- Tuesday, 22 November 2016 08:45
O Christ, who summoned all
To follow in your way,
That we might bear our cross
And live in endless day:
We thank you for Cecilia’s stand;
And trusting in your loving hand,
We too will sin and death withstand.
(hymn text by J. Michael Thompson)
I love music, don’t you? I also love real good sacred music: polyphony, chant and the like… today is a beautiful feast day in our honoring Saint Cecilia, patron saint for church musicians. Like any good Christian, Cecilia sang in her heart, and sometimes with her voice. She has become a symbol of the Church’s conviction that good music is an integral part of the liturgy, of greater value to the Church than any other art. In the present confused state of Church music, it may be useful to recall some words of Vatican II:
“Liturgical action is given a more noble form when sacred rites are solemnized in song, with the assistance of sacred ministers and the active participation of the people…. Choirs must be diligently promoted, but bishops and other pastors must ensure that, whenever the sacred action is to be celebrated with song, the whole body of the faithful may be able to contribute that active participation which is rightfully theirs…. Gregorian chant, other things being equal, should be given pride of place in liturgical services. But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded…. Religious singing by the people is to be skillfully fostered, so that in devotions and sacred exercises, as also during liturgical services, the voices of the faithful may ring out” (Constitution on the Liturgy, 112-118).
- Friday, 18 November 2016 14:43
One of the great women saints of the US is recalled at the altar, Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, R.S.C.J. She was called by the Pottowatomi, “Woman-Who-Prays-Always” … do we model this perspective, too?
With the Church we pray,
Almighty God, who filled the heart of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne with charity and missionary zeal, and gave her the desire to make you known among all peoples, grant us to follow her way and fill us with that same love and zeal to extend your kingdom to the ends of the earth.
- Friday, 18 November 2016 08:59
Today is the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilicas of SS. Peter & Paul. This is an ancient feast which the Church recalls the place of two great Roman churches in our theology. The Roman Church claims two principal churches, St. John Lateran and St. Peter’s. YET, the Basilicas of Sts. Peter and Paul –shrine churches– were built by the Emperor Constantine the Great during the 4th century connecting the dots of the faith with these two Apostles and founders. Hence, we say with conviction that two marks of the Church are Petrine and Pauline.
We hold near and dear the places of Peter and Paul. St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls stands near the Benedictine Abbey of the Tree Fountains, where Saint Paul is believed to have been beheaded.
What lessons do we glean from the Roman Church’s traditions concerning the two basilicas whose dedication feast we are celebrating? Dom Gueranger speak to us from his Liturgical Year:
Among the holy places venerated of old by the Christians, those were the most honoured and most frequented in which the bodies of the saints were preserved, or some relic or memorial of the martyrs. Chief among these holy places has ever been that part of the Vatican hill which was called the Confession of St. Peter. Christians from all parts of the world flocked thither, as to the rock of the faith and the foundation of the Church, and honoured with the greatest reverence and piety the spot hallowed by the holy sepulchre of the prince of the apostles. Hither on the octave day of his baptism came the emperor Constantine the Great; and taking off his diadem, he prostrated on the ground with many tears. Then taking a hoe and mattack, he broke up the earth of which twelve basketfuls were taken away in honour of the twelve apostles; and on the site thus marked out he built the basilica of the prince of the apostles. Pope St. Sylvester dedicated it on the fourteenth of the Calends of December, just as he had consecrated the Lateran church on the fifth of the Ides of November. He erected in it a stone altar which he anointed with chrism, and decreed that thenceforward all altars should be made of stone. The same blessed Sylvester dedicated the basilica of St. Paul the apostle on the Ostian Way, also magnificently built by the emperor Constantine, who enriched both basilicas with many estates and rich gifts and ornaments…
It is very important that we pray today for the unity of the Catholic Church, the Holy Father and the Bishops who are the successors of Peter & Paul.
Saints Peter & Paul: pray for us!
- Saturday, 12 November 2016 18:50
St. Josaphat (1580-1623) was born to a devout religious family of Ruthenian ancestry in what is now Ukraine, and was baptized in the Eastern Orthodox Church. He devoted his virginity to the Virgin Mary and grew in his reverence for ancient liturgy. During a revival of Eastern Catholic monastic life he became a monk in the Order of St. Basil, and was ordained to Holy Orders in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in 1609. He was noted for his life of asceticism, holiness, and virtue which led to his appointment as Archbishop of Polotsk in what is today Belarus. During his lifetime there was much sociopolitical and ecclesiastical rivalry between the Catholics and Orthodox and the Latin and Byzantine rites, especially in the wake of the 1596 Union of Brest which saw the Ruthenian Church break with Orthodox and place itself under the authority of the Holy See. St. Josaphat was passionate about working for the reunification with Rome and won many heretics and schismatics back to communion with the Holy See. However, he was also strongly opposed to the Latinization of his people. This combination of views drew ire from both Catholic and Orthodox clergy. His diocese was contested by the Orthodox, and a rival Orthodox bishop was set up to oppose him, causing riots. During one uprising Josaphat tried to calm the tensions and work for reunification and peace, but his enemies plotted to kill him. A mob of Orthodox Christians entered Josaphat’s home, stabbed and axed his body and threw it into a river. His body was seen glowing in the water and was recovered, and after his martyrdom many miracles were attributed to his intercession. Josaphat’s sacrifice became a blessing as regret and sorrow over his death converted many hearts toward reunification with Rome. In 1867, Josaphat became the first saint of the Eastern Church to be formally canonized by Rome. His feast day is November 12.
- Friday, 11 November 2016 09:00
John Clare written on 11 Nov 1841.
‘Tis Martinmass from rig to rig
Ploughed fields and meadow lands are blea
In hedge and field each restless twig
Is dancing on the naked tree
Flags in the dykes are bleached and brown
Docks by its sides are dry and dead
All but the ivy-boughs are brown
Upon each leaning dotterel’s head
Crimsoned with awes the awthorns bend
O’er meadow-dykes and rising floods
The wild geese seek the reedy fen
And dark the storm comes o’er the woods
The crowds of lapwings load the air
With buzes of a thousand wings
There flocks of starnels too repair
When morning o’er the valley springs