Forty voices of Capella Giulia of St. Peter's Basilica, commonly called the Vatican choir, burst into impromptu musical prayer - Franz Schubert's beautifully haunting "Ave Maria" - moments after they entered the Oceanside church, following more than 21 hours of travel from Rome.
"I heard the angels sing," said Father Ben Innes, Franciscan Guardian of the mission.
The 20 male and 20 female voices flowed off the walls and roof of the church late Monday evening, making musical history at the mission because there were the first notes ever sung outside of Europe by the choir, established in 1513 by Pope Julius II.
"I was crying with joy, it was so moving," said Linda Waters, a member of the bicentennial organizing committee who met the chorale at Los Angeles Airport and escorted its members through customs and on to the mission to meet their host families.
"They had been traveling for more than 21 hours and they got here two hours later than scheduled," Waters said, "and they just all gathered around and began to sing with (choir master) Msgr. Pablo Colino directing them."
For Innes, it was the realization of something he had not thought possible - having the renowned choir, which has been singing Sunday Mass at St. Peter's Basilica for almost five centuries, singing a birthday Mass at 10 a.m. Saturday in the mission.
Besides performing a Mass written by Austrian composer Joseph Haydn in the same year the mission was founded, the choir will sing at three concerts to help defray the cost of bringing it here.
The music of Mozart will be featured at concerts at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Friday tickets cost $50, $75, and %125. Tickets for Saturday night's performance cost $75. More than 200 tickets for $150 and $200 have been sold for a package that night that includes a black-tie reception before the concert and a champagne-and-dessert soiree afterward.
At 2 p.m. Sunday, the choir's final program this side of the Atlantic will feature Faure's requiem and one of Bach's Brandenberg concertos. Tickets for this program are the same as Friday's.
"People should know that, just because we have a great choir here, it's performances aren't sold out yet," Innes said. "The concerts are in the Serra Center, which will hold 916 people for each performance. Friday night is about three-quarters sold, and Sunday is about 80 percent sold. But we still have about 60 percent of the seats available for Saturday's concert."
The mission will probably lose money on what is one of the largest, if not the largest, coups in its 200-year history, he said. "So consider this as our gift to the community on our 200th birthday," he said.
The acquisition of the Vatican choir for the celebration has a history of its own. It begins with local pension consultant George Schleder, who has frequented an Orange County antique shop for years and came to know its owners, John and Cynthia Miley.
Schleder - a member of the bicentennial planning committee formed three years ago - and the Mileys often discussed the possibility of imitating a top-quality music festival in Southern California.
The Mileys met Brooklyn-born Maestro Gilbert Levine on an airplane several years ago. Levine, despite his obvious Jewish heritage, established links with the Vatican when he worked with a symphony orchestra in Krakow. That led to a 1994 concert with the Vatican choir to commemorate the Jewish Holocaust of World War II and, eventually, to Vatican Knighthood.
When he visited the Mileys late last summer, they drove him to the mission and broached the subject of bringing Capella Guilia to Oceanside. The rest is history.
"When we found out we could come, it was a big surprise to us," said choir director Colino through an interpreter.
A major difficulty in putting together the trip was picking 40 singers from the total troupe of some 200 members. None of the Vatican performers had been to the United States before. Their visit is a dream come true for most of them, too, said Andrea Antonini, a member of the choir.
Fellow chorister Chris Phillips, who turns 46 on Thursday, explained some of the choir's makeup. Its members come from several countries, are of several denominations, and their ages run from 16 to 66.
Phillips, a Brit who points out "I'm not a Catholic," said the prerequisite for membership - besides having a voice that passes Colino's ear - is dedication and commitment to the time rehearsals and performances take. Some members work, others are students, and some are professional musicians.
"Think of it as the ultimate church choir," said Levine.
If you want a tryout, Phillips said, it's best to know someone on the choir, "like I did. I was working in Rome as an IBM technical writer, and I knew a co-worker who was a member and I got an audition."
An audition is simply an opportunity to sing for Colino, who has been the choir director for 18 years.
And, today's, he's part of musical history in Oceanside.
Once a disease takes hold, desperate measures must be taken to eradicate the menace. Such a desperate measure was taken this week by Cardinal Bernard Law in the Archdiocese of Boston when he not only removed a retired priest guilty of pedophilia committed over twenty years ago, but defrocked him - the first ever in the Boston See to be so humiliated. As we stated in Tuesday's News & Views headlines, "It's about time!" Only by the bishops standing up to these atrocities and uniting in an effort to eradicate this abnormal cancer can the Church be assured of a fair trial in the court of public opinion and in the court of responsibility before God. By warning all - both clergy and laity - of the dangers inherent for both perpetrator and victim and the fallout to the faithful - more people will not only be aware, but take extra measures to see this never happens again.
While this sickness is just coming to full light in the late nineties, it is something the Blessed Mother prophesied many times, specifically at La Salette regarding the abnormalities of our times. She foretold of an invasion of men who would rise in the clerical ranks to high posts and who would do much to damage the name of her Divine Son's Church and do grave scandal and harm to His children. It is documented that homosexuals and dissidents infiltrated the seminaries thirty to fourty years ago, and the results of those who have escaped the scrutiny of their superiors is that some of these "Church-wreckers" have been appointed to high posts in seminaries, parishes and even dioceses and have wreaked their venom from there, invecting their perverted practices into the mainstream as acceptable and doing all they could to drum out those who were loyal to Jesus and His Holy Church. Thus, over the past three to four decades the Church has been undermined to the point where it has been weakened by many "rotten apples" that have tainted the "barrels" producing bruised and rotting fruit that satan has stirred into a sour cider that dilutes the truths of Holy Mother Church. Now , finally, the Church is fighting back, ridding the barrels of all the rotten fruit they can, and planting new seeds that will bear great fruit but not until after the glorious Triumph of the Immaculate Heart. Until that time of fruition, we are left with a severe shortage as the barrel has been cleaned out. So many good priests are dying off and very few young ones to take their place. The Holy Father is doing his part by placing responsible, loyal and, for the most part, conservative prelates in diocesan seats throughout the world, but so much damage has been done over the years by liberals and those men whose own agenda superceded God's Will, that we are indeed in a time of famine. Our Lady has told us of these times and they will get worse before they get better. That is not gloom and doom, but wise counsel from Our Lord and His Blessed Mother Who have imparted over the past two centuries in numerous apparitions and messages that there will come a time when we will long for the Holy Eucharist and It won't be as readily available as before. With the shortage of priests and the increase of bad priests finally being exposed, the fulfillment of these prophecies are all too inevitable.
So one might think: "well if we need priests so badly, why not reclimate these priests, place them in environments where they won't be tempted?" All well and good, but once the apple has began rotting, short of a miraculous cure by Heaven, it will continue to rot and spoil every apple it comes in contact with. One might also chime in with the tired refrain of the modernists: "then why not allow married priests which could more than double the ranks of the priesthood, or allow women to be ordained, thereby quadrupling the numbers?" Had this been the case, don't you think Jesus would have appointed more than twelve Apostles? If Christ had intended women to be priests wouldn't Mary Magdalene, Martha, and especially His very Own Mother have been the first candidates? Our Lord had a reason for only appointing twelve, which many point to the fact that it represents the twelve tribes of Israel and the perfect number to replace the Old Covenant with the New Covenant as He dispatched them to all corners of the earth just as the twelve tribes had done at Abraham's beckoning. The fact Christ did not swell the numbers with more, but left His charges to the care of Saint Peter as the appointed head of His Church and left it to just twelve of His chosen Apostles to spread His teaching to all as He charged in Matthew 28: 19-20, Mark 16: 15 and Luke 24: 47-49, is just another verification that the priesthood remain intact as it has since the Council of Trent. As Jesus proved in His time, and the Cardinal of Boston is proving now: quality of priests is of much more benefit than quantity of priests!
Loyalty then to the Holy Father is an absolute 'must' for all who profess to be of the Roman Catholic Faith, who profess Catholicism as their creed, and who profess to live this creed daily in every thought, word and deed. We, as Catholics, have been given an abundance of graces to keep us in union with God's Will, which is Loyalty lived and expressed on a divine level.
Loyalty leads to respect. Respect for God, for country, for our neighbors, our families, ourselves. If we don't respect human life, which God created in His own image and likeness, then our loyalty is misplaced because we don't know who or what to be loyal to and why we must be loyal in the first place.
It is altogether too easy to dismiss the words of Christ's Vicar on earth and to rationalize that he's out of touch, and we, who think we know better, must do our own thing in order to have a neat, orderly, sweet life filled with worldly pleasures.
No, that's not the way it works. That's not loyalty in any definition of the term. Loyalty begins with God. It respects God's ultimate authority. Loyalty recognizes the authority God has given to an, first in His Church through the Apostolic succession, and then to local leaders. Let us remember well that LOYALTY is a rope whose threads connect us to the Will of the Almighty God. Those threads are composed of: Loving Obedience in Yielding All Life Through our 'Yes!'
Another imagery offered is the unique vision St. John Bosco received in 1862. He was given a prophetic dream in which he was given to understand that peace in the world would come only after a great battle in which the Pope would achieve victory by anchoring the Boat (the Church) of St. Peter securely to the pillar of Jesus in the Eucharist and to the pillar of the Virgin Mary through the Rosary. This vision is more of a prophecy for us today than for the Church of the 19th Century. Our Holy Father said in 1980: "The Rosary is the remedy against evil. Pray, pray and ask for nothing else. Put everything in the hands of the Mother of God. We must be prepared to undergo great trials in the not-to-distant future..." No one epitomizes the leader of this vision more than our present pontiff. Through all the trials during his reign John Paul II has steadily steered the Bark of Peter through all kinds of treacherous waters - political-religious wars everywhere, the crumbling of communism as we now it, the steady rise of freemasonry, the runaway evil of homosexuality and abortion, and the growing schism within Christ's True Church. Yet, through it all, he has not wavered as evidence by his "high-noon" stand on abortion at the Cairo Conference a few years ago.
To further clarify that St. John Bosco's vision was of our present pontiff consider that no pope has been more dedicated, rather make that "consecrated" to the Mother of God than this Totus Tuus Pope. No pope has been more Eucharistic - bringing Jesus to every continent throughout this sixteen-plus-year reign. And, truth-be-known, no pope in the line of 264 successors has had more adversity worldwide than his holiness John Paul II. Yet through it all he has remained loyal to the teachings of the Catholic Church, never compromising his values for political expediency as those liberals around him have done in trying to sabotage all that he has done. He, as our leader, has remained loyal to Christ and His Church.
Loyalty then to the Holy Father, as the Vicar of Christ, is essential in our life as Roman Catholics. We can only be loyal by truly living the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. Though the path is narrow, Mary's Divine Son has bestowed on those who remain loyal the ultimate privilege of receiving the True Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament every time we attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and receive Holy Communion in a state of Sanctifying Grace.
Those who rebelled against the Church in the Protestant Reformation had the same opportunities but chose to veer from the true lineage of Christ by taking their own course of action, thus losing the essence of the Sacraments. Many Catholic prelates today as well as lay leaders are advocating doing their own thing because "times have changed and the Pope does not understand the American lifestyle and customs." That is doubtful when you realize John Paul II is infused with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and it is preposterous when you realize that God, Who created each of us, was never, is never, and will never be "out-of-touch" with what we truly need and need to be.
The truth be told, those who persist with this fallacy are out-of-touch with God's Will for the Holy Father, as head of the Church, is the final authority in matters of faith and morals. These have not changed in two thousand years. When the Holy Father sets down doctrine and dogma concerning matters of faith and morals, we believe through the gift of Faith, that the Holy Father is speaking infallibly because He is guided in such doctrine and dogma by the Holy Spirit, Who is Truth, Who cannot lie or deceive, nor be deceived. It is the deceivers who are being deceived! This is the quintessence of the New Age movement.
Next installment: part three on loyalty.
King Louis XI of France ratifies the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges which decreed that royal approval was necessary for the publication of papal decrees in France. This was strongly denounced by Pope Sixtus IV.
Christopher Columbus returns to Spain after another excursion to the New World.
The marriage of King Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon which was hailed by the Church and all were in the good graces of Rome. In 1521 the king would be named "Defender of the Faith" for his stance against Martin Luther but when he divorced Catherine twenty years after they had been married, the split between Rome and England had begun.
Pope John Paul II bids adieu to his beloved homeland of Poland after an eleven day trip to Poland that included visits to his childhood sites and the Shrine of the Black Madonna.