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I am a medievalist and an adjunct college instructor in the humanities at Union College. My research includes medieval theologies of history, text/image relationships in visionary and mystical texts, and the writings of the twelfth-century Doctor of the Church, St. Hildegard of Bingen. I am also a translator of medieval Latin and German texts, especially as relate to my research. I completed a Master's in Medieval Studies at the University of Notre Dame in 2010, a Fulbright Fellowship in Germany in 2008, and a B.A. in Classics and German at Boston College in 2007.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Missa de Angelis

Notes on Today’s Pontifical Mass at the St. Paulus Dom, Münster
The Solemn High Mass at Münster’s Cathedral was a little special today, because it was celebrated by Bishop-Prelate Clemens A. Kathke, the General Secretary of the Bonifatius Werk, on the occasion of the opening of their fundraising campaign for next year. The Bonifatius Werk (named for St. Boniface) administers to “diaspora” German Catholics, that is, German Catholics living in other countries of Europe. As such, today was quite the to-do.
My first observation should be that, when the Germans mean to, they can put on a Solemn High Mass that would make the most high-church Anglican proud. First, as they process in, one realizes that they have a clean dozen torchbearers alone, in addition to a couple other dozen Ministranten (acolytes) whose function never became clear to me other than to stand in the (appropriately large, for a medieval cathedral) sanctuary. Second, unlike their American counterparts, these Roman Catholics still understand about “smells and bells”: there was a liberal dosage of incense at all the proper moments (procession and recession, Introit, Gospel (they still cense the Gospel book!), Offertory, and Consecration—where the innumerable torchbearers rather formed a ring around the high altar, being, as it is, in the center of the sanctuary), and they still ring the bells at the Consecration. Finally, the clergy of the cathedral chapter were appropriately decked out in their scarlet scapulars and—get this—berettas!
The most wonderful part for me of today’s liturgy was, however, the music, for they decided to sing the Missa de Angelis. Most American Roman Catholics are probably scratching their heads over this one, but as one raised in a high-church Anglican Catholic parish, I am very familiar with this Mass setting, for it was the standard at our church during Trinitytide (for the Roman Catholics, that’s “Ordinary Time”). I relished the ability to sing the Kyrie, for once, without having to look at the hymnal; and though, since the other parts were sung in Latin, I did have to sing from the hymnal (for, though I know them in Latin, I am not familiar with them as they mesh with the music), the graceful familiarity of the notes of this Mass were of great comfort to me. Gloria in excelsis Deo!

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