Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Sunday, 30 November 2008

I stand corrected....

I was all set to ask rhetorically, if UPI wasn't....? , or rather, to declare dramatically with whatever emoticon signifies aggrievement, , "I thought UPI was a reputable news organization!"
Well, the tiniest bit of research, and I find that UPI has fallen far since I was neglecting to complete my 5th grade Current Event assignments, (yes, children, in the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth, and most American households subscribed to a newspaper -- and I didn't get most of my news from the Colbert report.)
What began all this confusion was scrolling by on my google newsfeed, or whatever it's called, a HUH??!?#?$?%? story from UPI.com (100 YEARS OF JOURNALISTIC EXCELLENCE,) reporting that the "Vatican" had warned priests not to assume that everyone was heterosexual, and given instructions on how to be more welcoming to gays.
It turns out that Rev Moon's news agency mistook the pamphlet from the Marriage and Family Life Project Office, of the Bishops of England and Wales (a group so dizzy they couldn't face in the right direction during Mass if they tried....) for an official pronouncement of the Vatican, ( a place which is in a slightly different geographical area than Eccleston Square. And, praise the Lord, is presided over a shepherd with a mite more common sense than English Catholics have the good fortune, or otherwise, to have in authority over them)

Fr Ray Blake has the goods, (or the bads, as it were...)

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Prayer Finds a Home on the Web

Or so the New York Times has discovered.
(Sometimes the Old Grey Lady seems a bit like Bush pere, standing in amazement before the technological marvel that is the supermarket price scanner.)
It seems to me that the effort was made by the writer not to be too condescending, (unlike the writer of an Op-ed piece on blacks voting against California's Prop 8, which was so snarky I thought for a moment it might be by a comic -- yeah, black women are against gay marriage because it takes TWO men out of their dating pool....)
This was interesting, though -- I did not know that you have been able to contact a stranger by phone and ask him to pray for or with you since 1907.
Wow.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

The Arrogance of the Pro-Death Movement

You may recall the case of Haleigh Poutre, over 2 years ago she was beaten nearly to death by her step-father, and the Department of Social Services for the state of Massachusetts sought to finish the job for him, because she was in a persistent vegetative state , so really, she was no longer a human being, right, I mean, she wasn't even really alive, well, not alive with a life that deserved any kind of protection, she was not a creature entitled to the care on gives a human being, right?

So my question is, is "persistent vegetative state" a hoax perpetrated by medical "experts" who cannot bring themselves to admit that that there are things beyond their ken?

This is from a secular, commercial news medium:
"While Haleigh was in a coma, the state sought to remove her life support and triggered a national end-of-life controversy.
The girl, now 14, has recovered to the point where she can speak simple sentences and feed herself. She attends a day school in a Brighton pediatric rehabilitation center."

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Sing to God in Jubilation

Wishing everyone a blessed St Cecelia's Day. Still engaged on family business, and not much inclined to sing... but I did not wish to let the day pass without some mention, especially as I am turning over in my mind exactly how I wish to use, no, to spend my voice, my time, what energy and skill God sees fit to give me.
And, of course, how I do NOT wish to spend them.
From commentary of St Augustine on Psalm 32, in today's Office of Readings:

Praise the Lord with the lyre, make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! Sing to him a new song. Rid yourself of what is old and worn out, for you know a new song. A new man, a new covenant; a new song. This new song does not belong to the old man. Only the new man learns it: the man restored from his fallen condition through the grace of God, and now sharing in the new covenant, that is, the kingdom of heaven. To it all our love now aspires and sings a new song. Let us sing a new song not with our lips but with our lives.
Sing to him a new song, sing to him with joyful melody. Every one of us tries to discover how to sing to God. You must sing to him, but you must sing well. He does not want your voice to come harshly to his ears, so sing well, brothers!
If you were asked, “Sing to please this musician,” you would not like to do so without having taken some instruction in music, because you would not like to offend an expert in the art. An untrained listener does not notice the faults a musician would point out to you. Who, then, will offer to sing well for God, the great artist whose discrimination is faultless, whose attention is on the minutest detail, whose ear nothing escapes? When will you be able to offer him a perfect performance that you will in no way displease such a supremely discerning listener?
See how he himself provides you with a way of singing. Do not search for words, as if you could find a lyric which would give God pleasure. Sing to him “with songs of joy.” This is singing well to God, just singing with songs of joy.
But how is this done? You must first understand that words cannot express the things that are sung by the heart. Take the case of people singing while harvesting in the fields or in the vineyards or when any other strenuous work is in progress. Although they begin by giving expression to their happiness in
sung words, yet shortly there is a change. As if so happy that words can no longer express what they feel, they discard the restricting syllables. They burst out into a simple sound of joy, of jubilation. Such a cry of joy is a sound signifying that the heart is bringing to birth what it cannot utter in words.
Now, who is more worthy of such a cry of jubilation than God himself, whom all words fail to describe? If words will not serve, and yet you must not remain silent, what else can you do but cry out for joy? Your heart must rejoice beyond words, soaring into an immensity of gladness, unrestrained by syllabic bonds. Sing to him with jubilation.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

R.I.P.

Please remember in your prayers the soul of Michael, a dear, dear, man, who had more sorrow in his life than anyone deserves.
So young.
He was one of my oldest friends, I have known him literally all my life.
I had no idea until Summorum Pontificum was issued that he had a great interest in the liturgy, and had been missing the Latin Mass, which he remembered very well, for 40 years. He had been a young server when the changes came in.
We discussed it whenever we spoke, not often enough, and we hadn't seen each other in several years.
I wonder if I can help arrange some of what he would have wanted for his funeral Mass (I'm sure he never discussed with anyone else how much he would have liked black vestments.)
How odd of it to have happened this week, I wanted to tell him about the EF All Soul's Mass on Monday, all those rituals and trappings that I had never seen before, (to my memory.)

In paradisum deducant te angeli,
in tuo adventu suscipiuant te martyres.
Chorus angelorum te suscipiat,
et com Lazaro quondam paupere

aeternam habeas requiem.


Saturday, 8 November 2008

Ordo 2009

The new ordo for the usus antiquior is available.

The 2009 LITURGICAL ORDO covers the complete Liturgical Calendar of the Church according to the 1962 Missale Romanum & 1962 Brevarium Romanum. This edition of the Ordo for the Traditional Latin Mass is the easiest to use - it is very “user-friendly”!
For any given day, the 2009 LITURGICAL ORDO contains a clear and simple listing of the feast to be celebrated with its liturgical rank (I, II, III, or IV) and color (Green, White, Red, Rose, White, Black, Violet), together with the liturgical rubrics to be observed.
An excellent feature of the 2009 LITURGICAL ORDO is the inclusion of the special plenary indulgences and prayers that come from the 1962 Indulgentiarum Doctrina, as well as important documents from Rome pertaining to the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass (Extraordinary Form).
The 2009 LITURGICAL ORDO is a must-have for each sacristy and for every priest celebrating the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite according to the Liturgical Books of 1962 promulgated by Blessed John XXIII .

Complaints Choirs

A tip of the hat, (whoops! there goes my wig....) to Sir Monocle for news of the Complaints Choir movement.
That is an absolute natural for this town.
When I called his attention to the existence of this band of whingers, Himself complained that is I would watch CBS Sunday Mornings with him, I'd have known about it long ago.

But I gotsta find out about those sotlen dwaves....

Friday, 7 November 2008

Reducing Catholicism to Good Deed Doing

".... and they are known as phithan... um, thilan... uh, pilanth.... they are known as 'Good Deed Doers'!"
A piece well worth reading, The Sadness of Liberal Catholicism , though I could have wished for a different title.

Kerry Kennedy... has written a book ... called Being Catholic Now: Prominent Americans Talk About Change in the Church and the Quest for Meaning. ...I would like to draw attention to two themes that come up with great, and I must say, disturbing regularity in this book. The first is the favoring of “the faith” or “spirituality” over the institutional church, and the second is the reduction of Catholicism to the works of social justice.
... Now, I know all about priests and bishops who sometimes say stupid things, and worse, sometimes do harmful things. ...
But this acknowledgment should never lead one to conclude that the faith is divorceable from the hierarchical structure of the church, as though the Catholic faith could float free of the pesky interference of priests and bishops. The church is neither a philosophical debating society nor a political party, but rather a mystical body, hierarchically ordered in such a way that authentic teaching and sacraments come through the ministrations of the ordained.
... In the fourth century, St. Augustine battled the Donatist heresy which held that only morally praiseworthy priests could legitimately administer the sacraments and preach. The great saint insisted that the power of word and sacrament does not come (thank God) from the personal worthiness of the minister but from Christ who works through them. So even today, the “faith” cannot be severed from the “institution,” even when that institution is represented, as it always is, by deeply flawed people.
The second theme that disturbed me could be found in almost every essay in the book. In reflection after reflection, we hear that Catholicism amounts to a passion for service to the poor and the marginalized. Again and again, the contributors said that what they prized the most in their Catholic formation was the inculcation of the principles of inclusivity, equality, and social justice. The Church’s social teaching comes in for a great deal of praise throughout the book.
But in the vast majority of the pieces, no mention is made of distinctively Catholic doctrines such as the Trinity, the Incarnation, redemption, original sin, creation, or grace. For the most part, it would be very difficult to distinguish the social commitments of the contributors from those of a dedicated humanist of any or no religious affiliation. The problem here is that the social teaching of the church flows necessarily from and is subordinated to the doctrinal convictions of classical Christianity.
We care for the poor precisely because we are all connected to one another through the acts of creation and redemption. More to it, we worry about the marginalized precisely because all of us are cells, molecules, and organs in a mystical body whose head is Christ risen from the dead. And our work on behalf of social justice is nourished by the [E]ucharist which fully realizes and expresses the living dynamics of the mystical communion.
The great Catholic advocates of social justice in the twentieth century—Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, Romano Guardini, Reynold Hillenbrand, Thomas Merton—were all deeply immersed in the doctrinal and liturgical traditions. No one would have mistaken any of them for a blandly secular humanist. My fear is that a Catholicism reduced to social justice will, in short order, perhaps a generation or two, wither away....
Rev. Robert Barron is a professor of theology at Mundelein University. His website is Word on Fire.
As I said, I regret the title, because I think I qualify as a bleeding heart, as do many I know, and we know that the Mystical Body of Christ's being drawn by the Holy Spirit to worship the Father and to receive the Real Body of Christ is the Source and Summit of the Faith that sends us in mission. The SOURCE.
So I don't think those whose thinking he regrets ARE examples of Liberal Catholicism. The liberalism they inaccurately describe as Catholicism in themselves is, to use his word, divorced from actual Catholicism, it is independent of it.
Oddly, real Catholicism, or at least the remnants of it is precisely where the liberal impulses come from, it is the fuel that drives the engine. But if they don't recognize that, they're gonna run out of gas.
They'll still be doers of good deeds. But it's harder to push a Buick than it is to drive it...
There is an artificial separation of faith and works that has been promoted, often by a false spirit of ecumenism, (it's all the same God, just different roofs, right? naturally leads to, I don't think you have to go to church to be a good person.)
What difference does any of it make, as long as you're nice to other people?
Maybe none.
Maybe you are a saint.
Maybe you can be perfectly good while ignoring or ignrant of the truths of the Faith.
We all know atheists who are really good people.
But when God provided humanity with a mechanism to accomplish our goals, and you were lucky enough to know what that mechanism was --- why are you trying to climb that incline without using the railing?
The organizer of a recent conference on Benedict's Liturgical Theology in England had this to say: the most urgent need of all is for mystagogical catechesis. Young people as well as old need to become aware of the cosmic nature and theological depth of the Mass."

Skink, Skank, Skunk... or, Jumping the Sarcopterygian

I watch too much television, (how else would I have been able to coin my mantra?) as does Himself, (his first impulse upon a guarantee of better and non-temp income was to call the cable company and upgrade our package, though I am proud to say that as some of my skinflintitude has worn off on him, he didn't suggest "premium" channels.)
And both of us are able to refer to "our stories" with barely a hint of irony.
Whoever expected to turn into her own Grandmother? (legend has it that one of mine, as her husband lay dying in the hospital, delayed her visit until "her story" was over -- some soap that's may still be on, Guiding Light perhaps?)
I mean, I have my excuses--
With the election season that lasted what, 15 or 16 years? news became almost unbearable, and I, like an idiot, latched on to more "stories," and that was foolish, for everything seems to be a serial now.
Would any single episode of Mad Men or Life make sense? don't you NEED context?
And On Demand allows you to catch up.
Even sitcoms have seasonal "arcs" now, for the love of mike, and it bothers me that I don't know how Ryan arrived back in Scranton, lowly and beardless; or whether Pam and Jim are really engaged; or why the character Jane Krakowski plays on 30 Rock was in a fat suit for a while.
So, I can't just enjoy it when .... I can enjoy it -- I have to "keep up."
TV watching becomes a burden, it feels like an obligation. (How I suffer....)
And of course in addition to all the guilty pleasures enumerated above, (and I didn't even go into the sort of television by which means of which Himself claims I am "turning [him] into a girl!",) there are things like Into Great Silence, which I had marked on my calendar for a month, (appointment TV, I think they called it at the height of Masterpiece Theater's renown,) and which did not disappoint.
The juxtaposition of that last paragraph reminds me, Himself suggested that the best conversation EVER would result from answering the old who would you like to have dinner with? parlor game , Fr Groeschel, Craig Ferguson and Tim Gunn.
Whaddya think? I digress....
Anyway, I watch too much TV, and I'm invested in too many ongoing story arcs, so it comes as a bit of a relief when a show jumps the shark, and I no longer feel the "need" to watch it.
In the case of my latest defection, the show jumped the "Sarcopterygian."
Primeval was good, silly fun, sometimes witty special effects, amusing dialogue, and an interesting premise with endless possibilities. It was also the perfect thing to have on in the background on Saturday nights while I made up my choir programs for the next morning.
Then suddenly, the interesting, ambiguously amoral, complex character played by Juliet Aubrey, (anyone remember her wonderful, subtle performance in Middlemarch?) began being costumed like Rambo in a WonderBra, and leering into the camera like the Big Bad Wolf to telegraph her villainy to the viewer after every evil lie. She might as well have been her won Evil Twin.
(OH. Maybe she is.....)
And the cliched plotting! Rex the Flying Lizard, who, incongruously, was being made ever more cuddly, (note to producers: there's a reason "reptilian" means what it does,) had to be saved, at some risk to herself, by the semi-bad girl, who had semi-seduced one of the heroes, in order to semi-redeem herself.
The Skunk, the Skink and the Skank.
But I was out for the season finale, and just caught it on OnDemand.
Cliche, upon improbability, upon trashiness.
(I know improbability seems like a silly thing to bemoan the lack of in a fantasy, but when situations have no connection to reality, it is imperative that human emotions remain realistic, and that's where their plotting fell down.)
Aeneas, I mean, Stephen, stopped sulking in his tent long enough to save everyone, utter some nonsensical dialogue (written, seemingly, to provide motivation for motiveless behavior,) and then offer himself up.
It was very spock.... (in more ways than one -- it also played like a scene especially designed to allow the character to either be written out or be brought back gloriously, depending on how contract negotiations went.)
But the idiocy that clinched it for me was the girl fight.
It had all the charm of the GorgeousLadiesOfWrestling.

So much for the printed word...

eMore and more, I am finding that there are things that I wish to read that.... are written. Or sometimes even described.
They are meant to be listened to, or watched, (I hate YouTube! ... except, of course, when I love it.)
But I guess I'm going to have to bite the bullet and find some better internet access so that I am not cut off from things like this:
James MacMillan delivering the Sandford St Martin Lecture on religion and the arts, specifically the "Divine Spark" in great music.

Here am I with my walker and sensible shoes, on the sidewalk that runs along the information superhighway....
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Addendum: A transcript will be available mid-November on this site.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Can someone with XY chromosomed answer a question?

As a gyno-American I never had to deal with a profound voice change, (though don't tell me women's voices don't encounter difficulties at puberty, particularly in the passaggio; all of a sudden, those runs that little coloraturas used to glide through, especially just above the staff? suddenly someone seems to have left their shoes on the stairs for you to trip over.)
Anyway, I have a boy in choir, he was a fine soprano until last year but often sang alto for me, both to stand near some other boys for butch camaraderie's sake, and because he had a GREAT EAR for harmony. That's an important point.
He could hold an interior part by himself.
If we sang something bluesy (this is not a liturgical choir,) he had no difficulty nailing the lowered third note of the scale and then, tuning it correctly to a major scale in the next measure.
Over the summer his voice changed, somewhat.
No cracking at all, and when we sing in unison he can just sing things in either octave. (He still has a very pretty voice above middle C, no straining, no loss of high notes yet.)
But he seem to have no sense of pitch in his "man's voice." He can no longer match pitches unless he is singing in the same octave as the girls.
Now I know even with adult men, who are not really experienced choristers, sometimes when passages are demonstrated by a woman's voice it is hard to "hear" which octave you are supposed to be singing in.
There are other changed voices in the group, and he can't match them on a harmony.
(I even brought an adult light baritone into rehearsal.)
He's 13 and I'm loathe to say anything even slightly critical, (up till last year, I had no problem correcting his rare mistakes, nor he in accepting criticism,) both because I know it's a sensitive age and I don't want him to become self-conscious, and because I don't want to say something that gives him incorrect notions of how a male voice should be produced.
And frankly, his baritone (I'm guessing that's where he'll end up,) is really nice, quite beautiful.
But he cannot sing a harmony, either on something he already knew, or something new and simple.
So my question is, is this normal?
Can someone with good intonation and a good ear, "lose" it when his voice changes?
Any male singers reading this, any information or advice gratefully accepted.
(I have a problem, my own fault, that rehearsal time is running short, and I excused him from a lot of early rehearsals, as I need to with most of the children because of their insane schedules. So the realization that he wasn't "catching up" instantly, which I expected of him, has put me in a bind...)

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Meeting Tonight

I actually have a tiny sliver of enthusiasm for the LitCom Meeting tonight, and am making copies of various words fromm and about the Holy Father and his vision to pass out.
This, from Sandro Magister's intro to the volume of homilies is a gem:

[Benedict] has identified his mission as... being the celebrant of a "cosmic liturgy." Because "when the world in all its parts has become a liturgy of God, when, in its reality, it has become adoration, then it will have reached its goal and will be safe and sound."
.... But Pope Ratzinger has this unshakable certainty: when he celebrates the Mass, he knows that the entire action of God is contained in it, woven together with the ultimate destiny of man and of the world. For him, the Mass is not a mere rite officiated by the Church. It is the Church itself, with the triune God dwelling within it. It is the image and reality of the entirety of the Christian adventure. The educated pagans of the early centuries were not mistaken when they identified Christianity by describing its act of worship. Because this was also the faith of those first believers. "Sine dominico non possumus," without the Sunday Eucharist we cannot live, the martyrs of Abitina replied to Emperor Diocletian when he banned them from celebrating it.

Because what we do matters.... which sometimes, in my discouragement I forget.

And on MY Amazon wish list.....

The first volume of Benedict the Great's collected works was announced as, what else? about Liturgy.
About the orthopraxis of the worship of the Almighty.
About the Source and Summit of our Faith.
About the Means and End of our Christian Lives.
About the hub that any apostolate, any good works, any efforts on behalf of our fellow creatures radiate from and return to.
And now his Homilies, the Liturgical Year "narrated" by him.
When does the English appear? (although I've kind of been making my own, cutting and pasting from VIS, and Zenit, etc.)
Our beloved PapaRatz reminds us that God wills us to sanctify creation by by sanctifying our song of praise to Him as best we can, as we have received it, (to Save the Liturgy, and Save the World?)

Because, um.... IT MATTERS.

Blessed? even venerable?

I find myself wondering, cults grow up so quickly and unthinkingly around Catholic public figures, (anyone remember the silly talk of eventual canonization for Grace De Monaco at her death, until someone remembered that she was notorious for her unchaste ways as a starlet?,) if anyone has ever promoted Guy Fawkes' cause?
After all, there have been warrior saints, is a terrorist saint such a stretch?
I mean, all in a good cause, etc.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Superstition? Another thought on the All Souls Angelus Address...

http://www.oecumene.radiovaticana.org/en1/Articolo.asp?c=241924
In remarks before the Angelus prayer on the day the Church commemorates the faithful departed, Pope Benedict XVI called on Christians to "evangelize the reality of death and of eternal life, a reality particularly subject to superstitious beliefs and syncretism, so that Christian truth does not risk being blended with mythologies of various kinds."

Wouldn't that include the graphic descriptions of suffering souls in purgatory writhing in pain as the flames crackle?
I have always figured the "pain" of purgatory was a little more like your parents making you take a bath when you didn't want to, and maybe there wasn't as much hot water as you would have liked....
And now, as my faith matures, I see of course that the "pain" is of the prolongation of ones separation from the Beloved.
So, in my theologically profound analogy, I will say that not only are you being made to take the shower, but you can hear that the party has already stared downstairs.

Why didn't we sing "I Myself Am the Bread of Life"?

This is a fascinating, ("Ill be the judge of that," "Shaddup,") explication of exactly what the thought processes, the dangers, the expectations, the problems are of liturgical musicians exercising their (hard- and expensively- earned,) judgement in the matter of congregational song.
The lack of respect for the education and experience among those who do not have it, (in the case of the cantor discussed in the thread,) and among those who should but seem not to, (in the case of the pastoral associate mentioned,) is endemic, I believe.
My pastor and I have discussed this, how those outside a line of endeavor often have absurd ideas about exactly what that endeavor involves, (as in, whaddya mean your priest is too busy, he works about two hours every weekend, right?,) or limited knowledge of the factors that are brought to bear on any decision made, (the father of a little instrumentalist who had a range of 6 notes didn't understand why I didn't have time to arrange a part for her ot play along with on a hymn, nor even know that the hymnal wasn't already in the key little one needed to be able to play, not to mention that a request made on Christmas music programming in the third week of December is unlikely to be honoured...)
A retort of go ahead and pick the song, tell me the key you want it in and how fast you think it should be sung -- oh, and spell my name correctly on the check, would be understandable for some of these folk.

And I am starting to think that instead of encouraging young musicians to think about "going into" liturgical music, I should talk to them the way I do young actor wannabes -- get a useful degree, make a living, and do what you love ONLY because you love it, not for a paycheck.

And the thread is a wide-enough-ranging conversation that it has touched on several of my betes noires --the congregation asked to sing too much, the ignorant thinking their opinion is of interest and worthy of equal weight to the judgement of the informed, the dread of offending (often mischaracterized as "being pastoral,") and finally, when to cut your losses.

I already have, David Andrew, but my blood pressure was never high, and if anything, my weight is UP.

How to sing a Kyrie

From Dad29 in a combox below, to wonderful not to enjoy a wider readership:
Roger Wagner used to try to motivate his choral-seminar participants to "method-sing" the Kyrie. He'd ask them to imagine that they were suspended by a spider's thread above Hell--and the only way to avoid Hell was to sing Kyrie Eleison as though they actually meant it...

Of course, that was when there WAS Hell.
A tudge different outlook from the one expressed by someone who asked me to find a "'livelier' Lord Have Mercy" to program.....

Papal Liturgies

As I read that Cameroon will be the first stop in the Holy Father's Apostolic Visit to Africa, I find myself wishing that I could dare to hope, (to dream? Oh, shut up!) that EWTN would provide as much coverage of the liturgies as they did for Pap's trip to the US -- I'm wondering if those charged with coordinating the Masses there will handle the job of inculturation better than some here managed?

Meeting People "Where they are"

An interesting, (I'LL be the judge of that, I tend to say when someone starts an anecdote or conversation that way... so, interesting to me, anyway, I should say,) synchronicity of events.
We have a transitional deacon at the parish just now. He was put on the spot recently presiding over a devotion that is a parish tradition which, he, not being from the parish, understandably knew not very much about.
(That's a general problem in the town where I now live. Whilst sojourning down east, as they say, Himself and I had a joke about certain parts of New England, where it was difficult to find direction and location signs -- we said there should be notices everywhere posting the Yankee philosophy, "If it were any of your business where you were, you'd already know." And people in this community believe they can leave an awful lot unsaid -- often directions include a street referred to as "the avenue" -- as if there were only one. Or only one that mattered, anyway. They remind me of a beloved great-aunt of mine who used to describe places with landmarks that had passed into history “before The War.“ An expression the use of which in itself is an example so what I am talking about -- which “war?” I digress.)
With Exposition and Benediction coming up, I told the pastor that if the deacon would be assigned to preside at either opening or closing to tell him he could get in touch with me if he wanted to go over any of the sung parts, or if he wanted to be accompanied during the actual event.
The pastor, (who I have always thought of as more or less progressive leaning, though completely orthodox, so this exchange surprised me,) thanked me and bemoaned the lack of liturgical formation his community seemed to be giving their members in seminary, and said he intended to speak to someone in authority about it. He said they were particularly neglectful of anything that smacked of "traditional," and all but used his fingers to make air quotes, and gave no doubt that he found such an anti-traditional bent lamentable.
The day after this conversation I sat down to skim through the newsletter from their community which had just arrived, and there was a column about vocations and an acknowledgement that sometimes communities need to change or die, and asking if the community was willing to sacrifice "authentic" parts of itself in order to survive, i.e. attract new vocations.
"Those of the millennial generation have a lot of different ideas than us. Studies show that many of them are attracted to the Church through more traditional devotions, (for example, Eucharistic devotions.) Some of us may not understand this attraction."
To which I can only reply, Huh? You are saying that some of you do not understand why anyone would be attracted to, devoted to, the Lord in the Eucharist?
I can see how you might not share it, (not all devotional practices are going to fit all peoples' spiritual needs all the time,) but to not UNDERSTAND it? to imply that you were sacrificing some aspect of being "true to [yourselves]" by encouraging or promoting, (or even neutrally refraing from discouraging,) such Adoration?
Because in context it sounds as if Eucharistic Adoration is somehow in conflict with the community's identity, as these boomers see that identity.
And further, "Many young people... long for peace, solace and silence. They like the quite contemplation offered by Eucharistic devotion.... the idea of habit for women religious is intriguing -- but they have no idea why people in their 50s and 60s are so opposed to it."
Okay, I'll bite (although I'm nearly twice the age of some of the people whom they seek to attract to vocations,) WHY? why are people in their 50s and 60s "opposed" to women religious in habits? (which is not the same thing as not preferring to wear on oneself, the way I read the quote.)
But the column strikes an optimistic note, the community is open-minded, an attraction to Eucharistic devotions would not be a deal breaker.
The funny thing is, I was a member of this parish for several years before I was aware that it was not staffed by the diocese, (Miss Oblivious of 2001,) or what their community was, and instead, first became aware of the community through online resources, and meeting members of it “virtually,” because of Catholic Spiritual interests that I was developing that were, by most peoples’ assessment -- traditional.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Et lux perpetua luceat eis

That may be the single most moving liturgy in which I have ever participated.
Thank you, Fr Phillips and the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, thank you, Fr Regis, for that magnificent homily, thank you Fr Talarico for priming the pump (the Mass on TV this morning was also very affecting, and his sermon was excellent, remembering the forgotten, connecting the souls in purgatory with the souls of 48 million Holy Innocents, very thought provoking,) thank you choir and orchestra, thank you whoever played the Barber Adagio.....
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

(Oh, and Himself reminds me, thank you, W A Mozart.... he says your setting of the requiem Mass sung AT an actual Mass, is on a par with the Grand Canyon, for sheer simple proof of the existence of God.)

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the Universal Church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.
And the one in my own skin....
And Souls of the Faithful Departed? when you get where you're going, could you spare a prayer for me?

At my Father's funeral when I was a kid, there were three or four organists in the loft, none could play long without tearing up to the point where they could not see.
I think that was the first time I'd ever heard the Barber.
It was perfect.
It was almost unbearable tonight.
I'd never seen the... catafalque? is that what it's called? before.
It was all very stirring.
The range of emotions... "covered" by the propers of the requiem are quite astounding -- and I'd never have encountered them before if I hadn't "been into" classical music. And I never before, well, before this year (for there was the CMAA Colloquium in June,) had encountered them in the context for which they are intended.
Why did the liturgical establishment of the past 40 years think they either needed to, or HAD THE ABILITY TO reinvent the wheel?

"The prayers of one soul can help another..."

What All Souls, the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed is all about, why, regardless of some people's current denigration of the practice, we pray for the dead:

From Papa's Angelus Message on All Souls' Day.

Christian hope is never something merely individual, it is always a hope for others. Our lives are deeply linked to one another, and the good and bad each of us does always touches other people. The prayer of a pilgrim soul in the world can help another soul that continues purifying itself after death. This is why today the Church invites us to pray for our deceased loved ones and to spend time at their tombs in cemeteries.

I loved that quote I learned recetnly, Blessed Carl of Austria to his wife on the occasion of their marriage, something like-- well, now we must help each other to get to Heaven.

A Visit to the Travellers

A seminarian at Orthfully Catholic has a report on a visit to a community (encampment?) of Travellers.
I believe these are the people I heard referred to, and about whom I was warned in Ireland, as "Tinkers."
The hatred and fear of "the other" is a universal sin, isn't it?
My town has something ugly simmering in it just now.
And of course, hardly a trip to the "big city" goes by without advice to avoid places that I know from experience are no more dangerous than many others that don't have the "stigma" of being populated by more recent immigrant groups.
And really, what are my own fears of gang-related crime in certain locales, certain locations? can I be sure that they are rational, and not racist, or classist, or dislike-of-baggy-pantsist?
On the other hand, sheer common sense makes one wary and observant in certain times and places and situations.... where to draw the line.
You don't pay for the unsolicited services of a roof or driveway repairman who just happened to be in the neighborhood with macadam or shingles left over from another job he just finished "don the block...."
In Naples, to use one story I've heard over and over... can you NOT catch the baby?

It wasn't what I expected at all. I was expecting large families living in tiny caravans but in actual fact each family has built a makeshift house and has a few caravans parked outside, so they live in the house but sleep in the caravans. New mothers also have a caravan each in order to bond with the babies.
Sister told me all sorts of scary stories so I was very nervous at first but really enjoyed the experience when I discovered it was no different to visiting ordinary homes. The women were very hospitable. The men were a little suspicious, they are very protective of their property (which includes their women and children). However, when they saw me with Sister they assumed I was a priest and apologised.
They are in great need of prayers. They are hated by the local community and ignored by the local councils. The local school is populated entirely by travellers because the locals won't send their children there. They go over to Ireland every Christmas and the locals go and destroy their site. The road leading up to the site is treacherous but the council won't repair it because they are travellers.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

We don't want your kind?

I wondered when I read about this (h/t to Creative Minority Report,) if the story wasn't mistaken or exaggerated in some way... but the story provoking such (justifiable) outrage seems on the level.
If a society can be said to possess a soul, I fear for that of ours.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon says she will speak to Immigration Minister Chris Evans about a decision not to grant a German doctor permanent residency because his son has Down syndrome.
Doctor Bernhard Moeller has a temporary work visa until 2010 to serve at the Wimmera Base Hospital in Victoria.
He says the Department of Immigration has refused his application for permanent residency because his 13-year-old son, Lukas, who has Down syndrome, would be a significant and ongoing cost to the Australian community.
Dr Moeller leads the intensive care of patients and supervises other GPs in a region of about 54,000 residents.
"It's essentially saying we don't want you here to live here permanently because you have a disabled son and because you are a burden to the Australian community," he said.
"That's not nice however you put it. And it's nothing personal, I know that, I think it's a real shame to treat people like that."

Another news report on the situation:
Senator Cory Bernardi today wrote to the Minister for Immigration, Senator Chris Evans asking him to intervene to stop the Department of Immigration denying a German doctor permanent residency because his son has Down syndrome.
Dr Bernhard Moeller, his wife and three children have resided in Horsham, Victoria, for the past two years after answering a desperate call from the community for a physician.
Dr Moeller is currently the only permanent local physician in Wimmera.
Senator Bernardi, the Coalition Spokesman for Disabilities, said it was disappointing to see that a government department did not recognise the significant contribution the family could make in Australia, including the contribution by Dr Moeller’s son who has Down syndrome.
“Doctor Bernhard Moeller came to Australia to answer our desperate pleas for doctors in rural and regional areas.
"All he wants is to stay in the country his family has grown to love,” said Senator Bernardi.
“While I appreciate that those with Down syndrome may have increased medical requirements, in circumstances such as this I believe the benefits of granting the family residency outweigh the potential negatives.
The Shadow Minister for Immigration, Dr Sharman Stone, has backed Senator Bernardi in taking the Moeller’s situation to Minister Evans.
“Australia is desperate for doctors in rural areas.
"Dr Moeller is known and respected in his local community and has made a home there for his family,” Dr Stone said.
"It’s people like Dr Moeller who have migrated to Australia in the past and have helped make this country what it is today.
“We should be welcoming Dr Moeller and his family into our country and gratefully accepting the contribution he is willing to make.”

Aside from the shoot-yourself-in-the-foot stupidity of treating someone you NEED (i.e. the doctor,) this way, how barbaric is it to treat someone you "don't need" (i.e., the son,) in such a manner?

Saturday, 1 November 2008

One Baby, and One Undecided Voter

Just came across this post on the Rosary Shrine blog, very important, (I should keep up better, it's a week old, but the day has not passed.)

One Baby One Vote!



This is a grassroots effort started by a friend of ours. We encourage you to participate!

  • Pray - To get at least two people from each state to gather on Sunday, November 2nd at 3 pm EST (2pm CST, 1pm MST, noon PST) to simultaneously consecrate our country to God & reclaim the principles on which it was founded. We are praying for the truth about abortion to be revealed in the heart of all voters.
  • Adopt - To encourage everyone we know to go to www.onebabyonevote.com to name an aborted baby.
  • Spread the word – Get out the truth through the web and sending the email version widely
  • Vote - To bear witness at the polls on behalf of the 49 million babies aborted in the US since 1973.
I have never felt so sickened and so torn by a national election, and I am one of the undecided this is aimed at:

QUESTIONS FOR PRO-LIFE, UNDECIDED VOTERS

QUESTION ONE: Isn’t Obama’s position on abortion reasonable and balanced?
ANSWER ONE: Obama ALWAYS votes against ALL measures restricting abortion — in ALL 9 months, including support of partial birth abortion. He voted four times to allow babies born alive in botched abortions to die.
PROOF: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4B3O9uUc-4, http://www.nrlc.org/ObamaBAIPA/WhitePaperAugust282008.html
DRAMATIC PROOF: www.durarealidad.com (parental advisory)

QUESTION TWO: How much difference would McCain really make on abortion?
ANSWER TWO: Dramatic difference. He has promised to appoint Supreme Court justices like John Roberts and Samuel Alito, who have already issued strong rulings restricting abortion.
PROOF: http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/02/mccain-wants-to.htm, http://www.nrlc.org/ObamaBAIPA/johnmccainchampion.html
DRAMATIC PROOF: www.durarealidad.com (parental advisory)

QUESTION THREE: How much difference would Obama really make on abortion?
ANSWER THREE: Dramatic effect. Obama promised that, "The first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act," immediately eliminating over 500 abortion restrictions passed by the 50 states
PROOF: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pf0XIRZSTt8
PROOF: http://www.nrlc.org/FOCA/index.html OR http://www.nrlc.org/FOCA/index.html
DRAMATIC PROOF: www.durarealidad.com (parental advisory)

But apropos of my whining about the General Intercessions, you know what?
I'm just going to join the crusade at the appointed time and PRAY.
I can leave it in His hands to decided for what I should be praying.

Stepping Stones

Also check out this CD of chant, conducted by Michael Olbash, (he was in the schola of the great Fr Larry Heiman, CPPS, with yours truly.)
A very clever idea, an ORDINARY Mass, in ORDINARY time, see how extraordinarily lovely and simple and perfect and prayerful the chant propers and a chant ordinary can be?

And since CDs make such lovely Christmas presents in an era of exorbitant shipping costs and far-flung families..... who DOESN'T love harp?
I'm just sayin'.
Publish Post

It's Mary Jane's Fault ! ! ! ! ! ! !

(Because I don't allow the internet to be big enough timesuck all on my own....)

But did you know that the Paternoster is a kind of19th c. non-stop cyclical elevator?

Oh, and check out this blog and learn all you could ever hope to know about Rosaries and their like, h/t to Mary Jane.

The evils of Nookyaler War

As the Specific Intercessions wax and wane in their claim on generality, I find that we have some lay readers who share our commander in chief's command of English pronunciation, though not among their number, I am pleased to say, is the girl of 7 or 8 whom I heard at the school Mass.
But I wonder, can I ask, without being accused of being "in favor of" nuclear war, if it kills you deader than any other war?
Does the fact of a war's utilizing nuclear means make the deaths resulting from it more horrific than those suffered by the cannon fodder of the Civil War, or WW I?
Are the civilian casualties more ghastly in Hiroshima than the Battles of Berlin or Britain, or the Rape of Nankin, or the Siege of Leningrad?
Does the sickening prospect of enormous numbers of dead increase in its sick-making ability and its enormity if they are to be from nuclear weaponry, rather than drowning as at Salsu?
I think there's too much effort to make the General Intercessions catechetical moments, and not enough cognizance that they are prayers.
Making prayers too specific seems to me to betray a lack of trust in the Almighty's knowing what's best...
Save us, O Lord.
We won't specify the dangers, You know them and we might leave something out, we won't specify the remedies, we defer to Your judgment we don't always have the best perspective on that, O Lord.
Just please save us, O Lord.
ALL of us, O Lord.

"Let us long for those who are longing for us...."

As I head off for morning Mass (next year, how many queries will Fr. need to field, the gist of which are, "Didn't they change that from a holy day of obligation last year, why'd they change it back?,) thoughts of my Father, and of The Blessed Damozel.

Why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of this feast day mean anything to the saints? What do they care about earthly honours when their heavenly Father honours them by fulfilling the faithful promise of the Son? What does our commendation mean to them? The saints have no need of honour from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs. Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning.
Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company, so desirable in itself. We long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins. In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints. But our dispositions change. The Church of all the first followers of Christ awaits us, but we do nothing about it. The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent. The souls of the just await us, and we ignore them.
Come, brothers, let us at length spur ourselves on. We must rise again with Christ, we must seek the world which is above and set our mind on the things of heaven. Let us long for those who are longing for us, hasten to those who are waiting for us, and ask those who look for our coming to intercede for us. We should not only want to be with the saints, we should also hope to possess their happiness. While we desire to be in their company, we must also earnestly seek to share in their glory. Do not imagine that there is anything harmful in such an ambition as this; there is no danger in setting our hearts on such glory.
When we commemorate the saints we are inflamed with another yearning: that Christ our life may also appear to us as he appeared to them and that we may one day share in his glory. Until then we see him, not as he is, but as he became for our sake. He is our head, crowned, not with glory, but with the thorns of our sins. As members of that head, crowned with thorns, we should be ashamed to live in luxury; his purple robes are a mockery rather than an honour. When Christ comes again, his death shall no longer be proclaimed, and we shall know that we also have died, and that our life is hidden with him. The glorious head of the Church will appear and his glorified members will shine in splendour with him, when he forms this lowly body anew into such glory as belongs to himself, its head.
Therefore, we should aim at attaining this glory with a wholehearted and prudent desire. That we may rightly hope and strive for such blessedness, we must above all seek the prayers of the saints. Thus, what is beyond our own powers to obtain will be granted through their intercession.

-- a sermon of St Bernard from this mornings office of Readings

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