For the last seven years, I’ve been involved in the organization of conferences focusing on the importance of sacred liturgy and music in the life of the Church. This journey began with my own longing for the sacred, which led me to form Schola Cantus Angelorum in 2007 as a response to Pope Benedict XVI‘s request for liturgies to be celebrated with the beauty and solemnity of the traditional Gregorian chant.
From its modest beginnings in 2013 The Sacred Liturgy Conference has grown into a premiere annual event with participants coming from throughout the United States and beyond. The 2017 and 2018 conferences attracted nearly 400 participants and included bishops, archbishops, and a cardinal.
So how did this happen? As Cardinal Burke said: “The growth of this conference is evidence of a great thirst in the people for the Truth of the Sacred Liturgy and its beauty.” It was exactly this thirst that caused the Sacred Liturgy Conference to come into being. How is it possible to study the encyclicals and writings of popes and saints throughout Christian history and not thirst for the depth and breadth and beauty of the liturgy? How is it possible to read the declarations of Councils of the Church on the importance of sacred music in the liturgy and not ask the question: “All of these documents prescribe Gregorian chant as the preeminent choice for the sacred music of the liturgy; why do we not hear it in our local parishes?”
It was with these questions in mind that Schola Cantus Angelorum began sponsoring the first conferences on the sacred liturgy. From the beginning, they have been a combination of reverent Gregorian Masses, lectures focusing on liturgy and sacred music, and introductory workshops on how to chant. In the beginning, I gave most of the lectures and taught the workshops. As the conference progressed, we’ve added a continually evolving international faculty made up of biblical, philosophical, theological, and liturgical scholars. We now follow a protocol of 12 lectures following a theme for each year and hold Q&A sessions with the faculty. We also have both introductory Gregorian chant workshops and workshops for priests, deacons, and seminarians on how to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass. The highpoint of the conference is the celebration of four beautiful Gregorian liturgies ending with a Marian procession and Eucharistic Benediction.
Why has the conference prospered? Clearly, there is a great thirst, as Cardinal Burke observed, and we can never discount the guidance and blessings of the Holy Spirit. But the conference has also grown because of the support and encouragement of many prelates including Cardinal Raymond Burke, Archbishop Alexander Sample, Bishop Robert Vasa, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, and many priests including Fr. Gerard Saguto, FSSP; Fr. Vincent Kelber, O.P. and Fr. Gabriel Mosher, O.P.; Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth of ICEL; Fr. Cassian Folsom, OSB (the Benedictine professor from Norcia, Italy); and Fr. Theodore Lange, Missionary of Mercy.
The combination of lectures designed to enlighten the intellect about the grandeur of the sacred mysteries and the actual experience of the Gregorian liturgies has brought interior transformation to many participants. Some return each year to drink from this fountain of living water and to taste the purity of divine truth, wisdom, and beauty. “A springtime of the church and a foretaste of heaven” is the way Bishop Athanasius Schneider described the 2018 Sacred Liturgy Conference.
Each year, we focus on a specific theme revolving around the Holy Sacrifice. This year’s theme explores “The Living Waters of the Eucharist” and will take place May 28–31, 2019 on the beautiful campus of Gonzaga University. The liturgies will be held at the nearby Churches of St. Aloysius and the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes and will be celebrated in the Roman Rite, both Usus Antiquior and Novus Ordo, and in the Dominican Rite.
The opening Mass of the conference on May 28 at St. Aloysius Catholic Church will be a Gregorian sung Novus Ordo celebrated by His Excellency Bishop Thomas Daly, Bishop of Spokane. Wednesday, the traditional Requiem Mass of the Roman Rite will be celebrated by Msgr Andrew Wadsworth for the poor souls of the Spokane Diocese. The high point of the conference will be the Roman Rite Extraordinary Form Pontifical High Mass of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ on Thursday, May 30 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes. His Excellency Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco will be the celebrant. The concluding Mass on Friday will be The Queenship of Mary, celebrated as the Solemn High Mass in the Dominican Rite at St. Aloysius, followed by a Marian Procession through the Gonzaga University campus. The conference will conclude with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction.
The mission of the Sacred Liturgy conference is to promote the beauty, goodness, and truth of the liturgy. The liturgy is a gift from God to His Church for the right and just worship of God and as the efficacious path to holiness. It brings us to divine life in union with the Holy Trinity. The liturgy should be beautiful and totally oriented toward God. We want to show forth the profound depths of our rich liturgical and theological heritage through a combination of lectures, workshops, and sung Gregorian liturgies. The Sacred Liturgy Conference is open to anyone interested in the treasures of the Catholic Faith, and we encourage laity, religious, and priests alike to attend.
To register please visit www.sacredliturgyconference.
Images courtesy of Marc Salvatore.
Emeritus psychiatrist, musician, and executive director of the Sacred Liturgy Conference.