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March 13, 2007


Jazmany Castellano

So, is anyone surprised by this?


The most remarkable thing about this document is how little of Benedict we see in it; it is essentially a summary of the synod propositions which were already released and does not really go beyond what the Synod proposed.

That doesn't make for high drama and this will seem anticlimactic and even disappointing for many. The big picture message that emerges from this document is that Benedict appears to take collegiality very seriously, that for him a synod of bishops is really a synod of bishops and not a pretext for grand papal statements and gestures.

It remains to be seen whether there will be any papal actions in this area; the exhortation gives very little indication of this.

Something interesting that may be missed on an initial read-through is that Benedict states in a footnote that he is referring the synod's suggestion of moving the sign of peace to the CDW for further study.

RP Burke

... this "vertical" nature of Eucharist, much-maligned in recent decades, is the only basis in which to have any "horizontal" communion at all.

An affirmation of the truth of both vertical and horizontal dimensions of communion -- but that the horizontal only comes after the vertical. Very well put.


If no one is "surprised by this" or its considered "anticlimatic", thank God. All that demonstrates is that our hierarchy is staying close to the two thousand year old teaching that's been handed down to us. In contrast to the those who are constantly looking for "surprise" and, when it isn't forthcoming, promptly dub it "anticlimatic". Perhaps those folks could turn to the Discovery Channel in the continuing quest to find something to "tickle their ears".
For my part, the document makes me appreciate elements of the Mass that I hadn't thought of before. E.g., that by beauty we don't mean decoration but an essential element that links heaven to earth.
Oh, and BTW, what is a diocesan Pententiary?

Tim Ferguson

G, every diocese is to have a diocesan penitentiary (canon 508), who is a priest who has the authority to absolve sacramentally certain penalties, such as excommunications which have not been publicly declared. In practice, I suspect that few dioceses in the US actually follow this law, as the whole penal system of the Church has been greatly underutilized.


I for my part am excited about the AE. I think it is not so much "anticlimactic" as it is diplomatic. I read it as a clear shift back to what Sacrosanctum Concilium really intended and a reversal of many of the abuses of the past few decades -- but without waving a big banner and shouting "WE'RE CHANGING THINGS!" This is perhaps the best way to get real liturgical reform into the dioceses, even those dioceses with bishops who may be resistant to such reform. I think the document is brilliant.


The document is massively disappointing. For DECADES, we've been BEGGING Rome: Attack the Liturgical Abuses! Surely they cannot have been so deaf as to have missed all the complaints that have been coming in? Haven't the angels relayed our prayers to them?

We already have a perfectly good liturgical theory! All this document is going to be is Mahony's birdcage liner.

Haugen & Haas's drivel has not been suppressed, and there will be a MahonyFest in 2008.

I think I will bang my head against the wall for a few hours tonight. That will be less painful than this document.


How could you expect a grand change on the enforcement of liturgical abuses in a document such as this? There are already adequate guidance documents prohibiting most abuses in the GRIM and Redemptionis Sacramentum. As you say we already have good liturgical theory.
What is needed is not a public document calling bishops to task, at least not until Rome has privately called them to task, which has probably not happened. I say probably because private means just that. I would expect that after such a private dressing down we would see a sudden turn in certain bishops behavior or an equally sudden removal of them from their episcopal duties. As this has not happen I deduce that such a private ultimatum has not been given.
To expect some kind of specific laundry list of either prohibited actions or specific actors is unrealistic at best. We already know the prohibited actions, so you can bet the bishops know them too. As for the actors, how could Rome be unaware of them?


On your side note of restoration of the order of sacraments: I am somewhat disturbed by this. Why? In the real world I see many teens who come from homes where there is not an especially strong practice of a sacramental life. A small but significant number blossom into a sacramental life based on the catechesis they go through during preparation for Confirmation.
I am already concerned that the Mystery of the Eucharist and the Mass cannot be adaquately conveyed to an eight or nine year old. One of the problems we have is that there are far too many adults who's formation stopped after their first Communion or Confirmation, which was done in their pre-adolescent years.
In a perfect world these confirmed Christians would continue to grow in Christ throughout their lives, in the real world as it is, some we never see again once they complete their Confirmation. Of those we do keep through their high school years most come form strong families, but not all. Of those that don't most we we never see at all were there not some pressure for them to continue in catechism at least until they finish Confirmation.
Confirm at third grade and a goodly number of these souls will be lost to us.


I find this reasoning disturbing. We should withhold Confirmation until catechesis is done? Then we shouldn't be confirming any Christians until they're on their deathbeds.

I was no more fully catechized after 8th grade than the Man in the Moon, but my parish stopped offering classes after our grade was Confirmed, so I was sure I knew everything. There weren't any extra classes offered for kids who didn't feel ready for Confirmation, either.

The confusion of "Confirmation" with "graduation from catechesis" is the _problem_, not the solution.


"A small but significant number blossom into a sacramental life based on the catechesis they go through during preparation for Confirmation."

An odd assumption for a Catholic to make -- might they not "blossom" based not on the catechesis, but on the sacrament itself?
Do we not all believe in the efficacy of the sacrament of Confirmation and the grace it bestows?

Just askin'....


My diocese started the restored order when I was 8, the year after my First Communion. I could have been confirmed that year, but I chose to wait, as I had been told that it was an adult assent and I didn't feel adult yet.
My parents had both been confirmed at 12, so I chose to be confirmed when I was also 12.
I understood the sacrament better at 12 than I did at 8, but also better at 16 than I did at 12 and understand it even better now that I'm 23. I am sure that when I am 30, 40, 50, 60, I will have more and more understanding of it.
But that doesn't mean I should have waited until I had grandkids before receiving it! In fact, I wish I had received it when I was 8. The sacrament is about receiving graces and having our baptisms confirmed by the bishop. No teenager or preteen should be deprived of those graces just because they're not adult yet.


About using chant in mass...

I've read a lot of the discussion here about this because it's interesting, revelatory, and relevant to me. I'm a graduate student in my 20's, and I participate in a church choir (made up entirely of college students) that leads the music at one of our parish's Sunday masses. I do wish that some of the musical idealists in the crowd could be a little more understanding, however.

Our choir decided at the beginning of Lent that using chant mass parts would be fun, so we have been doing that up to this point. I'm telling you, although we chose simple and common chants, they are much more difficult to perform than the much-maligned Marty Haugen arrangements. Since they are difficult, we have gotten mostly negative feedback. It may or may not be worth continuing the effort, especially since we made this decision somewhat capriciously, and not out of a historical or theological understanding of the value of chant. Personally, I'm not so sure I get it. If we're going to sing difficult music that parishioners aren't going to follow anyway, why not go for Bach or Mozart? Are Baroque and Classical music really any less Catholic than chant? Why?

I am curious, too, if there are different kinds of Chant? The document referenced in this post talks about Gregorian, which is of course the one that I have heard of. If there are different kinds, how can you tell? And why is one more appropriate than another?


Schola23, that's quite a number of questions.

The main reason chant feels different (and maybe harder) is that it is non-metric, which is to say that its phrase and rhythms are not divided into neat units of 4 beats or 3 beats such that you can tap your toe to it. Like the Psalms (and like prayer) the rhythm undulates in a different way, more akin to natural speech. It is not grounded in an earthy way and that is for a reason. The early Christians had access to metric Greek poetry but rejected that style for the song of their worship. Chant does have a pulse but it is not overt. This permits the music to float and modulate in a more prayerful way.

As for the Gregorian tradition proper, it is the very foundation of music as we know it, at least in the West. It is the song of the Roman Rite, intimately bound up with the development of the liturgical text.

If you are attempting to accompany chant, that might be part of the problem you are having. Try it unaccompanied. As for the text, you should learn that separately before putting it with the music.

You might also see musicasacra.com for tutorials. There is so much more to say but I'll leave it there, and just encourage you to go forward. There is a vast world of amazing music awaiting your discovery.

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