ECHNICAL. Certain people make themselves look foolish by trying to get “technical.” For example, I remember a conversation during which I patiently explained how the Kansas City Chiefs are our football team. (By “our” I mean people who grew up in Kansas.) The other person kept saying: “They belong to Missouri, because that’s where they play.” He was trying to be technical; but he was mistaken. Growing up in Kansas, we attended many Chiefs’ games—including the mandatory 3-hour tailgating before the kick off. I can assure you: the Chiefs were our team.1
Harrison Butker • For the record, here’s a photograph showing our contributor, Dr. Lucas Tappan, alongside Harrison Butker, famous place kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs. The photograph was taken during a conference in San Francisco. (Harrison attends the Traditional Latin Mass.)
“Technical” Foul • Just as the person I mentioned earlier will go to his grave believing the Chiefs were not our team, some people try to get technical when it comes to the sacred liturgy. For example, they oppose the use of ALTAR CANDLES, since they’re no longer “necessary” in light of—pardon the pun—the invention of the incandescent light bulb. They oppose the MANIPLE because it’s no longer used to wipe sweat from the celebrant’s face. You get the idea. Such people hate (and misunderstand) tradition. Therefore, they misunderstand the sacred liturgy. Curiously, the self-same people have no objection to men wearing neckties, even though they no longer serve their original purpose.
Saint Athanasius of Alexandria • I wish I could say that priests, bishops, cardinals, and popes have never been guilty of scandal or heresy. Unfortunately, that’s not true. Do you doubt what I say? If so, read about Saint Athanasius of Alexandria. Or read about how Saint Joan of Arc (d. 1431) was excommunicated. Or call to mind that our Redeemer appointed Judas Iscariot (!) as an Apostle.
Bishop Ambo • When Church leaders are guilty of scandal or heresy, they must be held accountable. This reality came to mind when a friend shared this disturbing 2022 presentation by Bishop Ambo, president of the CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE of the Philippines. Serious theologians should (perhaps) publish a “response” or “correction” or “refutation” to Bishop Ambo’s troubling statements. Since I’m not a theologian, I’ll go no further at this time. However, I will address a liturgical assertion made by Bishop Ambo. Having attacked the Church’s traditional terminology which says Catholic priests “celebrate” the Holy Mass, Bishop Ambo said this about the “Ite, Missa Est” at the end of Mass:
I think the confusion began when a “T” was added to the “ES” and became third person. It became a formula for dismissal: “Go, the Mass is ended.” Missa is the female past participle of mittere, the origin of the word missio, meaning sent. If you put it rather in the second person without the T, what it says is: “Go, you are being sent.”
Bishop Ambo’s statement is gibberish. “Ite, missa est” was never “Ite, missa es.” First of all, ite is plural—so nobody would say what he claims. More importantly, the construction created by Bishop Ambo (missa es) would only apply to a single female. Addressing one male, it would be missus es. Bishop Ambo may have been trying to say Ite, mittímini—but that’s not idiomatic. If one were speaking to a congregation (men & women, plural) the correct form would be: “Mitto vos.” I suspect Bishop Ambo was trying to be technical, which usually doesn’t end well. Those who study language recognize that “usage rules.” Language isn’t bound by logic. The ultimate law is how people actually speak. For example, in English—whether we like it or not—the same word can have two opposite (!) meanings; e.g. sanction. Because he lacked familiarity with Latin, Bishop Ambo fed his unsuspecting audience baloney. Those who desire to understand the correct translation of “Ite, missa est” should read the following excerpt by Father Adrian Fortescue (d. 1923), perhaps the world’s preëminent (anglophone) scholar before Knox:
“More Flies With Honey Than Vinegar”
FIRMLY BELIEVE every article of Faith. As Catholics, we believe THE SECOND PERSON OF THE BLESSED TRINITY becomes present on the altar when the priest says the words of Consecration. Certain things are inconsequential; e.g. the Roman Rite uses the form which says “Qui pridie quam pateretur,” whereas most Eastern liturgies have the form: “In the night in which he was betrayed.” If you’ll pardon the double negative, I’m inclined to believe other things are not inconsequential. Consider a declaration by the man appointed by Pope Saint Paul VI to be in charge of all the liturgical reforms: viz. CARDINAL LERCARO. On 2 March 1965, Lercaro published an article in l’Avennire d’Italia in which he strongly condemned liturgical abuses, giving concrete examples of practices he considered “fanciful” and “deplorable.” Just what were these “deplorable” abuses? (a) Communion in the hand; (b) a celebrant reciting the Canon in an audible voice. Furthermore, in a letter (25 January 1966) to the bishops’ conferences, Cardinal Lercaro called female altar servers “a grave infraction.” But those items are now mandated (!) by post-conciliar legislation. How should Catholics process this?
Miracle Of Miracles • I often wonder how any of us dares to step into the presence of the SANCTISSIMUM. Just because somebody is properly dressed and genuflects doesn’t mean that person is worthy to be in the presence of the SECOND PERSON OF THE BLESSED TRINITY. Do we actually realize what a miracle this is? It’s far beyond our comprehension. I’m frequently astounded I’m not struck dead the moment I step into the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Who can grasp this miracle?
Fulton J. Sheen • The time may come when our leaders reassess the wisdom of decisions they have made. For example, I believe it’s wrong for anyone who’s not a priest or deacon to touch the SANCTISSIMUM. But many churches allow “extraordinary ministers”—that is to say, lay people who walk into the sanctuary and touch the SANCTISSIMUM. I personally feel this practice should be stopped, even though it’s currently allowed in many localities. (I’d be curious to hear how readers view this practice.) At the same time, it’s not easy to know when we should “confront” or “criticize” or “attack” our leaders. Consider the following statement, from the autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen:
“I can remember as a small boy, about the time when Pius X allowed children to make First Communion, there was a discussion at our family table about its wisdom. A relative who was visiting took a position opposed to that of the Holy Father. How deeply shocked I was at him who, with so little wisdom, opposed the saintly and wise Pontiff! All during my life, attacks against the Church have hurt me as much as attacks against my own mother. The knowledge of a consecrated man of God or a consecrated woman abandoning her vows always caused a heartbreak in my soul.”
But when Fulton J. Sheen was young, there weren’t many attacks from inside the Church—whereas in the year 2024, we see many such attacks. Therefore, that quotation might not apply to our current situation. I don’t pretend to have any answers.
Connected How? • You might be wondering where I’m going with all this. Well, on one hand we have a duty to serve JESUS CHRIST, and all worship must be directed to glorifying God—in particular when He is present on our altars: Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. On the other hand, I believe it was Saint Augustine who reminded us that “one catches more flies with honey than vinegar.” Traditionally, sacred music was something that gives DELIGHT. Listening to the music during Mass should not be drudgery. That’s never been the tradition of the Church. Some have argued that sacred music is “completely for God” and therefore its effect on the faithful “should never enter the discussion”—but this is false. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice the fallacies in such an argument; e.g. the Missa Privata has never had music. If sacred music were “only for God” there would be nothing preventing priests from singing the PREFACE during a Missa Privata or Low Mass.
“Keys To Success”
OW CAN WE MAKE SURE music we choose from the THESAURUS MUSICAE SACRAE is a delight to listen to? How can we make sure it’s not burdensome to the congregation? One “approach” or “strategy” worthy of consideration by the competent choirmaster is that of musical diversity. I will now present a few audio examples from our Mass last Sunday to illustrate what I mean. The first is rather interesting, because it’s a hymn tune (“WAREHAM”) which has just one (!) skip; the rest is 100% stepwise motion. Technically, that goes against the rules of how to compose a nice melody. On the other hand, rules are made to be broken! Indeed, Johann Sebastian Bach once wrote a gorgeous and captivating fugue subject with only one skip:
Wareham Hymn • Here’s my volunteer choir—females only—singing the WAREHAM HYMN I’ve been talking about:
Plainsong With Polyphony • Last Sunday we sang an interesting mixture of solo singing, accompanied plainsong, and Renaissance polyphony:
Carmen Gregorianum • We always make sure to sing CARMEN GREGORIANUM (Gregorian Chant), which—according to the Second Vatican Council—should have “first place” under ordinary circumstances:
Abbat Pothier in the 19th century proved that Gregorian Chant goes back 1,200 years. Specifically—by creating magnificent comparative charts—he demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt the one-to-one comparison amongst both “diastematic” and “adiastematic” manuscripts. Notice that the following ancient manuscript is virtually identical to what we sang last Sunday:
Stepwise Bass Motion • You can download the organ accompaniment I played, created by the LEMMENSINSTITUUT. Notice the stepwise motion in the bass, which I talk about constantly in my nine-hour seminar (which I hope you’ll consider purchasing):
Men Singing Plainsong • We always do a bit of unaccompanied plainsong; e.g. here’s an excerpt from CREDO I, sometimes called the “authentic” version:
If It Ain’t Baroque… • Still seeking musical diversity, we included some music from the Baroque:
Modern Music • We sang a breathtaking contemporary piece my choir can’t get enough of. It comes from a collection for Soprano, Alto, and Bass called “Matri Divinae Gratiae” by the legendary Kevin Allen:
Conclusions • I began this article by speaking of people who attempt to correct others by “getting technical.” I pointed out that anyone with such a mentality will never understand the sacred liturgy. I suggested that it’s praiseworthy to do everything we can to remind our fellow human beings that JESUS CHRIST is the AUTHOR of everything good, true and beautiful. The music mandated by the Second Vatican Council—viz. the THESAURUS MUSICAE SACRAE—should be delightful. Hearing it should not be drudgery. A useful strategy for the competent choirmaster, highlighted in today’s article, is that of musical diversity. This approach is based upon the reality that homo modernus possesses a shorter attention span than previous generations (perhaps on account of computers, microwaves, Instagram, and TIKTOK).
1 Just as the DENVER BRONCOS were our sworn enemy.