Rejoice, sing out, rejoice!

I have to say, the course I am taking on the Roman Missal is far more exciting than I ever could have imagined. This is what school is all about. The topic for my term paper in the course on the Roman Missal is:
How does the Exsultet exemplify “lex orandi, lex credendi?” What are the origins of the Exsultet? What is its aesthetic and hermeneutical significance? How does the forthcoming revision impact its role in the Great Vigil?
As you know well, I love Catholic liturgy when it is real, rich and logical. The Great Vigil is my favorite liturgy of the year, hands down. The Exsultet, or Easter Proclamation is a beautiful chant sung at the beginning of the Vigil and it is packed with vivid. imagery. I will be excited to share the research with you as my course of study makes progress.
Do you have information or books I should read? Send me a link at

High Definition Prayer

Something very exciting is about to happen at mass later this year!   Our responses and prayers are going to be richer, brighter and ultimately, more effective witnesses to our faith.  It is easy to be apprehensive about new experiences, changes and differences, but the 2011 revision of the Roman Missal cannot be described as new, changed or different. The revised text is an enhancement. Get ready for Catholic liturgy in high definition!

Think about your first mobile phone or even better, recall the phenomenon of  “the beeper?” I owned one during my last year of high-school. It was a one way numeric pager, with a translucent pink case. I was devastated when it vanished on my first day of college, but shortly after its disappearance, my grandmother put me on her cellular plan and gave me a mobile phone.

Since 2000, cellular phones have evolved rapidly. My first phone was about six inches long, had a retractable antenna and the screen was monochromatic.  Dropped calls were the norm, as was the embarrassing “pocket dial”– the phone call made to a random entry in the internal contact list when several keys were accidentally pressed.  Two years later, I opened my own account with a different service provider who offered me a color screen flip-phone. Before I activated that line, the salesperson recommended to wait if possible, because in a few months “the ones that take pictures” would be released to the market.  Though I purchased the soon outdated model in haste, I was excited that eventually my phone would serve as a digital camera.  Text messages came into vogue as a new means of communication and as plans became more affordable, I used my landline phone less and less frequently.

When I moved into my own apartment in 2006, I decided not to get a land-line phone, but to upgrade my cellular service yet again. My first data-phone was the T-Mobile MDA. It had a small keyboard which slid from underneath a pressure-sensitive color touch screen. The MDA had primitive internet service that worked very well, even in Staten Island, where cellular service was notoriously questionable. Aside from capturing color photos and videos, the phone could transmit e-mail via “direct push” and serve as an MP3 player. The third time I damaged it,  the warrantee replaced it with the Dash, a pseudo-Blackberry that crashed at least once a month.

In January of 2009, shortly after the Android platform was released, I renewed my service contract and ordered the widely heralded T-Mobile G1. The hardware was similar to the MDA, but the screen was sturdier. It had high-speed internet, a market for thousands of free applications, and a direct connection to YouTube, which enabled me to upload videos directly from the phone.  Unfortunately, the battery life was only about eight hours, so in addition to carrying the bulky phone, I often carried a charger with me.

My current phone, the Samsung Behold II is an Android phone with a sharper camera and a high-resolution color display. It is thinner and lighter than the G1, but it has no hard keyboard, so typing texts and email are a struggle. The G1 white housing, so it was easy to spot in my purse but the dark casing of the Behold II makes it hard to recover from depths of the pocketbook.  The battery life is significantly better than its predecessor, and the software is more efficient, but after owning it for almost a year, I will be relieved to upgrade from the current phone.

What does my history of cell-phones have to do with a revised Roman Missal? The Rite which we celebrate in 2011 has evolved to serve the needs of the Church since the institution of the Eucharist. My current phone is far from a beeper, but its core purpose of communication is still the same, and in the very same way, the Mass is not exactly analogous to the Last Supper, but the essential purpose of Communion is still the same. In his First Apology, St. Justin the Martyr, a Christian who almost 2000 years ago, gives an account of the Eucharist in chapter 66 and chapter 67 which show that the model of the Lord’s Passover meal was quickly adapted to needs, spirit and resources of the earliest Christian communities. As Christianity spread throughout the Middle Ages, the mass developed regional variations. The Council of Trent in 1570 standardized the order of mass in the Missal of Pope Pius V. This order, known as the Tridentine, or Latin mass, is the mass that was celebrated until our current Rite was approved for use in 1969. The mass which we celebrate today celebrates the same sacrifice that has been celebrated since the beginning of the church, but the adjustments of the Second Vatican Council were sought to improve the participation of all faithful people. The revised translation of 2011 will further enhance that participation by offering an English text that is more faithful to the original Latin in both meaning and beauty.  Our mass  has survived 2000 years because it has been adapted to the needs of the Church.

In November 2011, Catholic liturgy is going to be “upgraded.” The Roman Missal, the book which contains all of the prayers we say at mass was translated from Latin to English over 30 years ago, and the object of the translation was to offer a spirit of the text.  As practical needs arised and deficiencies were assessed, a document was issued from the Vatican called Liturgicum Authenicam (Authentic Liturgy,) and it called for a more literal English translation of the original Latin Texts.  After years of work and study, the revised translation will be implemented in the United States on November 26/27 2011.

The revisions are being erroneously described as “new,” “different,” and “changed,” but more accurately they are “upgrades.” Aside from drawing us out of mindless, passive, memorized patterns of prayer, the improved texts will add a forgotten aesthetic to our present rite.  For example, at the end of mass, the priest or deacon says:

“Go in the peace of Christ”
or “The mass is ended, go in peace!”
or “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”

The 2011 revision offers these two additional options for a dismissal:

“Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord”  OR
“Go in peace, glorifying the Lord in your life.”
NOTE: I love what this option says about our call as Christians.

These enhancements will be beautiful, enlivening and thought-provoking, but we should also be prepared for challenges. Just as it took several months to adjust to the new interface on my phone, both clergy and laity will need time to adjust to the rephrasing of prayers we have prayed for decades. When I started using my current phone, I had to refer to the instruction manual and set some user preferences before I could competently send a text message. It will be important for clergy and laity, those who serve in the sanctuary and in the pews, to seek instruction on the revisions. Those who plan parish liturgy may wish to set some preferences for ritual action. For example, the parish may choose only to use the second dismissal option (Go and announce the Gospel…) during the Advent and Christmas season to familiarize the assembly and emphasize the nature of the season. Finally, its important to for us to remember that the updated translation is written on paper, NOT stone. We hope that the revisions will last long enough for us to grow accustomed to them, but if unanticipated issues arise, we hope that the Church will find ways to make adjustments to them. The high-resolution enhancements we will enjoy at Mass in 2011 only prove that prayer is neither a beginning nor an end but an organic and eternal process.


New Year, New Pulchrid Goals

Tonight, I return to school, and this semester I will be attending class two nights per week.

Easter is in late April this year, so I can afford to be busy during the winter months. My finals will probably be right before Holy Week, which is perfect timing! I will be studying the Roman Missal and Scripture this semester. This Roman Missal, or Sacramentary is the book of ritual prayers that we use at mass. [It is bright red with gold embossed text on the cover. When my younger sisters would come to visit, they used to play “mass” my copy.] Many of the prayers are really beautiful and it is especially exciting to take this class right now, since the English translation of the Sacramentary will be getting a makeover in November 2011.  The course on Scripture is going to be interesting as well, because I really need to learn more about the Bible.

I’ve set some resolutions this year, but they are really tiny ones. My first resolution is to average 14 hours of practice per week. This is strictly organ literature, and if I am really disciplined, it will be 2 hours of practice a day. It sounds like a lot, but the time passes quickly, and the effort pays off in many other areas. I witnessed a personal transformation of sorts in November when I was practicing 2 hours daily.  The second resolution is to drink two liters of water per day.  Better hydration means more energy, concentration, and over all efficiency. Finally, I want to interact more directly with my friends, family and colleagues. Facebook is fun when I am off from school, but I will be deactivating my profile temporarily so that I can call, write and have lunch with real faces.

I hope your New Year is exciting as mine! Please check out my Youtube channel by clicking on the here .

PulchraPaper is DONE!!!!

YAYYYYYY my first paper in 3 years is done! Its actually been so long I forgot how to cite my research. Now its time to prepare for my final. YAYYYY.

Pulchrid Paper…

I am currently working on  a paper due December 14th on the impact of American cultural identity and reception of the liturgical reforms of Vatican II.

Do you have any thoughts? Do you think more Latin- with adequate introduction of course- would foster or destroy unity among American Catholics? I am on the fence over this one.

Here’s what I’m  up to when I am not writing papers. If you’re into tonally friendly 20th century organ music with lush, stringy celestes, the first three minutes of this vid are are for you:

Long time no blog,

So, its been a while since I’ve posted here. Cue news music, its time for a…

Pulchrid Update

Pastorally Pulchrid
We are working on an Advent Festival of Carols at the parish, which will be taking place on

Sunday, December 19th at 2:00pm


Pulchrid Academics
I am back at St. Joseph’s Seminary to work on my MA in Religious Studies

Publicly Pulchrid
There may be a pulchrid organ recital in the works in 2010. Stay tuned.

The Most Pulchrid Time of the Year

I love summer. I love the heat. I love barbecues, even though I don’t eat meat. I love the profuse amount of sunlight and free time. I love when my toughest decision of the day is whether to wear white sandals or black sandals to the pool.

In a few weeks I will be using my pool time more efficiently. In between swims, I’ll be sitting down to plan for the fall and select songs for Christmas time.

What are your favorite Christmas choral pieces? I’m looking for new pieces to add to the parish repertoire- traditional, contemporary, English, Latin, Spanish, a capella and with full accompaniment. Rather than limiting things to a poll, add your responses in the sidebar labelled “What Do You Think?” What do you like to hear at Christmas?