Saturday, July 25, 2009

Living the Liturgy "People Look East"

Another beautiful writng by Fr. Rob Johansen,

One of my favorite Advent hymns is the old French carol “People, Look East”. It has always seemed to me to exemplify the joyful expectation of the Advent season. While I’m not sure what, if any, expert consensus there may be on the matter, I’ve always thought of it as a late Advent hymn – one to sing in the week or two before Christmas, and maybe even on Christmas eve. The hymn urges us to get ready: Love, in the Christ child, is on the way! He’s almost here, as the last verse tells us:

Angels, announce with shouts of mirth
Christ, who brings new life to earth.
Set ev’ry peak and valley humming
With the word, “The Lord is coming.”
People look East, and sing today:
Love, the Lord is on the way!

Christ is the light of the world, as Simeon prophesied in the temple (Luke 2:32), and as John wrote in his Gospel (John 1:4-5). He illuminates the souls of those who belong to him. So the Church, from the earliest times, has seen the light of the sun, particularly at dawn, as a symbol and image of Christ. Zechariah refers to the coming Messiah as the “daybreak from on high” (Luke 2:78). At the end of the book of Revelation, Jesus describes Himself as the “bright morning star” (Rev. 22:16). The early Church, reflecting on this symbolism, attached great importance to worshipping Christ at dawn, especially on the first day of the week, which was also the day of resurrection. The early Church attached great importance to facing towards the dawning light in its prayer as well. Early churches were built so that, when the assembly gathered for prayer, they faced the East. When Mass was celebrated, priest and people faced not each other, but together faced the altar, toward the East. St. Clement of Alexandria (150 – 216 AD) explained:
... And since the dawn is an image of the day of birth, and from that point the light which has shone forth at first from the darkness increases... In correspondence with the manner of the sun’s rising, prayers are made looking towards the sunrise in the east. (Stromata Book IV, ch. 7)Even when, as the Church grew, it was no longer possible to build every church so as to have the altar facing eastward, the custom remained of having priest and people together face the altar during the Eucharistic liturgy, facing the Daystar who came to be with His people on that altar. This posture of priest and people facing the altar is known as ad orientem, which is the Latin for “toward the East”. Most Catholics who are aware of this posture would probably associate it with the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, that is, the Mass as it was celebrated before the liturgical reforms of the 1970’s. Indeed, one of the liturgical changes most associated with Vatican II is that of turning the priest around so that he faced the people. Many Catholics would probably imagine that this change was mandated by Vatican II, and that the former posture of ad orientem had been abolished. But this impression, widespread though it is, is incorrect. In point of fact, no document of Vatican II and nothing in the rubrics of the modern Roman Rite either requires the priest to celebrate Mass facing the people or abolishes celebrating Mass ad orientem. Our Holy Father Pope Benedict, while he was still Cardinal Ratzinger, wrote of the desirability of returning to the ancient practice of ad orientem celebration, expressing himself very strongly:
...A common turning to the East during the Eucharistic Prayer remains essential. This is not a case of something accidental, but of what is essential...What matters is looking together at the Lord. (Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 81)As Pope, Benedict has gone so far as to publicly celebrate Mass using the ancient ad orientem posture. And many priests and parishes, all over the United States and indeed, the world, are beginning to take up the Pope’s lead in restoring this tradition. At my own parish we have begun using it from time to time, and several other parishes in the Kalamazoo diocese have adopted ad orientem, some even doing so entirely. What this ancient posture underscores is the essential message of the liturgies of Advent: We are all to be turned toward the Lord, waiting for His coming. For some two millennia the people of Israel waited for the coming of the Messiah. He has come, but we still have the experience of waiting expectantly for Him, every time we celebrate the Eucharist. And if we are turned towards Him, if we are oriented in the direction of His coming, then we can have blessing which was given to the shepherds on the night of His birth – the glimmer of a faint purple light in the East, growing to the ray of light from the Daystar. A light shining not from the sky, but from an infant, who is Himself the Light of the World. People, look East! Love, the Lord is on the way!

Cultivating Love for Beauty in the Liturgy

I found a wonderful blog by
Fr. Rob Johansen
Dorr, Michigan, United States
(Parish Priest, Writer, and Lover of Good Books, Good Music, Good Wine and Good Cigars.)

God bless him and all his work.

It's not exactly "news" anymore, but last month I took a group of students (7th & 8th graders, as well as some altar servers) to St. John Cantius Catholic Church in Chicago for their celebration of High Mass in the Extraordinary Form for the Ascension of the Lord. We arrived at the church in the afternoon of Ascension Thursday, where we were given a tour by one of the canons of St. John Cantius, followed by dinner at a local restaurant, and then back to the church for Mass. I believe it is very important that the priest work to instill and cultivate in our young people an understanding and appreciation for the beauty of the Sacred, whether it be in art, music, or architecture. To that end, I have periodically tried to introduce the children at our parish school to different aspects of sacred art and sacred music: for example, I have brought an iconographer to the school to give presentations on sacred art and iconography, and guest musicians to introduce the students to different instruments and kinds of sacred music. This is "on top of" the program in liturgical music that I introduced to the school two years ago, which has produced results like this:School Children Singing the "Regina Coeli"But this trip to St. John Cantius is a step to giving the kids exposure to the Sacred beyond their own parish and school. Also, this was, for most of the school children, their first experience of Mass in the Extraordinary Form. I have been gradually introducing the use of Latin and Gregorian Chant over the last 3 years, so these things would not be alien to the children, but to experience these things in the usus antiquior was new for most of them. And what an experience it was! We arrived and entered the church just as the brothers were beginning Vespers. The children were quite impressed by the church itself, as well anyone should be:
(all photos may be viewed full-size by clicking on them)I enjoyed watching the kids crane their necks around trying to take it all in. Most of the kids have never been to a church as large, impressive, and chock-full of art as St. John Cantius. After Vespers, Br. Joshua, one of the Canons of St. John Cantius, gave us a tour of the church.
Br. Joshua Explaining Various Aspects of the SanctuaryAmong the artistic beauties of the church is the Wit Stwosz Altarpiece replica. Done in carved wood, gold, and other precious materials, it is a one-quarter size replica of a famous altarpiece in Poland. The tour was quite complete, even including a trip up to both lofts. Like many great Polish churches built in this period, St. John Cantius has a double loft - one for choir, one for the great organ. the kids were impressed both by the organ and by the view from the loft:As I mentioned above, after the tour we went out for dinner at a nice Italian restaurant nearby, and then returned to the church for Mass. I gave the kids a brief introduction to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass before we left the school in the morning, and Br. Joshua gave some "preview" information as well. The kids were already familiar with the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin, from our usage at St. Stanislaus, and I prepared for them a little handout with the propers so that they could follow those as well. The Mass was glorious! The choir sang Tomas Luis de Victoria's Missa Ascendens Christum in Altum, as well as an impressive modern work, Colin Mawby's O Rex Gloriae, during the Offertory. The kids were entranced by the singing - that was one of the things that came up repeatedly in the days after the trip. I had told the children beforehand that it wasn't so important to try to follow along in the Mass exactly, so much as to "take in" the whole experience and unite themselves in prayer to the priest offering the Sacrifice during the Canon. On the bus ride home, they readily confessed that they lost track of things during the Canon. A number of them wanted to know why the Canon was silent in the Extraordinary Form, which I explained. But none of them seemed unduly bothered by the fact that they lost their place here and there. I think the experience put them on such "sensory overload" that they were borne along by the whole sacred movement.
The Whole Crew after MassSo, the kids had an experience they will remember, and some were intrigued enough to say that they wanted to go to an Extraordinary Form Mass again. (Yea!) A taste of sacred beauty does indeed inspire the thirst for more!

Ad Orientem (Facing East) vs. Versus Populum

"Despite all the variations in practice that have taken place far into the second millennium, one thing has remained clear for the whole of Christendom: praying toward the east is a tradition that goes back to the beginning. Moreover, it is a fundamental expression of the Christian synthesis of cosmos and history [see below], of being rooted in the once-for-all events of salvation history while going out to meet the Lord who is to come again"
(Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 75).
Ad Orientem (Facing East) vs. Versus Populum (Facing the People)
During Advent we will be celebrating Mass Ad Orientem (towards the East) or as most people wrongly say “with the priest’s back to the people. This ancient practice causes much bewilderment in modern Catholics.
The point of facing east is to emphasize the essential character of the liturgy: that of a procession out of time and into eternity in Heaven. We see and taste this procession in the course of the liturgy. The celebrant, standing in the person of Christ, leads the way, but we are all moving together, as a community and as the people of God, as part of the same procession that begins at the Introit, continues though the Offertory, and culminates with our reception of Holy Communion.
The practice offers a psychological and spiritual benefit. It permits you the worshipper to contemplate the purely sacramental character of the Mass and focus less on the personality of the celebrant. From the celebrant's point of view, it permits a more intense focus on the mystery of the sacrifice taking place rather than on the personalities of the worshippers.
Our goal at St. Bede and in the Teen CAFÉ community is not to permanently change the modern practice of Versus Populum Masses but, in the course of offering praise and worship to the Triune God, to introduce our teens to the richness of the Roman liturgical tradition and to have them ask important questions about what makes Mass different from what other Christians do when they pray.
Here are a few observations to keep in mind during Advent as we await the coming of the Lord:
1. Vatican Council II said nothing about the direction of the celebrant during Mass. It presupposed Mass ad orientem. Mass facing east was the norm from ancient times and even during and after Vatican Council II. There has never been authoritative liturgical legislation requiring any change. The Roman Missal (official liturgical book from which Mass is celebrated) not only permits it, the rubrics actually presuppose it, (e.g., the priest is told to "turn toward the people" at the Orate Fratres ("Pray, brethren . . .) 2. It has been the practice in the entire Church, East and West from time immemorial. Contrary to a prevailing misconception there is no evidence for celebration of Mass versus populum in the first nineteen centuries of the Church's history, with rare exceptions. (Cf. The Spirit of the Liturgy, by Cardinal Ratzinger, pp. 74-84.) The practice of reducing an altar to a table for a service facing the people began only in the 16th century — with Martin Luther. 3. Moving the altar closer to the nave, separating it from the reredos, and proclaiming the readings from the ambo are a welcome return to more ancient tradition and in harmony with the intent of Sacrosanctum Concilium. However, the almost universal celebration of the Mass versus populum, while permitted deprives the Mass of its traditional cosmic and eschatological symbolism.
4. Churches have traditionally been constructed facing the rising sun. Facing east we are turned in expectation toward the Lord who is to come (eschatology) and we show that we are part of an act that goes beyond the church and community where we are celebrating, to the whole world (cosmos). In churches not facing geographical east, the Cross and Tabernacle become "liturgical east". The drama of salvation history is powerfully symbolized in the renewed liturgy when it is celebrated ad orientem. The priest faces the people as he calls them to prayer. Then he turns to lead them in the common plea for mercy (Kyrie eleison). He prays on behalf of the people as he continues to face the Lord. He turns toward the people to proclaim the Word and instruct them. After receiving their gifts, he turns again to the Lord to offer the gifts to God. He then turns to the people to distribute the Risen Christ at the eucharistic banquet.
While there is some positive symbolism in Mass versus populum, there is also a very negative symbolism. "The turning of the priest toward the people has turned the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is closed in on itself" (Ratzinger,
p. 80). It is our hope that the celebration of these Masses ad orientem during the season of Advent will enkindle in our teens a deeper appreciation for what transpires at each and every Mass. It is our hope that this experience will do more than simply turn the priest around. We hope that it will turn all of us towards God who is “ahead and above.”

From CMAA Forum

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Mass schedule for July

At OLPH (practice on Mondays at 7:30)
Saturday Mass (8:15AM) (Warm - up starts at 7:40)
July 18

Kyrie XI
Sanctus XVIII
Mysterium Fidei and Amen
Agnus Dei XVIII
Panem de Caelo
Salve Regina

At St. Martin's (Little Sisters of the Poor)
July19, Sunday, 10:30 (warm-up at 10AM)

Ave Maria(Prelude)
Come now Almighty King (721)
Gloria VIII
Salve Regina (offertory, 702)
Sanctus XVIII
Mysterium Fidei and Amen
Agnus Dei XVIII
Shepherd of Souls (367)
The King of Love My Shepherd Is (483, vs 1,2 and 6)

At Resurrection Church (practice on Tuesdays at 7:30 PM)
Satruday Mass (9AM) (Warm-up starts at 8:30)
July 11, 25

Kyrie XVI
Sanctus VIII
Mysterium Fidei and Amen
Agnus Dei IV
Panem de Caelo
Salve Regina

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

From Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum

The Pope stressed: "There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place."

Comment on Colloquium XIX

Tonight I returned home after attending the 2009 Sacred Music Colloquium in Chicago. From Monday evening, June 22, through this morning, we rehearsed Gregorian chant and polyphony daily, sang at Mass, and attended workshops and lectures. Tuesday morning after Mass I thought, "If we participated in Masses like this every week, it would change our lives." It is impossible to be indifferent to such a Mass. Such a Mass is so profoundly otherworldly, so oriented to the transcendent, so powerfully prayerful that it is impossible to be lukewarm. One must choose whom one will serve.
If you haven’t been, you can’t imagine the joy of being with and singing with 250-some like-minded people—all of them talented singers, music directors, and/or instrumentalists—who know the church’s teachings on sacred music, support them fully, and will never say "Why do we have to sing all this Latin?"
These Masses were the closest thing to perfect liturgies that I’ve ever seen or heard. The rubrics were respected. The church’s wishes for liturgical music were respected...

Pope Benedict XVI Schola