Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Fr. Tom Blantz, CSC elevates the host in
the Chapel of St. Charles Borromeo
The Tridentine Mass is back...under a new name: Pope Benedict's "Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite."
Yes, the first official one since the 1960's returned to campus on Sunday, to make up for an otherwise dreary day in South Bend. The Alumni Hall Chapel was filled with close to about 150 people, mostly from the Notre Dame community. Fr. Tom Blantz, CSC offered the Mass in a new basilica vestment, made especially by the wonderful seamstress at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
The Mass took the form of a Missa Recitativa, permitted by Pope Pius XII, in which the congregation recites the parts of the altar boys along with them. Such a Mass was the Mass which the late Fr. Karol Wojtyla instituted in Krakow at St. Florian's Parish, where he was parochial vicar. The Mass drew many young people, who were interested in participating as fully as they could in the Mass. It is truly a beautiful form of the "full, active, and conscious participation" for which Sacrosanctum Concilium called for in Vatican II. If anybody telld me that this Mass does not allow for this kind of participation, I would point out that the congregation actually says more than it does in the Mass of Paul VI.
Either way, we are all happy that this form of the Mass is back on campus. It speaks of the great size of our faith, a Church which is able to fit many different things under the canopy of its umbrella. Pope Benedict has rightfully and thoughtfully requested that the Mass of the Extraordinary Form not be thrown out from under the umbrella, nor that it try to poke holes in the umbrella. It is where it belongs, because it shows that our Church believes in the "her,eneutic of continuity" of which Pope Benedict writes in his Motu Proprio. We have much to learn by humbly accepting his decisions, no matter which side of the liturgical wars we tend to sympathize more with. There is no doubt that the Extraordinary Form seeks to build gater unity--and it certainly has here on campus, except maybe among the liberal and never quite happy contingent of aging professors. When else have members of staff, faculty, and students from all clubs, majors, and extracurricular activities come together to worship as one Christian community? This Mass now offers a chance for the more tradition-minded orthodox Catholics to share something that they hold dear with the more "evangelical" and orthodox Catholics, and also a time for the more evangelical Catholics to show the traditional Catholics that action stems from the Liturgy. Indeed, it is the fount from which the activity of the Church flows.
Thus, rather than being a sign of contradiction or rupture, this Mass now provides a chance for all of the Notre Dame community to gather as one, and pray for and with the Church, partaking in the one Liturgy, which is Christ offering Himself to the Father in sacrifice out of love for us.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Photos: Closed Cafeteria
So the trend in recent awful European church architecture continues with the dedication of the new Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Fatima. I had the opportunity to make a pilgrimage there two years ago, and wanted to cry when I saw the new church going up. Little did I know what the final result would be like...
I'm not sure what I want to say when I see it. It kind of looks like a large, modernist symphony hall. But then there's the weird crucified stick man outside--pilgrims' money probably contributed to paying for something that I could have drawn on my MacDraw program in 1989, when I first started using a computer, and when I thought it was really cool that I could actually draw stuff on a computer. It was mostly stick figures and circles---clearly the architect of this new church must have learned his comuter design on the same program I did. But never got much farther...
No honestly, though--I don't understand what the deal is with modern Catholic church architecture. I've seen many nicer things built by Protestants that are so much better! This church has no iconography (besides the "crucified AOL man," as Fr. Erik Richsteig called him), no verticality (it looks like a pancake), and no transcendence. It is cold, horizontal, and ugly. I'd rather sit and have Mass in my living room--at least I have some religious images.
Perhaps modern Church architecture in Europe reflects the general sentiments of the continent. Europe has grown cold--with perhaps the exception of Poland and parts of the former Eastern bloc. Portugal, as was recently seen in the debates in the EU, is slowly going the way of the modern secular humanism that has created a dictatorship over the lives of the common citizens. Apparently the Portuguese can no longer build any more churches to express their fervent and fiery devotion to Our Lady, who chose their country in a special way to bear the good news of God's love, mercy, and justice to the world.
Europe is cold--materialism plagues the lives of the young, the old have become increasingly shut off into their homes, left to lament and resent the past. This church is evidence of the fact that elements of the Church seek only to dialogue with the modern world by adopting the (ugly and empty) language of the culture. The Church is not called to adopt the language of the world, but rather to function as a leaven within the world. It is called to radically stand in the world, and yet not be of the world--to rather present a liberating message of the warmth and love of Christ. Christ came into the world to bring the world into Himself--to enter into the cold, dark, and dreary culture that men lived in, in order to bring reveal the passionate and fiery love of God the Father. The Incarnation--God becomign Man, changes our perspective on everything. Our faith, lived out and expressed in the Sacred Liturgy, the mingling of the sacred and the mundane, the human and the Divine, occurs in a church. The domus Dei, the porta caeli, calls us to enter into the reality that lies behind this earthly reality.
Does this church call us to enter into the heaven on earth, and reflect upon the Sacred Mystery of the Incarnation, which has kindled the love of God in the faithful for centuries--or does it say, "Christians, you are no different than the world. You need to adapt your ways to the modern culture, and fit in." Because I can tell you that Jesus didn't "fit in." He was crucified. And he was not an AOL guy.
ESPN and CNN have spread some controversy recently by reporting on the exhumation of George Gipp, one of the most famous All-Americans.
Why would anybody seek to do DNA testing on the remains of this football player? He was not known for his "mild" behavior, and did die, after all, after catching pneumonia when he had been locked out of his dorm for coming back too late, and spent the cold night on the roof of Washington Hall on campus. Are there other parts of his life that nobody has heard about until this point? Who knows...perhaps there will be more news soon...