Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fact: St. Ann's of Charlotte, NC ... A Beacon to the Recovery of Catholic Identity

Dear Gentle Readers... in these closing days of Advent preparation (both spiritual and secular), I am pausing to reflect on the last couple of weeks of the Missae Cantatae offered at St. Ann's and just what a blessing this parish, its priest, its servers, and its schola and choir are to the recovery of our Catholic identity.

Within just 10 days, both a Missa Cantata and a Missa Solemnis were offered... it was not that long ago that we would pray to just have one Mass in the Extraordinary form a couple of times a year... here are two in just 10 days... with full schola and choir... and just what exceptional schola and choir they are... every Mass offered seems to "raise the bar" on the last, with sacred polyphony being added to their repertoire of parts of the Ordinary of the Mass.

I state in the title of this post that St. Ann's has become "a beacon to the recovery of our Catholic identity"... because it is exactly these Masses that is attracting so many other priests and our blessed seminarians to come here to experience something "other-worldly" and to carry that with them into their own parishes and seminaries.

When our beloved Holy Father, Benedict XVI (Long may he reign!) liberated the "old Mass"... stating that it was never abrogated and expressed his heartfelt and prayerful desire that the two forms of the Roman rite might "enrich each other"... we see it played out weekly at St. Ann's.

Much of what has been recovered in offering the the Mass in the Extraordinary form, is carried over into the weekly Masses of the Ordinary form... to the recovery of the Mass propers... to the recovery of sacred polyphony... to the recovery of sacred ritual and the recovery of Latin as the language of the Church,... and now, with the new translation of the Roman Missal... even the recovery of sacred language for our prayers again.

But it does not stop there, this Catholic identity then carries forward to the "New Evangelization" that our Holy Father desires as well! I have used these Missae Cantatae to bring back fallen-away Catholics as well as to expose some of our separated brethren to the "fullness of Truth" offered by Holy Mother Church.

In last night's Mass I had a two-fer.... a fallen away Catholic who married a Southern Baptist. After Mass, we went to dinner... and it was a wonderful moment of evangelizing...and they were blown away by the Mass.

The wife said "it was all just so beautiful and reverent, you Catholics really know how to do reverence"... and the little boy, aged 11... "wow, I felt like it was a 'real' church"... and after fielding the usual questions of "why do you have to pray to Mary?" ... "why did the women have the heads covered?" ... "what was the thing the 'smoke' came out of and why?"... and answering them with all of the theological and scriptural references appropriate... they walked away with the seed of "fullness of truth" planted in their spiritual soil.

They also could not stop talking about the music and how it pulled them in and kept them engaged. They said that they had "never heard anything so beautiful" and even though they did not fully "understand the Latin"... they knew that it was something special! They even mentioned that the gentleman in front of them was recording the Mass... and after the Mass, the man turned around and handed their son a prayer card with a prayer for priests... little seeds can grow!

I offered Father Reid my gratitude this morning for his offering the Mass last evening, and ever gracious, he said that he loved doing it... and he added that the other priests assisting asked him if "he knew how lucky he was to have a schola and choir like that"... to which he answered "yes, I know."

Also, at Mass today, Fr. Reid announced that the new 'statues' had arrived, and that he hoped to have them installed by Christmas. So, the physical church itself continues to be an example of Catholic identity... adding not just more beauty to the Domus Dei, but adding more theological and catechial elements to the architecture... and continues to display St. Ann's as the beacon to Catholic identity that it has become.

I think it goes for all of us here at St. Ann's... that we are "lucky" to have Fr. Reid, St. Ann's parish, the Servers, and the Schola & Choir.... and that we should continue to remember them all in our prayers.

Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel nascetur pro te Israel.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fact: It's official... Solemn High Mass at St. Ann's on Dec. 17th for IV Sunday of Advent (anticipated)

Dear Readers... terrific news!

It was confirmed today in the bulletin of St. Ann's in Charlotte, NC. on Park Road that on Saturday, Dec. 17th, at 6.30pm there will be a Missa Solemnis for the IV Sunday of Advent (anticipated).

Veni, veni Emmanuel... captivum solve Israel, qui gemit in exsilo, privatus Dei Filio... Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel, nascetur pro te Israel.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fact: Missa Cantata for Immaculate Conception (anticipated) at St. Ann's in Charlotte

Gentle Readers... it is official, as listed in the calendar of the Catholic News Herald... there will be a Missa Cantata offered at St. Ann's on Park Road in Charlotte for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (anticipated) on Wednesday, Dec. 7th, at 7.00pm.

Please note this is NOT on the actual Feast Day of Dec. 8th... but the evening before. Please keep Father Reid, the servers, and the Schola/Choir in your prayers as they prepare to assist in offering another Missa Cantata for all of us.

"Je suis l'Immaculée Conception".... Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis peccatoribus!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fact: Another view of July's Solemn High Mass

Dear Readers... I just found this video of the Missa Solemnis at St. Ann's in Charlotte, NC back in July... quality video... although it looks like the creators added their own musical accompaniment... It was wonderful to think of this Mass again.

Laudetur Jesus Christus

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fact: Missa Cantata for Christ the King at St. Ann's

I am please to report, dear Readers, that it is official! Again, as last year, Father Reid will be offering a Missa Cantata for the Feast of Christ the King on Sunday, Oct. 30, at 12.30pm, in place of the normally scheduled Novus Ordo Mass.

Please offer a prayer now for Father Reid, the Altar servers, and the St. Ann's Schola Cantorum & Choir without whom the wonderful Graces of these Masses about would be possible for us here in Charlotte

Dignus est Agnus...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Grapevine: Plethra of Extraordinary Form Masses Coming to St. Ann's in Charlotte

Dear Readers....

News is spreading that several Missae will be offered at St. Ann's in Charlotte. Here is what is being said:

Sunday, Oct. 30, 12.30pm
Missa Cantata for Christ the King

Wednesday, Dec. 7, 7pm
Missa Cantata for Immaculate Conception (anticipated)

Saturday, Dec. 17, 6.30pm
Missa Solemnis for IV Sunday of Advent (anticipated)

Notice that one of these Masses looks like it could be another Solemn High Mass!

Let us pray that this "grapevine" post will soon be a "fact" post... but most especially for Fr. Reid, the Altarboys, and the Scola and choir as they prepare for these wonderful fonts of grace.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fact: Solemn High Mass at St. Ann's was Awesome!

Gentle Readers... for those of you who assisted at the Missa Solemnis at St. Ann's in Charlotte on the July 26 ... how awesome and awe-inspiring. For those of you who did not attend, it was amazing, grace-filled, and utterly beautiful...

...and true-to-form in St. Ann's style, it went off without issue, everything fitting like clockwork... sacred ministers, the well-trained St. Ann altar servers (14 of them!), and the always solid St. Ann Schola Cantorum. What a wonderful Mass for His Excellency, Bishop Jugis to assist in.

The church was absolutely packed, with standing room-only along the back wall... but so quiet one could have heard a pin drop at the consecration... and the church was beautiful, with 4 new mosaics from Italy just installed in the apse, with lovely fabric canopy hanging over the Bishop's throne.

It all started at about 6 minutes before 7pm, with an already full church, the schola began with a beautiful, haunting prelude chant... a minute after the prelude ended, the sound of bells rang out, and the congregation arose... the schola began a lovely Latin hymn in 4-voice harmony as the procession entered with 14 servers, about 8 other clerics in choir, and the 3 sacred ministers...

Once the sacred ministers took their place in the sanctuary, again the ring of bells and and organ fanfare burst that almost knocked me out of my seat... the organ continued its triumphant song and after a minute or two, the choir roared in with the song Ecce Sacerdos Magnus (Behold the Great Priest) as the Bishop began his procession in... with 5 of his own attendant servers.

I have to say, dear Readers, that nothing says "successor of the Apostles" more than this pomp, and I know that there are some that say this is all "too much"... but we cannot forget the fact that Christ himself chose 12 men that were selected to be more than just mere "disciples" (i.e. students/follower) but gave them the teaching and meaning of the parables.. true "apostles" (i.e. teachers).

It is an under pinning of our Catholic identity in understanding that a Bishop is our modern day, local Apostle of Jesus Christ among us... just like Rome had Peter & Paul... and Spain had James, etc.... so this local church has Peter Jugis. Granting him this acknowledgement and honor of such a grand entrance, not to the person necessarily, but to office of Bishop is critical to recapturing our identity.

There was once a time when everyone knew Ecce Sacerdos Magnus or Pontifex et Sacedos as they were sung every year when the Bishop came to the parish for Confirmation. I overhead one woman after Mass say that she had last heard that hymn at her confirmation 50+ years ago.

Upon reaching the foot of the altar, His Excellency knelt before the Blessed Sacrament, before rising offering his confiteor, then ascending to his throne. All of these actions so important on re-enforce our believe in the Real Presence....

Now, lets play this out with a reality check... we have an Apostle of Jesus, arriving at house in which Jesus is at... he enters that house after being warmly greeted by the hosts.. and then immediately goes to the Lord and reverences him!... that is what happened with the Bishop's entrance.

It is this type of "parallelism" that our wonderful Holy Father speaks of when he says "lex orandi, lex credendi"... which paraphrased means: "how we pray is how we believe" (and the Mass and its associated elements are our highest form of prayer!

This is why I have written in the past about my frustration with priest and laymen do not genuflect to the tabernacle... would we not immediately blow down in adoration of of Jesus where he to appear again to us in human form, allowing him to tells us when to arise... well then why if we truly "believe" in the Real Presence in the Eucharist don't we do the same.

Well you can see that I have gotten off onto an important tangent, but directly related to the experience that I had assisting in this Missa Solemnis.

The rest of the Mass was equally as wonderful, with one of the wonderful seminarians, and a blessing to the Church, Jason Christian singing the Epistle with a beautiful voice. When I thanked him after Mass for doing what he did, he responded... "I loved doing it and I would do it everyday if I could!"... there, dear Readers, is the future of the Church!

I could add to that the outstanding Master of Ceremonies, Jason Barone another of the precious seminarians of the Diocese of Charlotte... for he worked tirelessly to make so much of the complex and intricate "mechanics" of such a Mass work like clockwork.

Well, there is no way in which my poor English words can do justice to the awesomeness of what the Mass actually was... but one last anecdote... as the organ sounded it postlude for the recession of the Bishop... NOT A SOUL left the church! the organ postlude went on for more than 3 minutes, and the Bishop was 'long gone'... and one would have expected a normal congregation to be pushing its way into the parking lot... but it is dead silent and still. That entire congregation had just been touched and witnessed something amazing... and they seemed to not want to loose the moment.

Equally unbelievable was the number of people, once folks actually did start to leave the church, who stood outside in the piazza just talking and sharing their experiences... 10, 20, 30 minutes passed had HUNDREDS of people were still milling about...

Say what you will about the "old Mass" and "Tradition"... but in the words of a convert who was received into the Church this past Easter Vigil that I also spoke to... "that was just so awesome... the most beautiful thing on this side of Heaven"

Photo source: Rorate caeli

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Fact: His Excellency, Bishop Jugis to assist at St. Ann's Solemn High Mass

Dear Readers... I have heard wonderful news announced by Fr. Reid at Mass....

Not only will St. Ann's of Charlotte be offering a Solemn High Mass on Tuesday, July 26th, but His Excellency, Peter Jugis, Bishop of the Diocese of Charlotte will be assisting a the Mass in choir!

This is an answer to my one of my regular prayers for His Excellency to assist in one of the beautiful Masses in the Extraordinary form offered by Fr. Reid at St. Ann's.

Please pray with me for our Shepherd Bishop Jugis, Fr. Reid, assisting Clerics, servers, and schola without whom we would not have these Graces available to us.

Sacérdos et Póntifex et virtútum ópifex, pastor bone in pópulo, sic placuísti Dómino.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Grapevine: Mass In Extraordinary Form to be offered 'regularly' at St. Michael's in Gastonia

Gentle Readers, Word is bubbling around Fr. Arnsparger of St. Michael's Church in Gastonia, NC is close to offering the Mass in the Extraordinary Form on First Saturday's at 8.15am. Let us pray that this comes true... the more priests around Charlotte that know the Old Mass, the more likely we'll have priests to expand this treasury of graces of Holy Mother Church.

Fact: Solemn High Mass to be offered at St. Ann's in Charlotte

Laudetur Jesus Christus!! It is confirmed via official source (page 7) that St. Ann's on Park Road in Charlotte, NC. will be offering a Solemn High Mass in Honor of their Patroness , St. Anne, on Tuesday, July 26 at 7pm. This should be a wonderful thing to assist in and I hope as many of you dear Readers can make it. It should be a wonderful, grace-filled event.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Grapevine: Solemn High Mass at St. Ann's for Feast of St. Anne on July 26

Gentle Readers.... I have been blogging for a while now about the rumors that exist regarding the next Missa Cantata at St. Ann's in Charlotte on Tuesday, July 26 for the Feast of St. Anne, Mother of the Mother of God...

Well, I am now hearing, that not only will there be a Mass offered, but it will be a Solemn High Mass... with Celebrant, Deacon, and Sub-deacon!!

These three-cleric Masses were even rare occurances in pre-Vatican II days... so if this comes to pass as rumored, it just shows the progress that has been made by Fr. Reid, servers, and schola at St. Ann's in opening up this great treasure of Holy Mother Church for the faithful to experience and it will be a great source of grace for all involved.

Please pray that all involved will stay healthy and available for this "rumored" Mass.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fact: Next Missa Cantata on Ascension Thursday at St. Ann's!

It is official... reported in the Catholic News Herald and on the St. Ann's Schola Cantorum website that the next Missa Cantata will be offered at St. Ann's on Park Road in Charlotte, NC on Thursday, June 2, at 7pm for the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

There are still strong rumors that the schola and altar servers are also preparing for another Missa Cantata at St. Ann's to be held on Tuesday, July 26 for the Feast of St. Anne... but that has not been officially confirmed yet, but the probably is very high that it will occur.

Please continue to pray for Father Reid and all those who make these wonder Masses at St. Ann's a reality and pray for our Holy Father, Benedict XVI as he continues to model authentic liturgical worship.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Grapevine: Next Missae Cantatae at St. Ann's

Well gentle Readers, by now you are aware that the Missa Cantata for the Feast of the Annunciation never came to fruition... but lest you worry that something is wrong, it was just a matter of Fr. Reid having to be out of town and not a stoppage of offering this High Masses.

In fact, grapevine is telling us that there are two Missae Cantatae "in the works"... and I pray that Fr. Reid's schedule will allow them to occur:

Feast of the Ascension, Thursday, June 2
Feast of St. Ann, Tuesday, July 26

Let us also pray that more priests will learn to offer the Extraordinary form so that a priest being out of town will not prevent a Mass from continuing.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Identity: Offering up our Sufferings

Gentle Readers,

In the last week, I have been undergoing testing for confusion and memory loss that began about six months ago and culminated in a blackout related car accident where no one nor any property (other than my poor car) were hurt. It has been a scary time, but I have hope and faith that God is with me and that he will not abandon me. I am a strong believer in the old adege that "God never gives us more than we can handle." His Grace and the prayers of friends have been sustaining me and strengthening when those small moments of doubt (and pity) every so often try to insert themselves.

But God always makes good come out of bad, and one of the "good" things that has come out of this for me is a wonderful blog topic related to our Catholic identity... Offering up our Sufferings with Christ's on the Cross.

We were taught to do it from such a young age... it was second nature like the use of "please" and "thank you"...

fall down and skin your knee... "offer it up"
girlfriend broke up with me... "offer it up"
going in for tonsillectomy... "offer it up"
laying in bed with pneumonia... "offer it up"
testing for memory loss and black outs and brain irregularities... "offer it up"

The words were always easy to say, but the meaning of the those three simple words was so much more complex. It goes to the heart of the Catholic identity and understanding of the nature of suffering... and I am no theologian, but I was taught that "offering up" my suffering meant that I could take all of my sufferings and offer them to Jesus... who would take my sufferings and add them to His own Sufferings on the Cross... and while His Suffering alone was enough to redeem the world, our "little" sufferings do have a co-redeeming value and can be offered up.

This concept and understanding goes to the heart of our own vocabulary... "passion" in Latin means "suffering"... hence Passion Sunday is the "Suffering Sunday" when we remember the Passion of Christ ("Christ's suffering")... it follows from there that when we show "compassion" for others that suffer, we are really "com+passion" in Latin... "with suffering"... we are with their suffering and we can add our own to help them.

Jesus told each of us to pick up our Crosses and to follow Him.... He Himself told us that we would have crosses to carry, sufferings to bear, persecutions to ensure... and that by following Him to Calvary behind His Cross... we can join our sufferings to His. Think of the beauty of that... what can be more Christ-like than to suffer and to offer it up in sacrifice for others?

It is a part of our Catholic identity that is long in the shadows and needs to be recovered. When I tell people of "offer it up" or that I am "offering it up"... they look at me like I am mad (which in light of recent medical testing may be closer to the truth than I'd like to admit), when it is really that they do not understand this important teaching of our Faith.

Let us work together, offering up all of our sufferings to be joined to His for the redemption of the world and reconciliation of sinners.

Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi; quia per sanctam Crucem tuam redemisti mundi ...we adore you O Christ, and we bless you, for by your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Identity: Sacred Music

Hello Gentle Readers... it has been a while since I have last posted an "Identity" entry, but the timing was right; with a long weekend at hand, and the creative writing juices flowing, I ran into the catalyst of my current post.

I recently worked on a project over the last three months of last year to create an Anthology of Sacred Polyphony musical scores as a Christmas gift for the music director at my parish. It was quite a labor of love to comb through the vast treasure of Catholic music tradition to find just 100 selected scores of music.

I always new that the Catholic music tradition was big... but as I learned more, I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of just lovely, inspiring, and uplifting sacred music that was there... and I now know that I only scratched the surface.

Now I am not talking the vast quantity of Gregorian chant that fill volumes of books and manuscripts in monasteries, abbeys, and cathedrals... no, I am talking about the plethora of sacred polyphony that for centuries was the voice of the Church's prayer, springing out of, and living side-by-side with its Gregorian chant source.

There is the Roman school , the Spanish school, the English school... with great composers like Palestrina, Victoria, Tallis, Byrd, DuBois, Anerio, Cherubini, et alli... but here is the "kicker"... where do we now hear this sacred music? Is it in our parishes? Is it in our cathedrals? No, sadly most of this lovely music, if even performed any longer, is now to be found in concert halls!

Yes, sadly, our secular, culture-of-death, Godless society even recognizes the beauty of this music, but we do not hear it in out churches and cathedrals! Now I am perhaps being a bit harsh for the Papal liturgies are filled with this sacred music, and more and more cathedrals are being to rediscover this patrimony of the Church... but at the parish level we do not find this music which all the world can recognize when they hear it, that it is something "special"... something "awesome".

I have friends that say "oh, I prefer the folk music at Mass"... and I want it clear for the record... as an Italian, I have quite a love for folk music... but folk music is exactly what the name implies... "music of the folk"... i.e. the people! It is not God's music! Folk music is wonderful for a wedding party or dinner party, but worship of Almighty God calls for something different.

So please, someone please explain to me... why is scared music almost universally recognized as timeless and beautiful... and worthy of concert hall performance... but yet we do not hear it where it originated?

Slowly but surely, "brick by brick" as Fr. Z. would say... we are beginning to see changes, thanks to the example being set by the Holy Father, and the number of younger priests who are open to more sacred music in continuity with the Tradition of the Church, and the work of folks like Jeffrey Tucker et alli involved with getting chant and sacred polyphony more widely rediscovered and available.

Lastly, to those critics that say only a concert choir can sing that "fancy, Latin" stuff... I ask them to attend Mass at St. Ann's in Charlotte, N.C. where they will hear wonderful music from a very small amateur choir... it can happen... and it is part of our Catholic identity that we need to recover!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Grapevine: Next Missa Cantata at St. Ann's: Feast of the Annunciation - Friday, March 25

Hearing that the Schola and Servers are preparing for a Missa Cantata on Friday, March 25th at St. Ann's in for the Feast of the Annunciation... this was the Mass last year that kicked-off the wonderful series of Missae Cantatae in the new renovated St. Ann's. Let's hope this will be a fact from official published sources.