The Roman Catholic Community of Saint Thomas Aquinas & Holy Family. Two churches - Joining as ONE Family - Together in Love.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Web Site Turbulence

Unfortunately last week our web site was the victim of climatic difficulties... :-(

Although all is well in beautiful Brooklyn, our Web Hosting company is based in Ft. Lauderdale and was walloped by Wilma. Getsite did their best with their back up generator to provide access to our site, but unfortunately it was not available 24 - 7. We apologize for this problem, hope that it will be rectified very soon and appreciate your understanding!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Parish Auction

Don't miss out!!!

Our annual Parish Dinner / Auction will take place this Saturday, October 22nd, 2005.

Join us for fantastic prizes -- great food -- and wonderful companionship!!!

Hope to see you!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Gregorian Chant Apologia

I'm sure that you were holding your breath waiting for this info!! ;-)

Here are the answers to all the questions
you have been aching to ask about Gregorian chant:

Just what is Gregorian chant?
Gregorian chant is the musical repertoire associated with the liturgies, the Mass and the Divine Office, of the Roman Catholic Church. It is melodic chants, or melodies, composed on sacred Latin texts and is sometimes referred to as the 'Sung Bible'. It is meant to be sung unaccompanied and without harmony. It is quite literally prayer in song and is the universal music of the universal Church.

That's not real helpful. Where did Gregorian chant come from, anyway?
Gregorian chant has its roots with our Jewish ancestors. It was common practice in ancient and then in Roman times to chant the Psalms in synagogue or wherever Jews gathered for prayer. Indeed, it is reported in Mark's Gospel that Our Lord Jesus chanted the psalms with his disciples at the Last Supper (Mk. 14:26). This practice was continued by the early Christians and spread with the early Church. Pope St. Gregory the Great, when the Church was finally free of persecution in the 6th century, compiled and arranged the chants then in common use in Rome. In the 8th century the Frankish King Charlemagne, wanting the singing of the liturgies to be consistent throughout his kingdom which covered much of Europe, imported the Roman chant. Thus, what comes down to us as Gregorian chant is actually a synthesis of Roman and Frankish musical traditions with roots in the East.

So it's old. Is there a lot of it?
Remember, Gregorian chant is the product of 2 millenniums of musical and religious development. It is a large part of our religious and cultural heritage. Sorry, but the repertoire is vast! There are thousands of settings for every conceivable time and purpose. We have not even scratched the surface here at St. Thomas.

So why are we interested in this old stuff?
First, it is not old it is timeless! Second, it is quite beautiful even the way we sing it. Third, we are explicitly told to use Gregorian chant in the Documents of Vatican II.

What? I thought the Second Vatican Council got rid of all that old stuff?
Wrong, although that belief is quite understandable given the common practice here in the States. I am going to have to get technical here but I'll try to be quick and painless. Article 114 of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy states: "The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care". Article 116 states: "The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy; therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services." I think that is pretty emphatic!

But what about the Latin? I thought Vatican II got rid of that too?
Wrong again. Article 36 of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy states: "Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites". Article 54 provides some wiggle room: "In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue. This is to apply in the first place to the readings and the common prayer, but also, as local conditions may warrant, to those parts which pertain to the people, according to the norm laid down in Article 36 of this constitution. Nevertheless, steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them." That is precisely what we are trying to do here at St. Thomas. However, I'm not sure that Vatican II envisioned laminated song sheets!

I don't know, I'm still not sure about the Latin.
It is a little scary but only because we've neglected it for a long time. In Gregorian chant the text and the music are inextricably linked. You cannot translate it into English without also rewriting the music. That would be a travesty. We are being very careful to provide an English text of everything we chant in Latin. You can understand English with your mind and the Latin with your heart.

OK. So where do we go from here?
Well, as we said the repertoire is vast. We hope to make Advent a little special, increase the sense of the sacred. The hymns that we sing at Mass, the Entrance and Communion hymns, are not really what the Roman Rite envisions at these points in the liturgy. (We won't bore you by quoting the appropriate articles!) The singing of hymns was generally reserved for the Divine Office. The official rite calls for an antiphon with psalm verses sung between. In the United States common practice omits the entrance antiphon altogether and replaces it with a hymn. We intend to return to the tradition of chanting the Introit or entrance antiphon for the four Sundays of Advent. They are quite beautiful and set the tone for celebration in a concise and scriptural way.

And then what?
Well, we are open to suggestions. Tell us if there is something you would like to explore. We would like to hold a Vespers service at some time in the future. It is our hope that we will begin to attract new people to St. Thomas. You can help by spreading the word. Tell other people about this Mass.

What if I would like to know more?
Join us. Contact either Edith Newman or John Walsh. We welcome new voices. We work hard but we have fun and learn a lot.

Come on -- check it out -- you may very well be touched by the timeless beauty of Gregorian Chant!!

Monday, October 17, 2005

We're in the Daily News!

Check out the Brooklyn section of Sunday, October 16th, 2005 New York Daily News!!! STA was profiled on page 2!!!! with pictures of the church and Father John!

As is mentioned in the profile, NEXT Saturday, October 22nd, 2005 is our parish's Annual Auction!!!! Join us for good fellowship -- fun -- yummy food -- and GREAT prizes!!! Hope to see you there!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Gregorian Chant

Imagine, if you will, that through the agency of some miracle you are whisked away to another time and place. You find yourself in the Middle Ages, the Age of Faith and Miracles! The exact location is of no great concern for this is an, as yet, undivided Christendom, the entire continent of Europe professing one belief and worship. What harm is there in further imagining that it is a Sunday afternoon.

Finding yourself so suddenly transported you might think it prudent to visit church. Miracles, after all, can be unsettling. You would be just in time for Vespers joining with your brothers and sisters in sanctifying the day and all that has happened in it. The music gently rolls about the church filling every space and equally gently touches your soul. It is oddly fulfilling and uplifting yet so ethereal. The music, so haunting, almost makes you reluctant to return to your own time.
Return you do and by coincidence or miracle it is Sunday in the 21st century! What better way to give thanks for your safe return than to attend Mass. What is it that you hear during the 9 a.m. Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas Church? Is it possible that some of that strange haunting music has traveled the 1,000 years with you? Another miracle…….

Every Sunday at our 9 a.m. Mass experience Gregorian Chant -- the Universal Music of our Universal Church!!

Watch out for our Gregorian Chant Apologia -- coming soon!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

STA School Reunion

Last Saturday evening over 200 alumni from St. Thomas Aquinas School returned to celebrate the friendships and memories from their time as STA students. A member of the class of 1927 was in attendance!!

Unfortunately our school building has been closed, but our school is still very much alive in the special memories of our alumni experiences with their Classmates, their Teachers and the Sisters and the Priests of St. Thomas Aquinas. Our alumni continue to honor the memory of St. Thomas Aquinas School by spreading its spirit not only here in Brooklyn but throughout the nation. Thanks be to God!