Liturgy

Poverty Is Not What You Think It Is

Poverty fell off a cliff after the Second World War. It fell like a stone, including for American blacks. The economy was booming and everyone benefited. The poverty rate dropped from 35 percent in 1950 to less than 20 percent when President Lyndon Johnson, nonetheless, announced his War on Poverty. By the time the War [...]

Liturgy Amidst the Challenges of Modern Culture

I offer this reflection for the tenth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum, which occurred on July 7, which provided greater access to the traditional Latin Mass (now known as the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite). Summorum represents a highlight of Benedict’s reform in continuity. It’s no secret that Pope Francis is not [...]

Worship Worthy of God

July 7 is the tenth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum, a decree that allows priests to celebrate the form of the liturgy of the Mass before it was reformed in 1970. For most Catholics, this will likely fall into the category of ecclesiastical arcana, and pass unnoticed. Yet this same decree’s widespread obscurity—enacted [...]

Cardinal Sarah’s Defense of Summorum Pontificum

Editor's note: The following address by Cardinal Sarah was delivered at the colloquium "The Source of the Future" on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the publication of the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum by Pope Benedict XVI, March 29 – April 1, 2017, in Herzogenrath, Germany. Introductory Message First of all I wish to thank [...]

Abandoning Latin Changed Liturgical Music … for the Worse

After 35 years as a liturgical musician, it’s amazing how little I really know about the liturgical music of the Roman Rite. Then again, what should I expect when my earliest memories of music at Mass tend to involve now-forgotten attempts to make Ray Repp tunes, guitar-group versions of Beatles songs, social-justice-pop-folk songs, and patently [...]

The Liturgy as Educator

“I have understood more than all my teachers: because thy testimonies are my meditation.” —Ps. 118:99 Mine is a familiar story. Having grown up Catholic in the 1980s, I was well into my twenties when I first encountered the concepts—not to mention the terms—transubstantiation, real presence, or holy sacrifice. Having fallen away from any semblance [...]

Liturgy and the Dance Band on the Titanic

I'm in the dance band on the Titanic Sing "Nearer, my God, to Thee" The iceberg's on the starboard bow Won't you dance with me.                   ∼ Harry Chapin, 1977 Back in the late 1970s, when I was an impressionable young lad, I was introduced to the [...]

Re-turning to the Lord: A Call for Ad Orientem Worship

Lent is a season of conversion. During this time, it’s common to encounter readings, orations, and teachings from the saints in the Mass and the Breviary that direct us to “turn away” from sin and error and “turn to” God. An example is Joel 2:12-14, which happens to be the First Reading of the Mass [...]

Green Light on the Confessional

Fr. Kenneth Doyle writes one of those syndicated columns in the Catholic press that answers questions about the Church that Catholics pose. Recently, a Minnesota correspondent wrote asking about confessions during Mass. The writer recalled being told in catechism that fulfilling the precept of attending Mass required attendance at the Gospel, offertory, and Communion, but his [...]

A Trinity of Bad Hygiene

“Let us continue to abuse one another / With the kiss of Peace.” ∼  Geoffrey Hill, “The Triumph of Love,” part XLIV Few moments are as completely uncomfortable, for me at least, as the “Kiss of Peace” or the “Sign of Peace” at the Novus Ordo Mass. It’s actually painfully awkward. And during this high-point [...]

The Splendor of the World Redeemed

The aroma was transporting: the familiar smell brought me back to childhood, to being in the kitchen with my mom, as her banana cake baked in the oven, promising sweet and banana-ish goodness. To this day, the aroma of a well-made banana cake (and, you’ll allow me to aver, my mother’s was the best) brings [...]

On Man’s Proper Disposition Toward God During Mass

Anyone coming upon Dietrich von Hildebrand’s Liturgy and Personality (Hildebrand Press), who thinks it will be a manual on how to imbue the liturgy with one’s personality, or how not to do so, is in for a surprise, unsettling and salutary. The work is in the first instance metaphysical: we cannot discuss the relationship between [...]

Hopkins, Autumn, and Christ

A young child, Margaret, grieves for the time-swept autumn leaves. She is the object of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem “Spring and Fall,” and her bright Goldengrove is now “unleaving.” Goldengrove, with all its connotations of idyllic youth and sunny play. Goldengrove, where we imagine little Margaret exulting, with Chestertonian wonder, in the gratuitous magic of [...]

When An Opera Is Like a Vatican II Liturgy

Years (and years) ago I went to an opera in Graz, Austria—I guess the American equivalent to this is going to see the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park (if you are a huge baseball fan) or Ricky Skaggs play the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, if you are a big country-western aficionado. Anyway, [...]

Teach the Faith, Please

While I generally find the profusion and milling-around of lay ministers of the Eucharist distracting and unnecessary, I found myself offering prayers of thanksgiving for one this past Sunday. We’ve recently moved and were attending a new and unfamiliar parish with a bewildering process for going forward to receive, including multiple lines of Eucharistic ministers [...]

The Case for Ad Orientem Worship

“Father, why don’t you smile more at Mass?” It is a question that I am asked at least once every few months. The question is usually posed by a well-meaning older person while I am greeting the faithful after Mass, making every effort to prove that I am not one of the “little monsters” that [...]

Cardinal Sarah’s Ambitious Liturgical Reform

“Education,” according to Plato’s Socrates, “is not what the professions of certain men assert it to be”—it is not the putting of knowledge into the soul “as though [one] were putting sight into blind eyes.” Rather, education is the art of turning souls around so that our natural human powers, directed toward “what really is,” [...]

Cardinal Sarah’s Liturgical Reform Meets Resistance

It has been said that Rome thinks in centuries. In the present age, however, it seems that Rome reacts in days. So Cardinal Sarah learned following a July 5 address on the liturgy, as the Vatican issued a clarification meant to quash speculation about the possibility of new enactments from Rome that would affect liturgical norms [...]

On Facing East During Mass

It is very important that we return as soon as possible to a common orientation, of priests and the faithful turned together in the same direction—eastward or at least towards the apse—to the Lord who comes.  ∼ Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect, Congregation for the Divine Worship, London, July 5, 2016. Symbols mean something. A nephew of [...]

No Pentecost Liturgy Should Exclude the Veni Sancte Spiritus

Something beautiful is supposed to happen on Pentecost, though you might miss it. The culmination of the Easter season offers us a gem of sacred art: Veni Sancte Spiritus, the Pentecost sequence, which has long been regarded as one of the most magnificent works of literature in the Church’s treasury. When set to appropriate music, [...]

On the Restoration and Promotion of the Traditional Mass

The third anniversary of the election of Pope Francis seems an apt time to take stock of the state of the Traditionalist movement within the Church. While the term may encompass various goals for the Church, I focus here on its essential aim, namely the restoration and promotion of the Tridentine liturgy. The reign of [...]

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