Page 4, 14th August 1953

14th August 1953
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Page 4, 14th August 1953 — All Parish Activities must grow from the Altar
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All Parish Activities must grow from the Altar

By Fr. WILLIAM RAFTERY

Parish Priest of St. Witham's, Fleetwood

N all our efforts to promote the

spread of the Liturgy in our

parishes, let us have as our leitmotif that which was the secret of Blessed Pius X's success: SmolaCITY.

First keep ever before our minds the three essentials of the Liturgy, which are: "The glory of God; the sanctification as well as the edification of souls" (Motu Proprio).

Then we must work might and main to help to restore to our people their parts of the Mass, the Common. 1 his will entail a great deal of spade work, patience and teaching, as well as the sense to learn from our mistakes without being discouraged by them.

Of old there were many Masses obviously composed and intended for the people to sing. In the course of centuries most of these Masses have ceased to be simple. The reasons why these chants of the congregation were taken over and monopolised by the choirs are now a matter of past but very regrettable history. The development again of the chant from simple to ornate melodies is another intriCate and thorny question.

In a word, a stage was reached when it just became too difficult if not impossible for the average congregation to sing the Common. Trained voices then took over this part of the singing; and as choirs laid increasingly greater emphasis on the chants of the Common which did not belong to them, they began to slight the Propers of the Mass which were their concern.

Hence we have today the almost universal custom of the choir, not as a choir. singing the Proper to some polo tune, sometimes by mere

Deprecatory look THE seaside story and pictures on I page one tell part of the story which Fr. Basset in his column last week said Douglas Hyde and I would "pinch" from him. But, anyway, Fr. Basset cannot tell the full story himself because he is much too modest. He will be particularly furious when he sees this photo of himself which I took of him when he was off-guard. The staff here thought it ought to go with the others on the front page. But I have spared him that because only f orce majeurc succeeded in dragging him near the sea, and he would not go near his bataing belles at all in case I snapped him with them. He is of a shy and retiring disposition, and the deprecatory look on his face, as he clings .as near to the convent window as he can, indicates the mixture of pleasure at the thought of the fun all his disciples were having and his own personal determination to enjoy it all at two or three removes.

A famous hit IAM sorry I cannot add the picture I of Fr. Blake, but when I was most active with my camera Fr. Blake was very seriously engaged in a North v. South game of rounders. It should have been cricket, hut at the last moment no bat could be found. Fr. Blake, a stout supporter of Lancashire and the North, invigorated his side with a hefty swipe which sent the ball right out of the grounds. A photo of him playing the shot looks like a turning corkscrew, and as for the picture of him timning home— alas, even the surrounding trees have participated in the movement of his great run. So swift was his flight that the camera could not catch him (or anything else) in its sight. Still, I am glad to record that the South handsomely beat the North, and I say nothing about Fr. Blake's explanation that the South had I I more players.

Doing what comes naturally BUT, seriously, a word of great praise for the work which these two magnificent priests have done. Their spirit of enthusiasm, their originality, their refusal to be put off by highbrow and conventional critics, and not least a tireless dedication of themselves to their work have achieved wonderful results in persuading so many, in and out of the Forces, that to work for God and the Church is the most exciting and finest thing in the world. In the cells you don't do Catholic action with half of yourself—the pious half, so to speak—but with the whole person. The result is that Catholic life and action is "doing what comes natur

psalmody; though, oftener than not, it is left to one or two cantors to sing, whilst the rest of the choir are all teed-up, ready to go all-out on the Mass of St. Cecilia or some other florid monstrosity.

Easy to sing

ET us be careful to select the simplest and easiest of Masses for our congregations. Syllabic chant, which is one note per syllable, and not melismatic chant with two or more notes per syllable, are the only chants which the average congregation can be expected to sing with anything like satisfaction.

It is likewise imperative both to give and call attention to choirs in this all-important matter. Their duty and privilege roust be the singing of the Propers. They must be taught not only how to sing them but to be content with singing them.

Forget about Motets. After all, the real motet is the Offertory psalm or its equivalent. Let the choir sing these parts as musically and as impressively as possible, provided they do not hold up the Mass.

Then why not revive the Introit Procession and have the Introit solemnly sung as the clergy and servers enter the sanctuary? And what is there to prevent a processional entry at the main door of the church on the greater festivals? To the accompaniment of the Introit, of course.

Young priests' aid IMPLICITY as the keynote to liturgical success would, I am sure, be stepped up if every young

priest who is sent to a parish was able to teach the congregation one or other of the simpler Masses.

At random, one might name Masses like those of number XVIII; Gloria XV (of the same style and rhythm of the Preface and the Te Deum) which was formerly sung by the people during the great festivals of the Middle Ages; Mass XVII for Advent and Lent.

Then there is Dom Gregory Murray's "People's Mass," which is so easy that it almost sings itself.

Little practical use it will be if these young levites can expatiate to us about the swell of an arsis or the length of a quilisma when they are powerless to teach a congregation their simplest parts of the Mass.

Let us also keep in mind that our churches are parish churches and not cathedrals or monasteries, Therefore not to attempt, as many choirs do, and with lamentable results. music which is only within the compass of a cathedral and its musical resources.

Step forward

HESIDES the three conditions laid down by the Motu Proprio for true liturgical music we might recall that other age-long axiom which has almost passed out of currency : Lex orandi lex credendi. Our worship must be the expression of our belief.

As priests, it will be our task to teach the people in season and out of season about the Liturgy; to provide them with every possible aid to take an active part. This might mean spending a king's ransom on books, printing and duplicating copies of services of an unusual character, and all this to achieve the sublime object we have in view which is "the active participation in the Sacred Mysteries as the primary and indispensable source of the true Christian spirit."

Another step forward could be made by restoring the Offertory collection to some of its pristineimportance. This collection is a part of the people's share in the Sacrifice and not a mere accessory. Of old, the people brought their own offerings of bread and wine for the Mass; they brought other things, too, such as gifts of food for the sick and needy. Whilst the procession to the altar with gifts was taking place, a suitable canticle was sung. This is the origin of the Offertory piece which as a general rule is now abbreviated to one or two verses of a psalm.

Offertory collection

THE Pope in Mediator Del allows, under certain conditions, the revival of the Offertory procession during which each communicant may bring his own particle for Communion and place it in a ciborium. Times and places will best decide, with permission of the Ordinary, whether or no this is feasible.

One custom, however, ought to be brought into its proper perspective, and that is the Offertory collection as the people's part in the Sacrifice. This could be done by putting in a place of honour

the plates bearing the offerings. The altar servers might then hold them aloft, as is now done in many churches, till the Consecration.

In miniature

wITH an amazing penetration " into our world problems, Blessed Pius endeavoured to drive the Catholic world back to first and central things: "To restore all things in Christ." It was to Christ and to His Sacred Mysteries, the Mass and the sacraments—to an active participation in these lifegiving sources by the faithful.

It is through the Liturgy that we shall teach men that one-ness and solidarity which they seek and which today • they need so badly; and through that they will be led to Christ, the "Whole Christ," as St. Augustine puts it so succinctly, in Whom we are all incorporated through sanctifying grace; and thence to God, whose co-equal Son Christ our Lord is.

A Catholic parish is the Mystical Body in miniature wherein His earthly life is re-lived in the liturgical mysteries.

From the altar

IIES1DES being a real Com'ml•munion with Christ our Lord, the Liturgy is no less a real and vital communion with all His members of the Mystical Body. "For we, being many, are one Bread, one Body, all that partake of our Bread" (I Cot. X, 17). The Liturgy is the expression of all this, Liturgy is Life, the Life of the Incarnate Son of God. The Liturgy is the worship rendered by the members of the Mystical Body.

A parish in consequence ought to be two things: it must be alive: it must be living, living in Him of Whom St. John says: "In Him was life and the life is the Light of men,"

Now life must radiate from the centre not from the periphery. The centre is the altar where the Last Supper and Calvary are renewed and the merits thereof are applied to each individual soul. Everything must come from the altar and not from the periphery as is undoubtedly the case when we try to build up a living and live parish by those rounds of social activities such as whist drives, socials, dances and raffles, which are, after all, only secondary in importance.

Our parish church is not merely a place to "pick up Mass" in order to fulfil our Sunday obligation. No, it is our home where, as God's "holy people," we are all united together with Christ our "Elder Brother" to worship our one common Father.

As Karl Adam puts it: "The. Mass is essentially a community act, never an individual act" (Christ our Brother).

The parish Mass each Sunday and feast must be the highlight of the parish life, out of which all our parochial activities must grow and find their true inspiration and meaning.

Finding time

SUNG Mass, not low Mass, is surely the ideal and really adequate way of renewing the "Passion, His Resurrection from the Dead, and His Glorious Ascension into Heaven."

To this end we must of necessity (a) take time, (b) have time. If we attend to these latter, God will see that we shall both have time and be able to take time for all our other mundane and physical avocations.

There, in a nutshell, we have the teaching of Blessed Pius X, and it is not too late to "restore all things in Christ" if we will but harken to his world-shattering document of Motu Pro prio.




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