Ecclesia Militans

Bi-ritual musings on Catholic liturgy, music, and spirituality

Monday, January 24, 2005



Originally uploaded by Catholicnerd.
The Sisters of St. Basil the Great have a new website. Stop on by and give a shout out to these wonderful servants of God!

Monday, January 10, 2005

God grant them many years!



Originally uploaded by Catholicnerd.
Jane and I would like to wish Drs. Michael and Catherine Tkacz of Gonzaga University a happy twenty-fifth anniversary!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

My heart is intiding of a good matter!



Originally uploaded by Catholicnerd.
A small miracle occurred in the Tri-Cities last night. A few days ago, I was invited to play at a rather un-POD parish for the Vigil of the Solemnity of the feast of St. Mary, Mother of God. I've played at that parish before, and have usually had the assistance of talented cantors. Unfortunately, most of those cantors have been ignorant of the richness of our musical heritage and I've found myself defaulting to wretched OCP hymns and the "Mass of Creation" just to make the priest, cantors, and music director happy. My prayers to St. Pius X for courage to stand up to heterodox priests and music directors were finally answered last night.

Up until about 3:00pm on Thursday, I didn't know who was going to be cantoring at Mass. When I heard her qualifications over the phone, I was overjoyed. "Don't worry, Gavin, she can sightread anything and will be fine with a half hour's worth of practice. And I think she reads Vatican notation, too." That certainly got my attention, and I began thinking of all kinds of possibilities. Initially I contemplated asking the cantor to sing the propers from the Graduale Romanum and the Missa Cum Jubilo ordinaries, but I figured that I'd be shot by the pastor after Mass ended. So I arranged for the next best thing...

Enter the Anglican Use Gradual, courtesy of C David Burt. The gradual was compiled for use in Anglican Use parishes of the Roman Rite, and draws heavily upon the work of GH Palmer and Francis Burgess, two Anglicans who were disenchanted by the liturgical upheaval in their ecclesial community. I figured that since the propers of the Anglican Use Gradual match those of the Graduale Romanum and since the translation is just slightly better than those found in "By Flowing Waters," I'd give the gradual a try. Just before Mass, I penned simple accompaniments to the propers and prayed to St. Pius X, my patron, for success.

The cantor was unfamiliar with the Anglican Use Gradual, but pulled it off marvelously well. Hard not to, I suppose, considering that most of the chants are set to simple melodies. Singing the propers of the Mass--something not done for almost thirty years at this parish-- combined with the lineup of Marian hymns, "made the Mass meaningful again" for many parishioners. Several families came up to the organ after Mass to let me know. For many of them, it was the "most reverently conducted Mass" they had ever attended. The homily was surprisingly orthodox, and the priest offered Prex I without any alterations. Something deep inside of me is inclined to believe that the Holy Spirit worked through those simple yet elegant propers to lift the hearts and minds of the celebrant and congregation to the things of God. St. Pius X, thank you for the miracle.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Happy Feast of St. Nicholas!


St. Nicholas
Originally uploaded by Catholicnerd.
"We gather to celebrate and to praise in song the model of bishops and a glory to the fathers, a fountain of miracles and a great helper of believers. Let us sing to the saintly Nicholas: Rejoice, O Protector of Myra who was revered as its leader and strongest pillar! Rejoice, O Radiant Star whose light of miracles shines throughout the world! Rejoice, O Divine Joy to those in sorrow! Rejoice, O Defender of those who are oppressed! For even now all-holy Nicholas, you still pray to God for us who celebrate your feast with faith and who honor you with zeal and joy!"

Monday, November 08, 2004

*Urgent Plea*

On Saturday I received a call from the Tri-Ciies and was informed of the dire situation the Ecclesia Dei community at my parish is facing. Due to several deaths, moves, and Tridentine Mass bashing by members of the regular parish, the community that was once 60 strong is now down to 30. The future of the Tridentine Mass in Eastern Washington (yes, ALL of Eastern Washington as this is the only indult Mass) is dim. It seems that people have grown weary of a somewhat badly recited low Mass and have given in to the Society of St. Pius X, which I hear has designs on the Tri-Cities. The bishop of the Diocese of Yakima has apparently considered dissolving the community if numbers don't rise (the priest drives in from Toppenish about an hour away, and it's expensive to support his travel apparently). Such a move would deprive the Eastern half of the State of Washington of the right to a Tridentine Mass. The Bishop of the Diocese of Spokane, despite the presence of at least three schismatic communities in the city of Spokane alone, will not grant the indult to any parish in the Diocese, and it looks like he'll be around for a while.

So my question is this: If any of you have had any luck at convincing your bishops to hold off withdrawing the Ecclesia Dei Indult (and consequently boosting numbers at a dying Tridentine Mass), I'd appreciate it if you could share how you managed to pull it off. Would some sort of media campaign be effective? For one thing, I'm not sure that any Catholics outside of St. Joseph's Parish even KNOW about the Indult Mass that's offered, let a lone the Tridentine Mass. Additionally, what would it take to convince a few of the diocesan deacons to show up for a High Mass (no subdeacons around. Drat!)?

Friday, October 22, 2004

Byzantine fun!


Trikery-Dikery-Dock
Originally uploaded by Catholicnerd.
My girlfriend and I drove up to Olympia WA from the Tri-Cities on Friday, August 27 to attend the Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help sponsored by the Eparchy of Van Nuys. After fighting through West-side traffic all afternoon, we arrived at Holy Theophany (a monastic community hoping to soon be officially recognized) almost an hour later than we had initially planned. Unfortunately, this meant that I missed my check-in time at the hotel in Lacey, and I had to fight to get my room back (well, I almost didn't get one because I'm 19 and apparently they don't usually rent rooms to under-21's).

So, I was a bit stressed out and I was wondering how my girlfriend was doing with the Sisters (we knew very little about the Basilians at the time). By the time I was checked into my room, showered, and dressed, it was too late to go to confession at the parish church and I was beginning to go from stressed out to flustered. When I made it back to St. George's, though, all of that frustration quickly disappeared.

My girlfriend and the Sisters had walked over from the monastery, and from a good distance away I could see my girlfriend smiling sincerely and having a wonderful time with all of the Sisters! I said to myself "This is good..." So I walked over to her and asked how things were going and she had the most wonderful things to say about the monastery and the Sisters. I could tell that all of the anxiety she had been feeling about doing anything remotely un-Latin had completely disappeared. A short time after I met up with my girlfriend and the nuns, the clergy, sans bishop that is, emerged from St. George's vested for the Vesperal Divine Liturgy offered that night and ready to start the procession to the Shrine.

Enter Bishop William Skurla... Our jaws just about hit the ground when we saw his vestments. We knew to expect something ornate, but photographs of His Grace and other Eastern bishops just don't do the vestments justice. Absolutely stunning, particularly his mitre and the Episcopal staff. Certainly quite different from the vestments a certain member of the Episcopacy in my diocese wears.

The procession began shortly after His Grace took his place. The clergy led, followed by the Knights of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem (or something like that. My apologies if I butchered the name. Their longswords are certainly much spiffier than the little foils that the Knights of Columbus carry around), and finally the other laymen. We arrived a the Shrine after singing a hymn in honor of the Dormition from the Byzantine Seminary hymnal. There was then a vesperal Divine Liturgy, which was absolutely wonderful. Fr. William O'Brien of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Spokane gave the homily. He spoke of the various challenges the Church is facing and reminded us that our very participation in the pilgrimage is proof that the Church is not dead, nor is She asleep.

After the Liturgy, His Grace then offered the mystery of the Annointing of the Sick, and while at first I was very hesitant to present myself for the reception of that mystery, I went forward anyway upon remembering that Eastern Christians generally receive the mystery 3 times during the year. For those of you who aren't aware, I've been suffering from severe clinical depression for years, and I elected to cease taking my medication last year after the side-effects made life worse than it was before. After my conversion, I was healed emotionally, but many of the undesirable physical effects of depression flare up from time to time. Immediately upon reception of the mystery, I could feel something being lifted from me. Remission of sins and physical/emotional healing is rather nice, dontcha think? Since then, I have found the physical side effects to be minor annoyances and not life-stopping things.

The day concluded at the monastery. The sisters graciously invited me to stay for dinner, and I must say the food was absolutely marvelous considering it was monastic fare (you think Western monastic dietary regulations are strict...). I bid the sisters and my sweetheart goodnight and drove back to my hotel in Lacey (apparently His Grace was staying just a few doors down) awaiting the next day's activities.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Be to us, O Virgin, nigh,lest in flames we burn and die,in His awful Judgment Day.

Stabat Mater dolorosa iuxta Crucem lacrimosa, dum pendebat Filius. Cuius animam gementem, contristatam et dolentem pertransivit gladius. O quam tristis et afflicta fuit illa benedicta, mater Unigeniti! Quae maerebat et dolebat, pia Mater, dum videbat nati poenas inclyti. Quis est homo qui non fleret, matrem Christi si videret in tanto supplicio? Quis non posset contristari Christi Matrem contemplari dolentem cum Filio? Pro peccatis suae gentis vidit Iesum in tormentis, et flagellis subditum. Vidit suum dulcem Natum moriendo desolatum, dum emisit spiritum. Eia, Mater, fons amoris me sentire vim doloris fac, ut tecum lugeam. Fac, ut ardeat cor meum in amando Christum Deum ut sibi complaceam. Sancta Mater, istud agas, crucifixi fige plagas cordi meo valide. Tui Nati vulnerati, tam dignati pro me pati, poenas mecum divide. Fac me tecum pie flere, crucifixo condolere, donec ego vixero. Iuxta Crucem tecum stare, et me tibi sociare in planctu desidero. Virgo virginum praeclara, mihi iam non sis amara, fac me tecum plangere. Fac, ut portem Christi mortem, passionis fac consortem, et plagas recolere. Fac me plagis vulnerari, fac me Cruce inebriari, et cruore Filii. Flammis ne urar succensus, per te, Virgo, sim defensus in die iudicii. Christe, cum sit hinc exire, da per Matrem me venire ad palmam victoriae. Quando corpus morietur, fac, ut animae donetur paradisi gloria. Amen.

The Stabat Mater, prescribed as a Sequence for the Mass of the Seven Sorrows of Mary in 1727, is perhaps one of the most inspiring and evocative prayers of our faith. Next to the Mass, no other prayer has received as much attention by composers, poets, novelists, and artists. I think that it is an especially relevant prayer for many Catholic Americans who have lost the sense of the gravity of sin and the importance of the Sacrifice at Calvary (and, consquently, the reality of what's going on at Mass). Sometimes it is easy for us to turn going to Mass- or, God forbid, saying the Mass- into something rote. I've noticed that one factor that contributes to the formulation of this mindset in my life is the lack of frequent recourse to the Sacrament of Penance-even for venial sins. The pastor of my parish has asked me not to confess my venial sins in the confessional and has urged the parishioners to only make a confession once a month, if that. I find something gravely disordered about that mindset. True, scrupulosity is not a good thing, but I do believe that most people have a conscience that has been formed well enough to tell them the difference between scrupulosity and the genuine confession of a venial sin. When praying the Stabat Mater, we are exposed to the antidote for forgetting the gravity of sin: Our Sorrowful Mother. I will not attempt to write a treatise on the role of Mary in our salvation. Instead, I ask you to place yourself at the foot of the Cross, mourn with her, and find out for yourself.