Thursday, January 25, 2018

Priest on the Street with Cassock and Saturno. Clear Creek Abbey.

On a related note, below see an excellent video on Clear Creek Abbey, the monastery where I did my yearly retreat earlier this month. That place is booming! Very young and many vocations. There are more than fifty monks, and many young men coming to see and pray there. Amazing!

"There was a lapse of time, from the time I was ordained until just recently when I encountered the monks, that I realized there was something missing--there was something in our worship. And I think a good deal of it was Gregorian chant."
"What is need in America now is men and women that are committed to prayer."
Most Reverend Edward J. Slattery, Bishop of Tulsa, Oklahoma

Pope Paul VI called on religious orders to keep the Latin in worship.

Beloved sons, 

Your families, dedicated as they are to God, have always held in honour, as an offering from lips that confess to our Lord, the Sacrifice of Praise: that is, the psalms and hymns by which the hours, days and seasons of the year are hallowed with religious devotion, in the midst of which the Eucharistic Sacrifice shines, as it were like the sun, and draws all things to itself. With good reason is it held that nothing should be preferred to so holy a work as this. It is not difficult to perceive how much honor is rendered by it to the Creator of all things, or what benefits it confers upon the Church. You have proved, by following this fixed and unceasing manner of prayer, what importance divine worship has for human society.

Yet, from letters which some of you have sent, and from many other sources, We learn that discordant practices have been introduced into the sacred liturgy by your communities or provinces. (We speak of those only that belong to the Latin Rite.) For while some are very faithful to the Latin language, others wish to use the vernacular within the choral office. Others, in various places, wish to exchange that chant which is called Gregorian for newly-minted melodies. Indeed, some even insist that Latin should be wholly suppressed.

We must acknowledge that We have been somewhat disturbed and saddened by these requests. One may well wonder what the origin is of this new way of thinking and this sudden dislike for the past; one may well wonder why these things have been fostered.

You yourselves know well how greatly We love your religious families, and how we value them. You can have no doubt of this. We have often marveled at the examples of outstanding holiness and the products of deep learning which ennoble them. We think it a happiness if We are able, in any lawful and fitting way, to support them, to comply with their wishes, to take thought for their betterment.

Yet those things that We have mentioned are occurring even though the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council has after due deliberation declared its mind in solemn fashion (Sacrosanctum Concilium §101.1), and after the publication of clear norms in subsequent Instructions. In the first Instruction (ad exsecutionem Constitutionis de sacra Liturgia recte ordinandam), published on 26 September 1964, it was decreed as follows:

In celebrating the divine office in choir, clerics are bound to preserve the Latin language (n. 85).

In the second Instruction (de lingua in celebrandis Officio divino et Missa “conventuali” aut “communitatis” apud Religiosos adhibenda), published on 23 November 1965, that law was reinforced, and at the same time due consideration was shown for the spiritual advantage of the faithful and for the special conditions which prevail in missionary territories. Therefore, for as long as no other lawful provision is made, these laws are in force and require the obedience in which religious must excel, as dear sons of holy Church.

What is in question here is not only the retention within the choral office of the Latin language, though it is of course right that this should be eagerly guarded and should certainly not be lightly esteemed. For this language is, within the Latin Church, an abundant well-spring of Christian civilization and a very rich treasure-trove of devotion. But it is also the seemliness, the beauty and the native strength of these prayers and canticles which is at stake: the choral office itself, “the lovely voice of the Church in song” (Cf. St Augustine’s Confessions, Bk 9, 6). Your founders and teachers, the holy ones who are as it were so many lights within your religious families, have transmitted this to you. The traditions of the elders, your glory throughout long ages, must not be belittled. Indeed, your manner of celebrating the choral office has been one of the chief reasons why these families of yours have lasted so long, and happily increased. It is thus most surprising that under the influence of a sudden agitation, some now think that it should be given up.

In present conditions, what words or melodies could replace the forms of Catholic devotion which you have used until now? You should reflect and carefully consider whether things would not be worse, should this fine inheritance be discarded. It is to be feared that the choral office would turn into a mere bland recitation, suffering from poverty and begetting weariness, as you yourselves would perhaps be the first to experience. One can also wonder whether men would come in such numbers to your churches in quest of the sacred prayer, if its ancient and native tongue, joined to a chant full of grave beauty, resounded no more within your walls. We therefore ask all those to whom it pertains, to ponder what they wish to give up, and not to let that spring run dry from which, until the present, they have themselves drunk deep.

Of course, the Latin language presents some difficulties, and perhaps not inconsiderable ones, for the new recruits to your holy ranks. But such difficulties, as you know, should not be reckoned insuperable. This is especially true for you, who can more easily give yourselves to study, being more set apart from the business and bother of the world. Moreover, those prayers, with their antiquity, their excellence, their noble majesty, will continue to draw to you young men and women, called to the inheritance of our Lord. On the other hand, that choir from which is removed this language of wondrous spiritual power, transcending the boundaries of the nations, and from which is removed this melody proceeding from the inmost sanctuary of the soul, where faith dwells and charity burns—We speak of Gregorian chant—such a choir will be like to a snuffed candle, which gives light no more, no more attracts the eyes and minds of men.

In any case, beloved Sons, the requests mentioned above concern such grave matters that We are unable to grant them, or to derogate now from the norms of the Council and of the Instructions noted above. Therefore we earnestly beseech you that you would consider this complex question under all its aspects. From the good will which we have toward you, and from the good opinion which we have of you, We are unwilling to allow that which could make your situation worse, and which could well bring you no slight loss, and which would certainly bring a sickness and sadness upon the whole Church of God. Allow Us to protect your interests, even against your own will. It is the same Church which has introduced the vernacular into the sacred liturgy for pastoral reasons, that is, for the sake of people who do not know Latin, which gives you the mandate of preserving the age-old solemnity, beauty and dignity of the choral office, in regard both to language, and to the chant.

Obey, then, these prescriptions sincerely and calmly. It is not an excessive love of old ways that prompts them. They derive, rather, from Our fatherly love for you, and from Our concern for divine worship.

Finally, We impart most willingly to you and to your religious, as an earnest of heavenly gifts and as a sign of Our favour, the apostolic Blessing in our Lord.


Dilecti filii,
salutem et apostolicam benedictionem

Sacrificium laudis, hostia labiorum confitentium Dominum, psalmodia et hymnodia, quibus horae, dies, anni tempora religionis sacrantur pietate, Eucharistico Sacrificio quasi medio sole rutilante et cuncta ad se trahente, a vestris Familiis Deo devotis magno semper in honore haberi consueverat. Recto enim consilio tam sancto operi nihil anteferendum esse aestimabatur. Quanta gloria inde omnium Creatori obvenerit, quantae utilitates in Ecclesiam sint profectae, facile intellegitur. Hac certa et assidua precandi ratione per saeculorum decursum docuistis cultum divinum in humana consortione maximi esse momenti.

Ex litteris vero, a quibusdam vestrum et e compluribus nuntiis aliunde datis, comperimus coenobia vel provincias vestras — de iis tantum loquimur, quae ad ritum pertinent Latinum — in sacra Liturgia peragenda dissimiles mores induxisse: alia nempe linguae Latinae retinentissima esse, alia vulgares sermones in chorali officio expetere, alia hic illic cantum, quem Gregorianum appellant, cum cantilenis hac aetate conditis velle commutare. Quin immo a quibusdam est flagitatum, ut lingua latina ipsa aboleretur.

Oportet profiteamur huiusmodi postulationibus non leviter Nos esse commotos et nonnullo maerore affectos, atque oritur quaestio, undenam exstiterit et curnam propagatus sit talis mentis habitus et antea ignotum fastidium.

Vobis certe exploratum est neque in dubitationem potestis vocare, quantopere Familias vestras religiosas diligamus, quanti eas faciamus. Admirationi Nobis saepe sunt insignis pietatis testimonia et ingenii cultus monumenta, quibus nobilitantur. Nostrum putamus esse gaudium, si qua Nobis copia datur, dummodo liceat ac deceat, iis favendi, votis earum obsecundandi, feliciori statui consuendi.

Sed ea, quae supra diximus, fieri contingunt, postquam Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum Secundum meditate ac sollemniter hac de re suam edixit sententiam (Cf Const. de sacra Lit. Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 101, 1), et Instructionibus eam subsecutis certae editae sunt normae; in quarum Instructione altera, ad exsecutionem Constitutionis de sacra Liturgia recte ordinandam die XXVI mensis Septembris anno MCMLXIV emissa, haec sunt decreta: «In divino Officio in choro persolvendo clerici linguam latinam servare tenentur» (n. 85); altera vero, quae de lingua in celebrandis Officio divino et Missa «conventuali» aut «communitatis» apud Religiosos adhibenda inseribitur ac die XXIII mensis novembris anno MCMLXV fuit vulgata, praeceptum illud confirmatur simulque ratio ducitur spiritualis fidelium emolumenti et peculiarium condicionum, quae in regionibus obtinent missionali opere excolendis. Donec ergo aliter legitime statuatur, hae leges vigent et obtemperationem expostulant, qua religiosos sodales, filios Ecclesiae carissimos, apprime commendari oportet.

Non autem agitur hic tantummodo de retinendo in officio chorali eloquio latino, sane digno, quod, nedum parvi fiat, alacriter custodiatur, cum sit in Ecclesia Latina christiani cultus humani fons uberrimus et locupletissimus pietatis thesaurus, sed etiam de indemnibus servandis decore, pulchritudine, nativo vigore huiusmodi precationum et cantuum: agitur videlicet de choralt officio, «suave sonantis Ecclesiae vocibus» (Cf S. AUGUSTINUS,Confessiones 9, 6: PL 32, 769) expresso, quas conditores et magistri vestri ac Sancii Caelites, Familiarum vestrarum lumina, vobis tradiderunt. Non parvi pendenda sunt instituta maiorum, quae per diuturna saecula vos ornabant. Haec vero choralis officii ratio una e causis praecipuis fuit, cur Familiae eaedem vestrae firmiter starent laetisque augerentur incrementis. Mirandum ergo, quod, subita commotione excitata, ea nonnullis neglegenda iam esse videtur.

In praesenti rerum condicione quae vox, qui cantus substitui poterit pro catholicae pietatis formulis, quibus usque adhuc usi estis? Perpendendum est et considerandum, ne peior sit conditio, cum gloriosa illa hereditas fuerit abietca. Est enim timendum, ne officium chorale ad inconditam quandam recitationem redigatur, quam vos primo fortasse sentietis inopia laborare ac taedia gignere. Exsistit etiam quaestio, num homines, cupientes sacras pretes percipere, templa vestra sint tam frequentes adituri, si vetus ac nativa illarum lingua, iuncta cum cantu pleno gravitatis ac decoris, ibi non amplius resonabit. Rogamus igitur omnes, ad quos pertinet, ut ponderent, quae dimittere velint, neque fontem sinant inarescere, unde ad praesens usque tempus ubertim hauserint.

Procul dubio lingua latina sacrae militiae vestrae tironibus aliquam et fortasse haud tenuem difficultatem opponit. Haec autem, quemadmodum novistis, talis non est habenda, ut vinci et superari non possit, maxime apud vos, qui, magis abstracti a saeculi negotiis et strepitu, litteris facilius vacare potestis. Ceterum preces illae, antiqua praestantia ac nobili maiestate praeditae, iuvenes in sortem Domini vocatos ad vos allicere pergent, contra, chorus, unde sermo ille, Nationum fines exsuperans et mirabili vi spirituali pollens, atque modulamen, ex animi penetralibus, ubi fedes insidet et caritas ardet, erratum, cantum dicimus gregorianum, erunt ablata, similis erit cereo exstincto, qui non amplius illuminat, non amplius hominum oculos ac mentes ad se convertit. Quidquid est, filii carissimi, postulationes, quae supra sunt dictae, ad tam gravia spectant, ut praesenti tempore, derogando normis Concilii et Instructionum memoratarum, eas concedere nequeamus. Enixe igitur vos hortamur, ut quaestionem tam implicatam omni ex parte pensitetis. Nolumus pro benevolentia, qua vos complectimur, et pro bona existimatione, qua vos prosequimur, id permittere, quod causa esse possit in deterius labendi, non levis detrimenti origo vobis forsitan exsistat et certe toti Ecclesiae Dei aegritudinem ac maestitiam afferat. Sinite Nos, etiam invitis vobis, rem vestram tueri. Ab eadem Ecclesia, quae ob pastorales utilitates, id est in populi latine nescientis commodum, sermones vulgares in sacram Liturgiam induxit, vos mandatum habetis translaticiam dignitatem, pulchritudinem, gravitatem choralis officii, sive quoad linguam sive quoad cantum, servandi.

Itaque animis sinceris et tranquillis praeceptionibus obsequimini, quas non immodicus amor morum veterum suggerit, sed paterna erga vos caritas proponit et divini cultus diligentia suadet.

Caelestium denique donorurn conciliatricem et propensi animi Nostri testem, Benedictionem Apostolicam vobis vestrisque sodalibus libentissime in Domino impertimus.

Datum Romae, apud Sanctum Petrum, die XV mensis Augusti, in festo Assumptionis Beatae Mariae Virginis, anno MCMLXVI, Pontificatus Nostri quarto.


* Notitiae 2 (1966), pp. 252-255
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