Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Monday, 18 August 2014

What do they say, It's a ill wind, (or rather...

.. an ill recession,) that completely blows?

Or something like that.

A missive in my email inbox informs me:
The net revenue from [Voice of the Faithful's] end-of-fiscal-year appeal in May was less than half of what we projected.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Serendipity at the Cathedral Basilica

So, where do I find myself on Assumption?

The Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, I read once somewhere, would be where the royal family's weddings were celebrated if the US had a royal family.

It is that breath-takingly beautiful and beautifully situated.

I expected very little of a liturgy, but I am, as my nieces and nephews like to remind me, "2 lucky  2 live 4 long, Aunt Scelata."

John Miller, (IIR his name, C,) was the organist, and the Dupre postlude was stunning.
It was nice to hear and sing, (for the first time since the new translation,) the Lee Gloria, and the Proulx Commnity Mass.
Standard hymns, (WHAT??!?@?#??? an American parish where they didn't sing HMGW? saints be praised!) didn't think much of the Jones Magnificat, or an alleluia that tried to out-alleluia the celtic cliche, (and why if there is no deacon-returning-the-Book-of the-Gospels-to-a- place-of-honor procession do we need to repeat the alleluia post Gospel? that seems to have become part of the ritual,) but the server/ priest, cantor/lay reader, everyone perfect and perfectly diffident in their ministry. (Different from the near heretical sermon I sat through over the weekend while traveling.)

Bravo Mr Miller!

Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Newark, New Jersey

Friday, 8 August 2014

Syrian Orthodox Chants, Preserving an Ancient Tradition

Between 2006 and 2010, Jason Hamacher made many trips to Syria to photograph and record ancient chants.

H/T to Rod Dreher, you have to read this and listen to this, here's the transcript.

Jason Hamacher has made some fascinating recordings, and is doing a great service from both a musicological and a spiritual standpoint in doing so. (Pray to God, his recordings will NOT be all that remains of this liturgical music.)

Chant of other traditions fascinates me, and if I weren't so lazy I would know more about it.

(I can't be the only one who was always transfixed by the Gospel chanted in Latin and Greek from the Vatican. And when I indulged my "liturgical tourist" side of a Sunday morning in my nomad days, finding a Melkite, or Maronite church was always exciting.)
The project got its start when Hamacher read in a book about "the world's oldest Christian music." He tracked down author William Dalrymple, who told him there were no recordings of the music — and that "it's not a monastery in the desert; it is a Syrian Orthodox church in the middle of the city of Aleppo." Hamacher ended up staying at that church as a guest of the archbishop, who has since been kidnapped by rebels.

It feels wrong to be almost thrilled that we, (us, Americans,) have begun to do something, when that something is dropping bombs on other people.

But there you have it.

Lots feels "wrong."

"Nothing old-fashioned, like sex or murder...."

I love opera.
For all the carping about Peter Gelb, I am in his debt for his visionary role in bringing opera, the Met broadcasts in HD onto the big screen.
I love them.

Likewise, I love that the caddish, (or laddish?) writings of some UK critics and the fracas it engendered revealed to me the live streaming going on accessible in my very own home, on my very own ancient desktop, of productions from Glyndbourne and elsewhere.

And I REALLY love that besides Glyndbourne and ROH, England produces masterpieces like THIS promises to be (not) (oh, and also, not - that I'd want to watch it -- but com'on, that's first class comedy writing!):
Camilla Kerslake is ...hoping to shake up the opera world this week as she appears in a controversial new production, wearing a vampy floor sweeping Morticia-style dress.'They wanted me to go naked underneath, but I refused and we settled on nude underwear.'
The opera - covering sex, spirituality and plastic surgery and is the creation of composer Toni Castells.
Camilla hopes the new work will make opera 'more mainstream.'...
She added: 'In the modern day things like sex, plastic surgery and spirituality need to be addressed. 'The classic opera is full of murder and adultery but what we are trying to say is more about modern issues. It is basically an expression of human condition and is much more accessible to the average person on the street. This is a really exciting way to make opera more mainstream.'

The "Church of the Chickens" and a Breeze That Sounds Like Gregorian Chant

I am a lazy slattern, but I am thinking about walking "The Way".

For a while now, I've been noticing things, stories about the Camino, pictures, movies, o-hand mentions -- that kind of synchronicity is how events in my life find their beginnings, it seems.

This article popped up on a search for something, can't remember what.... (chant, maybe?)

And actually, lazy or not, I'm a good walker.

Poor Himself, I dragged him to the cliffs of Moher, and in Glastonbury, up the Tor, and then to see the Thorn, along a path rightly called "Wearyall."

It's his code now for putting up with my suggestions.
"I'll follow you up the hill."

Don't think he could do this, though, (although the wine fountain might be a draw...)

Happen there's another pilgrimage the two of us could undertake.

Something to think about.
But maybe I'm just too old.

"Maintain Clear Blue Water Between Liturgy, the Action of Christ and Other Human Activity"

Very solid piece of commentary regarding what the author, Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith, rightly calls a "non-story" about a "major matter," the attempt by the CDW to try to restore some dignity, some sense of the sacrality, some set-apart-edness to a portion of the liturgy that anyone with a lick of common sense would acknowledge has gotten out of hand in so many places.

The world "reserved" may mean stodgy in one context, but face it, an attitude of reserve is not out of placed when actions, places objects and words are reserved to a special use.
At bottom what lies behind this question is the major matter of maintaining clear blue water between liturgy, the action of Christ in head and members, and other human activities. The Congregation is rightly concerned to maintain the dignity of liturgy, and to avoid all those activities which undercut its true meaning. (Leaving the altar to greet people at the peace absolutely undercuts, indeed contradicts, the meaning of the Sign of Peace, as it entails leaving the altar and ignoring Christ Himself who is on that altar, and who must be the only focus of the celebration.) Moreover, once more, the Congregation is calling all of us – and the clergy must take the lead here – to guard against the loss of reverence, and the loss of transcendence in our liturgical celebrations. 
Whenever I mention these matters to people I sometimes notice their eyes glaze over. They simply do not ‘get’ why liturgy matters. Surely there are more important things, they ask? Actually, no. There are no more important things. Liturgy is central. [emphasis supplied] It is the reason why the Church exists: to carry out the command of the Lord, in the way He wants it to be carried out, as He commanded us to do at the Last Supper. We must guard and defend the Church’s precious liturgical heritage at all costs. 
The chief threats to it are secularisation – that is not a dig at the National Secular Society, but rather at those Catholics who wish to make the Mass more or less indistinguishable form any other human activity, by chipping away at its sacral character.. 
The other threat is theological and historical ignorance, and those who want to leave out elements of liturgy on the grounds of being ‘up to date’, unaware (at least one supposes they are unaware) that liturgy is a language, and the omission of certain elements may make the elements that remain incoherent. 
The final and perhaps most insidious threat comes from those who wish perhaps to change the theology of the Church and make it into a different sort of church altogether. If one changes the Mass sufficiently, one changes the belief that sustains it, and which it in turn sustains.

And not to pick on Fr Reese, (okay, not to pick on him about this one thing, moving the Pax to its historic place, I'll gladly pick on him about other things) -- no, a change in the structure of the Mass this soon after the promulgation of the corrected translation would lead to exactly the liturgical atmosphere of my childhood, where the adults around me all seemed to engage in EffCap with an exasperated but resigned attitude of, "Okay, all right, what're they messing with, what'o we have t'learn, what's new, what're the liturgists changing THIS week?"

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Sometimes the Onion is superfluous....

Things may have reached a point where parody is impossible.

Is Dr. Ben Pitcher a real person? and if so, is he really sociologist? or is he perhaps a sociologist the way Dame Edna is a dame?

Perhaps the Spectator and the Mail aren't real news outlets... does John Oliver write for them?

But I'm quite sure the Telegraph is real.
So the question is, has it been hacked, and this bogus story, excuse the expression, planted there?

Regular listeners to [a gardening show on the radio] may be horrified to discover it has been accused of peddling racial stereotypes.
According to an academic, the sedate Radio 4 panel show is riddled with "racial meanings" disguised as horticultural advice.... Dr Ben Pitcher, a senior lecturer in sociology at the University of Westminster, claimed the programme’s regular discussions on soil purity and non-native species promoted nationalist and fascist beliefs. 
Speaking on another Radio 4 programme, Thinking Allowed, the academic said: “Gardeners’ Question Time is not the most controversial show on Radio 4, and yet it is layered with, saturated with, racial meanings.
“The context here is the rise of nationalism. The rise of racist and fascist parties across Europe. Nationalism is about shoring up a fantasy of national integrity. My question is, what feeds nationalism? What makes nationalism powerful?”
Dr Pitcher said the “crisis in white identity in multicultural Britain” meant people felt unable to express their views for fear of being called racist, so expressed their racial identity in other ways, such as talking about gardening. 

There'll always be an England, I believe the New Yorker used to say, (of course, it being a magazine, there probably won't always be a New Yorker.)

Celebrating Holy Days

Yesterday a morning Mass, or rather, at Eucharistic Service in the Absence of a Priest, my mind wandered a bit...

The Feast of the Transfiguration.


Just wow.

How is that not a bigger deal in the Roman Catholic Church?
Of course, thanks to our conscientious deacon, we had a Gloria which we do not on most Solemnities, but still....

But then, I also thought - "Domestic Church."
Whose job would it be to make a bigger deal of a Holy Day?

That's right.

I have no children, so this is easy for me to say, but I think if I did.... (and I can say, I have been primary care-giver for weeks at a time of quite a number of rugrats
Well, to start, I would be broker than I am now.
And secondly, summer vacations, at least when I was growing up, were almost de rigeur, but also touch and go, what with thirteen mouths, and all that.
And "stay-cations," an inelegant neo-logism but an idea whose time has come, are more feasible for any struggling with pecuniary matters.


Why not make Holy Days, holidays?
Imagine celebrating next Friday by getting up before dawn and going out somewhere beautiful, or at least unusual to watch the sun rise? and then going with your family to whatever is the earliest Mass around? perhaps at a Church to which you've never been before, and will have new windows and statues and architecture to take in? and then going out to a celebratory brunch or breakfast, even if it's just fastfood? (remembering, if you abstain from meat on Fridays during the year that there is no fast on a feast?)

Wouldn't that be enough out of the ordinary to be something for children to actually look forward to? (and not too ruinously expensive, which I know really matters when you've got scads of kids.)

And if you really planned it, talking about it ahead of time, wouldn't that help solidify the fact of the Holy Day? (which is something quite lacking in most world views, even for Catholics alas...)

I dunno, just an idea...

Pawn Shops and Syphilitics

What's the connection?
Today's memorial - the Memorial of St Gaetano, or Cajetan.
More evidence, if it were needed, that we are a hospital for sinners, not a country club for saints. Because the Kingdom of God is already BUT NOT YET.
[Saint Cajetan] was born in Vicenza and became a priest at the age of 36. He worked hard for the poor and the sick and for the reform of the Church; with this last aim in mind, he founded a congregation of secular priests which became known as the Theatines. These had three functions: preaching, the administration of the sacraments, and the celebration of the liturgy.
  He encouraged the growth of pawn-shops as a means of helping the poor out of temporary financial difficulties and keeping them out of the hands of usurers. His congregation also cared for incurable syphilitics (a particularly virulent form of syphilis was sweeping Europe, having been imported from the Caribbean by Columbus’s men).
  His example encouraged many others on the path to active sanctity. He said [in a letter to Elisabeth Porto]: “Do not receive Christ in the Blessed Sacrament so that you may use him as you judge best, but give yourself to him and let him receive you in this Sacrament, so that he himself, God your saviour, may do to you and through you whatever he wills.”
 An excellent thought - His will, not mine, He is not a feather on my breath, but I on His; I am not the potter, but the mud of the earth from which, if I but let Him, He may sculpt a vessel of not just utility, but beauty.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

"For with the LORD is mercy, with Him is plenteous redemption...."

I wonder if any of the same Arbiters of Catholic Right-thinkingness, or more importantly, perhaps, if any of the secular media types who would like to ordain what Catholic Rightthinkers should think, who have their undercrackers in a bunch over his rehabilitation:

....were similarly distressed by his:

... or vice versa?

Or is all just politics as usual?

Seriously, an old man who begs to “celebrate the Holy Eucharist again before dying,” should be denied because he insulted Ronald Reagan?

Which political incorrectness is forgivable, and which beyond the pale?

“I pity the poor priest who has to tell his congregation not to smile during the kiss of peace.”

Amy Welborn, IIRC, used to complain that MSM reporters seemed to have the address of but a single Catholic priest in their "rolodexes,"  and it was usually Tom Reese.
Even religious journalists seem to cast their nets into a fairly shallow pool.
In an effort to ensure a more sober ritual, the Vatican has urged bishops to clamp down [there's a carefully chosen phase, huh? "clamp down?" so much more modern than "suppress,"] on singing, moving around, and casual expressions of affection when the sign of peace is exchanged during mass.
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments led by Spanish Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, has sent a letter to bishops around the world expressing concern about what it considers to be ritual abuses.
Among them, he said, were turning the sign of peace into a “song of peace,” the priest leaving the altar during the interlude, or use of the ritual to offer congratulations at weddings or condolences at funerals.
Pope Francis reportedly approved the letter, which confirmed the importance of the rite, before it was distributed to bishops’ conferences.
The Rev. Anthony Ruff, a theology professor at St. John’s School of Theology-Seminary in Minnesota and editor of the blog Pray Tell, believes the Vatican letter will have little impact on Catholics.
“I suspect such local practices will continue and the Vatican letter won’t change much, since most people don’t find it irreverent to reach out in friendliness even if it’s beyond what the rules allow,” said Ruff.
Vatican expert Thomas Reese criticized the letter.
“It ignores the most ancient tradition where the kiss of peace occurred at the end of the liturgy of the word,” Reese, a commentator for National Catholic Reporter, told Religion News Service. “I pity the poor priest who has to tell his congregation not to smile during the kiss of peace.”
Yeah, Father, that's right, Cardinal Llovera and the Vatican Meanies are ordering people not to smile...
Living in an urban setting, do you find it difficult to get your hands on enough dried stalks of cereal plants for the construction of homunculi for debating purposes?

Chant Camp - an idea whose time has come!

There are more and more examples popping up all the time.
In his youth Nicholas Lemme identified with the grating sounds and angst-filled lyrics of grunge music.
“I played guitar in rock bands,” the 36-year-old Rapid City native said. “I didn’t know much about church music. To me, it was … hum-drum hymns.”
Today the former garage band member spends his days steeped in church music. Lemme teaches Gregorian chant to would-be priests at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Neb.
Gone are the contemporary, hard-charging rhythms he once pounded out on his electric guitar.
These days, ancient and more measured melodies move him — enough to bring him back to his hometown to share his passion with a new generation of musicians.
Lemme and his wife, Elizabeth, will spend five days showing local children how to sing Gregorian chants, the unaccompanied, centuries-old sacred music of the Roman Catholic Church.
Gregorian Chant Summer Camp begins Monday at Terra Sancta Retreat Center in Rapid City and culminates Friday in a noon mass led by campers. The St. Michael’s Latin Mass Community, which operates within the Diocese of Rapid City, sponsors the five-day program.
“There is no other camp like this in the Black Hills,” camp coordinator Jean Carlson said.

The People of Korea Haven't Suffered Enough?

"OCP is providing music and support for many of the events taking place over the weeklong offshoot of World Youth Day, including music selections for the closing Mass to be celebrated with Pope Francis who will be visiting in coordination with the beatification of 124 Korean martyrs.....
"OCP will provide English and bilingual (English/Korean) music for the Youth Day events as well as English lyric videos to help participants learn each song. The selections include the popular Mass setting, Mass of Christ the Savior, by iconic composer Dan Schutte as well as several other songs that speak to the Asian Youth Day theme, Asian Youth! Wake up! The glory of the martyrs shines on you!....
"Curtis Stephan's song 'Go Out, Go Out' will be sung at the Asian Youth Day closing Mass paraphrases Psalm 117."

MSM on Growing Popularity of "Latin Catholic Mass" [sic]

An article in the St Louis Post-Dispatch about recent ordinations within the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. (Actual ones, not the "ordinations" of women as "Roman Catholic priests" a hoax about which that most secular newspapers just can't stop "reporting." )

One quibble -
When Pope Francis was first elected, he appeared to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square without the short, red velvet cape known as a mozzetta. Some Roman Catholics immediately cried foul, worried that the pope’s decision to forgo the more formal wear signaled a threat to traditional Catholic worship.

I don't think this is quite accurate.
What happened "immediately" is that in an attempt to rile up some Roman Catholics, and get them to "cry foul", (since conflict is what sells "news,") David Willey a reporter for the BBC, either "reported" on something without bothering with even the most cursory check of his "source," or outright lied -
Minutes after the election result was declared in the Sistine Chapel, a Vatican official called the Master of Ceremonies offered to the new Pope the traditional papal red cape trimmed with ermine....
"No thank you, Monsignore," Pope Francis is reported to have replied. "You put it on instead. Carnival time is over!"
It was just one small sign out of many this week
Ummm... one small falsehood out of many?
Anyway, I only include the following, (note the words "youth movement,") -
Mary Kraychy, with the Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei, a nonprofit based in Glenview, Ill., that promotes the Latin Mass, says she’s seen a slow but steady rise in the practice, with more than 400 churches offering the liturgy today. The organization sells missals that display the Latin text of the Mass alongside the English translation.
Kraychy describes it as a “youth movement,” with much of the enthusiasm for the rite espoused by those who are too young to remember the Second Vatican Council.

Ordination at St. Francis de Sales

... in light of this continued whingeing from the Tablet.

Or rather, excuse me, not "whingeing", reporting on some else's whingeing with which they concur.
Fr Seamus Ahearne.... [is] concerned that the few young priests there are in the Irish Church appear to embrace a very traditionalist view of Church.
They are “so locked into a past model of priesthood” he commented and said this manifested itself in “the way that they dress up, the way they celebrate Mass, and in their views.”
Note the word "up."
He's not whining and moaning about the way their clerical dress, but their dressing up.

Because somehow, dressing DOWN is more appropriate for those engaged in the greatest, most sacred, most important activity that anyone in this life can ever be privileged to experience?

There are different way a priest may legitimately dress, Fr Ahearne. (he's the one on the right)

Perhaps some of your younger colleagues are actually proud to be allowed to be priests, aware of the awesome gift and responsibility, and don't even mind if people can identify them as such.

(p.s. I love Cardinal Burke.) (There. I said it.)

"Catholic Schools, Firing Policies and Teacher Misconduct"

Zenit has a very good article by E. Christian Brugger, which lays out the principles involved in making these hard decisions very well.
I think they apply to other ministries and apostolates within the parish, as well.

I have been in several situations of the sort, (never, Thank God, where the call was mine to make,) and know how wrenching they can be for all concerned.

He also took a lot of heat for some of it, and of course was in no position to divulge details that would have made things much easier for him had they been known.

Brugger urges that the policies be:
• clearly published and consistent with Catholic Church teaching;
• closely keyed to the institutional mission statement; and
• consistently and non-arbitrarily applied
That last may be the hardest part, and neglecting it is the surest way for a group to devolve into warring factions, or rather, for the factions that always seem to already exist, to arm themselves with grievances and "evidence. " (It is a sad fact of our fallen nature that  we don't mind rules being bent and exceptions being made on behalf of people we cherish  and principles to which we adhere.)

I'm glad he also discusses the difference between confidentiality and secrecy, something the Church must be careful with - I have to think that the attacks we are experiencing on the Seal of the Confessional can be laid directly on the doorstep of members of the hierarchy who were more interested  in reputations than justice, and in protecting fellow travelers rather than children, in the sexual abuse cover-up scandal.
It bears noting that considering the harmful consequences attendant to a decision to terminate or not terminate is not consequentialist reasoning, the aim of which is to determine by appeal to consequences whether or not intending evil (as an end or means) is licit ‘under the circumstances.’ Evil alternatives should never be chosen and consequently should not be the subject matter of moral deliberation. As soon as we conclude that some type of behavior would be intrinsically wrongful to choose, we should exclude it from our range of potentially-acceptable choices. But once we have done this, we must have a reasonable concern for consequences.
Brugger enumerates potential consequences of various plans of action, on ALL the parties involved, very astute list.
The whole thing is a joint project of the Cardinal Newman Society and the Culture of Life Foundation -- bravo!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Ironic, no priest for St John Vianney's memorial....

On the other hand, a stark reminder, as the deacon who took the Communion service this morning said, of our need to storm heaven in our prayers for more vocations, of all sorts, but especially to the priesthood.

And me?
In order that I should take Cardinal Merry del Val's litany more to heart, and that I should truly understand, not just intellectually acknowledge, the fact that one cannot learn to be humble without experiencing humiliation, I, who pride myself on my skill at proclamation, and have assured the sacristan that he can always call on me when a lay reader doesn't show, no notice necessary, stepped into the sanctuary to be greeted by Zedekiah, Hananiah, Azzur, from Gibeon, Jeconiah, son of Jehoiakim, et al.

Who'd'a' thunk "Nebuchadnezzar" would be the least of my problems?
(Actually, the Holy Spirit was with me, I didn't have any problems, but I bet my eyes were big as saucers behind my Dollar Tree readers...)

There seems to be a mistake in the Lectionary.

The deacon had prepared a homily based on Matthew 14, Peter tying to walk on water, but instead it was the loaves and fishes, same as Sunday?
A misprint?
Not sure who the publisher is of the Lectionary they use, but he did some solemn and deliberate page turning, couldn't find that for which he was looking, and just went for it.

Well, as it happens, I had already heard his sermon for the loaves and fishes, and the Holy Spirit was in this as well, because his take on the scripture was practically perfect for the day -- "Jesus ... said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds"

So on the memorial of the Curé of Ars, the patron saint of all priests, whom many, perhaps including himself at times, felt lacking in the "right stuff" to serve Christ's Church as a priest --- on St John Vianney's feast day, we heard about the need for a Church and for the agency of Her ministers if we are to be nourished with the Bread of Life.

God send us holy priests. God send us many holy priests.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Buyer's Remorse...?

First world Problems II - The store called, the thing I ordered came in I don't like it, it's not what i was expecting
... when you'd been shopping for human beings?

First World Problems indeed....  First World, on so many levels, entitlement, playing God, exploitation of 3rd world labor...

But you see, this wasn't what they had been comissioned:
THIS was:
A campaign has begun in Australia to raise funds for baby Gammy, a 6-month-old boy with Down’s Syndrome and congenital heart disease currently living in Thailand.

He was born to a 21-year-old Thai woman [who] was to be paid A$11,700 to be the surrogate mother, and has told media that she agreed to the arrangement because she had a large debt that she would not otherwise be able to pay. After implantation of the embryos, it was discovered [she] was pregnant with twins.  She was offered an additional A$1,637 for the second child.
Four months into the pregnancy, one of the twins was diagnosed with Down's Syndrome.  The Australian couple insisted that [she] undergo an abortion, but she refused because she considered abortion to be a sin.
[The surrogate] gave birth to Gammy and also to a healthy baby girl. In addition to Down’s Syndrome, Gammy also has congenital heart disease.  The Australian couple took the baby girl, but left Gammy behind to be cared for by his mother, who was paid just under A$11,000 of the money promised to her.....The limited permissibility of surrogacy in Australia has given rise to a form of reproductive tourism, with Australians travelling overseas to enter into commercial surrogacy arrangements.  Reproductive tourism is now a multi-billion dollar industry.
India has been a popular destination for Australians, but because Indian law only allows heterosexual couples to participate in surrogacy arrangements, Thailand is becoming increasingly popular for same-sex couples and single people.  ... Until recently, Thai law ... required the surrogate mother to be single because, if she was married, her husband automatically becomes the child’s father under Thai law.
What this meant was that the only women who were eligible to be surrogates were single mothers, leading to the risk that vulnerable women could be exploited in surrogacy arrangements....
Following the case of baby Gammy and others similar incidents where biological parents have rejected a baby born with a “defect” and withheld payment from the surrogate mothers, the Thai government has tightened its laws.  Commercial surrogacy is no longer permitted in Thailand.
The fundraising site for Gammy is: http://www.gofundme.com/bxci90

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Speaking of Words...

Thank you, Fr McDonald I now understand what is meant by "intimist" besides a genre of painting.

And I've actually experienced what the Holy Father meant applied to Marian spirituality, awful slavic folk hymns that, when translated, proved to be unsuitable for Christian use, (texts that basically described  how scary God is, and so urged asking Mary instead, you know, Mom'll be able to manage some kind of work-around.)

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. 

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