Friday, August 8, 2008

The Year of Saint Paul

Annus Sancti Pauli: 29 Junii MMVIII – 29 Junii MMIX

The 29th of June Pope Benedict XVI ushered in the jubilee year of Saint Paul for the bi-millenial year of his birth: “a year to learn from Saint Paul, to learn faith, to learn Christ and to learn the way of upright living”. (Wednesday Audience, 2 July 2008)

To assist in that goal of this year I here provide Saint Thomas’ schema of Saint Paul’s writings. He sees Christ’s grace as Saint Paul’s unifying theme. He thereby explains the order of the letters as we find them in the present New Testament canon. The Angelic Doctor systemitizes it thus to provide an easy way to learn and remember the order and the basic content of the entire Pauline corpus. That was one of the many geniuses of systematic theology: order and ease in learning. The synthesis does not pretend to be the whole but rather a minimal yet faithful sketch of the whole. Hopefully it will help us in our learning of Saint Paul, of faith, of Christ and upright living this year.

The Structure of the Pauline Corpus
According to St. Thomas Aquinas

There are fourteen letters (including Hebrews). Nine address the Gentile Church (Ecclesiam Gentium), four the leaders (praelatos et principes: reges) of the Church, and one addresses the people of Israel, that to the Hebrews.

All of the teaching in Saint Paul is about the grace of Christ which may be considered in three ways.
I. Nine letters consider the grace of Christ as it exists in the mystical body itself:
A. Grace may be considered in three ways. First, in itself, and this is how it is treated in the letter to the Romans.
B. Second, in the sacraments of grace:
1. In 1Corinthians, considered in the sacraments themselves;
2. In 2 Corinthians, in the ministers of the sacraments;
3. In Galatians, superfluous “sacraments” (namely those of the Old Law) are excluded;
C. Third, the grace of Christ is considered according to the uniting effect, in the Church.
1. First, the unity itself is discussed:
a) In Ephesians, the foundation [institutio] of the Church’s unity is considered;
b) In Philippians, the strengthening and advancing (confirmatione et profectu) of the Church’s unity is set forth;
2. Second, its defense:
a) Against certain errors, in the letter to the Colossians;
b) Against persecutions:
(1) In the present in 1Thessalonians;
(2) In the future (and chiefly at the time of the Anti-Christ) in 2 Thessalonians.
II. Four letters instruct the prelates regarding the grace of Christ considered as it exists in the chief members of the Church.
A. Instructing the spiritual prelates:
1. In 1 Timothy on the institution, instruction and governance of church unity;
2. In 2 Timothy on steadfastness (firmitate) against persecutors;
3. In Titus on the defense against heretics. B. Instructing the temporal prelates in Philemon.
III. One letter, that to the Hebrews, considers the grace of Christ as it exists in the head of the mystical body, Christ himself.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Musica Sacra 2008

In Feast of Faith (p. 98) the then Cardinal Ratzinger referred to Sacrosanctum Concilium’s promotion of Gregorian chant and polyphony in church choirs..

“This document contains…particular emphasis on the teaching of church music in seminaries and on the training of church musicians and singers, especially boys. Special mention is made of the desirability of establishing ‘higher institutes of sacred music’. (S.C., 115) Gregorian chant is particularly recommended, but there is also an express affirmation of polyphony”. (S.C., 116)

As a necessary preface to that we must add the Council’s (and the Roman Missal’s) insistence that the people are to be taught the Mass in Latin. “…[C]are must be taken to ensure that the faithful may…be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them”. (S.C., 54, cf. Insititutio Generalis Missalis Romani, 2005, 41)

This need to preserve and promote the liturgical Latin music patrimony of the Church is surely the conciliar norm most universally neglected and rejected by the bishops and priests, seminaries and parishes these forty five years since the Sacrosanctum Concilium publication. This blatant disobedience to the clear liturgical directives of the Second Vatican Council is consistent with the complete rejection of Veterum Sapientia, which, on the 22nd of February 1962, mandated Latin as the official language for seminary instruction and formation. In an upcoming blog I shall provide a translation of the nine year Latin study program and the appended list of the most important theological texts of the Latin Church Fathers that should be studied in Latin, as found in the instruction given by the Sacred Congregation of Seminaries and University Studies for the proper implementation of the Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia on 22 April 1962 (Ordinationes ad Constitutionem Apostolicam “Veterum Sapientia” Rite Exsequendam). For now, back to my present topic on Catholic Sacred Music today, the purpose of this essay.

There you have the problem which I and many of my contemporary post Vatican II laymen, seminarians, and priests have keenly felt. Even Pope Benedict himself admitted, in his Motu Proprio follow up letter to his brother bishops on the “Forms” of the Roman Ritual, the liturgical confusion he had to endure as a young priest in the post conciliar years. Well, the Church Music Association of America (CMMA) is providing a worthy response.

I attended The (CMMA) Sacred Music Colloquium XVIII at Loyola University’s Lakeshore Campus in Chicago this Summer (16-22 June), an exclusively Gregorian Chant and Polyphonic Masses and Motets seminar in a scholarly and prayerful atmosphere: some 250 participants, mostly parish music composers and music directors, music students and some priests and seminarians, from around the nation. We trained for and chanted and sang the daily Office and the daily Mass, both Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms, in Latin!!! Having had some practice chanting I joined the intermediate chant group for the training sessions that week, challenging and most delightful.

The organization and professionalism of the staff were exemplary. What completed the grandeur was the sense of sincere Catholic faith. All of the training and teaching were thoroughly imbued with Catholicism. Routinely there would be people in personal prayer in the chapel, especially before and after each of the chapel visits. Confession was daily available. Many of the women and young ladies wore veils for the Masses and everyone dressed with the greatest decorum throughout. Kneeling was normative for communion (it is the universal norm according to the updated Roman Missal). There were many young people, perhaps half the participants were under forty, and everyone was most friendly and unassuming.

The food and the accommodations were very good and the site and the weather were fabulous, not to mention the low price: $575 for the week which included everything, even the books. Just a couple of anecdotes before closing.

I loved being so close to the water. Being an early riser I would go out around six in the morning to get to the chapel for some early morning one-on-one with Our Lord. Well, on the final day, Sunday, I got out there around five thirty hoping to be on time for the sunrise, which I had missed all week. It was already too late, realizing that in Chicago we were just west of the time line, so the sunrise was an hour earlier than on the east coast. Anyway, I went to the walkway along the shore rocks and got to the chapel. The lake was flat with calm and the sun was soft and large, reflecting greatly across the lakes expanse. Taking my place in front of the chapel the foxes from the lakeside barrier boulders are playing in the morning grass just forty yards away. They swirl over and around each other as if in dance. There are several pairs of them back and forth from the rocks and across the lawns, parking lots and sidewalks. I even fed one of them at my feet, with a young incoming freshman beside me.

The young man’s name was Patrick. He saw me in my cassock (I am a priest) and he, also up early to see the sunrise, which he also had missed!, sat down and we ended up talking about philosophers and theologians (I told him about the Confessions of Saint Augustine and about Saint Thomas Aquinas, the greatest Catholic mind the world shall ever see, which must be read) and he asked about priestly vocation. He was very inquisitive and sincere. So I invited him to the polyphonic Mass of that closing day: Sunday, the Montiverdi Mass in F. He came and followed that Mass (Extraodinary Form) with my Mass chant and polyphonic books. At the end of the Mass all of the participants sang Bruckner’s Ave Maria, for which Patrick joined me with the first tenors: all 250 voices in four part harmony singing the words of the angels, having practiced only once: powerful!!! It was significant to close introducing a newcomer to our great heritage in that artistically and religiously excellent atmosphere. May God bless Patrick and CMAA and the Jesuits of Loyola for this part of the implementation of the most neglected part of the Second Vatican Council’s liturgical directives, in union with Pope Benedict XVI, the Vicar of Christ.

To hear some of the music or read about that colloquium or for information on next year's colloquium go to
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