeth Black, the assistant music director of St. John the Beloved Catholic Church in McLean, Virginia.

“He has a very specific paragraph on Gregorian chant,” she said, “where out of the blue he actually says Gregorian chant enables people to participate actively and that this is the people’s music and they should be singing it.”

“Out of the blue”? Really? Not quite as the section of sacred music was totally in context with the rest of the document. Pope Pius XII – Mediator Dei

Plus the paragraph referenced is actually the Pope quoting Pope Pius XI’s Divini Cultus.

Still a very good article over all and other quotes from Elizabeth Black are more on the mark. Along with remarks from Timothy S. McDonnell, director of the Institute of Sacred Music at The Catholic University of America in Washington.

Dec 232017

It is easy to make jokes about C&E Catholics – those that make it to Christmas and Easter Mass.

This is a better take from then-Cardinal Ratzinger.

“It just may be that we, thus drawing a new breath, are prvileged to sense something of the breath of God’s love, of the sacred peace whose gift to us is the blessing of Christmas. It is for this reason that we should not single out those who feel they cannot have faith anymore and try to rob them of their emotions, which may remain as the last echo of their faith and which may allow them to be part of that breath of fresh air of the holy night, which is permeated by the breath of God’s peace. Rather, we ought to be grateful for their preserving this last remnant of God’s gift on Christmas and ought to make an effort to celebrate a blessed Christmas with them all.

From: Dogma und Verkündigung, pp. 383f.

Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (p. 398). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.”

Jun 222017

Going to Eucharistic Adoration is something I always mean to get around to, but usually don’t. Part of it is logistics. I remember once calling the closest parish to get the PIN code to access to chapel. I think I was asked more questions than when I filled out my security clearance. Not belonging to that parish I think prevented that from coming to fruition.

Then I called another parish with perpetual adoration and I just needed someone to vouch for me, which my parish priest did. So I have been going there off and on, although the parish is not really close or usually on my route. One funny aspect is their keypad to gain entrance. The buttons for the four digits used are quite obvious because of the ware on the buttons. So even when I forgot the code, the digits needed were rather obvious.

Last week on the Feast of Corpus Christi my parish was having sign ups for Adoration before and after Mass. So I signed up for a weekly time slot at night. So this will get me to do regularly what I wanted to get into the habit of doing. So I went at the appointed time to the chapel I had never been to which is across from the main church and next to the historic church where I go to Latin Mass. The chapel is built into a center used by the parish and is a good sized circular room on the “corner” of the building.

I was happy to see about a dozen people there at night and that there was a beautiful monstrance. No security code to enter to gain access, but the chapel is not open 24/7. What surprised me the most is how fast an hour went by. There is something just so wonderful about praying and reading in His Eucharistic presence.

I’ve been going to this parish since my wife died and while I have been going to the historic church and the cemetary behind it, I had no idea the adjacent building contained a chapel. I though it was all parish offices. Doh!

Another thing I accidentally discovered was that the parish where I go to morning Mass at had Adoration before Morning Mass. Getting to Mass early in the morning was already difficult enough and I tended to arrive a minute or two before Mass started. Getting there earlier one day and seeing the Monstrance it finally dawned on me that they did this everyday. So now I wake up a little earlier to at least get in on tail end of Adoration and to sing the Tantum Ergo. That would be a whole ten minutes earlier I now wake up – proving I must really love Jesus if I am going to wake up a whole ten minutes earlier.

May 302017

I have been thinking about some of the changes in church architecture coming up on the twenty years I have lived in the Diocese of St. Augustine. The downtown parish where I came into the church looked like everything I had come to exspect what a Catholic parish would look like from Hollywood. I had found it accidentally when driving around I spotted the Catholic bookstore sign and so bought my first Catholic books there. When my wife and I walked into the church afterwards I was totally struck by the beauty of the high altar, stained glass, and statues.

I soon learned that this was not the normal state of things regarding church building architecture in my diocese. Seemingly the majority of parishes I encountered were of the ubiquitos clamshell design. Nothing uplifting about them as they could be converted to civic auditoriums overnight. When I saw one parish close to me was rebuilding, I was happy until I found out the clamshell design was being replaced by another larger clamshell. The other parish close to me when they started building their new church building, was also of the same design. Having been to many parishes in my city this is the dominant design. As much as I dislike this design, another parish went for the design with a altar in a center with a runway up to it. I guess the common factor was to make sure people were staring at each other.

Since I now go to daily Mass at a typical clamshell church I started taking a new route into where I go to work. Because of this I found a new parish I had not been aware of. A somewhat large cruciform shaped building traditional in design. I had been wanting to check it out, but there daily Mass is after the time I need to be at work. So last week when I had a day off ofter a week of travel I finally got around to visiting it. The daily Mass was held in a chapel behind the main church. I have seen this type of design in many parishes. I imagine this arrangement is for cost savings regarding heating and A/C.

The interior of the church was as I hoped it would be based on the exterior. Fairly beautiful and you could actually recognized things in teh stained glass and not the abstract blobs I have found prevalent. The chapel was packed with people and they had a beautiful bust of Pope Saint John Paul II. The Mass was said reverently. After Mass the priest asked me my name and welcomed me. Now as an introvert, this can be unnerving to me. Still I actually did feel welcomed as something more than some fake sense of community. At the daily Mass I have been attending I haven’t had one word from any of the priests there. This was especially disconcerting since the pastor had given my wife Last Rites. This same priest had told me my wife looked fine, a week before she died. So I guess even introverts such as myself desire some level of acknowlegment.

So this parish was a nice surprise. Still in the last ten years the new parishes I have visited have all been of cruciform design. One of the new parishes is not only beautiful, but had a liturgy to match. So this is all a good development and I have seen other parishes stuck with the clamshell making changes they could like moving the Tabernacle from a side chapel to the center. So the microcosm that I see in my diocese seems to be for the good. I do wonder if this is a trend nationwide or not?

In other news I am now singing with the choir at the Latin Mass I attend. They must be desparate since they asked me to join even after they heard me sing. Still I do love to sing and I did have four years of choir in High School which was initially quite accidental. I sing so much better when I have confident voices around me to keep me in tune. Plus the acoustics of this wooden church are spetacular.

Apr 282017

This is happens when you don’t know what aspergillum means.

The ceremony took place before a bunch of asparagus was taken to the European Parliament as a thank you for granting it protected status

Worcester Cathedral has hit back at criticism over a service that included a man dressed up as a spear of asparagus.

A packed congregation on St George’s Day saw asparagus from Evesham receive a blessing to mark the start of the British Asparagus Festival.

Gus the Asparagus Man was part of the procession- dressed in a giant green asparagus costume.

Pressure group Christian Concern said the scenes in the Cathedral “made a mockery of Christian worship”.

A post written on the Archbishop Cranmer blog site continued the criticism: “Why only adoration of asparagus? Where’s the sprout liturgy, or equality for mushrooms?”.

However, Canon Precentor of Worcester Cathedral, Reverend Michael Brierley, said in response: “I think the inclusion of the figure added a bit of colour”. Source

Well the colour green to be specific.

The jokes write themselves.

  • Lettuce pray.
  • Did the Aparagus Man receive a celery, or was it part time?
  • Did they sing A-Maize-ing Grace?
  • What are you giving up for Lentil?
  • Peas be with you.

Gus the Asparagus Man was part of the St George’s Day service at Worcester Cathedral.

Apr 252017

I don’t usually post press releases here, but I love de Montfort Music and support all their efforts.

NEW YORK, April 7, 2017 /Christian Newswire/ – An international community of young priests known as The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, or “The Fraternity” as they have lovingly been referred to, includes some of today’s most skilled and committed singers of Gregorian chant.  The community has been preparing to present ancient melodies anew, on the album _Requiem_, to be released on May 12, 2017 through their new international collaboration with De Montfort Music/Sony Classical.

Many have heard The Fraternity sing Requiem chants at funeral Masses over the years, often suggesting that the group, who is so close to this treasured music, record this moving collection. The decision to make their major-label debut with the music of _Requiem_ was unanimous among the priestly singers, as they know well that nothing is so universal as the experience of death, the care of souls and as well the many emotions evoked by the living. The text of the Mass – beginning with “Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine” (Grant them eternal rest, O Lord) – is spiritually uplifting, meant to convey souls to a particular vision of the beyond; the effect of the music is far-reaching and timeless, bound to touch the deepest emotions of any human heart.

Apr 172017

In what started as a friendly competition between parishes in Archdiocese of San Antonio has quickly spiraled out of control. Each year the size of the Pascal Candle was getting taller and wider requiring more and more effort in processing the candle to the sanctuary during the Easter Vigil. John Wick a parishioner of St Antonio in Elmendorf joked “Everything is bigger in Texas!”

Still the parish councils of St. Antonio was shocked to see the bill from a mastercrafter in the art of candlemaking for a MOAC (Mother of all Candles). This Pascal Candle delivers the equivalent of ten thousand lumens from 9,800 kg of pure beeswax.

Complaints to the bishop soon followed as a special crew was flown in to help to deploy the MOAC through the roof of St. Antonio’s in preparation for the Easter Vigil. The start of the Easter Vigil was spectacular and will be long remembered, at least positively by those who did not experience flash blindness at the lighting of the candle.

This is the night
that with a pillar of fire
banished the darkness of sin.

“That was one heckuva pillar of fire we got this year” said sometime parishioner Bryce S. Thomas. If they keep up these pyrotechnics I might show up next Sunday.

Apr 162017

While Catholics don’t believe in a rapture as expounded by a segment of Protestants, there is indeed a seeming Catholic rapture.

You can observe this on Sundays when the Mass is longer than an hour. Catholics can be very literal about the scriptures. When Jesus asks us if “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Catholics will grudgingly allow one hour, but don’t expect any more.

I observed the Catholic rapture today. Coming back to the pew I was sitting in after Communion I found that the pews around me were mostly empty and stayed empty. Previously the church was packed. Apparently some Catholics after receiving Communion are so enraptured that apparently they are taken up there and then. Amazing to be around such holy people. In fact even there cars are holy as I find that the parking lot is also emptied out after I wait for the priest to process.

Now I know Scott Hahn calls it the Judas Shuffle when Catholics leave early. I prefer the more charitable explanation of the Catholic Rapture.