Friday, January 29, 2016

PM: Communion Fridays--4th. Sunday Of Ordinary Time

There are two antiphons for this day. The first is for Cycle A; the second, the other two.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God; blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God; blessed are those who suffer persecution for the sake of justice, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
Matt. 5:8, 9, 10
This is also the antiphon for the Solemnity of All Saints. As part of the Beatitudes are presented, we are also to recount all the blessing bestowed by God. And do we not see God as we view the Sacred Species?
Let your face shine down upon your servant, deliver me in your mercy. Lord, let me not be confounded, for I have called upon you. 
Ps. 30:17, 18
We seek the face of God so to live. We ask for forgiveness of our sins. But, are we truly disposed? Have we reformed our lives to Christ? Have we made frequent use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

PM: Offertory Thursdays--4th. Sunday Of Ordinary Time

It is good to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing in honor of your name, O Most High. 
Ps. 91:2
As we offer of gifts of thanks, we praise His as our God. We give Him His due reverence.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

PM: Alleluia Wednesdays--4th. Sunday Of Ordinary Time

I will bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name. 
Ps. 137:2
We acknowledge we are His creatures. We thank Him for all He has done for us.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

PM: Gradual Tuesdays--4th. Sunday Of Ordinary Time

Who is like the Lord our God who dwells on high and looks down on that which is humble in heaven and on earth?  
V. He raises the needy from the earth and lifts up the poor out of the mire. 
Ps. 112: 5, 6; V. 7
There is no other god like God, for there is no other god. He looks with providential care upon His creation and fulfills their needs.

Monday, January 25, 2016

PM: Introit Mondays--4th. Sunday Of Ordinary Time

Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice; seek the Lord and be strengthened; seek his face for evermore. 
V. Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his name; declare his deeds among the gentiles. 
Ps. 104:3, 4; V. 1
Jesus' promise about those who seek shall find, for they seek Him, even though they may not realize it. Like finding the "pearl of great price", they shall be great joy.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Turning The Corner?

On this day in 1973, the United State Supreme Court, by identical 7-2 margins, rendered their opinion on two cases.

The country has not been the same since.

In their rulings on Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, they overturned as unconstitutional laws which made having an abortion illegal. In doing that, they also removed any restrictions on when or why one could be procured.

It is now 43 years since those decisions. The divide between those who are pro-life and those who are poor-(pro-)choice is as wide as it has ever been. While I am hopeful these decisions will be overturned in my lifetime, it is clear to me this battle front in the Culture Wars is the most critical one to be won.

It seems in the past 12 months the pro-life forces have a new spear point, the sharpest one they have ever had. With the release of tapes by The Center for Medical Progress, seemingly supplementing the investigations of Live Action years ago, showing employees of Planned Parenthood speaking of an illegal selling of fetal parts. The uproar is still loud; the actions being undertaken, significant. The scrutiny of the subject is the most intense that has even been seen.

(By the way, have you forgotten about the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell? I hope not. I wonder if that was the motivation for the CMP's investigation.)

Evil is now out there for all to see, even more graphic (in terms of visible) than the Silent Scream videos of the late 1970s. And those who support this atrocity are feeling the heat even more. It may be becoming more difficult to defend.

Not really. Both sides are still arguing past each other. The poor-(pro-)choice folks rationale is based not on rational thought, but irrational feeling. And in an era where "feelings" are the bottom line on how one makes a decision, where objective reality takes a back seat to subjective experience, where "I think; therefore, I am not" is the philosophical grounding of their position, this is going to continue to be a stalemate in the short term.

The pro-life side realizes this. The mantra of "changing hearts and minds" attacks both sides of the equation and lays the foundation for success in the long run. And it is working, as minutely incremental as those gains are.

The pro-life side, in their rallies across the United States and especially their "March For Life" in Washington, DC (even braving a severe, major winter storm this time around), is reminding the country (and to a certain extent the world) why this important.

Life matters.


Allow me to share some post which traveled across my Facebook page today:

The bond between mother and child is defended.
How much "sense" abortion makes.
Somebody who made my points better than I.
A "State of the Cause" report.
Abortion=Women's Inequality.
The basic meaning of "Choose Life".
The 58-59,000,000 Life Question.

PM: Communion Fridays--3rd. Sunday Of Ordinary Time

Like the Introit, there are two Communion antiphons. Also like the Introit, the first is for Cycles A and B.
"Follow me; I will make you fishers of men." Whereupon they, leaving their nets and their boat, followed the Lord. 
Matt. 4:19, 20
The call to the first Apostles and disciples echoes 2,000 years later. How well have we responded to it?
Go, eat rich meat, and drink sweet wine, and send portions to those who have prepared nothing for themselves; this is a holy day in honor of the Lord; do not be sad; for the joy of the Lord is our strength. 
Nehemiah 8:10
Christ is always preparing the wedding banquet for everyone. Partaking of His Body and Blood every chance we can makes every day a "holy day in honor of the Lord".

Thursday, January 21, 2016

PM: Offertory Thursdays--3rd. Sunday Of Ordinary Time

The Lord's right hand has shown strength, the Lord's right hand has exalted me. I shall not die, but live; and I shall declare the works of the Lord. 
Ps. 117:16, 17
Psalm 121 is the perfect compliment to this verse. As the gifts are brought in gratitude, we extol what God has done for us.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

PM: Alleluia Wednesdays--3rd. Sunday Of Ordinary Time

The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let all the isles be glad! 
Ps. 96:1
We are called to rejoice in the Lord always, as St. Paul reminds us (Phil. 4:4). God's rule over everything is cause for celebration.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

PM: Gradual Tuesdays--3rd. Sunday Of Ordinary Time

The nations shall fear your name, O Lord, and all the kings of the earth your glory. 
V. For the Lord has built up Zion, and he shall appear in his majesty. 
Ps. 101:16 and 17
"Fear" in this context means "to be in awe". Prince and pauper shall know the Lord is God. At Mass, He appears in the majesty of the Word and the Eucharist.

Monday, January 18, 2016

PM: Introit Mondays--3rd. Sunday Of Ordinary Time

There are two Introits for this day; the first used for the first two cycles of the Lectionary.
The Lord, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew, and he called out to them: "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." 
V. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims the work of his hands. 
Matt. 4:18, 19; V. Ps. 18
Christ calls all to Him. He ask us to be His instruments of evangelization as well.
Bow down before God, all you Angels of his. Zion has heard and is glad; and the daughters of Judah have rejoiced. 
V. The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let all the isles be glad. 
Ps. 96:7, 8; V. 1
We come to worship the one, true, living God, joining our voices with the angels. All the earth has seen the salvation by our God and is glad.

Friday, January 15, 2016

PM: Communion Fridays--2nd. Sunday Of Ordinary Time

There are three communion antiphons, each corresponding to the Gospel reading in the 3-year Lectionary. They will be taken in that order.
We shall rejoice in your salvation; and in the name of the Lord our God shall we place our pride. 
Ps. 19:6
The Communion antiphon for the 30th. Sunday in Ordinary time as well, we declare our trust and hope in God. Only He will lead us to the victory over sin and death through Christ.
Andrew said to his brother Simon: "We have found the Messiah" (which means Christ); and he led him to Jesus. 
John 1:41, 42
We have found Him in Word and Sacrament. How many have we led to Jesus by our lives?
The Lord said: "Fill the jars with water and bring some to the master of the feast." When the master of the feast tasted the water, which had now become wine, he declared to the bridegroom:  "You have kept the good wine until now". This was the first sign which Jesus accomplished before his disciples. 
John 2:7, 8, 9, and 10-11
His first recorded miracle, the beginning of His proofs of divinity, a sign pointing to the Eucharist (the changing of wine into His Blood). He shows us He will not hold anything back.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

PM: Offertory Thursdays--2nd. Sunday Of Ordinary Time

Sing joyfully to God all the earth; let the entire earth cry out with joy to God; sing a psalm in honor of his name. Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what the Lord has done for my soul, alleluia. 
Ps. 65: 1, 2, 16
We voice our praise of and to God. We gather to listen to the marvels He has accomplished. Soon, just as we have been nourished by His Word, we will be nourished by His Body and Blood.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

PM: Alleluia Wednesdays--2nd. Sunday Of Ordinary Time

Praise God, all his Angels; praise him, all his host. 
Ps. 148:2
We who were made "a little less than the angels" are to join the angelic choirs in praising God. We who are the pinnacle of of creation are to join in the song of adoration of our Creator.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

PM: Gradual Tuesdays--2nd. Sunday Of Ordinary Time

The Lord sent forth his word, and healed them, and delivered them from destruction. 
V. Let them thank the Lord for his mercy, for his wondrous works on behalf of the sons of men! 
Ps. 106:20 V. 21
From the mouth and heart of the Father comes His Word, His Son. Love and mercy truly personified, the Son of Man saves the children of humanity.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Christmas Liturgical Duties

With the first of the three "major" liturgical seasons (I group together Advent/Christmas/Epiphany/Baptism of the Lord; Lent/Triduum/Easter; and Ascension/Pentecost/Holy Trinity/Corpus Christi as peak times for preparation and performance for musicians) now over, I was reminded of this through a couple of posts on my Facebook account. An invitation extended by a former 'blogger who lives there became the start of my more serious interest in Gregorian chant and, by extension, the liturgy. While that flame kindled six years ago may only be an ember now, it really doesn't take much to ignite it again.

Proof of that occurred this past Christmas and the weeks leading up to it. While there has been little, if any, opportunity to experience, much less put into practice, what happens during events sponsored by the Church Music Association of America, the three Christmas Masses at which I assisted were a breath of fresh air. What the rest of this post will be, in essence, is a "What I Did During My Christmas Break" essay.

A Little Background

In 2013, I was asked to become part of the choir at another parish about 13 miles from where I live. Two years removed from when the choir in my home parish was disbanded, where I still am one of the cantors, I seized the opportunity. I was reunited with the former Music Director at my home parish; he actually replaced his son at this other parish.

Now, fast forward two years.

In mid-October, the 73 year-old pastor at this other church came down with a serious case of pneumonia and an even more serious reaction to the antibiotic. He found himself in the ICU of a hospital for a month, then continued his convalescence at an Catholic assisted living facility. Recovering has been slow but steady, and he is expect to return to duties sometime soon. (Rumor has it he might be returning within a week or so of this post.) In the meantime, weekend Masses have been led by either a retired priest or the judicial vicar of the diocese.

While the parish was grateful for the assistance of these priests, the question of who would be here for the holidays hovered.  The answer was a pleasant surprise. From Christmas through Epiphany, we would have one of our more recently ordained priests, a former member of my current home parish, who is currently finishing doctoral studies in Rome (he made the comment he lives in the library). It was around that time plans for Christmas were being made. Throughout the exchanges of email between the MD and the guest priest over the upcoming weeks, they put together the liturgies.

Popping The Questions

During our choir rehearsal November 5, the MD informed us all three Masses for Christmas (the Vigil Mass, the Mass During the Night, and the Mass During the Day) were going to be Missae Cantata. You cannot imagine my delight upon hearing this; obviously, I was completely behind it. After rehearsal, having been asked to stay behind, the MD asked me two questions:
1. Would I prepare the Graduals for these Masses? While we do have a paid cantor at this parish, he is new to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite and unfamiliar with Gregorian chant. I think the only more humbling "yes" to a question was Mary's to Gabriel. 
2. Had I ever sung the Readings? I answered, "No, but I would love to learn." While confirmation of that role would come two weeks later, I was already pointing and preparing them.
In early December, I also received a copy of the Universal Prayers; they were my responsibility to prepare as well. Along with this extra work, I also had my choir responsibilities of learning the other selections for Christmas, including learning the English version of Credo III.

Inquiring Minds 

And now, the question on everybody's mind:  How did it go?

They all went well. That holy building shook with joy. Here are the highlights:
1. The only parts of the Masses spoken were the "Confiteor", "Orate Fratres", and "Ecce, Agnus Dei". From what I could tell from the ambo and where the choir sits, the congregation picked up on their responses quickly. There is some singing during regular Sunday Masses, so the idea was not foreign to them. 
2. The priest is an alumnus of the Madeleine Choir School in Salt Lake City and a very good musician in his own right. His execution was wonderful, including the Proclamation of the Birth of Christ at the Christmas Mass--During the Night. I had never heard the Roman Canon intoned until these Masses; it added such a glorious element to the celebration. (As a side note, he offered in the Extraordinary Form the Christmas Mass--At Dawn as a Low Mass. As much as I wanted to assist at that, I didn't wake up in time to go.) 
3. There was a misunderstanding on my part regarding the readings. I thought the Readings for the Christmas Mass--During the Night were also going to be used at the Vigil Mass. Wrong. Fortunately for me, having been a Lay Reader at other times in my life and somewhat accustomed to reading "cold", I was able to prepare the proper Readings rather quickly. Good thing the tones for the Old Testament and Acts are the same, although I used the New Testament ending (using a descending minor third instead of the perfect fifth for "The Word of the Lord").  Despite the snafu, all of the Reading were proclaimed well. 
4. Because of that misunderstanding, I didn't prepare the correct Gradual for the Vigil Mass, "Hodie scietis": I used "Tecum principium" instead, (And looking at "Hodie" when I got a chance, I saw it was basically the same melody as "Tecum", so it would have been somewhat easy to learn.) "Tecum" and "Viderunt omnes" went well enough; I stayed in mode and in tune, despite some slight bobbles in very few spots. It had been two-and-one-half years since I have publicly sang any of the Propers as a "sola schola" (as I am not allowed to sing any of the Propers at my home parish); I got props from one of the extra singers brought in as choral reinforcements for the courage to do that. 
5.  The Universal Prayers went off without a hitch.
As I mentioned early, the church did shake with holy joy with our joyful noise. But, that was not the only thing shaking. Granted, I have had the privilege of intoning the "Exsultet" and the "Proclamation" as a church musician (and would love to complete the trifecta with the "Proclamation of the Moveable Feasts" at Epiphany). But in all honesty, my role as Lay Reader/Psalmist for these Masses were the most challenging and nervous 5-7 minutes (each) of my liturgical career.

And I would do it again in a heartbeat.

"When The Student Is Ready,..."

"The teacher will appear."

Lessons learned (or perhaps better stated, reinforced):
1. There is no such thing as over-preparation.
2. Make sure everyone is on the same page.
3. Don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good.
I hope it's not too long before I can assist in a Mass like that. I don't mean having a somewhat prominent role as I did. I speak of another Missa Cantata. I want to help install another brick in the restoration of sacred and beautiful liturgies.

To those who are a part of these kind of Masses on a regular basis, please remember it's rare for me to have this kind of opportunity. I am not meaning to brag; I just wanted for you to "come, share my joy". I am pleased and proud of what I did.

Thank you for allowing me to share this experience.

The afterglow is still there.

St. Augustine, in either quote attributed to him, is spot on.

PM: Introit Mondays--2nd. Sunday Of Ordinary Time

Let all the earth worship you and praise you, O God; may it sing in praise of your name, O Most High. 
V. Shout joyfully to God all the earth; sing a psalm in honor of his name; praise him with magnificence. 
Ps. 65:4, V. 1, 2
The Introit could be considered an invitation to worship. This Psalm fits that description well. The focus is on worshiping God; as head of all Creation, man is to lead the chorus of adoration.

Friday, January 08, 2016

PM: Communion Fridays--Feast Of The Baptism Of The Lord

As for all of you who have been baptized in Christ, you have put on Christ, alleluia. 
Gal. 3:27
We have been washed clean of Original Sin. We have put on the new man, the new Adam. We have been restored to our dignity.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

PM: Offertory Thursdays--Feast Of The Baptism Of The Lord

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord; the Lord God is our light, alleluia, alleluia. 
Ps. 117:26, 27
Again, we hear a phrase from the "Sanctus". Recall this was also said when Jesus entered Jerusalem before His Passion. As we prepare ourselves for the re-presentation of the Crucifixion, it is fitting to acknowledge the Priest and Victim of this action.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

PM: Alleluia Wednesdays--Feast Of The Baptism Of The Lord

As did the Gradual, so also does the Alleluia has two choices:
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. The Lord God is our light. 
Ps. 117:26
The second half of the Sanctus proclaims the arrival of Jesus. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, the Word made Flesh, now comes to be anointed.
I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him. 
Ps. 88:21
This echoes the words heard from the cloud, "This is my beloved Son; listen to Him." The true servant of God has been appointed and anointed.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

PM: Gradual Tuesdays--Feast Of The Baptism Of The Lord

There are two choices for the Gradual this day.
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone accomplishes great wonders from all eternity. 
V. Let the mountains received peace for the people, and the hills justice. 
Ps. 71:18, V. 3
The echo of Zechariah's canticle in the Gospel of St. Luke is heard. The first words of father of the forerunner of Christ after the birth of the Baptizer, a common phrase of praise, continues the ties between Jesus and John.
You have loved justice and hated iniquity. 
V. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness. 
Ps. 44:8
This is a repeat of the Introit. The just one, the one who hates sin, is marked with a sign of favor from God.

Monday, January 04, 2016

PM: Introit Mondays--Feast Of The Baptism Of The Lord

You have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your companions. 
V. My heart overflows with a goodly theme; I address my works to the King. 
Ps. 44:8, V. 2
While not the same act, I see a parallel between Jesus' baptism and David's anointing as King with this Introit. Both have been, in a sense, set aside because God has found favor with them.

Friday, January 01, 2016

January 2016 Morning Offering Prayer Intentions

Here are the intentions for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
Universal Intention - Interreligious Dialogue. That sincere dialogue among men and women of different faiths may product the fruits of peace and justice.
Evangelization Intention - Christian Unity. That by means of dialogue and fraternal charity and the grace of the Holy Spirit, Christians may overcome divisions.
Reflections for these intentions are found here.

PM: Special Edition--Solemnity Of Mary, Mother Of God

Once again, another Holy Day of Obligation falls on a weekday. Like Mary, we have much to ponder and keep in our heart.
Hail holy Mother, the Child-Bearer who has brought forth the King, the ruler of heaven and earth for ever. 
V. My heart overflows with a goodly theme; I address my works to the King. 
Sedulius; Ps. 44: 2, 11, 12
One of two Introits for this day, this comes from a poet of the early 5th. Century. It addresses the concept of "theotokis", which again leads us to the Christ Child. To Jesus through Mary.
Radiant light will shine upon us today, for the Lord is born unto us. He shall be called Wonderful God, Prince of Peace, Father of the world to come. His reign shall have no end. 
V. The Lord reigns, he is enrobed with majesty; the Lord is clothed with strength, he has girded himself. 
Cf. Isaiah 9:2, 6; Luke 1:33; Ps. 92
The other Introit is also used at the Christmas Mass at Dawn. Recalling the First Reading from the Christmas Mass During the Night and the Annunciation, we are reminded we are still celebrating the birth of Jesus.
Grace is poured out upon your lips; therefore has God blessed you for ever. 
V. For the cause of truth and goodness and righteousness, your right hand shall lead you wonderfully. 
Ps. 44:3; V. 5
The Gradual is another instance of recalling the Annunciation. It is also a precursor to the Magnificat, where she who is "full of grace" cannot help but issue it from her mouth before she ushered Him into the world.
After giving birth you remained a virgin untainted; O Mother of God, intercede for us.
One of two Alleluia verses, here is another instance of a non-Scripture based Proper. Again her proper role of intercessor is emphasized.
On many occasions in the past, God spoke through the prophets; at long last, in these present days, he has spoken to us through his Son. 
Heb. 1:1, 2
The other Alleluia verse is the beginning of the Second Reading of the Christmas Mass During the Day. His prophets only echoed the Word; now "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us".
Blessed are you, a holy Virgin Mary, and worthy of all praise; for from you has come forth the sun of justice, Christ our God.
Once again, this Offertory is another non-Scripture based Proper. The idea of "theotokis" is emphasized again.
Exult, O daughter of Zion, sing praises, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, your King is coming, the Holy One, the Saviour of the world. 
Zech. 9:9
This Communion is also used at the Christmas Mass at Dawn. As we prepare to receive our King in His Real Presence, our souls can do nothing but proclaim His coming.

PM: Communion Fridays--Solemnity Of The Epiphany Of The Lord

We have seen his star in the East, and we have come with our gifts, to worship the Lord. 
Cf. Matt. 2:2
Like the Magi, we travel to find Him. The gift of ourselves is what we offer, as He offers Himself to us in His Real Presence.