"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

Monday 31 December 2012


 The documentary film "Archimandrite" directed by Jerzy Kalina has won a prize from the International Documentary Film Festival and Television Programme "Radonezh" in Moscow. "Radonezh" is the oldest review and contest of the film productions about religion in Russia. It takes place under the patronage of Patriarch Kirill and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. In the competition among TV productions, "Archimandrite" was the only film from Poland. This is the seventh prize for the film about Father Gabriel, a monk from Podlasie, who has built the only Orthodox hermitage in Poland in the village Odrynki on Narew river bank.

 Archimandrite Gabriel is the founder and sole inhabitant of a hermitage in the Kudak wilderness on the river bank of Narew. For the first few years he lived there alone and prayed in a portacabin, without electricity, running water, completely cut off from the outside world. After some time, with the help of local Orthodox villagers, in the wilderness stood the wooden church, small monastery and outbuildings. Today this place is visited by dozens of pilgrims. They are attracted by the extraordinary personality of Archimandrite Gabriel. With each he can find a common language, provides spiritual counseling, heals with herbs, breeds bees, and when necessary, pitches up and along with the other builds a hermitage. But will it be forever? Will the hermit find their successor in his life? The next candidates for the monastic life in the hermitage cannot withstand long ... They cannot live without comforts, the gains of civilization and contact with peers. Jerzy Kalina’s film is more than a story about an exceptional man and his work. In the lazy Narew currents no less than crosses of Orthodox skithe our globalized world is reflected, facing away from spiritual values, craving for money and exchange of information. The strength of "Archimandrite" is that the author has managed to simultaneously touch of the local, rooted in the Belarusian-Orthodox Podlasie microcosm and universal values, fundamental in human life, regardless of age and his place in the world. For many Polish viewers this picture is also a surprising discovery of the richness of cultures and religions of our eastern border.

 Awards for the movie: Golden Melchior in the category "Inspiration of the Year" All-Poland Reporter’s Competition MELCHIORY 2012 by Polish Radio. Jury’s award of The International Catholic Festival of Christian Films and TV Programs MAGNIFICAT 2012 in Minsk, Belarus, 2012 The award for Best Cinematography at the Kyiv International Documentary Film Festival KINOLITOPYS 2012, Ukraine First prize in the documentary category of the International Orthodox Film Festival "Pokrov", Kiev 2012 The "Bronze Turoni [barnyard animal]" International Festival ETNOFILM CADCA 2012, Cadca, Slovakia First prize in the documentary category of the International Charity Festival "Shining Angel" 2012, Moscow, Russia Award International Documentary Film Festival and Television Programme "Radonezh" 2012, Moscow



Sunday 30 December 2012


MONASTIC CONFERENCE GIVEN BY FR DAVID (in Spanish) AT PACHACAMAC ( Feast of St Thomas a Becket, 29th December), "

This Christmas Octave gives us various themes, all of which reflect on the central theme of the meaning of the Incarnation.

The first that is presented to us is the theme of loving and humble obedience.   It is presented to us as an absolute necessity.   If Mary's response to the angel's message had not been, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord.   May it be done to me according to your Word." the Incarnation would not have taken place.   If St Joseph had denounced Mary, as all the values of his Mediterranean culture would have urged him to do, then Mary would have been stoned, and Jesus would have never been born.  This prompt and responsible obedience continued to be necessary for the life and safety of Jesus.   A loving and humble obedience to the will of God by Mary and Joseph was an integral part of God's plan for the salvation of the world and it was only through it that they  fulfilled their own vocation..     

The second theme is the central one,  that God became man so that man could become God, not by way of egoism, which is the way of Adam, but by way of grace, of God's free grace, offered to us in Christ.   We are invited to share in the very life of the Blessed Trinity because we have been received "in" Christ into the very life of God.   This is called, in  Greek, theosis".   It is what "salvation" is all about, the reason why we have been redeemed by Christ, the reason why our sins have been forgiven.    Everything else in the Christmas story is a means to this end.

The third theme is martyrdom.   We have seen it in the feast of St Stephan, in the feast of the Holy Innocents and, today, in the feast of St Thomas a Becket.  It is the reason for Christ's birth: Christ was born so that he would be obedient unto death.   Mary's vocation involved a sword piercing her heart.  It is only in losing our lives that we can gain them for all eternity.   This is not because God is some kind of sadist, but because only in accepting death can we love to the full, that we can love God and our neighbour as Christ has loved us.

These three themes lie at the heart of the Christian life, and hence of the monastic life.   If any of these three themes are missing from our lives, then we are not living an authentic monastic life, nor even an authentic Christian life.

Our adult Christian life begins when we surrender our lives to God, when we say, with Mary, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done to me according to your will;" when we say with Our Lord, "Not my will but yours be done."  

  Without our humble obedience, our human nature and the Holy Spirit would never be able to work in harmony to bring about our sanctification; nor would our lives manifest Christ's presence.   Hence, progress in the Christian and monastic life is progress in humble obedience.

We take a vow of obedience which, in its original form in the Rule of St Benedict, was to be a constant and general attitude in every situation, and was not just limited to our relations with our superiors.   It included poverty and chastity because we are no longer our own property but God's.   We do not even own our own bodies. 

  Unfortunately, and in many small ways, we tend to claw back what we have given to God; and we can even implicitly re-dedicate our lives to living as comfortably as possible within a monastic context.   Then, because we are going through the motions, because we are living a monastic life externally, we hide from ourselves the fact that we have ceased to be monastic because we have ceased to be humbly obedient.  Our own comfort and convenience has become our motive for living this kind of life.

At Christmas, great emphasis is given on how utterly dependent the Baby Jesus was on Mary and Joseph for everything.   In contrast to his present condition as the resurrected and ascended Christ, his dominant feature was weakness.  What can we learn from this?   Through the power of the Holy Spirit,   Christ is present in a Christian community and in each member of that community, be it a Christian family or a monastery, and acts in two ways.   He strives to share with us his own divine life, and he strives to manifest his presence to the world through the self-sacrificing love of his disciples which reflects the presence of the Holy Spirit.   These tasks only he can do, but he cannot do them without us.   In this he is as weak as the Baby Jesus in Bethlehem.   Our humble obedience is necessary to allow his eucharistic presence within us to transform us into himself and to make our love for one another a manifestation of his love.   It is so easy to exclude him from our lives, even in a monastery, and hence to frustrate his transforming power.   His presence among us can transform our lives, but only if we serve him in humble obedience.

Why do people come here?   Is it not because they regard it as a holy place, a place where they can sense God's presence?   This is our witness.   This is one way that we serve the Church.   By seeking God in humble obedience through prayer and work in a communal life,  Christ's loving presence will transform us and reach out to others.   In the Desert, monastic life was considered a martyrdom: we bear witness to Christ by the gift of ourselves.   Our main means of evangelization  is not in talking to others but in centring on God.   At the same time, our words to others have extra power because they are the product of our communal search for God.   We owe it to the Church to be authentic monks, seeking God in humble obedience.  We seek him and others find him through us. 

This is the very first sermon, preached by Dom Alex Echeandia who was ordained a deacon at Belmont on December 22nd.   He is Peruvian, a monk of our monastery here in Pachacamac, and studying Theology at Blackfriars, Oxford.  He is also a pupil of Aidan Hart, a well known Orthodox iconographer, and has considerable talent for "writing" icons in the traditional way, with prayer and incense.   You may find a trace of that in his words about the face of Christ.   We look forward to his return to Pachacamac as soon as possible.

 30th December 2012



The feast of the Holy Family has had a special place in popular devotion yet many images show a  family that seems almost impossible to imitate, especially nowadays, given what we experience of the difficulties and stresses of family life. Modern families are presented with many challenges. They are sometimes fragile and unstable and suffer from the selfishness, disloyalties and infidelities of their individual members.  By contrast when we think of the Holy Family we see that Joseph is a saint, Mary is without sin and their child is the incarnate Son of God. Does the family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph even seem real? 
There is a story of a novice monk who once called his father, complaining about the difficulties of  life in the monastery and how many duties he had. He complained about the demands of the Divine Office, especially getting up early to pray in choir, to which his father replied:  “Well, son, your mother and I had to get up several times at night when your youngest little brother started crying.” The parents had six children. 
How often, as children, did we take our parents for granted and how little did we think of their efforts for us. Brushing teeth, tying laces, riding bikes, all of them were taught to us by our parents, because nobody was born with any of these abilities. I realise now how bored my mother must have been spending night after night helping me learn to read until I got it right. 
What makes a family are countless acts of generosity and sacrifice. Belonging to a family means giving of oneself so that others can grow and develop. That, in fact is the Holy Family of Nazareth. The Gospel tells us how Mary and Joseph searched for their son for three days, before finally finding him in the Temple. Mary asked the child why he had done this to her and Joseph. Jesus’ reply was that they should have known he must be in his Father’s house. It is obvious that Mary and Joseph did not understand what he meant. As He grows up Mary’s humility allowed her to be schooled by her own son and so to be formed more deeply in His image. Years later, his relatives would try to take charge of Jesus, as it was being said that he was out of his mind. Certainly, this Holy Family was not without its own anxieties and troubles.  
In the first reading we see that Hannah prayed to the Lord for a child. God heard her and gave Samuel to her, who was made over to the Lord for the rest of his life. We see how Hannah gave back what she received from God, but not before having fed her child with her milk, with her love and protection. Samuel was raised on the love of a mother and a father. Here in the Gospel we see Mary who receives a son through the Holy Spirit before she even thought of having one. She and Joseph were the chosen ones to care for the Son of God and offer their love to the one who is the Beloved of the Father. They were an essential part of God’s plan from the very beginning. Like Hannah they had to learn to experience the pains of separation. These three days of anxiety when Jesus was lost prefigured the inner pain at Calvary.
In the Gospel we find a holy family, but not a very normal one. The mother is a virgin and the father is not the biological father of the child. And they are not living in some ideal setting. The birth of Jesus happened while his parents were away from the familiar security of their own home. As we have seen over the last week they struggled to find a safe place because of Herod. The authorities ordered the death of many to guarantee their own stability. This news must have been a cause of anxiety, fear and sadness to Mary and Joseph. Mary from the beginning of her call experienced suffering, and in the end she stood at the foot of the cross, watching the tortured body of her son hanging until he died.
This is the family God had chosen, the one in which the Son would grow and mature.  Mary had already accepted the invitation of the angel to be the mother of God. She had listened to the Word of God, had accepted it and now she is in a sense living out the consequences. Joseph, on the other hand, had been surprised by the news of his wife’s pregnancy and showed himself to be a just man, faithful to the law, respectful of his wife and caring of the child Jesus. Mary and Joseph responded to God’s will by living out the consequences, by accepting the troubles that came their way. The life of the Holy Family was as real as it gets. The goodness of the Holy Family was tried and tested, and proved true and reliable. This family is holy because it responded with love to the Word of God in their everyday lives. 
How did Christ define his own family?  He defined the family by saying: “Whoever does the will of the Father is my brother and my sister and my mother.” Mary and Joseph did so in the most trying of circumstances. So, this feast we celebrate today is not a romantic and sentimental portrait of the Holy Family. It is a picture of obedience to God’s will.  They carried through and bore the consequences that God’s Word implied. This gives us hope and encouragement.  But we may ask, what is the will of God in my life for me to obey it with its implications? What does it mean to do God’s will?
The first letter of John gives us an answer to that question. First, it means to live the kind of life He wants us to live, following his example; and second, it means to keep His commandments which are: to believe in the name of Christ and to love one another. That is only possible by the work of the Holy Spirit in cooperation with us. As Church and individuals we are called “God’s children” and that is what we are. 
What we can learn from the Holy Family is faithfulness in the midst of difficulties, holiness in the ordinary reality of daily life, and strength in the bonds of a loving family. I like to think that as Jesus grew in wisdom and understanding, so did Mary and Joseph as they saw something of heaven in the face of their Son. Contemplating his face may we too grow in love, and truly become his holy family



Saturday 29 December 2012


My monastery, Belmont Abbey in Hereford was founded in 1859, and the opening Mass was celebrated by Dom P. Gueranger, even though it belongs to the English Benedictine Congregation.  Belmont was the very first place to use Gregorian Plainchant  in its offices in England since the Reformation.  Hence it gives me great pleasure to publish this article by Daniel Clough, having received permission to do so, very kindly, from "Living Tradition".
Solesmes, nowadays, celebrates Mass in Latin according to the "novus ordo", which indicates that true Tradition is a living thing that does not come in a petrified form out of the past.  Of course, because there are communities that celebrate the "old Mass", they too are also living expressions of Tradition; but, theologically, they have no right to a claim to be more traditional than anyone else.

my source: Living Tradition, Organ of the Roman Theological Forum

In order to understand the liturgical movement of the present day, we must understand it in view of its founder, whom Pope Paul VI called “the author of the liturgical movement.”1 Prosper Guéranger was born in France in 1805 at a time when there was a decay not only in the liturgical life of the Church but also in the entire Catholic culture itself. This decay resulted, primarily, from the recent French Revolution of 1789, during which entire “religious orders were abolished and the clergy were refashioned into civil servants.”2 The government had even made religious life illegal.3 It was during this time period that Guéranger would be inspired to do great things for the Church. He wanted to restore the culture, first of all, by restoring the monastic life. This work he began by buying the abandoned Benedictine monastery at Solesmes in 1833. He described his plan thus: “the idea came to me that if I could gather several young priests, we could reestablish the Order of Saint Benedict, with the divine office and studies.” He initiated this plan with the approval of the bishop of Le Mans and started a community 4of Benedictines at the ancient monastery of Solesmes.5 In 1837, he received official recognition of his new Benedictine community from Rome and was named abbot. The abbey of Saint-Pierre de Solesmes thus became the beginning and the head of all future Benedictine monasteries in France, since there were none remaining after their abolition following the Revolution.6

Dom Guéranger insisted upon the restoration of the monastic life as a means of sanctification and also as a means to preserve and promote culture, as did the Benedictines of old who had helped to preserve the European culture and intellectual heritage in the midst of the Dark Ages and to pass on to future generations the riches of ancient times. In the practice of the monastic life, the liturgy held a primary place as a means of “restoring to men the lost sense of tradition”7 because the liturgy was the “chief repository of tradition…wherein the Church professes her doctrine.”8 The faithful draw from the liturgy many of the interpretations that have been handed down and meditated upon through the centuries, especially in the antiphons and responses of the divine office. Patristics is called “the soul of the liturgy”9 because there are, in the liturgical texts as it were, so many commentaries upon the sacred texts which draw out the correct interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures according to the mind of the Fathers of the Church. Because the liturgy is “the echo of the teaching of Jesus and of the Apostles,”10 the faithful pray and meditate upon it so as to receive deeper knowledge of the teaching of our holy Faith. They also receive actual graces by praying the prayers, but most of all they receive sanctifying grace through the Holy Eucharist at the highest liturgical celebration, the Holy Mass. Dom Guéranger began to restore the liturgy and its study beginning at his own abbey, from whence he wished this to spread to the whole of France.

Particularly in the Benedictine tradition, Gregorian chant is added to the liturgical texts. This chant becomes a means of meditation upon that text and the chant melodies help to foster prayer.11 Pope Leo XIII described Gregorian chant in this way: “As long as the melodies are artfully executed, they have the power, at once sweet and grave, to find their way more easily into the listeners’ souls and thereby move them to piety and salutary thoughts.”12 Dom Guéranger wanted the faithful to be penetrated by this “spirit of the liturgy” so that “they would feel the need of joining in the sacred chants.”13 Unfortunately, at this time in the 19th Century, concert music was very often used in the liturgy of the Church and “the ancient chant melodies were modernized” in order to please profane ears,14 causing the sacredness of the Mass and also of the chants to be diminished. There was need of a restoration of the sacred in the ceremonies of the Church.

This began at Solesmes in 1853, when the Bishop of Le Mans asked Dom Guéranger to help in restoring the true chant in his diocese. Although he could not undertake this work himself, he directed his monks to return to the medieval manuscripts which were the first written sources of the chants.15 He assigned one of his monks, Dom Paul Jausions, to study and research the sources of Gregorian chant in order to aid in the restoration of the chants. He undertook this research with his assistant, Dom Joseph Pothier, at different libraries, searching for the manuscripts that contained the ancient notation. They discovered that in the manuscripts prior to the 16th Century the chant had been preserved “very often note for note and group for group.”16 From that time on, the chants had suffered from “all sorts of alterations and mutilations.”17 These were the result of their being performed badly or as Dom Pothier called it a “hammered execution”18 which resulted in “a heavy and tedious succession of square notes, incapable of suggesting the least bit of feeling or of saying anything whatsoever to the soul,” as Dom Guéranger described it.19 The research undertaken for restoring the chants to their “primitive purity”20 resulted in the publication of Dom Pothier’s first edition of the restored chants in the Liber Gradualis in 1883.21

The melodies of Gregorian chant are supposed to enhance the accents of the sacred Latin text and create “a musical phrase” that would be a natural extension of the written phrase.22 The melodies are based upon the actual accent patterns of the syllables of the language and naturally build upon them. The texts themselves are already prayers, but this chant is superadded to them and becomes a means to enter more deeply into that prayer. This could be what the Catechism of the Catholic Church means when it says that singing is praying twice.23 It is because the singing should be a natural extension of the spoken word that it would be praying twice, that is, by enhancing what itself is already a prayer. Hence, Dom Pothier described the chants as a music that “is at once a word and a song, a rich and powerful music that is also simple and natural, a music that does not seek to be music, does not listen to itself, but is released as the spontaneous cry of religious thought and feeling.”24 This differs essentially from the concert music that was performed in churches at that time, which was primarily meant to be listened to. However, Gregorian chant is intended to come forth naturally from the words and to express by its melodies a prayer, producing mystical effects in the soul. The purpose of sacred music is to glorify God and to sanctify the faithful.25

At the First Vatican Council in 1870, there was “no mention at all of the reform of religious chant.”26 Hence, Dom Guéranger was twice asked to intervene by bishops in order to get Rome involved in the liturgical movement for the restoration of Gregorian chant. He knew that the time was not yet right for the next stage of the movement, so no action was taken,27 and since his work on earth was near its completion, it would be left to his monks, of whom he was the Patriarch, to complete his work. He did not realize the importance of this work until it had been far advanced: “I was unaware of all the musical riches contained in our liturgy.”28 On the occasion of Dom Guéranger’s death in 1875, Pope Pius IX praised him and, on account of his effort at restoring the liturgy, granted “that henceforth a Benedictine should always be included among the members of the Sacred Congregation of Rites.”29 Pope Gregory XVI had previously entrusted the work of “reviving the almost extinct traditions of the liturgy” to the French Congregation of Benedictines in 1837 upon their erection and this work was now far advanced. Another generation would pass after the death of their first abbot before any great works would be produced by them.30 The work of Dom Guéranger would begin to bear its fruit when the monks of Solesmes would take on an even greater role in the restoration of the chants during the pontificate of Pope Pius X.

As the work of Solesmes was progressing, there was a young priest, named Giuseppe Sarto, in Italy who had been ordained in 1858 and who would eventually become Pope Pius X. He began working with the young people of his parishes to introduce them to Gregorian chants, and he also trained them to sing plain chant and to form scholae cantorum.31 He did this independently of Dom Guéranger, who at this time had already firmly established the foundation for the liturgical movement. The purpose of this promotion of the chants among his flock was so that they would enter more deeply into the Church’s liturgy so as to increase their devotion and, in the end, grow in holiness. He would often say: “We must not sing or pray during the Mass, but we must sing and pray the Mass.”32 It is one thing just to sing and pray while the Mass is going on, but it is another thing to enter into the ceremonies themselves and be transformed by them. This is what he intended his people to do, so that they would “once again more fully participate in the sacred liturgy,”33 not only with an outward participation but more importantly with an interior participation. Pope Benedict XVI reminded us of this when he said: “It should be made clear that the word ‘participation’ does not refer to mere external activity during the celebration.”34 The melodies of the chant aid this participation and help to “move the faithful to devotion and dispose them more easily to receive the gifts of grace” which are received whenever the sacred mysteries are celebrated.35 The “fruitful participation in the liturgy requires that one be personally conformed to the mystery being celebrated, offering one's life to God in unity with the sacrifice of Christ for the salvation of the whole world.”36

When Giuseppe Sarto became Pope Pius X in 1903, he knew from his long experience that what he applied in parish life needed also to be promulgated throughout the whole Church. After his Motu Proprio on sacred music in 1903, he established a Commission under the direction of Dom Pothier, who had worked so intensely to restore the chants, and he entrusted this work of revising the chants to the monks of Solesmes.37 The liturgical movement founded by Dom Guéranger now became an official movement of the Church under the direction of his own monks. Pope Pius X had given their work his official sanction in the Motu Proprio of April 24, 1904, saying: “The Gregorian melodies were to be restored in their integrity and identity, after the authority of the earliest manuscripts, taking account of the legitimate tradition of past ages, as well as of the actual use of the Liturgy today.”38 It was because the Abbot of Solesmes had pledged “the effort and work of Solesmes” to the Holy See for whatever purpose the Holy Father intended with regard to the restoration of Gregorian chant39 that Pope Pius X entrusted to the monks of Solesmes the work of “editing those parts containing the chant”40 that would be printed in the new versions of the chant books. However, the Pope limited the publication of the new books to the typical and essential books, namely, Liber Gradualis, Liber Antiphonarius, Rituale Romanum, Pontificale Romanum, and others.41

The work of the Commission began in 1904, but it was plagued with much disagreement among its members about the principles to be used for the restoration of the Gregorian melodies. The controversy was concerned with the different kinds of rhythmic interpretation of the chants. Dom Pothier’s theory of a speech-based approach was contested by Dom Mocquereau, who had a more melody-based theory.42 A decision of the Secretary of State of the Vatican in 1905 settled the issue by determining that the Liber Gradualis of Dom Pothier should be used as a model to follow for the new edition of the chants.43 Thus, the Vatican edition of the chants was published and its use began to spread throughout the Church. The first book, the Kyriale, containing the ordinary chants, was published in 1905. Others were published by the Commission up until 1913, including the Graduale Romanum, containing all the proper chants. Other volumes were published at Solesmes after the Commission had completed its work.44 Especially worthy of note is the Liber Usualis, which was edited by the monks of Solesmes, and it was similar to the missal used by the faithful at Mass. It contained all the chants for the Masses throughout the liturgical year in a single volume, as well as other chants that included those for Sunday Vespers and certain feast days. This book was used until following the Second Vatican Council as the common book of the monasteries and scholae cantorum because it provided most of the chants they needed in an easy to carry volume.

By the time of the Second Vatican Council, the work of preparing the chant books had not yet been completed. This was mainly due to the fact that Pope Pius X had limited the publication of the restored chants to the essential books. Consequently, many parts of the restored Gregorian chants were never published, particularly most of the music for Matins.45 During the Second Vatican Council, there was expressed a desire to complete the work that remained undone with special reference made to the preparation of simpler chants to be used in the parishes: “It is desirable also that an edition be prepared containing simpler melodies, for use in small churches.”46 This is exactly what Pope Pius X desired because of his experience as a parish priest. This had also been emphasized by Pope Pius XII, when he said, “local Ordinaries and the other pastors should take great care that the faithful from their earliest years should learn at least the easier and more frequently used Gregorian melodies, and should know how to employ them in the sacred liturgical rites.”47 The Council wished that this work on the books of Gregorian chant be completed so that they could be employed not only in monasteries and cathedrals, but also in the local parishes in simpler form:48 “steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.”49 Gregorian chant is the proper music of the Roman liturgy because it belongs to the rite and is specifically intended for it. It must have the principal or primary place, which means that it is to be the first choice for liturgical music in the Roman rite.50 This is because Gregorian chant and the Roman liturgy are so linked together that “one cannot exist in the fullest sense without the other.”51 Just as a language that a person has learned from their youth is natural to them, so Gregorian chant is natural to the Roman liturgy because it has grown up through the centuries along with the rite itself.

Due to the reform of the liturgy in 1970, there was required a change in the arrangement of the chant books so that they would fit with the new liturgy and liturgical year.52 At Solesmes, the monks were assigned the work of editing and printing of Gregorian chant and a new version of the Graduale Romanum was published in 1974 in order to follow the new arrangement of the liturgy, although it mostly reprinted the chants from the earlier edition.53 The monks of Solesmes also undertook to produce chant books for the new version of the divine office, most of which have now been published. The fruits of Dom Guéranger’s labors continued at Solesmes, even though throughout the world there began to be a loss of the practice of employing Gregorian chant in the liturgy.

Although the Council stated that the “Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as proper to the Roman liturgy” and that it should have the principal place in liturgical services,54 there followed a “widespread abandonment of Latin and Gregorian chant.”55 This laying aside of the Roman rite’s own music caused Pope Paul VI in 1974 to issue a booklet containing the easy and familiar chants with a request that at least these would be taught to the faithful. He sent this booklet to all the bishops and heads of religious orders in the world56 in the hope that the study and practice of Gregorian chant would be promoted.57 He had hoped for a new springtime by means of the liturgical renewal which would be “the fruit of that seed which Dom Guéranger worked to scatter.”58 This loss of interest in Latin and Gregorian chant was due to the changes in the liturgy with its complete translation and use in the vernacular languages. The chants were available in Latin only, so that when the liturgy was employed in the vernacular the chant books were relegated to the library shelves and other music was adopted which was in the language of the people and could be more easily used by those not trained in chant. Besides this, the melodies of the chant were fitted for the Latin language and any translation of the sacred texts also required a corresponding adjustment to the chant so as to accommodate the difference in accent and syllabic structure. This disuse of Gregorian chant is occurring still today, even though it has been strongly affirmed in the post-conciliar documents and “the desire is repeatedly stated that chant is to be preserved in the reformed liturgy.”59

The implementation of the simpler forms of chant in the parishes remains mostly undone. This is due to the fact that, since the chants have fallen into disuse, other forms of music have taken precedence in parish life, and there is even ignorance of the Church’s musical patrimony. The study of Latin also has fallen by the wayside to some extent, and when its study will have been taken up again and increased in the Church, then, there will be a corresponding increase of interest in the treasury of sacred chants that are contained in Latin. Pope Benedict XVI has even recently renewed the desire of his predecessors and of the Second Vatican Council, saying: “I desire…that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy.”60 In order to facilitate the esteem and implementation of the proper music of the Roman liturgy he has also asked that future priests learn “to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant.”61 This brings to mind also what Pope Pius X was able to accomplish in parish life in his own day, “that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant.”62 This implementation of the simpler chants begins in the individual parishes, but it falls to the diocesan bishops to take the initiative in their own cathedrals, because they are the “guardians of the entire liturgical life in the church committed to them,”63 and they should show by their example how the liturgy ought to be celebrated in their diocese. The Second Vatican Council called upon the bishops to do this when it said, “Scholae cantorum must be diligently promoted, especially in cathedral churches.”64

There needs to be renewed in the Church the liturgical movement founded by Dom Guéranger, because it has not yet been completed. Once again the sacred chants should be heard at Sunday Mass in parishes throughout the world, so as to move them spiritually and allow them to draw deeper into the interior life. This liturgical movement that followed the secularization of the French Revolution and was a means to reestablish the Christian sentiment in society is as much needed now as it was then. Pope Pius XI spoke of this when he said that the “liturgical chant played no small part in converting many barbarians to Christianity and civilization,” and that it was due to these chants “that St. Augustine made up his mind to become a Christian.”65 In our own day, when the secularization of society is not just on a national level but has spread to whole continents, there needs to be a deep spiritual renewal. This can be brought about by the renewal of the liturgical life in parishes as well as by the home being the domestic Church where the fruits of the liturgy are implanted in the souls of future generations. Living the liturgical year helps us in understanding the truths of the Faith in such a way that our faith is “enlightened more and more each year” while a theological sense is formed within us and the brightness of the mysteries “becomes so vivid that the mind and heart are enthralled” and “we begin to grasp the joy that the eternal sight of these beautiful and divine realities will give us.”66

1 Sister Mary David Totah, The Spirit of Solesmes (Petersham, MA: Burns & Oates, 1997), 18.

2 Katherine Bergerson, Decadent Enchantments (Berkley: University of California Press, 1998), 1.

3 Louis Soltner, Solesmes and Dom Gueranger, trans. Joseph O’Connor (Orleans, MA: Paraclete Press, 1995), 25.

4 Ibid.

5 Bergerson, 12-13.

6 Ibid., 14.

7 Dom Olivier Rousseau, OSB, The Progress of the Liturgy, trans. the Benedictines of Westminster Priory (Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1951), 36.

8 Ibid., 21.

9 Ibid., 27.

10 Dom Columba Marmion, OSB, Christ the Life of the Soul (St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co., 1925), 124.

11 Cf. Anthony Ruff, OSB, Sacred Music and Liturgical Reform (Chicago: Hillenbrand Books, 2007), 495, 484.

12 Pope Leo XIII, Letter to Dom Delate, Abbot of Solesmes – Nos Quidem (1901).

13 Ruff, 203.

14 Rousseau, 114.

15 Soltner, 105.

16 Rousseau, 117.

17 Bergerson, 17.

18 Bergerson, 18. “exécution martelée.”

19 Soltner, 108.

20 Bergerson, 145.

21 Soltner, 17.

22 Ibid., 105.

23 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Edition, 1156.

24 Soltner., 104.

25 Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium (1963), 112. Cf. Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter – Spiritus et Sponsa (2003), 4.

26 Dom Pierre Combe, The Restoration of Gregorian Chant, trans. Theodore Marier & William Skinner (Washington, DC: CUA Press, 2003), 79.

27 Ibid.

28 Ibid., 21.

29 Rousseau, 34. This congregation is now known as the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

30 Rousseau, 42.

31 Rousseau, 150-51.

32 Ibid.

33 Vincent Yzermans, editor, All Things In Christ (Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1954), 202. Pope Pius X, Motu Proprio – Inter Plurimas Pastoralis (1903).

34 Pope Benedict XVI, Apostolic Exhortation – Sacramentum Caritatis (2007), 52.

35 Rousseau, 153.

36 Sacramentum Caritatis, 64.

37 Rousseau, 152-54. Bergerson, 143-145.

38 The Liber Usualis (Belgium: Desclée & Co, 1938), ix-x.

39 Combe, 251.

40 Ibid., 264.

41 Ibid., 263.

42 Edward Schaefer, Catholic Music Through the Ages (Chicago: Hillendrand Books, 2008), 110.

43 Combe, 414.

44 Ibid., xi.

45 Peter Jeffery, “The New Chantbooks from Solesmes,” Notes, Second Series, Vol. 47, No. 4 (Music Library Association, June 1991) http://www.jstor.org/stable/941612 (23/06/2010), 1041.

46 Sacrosanctum Concilium, 117.

47 Pius XII, Encyclical - Musicae Sacrae (1955), 46.

48 Cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 117.

49 Ibid., 54.

50 Cf. ibid., 116.

51 Schaefer, 161.

52 Jeffery, 1044.

53 Ibid., 1048.

54 Sacrosanctum Concilium, 116. “Ecclesia cantum gregorianum agnoscit ut liturgiae romanae proprium: qui ideo in actionibus liturgicis, ceteris paribus, principem locum obtineat.”

55 Jeffery, 1039.

56 Ibid., 1043.

57 Sacred Congregation of Rites, Musicam Sacram (1967), 52.

58 Totah, 183.

59 Ruff, 481.

60 Sacramentum Caritatis, 42.

61 Sacramentum Caritatis, 62.

62 Ibid.

63 Second Vatican Council, Christus Dominus (1965), 15.

64 Sacrosanctum Concilium, 114. “Scholae cantorum assidue provehantur, praesertim apud ecclesias cathedrales.”

65 Pope Pius XI, Apostolic Constitution – Divini Cultus (1928)
66 Soltner, 92. Dom Guéranger – General Preface to The Liturgical Year.

Friday 28 December 2012


by Peter de Mey
Professor of the Catholic University of Louvain 

Thursday 27 December 2012


my source:http://www.en.monasterujkowice.pl/
Orthodox Monastery of the sts. Cyril and Methodius in Ujkowice  (Poland)

       In the summer of 1986, two hieromonks, Fr.Nikodem and Fr.Atanazy, settled in the Carpathian foothills southeast Poland in the village of Ujkowice, not far from the city of PrzemyL?l. They purchased a farmers field and an old barn in which they had their first living quartery. they next began the bulding of a Monastery. They began practically from zero in an empty field and built with their own hands. After some time, they began to be joined by young men who also had the desire to become monks, and together they began erecting a traditional Orthodox Monastery.

      Now after 22 years, there are 14 monks and much has been built. In this handful of pictures presented below you may get a small glimpse into our everyday reality, our daily tasks, and our divine services. you may find many more pictures in our main internet website at www.monasterujkowice.pl

Wednesday 26 December 2012

WHY GOD? by Maureen Dowd (The New York Times / December 25, 2012)

(thanks to Jim Forest)

When my friend Robin was dying, she asked me if I knew a priest she could talk to who would not be, as she put it, “too judgmental.” I knew the perfect man, a friend of our family, a priest conjured up out of an old black-and-white movie, the type who seemed not to exist anymore in a Catholic Church roiled by scandal. Like Father Chuck O’Malley, the New York inner-city priest played by Bing Crosby, Father Kevin O’Neil sings like an angel and plays the piano; he’s handsome, kind and funny. Most important, he has a gift. He can lighten the darkness around the dying and those close to them. When he held my unconscious brother’s hand in the hospital, the doctors were amazed that Michael’s blood pressure would noticeably drop. The only problem was Father Kevin’s reluctance to minister to the dying. It tears at him too much. He did it, though, and he and Robin became quite close. Years later, he still keeps a picture of her in his office. As we’ve seen during this tear-soaked Christmas, death takes no holiday. I asked Father Kevin, who feels the subject so deeply, if he could offer a meditation. This is what he wrote:

How does one celebrate Christmas with the fresh memory of 20 children and 7 adults ruthlessly murdered in Newtown; with the searing image from Webster of firemen rushing to save lives ensnared in a burning house by a maniac who wrote that his favorite activity was “killing people”? How can we celebrate the love of a God become flesh when God doesn’t seem to do the loving thing? If we believe, as we do, that God is all-powerful and all-knowing, why doesn’t He use this knowledge and power for good in the face of the evils that touch our lives?

The killings on the cusp of Christmas in quiet, little East Coast towns stirred a 30-year-old memory from my first months as a priest in parish ministry in Boston. I was awakened during the night and called to Brigham and Women’s Hospital because a girl of 3 had died. The family was from Peru. My Spanish was passable at best. When I arrived, the little girl’s mother was holding her lifeless body and family members encircled her.

They looked to me as I entered. Truth be told, it was the last place I wanted to be. To parents who had just lost their child, I didn’t have any words, in English or Spanish, that wouldn’t seem cheap, empty. But I stayed. I prayed. I sat with them until after sunrise, sometimes in silence, sometimes speaking, to let them know that they were not alone in their suffering and grief. The question in their hearts then, as it is in so many hearts these days, is “Why?”

The truest answer is: I don’t know. I have theological training to help me to offer some way to account for the unexplainable. But the questions linger. I remember visiting a dear friend hours before her death and reminding her that death is not the end, that we believe in the Resurrection. I asked her, “Are you there yet?” She replied, “I go back and forth.” There was nothing I wanted more than to bring out a bag of proof and say, “See? You can be absolutely confident now.” But there is no absolute bag of proof. I just stayed with her. A life of faith is often lived “back and forth” by believers and those who minister to them.

Implicit here is the question of how we look to God to act and to enter our lives. For whatever reason, certainly foreign to most of us, God has chosen to enter the world today through others, through us. We have stories of miraculous interventions, lightning-bolt moments, but far more often the God of unconditional love comes to us in human form, just as God did over 2,000 years ago.

I believe differently now than 30 years ago. First, I do not expect to have all the answers, nor do I believe that people are really looking for them. Second, I don’t look for the hand of God to stop evil. I don’t expect comfort to come from afar. I really do believe that God enters the world through us. And even though I still have the “Why?” questions, they are not so much “Why, God?” questions. We are human and mortal. We will suffer and die. But how we are with one another in that suffering and dying makes all the difference as to whether God’s presence is felt or not and whether we are comforted or not.

One true thing is this: Faith is lived in family and community, and God is experienced in family and community. We need one another to be God’s presence. When my younger brother, Brian, died suddenly at 44 years old, I was asking “Why?” and I experienced family and friends as unconditional love in the flesh. They couldn’t explain why he died. Even if they could, it wouldn’t have brought him back. Yet the many ways that people reached out to me let me know that I was not alone. They really were the presence of God to me. They held me up to preach at Brian’s funeral. They consoled me as I tried to comfort others. Suffering isolates us. Loving presence brings us back, makes us belong.

A contemporary theologian has described mercy as “entering into the chaos of another.” Christmas is really a celebration of the mercy of God who entered the chaos of our world in the person of Jesus, mercy incarnate. I have never found it easy to be with people who suffer, to enter into the chaos of others. Yet, every time I have done so, it has been a gift to me, better than the wrapped and ribboned packages. I am pulled out of myself to be love’s presence to someone else, even as they are love’s presence to me.

I will never satisfactorily answer the question “Why?” because no matter what response I give, it will always fall short. What I do know is that an unconditionally loving presence soothes broken hearts, binds up wounds, and renews us in life. This is a gift that we can all give, particularly to the suffering. When this gift is given, God’s love is present and Christmas happens daily.

 Christmas by John Betjeman

The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.

The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
'The church looks nice' on Christmas Day.

Provincial Public Houses blaze,
Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze,
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says 'Merry Christmas to you all'.

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.

And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children's hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say 'Come!'
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.

And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true ? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.


Remember! – It is Christianity TO DO GOOD always – even to those who do evil to us. It is Christianity to love our neighbour as ourself, and to do to all men as we would have them Do to us. It is Christianity to be gentle, merciful, and forgiving, and to keep those qualities quiet in our own hearts, and never make a boast of them, or of our prayers or of our love of God, but always to shew that we love Him by humbly trying to do right in everything. If we do this, and remember the life and lessons of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and try to act up to them, we may confidently hope that God will forgive us our sins and mistakes, and enable us to live and die in Peace. (Charles Dickens on Christianity)
(excerpt from a post by Roy Peachey in "The Catholic English Teacher")

One of Chesterton's great strengths was that he was able to see Dickens' novels in their broad historical context. In one of those marvellous, free-flowing passages of his, he argued that "for a few years our corner of Western Europe has had a fancy for this thing we call fiction; that is, for writing down our own lives or similar lives in order to look at them. But though we call it fiction, it differs from older literatures chiefly in being less fictitious." 

According to Chesterton, Dickens stood outside this tradition because he retained a link with the literature that came before the Realist revolution: "Dickens was a mythologist rather than a novelist; he was the last of the mythologists, and perhaps the greatest." 

Dickens stood in a line of descent, through Shakespeare, with Chaucer and other great Catholic writers and so, Chesterton argued, whatever his own personal prejudices, his art drew upon all that was best in the pre-Reformation world: "He could only see all that was bad in mediaevalism. But he fought for all that was good in it."

As we approach the bicentenary of Dickens' birth next year, we do not need to be overly concerned by Dickens' lack of "sympathy with the Romish Church". As GKC puts it in his final paragraph: "The hour of absinthe is over. We shall not be much further troubled with the little artists who found Dickens too sane for their sorrows and too clean for their delights. But we have a long way to travel before we get back to what Dickens meant, and the passage is along a rambling English road, a twisting road such as Mr Pickwick travelled. But this at least is part of what he meant: that comradeship and serious joy are not interludes in comradeship and joy, which through God shall endure for ever. The inn does not point to the road; the road points to the inn. And all roads point at last to an ultimate inn, where we shall meet Dickens and all his characters; and when we drink again it shall be from the great flagons in the tavern at the end of the world."

Or if that's not punchy enough, we could look at the sign that hangs at the entrance to all Dickens' novels, according to Chesterton, the sign that could equally well hang at the entrance to Chesterton's own book: "Abandon hopelessness, all ye who enter here."


That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.  (I John I,1)

Christian revelation isn't simply what we hear in Scripture, as the Protestants believe.  We also see it and touch it.  We can even smell it!!   And we can touch it.   As St Francis of Assisi said, the difference between believers and unbelievers is that the believers SEE and BELIEVE, and the Richard Dawkins of this world only see.   Christians hear, see, touch and smell.   For an integral Christian experience of the Truth, it is not enough to listen to the Bible read, or to read papal encyclicals and listen to the Magisterium.   It is necessary to see, to touch, to feel, to smell.   That is why Eastern Christians put such an emphasis on icons, and western Catholics and Maronites put such an emphasis on adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; and why Christians of East and West put such an emphasis on the celebration of the Liturgy.  This is why the witness of the saints is essential for our understanding of revelation.  For this reason, reading the Scripture in a manner that is cut off from the Liturgy is not enough to understand what Scripture is all about.    Christ is God-made manifest in our embodied world.   Hence the word "Epiphany" and the word "Theophany" for the same feast.
 I am very conscious of the fact that  our monastery is a holy place, not because we as individuals are saints, but because Christ is present in our common life.   By living a Christian monastic life, we have brought about a sacred space; and people come to it for that reason alone.   By the grace of God, by the work of the Holy Spirit, we have become an icon of Christ's presence.

Maureen Dowd's article shows us that God#s presence is shown in our loving presence.   Charles Dickens seems to turn Christianity into a mere matter of morality; but, in fact, it is only when we love as Christ loves that Christ, who is infinitely more loving and holy than we are, either alone or together, manifests his presence among us and calls the world to faith.

In a Year of Faith, we must always call to mind that words about faith are only a part of the story, no matter who says them.   To call the world to faith, faith must be LIVED; and then, calling the world to faith is no longer our work: it is Christ's.


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