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Archive of November 23, 2008

Dominican rite aims to shine from the ‘dark ages’

Anchorage, Alaska, Nov 23, 2008 (CNA) - Beginning December 6, ethereal chant, incense and perhaps even an ostrich-feathered liturgical fan will waft through Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage, Alaska as the archdiocese prepares for the ancient Dominican rite Mass that will be celebrated in Latin every first Saturday of the month at noon.

 

The Catholic Anchor reports that the successful emergence of the Dominican rite locally is keeping the tradition alive, and perhaps fueling organic development of the liturgy into the future.

 

By early 2009, the Anchorage Archdiocese is also hoping to provide regular celebrations of the Tridentine Latin Mass, which was the standard Roman Catholic liturgy before the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

 

A question of rites

 

Within the universal Catholic Church, there are 22 different rites, such as the Roman, Byzantine and Coptic, that incorporate different traditions into the Mass.

 

When it comes to forms of the Mass, “often we think of the Masses as ‘pre-Vatican II’ and ‘post-Vatican II,’ and it was more complicated than that,” said Father Vincent Kelber — a Dominican priest at Holy Family Cathedral, where he is preparing to celebrate the Dominican rite.

 

In 1570, the Council of Trent codified the Tridentine Mass as “the Mass for all time,” he explained. It then served as the main form of the Mass for the Latin Church until the Second Vatican Council.

 

The Council of Trent, however, allowed for the celebration of those rites which, at the time, had been in existence for at least 200 years, Father Kelber said.

 

That meant the Dominican order and others like the Carthusians, Cistercians and Carmelites could continue celebrating their own rites, alongside the principal Tridentine Mass.

 

Father Kelber explained that by the 1200s, it was clear that the Dominicans needed a common liturgical expression for the order’s many priests who preached and celebrated Mass in varied communities across Europe. Thus, the Dominican rite was established.

 

While the Tridentine Mass is sometimes criticized for being antiquated, it is actually pretty new compared to the medieval Dominican rite, noted Father Kelber. The Tridentine is really “the beginning of the modern era,” he said.

 

At Vatican II, the Tridentine Mass was replaced by the “Novus Ordo” or “new Ordinary of the Mass” as the principal form of the Mass. In that form, which most Catholics are accustomed to today, prayers are said in the local language.

 

Ancient is new again

 

Those familiar with the Tridentine Mass will find similarities in the Dominican rite. Both are celebrated in Latin, which for centuries was the sacred liturgical language of the Catholic Church, Father Kelber said.

 

Additionally, in both the Tridentine and Dominican rites, priests face the same direction as the congregation — toward the altar.

 

The point is to be “oriented towards the one God,” said Father Kelber. The Eucharist is always central, he added.

 

Priests also wear special vestments in the Dominican rite, but since the Dominicans “pre-date lace,” explained Father Kelber, they are not as ornate as those in the Tridentine rite.

 

Catholics may also notice that the Dominican rite contains many signs of reverence, such as bowing, Father Kelber explained.

 

A penitential prayer, which the priest leads at the start of the Mass, is said before he enters into the sanctuary, “the holy of holies,” Father Kelber said. Also, communicants receive Communion kneeling.

 

“Every movement in the Mass is purposeful and prayerful; it is embodied worship,” he said.

 

‘Rite’ for the times

 

While Vatican II ushered in many needed changes, the continued use of the Dominican rite helped provide stability amid the flux.

 

“We realize now and Pope Benedict realizes that some of the changes of the Second Vatican Council were good, but some of them were too fast, some weren’t explained, some were poorly implemented and some weren’t according to the documents,” Father Kelber said.

 

The ancient Masses “helped people to cope,” he added.

 

As part of the patrimony of the church, the ancient Mass is worth preserving, Father Kelber continued.

 

“It’s okay to have this kind of diversity,” he said.

 

Father Kelber said it is especially important to appreciate the “ethos” of a pre-reformation tradition, such as that of the Dominicans.

 

“There is a lot that the medieval times can offer,” he said. “They weren’t in the dark ages at all. They lived a life that we can see today is something worth emulating in many ways, because it was before the busy-ness of the modern world. They knew what contemplation was, they knew what silence was, and we don’t.”

 

An ancient rite blooms

 

In the 1980s interest in the Dominican rite grew among the young friars of the Dominicans’ Western Province, said Father Kelber. Interest “bloomed again in a new way” with friars, such as Father Kelber, who were ordained in the late 1990s and early 21-century.

 

With no formal training on how to celebrate the ancient Mass, Father Kelber said he read about the Mass and worked with other priests familiar with it.

 

“Preservation work is personal,” he said. “It has to be handed-down. It can’t be just gotten out of a book.”

 

Now, given the growing interest in the Dominican rite, the Western and Eastern Provinces of the Dominican order are planning instructive conferences for its friars. The first takes place August 2009 at St. Albert’s priory in Oakland.

 

Here in Anchorage, with permission from his provincial director and Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz, Father Kelber has been perfecting his practice of the Dominican rite on his days off.

 

“There are people all over the United States and the world excited about the old rite — excited about Gregorian chant,” he said. “It’s not just one person here saying ‘Well, I miss the old days.’ It’s not just something looking back, but something looking forward and a gift for these crazy times.”

 

Printed with permission from the Catholic Anchor, newspaper from the Archdiocese of Anchorage, Alaska.

 

 

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Placido Domingo records musical album based on poetry of John Paul II

Rome, Italy, Nov 23, 2008 (CNA) - The Spanish tenor Placido Domingo has made an album of songs based on poems written by Pope John Paul II. Titled “Infinite Love,” the album will be presented in the Vatican next Friday.

The album, published by the German record label Deutsche Grammophon, features 12 songs, including Domingo’s duets with U.S. gospel singer Vanessa Williams and his son Placido Domingo Jr. It is expected to go on sale in Italy next Friday, ANSA reports.

Domingo, 67, has said the Pope’s poems were of “great literary value,” and after reading them he asked his son to write a musical score for lyrics based on them.

The tenor has sung before both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

The late pontiff’s poems have been published by the Vatican Press under the titles “Meditations” and “The Poetry of Pope John Paul II.” A 1994 work published by Random House also collected the Pontiff’s poetry under the title “The Place Within: The Poetry of Pope John Paul II.”

According to ANSA, one of John Paul II’s best-received poems imagined the scene in the Sistine Chapel when his successor would be elected.

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Obama administration reveals plans to advance gay agenda

Washington D.C., Nov 23, 2008 (CNA) - Citing what they call America’s “promise of equality,” the Obama administration plans to push for homosexual rights by including protections of sexual orientation, “gender identity” and “gender expression” as civil rights. His office proposes expanding hate crimes statues and the adoption rights of homosexuals while supporting full civil unions for “LGBT couples” to give them “legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples.”

The proposals are announced under the Civil Rights section of their agenda presented at Change.gov, the web site of the Obama campaign’s self-described “Office of the President-elect.”

A section titled “Support for the LGBT Community” outlines the agenda for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered activists and quotes remarks Obama made on June 1, 2007.

“While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do,” Obama said, referring to riots which followed a police raid on a New York City gay bar.

“Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect."

According to the web site, President-elect Obama and vice-president-elect Joe Biden will support expand crimes legislation such as the Matthew Shepard Act. They also back the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which they claim will “prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.”

“While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees' domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy,” the web site states, referring to similar legislation sponsored by Obama in the Illinois state legislature.

Regarding civil unions and same-sex marriage, the site says “Barack Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples.”

Advocating the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, the agenda plans to “enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions.”

The site also references Obama’s Senate vote against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which, in the site’s words, “would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.”

On the subject of adoption rights, the Change.gov web site states: “Barack Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not.”

The Obama agenda further advocates the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell” policy barring open homosexuals from serving in the military.

Its AIDS prevention policies also pledge to enact a “comprehensive” national strategy including contraceptive sex education and “combating infection within our prison population through education and contraception.”

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Christ’s Kingdom requires us to love our neighbor, Pope teaches

Vatican City, Nov 23, 2008 (CNA) - Meditating on today's Solemnity of Christ the King, the Holy Father spoke with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square about how God's eternal kingdom is realized by those who live the Gospel and strive day after day to put his word into practice.

Pope Benedict began reflecting of the kingship of Jesus by looking at his encounter with Pontius Pilate. "During his Passion, Jesus claimed a singular royalty before Pilate, who explicitly questioned him: 'Are you a king?'” Benedict recalled. “Jesus responded: 'You say it, I am a king;' a little before, however, he had declared: 'My kingdom is not of this world.'

The question of what kind of kingship Jesus claims is, in fact, a “revelation and actualization of that of God the Father, who governs all things with love and justice,” the Pope said. The Father, Benedict explained, “entrusted to the Son the mission of giving to men eternal life, loving them until the supreme sacrifice. At the same time, the Father conferred on the Son the power to judge men…"

Referring to today's Gospel on the universal royalty of Christ the King, the Pope noted its simple imagery and popular language, but also stressed the Gospel reading’s extremely important message: "the truth is our ultimate destination, by which we will be judged."

Benedict XVI recalled Jesus' quote: "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me." This, the Holy Father taught, "is part of our civilization. It underscores the history of peoples of Christian culture: the hierarchy of values, the institutions, and the multiple charitable and social works.

“In effect, the kingdom of Christ is not of this world, but brings to fruition all good that, thanks be to God, exists in man and in history. If we put love of neighbor into practice, according to the Gospel message, then we make space for the rule of God, and his kingdom comes true among us. If, on the other hand, each person thinks only of his own interests, the world cannot help but go to ruin."

Turning to Saint Paul, Pope Benedict pointed out that he describes the kingdom of God as "justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."

"It is important to the Lord that every man have life," the Pope stressed. "In God's eternal kingdom, the Lord gathers those who strive day after day to put his word into practice. For this reason, the Virgin Mary, most humble of all creatures, is the greatest in his eyes and is Queen at the right hand of Christ the King. To her heavenly intercession we wish to entrust ourselves, yet again, with filial confidence to be able to realize our Christian mission in the world."

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Pope cites modern ways that Christ’s kingship is either obeyed or ignored

Vatican City, Nov 23, 2008 (CNA) - Having prayed the Angelus from the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict XVI reflected some current ways that the Kingdom of God is realized or frustrated.

Despite the persecution of the Japanese shoguns, 188 Japanese Christians stood firm against the insistence that they renounce their faith. Pope Benedict noted that these martyrs from the 17th century will be beatified in Nagasaki tomorrow and said, "In this circumstance, so significant for the Catholic community and for the Land of the Rising Sun, I assure my spiritual closeness."

The Holy Father also mentioned that next Saturday, “Brother José Olallo Valdés, of the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God, will be proclaimed blessed in Cuba. To his heavenly protection I entrust the Cuban people, especially the sick and health care personnel."

When the Word of God is ignored, the world goes to ruin the Pope said minutes before in his reflections on the coming of Kingdom of God.

In this vein, the Pope recalled the 75th anniversary of Holodomor -the "great famine"- which caused millions of deaths in the Ukraine and other regions of the Soviet Union, from 1932 to1933.

The Holy Father lamented the tragedy that took place at the hands of the Communist government, saying, "May no political regulation, in the name of ideology, ever deny the human person his rights, liberty and dignity.”

He also prayed: “for all the innocent victims of that inhuman tragedy and invoke the Holy Mother of God so that she might help the Nations proceed along the way of reconciliation and build the present and the future out of mutual respect and on a genuine search for peace. Praised be Jesus Christ!"

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Obama selects vocal pro-abortion leader as Communications Director

Washington D.C., Nov 23, 2008 (CNA) - As President-elect Obama builds his new administration, his list of new appointees makes it even more apparent that he is comfortable with the pro-abortion lobby. This became even more clear on Saturday when Ellen Moran, executive director of EMILY’s List, was named White House   communications director.

Moran currently serves as executive director of EMILY’s List, where she oversees the national   staff and charts the overall strategic direction of the organization. 

EMILY's List, one of the most important Democratic constituency groups, says it is "dedicated to building a progressive America by electing Democratic pro-choice women to office."

Moran is being tapped during her second stint at EMILY’s List, rejoining the organization from the AFL-CIO, where she coordinated Wal-Mart corporate accountability activities and served in the Political Department. In 2004, she took a leave of absence from the AFL-CIO to direct independent expenditures for the Democratic National Committee, overseeing the allocation of $100 million in presidential advertising and direct mail and phone efforts.

Moran's political experience includes managing campaigns for governor, U.S. Senate, and U.S. House; working  on the national campaign staff of Tom Harkin’s 1992 presidential  campaign; helping plan both Clinton inaugurals.

Moran also oversaw EMILY’s List’s first attempts at increasing voter turnout in 1994.  Hailing from Amherst, Massachusetts, Moran received her education in political science and English literature from Wheaton College.

EMILY's List - which stands for "Early Money Is Like Yeast" (It makes the dough rise) -was formed more than two decades ago to support pro-choice women candidates. Over the years they'd raised millions for them. They helped, among others, political soldiers like Diane Feinstein, Jennifer Granholm and Clinton (during her Senate run) reach their desired end.

EMILY's List also states being "committed to a three-pronged strategy to elect pro-choice Democratic women: recruiting and funding viable women candidates; helping them build and run effective campaign organizations; and mobilizing women voters to help elect progressive candidates across the nation."

For a candidate to be considered for funding from EMILY’s List there are three requirements: The candidate must be a woman; she must be a Democrat; and she must support unrestricted access to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand.

The List’s support for abortion-on-demand is so strong that it has cut funding from politicians who voted against extreme pro-abortion positions. Two examples of this are Senators Mary Landrieu from Louisiana and Blanche Lincoln from Arkansas who lost funding from EMILY’s List when they voted to ban the gruesome practice of partial-birth abortion.

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