Category Archives: Liturgy

‘Occupy the Vatican’


The new English translation of the Roman Missal goes into effect Nov. 27. (CR/Bill McAllen)

It’s no secret that some priests – especially those who were energized by the Second Vatican Council – aren’t very pleased with the pending Nov. 27 implementation of the new English translation of the Roman Missal. They think the new language, which strives to be a more literal translation of the Latin prayer book, is archaic and inaccessible.

Early this week, I e-mailed all the parishes of the Archdiocese of Baltimore to find out if anyone was planning to do anything to mark the last weekend of Masses using the current translation. Archdiocesan leaders had encouraged parishes to find ways of celebrating the decades of service of the current translation. I wanted to see if any parishes were actually planning to ceremoniously retire, bury or burn their old Sacramentaries, as suggested.

The first response I received was from an Anne Arundel County pastor, informing me in just three words how he planned to mark the passage of the old translation.

“Occupy the Vatican,” he wrote.

How are you observing the end of an era?

Introducing the new translation of the Roman Missal can be fun?

Father Gerard Francik has the right approach to introducing the new English translation of the Roman Missal. 

Instead of taking an “I-don’t-want-to-do-this-anymore-than-you-do” stance, the pastor of St. Mark in Fallston is encouraging his parishioners to embrace the translation as an opportunity to deepen their understanding and love of the Mass.

Young St. Mark parishioners seem genuinely excited about Nov. 27 – the date the new translation takes effect in the United States. They’ve made two fun videos to help educate their fellow parishioners about some of the coming changes.  (See below).

Sure, not everyone is going to welcome the new translation.  It will take some time to adapt to language that’s going to be more formal than what many of us have known our whole lives. But, it’s good to see a parish taking a positive approach.  The introduction of the new translation really can be an opportunity for liturgical renewal if we just give it a chance.

Here’s a guide to the new translation produced by Catholic Review Media you might want to check out.

Teen video breaks down coming changes in the language of the liturgy

Here’s a nice, simple and direct summary of what’s happening with the new English translation of the Roman Missal.  There’s more to it than what this video offers, but it’s a good introduction.  Check out this story for a more detailed explanation from Father Richard Hilgartner, a Baltimore priest and director of the Secretariat for Divine Worship with the U.S. bishops. The changes are set to take place Nov. 27, the first Sunday of Advent.

All together now: ‘I love my cross, I love my beads’

A song from the "Manual of Select Catholic Hymns and Devotions." (CR Staff/George P. Matysek Jr.)

They just don’t write hymns like the ones I recently stumbled across in an old Catholic songbook at the recently closed St. Michael Church, Fells Point.

Published in 1925, the yellowed and crumbling “Manual of Select Catholic Hymns and Devotions” had been tucked away on a dusty choir-loft shelf alongside stacks of old, unused sheet music. The hymnal’s binding had been broken long ago – a sign of frequent use in a parish that was once among the largest and most active in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Carefully leafing through the manual, I was amazed by lyrics that were profoundly, unabashedly Catholic. Although they could sometimes be a bit saccharine, they were undoubtedly meant to bolster devotional faith in an era when American Catholics still faced persecution and ridicule.

Hymn #183 – “I Am a Faithful Catholic” – was particularly striking.  With a notation advising that the hymn be played “with spirit,” the song was written in the first person. It required singers to promise that they personally would be “true to holy Church, and steadfast, until death – and steadfast until death.”

“I love His altar where I kneel,” the song proclaimed, “My Jesus to adore; I love my Mother, Mary dear, Oh! may I love them more.”

The saints got similar treatment: “I love the Saints of olden time, The places where they dwelt; I love to pray where Saints have prayed, And kneel where they have knelt.”

The final verse drove it all home with a simple, direct summary: “I love my cross, I love my beads. Each emblem of my faith; Let foolish men rail as they will, I’ll love them until death.”

Pretty amazing stuff, huh?

Hymn #184, “Long Live the Pope,” was just as bold.

“Beleaguered by the foes of earth,” the 1908 hymn asserted, “beset by hosts of hell; He guards the loyal flock of Christ, a watchful sentinel: And Yet, amid the din and strife, The clash of mace and sword, he bears alone the shepherd staff, This champion of the Lord.”

Again, the final verse has the clincher:

“Then raise the chant, with heart and voice, In church and school and home: ‘Long live the Shepherd of the Flock! Long live the Pope of Rome!” Almighty Father, bless his work, Protect him in his ways; Receive his prayers, fulfill his hopes, And grant him length of days.”

I don’t know if those songs were sung as frequently as Marian favorites like “On This Day, O Beautiful Mother,” or eucharistic hymns like “Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All,” but the fact that they made it into the manual’s third edition  when others were culled suggests that they may have had a attained a certain level of popularity.

In a preface to the hymnal, Redemptorist Father Francis Auth wrote that he hoped the manual would “assist our devout people to sing the praises of God, Our Blessed Mother and all the Saints with more love and devotion, and we trust, with more pleasure.”

The encouragement of “devout, soul-stirring” congregational singing was a priority, he said. To get there, “we must unite on something churchly, beautiful and stable.”

A lot has changed in liturgical music over the last century, but it sounds to me like Father Auth’s basic advice is just as sound today as it was in 1925.

"Long Live the Pope," published in a 1925 hymnal. (CR Staff/George P. Matysek Jr.)

‘And with your spirit’

Father Richard Hilgartner talks about the new Roman Missal during a June 23 workshop at the Catholic Media Convention in Pittsburgh. (CR/George P. Matysek Jr.)

PITTSBURGH – You might call it liturgical autopilot.

As soon as Catholics hear a priest say, “The Lord be with you,” they instinctively respond, “And also with you.”

That’s all about to change Nov. 27 when the English-speaking world begins using the new Roman Missal – the book of liturgical prayers that has been more literally and poetically translated from the Latin.

With the new translation, English-speaking Catholics will now respond to the priest or deacon with, “And with your spirit.”

Father Richard Hilgartner, a Baltimore priest who serves as director of the U.S. Bishops’ Secretariat for Divine Worship, acknowledged that the change will probably be one of the more challenging ones for Catholics to accept. “And also with you” has been used for more than four decades. It’s the only response many Catholics have ever known.

During a June 23 workshop on the new Roman Missal, given at the Catholic Media Convention in Pittsburgh, Father Hilgartner delved into some of the reasons why “And with your spirit” has been adopted.

The phrase has ancient roots in Scripture. It was used in the Book of Ruth and the Book of Chronicles. The angel Gabriel greeted the Blessed Virgin Mary with those words, the priest noted, and St. Paul often signed off his letters that way.

Father Hilgartner pointed out that there’s also an important functional component to the words.

The Latin is, “Dominus vobiscum et cum spiritu tuo.” It contains no verb. It’s as much a statement of fact as it is a greeting, Father Hilgartner said.

“‘The Lord be with you,’ is saying that the Lord is present in this gathering,” the priest explained. “The people’s response back to the priest – ‘and with your spirit’ – is an acknowledgment that the priest’s spirit has been configured and conformed to Christ by virtue of ordination to act as Christ presiding over the assembly.”

When the priest says, ‘The Lord be with you,’ the people’s response is not some kind of “right back at you Father!” as much as it is focused on allowing Christ to work through that priest, Father Hilgartner said.

“It’s a reminder to the priest that what he does, he does because the Church has called him and ordained him to act in the person of Christ,” he said. “The priest acknowledges the presence of Christ in the assembly and the assembly acknowledges the presence of Christ working in and through the priest.”

The liturgical act can take place, Father Hilgartner explained, “because the Church is rightly gathered and rightly ordered.”

“It’s a statement of ecclesiology,” he said.

Father Hilgartner noted that English-speaking countries are in the minority by not having a literal translation of the Latin for the dialogue, which is used at the beginning of Mass, at the proclamation of the Gospel by a priest or deacon, at the beginning of the eucharistic prayer and at the final blessing at Mass. The Italian translation is “E con il tuo spirito,” French: “Et avec votre esprit,” Spanish: “Y con tu espíritu,” and German: “Und mit deinem Geiste.”

It will take some time before people adjust to the change. But, if parishes do a good job explaining the reasons behind that and other changes, it will be a great moment of catechesis when we can all learn more about what we really believe as Catholics.

In the coming weeks, The Catholic Review will feature an in-depth look at Father Hilgartner’s ministry at the bishops’ conference.

Some parishes will sing new musical settings earlier than planned

Some parishes may start singing the musical settings from the  new Roman Missal a few months sooner than planned.

New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship, announced yesterday during the bishops’ spring meeting in Washington State that bishops may grant permission for parishes to introduce the settings in September as a way of providing more time to learn them.

The settings were originally scheduled to be introduced Nov. 27 – the start of Advent – when other changes in the language of the Mass are set to be implemented.

The musical settings that will be affected include the Gloria, the Holy, Holy, Holy and the Memorial Acclamations.

Without the variation, it would have been especially challenging for congregations to learn the new Gloria since the Gloria is not sung during Advent.  The first exposure to the setting would have been at Christmas.

A June 17 news release noted that the early implementation of the music settings was authorized by USCCB president, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, and adopted by the committee to allow parish communities to learn the various parts of the new translation “in a timely fashion and an even pace.”

The Committee on Divine Worship made the decision in response to requests from several bishops, echoed by the National Advisory Council. Some suggested that the various acclamations could be more effectively introduced throughout the fall, according to the news release, so that when the full Missal is implemented, people would already be familiar with the prayers that are sung.

“I ask you to encourage this as a means of preparing our people and helping them embrace the new translation,” Archbishop Gregory told the bishops.

What’s your favorite Easter hymn?

Christmas carols certainly seem to get a lot more attention, but there are plenty of terrific Easter hymns out there.  Here are some of my favorites.  Which ones do you like?

Jesus Christ is Risen Today

Ye Sons and Daughters/Filii et Filiae

Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Come Christians, Join to Sing

Now the Green Blade Riseth

Holy Communion host dispenser?


Ken Maldonado for The Wall Street Journal

I’m all for caution, but this just makes me cringe. 

At St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church in Clark, N.J., parishioners no longer handle the communion wafers that they once transferred from one bowl to another at the start of Mass. 

Instead, parishioners use a very untraditional looking contraption known as a communion host dispenser. They pull a trigger and wafers are deposited into a bowl for consecration during the Mass.

“There was a big concern about germs on the hands getting on stuff so we use the dispenser instead,” said the Rev. Dennis Cohan.

A Christmas hepatitis scare at a Long Island church has church officials across the region once again examining health and hygiene issues. Basics like using hand sanitizer and refraining from shaking your neighbors’ hand or sipping from the communion cup if you are sick are being reinforced.

The Nassau County Department of Health announced on Monday that an individual diagnosed with the hepatitis A virus was involved with distributing communion at two Christmas Day services at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Massapequa Park.

Full story here.  (P.S. — Not to be a liturgical cop, but is that glass ciborium in the photo kosher? I thought they were supposed to be made of gold, silver or other precious metal — or, if made of other precious material, not be easily breakable?)

Judas was also first to leave

This coming weekend marks the start of Advent and a new liturgical year for the Church.  Barbara Anderson believes new years are a time for resolutions, and she has a good one in mind.

Writing in the Nov. 21 parish bulletin, the pastoral life director of St. Anthony Shrine in Emmitsburg and Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Thurmont suggested that parishioners resolve to get to Mass on time and not leave right after Communion.

“If someone invited us to their house for dinner,” she said, “we probably wouldn’t arrive late and certainly wouldn’t leave early.”

Anderson called it “disruptive to the community, the presider, lector and other ministers when people are coming and going as if it is a sporting event.”

“My prayer is that we will all take our commitment to pray together on Sundays very seriously and try to plan our lives accordingly,” she said.

Good advice. 

It reminds me of a sign I saw posted at the back of St. Benedict in Baltimore. It reads: “Judas left early, too.”

%d bloggers like this: