Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

MoDo,a Little Pitchy?

It's nice to know that it is not just about matters ecclesiastic on which MoDo is wont to wax ignorant.

Right after pretty much admitting flat out that she knew literally nothing first hand about the presentations of the Metropolitan Opera before Peter Gelb's tenure, she proclaimed that they had been "musty" and "fusty".

Perhaps she just has an aversion to anything grand that is beyond her powers of understanding.

And has she become irony-impaired?
Peter Gelb still recalls the sting. “In second grade, my report card said I couldn't take criticism, and I remember being devastated by that.”
 Get it, Mo? 

He said that a teacher criticized him.... for not being able to take criticism..... and he couldn't take it.... you know, the criti--- oh, never mind.

(And yes, I know "pitchy" isn't a word, or rahter, didn't used to be, but there's nothing that we can do about it now.)

Funerals, the Dies Irae and Guilty Pleasures

I am, "behind the scenes," involved in the planning of several versions of Catholic funerary rites, in both cases the person with actual family authority knows nothing of the requirements and has enlisted my aid with the proviso that no one else knows I have been consulted.

In one case, to my great surprise, I learn that the decedent, a nun in the heady immediate post-VC II days would have wanted Gregorian chant, (I had always assumed she would have been a banjos and tambourine type,) indeed, the liturgical mess of the times may have played a part in her departure from the convent.
I had to explain to her godson that he might have a shot at getting the parish pastor and music director to agree to the propers in some form, but that the Dies Irae, which he was very keen on, was no longer an official part of the Mass, that some priests might allow it to be inserted as an Offertory chant.

In scouting hymn texts for one of the other liturgies I read through several older threads about funeral programming on the CMAA forum, and found a link to a wonderful "mediation on a lost treasure," that is, the Dies Irae, by a Mons. Pope.
Don't know how I missed it at the time, was that the year we actually moved? No matter.
Well worth the read.

I loved his point that yes, the poetry is about Judgment, but ultimately, even more so, it is about MERCY.

And then, apropos of nothing, except my local PBS station that broadcast a Live in HD From the Metropolitan Opera, or rather, broadcast all BUT THE LAST TEN MINUTES OF IT!!!!!!!! (Arghhh!) I was rooting around on Youtube and came across and listened to Jonas Kaufmann singing Ingemisco from the Verdi Requiem a time or two.

Or four.

A poster on another Kaufmann offering on Youtube refers to him as a "guilty pleasure," and I know what he means.
His technique seems so different from anything else I've ever heard or ever, really imagined as "good", his placement even within a single phrase so varied, the extravagance of his shifting of register to another -- can it be right?

But it is so effective. And his diction and the intensity and precision of his emotional expression is beyond compare.
Music aficionados often joke that the Manzoni Requiem was Verdi's "greatest opera."
Well, why not?  did he ever have a more superb libretto, or heartbreaking subject for any opera?

Maybe the most moving expression of penitence I've ever heard.
I groan as a guilty one,
and my face blushes with guilt;
spare the supplicant, O God.
You, who absolved Mary Magdalen,
and heard the prayer of the thief,
have given me hope, as well.
My prayers are not worthy,
but show mercy, O benevolent one,
lest I burn forever in fire.
Give me a place among the sheep,
and separate me from the goats,
placing me on your right hand. 
Is it illegal to use a prescription medicine that was given to someone else?

Not talking about a controlled substance here, and I know one is "not supposed to," but is it actually illegal?

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Kiss Day

I always find out about these things too late...

I'll be lying in bed drifting off to sleep and suddenly, I sit bolt upright, "Drat! I forgot to talk like a pirate today!"
Or last Sunday, "Wait, I didn't know there even WAS such a thing as national Ice Cream Day! Yeah, I had some, but... was it enough?"

Anyway, who know that the last day of the Colloquium this year was "World Kiss Day"?

I hereby apologize to everyone I failed to kiss.

Hmmmm... maybe that's only in the EF, or in the Anglican Use.

Wonder what the propers are....

"Not Our Children, Not Our Problem"

What an ugly thing to say, what an ugly way to feel.

But did anyone say it?

USCatholic has a piece about the anti-anti-immigrant backlash backlash..... I think I have that permutation  right.

And yes, there is some real hatred being expressed, some real denial of human dignity in the debate.

Anne Coulter's tweets in particular, as singled out in the USCatholic editorial... except, actually, the tweets retaliating against her tweets are uglier still.

But USCatholic references,
We've even seen protesters use the slogan "Not our children, not our problem."
and links to an opinion piece in the Miami Herald that says
When demonstrators in California recently turned around busloads of the kids being brought to a processing center, one woman was holding a sign that said “Not Our Children, Not Our Problem.”
Horrifying, such naked contempt for fellow human beings, and children, no less, huh?
I was looking for a photo, but the photo accompanying the Herald column was of something else.
So I did a Google Image search for such a sign and came up empty.
So I searched for the phrase in the news.

Dr Jane Aronson at HuffPo rightly finds such a sentiment, which she uses to title her post, chilling, but attributes it to a different source:
 a sign that was photographed outside a holding center in Texas ... The sign was held by an American citizen who is threatened and afraid of a community from afar.
So everyone agrees it's awful, and would be a real indictment of the people protesting the porousness of our borders -- if it is true.

But is it?
In a society that creates and publishes photographic records of every pimple and twitch, isn't it odd that this sign cited by multiple news outlets doesn't seem to have been captured in pixels?
So it's all just, someone said that someone said that someone... you get the idea.

Is it like the anonymous voice in the crowd threatening candidate Obama with violence or the anti-war protestors spitting on returning servicemen... something we want to claim is emblematic of a time and an atitude that just didn't happen to happen?
Why let facts get in the way of a good argument....

I have to be honest, a combox mentioned hearing someone chant "not our children, not our problem," (not a sign,) on the Rachel Maddow Show, but I'm having trouble with javascript, so there may be evidence on Youtube that I just can't see.

(And speaking of "phony, grandstanding, Bible-toting hypocrites", could Catholic news media please stop giving Anne Coulter publicity, and holding her up as some kind of model Catholic? I'm sure she's done some wonderful, Christian things, but her... liabilities should disqualify her.)

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/17/4241587/why-washington-wont-solve-the.html#storylink=cpy

Who was the Pope's audience? Does it matter?

I read in Zenit that the Holy Father was addressing diocesan priests when he said,
"Bishops must give an example of unity, "  reminding the priests that was what Jesus had asked of His Father for the Church.
“This cannot be done speaking badly about each other. The unity of bishops is important to the unity of the Church”, he said, adding that the devil revels in and profits from internal conflict.
“The bishops must be in agreement in unity, but not in uniformity. Each one has his charisma; each one has his way of thinking and his point of view.” Though he admitted at times this is the result of mistakes, often it is the result of the Spirit.
“A unity in diversity,” is what’s needed, “in which no-one loses his own personality.”
I read on Eponymous Flower, a self-described "polemical Catholic Royalist blog,"
Pope Francis asked the Evangelicals and Pentecostals for forgiveness for the "assault and slander" that were committed by Catholics.  Literally, the Catholic Church's leader said: "Among those who are members of the Pentecostals were prosecuted or convicted, as if they were madmen who would destroy mankind, were also Catholics." Next, the Pope said: "I am the shepherd of the Catholics, and therefore ask you for forgiveness for those Catholic brothers and sisters who were possessed by the devil and did not understand anything."....
It is "a temptation to say: I am the Church, you are the sect. Jesus prayed for unity. The Holy Spirit creates diversity in the Church. He makes the differences. But then Holy Spirit makes the same unity and the church is one in diversity. A diversity reconciled through the Holy Spirit," said Pope Francis according to Lettera43.
What is Lettera43? (An Italian newspaper, but i can't work out exactly what sort, reputable?)
Eponymous Flower uses more actually-enclosed-in-quotation-marks-phrases than other reports that I have read of what the Pope said.
I assume they are well informed and trustworthy?
(Although there is this continuing problem of diverse sources reporting on diverse matters of  diverse opinions of the Pope of diverse degrees of authority -- none of which can be corrected! My mind drifts back to Eye of the Tiber too, too often when reading about our Holy Father.)

I imagine he did use the same phrase in those two different contexts... do you suppose there are shades of meaning for him?
Does he see the fractioning of the Body of Christ as the ultimate scandal?
Or does he think the Holy Spirit is responsible for the  twenty to thirty-some THOUSAND different Christian denominations?
Do the differences just boil down to practices? not to competing claims of Truth?
I cannot wrap my mind around this.

I would be satisfied for now to know what "agnosticism that has entered into the Church in groups of intimist piety” refers to.

What is "intimist piety?

Unity in Diversity?

Not sure what any of this means.
"Among those who persecuted and denounced Pentecostals, almost as if they were crazy people trying to ruin the race, there were also Catholics," [Pope Francis said on a visit to a Pentecostalist Church,] "I am the pastor of Catholics, and I ask your forgiveness for those Catholic brothers and sisters who didn't know and were tempted by the devil."

Was this a specifically Italian thing? Haven't found much about it online so far.

I do think history demonstrates all too clearly that when one religion makes accommodations with an opressive state to protect itself, it almost invariably ends up joining in the oppression directed at others.
Speaking to some 350 Pentecostal faithful in the church, Francis ....stressed that there was unity in diversity within Christianity.
 Yes, but in what way? There is unity in diversity within the human race, but what does this mean in the context of the Faith? what does it mean FOR the Faith?
In a statement earlier this month ..., several Italian evangelical groups met in the same city and stressed the "incompatibility" of their beliefs with that of the Catholic Church and its pope.
So I would have thought.

How has Francis's approach to unity in diversity worked out?
The popular, charismatic movements have drained parishioners from the Catholic Church, particularly in Francis' own Latin America.
Exciting, exciting times in which to live.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Liturgical Ministers Training?

Honest, it may seem like it, but I am not picking on Praytell and its writers.
I wasn't reading them for a while, it seemed so boilerplate WeAreNoArticlesPleaseChurch, and their lionization of certain persons and unfair silencing of others was a bore.

But I am very grateful to them for the links to various occurrences at the NPM convention, and have been dropping in there a bit more often.

Anyway, this reference isn't even a criticism, it's more of a lament -- someone asked what kind of training people did for "liturgical ministers."

My parish?

Clearly -- NONE.

The lay readers, (who strangely, are full of advice,) are about 50% incompetent in one way or the other, (projection, diction, preparation, cursory knowledge of the order of Mass, careless and casual posture and liturgical gesture.)

The Extraordinary Ministers are a mixed bag. One once asked me to grab a paper towel and swab out the ciborium to "make sure there were no crumbs left."

They do have, as is usual, among the lost little children serving  as servers, two older gentlemen who approach and accomplish their office, I would almost say, perfectly.

Every parish I have ever known has one or two such.

I have never understood, why are they not asked to train the children? Why is it left to a harried priest or an ignorant DRE?


The Praytell blog  linked to Art in the Sanctuary, a site dedicated to Better Than Burlap Banners  the design and rigging of temporary liturgical art.

With pulp missals meant to be thrown away, and music in styles of the moment which will embarrass your children, why ever would you want art other than the ephemeral?

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Seeking a Decree of Nullity

There's some jawing back and forth, (I know on line it's not literally jawing, but it just seems the right word -- there's an old joke, or line from some writer about the Chicago alderman who would lie that he had a ham sandwich for lunch when he really had tuna, just to keep in practice -- I think comboxes attract people who love to say things like, I didn't imply, YOU INFERRED! or maybe, you should have said "some" if you didn't mean to imply "all"!!!!, so that even if only your fingers come into play on those comments, you're "jawing,")  on the subject of , (yeah, I know that's not what they are, really,) annulments over at Fr Z's.

The subject, improving my life as immensely as it has, is of great interest to me.

But THIS comment, after another poster had linked to a tribunal form gave me pause.
are you aware that if you have completed that form, by providing a link to it here you have violated the sworn oath not to reveal the questions?
The questions?
Winesses are generally sworn to secrecy about the questions? I followed the link, and it does indeed require secrecy regarding the questions.

I don't remember any such undertaking in Himself's case not to divulge details, in fact I am fairly certain that he was encouraged by his advocate to share with anyone who might help in recall of facts.

And since that time we have shared quite a bit of the process several times, in counseling other people to seek decrees, and in praising the process in general.

Perhaps different tribunals have different rules?


According to one online dictionary, the most queried after word over the past 24 hours is "intercalate."

Wonder why?

(I was on the page for my yearly reminder of what "ontology" and "teleology" mean, which I forget and confuse for no other reason than that I first learned them both at about the same time. Kind of the way everyone who had this ,or one like it, in her Latin book...

...has trouble remembering which word is for "arm" and which for "branch.")

The Ghost in the Machine?

No, not some dualistic view of soul and body, but an actual machine acting as if... what? it had a spiritual side?

Printing, or at least trying to print a largish, (in denomination, not size or number of pixels, if indeed pixels is how a pdf is measured, I haven't the foggiest,) coupon.

My computer begins singing, or rather shrieking, a high-pitched moan I had never heard before, and instead of the expected coupon, out comes something by Blessed Columba Marmion, which I had read or at least skimmed a few weeks or so online, which I was not now, (not sure I need to but I turn off wi-fi when I'm not using it,) but had not tried to print, or even save, so far as I know.

I guess the universe wants me to read it.

Or the blessed man himself?

(They hate us though, computers, doncha think? or at least remind us they think they are better than we are.....)

What does "botched" mean?

Headlines again today, "Another Botched Execution," this time in Arizona.



How can you call it botched when your intent was to kill a man and make him suffer because he killed people and made people suffer?

Didn't it happen just the way you... just the way we, since you insist in making your citizenry complicit in these state sanctioned killings -- just the way we wanted it to?


Lord, have mercy on us.

Lord, grant Joseph Rudolph Wood II peace.

Lord, grant his victims peace.

Lord, grant their families peace.

But again, Lord, have mercy on us.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Lying With the Truth

Selective, out-of-context quoting in order to make it seem as if someone said almost the exact opposite of what he actually said is a method espoused by the slantyest of slanty communicators, (a technique that will henceforth be known as the "'You Didn't Build That' Ploy," or alternatively the "'Women Are Helpless Without Their Sugar Uncle' Gambit.")

A Catholic Bishop, inexplicably said that he does not identify with those glum people praying the Rosary outside of abortion mills.

Or did he?

Rather than criticizing the pro-life activists, was he actually criticizing the secular media that, in the visual equivalent of selective out-of-context quoting, shows pro-life activists in an unattractive light deliberately so that viewers will not identify with them?

"On that occasion I said we should be careful, especially with television, in which only images are used that help to support personal theories. I gave as an example those that focus on the most inexpressive faces of [persons] praying the Rosary against abortion in front of clinics."

Grief and Numbers and Familiarity, and the Virtue of Hope

It is a truism that we are often more moved by one death than by many, that thousands of children dying half a world away somehow haven't the power touch us the way the story of a single child in the local paper.

There is a quote often attributed to Stalin, "One dead man is a tragedy, a million are just a statistic," (when, in consideration of the source,  it seems chillingly evil.)
But that is really an aphorism extracted from a more thoughtful, longer quote from Erich Maria Remarque’s The Black Obelisk that speaks to the human inability, sometimes, to grapple with too enormous realities.
It’s strange, I think, all of us have seen so many dead in the war and we know that over two million of us fell uselessly–why, then, are we so excited about a single man, when we have practically forgotten the two million already? But probably the reason is that one dead man is death–and two million are only a statistic.
And it almost goes without saying that that which is "closer to home," whether literally or figuratively, is more affecting --  as a rule.

But what of the heart and mind that begin to work in the opposite way?

What does it say when one is moved to tears, over and over and over and over, night after night, all throughout the day, by the tragedies piling up all around the world, the wars and threats of war, the sudden deaths and the inexorable dying, and not manage more than a perfunctory platitude and a prayer for someone one actually knows?

Is it that, having borne, having survived a grief one felt would nearly kill one, almost all deaths can be countenanced with equanimity, can be contemplated with the hope that is born of genuine faith in Christ?

Or is it really some kind of riff on Lear's outrage that "a dog, a horse, a rat [should] have life,. And thou no breath at all?" and a sort of cynical, (and sinful,) refusal to summon up any hope at all?

Oh, no, God, You're not going to trick me into asking for something again....

Is that it?

The Admonitions of St Francis

These are not something I had known of before,  the Irish Franciscans have a lovely page of the saint's spiritual writings.

How much lovelier and more eloquent is this than the prayer of more recent origin often inaccurately attributed to him.
Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.
Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor disturbance.
Where there is poverty with joy, there is neither covetousness nor avarice.
Where there is inner peace and meditation, there is neither anxiousness nor dissipation.
Where there is fear of the Lord to guard the house, there the enemy cannot gain entry.
Where there is mercy and discernment, there is neither excess nor hardness of heart.

“It was the first day of the Feast of Thin Bread”

Over at Corpus Christi Watershed, Fr. David Friel has a good article enumerating just is wrong with Children's Liturgy of the Word, and the Lectionary for Masses with Children, and their use (and as far as I am concerned, what is wrong with the Directory for Masses with Children all the hoopla that has proceeded from it .)

At my old parish, his first one, The corny send-off rituals & banal music that accompany the children’s exit,  was the only one I had any control over, and I did take care of it right away, replacing the circus-worthy ditty that nobody sang anyway, with  a hymn about gathering for the Word, which actually, (oh, horrors!!!!!!) referenced the Fear of the Lord.

But seriously, to make my point I have only ever needed to ask this:

Has ANYONE, in the entire history of our country ever been so stupid as to think thought that kindergartners, or even pre-schoolers needed to be taught to say,

"I promise, honest! to always be on the same side as my 
country's flag and to my county, which has a fair way of 
deciding things, one place that can't come apart, where 
everybody can pretty much do what they want within reason, 
and we all get a square deal,"



We teach them,

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of 
America and to the Republic for which it stands, one 
nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

(I left out "under God" since it was an addition, AFAIK, and so that you would know this is me being curmudgeonly, and hasn't really anything to do with religion )

Although they have no idea whatever of the meaning of "allegiance," for instance, we teach them the pledge as it is, and they learn the words by heart, (in every sense of the word, hopefully,) and eventually come to understand them, (also, now that I think of it, hopefully.)

Feast of Thin Bread.... sheesh. Could have been worse, could have been "Crispy Bread Holiday," I guess.

Does this "count"?

I'm not proud of this, but I've never been a real stickler about arriving to Mass on time  when I am a member of the congregation.

I suppose this might have something to do with growing up in an enormous household with multiple Church obligations, and multiple parishes attended, with seemingly infinite permutations of who needed to be at which church in which capacity for which Mass time and would ride in which car driven by which parent or maiden aunt (since we had only a single car when there were twelve of us.)

So yeah, except for servers, being late was not all that unusual an occurrence. And we, or at least I, acquired a little bit of the, "did we get here in time for this Mass to count?" sensibility.

(Now that I think of it, we kids, when we were old enough and near enough to walk to church on our own must have made this up ourselves, as my parents would NEVER.) (I mean NEVER.)

Such a mindset is alive and well, as we see we see in a letter to Zenit wondering, when it comes down to it, when blessings "count."

Catholics, ya gotta love'm.

(As if God cannot impart His graces wherever and whenever and however He will....)

(I realize that sounds heretical for someone who someone who adheres to a sacramental theology, but I don't think the two ideas are incompatible. Christ does assure us that with proper form, matter and intent  grace will be extended to us in certain ways, but that in no way prevents Him from thinking, or rather operating outside the box and doing so even, or maybe especially when we and our actions are wanting in some way.)

Politics and Principles and... Schadenfreude?

That's not quite the word I want, but cannot come up with another.
I suppose that's the reason schadenfreude has gained currency in English, we have no equivalent, can't even  think of a near equivalent phrase that requires fewer than five words.

In any case, I am thinking I may need to stop reading any political news for the next EVER.

A headline that greeted me in my inbox concerning a serious and seemingly very blatant ethics violation from a politician whose stances I share on many issues but whose position on one great matter I consider little short of diabolical.

I was glad...

Now, morally it is possible to feel relief that there is less chance of what one sees as a great evil befalling people, or that there is a greater chance of some great good coming to pass, but that wasn't what I felt.

I was glad.

This cannot be good.

Because I'm not sure if what I feel are principled attitudes -- does one side on an issue seem right and good to me because it logically follows from my take on other issues, is it consistent with fundamentals I've already embraced?
Or is it toeing the party line?

I mean that only figuratively, because I have no party, and therefore no party line, (full disclosure, I am nevertheless registered in one party.)

But you know what I mean, because I agreed with someone or group before, I'll agree with them on this matter, as well, EVEN IF IT CONTRADICTS THE PUTATIVE PRINCIPLES ON WHICH THE PREVIOUS POSITION WAS REACHED.

I see this much more often than I thought I would, I'm 100% for states rights (although I want the Feds to strike down any state's more liberal marijuana laws,) or from the other side, I'm 100% for states rights (although I want the Feds to strike down any state's more conservative marriage laws.)
People choose up sides the way they usually choose up sides, regardless of the merit of an individual argument.

One certainly sees this in the Church, even in cases where I would not have thought there was any "political" divide.

Seriously, don't you often hear something and think, Well yeah, who's gonna argue with THAT?

And  the answer turn out to be, Lots of people.

I was shocked, --  really, genuinely shocked that when a well-known reporter engaged in ugly commentary about a member of the, a bias against whom he had consistently displayed, and was suspended from his news organization for this clear lack of charity, (and, perhaps more important in a media outlet, lack of objectivity,) virtually the entire commentariat at a similarly minded magazine from another country thought the little weasel had been unfairly dealt with.


Now you see my bias.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

I don't think male transgender job seekers would need to fear prejudice aginst them by Human Resources departments...

.... if instead of being flamboyant caricatures of hyper- feminine dress and appearance, they all dressed like this:
 Maggie Gyllenhaal, "Very Good Girls" premiere

Like the news, only important...