Agustí Mas i Folch

Agustí Mas i Folch was born on December 6, 1866, in Barcelona, Mahonadors street, n. 9, 1. He was son of Josep Mas, born in Ponts (La Noguera) and Antònia Folch, born in Guissona (La Segarra). He was baptized at the Cathedral on December 9. Was an altar boy at the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Barcelona and there became a priestly vocation. He studied at the Seminary of Barcelona, with an eye to the Oratory. He received the sub diaconate in the seasons of Holy Trinity, 1888, the diaconate in May 1889 and the priesthood in the season of Pentecost, 1890, at age 23; and went to live in the Oratory of St. Philip Neri of Barcelona. Priests of Oratory, known as "felipons", focused in the confession and in spiritual direction of souls. Few years later, around 1894, Antoni Gaudí began coming to the Oratory and integrated into the "Oratorio parvo", intended for the laity, whose chaplain was Dr. Torras i Bages. Antoni Gaudí was friend of another priest of the Oratory, Fr. Lluís Maria de Valls i Riera, which took as spiritual director. Gaudí was embodying best practice characteristics of the spirituality of St. Philip Neri: the rediscovery of confession as a sacrament daily, constant prayer, the Eucharist daily, daily contact with the Bible also, the exercise of charity towards our brothers and devotion to the Virgin. And, of course!, he understood the two great insights of saint Philip Neri, of permanent value, but forged in the historical moment of the Reformation. First, that everything that has artistic value leads to God; and this was one of its aims in founding the Oratory: putting back the art, starting with the Music, the service of the Catholic Church. The second: a return to the primitive Church and the mutual love of the early Christians, who was the link between them and the permanent example for all generations. Both Fr. Lluís Maria Valls as then young Fr. Agustí Mas were great liturgists. Together with another lay of the Oratory and friend of Gaudí, Lluís Millet, founder of the Orfeó Català, they championed in Catalonia renewal of liturgical singing that was occurring throughout the Catholic Church in three directions: promotion of polyphony according increasingly with the dignity of the celebration, restoration of Gregorian chant and popular songs in the vernacular. Fr. Mas was the Gregorian. He translated from French 1894, informative work of M. C. Chartaud "Chant Grégorien, Grammaire élémentaire". He also traveled to Solesmes, the great Benedictine monastery which was the world center for restoration of Gregorian chant and in general of all Roman liturgies, the head of which was the Abbot Dom Guéranger. Three years later, in 1897, the Orfeo Català performed at the Eastern offices at the Oratory. Lluís Millet then permanently established with some of his singers the "Capella de Música de Sant Felip Neri", which played the chant in the three dimensions of classical polyphony -confused with the work of St. Philip in Rome sixteenth century-, Gregorian chant, and popular songs. The master compared the latter with Mary, solitary and contemplative, and Martha, busy and sometimes distracted, but both loved by Jesus. From the Oratory of Barcelona, then, they spread throughout Catalonia the work of Palestrina -singularly the "Mass of Pope Marcello"-, the Gregorian "Missa de Angelis", and the popular song in Catalan. Fr. Mas was appointed by the Bishop of Barcelona, Cardinal Casañas, as member of Sacred Music Commission of the diocese. And he did the issue in Gregorian chants types of Easter, despite the enormous difficulties posed by the lack of Gregorian types and of printers specializing in Barcelona. And so the church of the Oratory was distinguished by decorum and fervent Roman liturgy was lived. However, there was not a spirituality, but simply an aesthetic and pedagogy of the most genuine Oratory sense. The liturgical movement came to to the Oratory from outside, from the nuclei influenced by Dr. Torras i Bages, which belonged Antoni Gaudí, daily reader of the volumes worn and resizing of dom Guéranger. That is, the contribution made by the Oratory to the liturgical movement that took root in Catalonia was exclusively in practical and informative, always in a minor key, but very well-tuned, compared with Solesmes or Montserrat or the magnificent grandeur with which Gaudí described the solemn worship of the future Cathedral of the Sagrada Família. Precisely in the church of the Oratory, Gaudí was immortalized in 1902. The painter Joan Llimona wanted to use as a model of St. Philip Neri "the most illustrious and venerable bearded could be found in the chapel every day", in two large paintings. In the right, called "Deo Gratias", the saint explains the holy Christian doctrine to a crowd of boys and young men in Sant'Onofrio. On the left, entitled "Alabat sia Déu" is celebrating the Holy Mass, at the time of elevation, when the miracle of levitation and his face, the features of Gaudí, is transfigured. On November 22, 1903, when the "Capella de Sant Felip Neri Music", whose leader of Gregorian chant was Fr. Mas, it took more than six years running; the Pope St. Pius X officially restored the Gregorian chant as the Latin Church official. His “Motu proprio” was received with great joy in the Oratory of Barcelona, whose church was the first of Catalonia where, following the wishes of the Pope, established the participation of the faithful, the people, in the liturgical chant. Gaudí planned people's participation in the singing of Masses and memorized it. And Fr. Mas made a second edition of "Chant Grégorien, Grammaire élementaire" by Chartaud. However, Chartaud represented a different interpretation from that adopted by the Benedictines of Montserrat, led by dom Sunyol, which followed what was happening in Solesmes. Naturally, for a normal faithful was difficult to perceive these differences in school, but the fact is that Fr. Mas was surpassed by the Benedictine monks of Montserrat, who took their proper role of restorers of Gregorian chant in Catalonia, and even in Europe. Fr. Mas was marginalized, not wanting to adopt the Solesmes rhythmic system and at the end was the last Gregorian did not in Catalonia. Fr. Mas and Antoni Gaudí conversed about Gregorian chant, which the architect was the student and priest the teacher. Probably, the discussions would be strong, since both characters were. On Wednesday, August 17, 1921, at half past five, died Fr. Lluís Maria de Valls, spiritual director of Antoni Gaudí. So maybe early due to illness, Fr. Agustí Mas replaced him in this role. Gaudí was 69 and Fr. Mas was about to turn 55. Fr. Mas, besides popularize of Gregorian chant, was highly appreciated by his gift of counsel, the spiritual guide of souls. And he was a moralist and a correct writer. Austere and penitent was exemplary, with nothing to stand out from the ordinary conduct of an Oratorian priest. His legs were blistered, and questions of interest for their evil, would answer with elegant indifference. His life ranged from confessional, focuses primarily on young priests and seminarians -who endowed scholarships- and his ineffable room, full of papers, where he worked in the censorship of writings and the correction of liturgical texts. He was very laborious and the bishop responsible for lots of opinions ecclesiastical censure. On the other hand, knew the headings of memory and from his hands left liturgical yearbooks left without errors, printed timetable and computing, and most of the calendars of saints that were published in Barcelona. Fr. Mas cell was in one corner of the ambulatory on the first floor of the ancient residence of the Oratory of Barcelona. From the entrance, was like a narrow corridor through the shelves of books, and basically a comfortable desk, next to a balcony that gives on to Palla street. Facing the table, a stool, a purple stole, a chair and a door to the bedroom. On a column, emerged the head of St. Augustine, the saint of his name. On the desk, books and papers: Moral Theology volumes, with many recording paper lugs frequently consulted pages, lots of proofs of future books, passed by the Bishop for censor, and papers of all kinds, including of music. Fr. Mas was very fond of his cell. Just out: to celebrate Mass, to meet the confessional, and little else. At the time of maturity, he had undertaken the historical compilation of the Oratory of Barcelona, beginning with its founder Dom Olegari de Montserrat, in 1694, afterwards Bishop of Urgell, and Fr. Francesc Bofill, who endowed the house with magnificence. By his pen came the stories of Fr. Jacint Suyls, Fr. James Vallès, Fr. Valentí Pla, II Superior of the house, successor of Fr. Montserrat, the Fr. Josep Font, Fr. Antoni Albertí, Fr. Josep Lapeyra, Fr. Antoni Manent, Fr. Francesc Fontseca, Fr. Agustí Carús, III Superior, the largest in holiness since the founding of the house, with public miracles, Fr. Francesc Figueras, Fr. Josep Casassayes, Fr. Pau Tarrassa, Fr. Quirze Saurí, Fr. Nicolau Saurí, Fr. Francesc Elias, Fr. Raimon Ferrer, Fr. Francesc Amigó, etc. From the first three superiors, had resulted a living tradition of austerity, the fruit of marriage of Catalan austerity, elevated to poverty by Dante, and the austerity of St. Philip Neri. Fr. Mas let published the "Life of Blessed John Juvenal Ancina", "Saint Philip Neri Ascetic", "Scenes from the Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ for the children", "Scenes from the Passion of the Lord," "The Parables of Our Lord Jesus aimed at children" and "Sacred History, Old and New testaments". And he translated the "New plans for the Dominican sermons and celebrations of the year" by Howe, the "Life of Santa Paula", by the Dominican Fr. Genie, and the "Spirit of St. Philip Neri," by Fr. Luis Busserau. He never wanted to receive fees, which gave generously to editors. Fr. Mas was elected Superior of the Oratory of Barcelona in 1933. He had long been seen approaching the Revolution and promised a concrete way: "burn the temples, murdered the priests, tremendous time approaches, with their retinue of unspeakable horrors." And usually ended thus: "They will do what want". With the restoration of worship in Santa Maria de Poblet, Fr. Mas did make a white chasuble bound for the main church of the monastery, where they had great veneration for the relics of St. Philip Neri. The reconcilitation Mass was concelebrated October 20, 1935 by Cardinal Vidal i Barraquer and dom Francesc Font-Froide, abbot of Cuixà. Religious persecution began in late July 1936, Dr. Irurita, Bishop of Barcelona, on November 29, 1936, appointed Vicar General for the abnormal situation three Oratory priests: Fr Mas, Fr. Artigas and Fr. Torrent. But Fr. Mas was older and did not exercise this function, which went to Fr. Torrent. Fr. Mas, at 70 years, took refuge in the apartment of Mrs. Teresa Salarich, street Arcs, 8, with two other priests, Mn. Eudald Canturri i Baró and a third, who left this hiding in December. On February 15, 1937, were discovered by an anarchist patrol, which arrested the lady and the two priests and inmates them in the prison anarchist of Sant Elies (current parish of St. Agnes). After a month, the night of 15 to March 16, 1937, Father Agustí Mas, Mn. Eudald Canturri, Mn. Fidel Doce i Vàzquez and Mn. Ramon Bordes i Mallol were taken from prison and taken to Montcada, where they were killed. The body of Fr. Mas entered the cemetery of Montcada with the tab 514. He was identified by Fr. Torrent, who bought a niche and buried him. Fifty years later, his remains were transferred to the ossuary.

Josep Maria Tarragona, Jan 3, 2012

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Last update: 06/05/2016