Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Monday, 31 March 2008

Doing what it is we do

Some keen observations from Sir Monocle about the job of the choirmaster.
http://sirmonocle.blogspot.com/2008/03/in-paradisio.html
Wsidom and insight gained at the funeral parlor ;o)

A mentor, " enjoys the organ playing, [but] mentioned that she’s been avoiding choral directing for a while now. ... to simply avoid “managing all those personalities”.
Such a comment would resonate with any choirmaster. After all, the job isn’t only about making music. It’s also about building a program, keeping it relevant, fun, and educational amidst common frustrations such as a chorister who comes in late, bemoans all the problems of his day, spills his coffee and then can’t find his music. Yes it is a social outlet, but keeping the group mindful that they are first and foremost members of a choir whose work it is to praise God and inspire a congregation is also part of the job...
There is that part of me that likes to work in isolation. It is perhaps that same part of me that romanticizes monastic life. At the same time, I also find joy in creating something of value with real people. They’re not perfect, but neither am I.
My Franciscan guru, Fr. Kieran, often says “God draws straight with crooked lines”. There are times, I’m sure glad He does.

Nothing new under the sun...

H/T to Mary Jane, the choir director I wish I were, for a delicious diatribe from the Dark Ages ( no,no, I don't think they were, I just can't resist alliteration.)
http://sacredmiscellany.typepad.com/sacredmiscellany/2008/03/the-more-things.html

The vocal arts may change, but critics never do!

Aelred of Rievaulx (1109-1166) in The Mirror of Charity:
Where, I ask, do all these organs in the church come from, all these chimes? To what purpose, I ask you, is the terrible snorting of bellows, more like a clap of thunder than the sweetness of a voice? Why that swelling and swooping of the voice? One person sings bass, another sings alto, yet another sings soprano. Still another ornaments and trills up and down on the melody.
At one moment the voice strains, the next it wanes. First it speeds up, then it slows down with all manner of sounds. Sometimes it is shameful to say – it is expelled like the neighing of horses, sometimes manly strength set aside, it is constricted to the shrillness of a woman’s voice. Sometimes it is turned and twisted in some sort of artful trill. Sometimes you see a man with his mouth open as if he were breathing his last breath, not singing but threatening silence, as it were, by ridiculous interruption of the melody into snatches [this refers to hocketing, a form of syncopation]. Now he imitates the agonies of the dying or the swooning of persons in pain. In the meantime his whole body is violently agitated by histrionic gesticulations – contorted lips, rolling eyes, hunching shoulders – and drumming fingers keep time with every single note. And this ridiculous dissipation is called religious observance. And it is loudly claimed that where this sort of agitation is more frequent, God is more honourably served.
Meanwhile ordinary folk stand there awestruck, stupefied, marvelling at the din of bellows, the humming of chimes and the harmony of pipes. But they regard the saucy gestures of the singers and the alluring variation and dropping of the voices with considerable jeering and snickering, until you would think they had come, not into an oratory, but to a theatre, not to pray but to gawk. … [S]ound should not be given precedence over meaning, but sound with meaning should generally be allowed to stimulate greater attachment. Therefore the sound should be so moderate, so marked by gravity that it does not captivate the whole spirit to amusement in itself, but leaves the greater part to the meaning. Blessed Augustine, of course, said, ‘The soul is moved to a sentiment of piety on hearing sacred chant. But if a longing to listen desires the sound more than the meaning, it should be censured.’ And elsewhere he says, ‘When the singing delights me more than the words I acknowledge that I have sinned through my fault, and I would prefer not to listen to the singer.’
This is taken from a wonderful paper: An Essay on Cistercian Liturgy by Dr. Julie Kerr. You can enjoy it all here:
The Cistercians in Yorkshire

Is the Pope Catholic? are Jews Jews?

Great good sense, from Saul Singer, in the Jerusalem Post, and a fascinating lookat the changing attitudes of Judaism to proselytizing, as well as a warning to the Church and the "oh, what does it matter as long as you're a nice person?" advocates among Her members .
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1206621744170&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
Go read the whole piece.

On Easter this week, controversy has swirled around Pope Benedict XVI, both for personally baptizing a prominent Muslim Italian journalist and for allowing the revived Latin mass to hope that Jews convert.
Aside from Osama bin Laden's ravings about a "new Crusade," Muslims have attacked the Pope for his "provocative" act. Similarly, regarding the Latin mass, German Jewish leader Charlotte Knobloch said "I would have assumed that this German pope, of all people, had got to know first-hand the ostracizing of Jewry. ... I could not have imagined that [he] could now impose such phrases upon his Church." ...
I still understand the Pope more than I do his critics. The Pope wants Muslims and Jews to become Christians. Should this be a surprise? If the Pope won't advocate Christianity, who will?To be Christian, Muslim or Jewish should mean believing that one's faith and creed is superior to others. Otherwise, being an adherent is not really a matter of belief, but of inertia - a statement that other faiths might be better but it is not worth the effort to explore or switch. ...
Of the three Abrahamic religions, Christianity is currently the closest to striking the right "outreach" balance. Muslims have been threatened with death for converting, and a prominent strain of Islam is attempting to spread itself by force, including terrorism.
Judaism has gone to the other extreme. ...

This was not always so, far from it. The book of Matthew records a Christian accusation that Jews will "travel over sea and land to make a single convert." Even during centuries of persecution and exile, when conversion could mean a death sentence, Jews continued to seek and welcome converts. When rabbinic opinion began to turn against seeking converts, it was mainly on the grounds of the dangers of doing so, not a rejection of the welcoming Jewish ideal. ...
The great sociologist Peter Berger, who though not Jewish wrote a 1979 article in Commentary endorsing Reform leader Alexander Schindler's call to reach out to the "unchurched," goes even further. ... "you will not be able to keep your own unless you are prepared to persuade others." ... The fact that Jews have lost the desire to welcome newcomers is the most telling evidence that we have lost our sense of purpose as a people. When we rediscover our purpose of affecting the world directly and by example - as individuals, families, and as a people - we will start attracting ourselves and others. (Emphasis mine)

I've been wonderin'.... is it 'cause we're 'Muricans?

About something I said in the post below (is that a sign of insanity, wondering about what I said? didn't I know what I was going to say before I said it? perhaps I should have said wondering about the implications of what I said... but I digress.)
How could one of the Pope's priorities on his visit to the States not be coming to my troubled diocese and "being part of the healing"? is a question that was asked.
Assuming ones own concerns are central to everyone else's concern, mistaking ones own situation for the universal, obliviousness to or at least denigration of pain that that is not our pain, (nobody suffers like I suffer!) -- is that in some specific way peculiarly American?
It seems to me that Europeans in particular, but now many from the emerging world as well, like to chide the US for its inability to imagine any system in which she and her concerns and her needs and her way of going about things and her view of affairs is not the sun around which everyone and everything else orbits.
And it also seems to me that others think national egocentricity is a result of our size and money and power, that it's a sort of bullying.
But is it?
This lack of imagination is nearly identical to that which to my great annoyance seems the primary attribute of adolescents (by which term I often sadly mean people well into their twenties and beyond.... there are Peter Pans in their 60s.)
Alarming numbers of people seem to not to acknowledge that anything of any significance happened before their own consciousness. They do not know that people (let alone arts, sciences, faiths, areas of any sort of endeavor, really,) have histories, or at least any back story of which they need take note.
My proposition is that our self-centeredness is a result of our relative youth as a nation.
Does that make sense?
Think there is any merit in the notion?

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Steinfels on the Papal Visit...

... and the coverage it will produce, much of it clueless.
He enumerates five major "dramas" that will be played out during the visit, one so general and amorphous as to be meaningless, "[Benedict's] encounter with American Catholicism," but the other, specific, and precisely described indeed loom large -- the appearance at the UN; the problem of Catholic identity especially insofar as it is reflected in catholic education; faith (Catholic and otherwise, I should think,) and the coming American presidential election, and dialogue with other religions.
The OMG-does-the-Pope-KNOW-Mess-of-Creation-will-be-played? frenzy, and the whining by various beleaguered dioceses because they will not be included on the itinerary despite their concerns being more pressing than all other dioceses concerns both get a bit old.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/29/us/29beliefs.html?_r=3&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&ref=us&adxnnlx=1206932522-/wwhqLRLm7c53O2f8iKh5Q

Is the pope Catholic? That used to be a sarcastic way of saying, could anything be more obvious? Is fire hot? Is water wet?
Now, however, that nothing in the world is obvious, when
Pope Benedict XVI arrives in the United States on April 15 there will surely be voices in the media apparently disconcerted to discover that, yes, the pope is Catholic. ...
What is surprising about every papal visit, at least after 1965, when Paul VI addressed the United Nations, is what so many people find surprising. Each time they are surprised, for example, that the pope hasn’t abandoned the notion that all human lives, even in their earliest, embryonic phases, deserve protection and that therefore abortion is wrong.
They are similarly surprised that many American Roman Catholics honor the pope yet disagree with papal positions, whether about using contraception, restricting legal access to abortion, ordaining married men or women to the priesthood, or recognizing same-sex relationships.
This kind of disagreement may signal, as some argue, a severe crisis in church authority. Or it may be more of a norm throughout Catholic history than is widely realized.

But whatever it is, it is not new.
The most surefire satirical segments on “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” consist of quick clips of newscasters or politicians beating the same phrase into the ground. It is easy to imagine clips from 1987 until now with one talking head after another intoning about the pope coming to visit “a divided flock ... divided flock ... divided flock.” What rings false is not the fact. It is the breathlessness.
Breathlessness is always a problem with papal visits. The trouble with melodrama is that it displaces genuine drama. Caricature replaces character. ..

Breathlessness may be a major reason why, almost three years after his election, the world still hasn’t much of a fix on his personality or his papacy. [Well, yes, if by "breathlessness" you mean shallowness, insipidity, laziness, an obsession with surfaces and a kind of cultural ADD]

I found this a fascinating question : was [the Regensburg lecture] part of what the Harvard law professor Noah Feldman, speaking on a panel last Tuesday at the Council on Foreign Relations speculated was a strategy of deliberately positioning himself to win a hearing in the Islam-anxious Europe he would like to rescue from secularism?

Where have all the priests gone? Time to man up

This is from the blog of the aforementioned Fr Cuyos, and it is from a story involving political intrigue and corruption in the Philippines, and I don't pretend to understand it, nor is it really relevant to my purposes.
Although it speaks of a specific moment, a particular situation and need, doesn't it apply beautifully to the current and really perpetual need for good Catholic men to man up, and give their lives to the Church?
Yes I know the expression meant "pair up" for athletic contest purposes, but it has evolved, and it's useful, it's more evocative than "be a man." And I absolutely refute those who insist recent calls for "manliness" or need to embrace "fatherhood" in the Church are some sort of code for the "heterosexual agenda," are veiled homophobia -- the essence of manliness is nothing less than accepting ones responsibility to protect those who are, and that which is, in need of protection. Caring for the weak, the small, the vulnerable, rather than for the self. (Why did some people get their knickers in a knot over the words "masculinity" or "fatherhood"? For the same reason that to nails, everything looks like a hammer.)
I saw the pain in your eyes when you asked where have all the priests ... gone, is there no one willing to say Mass for you which you said is the source of your strength?
I guess you can imagine the pain Christ suffered when in the garden of Gethsemani, when he was going through the most difficult moment of his life, yes more than on the cross, because here what was going to happen still he already saw in his mind and he sweated with blood (Mt. 22:44).
Here, all his imagination, his fears, his anxiety, doubts, were all mixed up, while on the cross it is just plain suffering and our body has a way of shutting off some pain automatically if they become too much to bear.
Here, all he asked was for some of his apostles, his chosen few, to keep vigil and give him company.
But every time he returns to them, they were all asleep. And he asked, echoing your question: Is there no one to stay awake for me?

A Blogger's Prayer

(H/T to Lyn at Organ-ic Chemist)
A prayer for bloggers by Fr. Stephen Cuyos, written for the Phillipine Blog Awards. (Originally in English, but now available in Tagalog translation. http://www.stephencuyos.com/?p=365#more-365)
A bit of fun and a bit of sincere prayer...

So compassionate, so faithful, so loving You are Our Father.
We ask You to increase our faith and our love for You that we may use blogging as an instrument to fulfill Your purposes. May we become bloggers of truth and promoters of peace.
Help us to be steadfast in our Christian commitment that visitors may find in our blogs a source of encouragement and inspiration. Give us strength to proclaim Your word, that we may play our part in breaking down the walls of hostility in the world and use our blogs to strengthen the bonds of friendship, solidarity and love.
Make our hearts meek and humble that we may treat our readers as friends, not as unique hits, that we may strive to change ourselves for the better more often than we pimp our site templates, that we may find more time to ease the pain of someone in our own home than to reply to comments left by strangers, that we may interact with our next door neighbors as often as we chat with our blogrolled friends, that we may be more concerned about helping the less privileged than about the number of subscribers to our RSS feeds.
Deliver us, Father, from spams and viruses, from pride and selfishness, and from the temptation to replicate images without permission and copy ideas without crediting the original authors.
May we always be united as a network of bloggers and friends working together in Your name. May our blogs lead us closer to You.
We ask all these through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Restling over Rites and Rongs

The animus being generated by the (admittedly shamefully bad) program that has been designated for the DC Mass during the Papal visit is disheartening.
Too much assumption of malice where stupidity or ignorance could explain the situation.
I think rather than comment on it any further than I did some time ago (that a setting of the "Ordinary" is, or at least ought to be, disqualified from consideration by anyone with a love of or interest in liturgical music by its creator's failure to respect the integrity of the text of the Missal,) I will try to hold my tongue, and pray.
Compline last night at St John Cantius was very provocative -- of both prayer at the time, and of thought and pray after.
And as it was prayer provoking I will concentrate my efforts in this matter in that direction.

(I did acquire two jim dandy bons mots -- Ut multi et diversi sint; and God so loved the world that He did NOT send a committee.)

And, and may I just say...?

Save the Liturgy, Save the World!

Friday, 28 March 2008

Thursday, 27 March 2008

HRH Queen Scelata?

I am so happy.... should anything untoward happen to Himself, I would be free to pursue William or Harry.
In all seriousness, I understand that laws are complicated business, (because lawyers and law-makers make them complicated :oP) but how foolish that this has not been abrogated years ago, and how silly that any would oppose such an abrogation now.
IMO, the, (for now, remote) possibility of a Catholic becoming the titular head of the Anglican church is a point in its FAVOR: all those English clerics swearing fealty to someone who professes the primacy of Peter -- think of it the way you think of some boxing bouts, mate, as "title consolidation."
And the Polish nationals who are causing trouble in English RC circles with their embarrassing devotion and insistence on actually practicing, ("not the done thing?") could be given all those lovely empty, (poor Miss Widdecombe seems not to have checked the patient's vitals lately, surely the knell was sounded long ago,) C of E structures.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=A1&xml=/news/2008/03/27/ncatholic127.xml

Gordon Brown is to consider abolishing the Act that prevents Roman Catholics marrying into the Royal Family or becoming king or queen, in a move that could lead to the disestablishment of the Church of England.
The Government signalled that it would look at abolishing the 307-year-old Act of Settlement because it is "antiquated" and discriminates against a section of society...
Under the 1701 Act, monarchs are forbidden to become or marry Catholics...
One of the main stumbling blocks to repealing all parts of the Act is that it could in theory mean a Catholic could become head of the Anglican Church....
John Gummer, the Tory MP who proposed a Commons Bill to reform the Act of Succession, added: "The Church of England is in the ridiculous position where it can be headed by a Mormon but not a Catholic, the largest church in Christendom.
"It does seem very odd that we believe in nondiscrimination about anything else but we don't believe that it is sensible as far as Catholics are concerned."
However Ann Widdecombe, the former Conservative MP and leading Catholic, said: "This proposal is a can of worms. It won't protect the position of the established Church. If we repeal the Act of Settlement it will sound the death knell of the established Church.
"The Monarch is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England - therefore the Monarch must be an Anglican and defender of the Anglican faith. We need to step carefully and think what the downsides might be [of any change]."

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Past the slippery slope and up to our eyes in muck

H/T to Zadok, on this horrifying news from Belgium, via the Telegraph (British paper.)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/03/26/wbelgium126.xml

Teens need right to 'medically assisted suicide'...
The plans to extend rules allowing doctors to perform euthanasia on terminally ill people suffering "constant and unbearable physical or psychological pain" comes amid heated Belgian debate on the issue....
new legislative proposals extending euthanasia to children and old people suffering from such severe dementia that they are unable to choose for themselves.
"We will seek, as Liberals, parliamentary majorities," Mr Tommelein said.
The ethical debate will mean another headache for Belgium's new Prime Minister Yves Leterme and his fragile government, which took power last week after a nine-month political crisis.
Cardinal Danneels, Belgium's Catholic Cardinal, used his Easter sermon to start a polarised national debate on euthanasia....

The Cardinal has reacted to Belgian media "glorification" of the "brave" euthanasia least week of Hugo Claus, a Flemish writer suffering from Alzheimers disease.
There are more than 39 cases of euthanasia declared by doctors in Belgium every month, but the true figure is thought to be double that.
Euthanasia is currently permitted on infants and more than half of the Belgian babies who die before they are 12 months old have been killed by deliberate medical intervention.
In 16 per cent of cases parental consent was not considered.


Father, forgive us.
Sometimes I discover something on a blog I regularly read, that was written some time ago, at a time I was reading that blog, but which has inexplicably escaped my notice despite its being on a topic near and dear to my mind, heart and soul.
Well, last year some time Fr Martin Fox of Bonfire of the Vanities delivered a talk about what all is going on with this little Church of ours, touching on such subjects as:
Ø The pope issues a statement about who can be saved, who is fully Catholic, and are other “churches” really churches. What’s that about?
Ø Bishops keep talking about who can receive holy communion—there seem to be different answers. What’s going on with that?
Ø It seems like things keep changing at Mass. There’s talk about a new translation of the Mass itself, plus things about the readings; plus there was the decision by Pope Benedict to allow wider use of the form of Mass that supposedly went out with Vatican II. And other things. What’s up with that?
Ø We are the trends for the Church?
I urge you if you, like me missed it, to go read the entire piece, but here is a big chunk on liturgy, and some on the narrow way in a wide world.
http://frmartinfox.blogspot.com/2007/10/whats-going-on-in-church.html
Liturgy: Backward or Forward?
Neither: it’s the Center.
This is where we can talk about the Mass, liturgy, and some other things that come up, where people get excited, and say, “we’re going backward”!
So, for example, we have the Mass.
Almost everyone attends Mass entirely in English. Another survey: how many of you, in the last month, heard anything said or sung, at Mass, in Latin—anything at all, that you remember? Did you, yourself, help sing it—I mean, was it a hymn or a prayer everyone prayed? Was that something unusual, or normal for you?
The Surprise Content of Vatican II
Most Catholics in the U.S., and I would bet most in much of the world, have gotten very accustomed to Mass being almost entirely in their own language. This is something that happened in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. It has become normal, and as I say, almost universal.
But how many know the following:
Ø Vatican II did not mandate that Mass must be said in the vernacular? Instead, it said that this could be an option?
Ø That Vatican II did not “abolish” or outlaw Mass continuing to be celebrated in Latin—even in parishes, on a weekly or daily basis?
Ø That Vatican II did mandate that, where the option for the vernacular would be pursued, that the people still learn to sing or say together some of the Mass in Latin?
I cite this because language is something very powerful and intimate for us all. This was a big change in the life of the Church. And a lot of folks think that the change is all “behind” us. But in reality, the change is not past, it’s present—we’re in the midst of change, as a result of Vatican II. Again, let’s “zoom out”…
The Liturgical Movement and the Council
The issue of using the vernacular long predates Vatican II. It was brought up at the Council of Trent, because the leaders of the Protestant movement brought it up, but at that time, the Church elected not to go that direction. No, they didn’t “condemn” it as something that could never happen—they said, in effect, “not now.”
In the century or so leading up to Vatican II, it was becoming routine to use hymns, in the vernacular, at Mass, instead of some of the sung prayers called for at Mass—which were in Latin.
You see, when you have Mass, in Latin, English or whatever, many people don’t realize that the music for Mass is not something “added” by the musician, chosen by a liturgy committee.
Rather, the Mass itself—I mean, the Missal, the book of all the prayers and readings to be used—already gives us the text of the music to use! Not many people know that—I bet not many here, knew that.
But what happens at most Masses is that we don’t use all that music; instead, we use hymns, such as “All Creatures of our God and King” or “On Eagles Wings” or what have you. This trend, however, did not begin with Vatican II—as I say, it goes back about a century before.
Are you curious why? Of course you are!
The reason is that the music that was being substituted for is Gregorian chant, in Latin. Why it happened we could talk about, but that’s more than we have time for. It started in Germany and happened in a lot of the Church—including in this country! It had become widespread into the 1800s, and various folks tried to respond to this.
This is when the “Liturgical Movement” got started, in the mid-1800s! This led to Pope Pius X calling for a restoration of Gregorian chant in 1903! And this “new” movement in the liturgy continued to work itself out, playing a major role in the work of the Second Vatican Council!
My point is, right or wrong, the goal of all this wasn’t to be rid of all that musty old chant, but to restore it! That is surprising, if you view the Council from too narrow a point of view. When you view the Council, instead, from the larger “zoom out,” then what the Council said takes on a very different meaning: In Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the Council Fathers called for Gregorian chant to be given “pride of place” (Paragraph 112).
What’s funny is that if you go to a parish, and they sing the opening Introit, in Latin chant, they are fulfilling Vatican II; but if you go to a parish—most parishes in this country—and you hear, “Glory and Praise to our God,” they are actually being “pre-Vatican II”!
And if we see that in this one point, we might wonder, how does this apply when we look at everything that came out of the Council? See how that works?
It’s not about Latin—it’s about the center
At this point, some will ask, what’s so special about Latin? The answer is, it’s not about the Latin per se. It’s about something else. To return to the question that I started with, “what’s going on in the Church,” the basic answer is, the Church is striving to get back to the “middle”—the mainstream.
The “middle,” the “mainstream” of what?
I mean the middle, or mainstream, of the overall direction of the Church, viewed not from the point of view of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Centreville, Ohio, USA, in AD 2007—but the center, the mainstream, of the Church worldwide, the Church in her 2,000 years of existence, in the context of God’s total plan of salvation back to the beginning of time!
How is that for a “zoom out”?
The most powerful portrayal of this idea—staying on the “mainline”—comes from G.K. Chesterton. On the back of your handout is a long quote by him, but it’s so good, I invite you to look at it with me, if you haven’t already read it.
It’s too long to quote now; it’s too good not to quote at all.
This is the thrilling romance of Orthodoxy. People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy. It was sanity: and to be sane is more dramatic than to be mad. It was the equilibrium of a man behind madly rushing horses, seeming to stoop this way and to sway that, yet in every attitude having the grace of statuary and the accuracy of arithmetic.
The Church in its early days went fierce and fast with any warhorse; yet it is utterly unhistoric to say that she merely went mad along one idea, like a vulgar fanaticism. She swerved to left and right, so exactly as to avoid enormous obstacles. She left on one hand the huge bulk of Arianism, buttressed by all the worldly powers to make Christianity too worldly. The next instant she was swerving to avoid an orientalism, which would have made it too unworldly. The orthodox Church never took the tame course or accepted the conventions; the orthodox Church was never respectable. It would have been easier to have accepted the earthly power of the Arians. It would have been easy, in the Calvinistic seventeenth century, to fall into the bottomless pit of predestination. It is easy to be a madman: it is easy to be a heretic. It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one's own. It is always easy to be a modernist; as it is easy to be a snob.
To have fallen into any of those open traps of error and exaggeration which fashion after fashion and sect after sect set along the historic path of Christendom -- that would indeed have been simple. It is always simple to fall; there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands. To have fallen into any one of the fads from Gnosticism to Christian Science would indeed have been obvious and tame. But to have avoided them all has been one whirling adventure; and in my vision the heavenly chariot flies thundering through the ages, the dull heresies sprawling and prostrate, the wild truth reeling but erect. —G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Chapter 6.
Here’s a shorter quote, from the same chapter.
He’s commenting on the scandal, to the modern mind, of “monstrous wars about small points of theology.”
“It was only a matter of an inch,” Chesterton says; “but an inch is everything when you are balancing.”
This is the idea I have in mind when I say the Church isn’t so much going “forward” or “backward” but aiming toward the Center, the mainstream—staying on course; balancing.
And that invites to ask: who’s setting the course, and doing the balancing?The answer is, of course, by the Holy Spirit!
And the Holy Spirit has made it easy for us to find that: we find all this located in something we have a word for, it begins with a “T”…Tradition. A major “source” or repository of our lived Tradition is found in the liturgy!
The Church has music and prayers that go back so far, we don’t know how old it is—we can find evidence of Gregorian Chant, and the Mass itself as we know them, about the year AD 600. But we know they weren’t “invented” that year! So we know it all goes back well before 600—how far before? We can only speculate.
But notice, then, that we’re knocking at the door of the early Church! There is very good evidence that Gregorian chant has roots in, and is an evolution of, the chants of the Temple in Jerusalem! That takes it back to our Lord’s time, and beyond that, no one can say!
Gregorian chant, like the Mass itself, is something remarkable, that can only happen in the Church: something that developed, slowly, gradually, over what seems to us such a long time—but the advantage of this is that is cannot be described as the product of particular human beings, and their agendas; it can only be described, as Pope Benedict did, in his recent letter Sacramentum Caritatis, as the work of the Holy Spirit!
The pope makes this point very strongly—not so strong as to claim the liturgy cannot be changed, at all; but at least to say, we should be very, very humble in approaching liturgical change, because we’re talking about something God did, through the Church, and something we can only dimly claim to understand.
This is why it’s important, in the life of the Church, at least to try to restore and return to the use of chant—not because it’s the only way, but because it’s so much a part of who we are, that we conclude:
(a) God must have done something really great through it, because it was part of the Church for almost all of our history; and
(b) we are kidding ourselves if we think we really understand what that was, and therefore we can come up with a replacement. Therefore
(c), without it, we may be missing something really important in our liturgy. The Church never claims to know all the answers to every question—this is one of those places. So we tend to be rather conservative about “reinventing” something that has been given to us. That’s why we change slowly!
So this goes to all the liturgical questions that get people excited. Why Latin? Why the old form of Mass? Is it really true the priest might turn around again? (Yes, it’s true—because it’s not true that the Council said he had to turn in the first place!)
This is all about the Church trying to get Vatican II right—and to make sure we view what Vatican II had to say in the context of what God has done in the whole history of the Church; but not only how we view the Council, but to make sure we get the Council right—i.e., we carry out the right vision, and stay…in the center....
Our Pope has coined a very useful term and idea, but it’s an expression that needs some explaining. He uses the term, “hermeneutic of continuity.” ...
Hermeneutic is a word that describes the way we interpret something. I am wearing glasses, I just started, since I turned 45 earlier this year. I see the world a bit different, looking through these glasses. For one thing, you are all a lot less fuzzy than you were the last time I saw you!
The “lens” through which we view our world, and events in our lives, is our “hermeneutic.” As Americans, we all view world events through a particular “hermeneutic”—or pair of spectacles—we call “9/11.” If that hadn’t happened, aside from how the world itself would be different, clearly we would also view the world, and even our own, particular lives, differently. See how that works?
So what the pope is saying is this. When we talk about the Second Vatican Council, or even this or that particular change or movement in the life of the Church, or the life of our own parish, he calls for us to use the hermeneutic, or lens, of continuity. He is suggesting that, as an alternative to what he thinks we’ve been using: a hermeneutic of rupture.
How many people have heard someone talk about “the old Church” and “the new Church”—the Church pre-Vatican II and the Church post-Vatican II? We all use language like that, don’t we? We, or people we know, have lots to say about how different things are, for our Church since Vatican II. For that matter, we can see that happening for our country and our world, apart from the Council, true?
See what we’re doing there? We’re looking at things through the lens of “rupture”—how things are different. The pope isn’t saying that’s altogether wrong or bad—but that it’s not enough. Particularly in talking about the Church.
Why? Because the Church is a living organism, right? We call it a…Body…the Body of Christ!
A lot of the things people are talking about fit well into this choice of “continuity” or “rupture”—and the ongoing task of trying to keep the Church at the “center”—meaning, in the mainstream of where we’ve been going, and are going, led by…the Holy Spirit.
So why did the pope “bring back the old Mass”? He himself said: it was not helpful to have people think there was something wrong with it; and he also said that if we think the Mass, since Vatican II, is something essentially new, there’s something wrong with that idea.
He said, in his letter announcing his decision about allowing widespread celebration of the old form of Mass, that he hopes the two forms of Mass will influence each other. Can you see what he’s getting at there? I would argue he’s trying to assure we stay…at the Center. On the right path.
Recently the Church issued a statement about Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, and who is “the True Church.” I haven’t actually studied this document, so I can’t say much about it—but can you see this is all about the same thing: staying with the mainstream?
I.e., there’s been at one extreme the idea that views things very narrowly—only formal members of the Catholic Church even can be saved—and very broadly: it doesn’t matter if you’re Christian, let alone Catholic! This document is simply trying to enunciate the “Center”—which happens to be the ancient teaching of the Church. And it is correcting the false idea that Vatican II departed from “the Center.”
And so it goes.

Really, go read it all, very fine.

Sing a New Song!

For those who like BUNESSAN, (and really, isn't that everyone?) a new hymn tex... erm, I mean, a new HERn text, from a perhaps dormant, but I dearly hope not, new-to-me blog, http://femlove.blogspot.com/ the Herm*neutic of Suspicion.
I think it would be swell as the theme song for shipboard Extraordinations of the Poncho-clad, (as BMP would have it.)

http://femlove.blogspot.com/2008/01/hernal.html

We are not servants, we are creators
In this great cosmos that we call life;
Every woman should be the leader, ("Every" must be pronounced Ev-er-ee to scan properly)
Every man should bow to his wife.

We are not servants, we are empowered:
Don't want to be a stay-at-home mom.
So to our husbands, then to the bishops,
Let us each cry out: non serviam.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Improperia

A remarkable sermon by His Excellency Msgr. Vitus Huonder, bishop of Chur, Switzerland, http://www.bistum-chur.ch/am_dioezesanbischof_108.html translated by Gregor Kollmorgen on TNLM http://thenewliturgicalmovement.blogspot.com/2008/03/my-people-what-have-i-done-to-you.html

My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me! What have I done to you that you so unworthily treat this Sacrament? What have I done to you that you spread teachings about this Sacrament which are not in accord with my institution; that you say this were common bread and common wine, and it were unthinkable that the changing of the bread into my sacred Body and of the wine into my precious Blood were possible? I myself after all have said: "This is my Body, this is my Blood." Why do you not believe in my words?
My people, what have I done to you that you do not raise the children in awe and love before this most holy Sacrament anymore; that you do not impart to them the truth of this Sacrament anymore; that you do not tell them either that they are to receive this Sacrament with a pure heart free of sins? My people, what have I done to you? Answer me!
What have I done to you that you no longer want to acknowledge this Sacrament as the Sacrament of my Sacrifice on the Cross; that you say that holy Mass were not the making present of the Sacrifice of the Cross; that you want to avoid the word sacrifice, although I have said: „This is my Body which will be given up for you“? What have I done to you that you have made out of this holy celebration a meal of amusement and of your self-affirmation? My people, Answer me!
My people, what have I done to you that the Sacrifice of the Mass is worth to you so little; that you do everything else but participating in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, and stay away Sunday after Sunday? What have I done to you that you overlook and despise my Presence in the tabernacle? What more could I have done for you than giving you this Sacrament and thus let my Sacrifice of the Cross remain efficacious through all times and for all men? What more could I have done for you than commanding my Apostles: „Do this in memory of me?“ My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me! Amen.

This reminds me, we of course sang the Reproaches again this year, albeit in a simplified chant.
I think next year we will graduate to the Sacramentary chant, perhaps with the Trisagion ( is that the word?) in Greek.
When I mentioned in my first year on the job that I would be incorporating the Reproaches into our Good Friday service, a certain obstructionist reactionary began, to use a phrase I learned from my Mother the farm girl, sputtering like a wet hen, and shaking said reactionary's head.
(How the arrangements concerning a liturgy one does not attend can discomfit one so, I never knew...)
Our pastor, I should like to report, also quoted from the Reproaches in his Holy Week column, so whatever the objections of wet hens, it seems he does not share them.

Father Hunwicke's Homily for Easter

I have quite a bit to say about my Triduum, but unsure of whether or not to say it, I would merely like to reproduce this marvelous sermon of the brilliant Fr Hunwicke.

http://liturgicalnotes.blogspot.com/2008/03/easter-homily.html

The most stupendous event in the history of the cosmos - the most terrible wonder in the elapse of time [between] the initial and final big bangs - is never actually described. The Lord's Resurrection is, as it were, wrapped in veils. Jesus burial may be described; lightning and earthquakes may be mentioned; women and men meet the mysterious stranger in the garden or on the road to Emmaus; but no television camera, no recording historical pen, no purported eyewitness, intrudes into the darkness and mystery of that cave-tomb. No Gospel writer claims to discern a tremor beneath the winding-cloth, no chronicler pretends to be able to describe the aweful countenance of the One who was dead and en atomo, in a moment, is alive. It is as if to do so would mar the unimaginable wonder and terror of such a ... did I call it an 'event'? I think that was a category error: what we are talking about is not in any cataphatic word-bag. No, for the Gospel writers it is as if even to try to imagine it is an unspeakable vulgarity. And the Church's liturgy is marked by the same awed reticence: in the Song of the Candle which we heard last night, the deacon exclaimed with fearful wonder: 'O Night truly blessed, who alone wast worthy to know the time and the hour'.
The greater the miracle and the greater the wonder, then the more need for a veil to shield our eyes. S Thomas Aquinas, perhaps the greatest Christian thinker since S Paul, described what Christ did at the Last Supper as 'the mightiest miracle that he ever worked during his life on earth'. That same miracle is repeated every time that Mass is offered; at every Eucharist the stone is rolled from the darkness of the tomb; when the words of consecration 'This is my Body' are uttered, the Easter Lord who was dead and is alive emerges from eternity and comes among us; and the veil which prevents us from being consumed by such a wonder is the forms of bread and wine. The naked brightness of divine reality would be too much for such as now we are. But as we kneel at the altar, every Eucharist is Easter and the Lord is the risen and invincible one and he whispers to each of us as he whispered to Mary in the garden the Name he has given us; and for a moment the veils become very thin, [and] he walks through every locked door into the upper room of each one of us.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Fr Cantalmessa's Sermon

For reasons that escape me, there has been some objection to this magnificent sermon.
The objections can only come, it seems to me, from those who misunderstand the meaning of ecumenism, or more specifically who accept the misunderstanding of true ecumenism that those suffering some kind of contact high of the Spirit of VCII have promoted, (the one that would compromise truth for the sake of unity.)
.....................
“Loving,” it has been said, “does not mean looking at each other but looking together in the same direction.” Even among Christians loving means looking in the same direction, which is Christ. “He is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). It is like the spokes of a wheel. Consider what happens to the spokes of a wheel when they move from the center outward: as they distance themselves from the center they also become more distant from each other. On the contrary when they move from the periphery toward the center, the closer they come to the center they also come nearer to each other, until they form a single point. To the extent that we move together toward Christ, we draw nearer to each other, until we are truly, as Jesus desired, “one with him and with the Father.”
http://www.zenit.org/article-22128?l=english
(This might almost seem like a veiled argument for ad orientem celebration :oP, not to mention the rest of the sermon which, in its "seamless garment" woven in one piece from TOP to bottom, is supportive of a right ordering of all aspects of our Faith, which is hierarchical)

Saturday, 22 March 2008

A Great Silence and Stillness

May I wish anyone who happens upon this a blessed Triduum and Paschaltide
(I hope very much that I am conscientious enough to continue what I began as a Lenten practice, that is the Office of Readings.)

Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all”. Christ answered him: “And with your spirit”. He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light”.
I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.
See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.
I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.
Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.
-- From an ancient homily for Holy Saturday

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Catholic Identity and little 't' traditions

I urge you to go immediately to this blog and read "Little Things"
http://www.danielmitsui.com/hieronymus/index.blog/1797457/little-things/
I suggest you save the post, and re-read it before heading to church Friday afternoon for what I'm told used to have the paradoxical nick-name, "Mass of the Pre-Sanctified."
We make (not-very-funny) jokes about the past 40 years in the desert, but how would we last through 251 years in the desert?
I have been thinking about the denigration and deliberate suppression of myriad devotions, and of two of its consequences in particular: the impoverishment of Catholic identity and tradition, and the deformation of the Mass as non-liturgical events and practices are shoe-horned into it.

Mr Mitsui eloquently, heart-breakingly, speaks of the first, reminding the sneerers of the sometimes dire need for the "Little Things."
(Note: the practice of e-fumi will ring a bell for anyone who has read C S Lewis's science fiction trilogy.... or anyone who reads of some of the interrogation methods used on Muslim detainees, I suppose.)
A taste:
In 1614 an edict proscribing Christianity was issued. In this edict, Japan was described as "the county of gods and of Buddha". It condemned the Christian religion as the opponent of Confucian morality, Buddhist law, and the Shinto way - the amalgam that constitutes the Japanese religious temperament. Not only did it demand that daimyo send any foreign missionaries in their domain to Nagasaki for deportation, but it also ordered the destruction of all their churches. The native Christians, too, were compelled to recant their faith... Those who did not comply were subject to "divine punishment"... The practice of e-fumi (trampling on Christian images) began around 1629 as a means of detecting Christians by observing who would shrink from the act... The Christians lived under constant threat of persecution, according to which harassment and torture were deemed successful if they induced apostasy. Some punishments designed for this purpose were the retraction of employment (which inevitably led to begging or starvation), dismemberment, branding, water torture, lowering the victim's body into the boiling sulfur springs of Unzen, and the ana-tsurushi, or headfirst suspension in a pit of excrement until the victim either recanted or died.
-- Christal Whelan, Introduction to The Beginning of Heaven and Earth
...Being from the region of Nagasaki, my ancestors presumably include countless cross-tramplers. For several years, as a spiritual exercise, I have imagined myself in their place during the commemoration of the Lord's Passion on Good Friday; I pretend that the cross I kiss is a fumi-e; that I am expected to desecrate it and that my family and I will be tortured and thrown into a volcano if I do not. This is how I understand what it means to venerate a sacred image.
The Kakure Kirishitan - the "hidden Christians" of Japan - were able to practice a crypto-Christianity disguised as Buddhism; they attended the temples like their neighbors, but secretly fasted from meat on Fridays and gathered to pray the Rosary. They had no priests, and thus no Mass, but they baptized children in celebrations disguised as birthday parties. They kept statues of Buddhist saints that resembled Christian ones, and collected rocks whose shapes suggested the Virgin Mary. Some communities guarded the small catechisms and devotional books that the missionaries had disseminated, but most relied on memorized, orally transmitted prayers in garbled Latin. Some families kept pious trinkets that the missionaries had given their ancestors - medals not much different from those now sold in Catholic bookstores for 25 cents each. The Kakure Kirishitan hid these in their homes and handed them down through the generations...

A mentality ... that informs defenders [of the iconoclasm in VCII's wake] today ... old Catholicism with its religious trinkets and Friday meatfasts and bits of memorized Latin was regarded as childish - as "minimalist" and "rules-oriented", or even as distracting from the more important things with which a "mature Christian" should be occupied....
Sometimes religious trinkets and Friday meatfasts and bits of memorized Latin are all they have to sustain their faith for centuries, at enormous risk and sacrifice. In Japan, this needed to be enough, and it was enough; enough that on 17 March 1865, after 251 years of brutal persecution, a tiny population was able to approach missionary priest Bernard Petitjean and say: The heart of all of us here is the same as yours. ...
This iconoclasm was motivated not by the zeal of a false religion, but, as Martin Mosebach wrote, by angst and pusillanimity.... because their souls were far too small for such "little" things.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Go out to all the world...

http://www.zenit.org/article-22081?l=english
Qatar's first Catholic Church.
How far is that from Palestine, exactly?
Interesting, and more than a little ironic that "the ends of the earth" to which we are commanded to spread the Good News often turn out to be our own backyards.
This is certainly turning out to be so for us in the US, where many putative Catholics are in need of the ministration of missionaries.

Does your pew mate need to hear the Gospel? And are you preaching it to her or him (using words only if necessary?)

Monday, 17 March 2008

ALL liturgical music is congregational

What .... I guess "hooey" would be the nice word?
Doing a bit of research because I must do the music for my first non-Mass funeral, (during the Triduum, of course.)
I came across this gem: In general, the music, like all liturgical music, is congregational and appropriate to the religious dimensions being celebrated in this Christian liturgy.
http://www.saint-malachy.org/funeral.html
Gee, I'm just dying to hear the congregation's rendition of the Exultet...
Okay, snark off.
Why make such a sweeping, inaccurate statement?
WHY do people fabricate rubrics, rules, liturgies..... why?

Saturday, 15 March 2008

The Necessity of "THE" Reform

This thread on the CMAA discussion group surprised me, just LOOK at the passion it brought out!
http://musicasacra.com/forum/comments.php?DiscussionID=375&page=1#Item_32
My post (no doubt repeating others' wiser, less excessive verbiage...) on said thread, because really, what's the point of having ones own blog if not to disseminate ones own opinions, tastes, preferences and words...
...................
That's all right, I am not a slave to fears of redundancy...
"Let's face the facts: people were all too happy to abandon Latin and what little chant they were doing."
That is not a "fact," Gavin, it is a description of SOME places, which you, and most of us, know ONLY BY HEARSAY. Some people were, some people weren't. I don't know, it may even be correct to say "MOST people were all too happy to abandon Latin" but you really should try to qualify these sweeping statements in some way.
"Pragmatism, as today, ruled." True.
"Catechesis sucked...Musical standards were low." And....? As you yourself said of that other matter but neglected to admit on this subject, "AS TODAY."
"the fact remains that SOMETHING allowed Reform #1 to happen "Yes, firstly, the fact that is was NEEDED, as, shock of all shocks in this postlapsarian world, Things Weren't Perfect.And secondly, (this is what allowed it to happen so BADLY,) in this postlapsarian world, People Aren't Perfect.The timing of the Council, (NOT of the reform, per se, because despite the blather of many, history did not begin with the Council, the reform was on-going.,) may have been a perfect storm of bad reform, because of the glamorization of opposition to all authority, the rise of the idolization of youth (which springs from the post-war years,) a generally ugly period in popular aesthetics.And then there was Humane Vitae...At a time when the Church (and society,) were in a state of great flux, the Church came out with a Hard Saying.Plenty left over the thing itself, but I suggest that it is possible that as many if not more left not as a result of the encyclical but as a result of the open defiance of the Magisterium, in the form of this encyclical, by those persons the PIP thought were bound to uphold it.It surely must have seemed to the faithful but undereducated observer as if everything was up for grabs.And if priests and bishops could go their own way on something as important as THAT, and since the PIPs could SEE that priests were going their own way on the liturgy, many PIPs decided to go their own way on EVERYTHING -- and that is protestantism.
"My stance is based on logic: why have a council if everything was so wonderful?"For someone who is old enough to have lived through the marketing debacle of New Coke, your asking this surprises me. Wonderfulness is open to improvement. Fixing what ain't broke is a cliché, killing the goose that laid golden eggs to see if there were more inside is a fabled human weakness.(Way off topic, I doubt I am the only one here to have had an experience such as asking someone to oil a squeaky hinge and returning to find the door on the floor, the components of the hinge scattered about, a Pella catalogue being pored over, and a new lock assembly being badly installed.)So surely no one argues that the execution of the Sacred Liturgy had always and everywhere attained perfection.I believe a primary improvement the Council was intended to produce was, besides increasing the PIPs understanding of and participation in the liturgies, the bringing of our separated brethren and sistren back into the One Holy Catholic And Apostolic...Our failure to achieve that aim on any great scale, and our remarkable ability to along the way achieve some horrendous unintended consequences does not invalidate the original aim. (SO I split an infinitive, sue me...)
"You and those who defend the old days as an immaculate period to be returned to still have not dealt with the title of this post,"Who are these people?
"still have not dealt with the title of this post, namely why was Latin abandoned?"

Actually, the title of the post was about reform, not Latin, per se.... is Latin what you really wanted to address?
But I can answer in 3 words: Pragmatism, Inertia and Sloth.
"And what's to prevent our re-introduction of it being treated as another 'fad'?"

Our educating those who suggest such a silly thing. Never allowing anyone the opportunity to treat it as such by not trying to have your own way, trying to have the CHURCH'S way, and demonstrating with documentary evidence that that is what it is.I can give a very specific example -- I was in a parish once that was doing something that was a minor liturgical abuse. After it was brought to their attention, TPTB decided to clean it up, via announcements, bulletin inserts and preaching.Unfortunately, the director of liturgy and the pastor decided to use the opportunity to introduce a pet project of theirs that, although licit, was NOT a requirement of the rubrics, so these two matters, one having to do with universal rubrics and one the personal whim of a few people were tied together in the minds of the PIP. They were both, as far as anyone who didn't research the matter (which the PIP can't be expected to do,) of equal weight, and just a matter of doing it "Father's way."
When I press for something in my music ministry, I SCRUPULOUSLY never press for my personal preference. You spend your capital on more important things.For instance, when I took my present job I kept some settings of the Ordinary that the PIPs like which I abhor because my line in the sand for that battle was settings of the Ordinary that play fast and loose with the text.
And finally,"So my question is, at least as far as music, what's keeping chant in place once our authoritative German Pope is gone? In 80 years, when the last of Generation Y is in the ground, what's to stop the new group of young people from saying 'hey, this Latin stuff is horrible! Let's ditch it!' "
And the answer is nothing, nothing at all.We are not called to succeed, we are called to try (whatever Yoda's advice to young Skywalker.)We will never have utter, final, lasting, immutable perfection in ANY endeavor in this world.In this world, sometimes the bad guys win, sometimes treasures are lost forever, the poor (of taste) we will always have with us, heroes are slain and the cowboy doesn't always get the girl by the fade-out. (I have it on good authority from someone old enough to know, that in any movie shown to Adam and Eve in Eden, the cowboy DID get the girl. After they relocated, not so much...)

As I was waiting in line for confession...

Not quite true, as I was heading for the corner of St John Cantius where my favorite confessor holes up, I overheard the tail end of a conversation between Msgr. Phillips and a young man, heard the name "Dan" and took a guess, and introduced myself.
So, I was able to put a face to the name on the most beautiful blog on the Internet, The Lion and the Cardinal.
http://www.danielmitsui.com/hieronymus/
Stations and Benediction was very moving, by the way. Himself has a bit of trouble with that much Latin and that much kneeling, but he said it was wonderful just to let the the music "wash" over him and think.
And Benediction really got to him.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Because I was whining yesterday...

.... I need to praise my choir who gave me, and more, gave God, a terrific rehearsal this everning.
Thank you, people!

White Lists

http://musicasacra.com/forum/comments.php?DiscussionID=19&page=1#Item_39
An old thread on the CMAA boards recently had an infusion of new blood, so I will pass on some other peoples recommendations
...............
Pes -- Olivier Messiaen, O sacrum convivium; Poulenc's Quatre Petites Prières de Saint François D'Assise; Walford Davies, Psalms
Aristotle Esguerra -- Maurice Durufle's Four Motets on Gregorian Themes (Op. 10): Ubi Caritas, Tota pulchra es, Tu es Petrus, and Tantum ergo.
Charles -- Persichetti's Mass for A Capella Voices, Op.84; Whitaker's FIVE HEBREW WEDDING SONGS
Michael O'Conn0r -- Poulenc's 4 Christmas motets
IanW -- Vinea mea electa, one of Poulenc's Quatre motets pour un temps de pénitence. Casals (O Vos Omnes), Poulenc (Salve Regina), Rachmaninov (Ave Maria), Reger (unser lieben Frauen Traum), Stravinsky (Ave Maria);
Isaac -- Macmillan's Mass, Seven Last Words from the Cross, and Christus Vincit; Lauridsen's O Magnum Mysterium, Ave dulcissimi Maria, Ubi caritas et Amor, Ave Maria; Gorecki's Totus Tuus; Panufnik's Deus, Deus Meus; Part's Nunc dimittis, Te deum, De Profundis, I am the True Vine, Dopo la vittoria; John Tavener's Christmas Proclamation; Harris' Faire is the Heaven (where happy souls...); Britten's "Hymn to the Virgin"; Howell's "Like as the Hart Desireth the Waterbrooks" Villette; Eric Whitacre, When David Heard
Marek -- Copland's Four Motets; Imant Raminsh, Ave Verum Corpus
Vigilate -- Eric Whitacre, Lux Aurumque
SamuelDorlaque -- Dr. Peter Hallock "Baptism of the Lord" and Ionian Psalter
ghmus7 -- Ave Verum Corpus by Colin Mawby; Prayer of St. Richard of Chichester byMalcolm Archer; Ave Verum Corpus, Great is the Lord by Elgar; Miserere Mei by Calvin Schenck; Advent Anthem by Richard Proulx; Ee'n So Lord Jesus Come by Manz; Cantique de Jean Racineby Faure; Advent Message by Martin How
richardUK -- Javier Busto, Ave Maria, Magnificat;
Olbash -- Healey Willan , O Sacred Feast (O Sacrum Convivium), Rise Up, My Love, My Fair One; Leo Nestor, The Call, Come Risen Lord; McCabe, I Am the Living Bread; Schalk, He Who Dwells in the Shelter of the Most High; Grotenhuis, Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace

Altar Server Training

No, I am not advancing some feminist agenda by saying "server" rather than "boy" as in the article.
There are young men who ought to learn, I am certain.
(My older brother who is a middle-aged man would like to learn because he only learned the Dominican Rite.)
Anyway, yet again, let us thank the Lord for the Canons Regular of StJC.

http://www.catholic.org/prwire/headline.php?ID=4589
CHICAGO, IL (MARCH 12, 2008) - Altar Boys wanting to learn how to serve at the altar for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (1962 Missale Romanum) need resources to prepare. The Canons Regular of St. John Cantius in Chicago have the resources you need. A DVD of the Low Mass is now available which provides the server a special perspective on the role of the altar server. Also many booklets are available on how to serve, as well as a CD audio tutorial. Go to www.cantius.org/go/webstore/products/category/for_altar_servers/ in order to view the various products available.

Copywrong and your rights

Absurd, ill-conceived copyright law is the ruination of liturgical music. (I know, the Disney Corporation was the intended recipient of the benefits, but its malevolent influence has had a disproportionate effect on liturgical music.)
It does not protect creators, it protects corporations.
It prevents organic growth and encourages the Cult of the Disposable. (So much for 1st amendment guarantees that there shall be no established religion; the Church of the Holy Consumer enjoys protections of the law other denominations can only DREAM of....)
Or so I thought!
But now I know that the laws I thought were so bad, were crafted to ensure that frocks and the intellectual property they represent and their creators receive the respect and remuneration they deserve.
Whew, thank oprah THAT'S settled! But not as settled as we'd like...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/13/fashion/13ROW.html?ref=fashion

The Council of Fashion Designers of America faced a roadblock this week in its campaign to extend copyright laws to apply to fashion after losing the support of an influential trade group.
The copyright proposal has raised complicated issues: Can a dress design ever really be original? When does inspiration become imitation? Would the trends that designers create be hampered by policing the companies that copy them? Over the last two years, the designers’ council has hammered out a proposal
that its members believe would target only those cases where designs are intentionally pirated.
It's terrible the way those Family Dollar copies of A. E.'s work eats into Lanvin's profits, huh?

Music to celebrate the Pauline year

Semi-"official" music for the Year of St Paul, available here:

http://www.abbaziasanpaolo.net/inno.htm

My computer is being very slow this morning (I think my virus protection haters Adobe Acrobat and vice versa,) so I can't vouch for these songs and litanies, having neither seen nor heard them myself.
How nice that there are so many languages provided. If only the Church, in Her wisdom, had seen fit to provide us with a common liturgical language, that would belong to none of us, and so, to all of us equally, in which we could then worship and sing together.....
To be fair, if you scroll there is one hymn in Latin, though seemingly given as an afterthought.
Is your parish doing anything for the Pauline Year? So far, nothing planned here... (although Himself has suggested a four night "film festival" to show a not-bad television mini-series in which Anthony Hopkins starred.)

Congratulations to the Diocese of Fajardo-Humacao

http://212.77.1.245/news_services/press/vis/dinamiche/a2_en.htm
I don't know much about Puerto Rico.
I wonder if the ceremonies around the creation of this this new diocese in US territory, a commonwealth; and the ordination of her bishop will make it to EWTN?
It seems a good sing for the Church that a new diocese is needed.

The Holy Father ... erected the new diocese of Fajardo-Humacao (area 574, population 293,000, Catholics 97,869, priests 22) Puerto Rico, with territory taken from the archdiocese of San Juan de Puerto Rico and from the diocese of Caguas, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of San Juan de Puerto Rico. He appointed Fr. Eusebio Ramos Morales of the clergy of Caguas, pastor of the parish of "Santisimo Redentor" at Fajardo as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Maunabo, Puerto Rico in 1952 and ordained a priest in 1983.

The quality of workmanship even in fields USUALLY held to be of lesser importance

A Vatican exhibit to evidence "quality of workmanship even in fields usually held to be of lesser importance." [emphasis mine]
http://212.77.1.245/news_services/press/vis/dinamiche/a1_en.htm
Ah, to be in Rome now that Benny's there.
For all I know, exhibits of this type are common as dirt, but surely a notable feature of this pontificate, most especially with the new MC, is that such items of the Church's patrimony are not merely fit museum exhibits, and this is regularly demonstrated with great force; any more than items from the vault that holds Her musical treasury are only to be taken out for early music concerts and background noise for the Society for Creative Anachronism.
Beauty MATTERS, and liturgical beauty most of all.

EXHIBITION OF MASTERPIECES FROM FABRIC OF ST. PETER'S
VATICAN CITY, 11 MAR 2008 (VIS) - "'Magnificenze Vaticane'. Masterpieces of Art from the Collections of the Fabric of St. Peter's" is the title of an exhibition due to be inaugurated this afternoon at Palazzo Incontro in Rome. It will remain open until 25 May...

Among the little-known works on display will be a roll of damask with the arms of Pope Alexander VII, pyramidal reliquaries by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, candelabra and crosses purchased by Pope Pius IX from the king of Naples, and a series of eighteenth-century altar hangings in silk and gold.
The 1400s are represented in the sculpture section with the Four Evangelists by Mino da Fiesole and Giovanni Dalmata, while the Baroque is present in the form of works attributed to Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Alessandro Aligardi. In the painting section, fragments and frescoes from the interior of the basilica of St. Peter's will be on display for the first time. Documents from the General Historical Archive of the Fabric signed by Benevenuto Cellini, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno, Bernini and others will also be on show.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Can someone please explain...

How is it that one year, a Liturgy Committee, in the person of its head, can tell the music director that "O Sons and Daughters" (tune, O FILII ET FILIAE,) is too "gloomy" for a Communion song on Easter; and the next year, when the notes for that preceding year's deliberation (accidentally?) find their way into the agenda, turn out to have recommended "Easter Alleluia" by one Messr. Marty Haugen for the Offertory procession song for that same liturgy?
(Pascha Nostra, which had been used the year before that was dismissed out of hand...)

"Does anyone know, on Holy Thursday, what are you supposed...?"

I know I'm always scrambling to find this (what can I say? my office and my computer are as big a mess and as disorganized as everything else in my life...)
The straight dope, as it were - (the document itself is in the first comment)

Paschale Solemnitatis

Circular Letter Concerning the Preparation and Celebration of the Easter Feasts

Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments...

Difficult rehearsals, difficult singers...

http://musicasacra.com/forum/comments.php?DiscussionID=367&page=1

A new thread, today of all days, on the CMAA forum.
Last night's rehearsal really took it out of me.
Some are feeling deprived because we are not expending sufficient energies on the "Easter Screamers. Well, doing more than two in a morning - one as a festive and unwontedly loud prelude and one as postlude, when only the festive and loud can be heard over the din of St J's Bowling Ally and Boutique - is silly, and I know my voice can't stand up to my predecessor's programming of 3 or 4 before, one (at communion!!??$?%!) during, and one after, especially after the Vigil on the night before.
Since I, for all intents and purposes, am the only "big gun," I think it my prerogative to say, nope, no anthem where the entire last page sits above the staff for the sopranos and then hangs on a B flat or a C for four measures after I have spent the rest of the anthem putting out fires in the alto or even bass line.
And a half dozen such pieces?
Not just no, but Helvetica, no! And when I offer, rather than the truthful, your voices aren't up to it, an explanation about limited time and energy, we can only sing what we get to in the rehearsals, I am assured, "oh, we've been singing this-that-or-t'other for years, we all know it!"
Well, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, may I enter into evidence the Mozart Ave Verum.
It was a most discouraging rehearsal...
But what it all boils down to finally, however, is that we are a liturgical choir, and choral showpieces are not our primary mission. And that's a hard sell, because just as they are constantly reminded (not by me....,) that "it's not a show," so are they constantly presented with, (by some of the same people,) a variety of.... well, shows.
And they are taught, from childhood, that on special occasions, special people get to stand up in front of everyone and do special things at church.
And an amazing number of those special things are extra-liturgical, to put it mildly.
So why wouldn't they expect their opportunity to wail on some favorite old chestnuts?

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Sober Inebriation

A blog, new to me, dense and rich as a good fruitcake.
(About which confection I will brook no petty insults or cruel japery, the subject seems risible to the foolish only because a good fruitcake is as rare as truffles -- but it is worth its weight in beluga, it is one of the pinnacles of the culinary arts, and since, as artists and their admirers know, it is in the great acts of creativity that we approach most closely the Divine, I would say that my Mother, the baker of a very fine fruitcake indeed, is that much nearer to...but I digress.)
Good thoughts and good culling of others thoughts...give it a read.

http://soberinebriation.blogspot.com/

(Given its title, it amuses me that what brought me to it was Belloc's poem in praise of wine-- well, after all, the good Lord did not provide milk for the wedding guests,did He? nor make running water the matter for the Blessed Sacrament? He chose wine as the accident of His most Precious Blood, thereby ennobling all wine, no?)

A creature gone bad...

A creature gone bad.
What a humiliating description... is the devil squirming with embarrassment and shame? probably not.
Fr "SingtheMass" correctly deems it a tragedy for people to believe in the devil but not in the Lord, but I believe the sad fact is that surveys show that it is not all that uncommon, in this time and in this society.
Now I admit I have my doubts that some of the sad young people who declare themselves "devil worshippers" are any such thing, but are like the foolish little people who drift into gang membership -- desperate to belong somewhere, anywhere, they are merely grasping at straws, even an ugly, corrosive, poisonous straw.
Nevertheless, there are those who believe in the existence of demons but not in Our Lord God.
And thank you, Father, who identifying the originator of the Kaiser Sozay maxim -- Baudelaire, eh?
But I am drifting from my main point, which is that the devil is both lazy and smart, and often has recourse to something more effective, (and easier on him,) than a frontal assault on Truth Beauty and Goodness.
One of the "windows" that can be climbed in after being pushed out the door is the building up of the inferior, or even worse, of the opposite.
Instead of working so hard to destroy the Truth, the devil puts his energies into a glam make-over of Falsehood.
Instead of trying to tear down Beauty the huckster of the world puts lipstick on pigs and tempts suckers to idolize ugliness.
He makes the bad seem not-so-bad, kinda fun, maybe even "good enough" -- and voila! his patsies no longer seek the Good.
Because we're not as smart as he is, but we're probably, most of us, his equal in laziness (or am I projecting because I'm so dang slothful?)
So we're delighted to have our failure to strive affirmed, we're very happy to have that for which we settle endorsed.
Once a lie seems to work, once ugliness is comfortable, once we get by with something evil -- well, why not?
There were no consequences...
It was (and this, finally was my point,) No Big Deal.
And strangely, by devaluing them, we devalue their opposites.
Yes, it is wrong to give the devil too much credit... but for some of us, it has been more dangerous to give him none at all.
For if we de-fang the devil, what need to avoid him, chained like a dog to a tree? Indeed, what need for the chain?
See? he's harmless.
And if the Evil and Ugliness and Falsehood that are his stock in trade are inconsequential, unimportant , if choosing them was No Big Deal -- well, Goodness and Beauty and Truth must not matter all that much either.
............................
Satan Exists and Christ Defeated Him (via Zenit http://www.zenit.org/english)
By Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap, the Pontifical Household preacher
2/9/2008
Demons, Satanism and other related phenomena are quite topical today, and they disturb a great part of our society. Our technological and industrialized world is filled with magicians, wizards, occultism, spiritualism, fortune tellers, spell trafficking, amulets, as well as very real Satanic sects.
Chased away from the door, the devil has come in through the window. Chased away by the faith, he has returned by way of superstition. The episode of Jesus' temptations in the desert that is read on the First Sunday of Lent helps us to have some clarity on this subject.
First of all, do demons exist? ....it must be noted that many great writers, such as Goethe and Dostoyevsky, took Satan's existence very seriously. Baudelaire, who was certainly no angel, said that "the demon's greatest trick is to make people believe that he does not exist."
The principal proof of the existence of demons in the Gospels is not the numerous healings of possessed people, since ancient beliefs about the origins of certain maladies may have had some influence on the interpretation of these happenings.
The proof is Jesus' temptation by the demon in the desert. ...
How could a person know anything about Satan if he has never encountered the reality of Satan, but only the idea of Satan in cultural, religious and ethnological traditions? They treat this question with great certainty and a feeling of superiority, doing away with it all as so much "medieval obscurantism." But it is a false certainty. It is like someone who brags about not being afraid of lions and proves this by pointing out that he has seen many paintings and pictures of lions and was never frightened by them.
On the other hand, it is entirely normal and consistent for those who do not believe in God to not believe in the devil. It would be quite tragic for someone who did not believe in God to believe in the devil!
Yet the most important thing that the Christian faith has to tell us is not that demons exist, but that Christ has defeated them. For Christians, Christ and demons are not two equal, but rather contrary principles, as certain dualistic religions believe to be the case with good and evil.
Jesus is the only Lord; Satan is only a creature "gone bad."....
Nothing and no one can do us ill, unless we ourselves allow it. Satan, said an ancient Father of the Church, after Christ's coming, is like a dog chained up in the barnyard: He can bark and lunge as much as he wants, but if we don't go near him, he cannot harm us.
In the desert Jesus freed himself from Satan to free us! This is the joyous news with which we begin our Lenten journey toward Easter.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Turba

http://hymnographyunbound.blogspot.com/2008/03/crowd.html

Ephrem, over at Hymnography Unbound, has a very good post on why we should not all find ourselves mumbling "hail, King of the Jews" or "you are not one of His disciples" next week.
I rebelled against it when I was a kid, but I don't remember waht my reasons were. I just wouldn't read the "crowd's" part (it is called "Chorus" in one missal I saw, as if it were a Greek tragedy...) I suppose it was more on aesthetic than theological or liturgical grounds. I have come to believe, (even though I now read the part which we are asked to read,) I was right for the wrong reasons.

it is far too literal and turns the reading of the Passion--a liturgical act--into a dramatic act. Outside of the liturgy, dramatic stagings of important events of the life of the Lord are very helpful. But are they right for the liturgy?
In the Good Friday liturgy, the ministers prostrate themselves. We kiss the feet of the Lord. We take Communion. We worship the Cross. These are the heightened, symbolic, liturgical ways for Christians to acknowledge their joy in the salvation won for them by His blood. There is a deeper drama.

Why don't we sing...?

I will never amount to much, for the same reason that in school my research papers never amounted to much.
I am too easily distracted, and too willing to wander off on tangents. Where I was once the thrall of the siren Card Catalogue, now my seducer is the Internet, or the Dubyadubyadubyas, (as someone I know calls it,) insinuating, whispering, Com'on out an' play...
So, in trying to understand preveniant grace (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prevenient_Grace) I come across the name of a hymn text of which I have never heard.
Hmmm, Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast.... so, look it up on Cyberhymnal http://www.cyberhymnal.org/
Why, what do they mean, HURSLEY, it sounds almost precisely like GROSSER GOTT!
So, I wonder if the tune is like SICILIAN MARINERS, do Protestants call it by one name so as to lessen the Papist taint?
And I wonder if HURSLEY can be found in any Catholic hymnal and in following that string through the labyrinth, I end up reading this:
"I am not worried about the continuing presence of hymnody at Catholic masses. I suggested that we should be more aware of the historic traditions of Protestant hymnody - I mean, why have I sung [a piece of trite tripe by a much excoriated songsmith on whom I do not wish to pile on at this time, although I'm more than interested in the normal course of things...] numerous times in Catholic churches, but never Charles Wesley’s excellent 'Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast'?"
It is from a site to which I do not care to link, the sanctimony of the main blogger gives me heartburn -- too bad, because I love the blogger whom I have quoted here, as well as some of the regular commentators.
But this is an interesting question.
Judging from a very (so far) perfunctory search, one answer is obvious - the major publishers did not see fit to include it in any Catholic hymnals.
Look, I do not really think that the Oregonian and Illinwiffic branches of the liturgical-industrial complex are Gog and Magog, or the living embodiment of all that is evil and unholy in the universe, or the universe of publishing... (okay, I may have said a few things that indicated I thought that.)
But who else would be to blame for this? OK, them and our conference of bishops.
What are the chances of the average parish musician looking beyond, being capable of looking beyond, knowing he is ABLE to look beyond, being allowed by his boss or bossette to look beyond, the fare provided by the hymnal or missallette in his parishes pew and loft?
And someone made the choices of what to print in said resources.
Well, we haven't come within spitting distance of a national hymnal, which the bishops could have, perhaps should have done.
And the publishers, (and their flunky .... sorry, that is a more pejorative word than I wish to use, but I can't think of another... musicians' association,) have more interest in promoting music on which they can own the copyrights than in letting musicians who have been thrown in to the deep end know that there is centuries of glorious music out there.
............................

Come, sinners, to the Gospel feast;Let every soul be Jesus’ guest.
Ye need not one be left behind,For God hath bid all humankind.

Sent by my Lord, on you I call;The invitation is to all.
Come, all the world! Come, sinner, thou!All things in Christ are ready now.

Come, all ye souls by sin oppressed,Ye restless wanderers after rest;
Ye poor, and maimed, and sick, and blind,In Christ a hearty welcome find.

Come, and partake the Gospel feast;Be saved from sin; in Jesus rest;
O taste the goodness of your God,And eat His flesh, and drink His blood!

You vagrant souls, on you I call;(O that my voice could reach you all!)
You all may now be justified,You all may live, for Christ hath died.

My message as from God receive;Ye all may come to Christ and live.
O let His love your hearts constrain,Nor permit Him to die in vain.

His love is mighty to compel;His conquering love consent to feel,
Yield to His love’s resistless power,And fight against your God no more.

See Him set forth before your eyes,That precious, bleeding Sacrifice!
His offered benefits embrace,And freely now be saved by grace.

This is the time, no more delay!This is the Lord’s accepted day.
Come thou, this moment, at His call,And live for Him Who died for all.

The following stanzas are commonly omitted:


Jesus to you His fullness brings,A feast of marrow and fat things.
Do not begin to make excuse,Ah! do not you His grace refuse.

Your grounds forsake, your oxen quit,Your every earthly thought forget,
Seek not the comforts of this life,Nor sell your Savior for a wife.

“Have me excused,” why will ye say?Why will ye for damnation pray?
Have you excused—from joy and peace!Have you excused—from happiness:

Excused from coming to a feast!Excused from being Jesus’ guest!
From knowing now your sins forgiven,From tasting here the joys of Heaven.

Excused, alas! why should you beFrom health, and life, and liberty,
From entering into glorious rest,From leaning on your Savior’s breast?

Sinners my gracious Lord receives,Harlots, and publicans, and thieves;
Drunkards, and all ye hellish crew,I have a message now to you.

The worst unto My supper press,Monsters of daring wickedness,
Tell them My grace for all is free.They cannot be too bad for Me.

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