29 January 2015

Oxford & Kent

I haven't posted here in way too long, so I decided to post some pics of my trip to England.  Right after Christmas I went to Oxford as well as Canterbury and Dover in Kent.  While in Canterbury, I celebrated a private Mass at the (now Anglican) Cathedral on the feast of St. Thomas Becket.  It was in the Cathedral that he was killed while praying Vespers.  He left the evening prayers to go to the
door where the 4 knights sent by Henry II had come to murder Becket.  As others locked the doors, St. Thomas insisted they be open, as the Church of God should never be barred at times of prayer.  The 4 knights came in and then murdered St. Thomas, his body was then taken to the undercroft where a shrine existed until its destruction in the time of Henry VIII.  In fact, the shrine of St. Thomas Becket was one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in all of Europe until the Protestants demolished it.  The location of his relics remains unknown.  There is now a marker on the stone where St. Thomas was martyred (see picture)

Below are some slideshows of pics from Oxford, Centerbury, and Dover:




30 October 2014

When All Souls Day Falls on Sunday

There has been some confusion in the Catholic corner of the Internet with regards to Mass this Sunday.  The Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite now allows All Souls Day to be celebrated on Sunday.  (The pre-Vatican II calendar would have (and still does) moved it from the Sunday, so as to allow Sunday to retain its primacy.)  Normally, there is no Gloria and Creed said on All Souls Day.  The confusion seems to originate from the Canadian Bishops, who seem to have required it in their local Liturgical Ordo.

To help clear up some confusion, I have scanned the relevant pages from the 2013-2014 Ordo Missae Celebrandae et Divini Officii Persolvendi published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana:

Here is the English translation of the same from the edition published by Centro Liturgico Vincenziano:

Normally, when the Gloria and Creed are to be said, they are mentioned in the notes for the day, as is done above for the Solemnity of All Saints.  There is no such notation for All Souls Day.

The question is whether the GIRM permits or otherwise requires the Gloria or Creed.  Paragraph 53 of the GIRM reads, in part: "[The Gloria] is sung or said on Sundays outside the Seasons of Advent and Lent, on solemnities and feasts, and at special celebrations of a more solemn character."  There is a similar instruction with regards the Creed, from GIRM no. 68:  "The Creed is to be sung or said by the priest together with the people on Sundays and Solemnities. It may be said also at particular celebrations of a more solemn character."

There is perhaps an argument to be made that, at least at a solemnly celebrated Mass of All Souls, it would be appropriate to sing the Gloria and Creed, its absence in the universal Ordo notwithstanding.

12 May 2014

Pope Francis Speaks to Priests and Seminarians

The Pope met today with priests and seminarians studying at Rome's Pontifical Universities in the Pope Paul VI Hall in Vatican City.  The event began with students from the various colleges, representing most of the world, providing selections of music.  The songs ranged from Mexican hymns, to American spirituals, to Zulu ululations, to traditional English polyphony.  The Pope arrived a bit late--he was meeting with Bishops from Mexico and apparently they got to talking a bit.

The even largely consisted with a group of pre-selected seminarians each asking a question.  The questions related especially to priestly formation and ministry.  There was nothing particularly earth-shattering in the talk that I heard.  Pope Francis is always very pastoral.  Where John Paul tended to speak in the language of philosophy and Pope Benedict in the language of theology, Pope Francis speaks in the language of everyday stories.  Most of his responses were anecdotes from his own life and experience.  For example, one seminarian asked about the challenges of living in community life.  Pope Francis recalled an event when he was a young seminarian or priest and having trouble with one of his fellow seminarians/priests.  He went to his Spiritual Director to express his frustration with this person, listing all the reasons why he had a right to be angry.  Pope Francis said that his Spiritual Director asked only one question:  "Have you prayed for this brother?"  The Pope said he admitted at the time that he had not.  The Spiritual Director said something to the effect of, "Well, there's no more we can do right now."  That's Pope Francis, just a simple story to illustrate a very pastoral point.

After the talk he walked down the center of the Hall and met with seminarians.  I was able to get a few pictures there.  I left with a fellow Dominican and we were waiting just outside the exit doors.  The crowd wasn't moving, and we just assumed that security was holding everyone up to allow the Pope to get past first.  Little did we know that the Pope's next destination was just past we were standing.  So, the security quickly formed a corridor through the remaining few of us who were left, and escorted him right past us.  I never expected to get that close.  It was a nice bit of Providence!

Below are the pictures I took.

22 April 2014

Go to Orvieto!

The Duomo in Orvieto

A month or so ago, some friends were coming into town and asked about the possibility of a day trip to Rome.  I had my own thoughts, but asked a few other Americans here what they thought.  A number of them suggested Orvieto, which I had never been to see.  My friends never got the chance to go, but I finally did, and it was a great trip.

Orvieto is in the midst of a Jubilee Year.  The Church was built by Pope Urban VI in the 14th century to house a Eucharistic miracle.  Last year was the 750th anniversary of that miracle--The famous Corporal of Bolsena.  In 1263, a priest who began to doubt the truth of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist was saying Mass.  During the Mass, the host in his hand began to bleed drops of blood, which were visible to a number of people attending Mass.  Those drops stained the corporal (the small square cloth the priest uses under the host and chalice while saying Mass).  The corporal was preserved as a relic, and remains enthroned in a side chapel of the Duomo.

The Chapel of the Corporal
in the Duomo in Orvieto
This miracle is important to Dominicans because of its indirect tie to St. Thomas Aquinas.  In 1264, Pope Urban IV heard of this miracle of the bleeding host.  Inspired by it, he ordered that a new feast day be inserted into the liturgical calendar in honor of the Blessed Sacrament -- the feast of Corpus Christi.  The story is that he asked the two most scholarly friars, the Dominican St. Thomas Aquinas and the Franciscan St. Bonaventure, to compose the prayers and hymn for the new feast.  St. Thomas presented his first, after which Bonaventure threw his into the fire, so great was Thomas's poetry and theology.  Thus, Orvieto can be considered the birthplace of the feast of Corpus Christ, and St. Thomas its primary author.

For the Jubilee year, the Diocese has created a pilgrimage office.  They had received the permission of Pope Benedict XVI to open a Holy Door for pilgrims into the Duomo as well.  Certainly, if you are planning to go on pilgrimage to Rome this year, you should definitely also make pilgrimage to Orvieto.  It just over an hour by train from Rome's Termini station, and the train tickets are not terrible expensive.  From the train station, you take a small funicular railway up to the town on the hill, which costs little over 1 Euro.

Happy Easter

The Paschal Candle at the Basilica San Clemente:

21 April 2014

Papal Mass for Easter

I attended the Papal Easter Mass in the clergy section, up in the area set up for the sanctuary outside St. Peter's Basilica.  The seats were directly behind the Cardinals, Bishops, and Canons of St. Peter's.  In other words, they were pretty good seats.  As this year Easter coincided in both the West and the East (the East still dates Easter according to the Julian calendar), the Gospel was sung in both Latin and Greek.

It was a perfect Roman spring day.  There was not a cloud in the sky, and an occasional cool breeze that made the day very comfortable.  This was in stark contrast to the noisy rainstorm the night before.  A perfect Easter morning.

After Mass, the Pope immediately removed the liturgical vestments to enter the Popemobile.  He took a short ride through the crowd, and then up to the old Papal apartments to deliver the traditional Urbi et Orbi address.

For even more pictures and video of the Easter Mass, see the Vatican website.

By the way, is it so hard to dress decently for Mass with the Pope?  I mean, am I so old fashioned that I'm the only one who thinks wearing skin-tight blue jeans is inappropriate for a Papal Mass?  Red pants and an untucked blue shirt?  Wearing a baseball cap throughout the Eucharistic prayer?  I mean, even Pope Francis--known for his liturgical simplicity--still wears and alb and chasuble for Mass.  If he can dress up, surely we can.

18 April 2014

Stations of the Cross with Pope Francis

As has been the case for a number of years now, the Pope comes to the Colosseum for the annual Good Friday Stations of the Cross.  Until I came to Rome, I thought the Pope and people were inside the Colosseum.  They are not.  Across from the Colosseum is a bit of a plateau with the ruins of an old basilica.  They set up a tent for the Holy Father there, facing the Colosseum.  Because of the scaffolding that now covers 1/4 of the Colosseum, there were able to put a large monitor up to watch the events.  The actual procession of the stations goes inside the Colosseum and then back out.  This occurs shortly after the Liturgy of the Lord's Passion at St. Peter's.  The Pope looked very, very tired.

This year, the meditations for the Stations of the Cross were prepared by His Eminence, Msgr. Giancarlo Maria Bregantini, Archbishop of Campobasso-Boiano. A PDF of the official  booklet of the Stations can be found here and the English translations of the meditations may be found here.