World Premiere Celebration of a New Mass Honoring St. Junipero Serra by Frank La Rocca
- Celebrant: Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone
- July 1, The Feast of St. Junipero Serra, Noon
- Mission San Francisco de Asis (Mission Dolores), founded by St. Junipero Serra
- Richard Sparks conducting, the Benedict Sixteen Choir and Choral Ensemble
This Mass is a gift of Terry Caster in honor of his late, beloved wife, Barbara Caster. We ask you all to pray for the repose of Barbara Caster’s soul.
Last year, as statues of St. Junipero were being defaced, toppled, and even decapitated, Archbishop Cordileone decided to commission a new Mass honoring St. Junipero Serra by Benedict XVI Institute’s composer-in-residence Frank La Rocca.
Integrating St. Junipero Serra’s favorite Marian hymn (the lesser-known Salve Virgin Pura), using the simple instruments available to the Franciscan friars in California, incorporating the traditional Latin rite as St. Junipero Serra would have prayed, the Missa Sancti Juniperi Serra will be celebrated for the first time in the world on the Feast of St. Junipero Serra, July 1, at the Mission St. Junipero Serra helped found in the year 1776: Mission San Francisco de Asís, the mission which gave birth to the great city of San Francisco.
This capstone Mass of the Sacra Liturgia San Francisco conference is open to the public. Space is limited and by registering you will help us plan.
A new painting by Bernadette Carstensen “St. Junipero Serra and the American Saints” will be set up as a shrine. The nine saints chosen convey the deep roots of Catholicism in America as well as the diversity of the Catholic Church, the world’s most diverse institution: St. Junipero Serra, St. Damian of Molokai, St Kateri Tekakwitha, Venerable Fr. Augustin Tolton, Blessed Fr. Michael McGiveny, St. Elizabeth Anne Seton, St. Rene Goupil and the unknown Indian martyrs.
These new works will be featured in a new EWTN documentary on St. Junipero Serra as America’s Other Founding Fathers with Archbishop Cordileone this year on the Fourth of July.
As always we welcome your presence, free of charge and are grateful for your prayers. If you can reasonably afford it, we ask for a gift of $25 or more, in lieu of ticket price, to help Archbishop Cordileone continue to evangelize, build, love and create anew with the Benedict Sixteen Choir and Orchestra.
Q and A with Frank La Rocca:
1. What was the genesis of the Missa Sancti Juniperi Serra?
It was commissioned in Fall of 2020. When Archbishop Cordileone commissioned my first work for the Institute, the Mass of the Americas, he said he wanted me to follow the model of the Franciscans at the Missions. The Mission churches are clearly places of worship — sacred spaces any European would have recognized — yet they incorporate materials and designs used by the native peoples of this continent. In a similar way, he wanted the music to breathe the same air as the treasury of music the Church has given birth to over the centuries, yet be based on popular devotional melodies, such as “La Guadalupana.”
For Mass of the Americas I did consult with Mission-era musical experts, though not in live interviews. My primary source was a book generally recognized as the first thoroughly researched musicological study of the music of the Missions, “From Serra to Sancho: Music and Pageantry in the California Missions” by Prof. Craig Russell of Cal State San Luis Obispo. It is a landmark work for anyone interested in this topic.
So I was already acquainted with excellent background material when I was asked to do this current Mass. For the Missa Sancti Juniperi Serra, I dug more deeply into Russell’s book, I bought a collection of hymns from the Mission Era published by the Franciscans, and also consulted a local Southern California expert, Steven Ottmanyi – who has written a 1000 page dissertation on this topic. I also carefully researched the musical instruments that were played at Mass by the Native Americans – instruments they themselves crafted after being introduced to European violins and flutes.
2. What would you say was your overall intention, in terms of musical expression, when composing the St. Serra mass?
My overall intent for this Mass was to honor St. Junipero with music he would recognize, in the only form of the Mass he would recognize (what we now call the Usus Antiquior). I do this in several ways: first, incorporating the chants from Missa Orbis Factor (certainly among the most likely chanted Ordinaries in the missions) into a newly composed Ordinary; second, using “original” instruments to accompany the voices — actual 18th century-style strings and flutes, which are notably different from the modern versions. Finally, most of all, I based the musical ideas of the Mass on what is known to have been St. Junipero’s favorite hymn: “Salve Virgen Pura”, a vernacular hymn to the Virgin Mary. The Mass begins with a processional Prelude (my new arrangement of “Salve Virgen Pura”) and the Agnus Dei recalls this Prelude, so the hymn serves as bookends to the music of the Mass — a procedure some might be familiar with in Bach’s Goldberg Variations — surrounding numerous variations of the hymn tune woven into the music of the Mass.
3. Do you think St. Serra assisted you in any way, with the St. Serra mass?
Shortly after beginning work on the Mass, I was diagnosed with colon cancer. Let me hasten to add it was caught early and I am cancer-free, Deo gratias. I composed this Mass during the weeks and months of uncertainty about the outcome, and so I felt very, very close to God. Indeed, working on the Mass was a profound comfort to me, reminding me of my dependence on grace not just for my health, but for musical inspiration. I did pray to St. Junipero, asking for his blessing on the work and to intercede for a good outcome to my illness.
I will state unequivocally that it is a complete waste of time and talent and diocesan resources to compose music for Masses celebrated using the 1962 Missal. It’s like Archbishop Cordileone and this composer don’t realize the liturgical renewal happened as a result of the Second Vatican Council. There’s no point in composing such music for the old Mass because that’s not the way Mass is celebrated today or anymore, and it’s not the Mass of the Church’s future.
It’s like if someone attempted to honor Charlie Chaplin by making a silent film using only the cinematic technology and methods available when Chaplin was alive. Interesting attempt at historical recreation of an obsolete art form, at best. Mostly irrelevant and uninteresting to 99% of people today, and of no use today.
I dare say that if Saint Father Serra were alive today, he wouldn’t be trying to recreate a liturgical art form from the past. He’d be trying to evangelize the current population of California, using current tools and the present, post-Conciliar liturgy: the Novus Ordo Missae.
This Mass setting is destined for the rubbish.
And herein lies the heart of the problem. The Mass is considered a form of diversion and entertainment rather than what it is: our fulfilling in justice our obligation as creatures to worship our Creator. If the elements that the Church prescribes are there and if the intention is sincere worship in all humility as utterly dependent on God for our next breath then the worship is valid and licit.
“It’s like if someone attempted to honor Charlie Chaplin by making a silent film using only the cinematic technology and methods available when Chaplin was alive. Interesting attempt at historical recreation of an obsolete art form, at best. Mostly irrelevant and uninteresting to 99% of people today, and of no use today”
is an incoherent statement.
There more than 5 Eastern Rite liturgies that only resemble the Latin Rite Novus Ordo in the order of the Mass and are as relevant today as when they originated. Euro-centric/ American Catholic exceptionalism is global violence against Catholics that want only to worship God in justice and not simply want to be amused.
The Eastern Rite Catholic Churches are not the dominant American expression of Catholicism.
It’s like trying to have a Chinatown in an American city. It’s touristy but not authentic and hardly matters to anyone who isn’t hungry for Chinese food.
Dear complete water of time, the benedictine institute is funded by very generous benefactors without drawing on diocesan resources. In fact, the composers an conductors are largely imported talents. They will not squeeze out your favorite style of music available,probably ,anywhere
to complete waste of life: “This Mass setting is destined for the rubbish.” The TLM will be around long after you have drawn your last breath and the Novus Ordo has been arbrogated
SSPX at heart
It is a great honor for great geniuses to construct a fine Cathedral like Notre Dame in Paris, for the glory of the Lord– and to create great works of art, literature, and musical masterpieces, for the glory of God, such as the great new Mass composed by our fine composer-in-residence, Frank La Rocca– we are so blessed to have him here.
+Sigh+ Modernist Iconoclast-
You do know that Chaplin’s films and his talent are considered classic masterpieces? In fact, he could do more with silence than the majority of moderns can do with all the glitz of CGI? Watch “The Kid” for an real tear jerker. If you are offended by “silence” then try the “The Great Dictator” for his skewering of fascists.
As if the past is empty. As if history only began in 1968. As if the past is anathema.
It seems appropriate for a Mass commemorating Saint Junipero Serra, as it closely resembles the Mass he would’ve prayed.
So perhaps every work of art is a waste of time? I’m not a fan of TLM but I have ticket to go to this because I hope it will be an uplifting experience.
May you benefit, YFC, from this celebration of the Gregorian/Tridentine/Traditional Mass.
Hey, if they’re going for historical authenticity, how about requiring everyone in the congregation to dress as the native population would have been dressed. Why trying to be historically accurate in some ways but not all? How about saying everyone has to walk to the Mass because there weren’t cars in Fr. Serra’s time? How about saying no electric lights will be used because they didn’t exist back then? How about saying nobody who’s handicapped can use a wheelchair or modern walker because those didn’t exist? No eyeglasses.
Silly illogical what-about-ism.
But, since you started the game how about this what about ism?
SCOTUS, our most august body of jurisprudence, now contains a a woman who doesn’t know what that means. The others are beset in their homes by howling mobs of baby eaters.
How about these Modern Times? Better? Worse?