Sunday 27 November 2011


Hi everyone. We at witness are getting together to put together a men's group. This group will pray and study St. Francis de Sales' Introduction to the Devout Life. We hope and pray that some men out there will get in touch with us with intent to join us.we hope to get started by the spring 2012.      Montford
A New Missal

Does any one remember the interim breviary in use in Canada in the early 70's? Those of you who do remember are no doubt laughing and shaking your head. Let me explain. It was a peculiar affair in a package that can only be described as unique. The psalter was a perfect bound book and the propers were contained in a series of booklets. The whole affair was contained in a blue vinyl jacket with side pockets for the booklets. Those of us who had to use the thing found it unwieldy and cumbersome. Is it any wonder that any who had a choice flocked to the American Interim Breviary published by Catholic Book Publishing. This was a properly sewn book with brown leatherette cover containing everything needed to pray the office in one attractive package. I still have my copy on the bookshelf. Where the other one went is anybody's guess.

Fast foreward to the present. Last week they were selling new missals in the back of the church. My response to our associate pastor was "But they all say Novalis on the cover!" We had a few words about liturgical publishing in Canada and I left. The following week I had occasion to wander into the foyer of the church on my way to the parish pasta dinner. Much to my surprise the lady selling Christmas cards informed me that they had just gotten in a quantity of St. Joseph Missals from Catholic Book Publishing. I snapped one up and walked downstairs smiling.

For any who are also looking for a "real" missal, Catholic Book Publishing plans to release a permanent three year missal in a sewn binding with a vinyl cover for $21US plus shipping. No doubt there will be better ones in the future. Perhaps I can even replace my Latin English Novus Ordo booklet? Who knows?

Monday 21 November 2011

Montfort's Meditations: Over coffee and cake...

Coffee and Conversation

Over coffee and cake one morning the four of us were discussing the current state of affairs with the Mass. Since the Council of Trent we have had the Tridentine Mass. The fathers of the council intended to keep to the traditions we had from the beginning from St. Peter, St. Paul and all the Apostles. At the time of the Council of Trent there were many local variations in the liturgy and some regulation was necessary. It was decided to keep those rites which had stood the test of time and suppress those which were recent innovations. One of the great fathers of the Church said of the Tridentine Mass "This mass is the closest thing to heaven on earth."

Today Catholics living with two liturgical rites, the Novus Ordo and the Extraordinary Form or the Tridentine Mass. Moreover the Novus Ordo has many local variations in language, rubrics and sometimes even the text itself. Even the Tridentine Rite has some local variations, the Missa Recitata in Europe and the silent mass in the Irish diaspora. All of this is causing a great deal of conflict among Catholics. Each group wants to keep that which they have grown comfortable with, whether Novus Ordo or Tridentine.

Even amongst ourselves there was considerable difference of opinion. We discussed the way the changes had been implemented and the variations we had seen. In some places the dialogue mass entirely in Latin was tried. In other places the Liturgy of the Word was in English while the Liturgy of the Eucharist was in Latin. We even discussed current attempts to change the way the Tridentine Rite is celebrated to make it more acceptable, prompting one of us to exclaim "They have the Novus Ordo to play with, leave the Tridentine Rite alone!"

There were many other things discussed including the facing of the priest ad orientam, the state of sacred music, reception of Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue, silence and reverence during mass and alter boys. We agreed to continue talking.

Montfort et al.

Friday 18 November 2011

The Fuss Over the GIRM

I was at an event recently at which someone asked "What are the precepts of the Church?"... a Baltimore Catechism question to be sure. At least two people stumbled on the answer and, though instructed on the old catechism, I could not think of the right answer either. When I heard the answer my immediate thought was that I had done all of those things for decades. The fact that I was observing precepts that I could not even enumerate gave me pause for some meditation. Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the offspring should come to whom the promise was made... Gal 3:19

Why indeed? When I was learning those things I really had no idea why they were important. When I was a child I had to memorize much of the catechism to prepare for the sacraments but I remember being racked by guilt over missing mass. My parents did not attend so if I wanted to go I had to make my own way and some mornings it was just easier to sleep in. What purpose did the law serve in my life? Apparently the law exists to convict me of sin but observance of the law cannot give life. In other words the law could tell me I was in a mess but could not help one iota towards getting me out of the mess. Now that I have faith in Jesus Christ I have a very clear idea why these things are important and observe them as a matter of course. Yet I cannot even list the Precepts of the Church. St. Paul says "All things are lawful but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good but the good of his neighbor," 1Cor10:23 My actions are not to be governed by the law but by love of my neighbor.

Oh foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the spirit by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? Gal 3:1-2

We are about to introduce a new English translation of the Roman Missal along with a General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM). In my own parish it has been the subject of at least one seminar and some catechetical instruction before mass on at least two occasions. We have been singing the new musical settings for some weeks now so we are not going to hear the new Gloria cold on Christmas Eve. All in all the transition is being approached with some care in implementing what has been handed down. Whether the priests have any personal opinions on any of this, I am not aware of them. This is not because of lack of expertise as our associate pastor teaches liturgy at St. Peter's Seminary. Elsewhere I have heard rumblings of concern about certain aspects of the changes.

I have to wonder about the controversy surrounding the GIRM. It seems to me that Catholics would be stumbling over each other in their consideration for each other's scruples. The liberals would be going out of their way to ensure strict adherence to the GIRM so that their traditionalist brethren would not stumble. In a similar way the traditionalists would be zealously reaching out to their liberal brethren lest the new translations and the GIRM cause them to stumble. Apparently this is not happening. Instead we see the familiar polarization, people divided into opposing camps, accusations being hurled at one another. St. Paul saw this too in his ministry.

For you were called to freedom brethren, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word. "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another. Gal 5:13-15

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Real Catholic?

There is a good deal of polarization in the church these days. One only has to scan the various blogs and news sites to appreciate the depth and extent of it. All of this makes me wonder about myself and where I stand in all of this. I go to Mass on Sundays at my local parish which is a scant block away. I struggle with daily Mass though I usually manage to attend during Lent. I am what the Knights of Columbus would call a practical Catholic and am in fact a 3rd degree member. I will never ascend to the 4th degree because the next time I wear a suit and tie in church I will likely be lying down in a box. I can be stubborn that way.

I attend my local parish church because I believe in the virtues of a community of place rather than a community of preference. Rubbing shoulders with a variety of people who may not agree with me on all things seems to be helpful. Moreover I rather enjoy the sense of community I get when I run into a parishioner on the street and stop for a chat. The local thrift store is run by parishioners and I often drop in for a chat on my way home from a shopping incursion. The last time I was in there the ladies were complaining of the lack of heat. I suggested that there were one or two books there that might be consigned to the fire.

I do not attend celebrations of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form on any regular basis. The closest one is over an hour away with a transfer. As a matter of fact I don't find the old rite particularly edifying. Perhaps it is the memory of one too many priests rushing through the liturgy. I missed most of the furor, having left while the Mass was still in Latin and they were just beginning to experiment with the dialogue Mass. By the time I returned everything had changed. There are some liturgical practices that make me cringe and it would do my heart good to hear more Latin from the choir.

I believe what the Church teaches but I do not spend a great deal of time researching these things. I read the Catechism, the Bible and one or two volumes of documents but I am confident that if an illiterate can be saved then the amount of reading necessary can't be all that much.

The question at the head of this post... indeed the question at the heart of all this is "What is a real Catholic?" We are all required to accept the dictum "outside the Church there is no salvation" but is that enough? How are we to understand this statement? Must we also be a member of the right party or faction? Must we take the right things seriously? Must we be the right kind of Catholic?

Why do I believe at all? How do I even know Jesus is risen? Witnesses who have seen these things have testified to them and I believe them. They have staked their lives in witness to these things. Am I a real Catholic?