In this issue are some items related to the aftermath of the President’s Speech at Notre Dame. It looks like the former President of Trinity University here in Washington is rather upset with critics of the Honorary Degree Awarded to President Obama. At Commencement exercises she refers to these critics (which include a fairly large number of Bishops) as “Catholic Vigilantes.” Another interesting bit of news about the protests at Notre Dame is that among the “vigilantes” 🙂 present at the protest was Norma McCorvey (who was the Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade). Most of you know that she converted to Catholicism in 1998 and has worked actively in the pro-life movement for many years now. It is a great and healing thought that she is now among us as a fellow Catholic and a pro-life advocate. God is good, very good.
Also in this edition of Gloria TV News is a strange and sad story about a Catholic school boy who wants to be a girl. There are also some reflections from Former Archbishop of Milwaukee Rembert Weakland about the Abuse Scandal.
We have already discussed how the Old Testament Reading, the Epistle and Gospel came to be in their place and how the number and variety of those readings varied over the years and even today in the various Rites and Forms of the Liturgy. Now we consider the Responsorial Psalm which has a history of its own.
In a way, if you were to walk into Mass for the first time you might find the presence of a sung psalm a bit odd. Here we are reading the Word of God and suddenly another song breaks out! What is going on here. Is it another reading, is it a prayer. What is its purpose? Well let us read and see.
The responsorial psalm or optional “gradual” comes after the first reading. The psalm is an integral part of the liturgy of the word and is ordinarily taken from the lectionary, since these texts are directly related to and depend upon the respective readings. The cantor of the psalm sings the verse at the lectern or other suitable place, while the people remain seated and listen. Ordinarily the congregation takes part by singing the response, unless the psalm
is sung straight through without response. If sung, the following texts may be chosen:
the psalm in the lectionary,
The Gradual in the Roman Gradual,
or the Antiphon or the psalm in the Simple Gradual
History – In the early Church there was a pattern to the psalm response much like our own today. That is to say, there was an antiphon or verse sung by all followed by extended verses of a particular psalm chosen for the day with the antiphon intervening every so often by way of a response. Many of the Fathers of the Church make mention of this format. St. Augustine makes explicit mention of the practice in his sermons; likewise, St. John Chrysostom and St. Leo the Great among others. In the early days, the psalm texts were sung in their entirety. This was true even of the lengthier psalms. (Today, there are usually selected verses of the psalm used. It is rare that a whole psalm be sung unless it be brief in itself). The responsorial psalm was seen as an integral part of the liturgy with its own significance. This is in contrast to some of the other singing we have previously discussed such as the Entrance Antiphon (Introit) which was sung originally to cover a movement or fill a space of time and set a tone. In this way it existed for a purpose beyond itself. Here the chant has an importance in itself and does not exist to cover motion etc. It was seen as a moment of pious meditation, a lyrical rejoicing after the word of God had been received into the heart of the believer. Originally the deacon was the singer of this psalm and versicle. Later the task moved to the subdeacon & later still to the schola Cantorum (Choir).
It is interesting to note that when the singer mounted the lectern (or ambo, or pulpit) he did not go all the way to the top of the platform but rather stood on one of the steps just below the platform.This was once again due to the reverence given the proclamation of the Gospel which alone was proclaimed from the top platform. Since the singer stood on a step (“gradus“, in Latin) the psalm came to be known as a “Graduale.”
Over time the responsorial psalm began to shrink in size and lose its responsorial character. This seems to have happened for two reasons.
First the music for these chants began to become more and more elaborate. We saw this tendency with the Entrance Antiphon. The simple forms slowly gave way to other, more elaborate forms. Thus, the antiphon which was intended for the people became more ornate and difficult and thus slipped from their grasp. Its execution fell more frequently to the schola. Likewise, as the antiphon became more elaborate it began to overshadow the verses of the psalm themselves which were sheered away slowly. Eventually only one verse remained along with the antiphon. This remained its form until the recent changes in the Mass at Vatican II.
A second factor seems to have been the dropping of the first reading from the Old Testament in the Sixth Century. By this time however the responsorial character of the psalm was well on its way out. Thus this effect may not be direct but may help explain that other factors were at work in the background.
Today the original responsorial format has been reintroduced as an option. This therefore returns to the more ancient practice and also makes the response once again a song or response of the assembly. However, the option still exists to use a Gradual in the from the Graduale Romanum which retains the format of the Traditional Latin Mass instead of a responsorial format. This would generally have to be sung by a trained schola.
Pastoral Reflections – It is true to say that the Psalm is “another reading” in the sense that the psalm, like the other readings comes from the scriptures, the written Word of God. However, a caution is in order. The psalm should also be seen to enhance the prayer and praise that is integral to the Liturgy of the Word. Thus, it is not merely a “listening event” but also involves prayer and praise in the truest sense of the term. The psalms were (and still are) the prayer book of the Jews and it is our prayer book as well. Hence, the psalm is prayer and not only “another reading.”
The title “responsorial psalm” is not given because there is a response or antiphon for the people to sing. The “response” referred to is the reflection of the assembly on the proclamation of the reading which just took place. The psalm is usually related in some direct way to the theme of the Old Testament reading (and by that very fact to the Gospel which is to come). Thus, the people “respond” to the Word of God, make it their own and proclaim it prayerfully. By its nature, the psalm is a song and should thus be sung if at all possible; especially on Sunday.
The option of using the gradual from the Graduale Romanum should not be forgotten. There is once again the need to remember that a glorious heritage of Gregorian Chants exists which belongs to faithful by their right. It is sad if this heritage is never heard or sampled. However, it will be admitted that these Chants are difficult indeed and require a skilled choir. This and the fact that they are in Latin can make them less accessible. This usually means that the Graduals are seldom if ever done in the average parish. Again, a sad loss that a little extra training might overcome.
OK, so bottom line is once again the same: YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO PRAY. The Liturgy is not just some ritual to get through, it is a time of prayer. The Psalm response or gradule is meant to invite you into a prayerful response. Are you praying? Next time you’re at Mass, don’t miss the main point here.
The following video is of a Gradual. In the place of the more common “Responsorial Psalm” it is always permited to sing the “Gradual” which is an elaborate antiphon and one verse of the psalm. The one in this video is from the Vigil Mass for Christmas here is the text in Latin and an English Translation:
Hodie scietis, quia veniet Dominus, et salvabit nos: et mane videbitis gloriam eius. Qui regis Israel, intende: qui deducis velut ovem Ioseph: qui sedes super Cherubim, appare coram Ephraim, Beniamin, et Manasse.
Today you will know that the Lord is coming to save us: and tomorrow you shall see his glory. Thou that rulest Israel, hear us: thou that leadest Joseph like a flock, thou that sittest upon the Cherubim – appear Thou to Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasse.
Calling all marathoners, runners, walkers, and wanna-be runners. Are you looking for a better reason to get out of bed and go for that morning run? Are you looking for any reason to take your work-out more seriously? How about running for the building up of the kingdom of God? The Archdiocese of Washington’s Vocation Office is sponsoring a run for vocations to assist in the spiritual and financial support of our seminarians—and that is a great cause.
I am not a serious runner these days and so when a couple of people with whom I eat lunch said they were going to sign on, I thought, well, why not? It might make me more disciplined about my running if I have to “confess” my progress to Msgr. Panke and my colleagues. Not the most spiritual of reasons but it got me to an informational meeting.
At the meeting I heard some really beautiful stories about how much this run means to people. One woman spoke of how a serious accident confined her to home for a long period. Her pastor was so great about bringing Communion to her, that she volunteered to run and raise funds as a way to thank God for the gift of her pastor. A man spoke of how his running was sporadic and grinding but he couldn’t say “no” to Msgr. Panke when Msgr. Panke asked if he would run the marathon. He talked about how much more meaningful his running became when he began offering it up for the cause. Some people spoke of the new friends they have made and how much it has meant to them to get to know the archdiocesan seminarians.
It’s not too late to sign-on. We are looking for as many people as possible to run or walk the Marine Corps Marathon and 10k on October 25, 2009. Our Young Adult Ministry is putting together a team and groups for practice runs are forming in Upper Montgomery County and in the city.
The Promise of Prayers
Now, you can join a lot of running groups and even fundraising running programs but none of those programs through in the promise and power of prayer with training tips. If you are interested, please contact the Vocations Office at 301-853-4580 or www.adw.org/vocations.
As of this posting you have 157 days and 16 hours to train. Surely, you can find the time. See you at the finish line.
Here is a glimpse at some art and gospel music from the African American Tradition. Most of these images are of the Protestant traditions but in the African American Catholic Parishes there is a significant borrowing from especially Gospel Music. For example in my own Parish of Holy Comforter – St. Cyprian we are singing the song featured here to begin our Year-long preparation for a major evangelization program. Come and Go With Me, to My Father’s House!
There is a Website: http://religious-vocation.com/ which assists those discerning a call to the Consecrated life and also to the Monastic life. In short order this website details the differences between contemplative and active orders. It also names those communities and supplies to links to other websites that discuss more of each order. There are practical steps for discernment along with many pictures and videos. Take time to visit the site.
What is daily Monastic life like? The site helps answer this question by noting that the schedules of religious communities share basic similarities. A typical daily schedule (horarium) may look something like the following;
Here is a short vocational video on traditional monastic life, available at the site which shows scenes from the Abbey of Notre Dame de Fontgombault, and featuring the singing of “Alleluia Vir Dei Benedictus omni”.
The following information was supplied by Susan Gibbs, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Washington in response to a reader who asked how they can help turn back a possible decision to cancel the TV Mass for shut-ins. The original article appeared in this blog here: ORIGINAL ARTICLE Ms. Gibbs’ response was posted in the comments section but in case you missed it, I want also to include it out here on the main page:
Thank you to everyone interested in helping the Mass. The archdiocese is committed to continuing to offer this ministry, though the cost of moving to a broadcast station, which is important to reach our homebound and elderly viewers, is really significant (it could be as high as $100,000 per year). In addition, it can be very difficult to move viewers to a new station. The Mass has been on air in the DC area for 60 years, and on WHUT since the mid-1990s.
We have been working with the Shrine on seeking a production grant, which would help if we could get it. Unlike televangelist programs, the Mass does not solicit donations on-air through an 800 number. This program truly is a service to the elderly and homebound so they can attend Mass (we have Catholic and non-Catholic viewers).
In terms of next steps, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and other faith groups are seeking a meeting with PBS. From what we understand, PBS reportedly has decided to implement membership policies that date to 1985 (24 years ago), but were never implemented. The policies would prevent their member stations from including religious programming as part of overall community programming, even if the local community wants it. Our Mass features participants from around the Washington region (DC, MD and VA) so it’s definitely a local program anda community service.
If you want to weigh in, the contact at WHUT is Jennifer Lawson,[email protected]. WHUT has been a wonderful partner in providing this community service since the mid-1990s. This change would be a real loss to our viewers.
Finally, if you are interested in being a part of the congregation, please join us. The next taping is June 4, 7:30 p.m. (we tape two half-hour Masses so expect to be there until 8:45 p.m.) at the Basilica Crypt Church. Email [email protected] if if you want a schedule for the tapings.
Yesterday (see link to May 18 below) I featured excerpts from a Catholic News Service (CNS) article that summarized a rather upbeat review of the President’s speech at Notre Dame by the official paper of the Vatican L’Osservatore Romano. (MY ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE) Today CNS expanded on it’s coverage a bit and also pointed to another article more critcal of the speech, particularly in reference to Embryonic Stem Cell research. Here are a few excerpts from the CNS Article:
A few pages later, L’Osservatore Romano dedicates another, far more critical article of Obama’s stand on embryonic stem cell research, marking a clear departure from the somewhat positive evaluation the newspaper recently made of the President’s first 100 days. The article, titled “Campaign in the US against stem cells,” features the effort launched by the U.S. bishops, especially the web site of the USCCB, to oppose Obama’s new policy regarding the use of embryos for scientific research….[which]….reversed the decision of the Bush administration regarding the ban on (federal funding for) embryonic stem cell research, for the first time taxpayers’ money will be used to kill human beings in embryonic state to obtain stem cells.” In the article, L’Osservatore Romano extensively quotes Cardinal Justin Rigali and Archbishop Charles Chaput, one of the most vocal critics of Obama’s anti-life policies. “The Archbishop of Denver –the Vatican newspaper says- insists that ‘American public life cannot function if we keep our religious beliefs in the closet … the US does not need to be a Christian country, but it cannot survive if it is not open to solidarity and faith.” By expressing strong support to the U.S. bishops and quoting Archbishop Chaput’s recent conference at the Becket Fund dinner, L’Osservatore Romano has put to rest speculation that the Vatican was being “unsupportive” of the American Bishops’ strong criticism to Obama’s anti-life policies.
Another movie quite unfair to Catholics and the Church has been released: Angels and Demons. It remains true that the attacks against the Catholic Church would never be tolerated against Muslims or Jews. Fundamentalist and Evangelical Christians are also groups that it is OK to attack. None of the usual rule apply about bigotry or insensitivity, hate crimes etc when Catholics, Evangelicals and Fundamentalists are the target.
The following review by Fr. Barron is helpful in sorting out the myth that the Church is somehow “anti-science.” By the way, skip the movie. I read the book and while it is suspenseful in places it has a really stupid and unrealistic ending.