Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A broken keyboard

Posted: July 7, 2013 by piusranson in Uncategorized

Yours is an unbalanced character. You are a broken keyboard. You play very well on the high notes and on the low notes, but no sound comes from the ones in the middle, the ones used in ordinary life, the ones people normally hear.

Serving Him in the Ordinary

Posted: June 26, 2013 by piusranson in Uncategorized

You must understand now, more clearly, that God is calling you to serve Him in and from the ordinary, material and secular activities of human life. He waits for us every day, in the laboratory, in the operating theatre, in the army barracks, in the university chair, in the factory, in the workshop, in the fields, in the home and in all the immense panorama of work. Understand this well: there is something holy, something divine, hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it.” – St. Josemaria Escriva

Protected: The Introspective

Posted: June 23, 2013 by piusranson in Uncategorized

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First time to a TLM?

Posted: June 23, 2011 by piusranson in Uncategorized

The Traditional Latin Mass (Other names: Mass of Pope St. Pius V, Tridentine Mass, Tridentine Rite, Usus Antiquior), now has a proper name in this time of the Church and i.e. the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (EFRR). This is the Mass that, has produced the countless saints of the Church over the centuries for more than a thousand years.

The Latin Mass dates back to the time of Pope Saint Gregory the Great in the 6th century. Even before that, the Canon of the Mass dates to the 4th century, and the Latin Mass itself was in its infancy in the 1st century. The Consecration has remained unchanged since Saints Peter and Paul first preached in Rome.

After the Second Vatican Council, there is the Mass of Pope Paul VI, commonly known as the Novus Ordo (Latin for New Order) Mass.  By then, the Novus Ordo had already become the Normal Mass and the TLM is discouraged. And contrary to popular belief, the Traditional Latin Mass has never been abrogated (forbidden), it was just suppressed.

Two very famous saints were known to have requested permission from Rome, to allow them to continue celebrating the Tridentine Mass. They are our dear Padre Pio and St. Josemaria Escriva. Pope John Paul II in 1984, granted a universal indult (permission), for any priest to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass, but with approval / acknowledgement from the Local Bishop. Then in 1988, PJPII encouraged a “wide and generous application of the directives of the 1984 indult”

During Pope Benedict XVI’s Pontificate, he issued a motu proprio titled, “Summorum Pontificum” on the 7th of July, 2007, which allowed any Catholic Priest to celebrate it freely, without informing the Local Bishop. This is to encourage the wider use of the Traditional Latin Mass. I think this was the point of time where it is formally called the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Just recently, another document, the Universae Ecclesiae, was issued to clarify the Summorum Pontificum, regarding certain issues like the definition of a “stable group”.
Okay! Enough of the extremely brief history of the EFRR! Let’s try this in an FAQ format.

Question 1: What should I wear to a TLM?

Wear your Sunday’s best! For Males, a Shirt and Trousers (Smart attire) is encouraged, otherwise at least Jeans and a Polo Tee. For females, wear decent, like you would wear to a Mass every sunday. Dress like Mary, and you won’t go wrong! =p If you’ve a Veil at home, or a shawl/scarf, bring it along! Otherwise, it’s perfectly fine! It’s not a canonical requirement to veil in Church anymore though I would highly encourage it!

Question 2: It’s all in Latin! How would I be able to understand?

Fear not! For there will be a Latin-English Missalette provided for, often at the back of the church/chapel. However, the TLM can be pretty confusing for people attending it for the first time. If you’re unable to follow the Missalette, it’s okay, because what’s most important, is that you actively participated in the mass, i.e. the internal disposition like Mary, not Martha. Actively participated in the sense that you are one with the priest, when he offers up the most august Sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ.

Tip #1: Read through the Propers and Readings of the Day before Mass begins. 

Tip #2: When you’re lost regarding when to stand, sit, kneel, do the sign of the cross, just follow the congregation! 

Question 3: It’s going to be boring since I don’t know how to
sing the chants! How?

Always remember that we are there to worship God, and not to be entertained. Don’t be surprised if you dont hear any clappings or active hugging at the Sign of Peace or Priests walking around holding cordless microphones! Chant along if you can but if not, dwell in the sense of mystery of the Sacred Music of the Church. Focus on the Altar, Focus on the Passion of Jesus, Focus!

Question 4: I heard that the Priest will have his back on us and I think that’s rude. Is that true?

That’s not true! The Priest is one with the Congregation, facing the tabernacle and worshipping God in the same direction! Because it’s really just about God. Not us. Don’t you think it’s more rude for a Priest to have his back to God? Think about it! 😉

FINAL THING TO NOTE:

When you receive the body of Christ, here’s what’s going to happen:

Priest: Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen. (May the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ bring your soul unto life everlasting. Amen.)

You do not have to say Amen. The Priest has already Amen-ed it for you. =)

Why do I do what I do

Posted: May 31, 2011 by piusranson in Uncategorized

Many have questioned me, or doubted by intentions on my decision to receive communion kneeling, on the tongue at every mass. or warned me against my interest (not really a big interest) in the traditional liturgy, which many seminarians have thought that many youths’ interest in this, is just a distorted spirituality and it’s all in the name of fun, and is an issue which many priests have gone political over.

A seminarian asked me once on why the “hoo-ha” over Liturgy, over rubrics, over liturgical abuses, over the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. And I think I responded telling him, that, all we want, is to praise God, to worship God in the best possible manner we can give to him. I believe that if Holy Masses if celebrated in dignity, in a praiseworthy form, no one would be asking for the traditional mass. He went on to tell me how our every focus should be on Jesus and everything else comes after. I don’t disagree with him and I do acknowledge that many people enforcing the traditional liturgy, don’t handle situations well, and often, not in charity. However, i must say that it’s precisely that our focus is on Jesus, that we want to do everything in the perfect manner for the glory of God.

Also, sometimes, we can so focused on just the Jesus factor that we forget we have to take concrete steps, concrete avenues to help us to be closer to Jesus, closer to God, and this is where i feel liturgy has its importance. This is also one of the reasons why i will always think twice before going back to the seminary for a vocation retreat or recollection. Because the brothers there just see us in a different light as though we have done something really wrong when all we are doing is just being faithful to the Church or even to the Pope’s 7/7/2007 motu proprio.

Regarding communion kneeling and on the tongue, I admit that in the beginning, it’s more on “I want to stand out” and alot of pride is in it. Then I prayed about it, or in a way, meditated about it. and contemplated that since it’s going to be attracting bad light, i probably should just stand for communion like the others. But i found myself with a completely different mentality now. I want to return to standing for communion and to be honest, i find myself not being able to do it and it’s of this mentality that, hey, this is God. God is in front of me when the minister says “the Body of Christ”, it is my God, it is the all-mighty God in front of me, who humbled himself into this tiny piece of host and all im doing is kneeling in adoration towards my God. And everytime I kneel, i will pray that i dont get attention and that it’s all done for the glory of God.

Stations of the Cross

Posted: March 14, 2011 by piusranson in Uncategorized

Lent is here! and during this Lent especially, let us contemplate on the Way of the Cross, the passion that Christ undertook, bearing our sins. God suffered for mankind. Whose God does that but our God.

Stations of the Cross

Download the Stations of the Cross which I’ve compiled. I remembered about this file and thought what a waste if it’s only used once for a retreat.

Even though the Stations of the Cross is a Catholic practice, if you’re Protestant, consider going through the Way of the Cross. Jesus did not just preach the Gospel of Prosperity but the Gospel of suffering, of repentance.

I was reading this post quite some time ago from the Chant Cafe by Reverend Father Christopher Smith and I enjoyed it!

I was having a delightful meal recently with a bishop whom I love and respect as a father, and who has been extraordinarily kind to me. My personal policy never to even mention the extraordinary form of the Mass at the dinner table was circumvented by one of my brother priests whom I also esteem as a friend and colleague. “So what do you think of the Tridentine Mass, Bishop?” Sweat began to form on my brow as my stomach churned and the previously delectable filet mignon on my plate suddenly revolted me. “Not again,” I said to myself as I began to drown out what I knew would be an deluge of verbiage against the Missal of Pius V/John XXIII by reciting the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar from memory.

It is a scene which has happened to me many a time, and which is very familiar to young priests all over the world. All of a sudden, I was no longer just one priest among others. I was a marked man. I had committed the not very original sin of being one of “those priests,” the kind who celebrated the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. I was an enigma to the many friends I had made in the communities who enjoy exclusive use of the pre-conciliar liturgical books, who could not fathom how I could wake up every morning and say the detestable Novus Ordo, aka Nervous Disorder. And I was a mystery to my brother priests and even some of my parishioners who couldn’t square the man they knew as their friend, who seemed so jovial, fun-loving and open-minded, with a liturgy which was caricatured by many as the hobbyhorse of the Chosen Frozen, the Walking Wounded, the Integristes, and the Rigid Frigid.

Why? is the question that so many Catholics in pews and rectories all over the world have on their lips after Summorum pontificum unshackled a particular historical form of the Roman rite to work its magic (or wreak havoc, depending on your point of view) on the Church. And it is not an unimportant question.

The fact that Benedict XVI has given me the freedom to celebrate this form of the Mass caused me to sing a quiet private Te Deum in my room, but it does not provide me with answers to that question.

A cogent answer to that question can be given. Priests and laity all over the world are capable of drafting an apologia of historical, theological, and spiritual reasons for why the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite is a good thing, why its continued celebration is a good thing, and why it has a place in the Church of today and tomorrow. Maybe one day the Magisterium of the Church will propose such an apologia so that those of us who enjoy the privilege of Summorum pontificum can point to all of those reasons.

But the reasons why people are still scratching their heads about why Pope Benedict XVI would “resurrect” a supposedly dead liturgy in a supposedly dead language for what is supposedly a miniscule minority of devotees have little to do with history, theology, and spirituality. They have to do with people’s experience of the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite and those who are attached to it. At dinner, my dear father in God, the successor to the apostles, shared with us, “I remember the Tridentine Mass when I was a boy. I served that Mass. I still remember the responses: Introibo ad altare Dei; ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam. But it was not beautiful. We had priests who said Low Mass in fifteen minutes and had no idea what they were saying. I lived through all of that. I am done with that. I like the English Mass, and I don’t want to go back.” One can hardly argue with another man’s experience: it is what it is, it is his experience, and you can’t discount that.

Then the priest who launched the cannonball turned the discussion to the contemporary adherents of the extraordinary Mass, “They’re all crazy. They’re just nostalgic for a past they have never known. And most of them are just the walking wounded. The Pope celebrates the current form of the Mass, so that’s good enough for me.”

My dinner companions’ opinions had been formed by their experience, and that experience had left a bad taste in their mouths. No matter what papal legislation, theological study or heartfelt testimonial would be put before them, it was unlikely that their minds would ever be changed. None of that would change the fact that they would always be my friends and mentors, and the fact that they would always see my penchant for the “Trad” thing as a character flaw, a foible, an inexplicable eccentricity. They would love the sinner even if they hated the sin!

I am a simple parish priest. I cannot provide the air-tight argumentation for the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite which would bedazzle the world into whipping out their dusty hand missals and singing the Graduale Romanum. I celebrate the “Trad” Mass because I have parishioners who want it, and because I want to celebrate it. All I can do is share why my experiences of life have given me this love for something that so many of my fellow Catholics do not love. I am sure that there are many others who will find echoes of their own faith journey towards Trent!

As a child, I was raised as a Baptist. About as non-liturgical as you can get. One day I came across a copy of the Book of Common Prayer in a bookstore. I was hooked. All of these prayers and ceremonies, what were they? I saved my allowance and bought a copy. There are boys who drool over complicated football plays, who imagine themselves in military parades with a snazzy uniform and polished rifle, who rattle off baseball stats and have an encyclopedic knowledge of Beckett’s. And then there are boys who come across Adrian Fortescue’s Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described and fall in love.

At first glance, boy rubrical wizards may seem to have nothing to do with sports and army buffs. But many boys want to be in a place where they can be men with other men, where they can master something which others do not know so they compete with those who know some, where they can be on a team. Catholic liturgy traditionally has been a place where that boyhood dream can be fulfilled; the sanctuary, the sports field, the military academy all have provided that. I was introduced to the world of liturgy with its playbook, its rules, its teams, and its camaraderie. I was hooked.

Soon enough I read my way into the Catholic Church, and went dutifully to the ordinary form of the Mass in English. I became an altar server, a cantor and a lector. I sang in the choir. I had seen a Liber usualis in the choir loft, but didn’t know what the squiggles and the Latin words meant. I stole a little red book with parallel columns of Latin and Englishfrom something called the Commission in Support of Ecclesia Dei that someone had left in the church.

I came across Latin Mass Magazine in a bookstore which had articles about courageous priests and laity throughout history and today who performed heroic acts of sacrifice for what some priest called Fr Faber called “the most beautiful thing this side of heaven.”

All of a sudden my world opened up. There was more to my faith and the Mass than just what I had come to know as the Catholic Mass, which was what was celebrated in my parish every Sunday. I learned about young people from all over the world who walked from Paris to Chartres every Pentecost to pray for a return to the sacred. I was not sure what that meant, but I saw these pictures of thousands of young people like me who loved Jesus, the Catholic Church, and the Mass. There was something different about this Mass, this movement.

With the all-critical, all-knowing and all-judging eye of a sixteen year old, I began to see everything else around me in Holden Caufield terms, as “phony.” I never felt quite right about the Life Teen Mass. It just seemed like a bunch of old people desperately trying to relate to me, and we all know that old people, like 33 or so (like I am now!) just can’t understand the young. I had friends who went to Life Teen, and then just stopped going to Mass entirely. I was bored with Mass. It seemed all about the priest’s personality. It was all about jokes, felt banners, and bad music.

I stayed in the choir, and I was never happier than we sang Mozart, Gounod, and Bach. And then came the Glory and Praise and I was just, underwhelmed. And then my priest was exiled for an accusation of child molestation.

For a sixteen year old, this was a lot to take in. I felt betrayed, confused, and most of all, bored. Where was this other enchanted world of High Masses, processions and Holy Hours? Luckily, my senior year, I came across two things which changed my life. I started going to the Orthodox Churches, one Greek and one Russian, in the area, out of curiosity, which instilled in me a sense of the sacred and of liturgical worship. And I went to a conference on Gregorian chant at a Trappist abbey.

During the conference, where I came to actually understand what those squiggles and Latin words in the book I had seen years before in the choir loft were all about, I sneaked into the crypt in the middle of the night to explore and pray. In the dimly lit corridor, I heard the words, Dominus vobiscum. I turned the corner to see an ancient monk face an altar set into the wall, with a couple of people kneeling behind him. “What are they doing at four o’clock in the morning?”

I stayed for the rest of whatever it was that I was seeing, enraptured. Afterwards, I bounced up to the monk and said, “Was that the Tridentine Mass?” And he said, matter of factly, “Yes.” I asked him, “Are you going to do it again?” “Every morning, same time, same place. Can you come tomorrow and serve the Mass for me?” “But, I don’t know how.” “Here’s a little red book you can study for tomorrow. You have to start somewhere.” “Cool!” I said. All of a sudden, that little red book and a ninety-year old monk became my link to a wider world of the faith, and I was included. I was part of something new and exciting.

When I went home, I set about to learn everything I could about this Mass. And so I came across the books of Michael Davies, the figures of Archbishop Lefebvre, and the history of what happened after Vatican II. I also came across The Ratzinger Report and started to read everything I could get my hands on by this Joseph Ratzinger, who became my new hero!

By the time I went off to college, I was well-versed in the history of the crisis in the Church after Vatican II. But I had never studied philosophy or theology, never had a spiritual director, and never had a community of young Catholics where I felt I belonged. In college, I finally had access to all of those things. I had students and professors who painstakingly helped me to evaluate what I had been reading and to develop an authentically Catholic mindset and spirituality.
At college, I was able to see the Novus ordo celebrated well and beautifully and was able to participate in the “Old Mass” as well.

There was still something “edgy” about being a self-described “Traddie.” It was eccentric, it was different, it was cool. I built a huge liturgical library and began to meet other young people like me, and networks began to develop from all over the world. I was no longer bound to polemics and bitterness. As I studied the Roman liturgy, it came alive for me, and I grew to love the prayers, the ceremonies, the music of it all.

My freshman year, I concocted the bright idea that I wanted to see Holy Week in the Old Rite. So six like-minded buddies of mine and I got in a car and drove to Scranton, Pennsylvania to crash the Fraternity of St Peter’s seminary. All three Tenebrae services, the black vestments on Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and the fine party afterwards, the singing of the Haec festa dies: all of them are grafted onto my memory as beautiful and precious for me and for the whole Church. Who would not want to have all of this as part of the patrimony of the Church? I went back every year, and as word of mouth spread, by the last year, we brought 70 others with us.

The day after I graduated, I went on the famous pilgrimage to Chartres. On the middle day of the pilgrimage, we stopped in the middle of the forest for Solemn High Mass of Pentecost. The sumptuous procession of clergy, the active participation of thousands of young people singing with one voice the Latin chants of all ages, it was all a great respite from our grueling walk. And then, after the Offertory, it started to rain. I expected the stampede to find cover, the complaining, a total abandonment of what we were seeing. Nobody moved from the place, except the Scouts, who unfurled linen cloths in neat rows and held them like soldiers holding the flag over a casket.

Priests came with the Blessed Sacrament accompanied by scouts with gold and white umbrellas for the color of the Pope and the Sacred Host. And, as the rain drove down hard upon our faces and drowned out the singing, everyone knelt in the mud, clutching the linen cloths, and received their LORD and God on the tongue with great devotion and love.

This was the faith that I had been looking for my whole life. This was that beauty, ever ancient and ever new, which ravished my heart and gave me strength. There in the mud in the middle of a forest in France far from home, I knew that my vocation was to be a priest, to bring the LORD of faith and beauty to others like those priests who came to the adoring throngs covered in dirt and grime in body, but in grace and charity in soul. And that experience was during the extraordinary form of the Mass. Could I have had a similar or even the same experience in another form of the Mass, or even at some other time? Of course. But God chose that time to reveal Himself and His plan to me in a special way, and for that reason I will always be linked to the liturgy and the people who have sacrificed to encourage its celebration.

I am now a priest of God and the Catholic Church, faithful to the Pope and to the Tradition. Every time I see a young man with a missal in hand and that look of wonder and awe that comes to those who find the faith through its dignified liturgical celebration, I smile and remember. Now I even have to consult some of my spiritual daughters, whose knowledge of Fortescue and the liturgical calendars of various rites far outstrips my own. While I do not celebrate the extraordinary form of the Mass as much as I would like, as I follow the vocation God is laying out for me, I am thankful to Pope Benedict that I, and others like me, are no longer outcasts or orphans. We are Catholics, and as such, we rejoice to be such, with a beautiful liturgical heritage and a Pope to show us the way. My predilection for the “Old Mass” is not an indictment of those who do not have such a predilection, or of the Church’s power to reform the liturgy; it is an expression of something positive and wonderful I have found in the Church’s worship, and for that I am grateful to God!

If you’re wondering how the dinner ended, I kept silence because I was too busy thinking of all the things I am writing down here, of how I could respond to the Why? of my tablemates. As it happened, my steak had been whisked away and a lovely crème brulee had taken its place out of nowhere as the rest of the table were on to other topics of ecclesiastical politics. The milk and honey of the Promised Land after so much wandering was around the corner after all.