Wednesday, May 23, 2007

What I'm working on...

Some time back, I mentioned in a homily, and I think also in the parish bulletins, that I'd like to have a series of evenings at which I'd lead an examination and discussion of the holy father's recent exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis.

What makes this even more relevant is not only that some liturgical matters in the parishes here have occasioned some questions and for some, both praise and objection, but also, beyond Piqua, there are liturgical matters being widely discussed, having to do with the Mass, various developments here and there, rumors of change, actual change in process, and thus questions of what all this is about.

So--on my vacation/retreat, I read the holy father's exhortation, and I re-read his Spirit of the Liturgy from AD 2000, and a couple of other works on the Mass that I happened to have, unread, on my shelf.

Yesterday and today I spent several hours fleshing out material for at least the first two talks, which would cover the first third of the exhortation.

The hard part, of course, is going to find time to do this for the rest of it--because I've deliberately been away from the office yesterday and today; that changes tomorrow. But I'm hoping the good start I've made will help me keep going.

The central part of the document may be where we have the most discussion, since it concerns "a mystery to be celebrated" -- i.e., how the Mass is offered and why we do it certain ways. In this context, I plan to touch on all those issues that -- on one level shouldn't be that important -- and yet, end up being subjects of great discussion: why this music? Why chant? Why sing? Why do Mass a certain way? Etc. For that section, I intend not only to draw on the holy father's exhortation, but also on his Spirit of the Liturgy and also the relevant Vatican II documents, and probably the General Instruction.

When all is ready--God knows when that will be!--I will schedule the talks, and then, once they are given, I plan to post the text online, not only for the benefit of my readers, but particularly for those parishioners who can't be present when we have the session. And of course, I have to give my parishioners plenty of notice for when this will all happen, since this is all primarily for their benefit.

But this is far enough along that I'm willing to commit myself to this, publicly -- i.e., by this post! After all, if all else fails, I could still do a presentation on the material without writing up a text suitable for publication, but more preparation will make for better content and discussion, so I'm aiming for that.

At this point, I don't imagine actually beginning the series until late June, and I may decide to wait until the fall. The upside of waiting is that more folks will benefit after summer is over; the downside is that there are more things scheduled starting in the fall, so I'll have more competition on the calendar. I look forward to the advice of parishioners and some of the more active collaborators in parish ministry here to give me their feedback on that issue.


Anonymous said...

I think this is a superb idea, Father.

John L. Wright said...

I would like to be there, so I vote that these talks start after I get back from the Sacred Music Coloquium.

Anonymous said...

Excellent idea, Father -- and John Wright, I hope you'll share some of your experiences at this year's Colloquium after you get back. If you haven't been before, it's a wonderful few days of glorious music and a chance to meet some neat people. I envy you!

Regards, Patricia Gonzalez
(Colloquium 2006)

Rich Leonardi said...

Please, Father, find a way to record your talks for St. Blog's parishioners.

Father Martin Fox said...


I have a text for the first two, so God willing, I will have those to post online.

Dr. Malcolm C. Harris, Sr. said...

What a marvelous idea. I am envious: I will have to suggest we have a study group in our parish (Blessed Sacrament, Wichita, Kansas.)

When you address "why this music? Why chant? Why sing?", you might talk about the mass as work.

"In times past, songs unified men in work. This is how gangs of men build the rhythm to work in unison. Think of sea shanties! Each crew member pulled on the beat to heave the anchor....

"In the liturgy, the role of chant is to join us in the rhythm of prayer: the common work of praising the transcendent God. We must relearn to pray like men again."

Good luck on a successful series!

-Malcolm Harris