Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Noteworthy Catholic News: Vessels, Music, imminent release of Synod document on Eucharist, and Pope speaks on Silence

Here are a few news items. This first one is long overdue. Thanks be to God it has been put to rest once and for all:

Lay ministers may not cleanse Communion vessels, Pope Benedict says

By Nancy Frazier O'Brien
Catholic News Service

Spokane, Wash., said Cardinal Arinze asked Pope Benedict about the matter during a June 9 audience, "and received a response in the negative."

Noting that the General Instruction of the Roman Missal "directs that the sacred vessels are to be purified by the priest, the deacon or an instituted acolyte," (continue reading about Vessels at CNS...)

In the Catholic Herald (UK) is a lengthy article pertaining to liturgical music. It's well worth the read:

Bad Music is Destroying the Church

by James MacMillan

In recent times the Church has developed uneasy relations with its musicians. Growing up in the 1960s and 70s I was aware of a creeping separation between my serious engagement with the study of music, the application and practice of assiduously honed skills, and what the Church seemed to need and want for its liturgy.

I soon discovered that most serious Catholic musicians were being repulsed by an increasingly rigid misinterpretation of the Second Vatican Council’s reforms on music. Clergy and “liturgists” began expressing a scarcely veiled disdain for the very expertise and learning that musicians had sought to acquire. Serious musicians were more and more caricatured as elitists, reactionaries and Tridentinists by a new philistinism in the Church. Many of those who were not subdued into a state of quietism defected to Anglican and Lutheran parishes where their skills as organists, choral directors and singers were greatly appreciated.

These other churches now regard the Catholic Church as having engaged in a cultural vandalism in the 1960s and 70s – a destructive iconoclasm which wilfully brought to an end any remnant of its massive choral tradition and its skilful application to liturgical use. In short, music in the Catholic Church is referred to with sniffs of justified derision by these other denominations which have managed to maintain high standards of music-making in their divine services.

Is this negativity justified, and if so, how did this sorry state of affairs come about? Discussions of this issue usually throw up divided opinions about the state of Catholic liturgy before the 1960s. Reform certainly seems to have been overdue. The pre-conciliar liturgy by all accounts seems to have been a ritualised expression of the moribundity that had so calcified the Church. We were certainly ready for the rejuvenating breath of the Holy Spirit to cleanse, renew and refresh every aspect of Catholicism in the modern age. However, even although the pre-conciliar liturgical experience could be an alienating endurance for some, others speak fondly of how widespread the practice of choral singing was, even in the most lowly provincial parish. Performance of major composers, from Palestrina to Mozart, seems to have been natural practice from Aberdeen to Kilmarnock, from Glasgow to Cumnock.
The Second Vatican Council was certainly not the beginning of the Church’s desire in recent times to improve musico-liturgical practice. The Church has worried away at the question of appropriate music for centuries, dating back to its earliest days. The constant centrality in the Roman rite, though, since these days has been the chant. The motivation of the Church, since the mid-19th century, to re-establish a more fully authentic liturgical life has been wrapped up with a concern for the chant.

In 1903 Pope Pius X issued his motu proprio on sacred music. Gregorian is not the only form of the chant that has been used by the churches. One need only look to the Anglicans or to Byzantium to see the shadings of a great multiplicity. (Continue reading Bad Music at The Catholic Herald)...

This one is overdue, as well. From EWTN News:


Oct. 24 ( - The publication of the papal document concluding the work of last year's Synod on the Eucharist is "imminent," according to the I Media news agency.

Citing informed sources at the Vatican, I Media reports that Pope Benedict XVI will soon release his apostolic exhortation on the Eucharist. The Holy Father reportedly was reviewing a final draft of the document late in August.

The imminent release of a papal document on the Eucharist would be noteworthy under any circumstances. But in light of the reports that Pope Benedict is preparing another document on the use of the Latin Mass, the document will be even more anxiously awaited. Some Vatican-watchers have surmised that the Pontiff will release his motu proprio on the Latin Mass in conjunction with the apostolic exhortation on the Synod.

The members of the bishops' committee charged with drafting a document on the Synod discussions, which the Pope would use as the basis for his apostolic exhortation, met in Rome early in June. At that time (continue reading at EWTN News...)

Edit: You may want to check out Domenico Bettinelli's post on the release of the Synod document. He ponders whether the release will coincide with the expansion of the Tridentine. Makes sense to me!!!

And, from Zenit:

Code: ZE06102406

Date: 2006-10-24

Spend Time in Silence, Pope Tells Students

Opens Academic Year of Pontifical Universities

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 24, 2006 ( Benedict XVI counseled students of the pontifical universities in Rome to spend time in silence and contemplation, so as not to fall prey to the "inflation" of words.

The Holy Father said this on Monday afternoon to the university students who had gathered for the annual Mass celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica to open the academic year.

Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, presided over the Mass.

Pope John Paul II initiated the annual gathering of university students in the Vatican.

Benedict XVI told the students: "In-depth reflection on Christian truths and the study of theology or other religious disciplines presuppose an education in silence and contemplation, as it is necessary to be able to listen with the heart to God who speaks.

"Only if they proceed from the silence of contemplation can our words have a certain value and usefulness and not fall into the inflation of the world's speeches which seek the consensus of public opinion.

"Therefore, whoever studies in an ecclesiastical institution must be disposed to obedience and truth, and cultivate a certain asceticism of thought and word."

The Pontiff added: "This asceticism is based on loving familiarity with the word of God."

"Pray: 'Lord, teach us to pray and also to think, to write and to speak,' as these faculties are intimately connected among themselves," the Pope said.

Benedict XVI told the students that "apostolate will be fruitful if you nourish your personal relationship with him, tending toward holiness and having as sole objective of your existence the realization of the kingdom of God."

Cardinal Grocholewski told the students to never lose sight of God, "source of our talents," which enrich us if we do not accumulate them for ourselves, but orient them to serving the community.

Some 15,000 priests, seminarians, men and women religious and lay people from all over the world study in the pontifical universities.