After serving and singing for the Pontifical Requiem Mass on Friday, the Brothers of the Little Oratory concluded the weekend by celebrating Vespers at St. Anne's on Sunday, Nov. 23 (last Sunday after Pentecost). Hebdomadary was the parish pastor, Fr. Carl Gismondi, F.S.S.P. , to whom we are grateful for his availability and kindness. Fr. John Lyons, O.M.V. sat also in choir. With the exception of the two priests, all in choirs were Brothers of the Little Oratory, wearing the white Philippine collars around their necks. The seventh brother, our very own Fratellino, was busy in the choir loft playing the organ. Immediately following the ceremony, the Brothers prayed the Exercises for Sunday. We thank Ms. Rachel Gray for graciously sending us photographs of the event.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Sung Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception will be celebrated on Monday Dec. 8th at 7:00pm at St. Anne's Church, Sicard St. in San Diego. The La Jolla Renaissance Singers will contribute the Mass Ordinary in sacred polyphony, which will be the Missa "Hodie Christus natus est" for double-choir by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. The LJRS are a local choir currently directed by Prof. William H.C. Propp, which was founded in 1964 as the UCSD Madrigal Singers, yet in all their long history, they have never sung the Catholic mass liturgically. The presence of St. Anne's parish and the Holy Mass on a daily basis in our diocese now makes that possible. A schola of the Brothers of the Little Oratory in San Diego have also been invited to sing the chant-propers of the mass. The Brothers of the Little Oratory return many thanks to Fr. Carl Gismondi, F.S.S.P. for providing the opportunity to manifest this happy synthesis of local resources "Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam", to the Greater Glory of God.
The Brothers of the Little Oratory wish to thank all who were involved in the Pontifical Requiem Mass offered on Friday, 21 November 2008 by H.E. Bp. Salvatore Cordileone for the repose of the soul of Msgr. Anthony Ferrero. The Brothers also wish to acknowledge that the mass was attended by the family of Marie Breda, who died this past October 14th at the age of 5 years. As little Marie had not yet attained the age of reason she of course had no need of a Requiem, however the Bishop remembered the intentions of her family in the Pontifical Requiem Mass.
Special thanks also to Fr. Richard Perozich for his hospitality; to Mr. Enzo Selvaggi for the generous use of his Vestments; to Ms. Catherine Florentino for the regalia associated with the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre; and to Mr. Richard Dawes for producing excellent mass booklets.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Pontifical Requiem Mass will be celebrated on Friday, 21 November at 3:30pm in St. Mary's Church, Escondido, CA by H.E. Bp. Salvatore Cordileone, for the repose of the soul of the Rev. Msgr. Anthony Ferrero of the Diocese of San Bernardino. Msgr. Ferrero died this October 12th, and will be remembered in San Diego for having served as Assistant Priest in Bp. Cordileone's Solemn Pontifical High Mass for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross in 2005. The Mass will be served by the Brothers of the Little Oratory in San Diego, with polyphony provided by members of the Bach Collegium San Diego. More details as they become available.
Every All Souls Day for the past few years, in order to obtain the graces associated with visiting a Cemetery and there praying for the Dead, I have visited the old Campo Santo cemetery in Old Town, San Diego, formerly associated with the Immaculate Conception adobe chapel in Conde Street.
This is the oldest burying ground in the city, the first outside the Presidio itself, and while it attracts more than its share of tourists and visiting school children, it is still consecrated ground, and the locally historic graves with their restored wooden enclosures and descriptive legends are a direct and moving link to the original civic settlement, now all but invisible in the welter of development and urban sprawl.
Though it is fairly heavily touristed, and the graves are frequently decorated with a fresh flower or a votive candle, it is still unusual to see someone actually praying there, so I have considered it not only a pleasure, but a duty to return there at least annually as a member of the church militant. I also encourage others to do so as well, as often as possible.
I won't try to be comprehensive, but only to offer a representative sampling of the memorials and markers. But one in particular caught my eye this year. The boundaries of the Campo Santo have shrunk somewhat since its heyday, and just outside the Southwest gate of the cemetery, in the middle of a wheel-chair access cut in the sidewalk, is a very small brass button set into the concrete, about the size of a half dollar, which says "Grave Site."
I wondered how many people on foot or on wheelchairs walk over that button every day, and never know that they are walking on someone's final resting place. It is, perhaps, the most innocuously marked grave I think I've ever seen, and before this year I didn't even know that it was there. I stopped and prayed, crossed myself, and in leaving Old Town, promised not to forget that unknown soul. It's what I'd want someone to do for me. Requiescant In Pace...Margherita, Jesus, Concepción, Mamoudes, y todos.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Under the motto of “Reclaim All Hallows’ Eve for Christ,” the fifth annual 1st Vespers (opening evening prayer) of the Feast of All Saints (or All Hallows) was sung in the new Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter Traditional Parish St. Anne on 31 October 2008.
The Vespers were served and sung by the Brothers of the Little Oratory in San Diego, Fr. Carl Gismondi FSSP officiating. Translational booklets in Latin, English and Spanish were specially prepared for this liturgy.
Choral music, including a Magnificat setting by Hernando Franco (ca. 1580), a Maestro da Capella for the great Cathedral at Mexico City, was contributed by members of the BACH Collegium San Diego led by John Polhamus.
Other choral music included the Magnificat Antiphon "Angeli, archangeli" set by Andrea Gabrieli (ca. 1585), and at Benediction the motets "Ave Virgo Sanctissima" by Francisco Guererro, and "O quam gloriosum" by T. L. de Victoria.
The success of the liturgy was facilitated in no small measure by the restoration of the Altar to its original position earlier in the day. The work took most of the day, and was finished only an hour before the scheduled time for Vespers. The difficult cleanup was accomplished by parishioners in time for a crowd of fifty, plus fifteen in the choir loft and another fifteen in the sanctuary to enjoy the interrupted architectural flow from the doors, through the generous sanctuary, all tending ultimately to the altar and the tabernacle.
All were thus able, led by their priest, to face Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament together from beginning to end. Other restorative work will include St. Anne's chapel, the reredos surrounding the altar, paint and carpet issues, and the replacement of the communion rail. As the photographs clearly show, the work of restoration is far from done but, said Fr. Gismondi, "This was an auspicious liturgical christening for the restored altar."
Following the Vespers and Benediction, the faithful circled the church in a solemn candlelight procession, led by the liturgical choir chanting the Litany of the Saints.
All making a solemn processional entrance into the church, the faithful returned to the pews for the final prayers and dismissal, then sang the fervent hymn "For all the Saints", accompanied by the choir, organ and strings of the Santoniño Ensemble.
Special Thanks to Jean Perko for taking these excellent photos!
Friday, October 24, 2008
Although on the other side of the globe by distance, and a world away by culture, our Frater Ronaldus is still united with the Brotherhood in San Diego. Ronald is stationed in northeastern Afghanistan (location withheld), serving our country with the U.S. Army fighting in the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), under command of the First Infantry Division (1st ID).
Afghanistan, almost unanimously Muslim, has sporadic pockets of tribal/animistic religions, a small Hindu population, and a comparable Christian population. Frater Ronald keeps united with the Brothers of the Little Oratory by daily prayer and good works. It may very well be the first time the Oratorian Spiritual Excercises have been prayed in this Islamic Republic, although the Land was under British control from 1839-1919. We’ll leave it to other researchers to see.
Saint Philip Neri, Patron Saint of the U.S. Army, Pray for us and Protect our Troops! HOOAH!
(Frater Ronald is shown in Afghanistan by his Humvee vechicle with his copy of the "Manual of the Little Oratory".)
Posted by Vaticanguard at 22:32
Monday, October 20, 2008
1st Vespers of the Feast of All Hallows will feature a program of special polyphony contributed by members of the Bach Collegium San Diego. The program will include:
~ Claudio Monteverdi: "Magnificat" Primo Tuono ca.1610
~ Andrea Gabrielli: Antiphon "Angeli et Archangeli" (sung as the repeat of the Mag. antiphon).
~ T.L. de Victoria: Motet "O Quam Gloriosam" (sung as a motet at Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament).
Updates to the Musical Program will be published in coming days. All are welcome to attend this special liturgy which seeks to "Reclaim All Hallows' Eve for Christ" by returning Christian Substance to the secular Halloween celebration. Halloween may have its place in the calendar of worldly fun, but it is definately behind the procession of Saints whose lives and sacrifices have begun the work of building Christendom through the centuries.
Please join us on October 31st, 2008 at 7:00pm,
St. Anne's Church,
621 Sicard Street,
San Diego 92113
as we "Reclaim All Hallows' Eve for Christ!"
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The 7th of January A.D. 2007, was a memorable day for me. That was the day when I became a brother of the Little Oratory in London, through a beautiful ceremony that is recorded here:
On that day, during the Sunday Exercises, the candidates were blessed with a relic of St. Philip Neri and made Brothers by the Rev. Fr. Ronald Creighton-Jobe, Cong. Orat. Lond., who was impeccably assisted by Mr. James Cross. I am grateful to an Italian friend of mine, Federico, who had come to London with me and shot the movie of that happy event.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
The Brothers of the Little Oratory in conjunction with Fr. Carl Gismondi FSSP will celebrate 1st Vespers of the Feast of All Hallows (All Saints) at 7:00pm in the Church of St. Anne, 621 Sicard St., San Diego CA 92113.
For Catholics All Hallows Eve is about much more than just candy, tricks and treats, ghouls and goblins: it is a time to celebrate the golden array of Holies who shine around the throne of Almighty God. Parents, make All Hallows Eve into something truly important for your children. Encourage a costume of a Saint, rather than a spectre. "Reclaim All Hallow Eve for Christ" with us at St. Anne's on Oct. 31st. We hope to see you there!
Further information will be posted shortly.
A package arrived in (or on) my mailbox, recently. I knew from the sealing wax it must be from abroad, probably from England, and therefore likely had an Oratorian connection! The Brothers were duly informed of its (not entirely unexpected) arrival.
Last Monday night it was presented at the regular rehearsal. Some time was spent in speculating about its contents. What could it contain?
Imagine our delight to find within not only an example of a proper "fascia" with real Oratorian tassels (from Gammarelli's Ecclesiastical Tailors in Rome)...
...but probably the only Precious Blood robe on the North American Continent! The Precious Blood robe is meant to be worn in altar service, procession, and adoration, over collar and tie by members of the Archiconfraternity of the Precious Blood, established in England at the London Oratory by Fr. Faber in the 1860's. All Brothers of the Little Oratory at London are simultaneously enrolled at the time of their admission to the Brothers, and are entitled to wear the robe of the Archconfraternity.
The robes were recently renewed at London, and one was earmarked by a benefactor, and graciously sent over to the San Diego Brothers to be replicated. We hope to undertake this work as soon as possible and to have at least four to six completed by Candlemas, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary on 2 February.
The San Diego Brothers are most grateful for this gift, and recognize fully the unusual degree of trust that has been placed in them to dispose of it constructively. We are indeed blessed, and hope to make the best use of this wonderful gift.
If you would like to contribute to the replication of the Precious Blood robes for the Brothers of the Little Oratory in San Diego, please contact us. All donations to the Brothers of the Little Oratory are fully TAX DEDUCTIBLE.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Solemn Vespers at the London Oratory is always an exemplary occaision. Even the renowned Fr. Zuhlsdorf was last week impressed by the precision of the liturgical ceremonies, and the effortless aplomb with which they are carried out. This past September 13th the London fathers celebrated solemn first Vespers of the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. I think it fairly certain that the following photographs, taken from the loggia in the Gospel-side transept, are by Vernon Quaintance. (If I am mistaken, please correct me as soon as possible, and I'll correct the attribution.) I repost them here by way of drawing the London Oratorian manner (which is in fact based on the customs of the old Roman Basilican tradition as articulated in Baldeschi) further to the attention of both the San Diego Brothers, and to the public at large. In this first picture, the five Vesper psalms, beginning with Psalm 109 "Dixit Dominus" are being chanted in alternation with the choir and organ in the loft.
Next the Hymn is intoned, and is sung by all standing in place.
Following the hymn the hebdomadary intones the Magnificat antiphon, attended by the four assistants in cope, and the MC. Note that the acolytes are already positioned at either end of the altar, their large candles before them, prepared for the altar incensation.
During the singing of the Magnificat the incensation take place, beginning with the altar, and passing then from the Hebdomadary through the various ranks of clergy and servers, down to the congregation. The canticle is usually rendered in a "falso bordone" setting, meaning that the twelve verses of the Magnificat alternate chant with sacred polyphony, providing a rich variety of musical texture.
Following the collect and dismissal, the service of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrement begins with the exposition of the sacred species in the monstrance upon the altar. Between the singing of O Salutaris Hostia and Tantum Ergo, the celebrant and the assistants in cope all kneel in veneration before the Blessed Sacrament exposed while a motet is sung by the choir. Following the singing of Tantum Ergo the Blessed Sacrament is incensed, the celebrant ascends the Altar and...
...Benediction is given with the consecrated host in the Monstrance.
After Benediction, the recitation of the Divine Praises, and the singing of Adoremus in Aeternum, the procession goes usually to the Lady Altar in the Epistle-side transept, for the singing of the Marian Antiphon, in this season Salve Regina. On this feast in particular there is additionally veneration of the relic of the True Cross at the Altar of St. Philip. The emminant Fr. Zuhlsdorf is seen second from the right facing the altar.
Overlooking the beautiful vestments and ornate surroundings for the moment, it should be noted that what these marvellous photographs reveal, highlighted by a generously sized sanctuary, is the concise, almost sparse, and "to the point" nature of the Vesper ceremonies. Vespers is an eminantly attainable ceremony for even the most humble parish, whether one has five copes, three, or only a hebdomadary. It may be trite to imply "this too can be yours," but in fact it can. And every attempt should be made to make it so, in every parish. The terms of the Documents of the Second Vatican Council demand it, and it's time to start living up to that expectation.
To coin a paraphrase, "Got Vespers?" The Brothers of the Little Oratory in San Diego do.
Want Vespers? Ask us how...we can help!
Monday, September 22, 2008
I had heard this account from others, but being directed to it in print by a commenter, it gives me great pleasure to share it here with other readers. Fr. Carl is a most level-headed young priest, who seems to know quite well how to handle himself both diplomatically and, shall we say, athletically. I'm sure we shall all reflect upon this account with some satisfaction, as we sing liturgical compline with Fr. Gismondi this evening.
"[This] cautionary tale involves my attendance at a High Mass on St. Peter's day at which the celebrant was a newly-ordained priest of The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter - the Latin Mass chaplains to the Archdiocese of Melbourne. A beautiful Mass with a small but expert choir which chanted the Propers according to the Liber Usualis and led the congregation in the chant of the Kyrie, Gloria, and Credo.
At Communion, I was happily on my knees amongst the empty pews distracted by the detritus abandoned by the communicants queuing in the central aisle.
Suddenly, the Subdeacon (Fr Carl Gismondi FSSP) leaped from the altar step and chased a communicant along the Epistle side aisle. He was aided and abetted by two laymen (both of Marine stature if not training) who blocked the path of the fleeing young man. Fr Carl immobilized him until the younger of the other two had him in a headlock and the trio marched him out to the narthex.
Such undignified behaviour! The cause?? Fr Gismondi had noticed that the young man, having received Communion in his mouth - the FSSP adheres to the 1962 RULES as well as the RITES - put his hand to his mouth and, seeing Fr Carl looking at him, feigned a cough. Fr Carl looked away and then straight back to see the fellow removing the Host from his mouth. Then the chase was on!
No one is quite sure what the full motive behind the action was, but we may be fairly sure that he wasn't taking the Sacrament home to his sick mum.
The Host was retrieved but whether any action was taken was not announced."
Friday, September 19, 2008
Last Monday was our 2nd in the fall series of regular Monday night chant rehearsals at St. John the Evangelist in Normal Heights, San Diego. At the break, as we stood at the tailgate of George Pecoraro's pickup truck, John T. Velasco produced an amusing and highly coincidental "fortune" which emerged from lunchtime excursion to a chinese restaurant. Considering that we were within 24 hours of the full moon, we all found it very...illuminating!
Later, we were joined by the recently arrived Fr. Carl Gismondi, F.S.S.P., for liturgical compline. The Brothers of the Little Oratory take this opportunity to welcome Fr. Gismondi to San Diego, and wish him a long and fruitful ministry among us.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
The first public San Diego Tour to the Seven Churches has come and gone, but the memories of the experience will doubtless continue to reverberate well into the new year. Though participants numbered but eight, they demonstrated the fullness of heart that come from attachment to the Saint of a Joyful Heart, Philip Neri. This report has been distilled from a personal letter describing the event, so for any variations in the form of address, I trust the reader will be forgiving. Perhaps the occasional “I” as opposed to the third person, will help to make the event seem even more immediate, as it remains in the minds of the participants. Here then is the full report on the 2008 Tour to the Seven Churches…in San Diego!
As we left Holy Cross we went out singing "This is the saint of Gentleness and Kindness", which was appropriate as Fr. John Caronan's homily for the fifteenth Sunday after pentecost was all about gentleness. After mass, at which we all communicated, Father came out to meet us in the retro-choir, and read the prayers to St. Raphael, and then the prayer for travellers from the Raccolta over us, and blessed us with Holy Water as we knelt. Before leaving the immediate vicinity we also sang "True Sons of Philip", serenading some cars who were waiting to turn right as we were waiting to cross an intersection. We got more than a few waves. After that, as we negotiated the perimeter of Mt. Hope Cemetery (down Market Street to the west from Holy Cross), we sang the Litany of the Saints, since this portion of our prayers were dedicated to the Dead. We then sang "Vanita di vanita" (from the St. Philip film, "State buoni se potete"), about three times over, as we rounded the south-west corner of this large, old civic cemetery. David Latorre can never get enough of that song, and nearly danced as he walked!
As we approached St. Jude's, we saw that Mass was about to begin, and were prepared to move right on, but were waved over and decided to so stand in the shade of the church and introduce ourselves. This little church was rebuilt in the 1970's but the original stained-glass windows were reincorporated into the building, and are - as a collection - the best in the diocese. They're by Meissen, I think, made in Germany. We were welcomed and directed to the parish hall as a place to sit down. The parish priest joined us shortly and we introduced ourselves and sang "Lodate Maria" for him and for the various parishioners. In fact, he sang with us, and told us to come again when we were to again make the walk.
After watering at St. Jude's (we were at pains to prevent people from plying us with complementary fresh pineapple drink and Jamaica, a Mexican Hibiscus punch, explaining to their astonishment that this was a penitential pilgrimage) and saying prayers to St. Jude on behalf of those suffering from grave illness, in particular AIDS sufferers, and for the indulgences (assuming we qualify even in a metaphorical sense), we moved on crossing under the 805 freeway, singing the pilgrim "Ave Maria" marching tone, pausing for the Angelus at 12:00noon on the bridge over Chollas Creek.
Up a hill and making a right turn took us straight to Christ the King. We were welcomed by a deaconal candidate (Fr. Jennings was on vacation), and the candidate even went and brought us some bottles of cold water. We stepped into the little church (which has a surprisingly live acoustic), and sang the hymn "Ave Maris Stella", knelt, made the collect prayer from the Feast of Xst the King, and said the pilgrim prayers.
Moving back outside, Tom Gray read a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was very appropriate as it dealt with sacrilege and outrage. Quite a few people, at Holy Cross and elsewhere, had heard of the outrage at London, and were profoundly saddened by it. They offered much moral support both to us and to the Fathers in London.
After Christ the King we moved on towards St. Anne's. This part of the route was quite direct, and took us a long way down Commercial Street, a broad expanse with fully two freight tracks running down it (now occupied by trolley cars), and lined with industrial businesses and auto wrecking yards). In truth it's a rather barren stretch, cleaner than it used to be, and all but abandoned on a Sunday afternoon. We were getting closer to the downtown now, but we had to go south and north again, before we would get to the home stretch. The broad street however, and the fact that we were marching west towards the bay afforded us a refreshing (and strong) ocean breeze. Cassocks and rosaries flapped in the wind as we said the Joyful mysteries. We were picturesque.
This was one of the shorter legs of the Tour, along with the walk from St. Jude's to Christ the King, and the twenty five minutes was just enough time to say the five decades. Arriving at St. Anne's we found a strip of shade and sat down. Mass was going on in the church, so we said prayers to St. Anne for families, and after five minutes rest, moved on, saying the Sorrowful Mysteries. I might mention that the rosary was said in Latin throughout. When we were just starting out someone said, "English or Latin?" and after the briefest pause, we all said, "Oh, Latin." So that was that.
The next leg was not much longer than these last two, taking us north towards Golden Hill and Our Lady of the Angels, a lovely brick church built in 1906 and surviving quite well. A convenient fire behind the altar allowed for a "renovation" in the 1980's, which brought the altar forward and created a wooden-screened Blessed Sacrament Chapel behind. Hardly undo-able. It's a very attractive building with a bell-tower and spire, and perched on a promontory overlooking the city and quite visible beside the 94 freeway. It has a convent building (a large Victorian-styled house) dating from the same period, and a medium sized school on the same property. Wouldn't make a half bad Oratory, I can tell you!
As we approached OLOA, we availed ourselves of the catering services of a local Fast-Food restaurant called Jack-in-the-Box, very like McDonald's, but this branch is built into an adapted Victorian house, and is the most tasteful burger-joint you ever saw. We ate modestly, in the air-conditioning (as no park was conveniently at hand), and removed to the church steps for prayers for the unborn. Our prayers here were directed to the Guardian Angels, on behalf of the unborn, however I noted that my edition of the Raccolta has no prayers for unborn-children, as when it was printed, such a need was not even conceivable, no pun intended. We've come a long way since (depressingly). Still. We struck up "Lodate Maria" as a chorus, sang a few verses standing still to build up momentum, then moved off singing, crossing highway 94 and heading left down Broadway into the heart of downtown San Diego.
The walk down the hill towards the city to State Street is about a twenty five blocks, and we would have to stop for stoplights, so I made the suggestion that we start our Rosary when we had crossed 11th Avenue, singing the Paters and Ave's to the simple tones. This was what we did, and it worked splendidly. Imagine you're standing at a crosswalk, when suddenly a group of eight people singing the pilgrim Ave Maria are suddenly standing next to you waiting to cross the same street. It happened time and time again, to wonderful effect.
Eventually we reached State Street, only a few blocks from the water, and turned north towards Our Lady of the Rosary, my former haunt as organist, currently looked after by Barnabites. In fact, my timing was just a little bit off, and we only managed four decades between 11th Avenue and OLOR, so we decided to save the last decade for after Vespers, and the short walk up to St. Joseph's. Outside OLOR we prayed Marian prayers in accordance with this portion, and made our pilgrim devotions.
Diagonally across the street from OLOR is a small oasis called "Amici Park." It's an interesting construction, not of grass but concrete, with two dirt Bocce lanes at one end, and on the corner an amphitheatre which rises five rows above street level, divided at intervals by columns, which are in turn linked by pergola spans, on which grow Bouganvilla vines. The "performing space" is towards the street corner, with a half-circle of tall cypresses to its back. Under the circumstances, it was our Janiculum Hill. We put on cottas, and sang outdoor Vespers under the pergola. Then followed outdoor exercises.
Br. Rhone Lillard. seminarian of the FSSP, began the fervorini, offering sympathetic observations on the desecration in London, going on to say that if there is any good in it, it is that it inspires people like these to "bend the stick back in the opposite direction" and make such splendid witnesses. He said that we must pray for these perpetrators the more, and I interjected that the devotions to Our Lady of Pompeii were begun by a man who had been a notorious atheist (and Satanic Priest) it turns out, and that if his heart could be turned by Our Lady, there was hope for anyone.
After about twenty-five minutes of such round-robin discussion and reflection, we headed off towards the completion of the tour. The walk from Our Lady of the Rosary to St. Joseph's is only about 8 minutes, and that's including waiting for a stoplight! To our delight, as we approached the stoplight on Front Street, what waddled out from an apartment building on the corner, but the smallest, curliest, fattest little ten week-old white poodle-pup, certainly the very image of Cardinal Sforza’s dog "Cappriccio" from the days of St. Philip's own walks around Rome! Certainly close enough in breed for our purposes ("Cappriccio" was probably a Pomeranian), the only thing missing being the cushion to carry him on! I’m sure any of us would have happily served as Tarugi and carried the little fellow the rest of the way, but such a dog-napping, even for inspirational purposes, would have been too difficult to explain on the spur of the moment!
Nevertheless, we sang our Ave's and arrived to the strains of Day Set on Rome, finishing this excellent Victorian chestnut at the very foot of the Cathedral steps. We completed our prayer intentions, praying for the Church and the Holy Father, and making the pilgrim devotions. We didn't go in, as we hadn't arranged to beforehand, but perhaps next time. Nevertheless we finished by singing “Vanita di Vanita” once again, and the Hymn to the Madonna dell'Olmo from Portomaggiore in Italy, where Roberto Lionello's parents live. Roberto is thrilled that we're actually singing the hymn of this very small town's devotion, and is convinced that when the locals find out we have done so, some kind of civic demonstration may erupt in Portomaggiore, involving the Mayor and fireworks. Well, we do aim to please.
We may try to make the Tour quarterly, or on a trimester basis. All agreed that this was a truly wonderful experience, and that there is massive potential for growth. For my part, I see no reason to dispute this, and when I went out running a couple of errands Monday morning, which took me past downtown San Diego, I felt an enormous sense of grace, in that these familiar streets and ways had been turned into the footsteps of the saint, and though it was for only a short span, the reality endures. Like grace, I suppose, for those who seek after it.
Amazingly, we seem to have pulled it off, this formal but informal pilgrimage, without annoying anyone, which is a happy thing, since no one knew we were coming. Just so you know, we obviously wanted to make a public statement, but rather than march in our Brother's collars, we wore cassocks, over dress shirts and turned the collars out, in “stilo primitivo,” as it were! Not official habit, the Pittsburghians not withstanding, but joyfully reminiscent of Our Saint in his time…and in ours!
But I think the full measure of the public accomplishment is in this-wise: I noted during the fervorini, that there had been a constant theme running through our presence in the neighbourhoods of the old hispanic "barrio" (which is Spanish for neighbourhood, and implies concentrated ethnicity. Even today, these aren't the zones of the city that your average middle-class gringo (like me, and I use the term self-deprecatingly) goes meandering through. The barrio is not nearly as gang oriented as it was even fifteen years ago, but there could probably still trouble to be found if you go looking for it. Still, everywhere we went on this Sunday afternoon in summer, around every corner, we heard the inevitable tinkling of the bell of a street vendor with an ice-cream hand-cart. I had been saving this observation all day, because it set of a chain of reminiscent associations in my mine. It reminded me first of the scene in the film "Lust for Life", the story of Vincent Van Gogh, when Gaugin arrives in Arles on a blustery night, the mistral blowing a gale. As he first beholds the "yellow house with the green shutters" where he is to live, he must first wait in order for two altar boys bearing lanterns, and a priest carrying a ciborium, and another altar boy ringing a little bell, to pass before he can enter. Christ Himself is passing by, going about, doing good.
This in turn reminded me of the introduction to a book I borrowed from a professor at San Diego State called "Music in Mediaeval Bruges, and which introduction is concerned in large part the various external musical expressions of the church to be encountered randomly and outdoors during the course of a day. Bells ringing the Angelus; endowments for certain peals during the course of a day; guilds performing mystery plays; and of course the coming and going of the Blessed Sacrament Himself; mostly bells, but the unmistakable announcement of Christ's presence, beyond the confines of the physical church itself.
Likewise, I was reminded that until recent years, if the wind blew from the west, I could hear the carillon at St. Brigid's above the noise of traffic of an afternoon, fully a mile from my house. Even at St. Anne's itself, I recently (around Philiptide) unblocked the bell-rope and rang before mass and at the consecrations, as I learned to do at Corpus Christi in Maiden Lane, but which practice is unknown here. I wanted to announce Christ with that bell to at least those neighbours who could hear it (and at least one person was drawn to the church wondering what was happening!). I asked Tom Gray, "who is doing that in my absence?" "No one" came the reply.
My point being (quoting myself), "Who is ringing out Christ presence here in this city today? You are. You are manifesting Him, helping others to see Him and hear Him. You are "bending the stick back in the opposite direction", to quote Br. Rhone [Lillard]. And the next time YOU hear that tinkling bell, maybe it WILL turn out to be the Blessed Sacrament passing by. But even if it's not, you will now expect it. And through you, others may as well."
Such was the Tour to the Seven Churches in San Diego in August, 2008. Hopefully one day (in the not too distant future) you, reader, will make it in our company.
By: A Brother of the Little Oratory