Letters to the Editor
Searching for the Truth
Dear friends at Adoremus,
I am an Australian brother in an Austrian religious order, where we are currently studying a lot about the liturgy.
Earlier in the year I found some excellent articles on your website, for example, about the Eucharistic Prayers.
If my memory has not served me incorrectly, the website now appears to have a new format. At any rate, I unfortunately cannot find the old articles.
Is there any possibility of being able to access them via the new website?
Thank you for your assistance,
Br. Jason Rushton, SJM
Adoremus responds: Indeed, the Adoremus.org website has been given a new design, one we hope our visitors will find beautiful and easy to use. But it has been no small feat bringing the site to final form. Among other things, we are particularly pleased to have met the very good challenge of transferring 20 years’ worth of content—nearly 1600 articles—a feat which our underpaid yet much appreciated staff has successfully accomplished.
I have a question about Gregorian chant.
When I was growing up in the United States, before Vatican II, I learned that during Mass, the only kind of music that was permitted was Gregorian Chant.
Was that correct? Is it correct now?
With a prayer,
Robert John Bennett
Adoremus responds: Prior to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, any liturgical text sung during the Mass (or most other liturgical celebrations) had to be sung in Latin (or Greek, as with the Kyrie). Most of the time, the Latin liturgical text was set to Gregorian notation, but certain texts (e.g., Gloria or the Offertory antiphon) could also be sung in a polyphonic setting.
A 1958 Instruction on Sacred Music from the Sacred Congregation for Rites, De musica sacra et sacra liturgia, allowed for the addition of hymns and songs at a recited Mass (14b)—which was most often the norm (See Adam Bartlett’s “Ever Ancient, Ever New: Implementing Musicam Sacram Today in the January 2017 Bulletin). Such hymns could be set in various musical styles, and not necessarily be Gregorian Chants.
The Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy spoke directly to the style of music used in the liturgy: “The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services. But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action” (116).
Christ Front and Center
Very interesting reading Bishop Serratelli’s “Praying Ad Orientem” article in the January Bulletin regarding Jewish, Muslim and early Church worship practices. I was an altar boy in the 60’s with the Tridentine Mass. My oldest son takes his 10 children to a Traditional Mass as he feels there is greater reverence and solemnity there. I rather agree. But, I learned in Catholic elementary and high school that the Mass was a commemoration of the Last Supper and Calvary. (No place for jokes or comedians, but that is another topic.) Also the Council of Trent clarified that one crumb or one drop of the consecrated bread and wine had indeed become the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, which would indicate no longer an item or an “it,” but the very Person of Jesus present. With this background I have learned to appreciate the Novus Ordo as the Priest, in persona Christi, faces all of God’s children, and after the consecration asks them to receive not a symbol but the very person of Christ. Is this not the high point of the Mass, when we come face to face with Him, giving thanks for our blessings and beseeching Him to make us “good and faithful servants” as we anticipate His actual presence into our being? Just one “crumb” should overwhelm us into silence and total concentration on God’s very presence. Getting into another line for a “drop” is redundant and distracts us from the Entity within.
Perhaps if a greater emphasis was given to instructing the flock regarding the presence of Christ as a Person in the Blessed Sacrament then reverence and solemnity would increase. Of course, if the tabernacle, the throne of Christ the King, is not “front and center” then neither will the flock put Him front and center in their lives or believe that He is truly present, as His Presence, not a compass direction, is worthy of the utmost attention.
Mercer Is., WA