31 October 2007

All Saints and All Souls

November 1st, All Saints' Day, is a Holy Day of Obligation, and we'll be keeping it with all solemnity. There'll be a Low Mass at 7:00 a.m., and Sung Masses at 9:15 a.m. and at 7:00 p.m. The Lower School children always have a great time dressing as their favorite saint, and even though classes are in session, there's feeling of it being a "special day."

November 2nd is All Souls' Day. The vestments will be black, the Masses will be somber. We will be offering two Requiem Masses, one at 7:00 a.m. and one at 9:15 a.m., and young men from the Upper School will be singing some of the traditional chants at the later Mass. That evening at 7:00 p.m. we will be chanting the Solemn Evensong of All Souls' Day, with yet another opportunity to pray for the Faithful Departed. After Evensong there will be a presentation of one of the most beautiful settings of the Requiem ever written, Gabriel Fauré's "Requiem in D minor, Op. 48." I heard some of the rehearsals last evening, and it's breath-taking.

By the way, the picture accompanying this post shows the Doom painting from St. Thomas Church in Salisbury, England. This was the church where, as a young theological student, I first presided at Evensong. The following is a description of the painting:

"The well known Doom painting of the Last Judgement was commissioned between 1470 and 1500 from an unknown artist, who was probably an Englishman who had travelled in Europe and learned his skills in Flanders and other artistic centres. Doom paintings were not uncommon but few have survived and of those this is one of the largest, covering all the space above the chancel arch, most complete, and probably the best preserved. After the Reformation it was whitewashed over by 1593 and a panel displaying the arms of Elizabeth I set over it. In 1819 traces of colour were noticed under the whitewash which was carefully removed. The painting was recorded on paper and then covered by whitewash again! The whitewash was finally removed in 1881 and the painting restored in oils although the artist made some corrections. There is some dispute about the extent of these but most seems medieval such as the fact that there are are more bishops going to Hell than to Heaven and the figure of an ale-wife, who traditionally sold short measure, is being taken downwards."

Bishops and ale-wives going to hell? Very judgmental!

29 October 2007

More thoughts on the TAC request...

I’ve already posted something on the TAC initiative, in which they seek “full and corporate reunion” with the Catholic Church. There have been myriad stories in the media, which is absolutely the worst place to get accurate information. For instance, the story of how “300 Anglicans defect to Rome after row over women priests” really isn’t terribly accurate. The story made it sound as though the oil of confirmation was freshly dripping from their brows, but the truth of the matter is that they are simply part of TAC, and are not making any independent move towards the Catholic Church. In fact, on their website they claim, “We are a Catholic, Apostolic, Reformed and Protestant Church.” I can’t imagine what that means. How can one be “Catholic” and “Protestant” at the same time, without speaking nonsense?

I’ve been following the TAC thing on the blogs, too. I can’t make a whole lot of sense out of what I read – and again, perhaps blogs aren’t always the best source for sensible statements. But the following statement I read is far from unique:

Let's say it again: "united but not absorbed." The intention is not for we Anglicans in TAC to convert to Roman Catholicism, but to be IN COMMUNION with the Roman Catholic Church. There is a big difference.

In my previous post I expressed my concern that this might be representative of the understanding of many, if not most, of the TAC members. Comments such as this don’t assuage my concern. Mind you, I’m certainly not concerned that the members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will somehow miss the nuances within the request. We’ve got some pretty brilliant minds who’ll be looking at this. But the attention being paid to this by the media and within Anglicanism does mean that if Rome is unable to respond favorably to the TAC letter, there will be another handy stick with which to beat the Church. “These nice people asked to come home, but nasty old Rome slammed the door…”

I could be totally wrong about this, but the more I read and study the TAC initiative, it isn’t clear to me that it’s so much a wanting to “come home,” but more a request to “take us as we are.” Fortunately for everyone, I’m not the one being asked, nor am I the one who will have any role in the ultimate decision. But the whole thing is definitely interesting.

Veiled joy...

We've had three Sisters visiting the parish for the past several days. They're members of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration from Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, Alabama. Sister Grace Marie, Sister Rose Marie and Sister Elizabeth Marie have been staying in our St. Joseph Parish House, attending Mass here and generally joining in parish life. They'll be heading back tomorrow to the cloister in Hanceville, but it's been great to have them here. Sister Elizabeth Marie entered religious life from this parish, and Sister Grace Marie and Sister Rose Marie are both converts from Anglicanism -- so it was rather like "coming home" for all of them!

23 October 2007

A few thoughts about the TAC petition...

"The College of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) met in Plenary Session in Portsmouth, England, in the first week of October 2007. The Bishops and Vicars-General unanimously agreed to the text of a letter to the See of Rome seeking full, corporate, sacramental union. The letter was signed solemnly by all the College and entrusted to the Primate and two bishops chosen by the College to be presented to the Holy See. The letter was cordially received at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Primate of the TAC has agreed that no member of the College will give interviews until the Holy See has considered the letter and responded."

The Traditional Anglican Communion is a rather large (some 400,000 persons world-wide) “communion of churches,” all under a Primate, Archbishop John Hepworth. TAC sees itself as carrying on the conversations inaugurated by the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Michael Ramsey, and His Holiness, Pope Paul VI – conversations which resulted in the Anglican/Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC). TAC is not in communion with Canterbury, but is comprised of “continuing Anglicans,” that is, those who have left the official provinces of the Anglican Communion and formed their own dioceses under their own hierarchy.

This most recent and formal approach to the Holy See is wonderful news, and those of us who are Catholics of the Anglican Use are especially supportive of the initiative. To have an influx of some hundreds of thousands of people from an Anglican background would be not only a great blessing to those who enter into full communion with the Catholic Church, but it would strengthen the presently small numbers in the Anglican Use and would greatly bolster the evangelistic and liturgical apostolate given to us by our Holy Mother the Church.

No one but the TAC bishops and certain members of the Curia of the Holy See knows what is in the letter. No one knows how long it will take for a response to come from Rome. There are, no doubt, many items for discussion and many issues to settle.

Certain obvious problems need to be solved, not least of which is the fact that the TAC Primate is a former Catholic priest who left the Church and subsequently married. In fact, more than one TAC bishop has been divorced and remarried. They have all given assurance that they are willing to step aside if that presents an insurmountable problem (how could they think it wouldn’t?). Sad to say, this will be a problem to be solved also for several of their clergy and laity.

Also, one of the bedrock and guiding principles of TAC is that it seeks to be "an Anglican Church in communion with the Holy See.” What does that mean? Remembering my own understanding of that phrase when I was an Anglican, at that time we visualized reunion as the coming together of two equals which had been separated by the unfortunate circumstances of history. But the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, when referring to those Christian communities coming out of the Protestant reformation in its recent “Responsa ad quaestiones,” states clearly, “According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called 'Churches' in the proper sense." I have no idea how this principle of being "an Anglican Church in communion with the Holy See” was phrased in their letter, but it would be interesting to have some insight into the TAC understanding of it.

I’m curious to know what the “average person in the pew” in TAC thinks of this. I’ve read on more than one blog various comments from TAC laity who maintain that they would not actually be Roman Catholics, but would be “in communion” with Rome. If that sentiment is in any sense widespread, it would indicate some problems with the proposal. But nonetheless, I’m very excited about this development, and I am praying daily that it bears good fruit. I’m eager to hear the response from the Holy See, and I hope this request is such that it can be granted.

18 October 2007

Another day, another blessing...

I know I’ve said it before, and probably to the point of some people saying “Ok, enough already!” But I do love being the pastor of this parish. Not because of anything dramatic, but just because of the daily round of worship and confessions, along with the usual counseling, seeing parishioners, giving spiritual direction, making decisions about things, whether small or far-reaching. I really enjoy being greeted by the littlest students in their sing-song unison voices (Goo-ood mor-rn-ning Fa-ath-ther!, which must be a particularly “Catholic school” thing). It’s very moving to hear a soft knock at my office door with one of the high school students asking quietly, “Could I make my confession, Father?”

Today was a beautiful St. Luke’s Day. We started out with the quiet and early celebration of the Mass in the Sacred Heart Chapel. This serves the needs of many who have to get to work, but want to go to daily Mass, and also a number of early-risers love the peaceful, low-key celebration. Mid-morning we pulled out all the stops because it was the Feast of St. Luke, so several hymns were included, the incense hung in clouds throughout the nave and sanctuary. This afternoon we celebrated Solemn Evensong and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. I’m always deeply moved when I hear all the students singing the Magnificat and the Nunc Dimittis to Anglican chant. They really look forward to Benediction, and as they adore our Lord they love it that the organ gets louder and more dramatic as the Sign of the Cross is traced out in front of them with the Blessed Sacrament.

Most of them have left for the day now. The older students are just finishing up their last class period, and things will become fairly quiet again – all ready to begin again tomorrow. I reckon our Lord continues to answer our prayer made daily, “Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord, and by thy great mercy, defend us from all perils and dangers of this night…”

17 October 2007

A Cardinal in Texas!

The Most Reverend Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, has been named to the College of Cardinals by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI. Please pray for the Cardinal-designate as he prepares to assume new responsibilities within the Church.

12 October 2007

Food, glorious food!

Ok, I'll admit it. When we go on our pilgrimages it's not all Masses and beautiful churches. We do manage to sample the local food and drink. One of our pilgrims provided me with several pictures of various delectables, some of which I share here:

An array of cured meats and spicy sausages, all crowned with a boar's head, on a street in Orvieto.

I don't know what our U.S. Health Department would say, but this jumble of meat, cheeses and baked goods makes for some mighty good snacking during a long walk through the side streets of Rome.

When you've said "gelato" you've said it all!

So much food, so little time!

08 October 2007

An important musical event...

We are pleased to announce an Organ Recital presented by Marie-Louise Langlais, Professor of Organ at the Conservertoire Régionale, Paris, France on Wednesday, 24 October 2007, at 7 o’clock in the evening at Our Lady of the Atonement Church in San Antonio.

The recital is presented as part of Madame Langlais’ tour of the United States commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the birth of her late husband, organist and composer Jean Langlais. This program is the first in a series of musical events in celebrating the Twenty-fifth anniversary of Our Lady of the Atonement Parish

Marie-Louise Langlais is the widow of the world-renowned composer Jean Langlais and is the author of an extensive biography of his life. Her degrees include a Doctorate in Musicology and a Doctor of Law from the Sorbonne. In demand world-wide as a concert organist, lecturer, and adjudicator, she is Professor of Organ at the Conservatoire Régionale de Paris. She is especially noted for her extensive research on Franck.

Here is the programme:

Pierre ATTAINGNANT (1531)
- Cinq Danses de la Renaissance :
Branle gay de Poitou
Gaillarde on the Passamezzo antico
Basse Dance Saint Roch

Nicolas de GRIGNY (1671-1703)
- Récit de tierce en taille

Alexandre-Pierre-François BOELY (1785-1858)
- Fantasia pour le Judex Crederis op.38

Louis-Alfred-James LEFEBURE-WELY (1817-1869)
- Choeur de voix humaines

Charles TOURNEMIRE (1870-1939)
- Fantaisie (L’Orgue Mystique n°7, Epiphania Domini)

Jehan ALAIN (1911-1940)
- Deuxième Fantaisie

Jean LANGLAIS (1907-1991)
- Big Texas (American Suite)
- Scherzo Cats (American Suite
- Canzona (Folkloric Suite)
- Cantique (Folkloric Suite)
- Incantation pour un Jour Saint

More A.U. pilgrimage pictures...

Several of the pilgrims anticipating Solemn Evensong at the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

Deacon James Orr and Fr. Eric Bergman at Evensong.

Our students on the steps of Our Lady of Victory Church in Rome.

07 October 2007

A mystery from within...

There’s a mystery about stained glass. Seeing it during the day from outside it appears to be nothing but darkness. There’s no beauty, no riot of color, no apparent reason for its existence, other than to keep out the weather. But step inside, and what was darkness becomes a thing of beauty and meaning. Mysteries of the faith are brought to life through the artisan’s craft. Things are seen that never could have been imagined when standing outside.

This is an image of the Church. To remain outside is to be cheated of so much of the beauty of what Christ has done for us. Remaining outside is to miss the fullness of the truth He teaches. Just as natural light, when filtered through stained glass, becomes a thing of immense beauty, so when the Light of Christ is perceived through that “window” of His own creation – the Church – we come to know things that only the angels could have imagined.

05 October 2007

More pilgrimage pictures...

A coveted glimpse of the Holy Father at the Wednesday audience.

Some Academy students hoist their banner at the Wednesday audience.

Exploring the treasures of the Vatican Museum.

Some pilgrimage pictures...

St. Peter's Basilica in the early morning.

Climbing the Holy Stairs (the knees get sore, but what a wonderful experience!)

Walking in the footsteps of St. Francis and St. Clare in Assisi.

In front of the Duomo in Orvieto.

Mass in the Crypt Chapel of Montecassino.

Ad limina...

Chapel of the Most Holy Sacrament
Basilica of St. Peter, Vatican City

A week ago we were in St. Peter’s Basilica to celebrate the Holy Mass with Archbishop Amato, Secretary to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The setting was, of course, magnificent. We were privileged to celebrate in the Chapel of the Most Blessed Sacrament. The Mass was in Latin, according to the Missal of Paul VI. Our choir was incredible, singing the Missa L’Hora Passa by Ludovico Grossi da Viadana (c.1560-1627). Additionally, they sang two motets, Exsultate Justi (also by Viadana) and Sicut Cervus by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c.1525-1594). The archbishop especially thanked them for the exquisite singing, and afterwards in the sacristy he asked me more about our school.

To have celebrated Mass at the very heart of the Catholic Church was an experience that will be long remembered by our pilgrims.

04 October 2007

Some happy and excited students...

Here’s a picture of Cardinal Law with several of our students who went on the pilgrimage. I had just told him that he was rather like the “grandfather” of our school, since it was at his prompting in 1993 that we decided to proceed with establishing the academy. His words just before this picture? “I like being a grandfather!”

Heaven on earth...

It was an historic occasion a week ago in the Basilica of St. Mary Major. For the first time a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Catholic Church chanted Solemn Evensong in a Papal Basilica. What a beautiful and moving time of prayer it was. His Eminence, Bernard Cardinal Law presided and preached a marvelous sermon. We have visited him with groups of our students before, and he is always tremendously gracious. In addition to over a hundred pilgrims, Archbishop Myers of Newark and Bishop Vann of Fort Worth were in attendance.

It was a very interesting experience to hear our traditional Evensong in the ancient Roman basilica. The Preces and Responses were the 16th century Merbecke setting, harmonized by Thomas Tallis. The Magnificat and the Nunc Dimittis were sung by the choir using the lush setting by A. Herbert Brewer, and they also sang as an anthem the gorgeous anthem by Ralph Vaughan Williams, “O How Amiable.” Our music director and organist, Edmund Murray, worked wonders with the music. And as an added point of interest, it was like “old home week” for him and for Cardinal Law, since Mr. Murray had taught music to the seminarians in Boston, and had worked with the Cardinal on many occasions, before moving to Texas.

Seeing the Cardinal incensing the altar during the ever-so-Anglican sounding Magnificat was a very moving experience for me. I couldn’t help but think, “Our liturgy has finally arrived!” Hearing the deep and sonorous voice of the Cardinal leading us in the General Thanksgiving (…we thine unworthy servants do give thee most humble and hearty thanks…) made me realize that the best way to preserve our Anglican way of worship is within the Catholic Church.

What an occasion. Historic Anglican prayers, gorgeous music, all offered to God in one of the most venerable basilicas in Christendom. It doesn’t get much better than that.

03 October 2007

In the footsteps of saints...

There’ll be lots of pilgrimage pictures coming, as soon as they’re sent to me by several of our pilgrims. We had wonderful seats at the Papal Audience, in the reserved section right near the papal chair, and several of the clergy had the opportunity to be presented to the Holy Father, with the chance to exchange a few words with him. Also we had a marvelous celebration of Solemn Evensong at St. Mary Major, with Cardinal Law presiding, and a very moving Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel with Archbishop Amato as the main celebrant. When I get the pictures of these and other events, I’ll post them along with more commentary.

Meanwhile, these pictures show our Mass at Montecassino, in the crypt where St. Benedict and his sister, St. Scholastica, are buried, and also our Mass in the catacombs, which I always find to be a wonderful place to pray.

02 October 2007

We're back...

The pilgrimage has been wonderful. We returned this evening, and tomorrow I’ll post some pictures along with an account of our travels. For now, we give thanks to God for a safe journey and a blessed experience.