David Ancell's Virtual Home

New Translation, Day One

  /   Sunday, November 27, 2011   /   Comments(0)

We made it through our first Sunday Mass with the new translation.  I haven’t been so excited about going to Mass since the Easter Vigil Mass on which I was baptized. If you search for “language” or “translation” on this blog, you’ll find that I have written several posts about it, the earliest one being in May 2004.  Yes, that’s right, we have been waiting for years for this translation!

Naysayers may want to call the new translation “stilted” or some similar less-than-flattering word, but I am convinced that our former translation was just too casual.  We are doing the most important thing we will do all week when we worship God, and the one we are addressing in our worship is the one to whom we owe everything.  For more on the reason I’m convinced that a kind of elevated language is needed, go here.

In my parish, everything went very well.  I did have one occasion where I responded “And also . . . and with your Spirit” as my wife cracked a smile.  That one will be the hardest habit to break.  There was no detectable rebellion.  Our pastor made a great effort to prepare himself, and he did an excellent job.  I followed along using my Daily Roman Missal.  The translation does flow nicely for one who is prepared.  I only found one passage that seemed a bit awkward.

I am so grateful that we are now using the new Roman Missal.  I’m even more thankful that Simon will grow up with this being the way he will worship God.  I’m looking forward to using this text for years to come.

Category: Catholic, Liturgy

Extraordinary Form: What are people afraid of?

  /   Saturday, May 14, 2011   /   Comments(0)

This week, I got the news that a new letter of instruction was released on the celebration of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form from the Ecclesia Dei commission and approved by Pope Benedict.  This came as kind of a clarification on Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict’s letter authorizing wider use of the rite.  In both texts, the Holy Father is asking for wider availability of the older form for those who request it.

When Summorum Pontificum was published in 2007, it generated a variety of reactions.  Bishop Burbidge of Raleigh, NC welcomed it.  Meanwhile, in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, a strange list of “norms” was published regarding its use that seem to defeat the purpose of the Holy Father’s decree.  In fact, what I’ve read about this past week’s new letter seem to have been written to specifically counter what they are saying in Cincinnati.

Here’s my question:  Why are there people so afraid of allowing the celebration of the Extraordinary Form?  Pope Benedict is only asking for it to be made available for those who desire it.  What is the problem that a bishop or an office of worship in a diocese would need to set up such barriers?

Well, there is one legitimate concern.  Some people who favor the old rite do so because they don’t respect the validity of the Ordinary Form of the Mass.  This is a form of dissent against the Church that cannot be supported.  The new instruction addresses this by saying that groups such as these should not be accommodated.  The purpose of Summorum Pontificum was to promote reconciliation, not schism.

Do people (whether laity, priests, or the local bishop) worry that priests, especially younger ones, will just up and decide that they aren’t going to offer the Ordinary Form anymore?  This is highly unlikely.  The greater availability of the Extraordinary Form is for people who request it.  If there is not a group of people requesting it, it’s difficult to imagine priests eager to impose it on them.  Are people going to want the Extraordinary Form in such numbers that priests everywhere will be compelled to offer it?  I doubt this.  Too many people (out of ignorance, mostly) believe that the Extraordinary Form is a relic of the Dark Ages.

Do people have some problem with the Extraordinary Form? If so, what?  It had been the only form of the Roman Rite for centuries, and it is a very beautiful rite.  Whenever I have been, I see people who truly want to be at Mass and give worship to God.  So, I ask (please feel free to comment), what are we afraid of?

Category: Catholic, Liturgy, Response

Chant Cafe

  /   Sunday, January 23, 2011   /   Comments(0)

A number of years ago, my grandmother told me about how she loved the Latin when that was the language of the Mass.  I must confess that I didn’t understand her.  It seemed strange that she wouldn’t be perfectly happy with having the Mass in English.  We gave her a CD of Gregorian Chant one year, and she loved it.  She could tell that I wasn’t so enthusiastic.

Years later, I’ve been to the Extraordinary Form a few times and really enjoy it.  The parish to which we belong has a schola that does chant about once a month, and it is beautiful.  I only wish that I had discovered all of this while my grandmother was still alive.

Thanks to the National Catholic Register, I learned of the Chant Cafe site.  It is well worth reading about the music of the Mass and how things have departed from the original intent of Vatican II.  Until I read it, I did not know what an Introit was or that there was a setting for the antiphons for the Mass.  Then, one day, the schola in my parish was singing it, and I realized that they had been doing this all along.  Ah, yes, this is one more reason why I love the liturgies at Assumption.  By the way, this is a small parish with not a lot of staff.  So, lack of resources isn’t a very good excuse for not having a beautiful Mass.

Category: Liturgy

Eastern Rite

  /   Sunday, November 07, 2010   /   Comments(0)

Last week, I went to my first Eastern Rite Divine Liturgy.  Specifically, it was the Ukrainian Rite, and the principal celebrant was their bishop.  Most of the Mass, including the Scripture reading, was chanted.  I thought the deacon’s voice sounded familiar.  Then, I found out that the deacon and priest live in Raleigh.  We had heard them before at the morning prayer of the Ignited by Truth conference.

The Liturgy felt quite a bit different from what I am used to, but I found the basic parts were still there.  It begins with the signing of Psalm 51 (penitential).  The Scriptures are read.  The Creed and Sanctus are used.  There are also a lot of repeating prayers.  It was a beautiful liturgy that I hope to experience again. However, I really do need to find something to explain the various prayers and hymns.

Oh, and the Liturgy was in English.  Their translation is, in many places, very similar to the new translation coming to our Roman Rite.  It just seems funny to me that people complain about our upcoming translation when the Eastern Church already uses that same kind of language.

Category: Catholic, Liturgy

Top Ten Worst Hymns

  /   Wednesday, July 07, 2010   /   Comments(0)

The Curt Jester Jeff Miller, on his Twitter feed (which I retweeted), linked this heavily-commented blog post from First Things. For some reason, this has been a favorite topic for me.  I let it go for a while until I moved to North Carolina, where the music I heard brought it all back to me again.  It was the inspiration for my post back in March on what makes a good hymn for Mass.  Anyway, I agree with some of the post, but not all of it.

I’ve never heard Sons of God, Hear His Holy Word.  For some reason, I don’t mind Sing a New Song at all, and, while I don’t care for On Eagle’s Wings or We Remember one bit, I know of far worse things that we could be singing.  They actually left out several worse one like Ashes, which I believe should be number one because it is outright heresy.

Then again, maybe Sing a New Church deserves the top spot.  I can’t think of any reason other than someone’s agenda that would prompt the use of that hymn.  I didn’t even know that there was really a hymn with that name until I moved to North Carolina.  I went to a vigil Mass, still very cranky from having worked night shift, and this was the gathering song . . . oh, excuse me, opening hymn.  You can imagine how cranky I was during Mass.

Let’s not forget the self-congratulatory Anthem where we sing about being called and chosen to  a tune similar to “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain When She Comes.”  How many people reading this have heard of the song Jerusalem, My Destiny?  It was sung several times during Lent, and I had no idea what we were singing.

One string that goes through most bad hymns is that they are too complicated for congregational singing and too high pitched for someone like me who can’t register on the treble clef.  If this isn’t dealt with, you can just forget about active participation in the singing of the hymns.  Fortunately, there are better hymns that have literally been available for centuries.

Category: Liturgy

And With Your Spirit . . . And Liturgical Instruction

  /   Monday, May 24, 2010   /   Comments(0)

One of the changes expected when the new Missal arrives is that we will be saying “And with your spirit” instead of “And also with you.”  As much as I look forward to using the new words, it will be a bit awkward to use and even more difficult to explain.  Louie Verrecchio wrote an excellent article on Catholic Exchange to explain the new wording.  This is the same man who has done some work in creating a study series on Vatican II. 

In his article, he mentions the need for liturgical instruction.  Of course, this is nothing new.  Vatican II itself called for solid liturgical instruction.  My fear is that it will never come, at least not to people who don’t search for their own resources because they don’t know that they exist.  I’m even more afraid that any instruction that does exist will look like something I’ve seen in various forms since I was in high school and had just joined the Church.

I have seen varying forms of “The Vatican says we need to do this for some strange reason.  It doesn’t make any sense.”  It just gives the impression that the bishops and even the Holy Father himself just go and make arbitrary rules with no thought about “real life,” whatever that is.  Since many have no awareness that there is another side to the story, they will just believe this, as I often did.  Given all of the bad press the new translation has gotten in the liberal publications, this scenario seems quite likely. 

The new translation, from what I have seen, is a much more beautiful work than what we currently use.  I cannot wait for its implementation.  If you know of good resources about it, please point anyone you know in that direction.  I still recommend Jeffrey Pinyan’s Praying the Mass.  If we hope to have an authentic liturgical renewal, we need to spread the word, possibly against our own parish or diocesean instruction program.

Category: Liturgy

Come Play in My Sandbox, Not!!

  /   Friday, March 05, 2010   /   Comments(0)

Sometimes I think I really should watch what I read because it makes me want to rant about pet peeves.  Jeff Miller blogs about replacing water in holy water fonts with sand.  For those who have questions, no, this is not allowed.  Read the letter at the bottom of Fr. Z’s post from the Congregation of Divine Worship.

Although the practice bothers me, the attitude behind it is what really gets to me.  I never understood why priests and other parish leadership thinks that they can just make up their own practice and just do stuff.  When it comes to the church, if it’s not in the book, don’t do it!

Category: Liturgy

So, What Makes a Suitable Hymn for Mass?

  /   Monday, March 01, 2010   /   Comment(1)

Many of my friends, as well as my wife, know that I have a tendency to . . . well . . . not like a lot of the music that we sing at Mass.  Still,  it is important to me not to be arbitrarily critical, so I want to propose some criteria with which I would consider a song acceptable.  This is not based directly on any Church documents but rather is my own reflection.  I am not a liturgist but rather an easily-distractable lay person who goes to Mass often with a great desire to worship the Lord.

First and foremost,  the hymn should be doctrinally sound.  I have found that I often have to pay close attention to the words of some hyms I’ve seen used before I decide to sing.   One of the best known offenders is one that is often used during Lent.  It’s called “Ashes,” and the offending statement is that “We rise again from ashes to create ourselves anew.”  If this isn’t heresy, it’s darn close. God is the only one who can create us anew.  Another offender that I have been recently introduced to is entitled “Sing a New Church.”  The title itself should be enough to convince anyone concerned about fidelity to the Catholic faith that it’s problematic.

Second, the hymn should be addressed to God or be about God (or possibly a saint).  Take a look at the great hymns like “Holy God We Praise Thy Name” or “Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All.”  They are addressed to God.  The songs “Where Charity and Love Prevail” and even the St. Louis Jesuits’ “Glory and Praise to Our God” are about God.  The song “Make Us True Servants” is a petition to God.  Soon, Lent will be over, and we’ll be singing one of my favorites, “Jesus Christ is Risen Today.”  It is, of course, a song about the Resurrection of Our Lord.  I could probably name many others, both old and new.

Contrast that with some other hymns of  today.  A commonly used hymn that I’ve blogged about before is “Gather Us In,” which doesn’t mention God in it.  I was recently introduced to a song called “Anthem” which begins “We are called; we are chosen; we are Christ to one another . . .”  It’s sung to a tune that sounds kind of  like “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain When She Comes.”  It’s the congregation praising itself.  “One Bread One Body” is another one where we are singing about ourselves.  Finally, let’s not forget “All Our Welcome.”  The hymn is about the house that we build, not God.

Third, the song should not have the congregation singing the part of God.  Two known offenders are “Here I Am, Lord” (“I the Lord, of sea and sky . . .”) and “I Am the Bread of Life.”  I know that I am not comfortable singing as though I am God, and I’m sure there are others out there as well.  In the aforementioned article by George Weigel, he mentions that this is unprecedented in Christian history.  I would go further to say that this would also be offensive to the Jewish people.  The name for God, “I Am Who Am,” is a personal name.  For a Jewish person to say it out loud would be for him to say that he is God.  Therefore, they are forbidden to pronounce it.  Given that our faith is a fulfillment of Judiasm, it doesn’t seem right to be singing the part of God.

Fourth, the hymn should be musically simple enough that people who sing like I do can sing it.  Look, the only way I would sing a solo is to evacuate a building. I can’t sing very well, and the more complicated rhythms are difficult for me to follow.  The best way to ensure full participation in the Liturgy is not to innovate but to simplify.  When I was a teenager, the Danish Amen Mass was almost always used in my parish.  It was very nice and easy to follow.  Even some of the praise and worship songs are easier to sing than some obviously feminine high-pitched modern “hymns.”  Really, though, I can understand how singability (Is that a word?) can be overlooked as it is a judgment call made by people of much greater musical ability than I.  However, we must all keep in mind that the Mass is worship, not a performance intended for entertainment.

Of course, there are a lot of other elements that I like – some old Latin hymns, older hymns in general, and even some Gregorian chant (which Vatican II said should retain the pride of place at Mass).  However, what I have written above is something I believe to be a good standard to use.  I am always wanting to be at Mass when it is a genuine, prayerful experience dedicated to the greater glory of God.

Category: Liturgy

Two Things I Wanted To Post

  /   Sunday, February 28, 2010   /   Comments(0)

I was doing random Internet searching for fun and found this parody of Marty Haugen’s Gather Us In.  For me, this particular “hymn” is the symbol of all really awful songs that we sing in church these days.  In this song, we, the congregation, and singing about ourselves, and there is even a verse which could be taken to eschew our desire for Heaven.  I laughed out loud when I read this article.

On a better note, I found this great article by Fr. Gary Coulter on the priest celebrating the Mass facing the same direction as the people.  Notice that I said “the same direction as the people” instead of “with his back to the people” or “facing the wall” or something like that.  The distinction is important here even though any of these phrases would have the priest facing the same way.  I am hoping for a return to the practice of the priest facing the same direction of the people at least for the Eucharistic Prayer.  It shows a sign of unity of movement of priest and people towards God, and, more importantly, it shows that the prayers of the Mass are addressed to God, not the people.  And to think, this practice could be changed without a single legislative act on the part of those in authority.  It is already permitted.

Category: Liturgy


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