New Challenging Projects

CHAPTER 34

Soon after becoming a regular Mass-goer at Maternal Heart of Mary, I found myself involved in huge challenging projects which involved by previous computer skills as well as adapting those skills to the needs of the nascent growing traditional Mass communities, growing not only in Sydney but also around the world.

A new friend, Michael Pearce, RIP, gave me the first big project: to update a totally new parish website. This was the beginning of further projects involving the needs of the traditional Mass.

Michael introduced himself to me after a couple of weeks at Maternal Heart of Mary. He was a lay expert in the liturgy of the Catholic Church, and his eyes lit up when I informed him that I was very familiar with web-site programming. He became a great friend of Aubynne and myself, taking us on tours of old Sydney, Balmain and the “warren” of Marrickville where he lived. So, I built a new web-site for the parish, and after eight years another layman has now taken site a step further in modernising its layout.

The big task for me was creating Mass propers. It is usual when entering a Catholic Church for Mass, one picks up a leaflet with the readings and psalms for that particular day. But at Maternal Heart of Mary, the readings were side by side translations of the Mass of the day in Latin and English. They were very necessary as many parishioners did not have either on old pre-1962 Missal, nor could afford more than one new one for a family. So people relied on the “pew sheet” available at the enterance of the proper when they entered the church. The “proper” of the Mass is the part of the Mass which changes for everyday of the week and for special feasts. I had many difficulties to overcome. I did not know Latin, and I did not know the format, nor the special extra prayers needed for many of the propers during the year. All was totally unfamiliar. In the meantime, it was also suggested that we needed a Mass booklet containing the Order of the Mass, that is, the fixed prayers of the Mass. Another unfamiliar task. Less than two years and the booklet and Sunday propers were finished, and then onto the Mass propers for the all the other days of the week – over 300 more “pew sheets”. Much of the time was spent searching the internet for Latin-English texts from Missals. If I couldn’t find one, I would use OCR software and scan an old Missal for the text

I relished this work. I started unconsciously to learn Latin, or at least to know that the scanner did not pick up the Latin correctly. I also got into a system where I could insert the Latin accents easily. Father Wong enjoyed finding Masses used for special occasions before the 1962 changes. They also became part of the task ahead. But after five years, I thought, my work in these were completed.

In the meantime, I realised that I could republish books where the copyright was not renewed. Since many valuable Catholic books were written well over 60-70 years ago, I found that I could publish public domain Kindle versions on Amazon of that much-needed information about Catholic teaching which was lost after 1962. Much of the work in preparing for Kindle publishing is having a good grasp of HTML and CSS, both of which I was very familiar with. After publishing a couple of unimportant books but seeing a little cash flow in royalties appear from Amazon I was encouraged to take on the most important of all: a full Latin-English Missal. This Kindle publication still remains a very popular product of mine of which I am most proud. Even after six years, sales keep slowly climbing, informing me that the traditional Latin Mass is steadily gaining in popularity among English-speaking Mass-goers, especially in the USA. Refer: http://patrimoniumpublishing.com

And then I created French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese versions of the particular language version of the 1962 Latin missal where I could find out and download pdf versions on the web. Careful proof-reading was essential when skipping between the OCR version and the original missal, but these books all turned out well and I picked up a working instinctive understanding of these languages.

The most recent, 2019, activity was the work to create Spanish versions of the Mass propers. The FSSP priests have been moving into Mexico and the traditional Latin Mass is again proving popular among the laity there, and in the USA among Spanish-speaking Latin Mass-goers.

Another challenge I made myself was to include the Kyriale and other occasional chants into these publications. The Kyriale is the collection of Gregorian chant scores required for sung Latin Mass – a collection which was compiled by Benedictine monks in the early 19th Century, since much of the tradition of sung Gregorian was lost over the past 300 years.

This work required using new software made by enthusiasts in France and Germany to codify from special text of the chant notes into a score sheet. I found this great fun and was able to create scores for all the Gregorian chant sung through the year, from which an .eps could be included in the file of a Kindle book. I also was determined to resurrect the singing of Gregorian chant in traditional Mass by the laity, by including the Kyriale and Alleluias into all the Kindle versions of the various languages. In doing this work I learnt how to interpret Gregorian chant for my own singing at church.

Unfortunately, I have finished all these projects (2020) but can look back at the work as being something of value to many people in the world. I believe that in the future, the Church will return more fully to the Latin Mass. Even here in Sydney there are diocesan priests who are interested in learning the Latin Mass and now have the resources to begin in their parishes.