Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Traditional Liturgical Conference in August

Though too late for my planning, I just found this announcement of an upcoming traditional liturgical conference especially catering to priests. Looks very good! Hope they do it next year too. This year's conference in Herzogenrath, Germany is Cologne's 14th such conference.

Did you know that there is a Traditional (Extraordinary Form) Trappist Monastery, also in Germany? Check it out. They went back to their (our) traditional form with the Motu Proprio! God bless them. Would that some American Trappists might get the same idea.

It is a wonder to me and a liturgical and monastic tragedy that they all just threw away their Latin liturgical treasures with Concilium, against the express directives of Vatican II! Perhaps some of the dying monasteries in America might reconsider that mistake and recover this Catholic monastic patrimony-- and thereby get many young and zealous vocations with this timely reform.

Will the Trappists of the "stricter" observance (viz. more loyal to the liturgical past and to the present Magisterium of the Holy Father Benedict) please stand up!!!

Meanwhile, it looks like we need to brush up on our "Deutsches sprache!"

Kreuz.net mentioned the upcoming conference in June.

Passing Beauty

Beauty passes,
Virtue stays.

I recently came across this German proverb (Shonheit vergeht, Tugend besteht.): which is a source of consolation for my middle age.

May it be so for yours,--and the glory for old age!

Saint Hedwig's: The Real Berlin Cathedral

The dramatic picture in my previous post is not the Catholic Cathedral but an Evangelical (Protestant) parish church, though it is called "The Berlin Cathedral."

Here is a picture of the Catholic Cathedral of Berlin in it's reconstructed present, post-War, form.

The dome looks like a bomb shelter. Probably not a bad idea after what happened to the first one-- just in case.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

First Official German Visit by The German Pontiff

In Light of the World (p. 117) the Holy Father admitted that "...I have not yet visited Germany officially... [T]he capital, too, has to be visited at some point. If the Lord grants me the strength, I would be very happy to visit Germany again."

Today the Vatican Information Service posted the schedule for the visit to take place 22-25 September 2011. Looks like some massive Masses are planned for the visit: e.g. a Berlin Olympic Stadium Mass and a closing Mass at an airport.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Spanish Sermonic Superiority

During his student days at Columbia (early 1940's), Thomas Merton went to Cuba and noted the great poetical adeptness of the Spanish language for preaching. He knew the language from his youth, having been born in Prades, a French border town in the foothills of the Pyrenees, and later spending some of his grade school years in France. He was fluent in English, French, Italian and Spanish, and very good at Latin.

"Often I left one church and went to hear another Mass in another church, especially if the day happened to be Sunday, and I would listen to the harmonious sermons of the Spanish priests, the very grammar of which was full of dignity and mysticism and courtesy. After Latin, it seems to me there is no language so fitted for prayer and for talk about God as Spanish: for it is a language at once strong and supple, it has its sharpness, it has the quality of steel in it, which gives it the accuracy that true mysticism needs, and yet it is soft, too, and gentle and pliant, which devotion needs, and it is courteous and suppliant and courtly, and it lends itself surprisingly little to sentimentality. It has some of the intellectuality of French but not the coldness that intellectuality gets in French: and it never overflows into the feminine melodies of Italian. Spanish is never a weak language, never sloppy, even on the lips of a woman."

"The fact that while all this was going on in the pulpit, there would be Cubans ringing bells and yelling lottery numbers outside in the street seemed to make no difference. For a people that is supposed to be excitable, the Cubans have a phenomenal amount of patience with all the things that get on American nerves and drive people crazy, like persistent and strident noise. But for my own part, I did not mind any of that any more than the natives did." The Seven Storey Mountain , 280

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Requiem Mass for Archduke Otto Von Habsburg

Here is some footage from today's Requiem Mass for the last crown prince of the Habsburg empire , the penultimate surviving son of Blessed Karl Von Habsburg.

The last surviving son of the holy Emperor is the Archduke Felix. The current head of the house of Habsburg is the successor of Prince Otto and his eldest son Karl Von Habsburg: Prince Imperial and Archduke of Austria; Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia

Two observations from the funeral video. Notice the traditional Roman style vestments in BLACK for the funeral! And also notice that cardinal Shonborn, the main celebrant of the concelebrated Mass, distributes communion to the congregation kneeling at the communion rail!

Are these privileges reserved for royal funerals or are they not part of our common Catholic heritage to be used far and wide!

Primacy of Gregorian Chant

This past April, for this year's Confirmation Mass, the bishop forbade the pastor of the parish from including hymns or chants in Latin. He said: "no Latin." And, unfortunately, the pastor obeyed him, which he had no obligation to do since the bishop is clearly contradicting the liturgical laws of the Roman Catholic liturgy.

Not only is Latin chant allowed, it is highly preferred for any and all Masses, especially the ones with the bishop, especially even cathedral Masses!!! Would that the bishops would get in line with the laws of holy mother Church regarding the liturgy! It would make our worship more sublime and our obedience to our bishops less perplexing! Thank God for His Holiness the Bishop of Rome who is doing his part in fidelity to the Latinitas of our liturgy.

"The Church recognizes Gregorian chant as being specially suited to the Roman liturgy. Therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services."

Sacrosanctum Concilium, 116.

In the excellent autobiography on his conversion and priestly/monastic vocation, The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton (who nevertheless later in life went off to dubious doctrines and practices) mentions the sublimity of Gregorian chant and its timeless profundity in a couple of eloquent passages.

"But the cold stones of the Abbey church ring with a chant that glows with living flame, with clean, profound desire. It is an austere warmth, the warmth of Gregorian chant. It is deep beyond ordinary emotion, and that is one reason why you never get tired of it. It never wears you out by making a lot of cheap demands on your sensibilities. Instead of drawing you out into the open field of feelings where your enemies, the devil and your own imagination and the inherent vulgarity of your own corrupted nature can get at you with their blades and cut you to pieces, it draws you within, where you are lulled in peace and recollection and where you find God.

"You rest in Him, and He heals you with His secret wisdom.

"That first evening in choir I tried to sing my first few notes of Gregorian chant with the worst cold I had ever had in my life...

"It was the second vespers of St. Lucy and we chanted the psalms of the Commune virginum, but after that the capitulum was of the second Sunday of Advent, and presently the cantor intoned the lovely Advent hymn, Conditor Alme Siderum.

"What measure and balance and strength there is in the simplicity of that hymn! Its structure is mighty with a perfection that despises the effects of the most grandiloquent secular music--and says more that Bach without even exhausting the whole range of one octave. That evening I saw how the measured tone took the old words of St. Ambrose and infused into them even more strength and suppleness and conviction and meaning than they already had and made them flower before God in beauty and in fire, flower along the stones and vanish in the darkness of the vaulted ceiling. And their echo died and left ours souls full of peace and grace.

"When we began the chant the Magnificat I almost wept..." 379-380

He speaks of the Holy Saturday triple "alleluia" and the "Easter invitatory that is nothing short of gorgeous in its exultation."

"How mighty they are, those hymns and those antiphons of the Easter office! Gregorian chant that should, by rights, be monotonous, because it has absolutely none of the tricks and resources of modern music, is full of a variety infinitely rich because it is subtle and spiritual and deep, and lies rooted far beyond the shallow level of virtuosity and 'technique,' even in the abysses of the spirit, and of the human soul. Those Easter 'alleluias,' without leaving the narrow range prescribed by the eight Gregorian modes, have discovered color and warmth and meaning and gladness that no other music possesses. Like everything else Cistercian--like the monks themselves, these antiphons, by submitting to the rigor of a Rule that would seem to destroy individuality, have actually acquired a character that is unique, unparalleled." 401

It seems to me that there are no Trappist monasteries of men in America that do the Gregorian Chant so exalted by Merton! Why not a traditional Trappist monastery in America? I suppose it would be very attractive. Take one of the existing monasteries and just turn back to pre-1962. It probably would be relatively easy. Many of them perhaps still have the old books and the old monks who remember how to use them. With some traditionalist younger vocations it would probably make for a wonderful combination and a great success. I am thinking in particular of Mepkin Abbey in Moncks Corner South Carolina which has had a significant role in my life.
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