Wednesday, November 01, 2006

What did you hear (and smell)?

At my parish, I offered Mass two different ways for this Solemnity.

Last night, and this morning with the schoolchildren, we had all the "goodies" -- lots of music, incense, and chanting. Last night, I chanted the entire Eucharistic Prayer (Roman Canon, with all the saints of course!); today, I chanted the central part only.

For those interested, here is some of the music we had:

Opening: Litany of the Saints (traditional mode)
Preparation: "Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones."
Closing: "For all the Saints."

Now, here I am opening myself up for critique from liturgy experts (actual or self-appointed)...

In using the incense, I did something a little different. At the opening, instead of beginning the procession from the door of the church, I began it from the baptismal font, and went around the perimeter of the church, to the sanctuary.

Why did I do this, you may ask? Two reasons: first, to call attention to baptism (and to that end, I also used a sprinkling rite), and also, so that I could, in walking past the stained-glass windows, incense each of the images of saints.

Now, where did I get that idea?

Well, one of the options, for a saint's day, is to incense the image of the saint of the day. So, why not incense each saint's image on All Saints?

It worked pretty well--I did a single double-swing, which is less than I'm supposed to (triple-double for a saint, if I recall correctly), so maybe you can ding me for that. It didn't take all that long; when I finished by incensing the crucifix, we were completing the Litany. Also, everyone was watching what I was doing. In my homily, I explained it.

Oh, the other way I offered Mass was at 7 am. Very little music, I used Eucharistic Prayer II, a shorter homily, but nothing essential omitted: 35 minutes. Many say they really don't care for a "singy" Mass, but prefer a quieter one--plus it was a workday. So I decided, "something for everyone."


Rachel said...

I'm so new to Catholicism that I have no criticisms yet; what you did sounds great, Father. :) I went to two Masses today and neither had incense. I've yet to smell any incense in a Catholic church and I feel like ya'll are holding out on me!

The 8:15 AM Mass at Holy Angels in Arcadia, CA was full of the kids from the attatched school, who did all the singing and most of the reading and prayers. It was just like Children's Sunday at my old Congregational church, except with the Eucharist. :) The priest even spent some time asking the children questions about the readings and letting them name their favorite saints. It was weird having class at Mass, but the kids were pretty well-behaved.

Then I went to a noon Mass at St. Philip the Apostle in Pasadena, CA. Impressive church with a big high ceiling and elaborate mosaics. That Mass was quiet and dignified and completely by the book. No kids, no improv, no blue jeans, nothing that couldn't be found in the missalette-- and no music either! That has to be the first church service I've ever been to that had no singing. I'm surprised to learn from your post that many people prefer it that way.

Here's how that Mass ended:
Priest: "The Mass is ended; peace be with you."
Congregation: "And also with you"
[Pause. Everyone remains still. I wonder why nobody's leaving yet.]
Priest: "Have a nice day."
Congregation: "You too, Father!"
[Everyone exits.]

It was exactly like Aragorn at the end of "Fellowship of the Ring" saying "Let's hunt some Orc!" He's been so formal up till then that it's completely unexpected.

Anonymous said...

Very nice. We used For All the Saints as our opener yesterday - I figured they'd crucify me at the Faculty of Theology if I didn't! Based on the Gospel we also used Blest Are They, The People of God (a choice I regretted because of its difficulty) and Around the Throne A Glorious Band for our closer. Plus a sung Gloria - Mass of Light version (my pianist is still recovering, poor boy) and E.Prayer; your Masses for everyone sound just lovely. I love the incense idea.

Matt said...

This is slightly off-topic but...what preparations would you suggest a young seminarian (who is dedicated to restoring reverence and dignity to the liturgy) should undertake? I'm thinking in terms of individual learning and effort, because these topics aren't high on my formation program's priorities. Should one focus on learning chant first, then the Latin options in the Mass, and the on to the classic Latin hymns and Propers? I've been reading "The New Liturgical Movement" and your blog as a start.

Thanks in advance!

Father Martin Fox said...


Congratulations and God's blessings for your discernment -- thank you for being open to God's call!

Answering your question is not easy, because it depends on several things. How far along you are in your formation -- are you in college or major seminary? Are you at the beginning, the middle, or near the end?

It also depends on what else you need in your formation. I.e., you may want to focus on this or that subject, because it appeals to you, you enjoy it -- but it may be you need to focus much more on other things, seemingly not very interesting. Without knowing you or your situation, I have no idea what to advise.

You won't go wrong learning the Mass we have, as well as you can. I am assuming your seminary is teaching you to chant and sing; if not, that's shocking. There should be opportunities to go in for extra practice and sessions with whoever provides that training.

There's nothing wrong with acquainting yourself with Latin, if you aren't familiar. Just be careful you don't send any negative messages: "I'm doing it the right way." You could get a Latin breviary, and pray it on your own. As to where to get it, I don't know, but I bet you could google it. (Of course, you want the current Liturgy of the Hours, not merely an older version).

Your seminary may be very open to you specializing in liturgical studies, giving you the opportunity to do "independent studies" and even, perhaps, advanced studies after ordination.

If this is, indeed, your interest, you will help your cause by not giving anyone a reason to torpedo you.

Don't worry, now, about where or what you might study, after ordination; simply work hard, be balanced in all you do, and wait.

I don't know how your diocese works, but here, priests are welcome to apply for advanced studies; and while in the seminary, those in charge are on the lookout for promising candidates. They usually aren't able to be overly selective -- i.e., it's not like they have a crowd of guys that want to do it!

Realize, however, if you do advanced studies, it will likely mean you'll teach in the seminary for awhile, or you may end up in the liturgy office. That could be good or bad.

Among the things your formators will be looking at is your age (will you be around for awhile?), your health, your overall disposition, are you bright enough, are you balanced and sensible -- if they think you have "an ax to grind," that won't help . . .

But also, it depends on what they need. In my diocese, when I was in the seminary, the greatest perceived need -- in view of who was on the faculty of our seminary -- was someone to teach moral theology and philosophy.

If you're very early in your seminary career, your formators may think such interests a little premature.

The only other advice I would give is to think about priests you know and respect -- whether on the faculty, or not -- who you can seek out for specific advice. This could be a faculty advisor, or vocation director, or it could be someone outside the system, as it were.

But it is important that he knows your situation (I don't); that he is wise and balanced, and you trust him. If he knows the seminary where you are, all the better.

Lastly, realize there will be plenty of time, along the way, to learn specific prayers and music. Better is to focus, at this time, on fundamentals and on a good, theological and liturgical grounding. I.e., I can't imagine why anyone would object to you being extremely familiar with the documents of Vatican II, the post-conciliar liturgical documents, up to and including the current GIRM.

But don't be so foolish as to go around telling people things like, "I can't wait until I can start changing things!" That won't do you any good; it will only set off alarm bells . . .

For good reason! Your job now is to learn and discern, not to plot your revolution. God may, or may not, want you to undertake broad reforms, but it is way too early for you to be planning them.

Even after ordination, your first assignment will still be a learning experience (as will every assignment); and you'll be a man under the authority of your pastor.

Then, if and when you finally become a pastor, you'll need far more than just a long-held plan for "fixing the liturgy."

Some of what I said may be terribly obvious; but since I don't know you, I covered a lot of ground. Also, I do remember being a seminarian -- and there is every temptation to think a lot about how you are going to set things right.

jenny said...

Thanks for keeping the early morning Mass simple. Our church had the cantor and a lot of singing at the 6:30 am Mass. It added a LOT of time to the Mass. We had to leave at communion and my husband was still late to work.

Rachel: Make sure you go to the Easter Sunday Mass at St. Phillip's. The choir always sings the Hallelujah Chorus from the choir loft as the recessional. It's glorious.

duchessSoF said...

Father, I think you need to check out this nun's blog and post a link to it.

She slays me. And I am heretical Protestant. Her lectures to me are duly noted however I am rebellious enough to stay put where I am.

Love in Christ...dutch +

Don Marco said...

Bravo, dear Father, for all the lovely things you did! But Eucharistic Prayer II on a solemnity? The criteria for the choice of the EP in the GIRM # 365 are pretty specific. EP II is best used on ferial days.

Father Martin Fox said...

Don Marco:

I know, I know; but it was a workday, 7 am Mass, I was trying to be mindful of the time.

Fr. Timothy P. V. Nelligan said...

Dear Fr. Martin,

It is funny the things you find when you google something. I was googling for "Cantica Incense" from Holy Rood Guild (which they no longer produce), and I found your site. I read with interest, the comments of others and you responses, particularly the one to Matt, our young seminarian. Excellent advice! I have a great love for the liturgy and I do my level best to honour the directions of the GIRM, Rubrics, Ordo and so forth. It is certainly no small task in doing all of that then pleasing people also. My 2 celebrations for All Saints were small, (I am a Canadian Armed Forces Chaplain in Greenwood, Nova Scotia.) My shock of the day was learning that those assembled for Mass, had no idea of the Hymn, "For All the Saints". Pop goes the weasel!!, or should I say the little balloon of my ideal world. Thank the Good Lord, there are other options for that day. We found a hymn. Anyway, all that to say "Thank You" for your site and your insights. I hope to drop in now and again and see what others think. My big concern, as I am sure it is for many these days, is finding a NON-CHOKING INCENSE. Our Ukranian Brothers and Sisters have found some that are powdered, and they work well, but are hard to find. Any suggestions?
Be well my brother priest, rejoice in your ministry, and let us do all things for His Glory. "Non Nobis Domine, Sed Nomine Tuo Da Gloriam!" That ought to start a fire! ;-) In the meantime..... use lots of incense, I hear tell they do in heaven! ;-)
Pax Christi!!