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July 12–15 marks the fifth annual Sacred Liturgy Conference, which will take place this year in Medford, Oregon. The three-day immersion will include Extraordinary Form Pontifical High Masses with the former prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, Cdl. Raymond Burke, as well as the archbishop of Portland, Alexander Sample, and bishop of Santa Rosa, California, Robert Vasa.
The theme of the conference, "The Voice of the Bridegroom," will focus on sacred liturgy, Church history and Gregorian Chant. The conference will include eight traditional lectures, five optional chant workshops and "plenty of time for fellowship." To participate in this unique conference, visit www.sacredliturgyconference.org.
Church Militant spoke with one of the organizers and main speakers of the event, Dr. Lynne Bissonnette-Pitre.
CM: Why is this liturgy conference so important today given the current state of affairs in the Church?
LBP: The conference is designed for those who want to learn more about the rich heritage of our liturgy: the deeper meaning of our liturgy and its capacity to transform us and make us holy. Holiness is the answer to the current state of affairs in the Church. The liturgy is the source of the healing graces which are necessary for holiness. To commune with the Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist causes a transformation. We receive His Body and become His Body, indeed the Mystical Body of Christ. Our whole being is in intimate union with His Mystical Body. We become like Him; holy as He is holy. Saint Paul said in II Corinthians 3:18: "All of us gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory as from the Lord who is in the Spirit." In this transformed state, we know we are our brother's keeper. And we work for the good of the whole, obedient to the authority of our Head who is Christ Himself.
The liturgy provides all the supernatural graces available to us to be holy and to overcome the current divisions within the Church. Pope St. John Paul II said the celestial balance of justice is tipped toward the good, as more and more of us become holy.
CM: We see the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) making a return. Why is this important?
LBP: The powerful graces of the TLM are being discovered and rediscovered. This is important because the TLM helps us to understand the Novus Ordo Mass. It makes very clear that the Mass is transcendent and cosmic in nature, uniting us with the actual Passion of Christ. The TLM informs us of the deeper meaning of the Offertory and Communion: united with Him in His Passion we offer all that is within us that is not of Christ to be crucified with Him. In Him we are resurrected a new creature and then and only then do we commune with Him in His Holy Banquet.
CM: You have said in a lecture to be holy is to be healed. What do you mean by this?
LBP: The Lord is our Creator. He created man to be holy without interior conflict, to be in intimate communion with God, partaking of all of His wisdom, love and riches. We are disordered, incomplete and unhealthy through the error of believing we don't need God and don't need to live according to the way we were designed. This disorder affects all of our relationships, including the relationship with God. Jesus instituted the Eucharist through which it is possible for us to be made whole and ordered according to His design. When we are transformed through the efficacious redemption of Our Lord, all that is within us that is not of Him is crucified and we are healed, we are holy. To be healed is to live in a state of grace filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. This interior disposition of holiness is the fruit of the Holy Spirit's presence within us as the life of Jesus (Galatians 5:22,23). We intuitively know that holiness is healthy. We feel better when we no longer have to deal with interior conflict and lack of self-control and vices!
Based on the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, we come to knowledge of God through the senses. Why is preserving the liturgy so important to coming to knowledge of God? We are both matter and spirit. The liturgy is both material and formal. The liturgy was designed to aid us in entering the state of mind that is capable of experiencing silence and the transcendent. Through our sense perception, we participate in the liturgy and the fruit of this participation is the spiritual contemplation of God. We learn about God through reading, education, homilies, etc. But we know Him by being in His Presence. As Job said: "I had heard of you by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen you" (Job 42:5).
CM: You will be giving a talk, "The Call of the Bridegroom and the Beloved's Response." Could you give us a sneak peak of what to expect in this talk?
LBP: The Lord, the Bridegroom in His ardent love, calls His beloved to come to Him and to abide in Him. The Lord's Eucharist is the extraordinary means of union with His beloved. The Mass begins with the procession to the altar of Christ as Bridegroom in His priest. What is the beloved's response as she sees her Bridegroom approach the altar? Like Isaiah, who when he saw the Lord enter the temple, exclaimed: "Woe is me, I am a man of unclean lips" (Isaiah 6:5), so too the beloved repents and begs for mercy: The Confiteor and the Kyrie. Then the Bridegroom forgives the sins of the beloved and calls her to listen to His Words. The beloved's response to hearing His words is the Creed: I believe ...
Then the Lord calls His beloved to come with Him to Jerusalem where He will make all things new. He calls her to Gethsemane where He makes His Offertory to His Father in advance of His Passion. The beloved responds by making her offertory with Him and in Him, conforming her will to His will, just as He conformed His will to the Will of His Father. She offers all that is within her that is not pure and holy and asks that He would crucify her with Himself on the altar. Then the Bridegroom invites her to accompany Him to His crucifixion. The beloved kneels with His Mother as Christ makes expiation for all her disorder, all her infidelity, all her sins. Through His Passion she becomes the adopted child of His Father so she then recites the prayer He gave to her: Our Father...
As the Resurrection occurs, she rises with Him. He then calls her to come to His wedding banquet to receive Him within her being so that she can abide with Him forever.
CM: Archbishop Alexander Sample and Cdl. Raymond Burke are expected to celebrate a Pontifical High Mass, is that correct?
LBP: Archbishop Sample will celebrate a Pontifical High Mass in the Ordinary Form of the Mass on Wednesday evening. The Ordinary Form of the Mass is the usual form of the Mass celebrated since it was promulgated by Bd. Pope Paul VI. It is most often celebrated in the vernacular. The conference Pontifical High Mass celebrated by Apb. Sample will be a sung Gregorian Mass in Latin with scripture lessons and homily in the vernacular. According to the documents of Vatican Council II, the Sung Latin Liturgy with Gregorian chant is the supreme model for the liturgy. Why? Latin is the official, universal language of the Church. Liturgy in Latin overcomes all the barriers of different cultures and tongues and effects the sense of oneness for which Christ prayed. Gregorian chant is the first choice for liturgical music, and this, too, is the universal music of the Church with designated Propers to correspond to the scripture lessons of the day. If this were the common practice, all the parishes in the Catholic world would sing the same liturgical music ... the Gregorian Propers.
The Pontifical High Mass celebrated by Cdl. Burke will be in the Extraordinary Form, which has been the Mass of the Church since the Council of Trent. It too will be a Sung Latin Gregorian liturgy.