Sunday, July 27, 2008

Introducing the Confraternity of the Precious Blood - a venerable extension of Oratorian Life

A picture came my way lately, which cannot really be shared without some explanation. It shows Brothers of the Little Oratory in London serving in a habit other than that of the Brothers. It is in fact the habit of the Archconfraternity of the Precious Blood. Concurrent with enrollment amongst the Brothers of the Little Oratory in London, each member is also enrolled in this Archconfraternity.

The distinctive habit of the (Arch)confraternity used mostly for public processions and watching before the Blessed Sacrament. Here from the Manual of the Little Oratory, p.3

"Processions: In all processions in the Church of the Oratory the Brothers take precedence after the clerics wearing cottas, and have the privilege of carrying the banners. The dress worn both at the Processions and Watching is that of the Confraternity of the Precious Blood, to which is is desirable that all the Brothers should be affiliated. Brothers who are able to provide themselves with private dresses are requested to do so, as only a limited number can be vested by the Father Prefect."

From the Catholic Encyclopedia: "The Archconfraternity of the Most Precious Blood refers to a Roman Catholic archconfraternity, associated with confraternities which make it their special object to venerate the Blood of Christ. They first arose in Spain. In the life of the Carmelite lay brother, Francis of the Infant Jesus (d. 1601), mention is made of such a confraternity as existing in Valencia. Ravenna, Italy possessed one at a very early date. Another was erected in Rome under Pope Gregory XIII and confirmed by Pope Sixtus V, but merged later on with the Gonfalour...

The confraternity was canonically erected by Pope Pius VII through his cardinal vicar, 27 February, 1809, raised to the rank of an archconfraternity, 26 September, 1815, and enriched with numerous indulgences. Pope Pius IX increased the privileges, 19 January, 1850, and 30 September, 1852...

In England it was erected by Fr. William Faber in the church of St. Wilfrid, Staffordshire, 1847, but was transferred to the church of the London Oratory (12 August, 1850). Previous to this it had been introduced into America by the Passionists, and canonically erected in the numerous houses and parishes founded by them after their arrival (1844)."

It is interesting then that this confraternity is older in the United States than it is even in England. Still, one wonders when was the last time its habit was seen on these shores. Perhaps, given our direct connection to the confraternity in London, we may fine occasion for a re-introduction. It is very true that tradition is about more than playing at dress-up. Still, external witness that flies in the face of worldly sensibility has definite value, and the bright red robes and black mantle of the Archconfraternity's habit loudly proclaim in public that the wearer is clothed in the Precious Blood of the Lamb, and no other. That is witness that cannot be trumped by mere vanity. It is witness we amongst the American Brothers of the Little Oratory hope someday to make.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Video on Solemn Vespers

Here is the whole Vespers of the 9th Sunday after Pentecost, followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.You can also find it on my YouTube page, but I think it is nicer to watch it here through these embedded viewers.

From Deus in adjutorium to the end of Psalm 110.

Psalms 111 and 112

Psalm 113 and Little Chapter

Hymn: Lucis Creator optime (by Tomás Luis de Victoria)

Magnificat (by Hernando Franco): first part

Magnificat (by Hernando Franco): second part

Benediction: first part: Ave verum corpus, by William Byrd

Benediction: second part: Tantum Ergo for organ and unison soprani by John Polhamus (2006)

Procession to the altar of Our Lady and Salve Regina.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Oratory Week in San Diego Successfully Concluded with Vespers in St. Joseph Cathedral

Oratory Week in San Diego in San Diego came to a fitting climax on Sunday afternoon, 13 July 2008, with Solemn Sunday Vespers sung in St. Joseph Cathedral, through the kind permission of its rector, Fr. Peter Escalante. The Vespers were celebrated by Fr. Sean Finnegan, parish priest to St. Peter's Catholic Church, Shoreham, Sussex, England, who has been visitor to the Brothers of the Little Oratory in San Diego during the past week. Fr. Finnegan was assisted by Fr. Harry Neely, OSA, and Br. Rhone Lillard, an FSSP seminarian and native San Diegan. The Vespers were also attended by Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, Auxiliary of the Diocese of San Diego.

The Vespers featured the use of the Cathedral's 1931 Austin pipe organ dating from the time of the church prior to the present 1943 building, and rarely heard at the moment. The music included a falso bordone "Lucis creator optime" by Victoria, a Magnificat setting by Hernando Franco (c.1585) who in his time was Maestro da Capella at the Mexico City Cathedral, and a Tantum Ergo for organ and unison soprani by John Polhamus (2006), as well as the Byrd "Ave Verum" as a motet at exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

While not without complications arising from unforseen conflicts in scheduling with the various parishes used during Oratory Week, the overall event must be accounted far more successful than the mere sum of its parts. This was a superb opportunity for the Brothers to experience an entire week of solemn liturgy in both forms. Low masses in the Extradorinary Form were said on on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Monday at St. Anne's, and Votive Missa Cantata in the Ordinary Form was sung on Saturday at St. John the Evangelist in Latin, ad Orientem, with chant propers and ordinary provided by the Brothers. Fr. Finnegan was able to say a private Tridentine mass on Sunday following the 9:00 mass at Holy Cross.

But importantly, and most unusually, all of the available oratories of the week were said in one location or another, including the Oratory of the Passion on Friday afternoon following the Gomez wedding; the Musical Oratory was given publically in St. John the Evangelist on Saturday evening; the Oratory of Sunday Morning was given in the Crypt Chapel at Holy Cross mausoleum prior to the 9:00 mass.

And following the Vespers and recreation, the Oratory of Sunday Afternoon was given in the St. Joseph downstairs hall, attended by His Excellency Bishop Cordileone. Fr. Finnegan's stirring and heartfelt fervorino, given off the cuff and without notes, concerned three topics of great moment to the Brothers, these being regularity of prayer and place, study and mutual education, and charitable works. This message was taken to heart by all present, and will be our focus in months and years to come.

In fine, this week of Oratory and Solemn Liturgy was the fullest and longest sustained manifestation of the Oratorian life which we have yet attained here in our Diocese. We look forward to building on this for the future, and we thank from the bottom of our hearts all who helped to make this past week the meaningful success that it was, including Fr. Finnegan, Bishop Cordileone, Fr. Fambrini, Fr. Dillard, Fr. Escalante, Fr. Neely, Br. Rhone Lillard, Fr. DeFour, Fr. Sczurek O.Praem., Mr. Peter Leparulo, TLM San Diego and its devoted sacristans, Rev. Carla A. Friedrich of the San Diego Swedenborgian Church, and all our musical friends including vocalists Anne-Marie Dicce, Angelica Eclar, Sandra Flores, Anastasia Tilbury, Matt Hall, Erick Rarick and Spencer Velkey, and instrumentalists Salma & Salwa Bachar, and Faith and Nicole Delino. Special thanks are also due to Mr. James Holman, a patron of longstanding, and Miss Santa Pecoraro, who ably committed the event to video for posterity. Again to all of you, our sincere thanks.

Let us go forward with the dual maxims of our Holy patron St. Philip Neri:

"Allegramente! Allegramente" - "Be cheerful! Be cheerful! - and, "Brothers, when will we begin to do good?" With these two sayings in our hearts and minds, we cannot go far wrong.

Deo Gratias!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

CAVEAT ALERT: Changes to the Oratory Week Schedule

It is with apologies that the Brothers of the Little Oratory announce two changes to the published schedule of masses for Oratory Week.

Due to scheduling conflicts, the Wednesday and Thursday evening masses at St. John the Evangelist have had to be rescheduled to 9:30am Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and the following Monday. The masses will be offered according to the Extraordinary Form at St. Anne's Catholic Church, Sicard St.

The Saturday Morning Mass will now be a Mass of Our Lady, sung in the Novus Ordo ad Orientem, using latin and Gregorian Chant.

The Saturday evening Musical Oratory will go ahead at St. John's as planned, as will the Sunday Afternoon Vespers in St. Joseph's Cathedral, downtown.

The Brothers thank you for your kind support, and understanding.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Additional "Oratory Week" Masses

In additional to the schedule of liturgies listed below, which advertisement will be found near the Classical Music page in the Thursday 3 July edition of the San Diego Reader, Fr. Finnegan will also say daily low masses in the Extraordinary Form on:

Tuesday, 8 July 8:00am
Friday 11 July 8:0am

in St. Anne's Catholic Church,
621 Sicard St., San Diego 92113

Please join us.