Bulletin Letter – 8/4/19

Dear Parishioners,                                                                                                                                  +JMJ

On July 24th, I participated as a panelist in a sacred music workshop for pastors and directors of music at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary – The Athenaeum Of Ohio, in Cincinnati. The seminar was entitled “Singing the Mass”. This all came about as a consequence of my having invited Dr. Mary Catherine Levri, Director of Music at the Athenaeum, several months ago to give a seminar to our parish accompanists. I knew Dr. Levri would be a great resource to give insights to our accompanists, because the Athenaeum implemented before we did the Lumen Christi Missal. Dr. Levri’s seminar at Divine Mercy was very insightful. But, it was also helpful for her to see a parish that had implemented the Lumen Christi Missal. Imagine teaching seminarians about liturgical music, and then actually experiencing concretely a parish where what you are teaching has been implemented. Before returning to Cincinnati, Dr. Levri attended our 4 PM Mass at Payne; and she was very happy with what she experienced. That led her to reach out to me and ask if I would be willing to be a panelist for the Athaneum seminar. That’s how I ended up at the sacred music workshop. What a grace that what all of us at our parish have accomplished for the sung Mass, with antiphons and chanted prayers, could be a resource in some small way for those at the seminar! Of course, I write this realizing that we have been singing at all of our campuses for decades. This was just the right next-step, adding Gregorian chant antiphons and some other chanted parts.

So, I was on a panel of three, who each took 20 minutes to describe how we implemented antiphons and the singing of the of the propers of the Mass at our parish. I first spoke about my pastoral reasons for wanting to introduce the antiphons, with their Gregorian chant melodies.  (Why is Gregorian chant so fitting? Why should the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass have a genre of music that is entirely its own?) Then I described as best I could, given the very limited amount of time allotted, the process we experienced. I was actually quite proud to be able to speak about how all of our music leaders, musicians and cantors were a real part of the process, giving me input all along, and put in the hard work to implement the antiphons. I know it has not always been an easy transition to make, but what has been accomplished in these last few years is very impressive, especially given the fact that it happened in a parish with three campus, and all (very generous) volunteers! The Mass is meant to be sung, and we are accomplishing it! And, the antiphons are to be given priority, and that is happening! We are not perfect at it, but my opinion is that we are sounding pretty good! At the end of our panel presentations, the attendees – about 75 priests, music directors (and a few seminarians) from the Cincinnati and Dayton area – asked us questions. That lasted about an hour. It was a lively discussion!

Our panel discussion was last on the agenda in the afternoon. The seminar opened in the morning with a beautiful talk by the Athenaeum’s Director of Liturgy, entitled “’Only the Lover Sings’: The Theology and Spirituality of the Mass in Song”. (I will give you a summary of that talk in a future bulletin letter.) Then we celebrated Mass together in the beautiful seminary chapel. The Rector, Father Anthony Brausch – a colleague of mine from seminary days and from Rome – chanted the entire Mass, even the Eucharistic prayer! And the congregation chanted all of their parts. With the exception of the chanted Eucharistic prayer, the Mass sounded just like our Masses. The chanted antiphons from the day were straight from the Lumen Christi Missal. After lunch, Dr. Levri gave a lecture entitled “Implementing the Sung Mass in Your Parish: Three Ways Forward”. She showed participants three different sets of materials to implement the antiphons and chanted Mass. Of course, this included the Lumen Christi Missal option. That is the option I represented as a panelist.

So, here’s another opportunity for me to say, “Thank you!” to everybody – parishioners in the pews included – who helped in the Lumen Christi transition. I really believe that the spiritual nourishment provided by singing the antiphons (Scripture!) is significant. And I believe the Lord is glorified by our efforts!

Have a blessed week!

In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,

Father Poggemeyer