21 September 2006

Pride of Place: Gregorian Chant in the Liturgy
Mundelein, 2006

This is the chapel where we sang Vespers each evening and had Mass. The ceiling is plaster, so the reverberation is amazing--5 seconds definitely, maybe more. The organ is quite nice, as well; one of the music directors in attendance favored us with his playing for two of the Masses and the processions at one evening's Vespers. The decoration on the interior is pretty, though a bit 19th-century-ball-room for my taste.
The first Vespers was a bit of a shock for some of the folks in attendance, I think. We did it monastic-style, all chanted, in Latin except for the psalm verses. We processed, there was incense, the whole 9 yards. Most of the conference attendants couldn't figure out when they were supposed to sing, and a few had trouble with the Latin. We sang the same Vespers every evening (Sunday Vespers) so that people could get used to the form without having to process new psalms as well, and by Tuesday evening everyone was singing along and bowing at the right times.
If Sunday night's Vespers service was a shock to some, then the Mass on Monday was really a culture shock. It was like all the chant Masses at Gonzaga, with the exception of several concelebrating priests and a chapel with great acoustics. This means that the only thing not chanted was the homily. The readings, the Eucharistic prayer, everything was chanted. The Propers and Ordinaries, and the Pater Noster with its surrounding dialogue were in Latin, but everything else was in English. Fr. Matis of the Liturgical Institute was the main celebrant. The Masses on Tuesday and Wednesday were celebrated by two priests who were attendents at the conference, both of whom were quite young, around 30 years old.

This is the view that presents itself if you stand in the same location from which I took the first photo and simply turn around.

This is the cafeteria, or refectory if you prefer. Some excellent conversations were had here.

The residence hall which now houses the offices of the Liturgical Institute, a chapel, and the rooms where those attending conferences stay. There is a common room on the main floor which was the sight of many a piano tune and good joke, as well as more excellent conversations. Two examples:
Sister M. told the following:
The air conditioning in one of the rooms in heaven has broken down really badly, and God wants an engineer to fix it. He looks around, but can't find any engineers in heaven, so He calls down to Hell and says, "Satan, send up one of your engineers." Satan says, "No way. They're mine, and you can't have them. God says, "But I really need an engineer to fix the air conditioning." Satan says, "Nope. They came to me, and I'm keepin' 'em." God gets a bit angry and says, "I'm going to sue you!" Satan just laughs and says, "Oh yeah? Where you gonna get a lawyer?"

I had a talk with Fr. M which began with trading vocation stories. (Mine was considerably briefer than his, but I didn't mind as he's a decent storyteller.) In the course of the conversation about that, he mentioned that he had attended Princeton and Cal Tech and had a Master's degree in aerospace engineering. He said that at one of the schools (I don't remember which), the computers in the lab would sometimes produce and error message that said, "Magic Function Error." One of his schoolmates said, "What, are we supposed to give it burnt offerings?" I asked whether it might be possible to rig a computer to accept burnt offerings and identify the correct type of smoke. He said one could conceivably rig a smoke detector to detect specific kinds of smoke and then hook the smoke detector up to the computer. At this point, Fr. A chimed in, saying, "Abel. Computer rebooting." One wouldn't want to get a message that said "Cain."

Fr. M, if you're reading this, Mass yesterday was lovely! I'm sorry I couldn't stick around long enough to tell you in person.

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