I’ll say upfront that I’ve not hesitated to recommend this parish to people who have a traditionalist sensibility in the Chicago area. I do mention this in spite of a flawed and occasionally misinformed approach to liturgy as evidenced by this proud claim:
On one Sunday in June 2007, when many parish choirs are on vacation, parishioners at St. John Cantius enjoyed the Mass for Five Voices and O Rex Gloriae by William Byrd, along with Omnes Gentes Plaudite by Christopher Tye (1505 -1572)
I’m an admirer of British Renaissance music as much as the next early music fanatic, but I’d expect that in a parish where “everything we do here is essentially based on Sacrosanctum Concilium and Mediator Dei,” there might also be some room to look at the red print in the Roman Missal. Is the Mass for the performance pieces or are the performance pieces for the Mass?
That said, I was struck by their decision on handling the Saturday evening Mass as a 1970 Rite “Low” Mass. An experienced liturgist will note there really is no such thing. The Church’s documents assume the aim is a sung Mass with full participation. Sacrosanctum Concilium and Mediator Dei might seem to dodge that issue because they date 1963 and 1947 respectively, but they do not exhaust the whole of the Church’s teaching on liturgy. It seems as if the SJC people have no problem recruiting choristers, so the decision to do a weekend Mass without music remains a curious one.
I’d be interested to see how they treat authentic vigils, like Pentecost and Assumption. Do they keep the no-singing format because the people expect one Mass that way? Or do they recognize that not all night-before liturgies are the same? The whole policy strikes me as a little too “creative,” in a DRE sort of way.
I feel somewhat ambivalent toward the Saturday evening Mass. I’m not convinced it’s a good idea. People who might be unavailable for Sunday morning Mass might still have the Sunday evening option instead of Saturday evening–so I’m not totally sympathetic to the availability argument.
I feel more ambivalent about hanging a Mass out to dry, as the SJC staff seems content to do. Would they consider moving the Mass to Sunday evening and dropping the stepdaughter treatment? It strikes me that a parish that puts that much effort into a classical music program should be a little embarassed by having a “quiet Mass” on the docket.
If I were designing a parish music ministry along my own ideals, and setting aside my preference for a single Mass each day, including Sunday, and not considering the needs or tastes of the parish, my weekend schedule might look something like this:
7:30AM Morning Prayer
6:30 Mass, pause, then Compline
I have to say I’ve pondered the notion of linking the celebration of Lauds, Vespers, and Compline to astronomical dawn, sunset, and night. I can’t imagine such an endeavor would be practical. Outside of Easter Vigil considerations, that is.