Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

No surprise








You Scored as Roman Catholic

You are Roman Catholic. Church tradition and ecclesial authority are hugely important, and the most important part of worship for you is mass. As the Mother of God, Mary is important in your theology, and as the communion of saints includes the living and the dead, you can also ask the saints to intercede for you.




Roman Catholic


100%



Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan

86%


Neo orthodox

82%

Emergent/Postmodern


36%




Classical Liberal


32%



Fundamentalist

29%




Reformed Evangelical


25%




Charismatic/Pentecostal

25%




Modern Liberal

21%

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

....And to all a good night.

Since I have not set up the manger, or written out my Christmas cards, or found the recipe for steak Diane, or figured out what else we're having for dinner tomorrow, or made up the cantor book, or run off the choir programs, or practiced my organ pieces, or wrapped the priests' gifts, or done any wash for 3 weeks, or found anything to wear tonight or this afternoon or in the morning, or even thought about what to give Himself, or washed my hair, or arranged for the instrumentalists fees, or ascertained if the technician was able to come back and fix the hohl flute smack dab in the middle of the great that he left out of wack, or found a copy in the soloist's key for the Ave Maria since I'm not trusting myself to transpose in the middle of the night, or determined how exactly Father wants to play the crib blessing interspersed with verse of Silent Night and in what languages, or found a replacement for the cantor who scuppered, or determined how to deal with an increasingly disruptive basso, or found a working copy machine...

I think I can pretty much safely say, this will be my last opportunity to wish my 1.6 readers a blessed Christmass.

And so I do.

Let us then joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation and redemption. Let us celebrate the festive day on which He who is the great and eternal day came from the great and endless day of eternity into our own short day of time.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

"Because I'm the Mommy, that's why..."

In all honesty, this is not pride (and I am a sinful, sinful woman, pride is one of my faults,) or rather, perhaps it is, but it is not because my authority is being question, or even my skill -- it is because my industry is being called into question, (but I am a lazy, lazy, lazy woman, so I shouldn't object to that, I suppose. But I do.)
But when we have been working on the program for months, and you waltz in late for the final rehearsal and we start to sing Adeste Fidelis, and I remind everyone to sing unison on the final verse...?

Okay, that is NOT the time to question my decision..
Do you think I do this crap on WHIM? that I gave no thought to it, that I'm makin' it all up as I go along??!??#?$?%???!?

Anyway, Himself said it was the coldest and angriest he'd ever seen me at choir when I hissed though my teeth, well, we have a trumpeter, you see, and he's very good, and he is going to be playing the Willcocks descant on the final verse, and it clashes horrifically with the harmonies you sing on the other verses so if you don't sing unison on the melody but ignore my direction and sing the alto part it will be beyond wretched.

And smiling my most saccharine smile, Is that all right with you?

It's the implication in her constant questioning, that I have put no thought into anything, that gets to me. Why are we taking the last verse slower, that's not the way we did it with choir director X...
Well, choir director X died before I was born, so that makes him, let's see.... NO LONGER THE CHOIR DIRECTOR.

Psalm 151

Many thanks to the Intrepid Soprano, I genuinely LOL, (though not, alas, MAO...) and regaled Himself with wonderful (Anglican chant?) setting of a newly discovered psalm.



And with His holy arm, He can put my lights out...

Monday, 22 December 2008

Should you build Me a house to dwell in?

Over at St Mary Magdalen, on t'other side of the pond, Fr Blake has a good post , and hosts an interesting combox conversation on the perniciously pandemic pelagianism. (H/T to Fr Keyes of Refugio San Gaspare.)

I don't know that he's right that there's anything peculiarly British about the heresy, after all, it was an American who wrote the national anthem of the Sovereign State of Pelagia.

I had never though of communion in the hand as symbolic of a kind of pelaginism, but without totally endorsing the line of reasoning, I can see that the combox poster who brought it up has a point.

Pelagianism denies the action of Grace in the world, man is saved by his own goodness and efforts, rather than by God.
It is what we do, rather than what God does that matters, therefore the value of the sacraments is the psychological effect they have in our lives, rather than the direct intervention of God. It denies the power of Grace, of the role of the Blessed Virgin, of miracles, of the power of prayer: Pelagians above all would deny the role of the Holy Spirit, of His act of sanctification. Wherever there is attempt to place man at the heart of the faith, there we should expect to find Pelagianism.
Pelagianism expects Man to be strong rather God's grace to be powerful. Catholicism, or as we could call it, mainstream Christianity, acknowledges mankind is weak and wholly dependant on those things God gives him.


Signs of the Pelagian:
The Church is a human construct, there is nothing or little of Grace about it.
The Liturgy and prayer is about how it makes us feel. Feelings rather than Grace are important.
Revelation is not a given, something given for today and all time, but something of that past that depends on our interpretation.
Ultimately Pelagianism says God is irrelevant to society and to the individual.
Pelagians tend to have a poor view of mankind, what see is what you get, because their is no room for Grace. It is also elitist, insofar as it values a human being by his goodness, his talents, his skills, his willpower.
Devotion to the Blessed Virgin is the destroyer Pelagianism, her whole being was about saying yes to Grace, and being the Mather of God she became the source of Grace. Her life shows the effects and power of Grace.

From the thread:

Mark said...

Pelagianism also leads to the idea that Christianity is first and foremost about social and political change (i.e. man redeeming his own world) rather than about justification and sanctification (i.e. God redeeming his own world).


Mary Jane said...

And a liturgy that is focused on feelings and emotional response fosters Pelagianism. In the eyes of many, grace only exists if the group manufactures it.

Henry said...

By receiving in the hand, communicants pick up and transfer the Body of Christ to their mouths by their own efforts instead of accepting and receiving passively.

The symbolism is Pelagian.

bernadette said...

But people get very annoyed if you use the "P" word. Apparently it doesn`t really exist anymore. A kind of counter-heresy. It flies in the face of an empowered laity. Pelagianism, is "uncharitable" and denies many of the good, virtuous works that man has inspired.

People who use the "P" word are very, very unkind.

(apparently).

torchofthefaith said...

Yes, sadly Pelagianism is alive and well in the Church - and very much so in Britain.

The same ideologues who falsely claim the Church 'used to promote salvation by your own efforts' (and then use that as a vehicle to suggest that Indulgences, the Rosary, and so on were just that), are happy to embrace, and this in the name of Catholicism, the endless man-made efforts to 'save the self' and to 'save the environment' and to 'save the church' by attempted lay governance..... Until we stop imposing our prideful stances on the Faith... and learn to accept ourselves as creatures in need of God's free gift of Grace, and our own need to co-operate with His Grace, the present Pelagian nightmare will persist.

RC said...

Pelagianism is about attaining salvation based on our right moral conduct, and we faithful Catholics are deeply concerned about right moral conduct in society. We are properly opposed to the public acceptance of sins such as abortion. And we are eager to work together with our non-Catholic separated brethren in resisting these evils.

But there is a danger: if we lose sight of the primacy of the life of grace -- if we begin to think that we have stronger spiritual bonds with non-Catholics, based on our common morality, than with morally confused Catholics, then we are being tempted to Pelagianism.

"If I wear clericals, people will bother me..."

I'm not going to identify the speaker, because I think that would amount to detraction, but we all know that there are preists and prelates who would never wear a Roman collar in public, (there's been an interview with one making a certain amount of noise for other reasons lately in St Blog's...)

But from McNamara's Blog comes this interesting factoid:
For most of the 1800's, Catholic priests in the United States actually wore suits and ties were addressed as "Mister" rather than "Father." This was a holdover from the English Catholic tradition, where "Roman" clergy tried to make themselves as inconspicuous as possible in an anti-Catholic climate.

Things weren't much better in mid-19th century America. Even women religious weren't immune to this trend. When the Sisters of St. Joseph first came to Brooklyn in 1856, for example, they wore civilan garb lest they be attacked on the street by Nativists.

(Not long before, without provocation, a man walked up to a Sister of Charity in the streets of Boston, called her a "damned papist bitch," and slapped her face.)

In 1884, at the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore (which also gave us the Baltimore Catechism), clerical garb was mandated.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

They just don't get it...

Zenit has a good article that mentions a collection of essays just published: "Blind Spot: When Journalists Don't Get Religion.
It quotes Amy Welborn quite rightly referencing and criticizing the MSM's " reliance on a template for reporting that frames events in the language of contemporary political categories."

I have a nomination for the in-apt conservative/traditionalist vs liberal/progressive label dichotomy.

How's about we call'em, "Preservatives" and ..... I dunno, maybe, "Ephemerists"?

Does this surplice make me look fat?


(Or is that a cotta? in all seriousness, I'm not up on my liturgical fashion, and it's not as if anything could make My Favorite Marini look fat - there are advantages to being 6'6".
And Holy Father? now THAT'S a hat!)

Brrrr....

The "official" temperature as I mummify myself this Fourth Sunday of Advent is -2, colder than they were predicting, but my L.L. Bean thermometer says - 9.

In any case, I am dreading the walk to church.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

We shall be set free at once if you consent! Be bold!

From a sermon of Saint Bernard:
You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.

The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent. In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and behold, we die. In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life.

Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it. All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race.

Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.

Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary. Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter. If he should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to seek him afresh, the One whom your soul loves. Arise, hasten, open. Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word.

Friday, 19 December 2008

It's that time of year, folks....

It's that time of year, when any idiocy thinking to debunk Christianity, or ridicule faith will find itself lapped up by certain segments of the media and the public.

Hat tip to the snarky Diogenes for this little bit of absurdity: (those given to tarring with a broad brush will have multiple targets as a result of this.... rabid anti-christian secularists? conspiracy theorists? academics desperate to publish? women at militarily institutes?)

Rose Mary Sheldon, the co-author of "Operation Messiah: St. Paul, Roman Intelligence and the Birth of Christianity," and head of the history department at Virginia Military Institute suggests that the Apostle Paul may have been spying for the Romans ...

[and] faked his conversion on the road to Damascus so he could infiltrate Christian congregations and report to Rome on suspicious elements in synagogues across the empire.

Sheldon says Paul's interaction with Roman officials seems to have been remarkably friendly, and she notes that in his letter to the Romans, he urges Christians to obey them.

The really sneaky part? arranging to have himself beheaded to throw suspicious Christians off the track.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

'Cause I wasn't busy enough...

The music teacher from a Catholic school, (with which I have no connection,) called me earlier this week because the person who had committed to accompanying the school Christmass concert and assembly had just .. backed out.
So, that was how I spent yesterday.
Incidentally, this young woman (pretty much a brand-new teacher,) is a graduate of Notre Dame-- and uses By Flowing Waters for school Masses.
I kno-owwww!

And had baptized secular ("pagan?") practices in a way of which I highly approve -- (and have used myself ) -- set word to the cheezy secular songs the children want to use, and make them overtly, unashamedly, incontrovertibly CHRISTIAN.

Why is it so hard to make the connection?

New, (to me, yes, I'm always the last to know....) blog Father CRANKY, (yeah, I know how great is that?) spoke to something that has bothered me: people who are upset with a situation but want to perpetuate the environment that PRODUCED the situation.

Recently an older, married couple made an appointment to see me. The stated reason was that they were having some issues with an adult child and Church moral teaching.

They told me that their three adult children, since entering college and now beyond college had really adapted the secular society views toward sexual morality, and basically sex at any time, any where, with any thing was now normative for their children. ...

"So why then, Father, have you stopped the teen program that our kids went through when they were here?".... their teens had a great and wonderful time in that program (which was morally bankrupt and spiritually void) and by stopping and replacing it, I was denying that same grand time to other teens. ....

Hello? People? The program PRODUCED the children you started complaining about. They got their ideas unfortunately from a parish sponsored organization. Do you not see the connection?


It reminds me so much of the throwing good effort/money/intentions/faith after bad, (effort/money/intentions/faith) going on in so many parishes today.

Come on!
We've got to be WITH IT.
(And we've got to learn whatever the correct lingo is that, 30 years on, means "with it.)

Let Us Celebrate Christ-MASS!

Found this linked through an atheist blog. It's an oldie but a goodie (and of course, it plays into my perpetual whinging about why did they screw up the liturgical calendar, and pretend Christmastide does NOT last until February 2nd, WHICH IT DOES, thereby encouraging Catholics to follow the Mall's liturgical calendar!!!!!!)


By Steve Kellmeyer

'Tis the season for complaining. Specifically, 'tis the season for Christians to chatter and moan about America's secular culture. "Happy Holidays" has replaced "Merry Christmas," Kwanzaa is in and Christ is out and as a Catholic, I'm expected to get upset. But it's hard to do. As Grandpa might have said, after 500 years, a man jest gits tired.

For nearly half of the last millennium, Christians have slowly been chipping away at Christmas. Now, in imitation of Alexander the Great who wept because he had no more worlds to conquer, they caterwaul because they have nearly completed their task. Are they upset because it took so long or because it's almost gone?

America's Christians have fought long and hard for this day. Why aren't they celebrating?

After all, the attack on Christmas began in a most ingenious fashion. Instead of attacking the day itself, the other major holy days of the year were first stripped away. The law of prayer is the law of belief, as the saying goes, and the law had to go.

Thomas More's character in A Man for All Seasons summarized the situation nicely, "What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the devil?... Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on youwhere would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coastman's laws, not God'sand if you cut them down . . . d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? . . . Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake."

But the Christians who started the war against Christmas didn't have the benefit of a good screenwriter, so they didn't understand the consequences of their actions. The first holy day to be expunged from the Christian calendar, the first law of prayer to die, was All Holy Eve now known as Halloween. The man who murdered it? Martin Luther.

In 1517, he chose All Holy Eve, the vigil of All Saint's Day, to attack the idea that those who had died deserved any respect or care from those who lived. According to Luther, prayer afforded no one grace. The Reformation literally converted the communion of saints into the coven of witches; every person who invoked the aid of the saints was now guilty of a demonic attempt to commune with the dead.

Not surprisingly, the rise of the Protestant Reformation created an incredible upsurge in demon-hunting and witch trials. Wherever Protestant strength undermined Catholic authority, the upper-class intellectuals of the day would drive secular mobs to burn and hang witches. Protestant ideology transformed All Holy Eve from a day of sanctity that commemorated communion with God into a day of evil commemorating Satan's power.

It took a few centuries, but the first holy day had fallen. It would not be the last.

Throughout the whole expanse of the year, holy days began to decay into holidays. The most serious assaults were made on feast days whose Masses were celebrated with special joy.

How many people remember Candlemas? It is the Mass celebrating the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple and the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Offered forty days after Christmas, Candlemas marks the end of the Christmas season, as everyone used to know:

    Down with the rosemary, and so
    Down with the bays and misletoe ;
    Down with the holly, ivy, all,
    Wherewith ye dress'd the Christmas Hall

    Robert Herrick (1591-1674), "Ceremony upon Candlemas Eve"

By the late 1800's, Americans had transformed this most ancient feast in honor of the Virgin Mary into Groundhog Day — a signal accomplishment in the continuing Protestant attempt to separate Catholic Church and state. And the two goals, the destruction of holy days and the separation of church and state, should not be seen as separated or separable.

After all, Martin Luther not only began the attack on holy days; he was also the first to propose the idea of church-state separation. Ironically, Luther's deep devotion to Mary has gone down the same memory hole that has eaten the holy days, thus no one realizes that Luther destroyed what he most loved. But it hardly matters. He is long since dead, and according to his own rules, his aid cannot be invoked by either side of the debate.

Meanwhile, the destruction proceeded apace. Michaelmas, the Mass offered on September 29th in celebration of St. Michael's victory over Satan, became the day to settle rents and collect accounts. By the late 1800's, it too had been stripped of all the celebratory hospitality that had marked it as a major feast of the Catholic Middle Ages.

Childermas, the December 28th Mass commemorating the Feast of the Holy Innocents slaughtered by Herod, was not replaced by another event so much as it was simply overcome by the commercialization of the holiday. It slipped into oblivion. America had won the war against nearly every major Mass in the liturgical calendar.

Indeed, between 1700 and 1776, not a single Mass was celebrated in New York City — it was illegal. And, if it had not been necessary for American Protestants to employ French Catholic military support, priests would not have been present to celebrate Mass in New York during the Revolution either. The Mass had long since been stripped out of Protestant society like meat from the bone.

Candlemas, Childermas, Michaelmas and now Christmas. Is it any wonder that a population who opposed any celebration of the Mass would eventually oppose the Mass celebrating Christ's own birth?

Catholics complained when Protestants stripped the Mass out of Christmas. Now Protestants complain that atheists will strip Christmas out of the calendar.

But what, exactly, is the problem with obliterating all reference to Christ's Mass? Isn't this what America has been working to accomplish for 200 years?

© Steve Kellmeyer

The Profound Meaning of Kneeling

Hat tip (no, no, it's too cold,leave your hat on, your ears will freeze and break off!!!!!) to Rorate Caeli for this news and translation.
Kneeling for communion and communion on the tongue:

"Profound meaning," says Cañizares

In an interview granted this Sunday to Spanish daily La Razón, the new Prefect of Divine Worship, Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, had this to say on an important liturgical matter:

[La Razón:] Nevertheless, Benedict XVI has reiterated in some instances the propriety of receiving communion kneeling and in the mouth. Is it something important, or is it a mere matter of form?

[Cañizares:] - No, it is not just a matter of form. What does it mean to receive communion in the mouth? What does it mean to kneel before the Most Holy Sacrament? What dies it mean to kneel during the consecration at Mass? It means adoration, it means recognizing the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist; it means respect and an attitude of faith of a man who prostrates before God because he knows that everything comes from Him, and we feel speechless, dumbfounded, before the wondrousness, his goodness, and his mercy. That is why it is not the same to place the hand, and to receive communion in any fashion, than doing it in a respectful way; it is not the same to receive communion kneeling or standing up, because all these signs indicate a profound meaning. What we have to grasp is that profound attitude of the man who prostrates himself before God, and that is what the Pope wants.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Cliched Dismissals

A very interesting piece on the crying need for liberal secular humanists to be less close-minded.
It is aimed at the Irish, but I think it applies to us in the US as well.

Benedict told [the French] that the [C]hurch is an ally of the state in its efforts to forge an ethical society. In turn, the [C]hurch seeks only to propose, rather than impose, its ideas about the human person and the human community.

Recognising that this ongoing dialogue will need a home, the Archdiocese of Paris has recently renovated Collège des Bernardins, a 760-year-old Cistercian monastery by the Seine, as the venue for a robust but respectful exchange between "the city and the [C]hurch", between secular culture and the Catholic faith.

The [C]hurch in Ireland has no physical locus for such a dialogue but perhaps the news that the Eucharistic Congress will take place here in 2012 provides an opportunity for a similar respectful engagement to begin between the city and the [C]hurch, between "seekers" and those of faith.

Unfortunately, in the public mind, the Eucharistic Congress is hostage to the black and white images of the 1932 Dublin gathering and the associated memory of a confessional Republic. Likewise, Catholicism in Ireland is hostage to memories of a domineering church that overplayed its hand.

The result is a cliched dismissal of anything the [C]hurch might have to say on a range of issues.

So, for instance, any comment on sexual morality is seen as an attempt to restore a Victorian Puritanism. The [C]hurch, though, is an asset to the State.

Catholic schools, for instance, are forming a generation of youngsters who, prompted by their faith, take a keen interest in social justice issues in their local communities and in the developing world.

"A person who believes is a person who hopes", Sarkozy told his audience in Rome last December, "and it's in the interest of the Republic that there be many women and men who nourish hope."

In an Ireland grappling with economic turmoil, anxiety about the future and the fragmentation of community and family life, perhaps a Catholicism that nourishes hope ought to be a very welcome participant in the public square.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The Neglected Foundation for the Culture of Life

Not sure how I missed this when it came out, a superb article by Deborah Morlani over at The New Liturgical Movement.
It speaks to necessary beginnings.
The opposition to good liturgy, (its members do not see themselves as such,) like to brush all that away, as if working for good liturgical practice were seen by it's proponents as the be-all and end-all of their activity.
Strawman.
It is not to claim that such an attitude is sufficient when one urges "Say the black, do the red," although those who are heedless pretend that that is what is being said.

It is not sufficient.

But it is necessary.

It calls to mind those whose only argument for not being opposed to abortion is that some who call themselves "pro-life" are not against capital punishment, or unjust war -- as if the failings of others relived them of their moral obligations.
I think small advances are being made in our liturgical praxis, [cue the Gershwin,] "but not for me..."
(In fact, I think we have taken a step or two backwards in my area. Some of it may be my fault. I've lost a bit of drive, I've lost a bit of hope. I need to get back on the horse.)

Anyway, her is the entire piece - bravo, Miss Morlani!
A recent survey from October 2008, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and completed by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, found that 79% of Catholics who regularly attend Mass are supportive of abortion to some degree, varying from all cases to at least certain cases; this despite the Catholic teaching that the intentional killing of an unborn child by abortion is always evil and that there are no exceptions to this. What these surveys reveal is a fact that many faithful Catholics are already only too aware: that many of their fellow Catholics do not conform to Church teaching and support the culture of death to some degree, be it through contracepting, sterilization, abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, IVF, or so on.
[may I add torture to this list? business practices with no regard whatever for the life, health and security of customers', employee's or the rest of humanity as a whole?]
In looking at the results of these polls, not to mention years of personal experience, the question that comes to mind is this: how can Catholics who are going to Mass every week be living and thinking in such contrast to God's moral laws, as taught by the magisterium of the Church? The pro-life message is certainly “out there” and not unknown, so where is the deficiency that allows such a situation to exist and what can we do to address it? To answer these questions we need to consider the root of the problem and the font of Catholic life.

The Liturgy Is the Source and Summit From Which All Else Flows

The Church teaches us that the sacred liturgy is the centre, or font, from which all else flows within the Church; it refers to it as her source and summit. (Sacrosanctum Concilium para. 10) It is this tenet which allowed Pope Benedict XVI, while still a Cardinal, to note that “the Church stands and falls with the liturgy” for when one understands and accepts the central place which the liturgy holds within the life of the Church and her faithful, this clearly follows and should hopefully help us to appreciate the foundational place and importance of the liturgy in a variety of questions.

Returning to the question at hand then, it would not seem a stretch to suggest that an implication of this very centrality is that the culture of life itself also stands and falls with the liturgy. Why, we shall look at momentarily, but given our understanding that the liturgy is the summit from whence all else flows, and given the consideration of the impoverished, or "falling", state of the liturgy in so many parishes, it should perhaps come as little surprise that there would be a coinciding “falling” of the culture of life – to use the image of Ratzinger.

Putting Our Own House In Order: A More Serious Look at the Liturgy by the Catholic Pro-life Movement

I would propose, particularly to those actively involved within the pro-life movement (of which all Catholics, clergy, laity, and religious, should consider themselves involved to some extent), that the sacred liturgy needs to be looked at much more seriously as a significant foundation and tool for beginning to build the culture of life among fellow Catholics. Pro-life homilies, pro-life prayer intentions and social activism generally are all important let’s be clear, but they don't address the deeper, foundational problem that lay at the root of this issue; namely, the lack of a sense of God that exists not only within our culture, but even within our parishes. Before we can ever hope to bring about a conversion of the culture to a culture of life – and we are speaking, not merely of the changing of laws, but ultimately of the need for conversion -- we must first put our own house in order. If we understand and accept the teaching of the Church as regards the central importance of the liturgy and its relationship to doctrine, then surely we must neither ignore the fact that deficiencies there will lead to deficiencies elsewhere, nor that it is also an important place to begin to assert the solution. [emphasis added]

The Necessity of God-Centred Liturgies: Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi (The law of prayer is the law of belief is the law of living.)

In Evangelium Vitae, John Paul II taught that the root cause of the culture of death is a loss of the sense of God and, in the same vein, one will note that Pope Benedict XVI has been working quite intently to bring back the sense of transcendence and God-centredness within our liturgies; in short, to bring back a sense of God. So it is that a consistent theme emerges and also a consistent recognition of a problem within our churches today. The Holy Father knows well that if God is obscured within the sacred liturgy – the very place that is not only the source and summit of the Church, but also the heart, soul and primary point of contact for the faithful -- then it is likely to follow that God will be absent or obscured in the lives of the faithful as well. Consequently, this lack of sense of the Divine can lead to living a humanistic or self-centred existence which further leads to a lost sense of the sacredness of man; without a Creator, man becomes a mere organism in the vast universe of organisms that can be manipulated and used for any kind of fantasy by anyone who is stronger or more powerful.

It is well known that many parishes today have become more centred upon themselves as a community than being clearly centred upon God – what Ratzinger has called the “self-enclosed circle”. Many parishes are not following the authorized liturgical texts and rubrics -- often out of a misguided sense of "pastoral" creativity, or even simply out of ignorance. Nor do they sufficiently consider (let alone express) those elements which lend a sense of transcendence to the worship of God, particularly as expressed through the medium of beauty. To some these might seem rather unimportant surface considerations, but they are not. The sacred liturgy and doctrine are intertwined and the experiential dimension of the liturgy is a profound moment for catechesis and conversion. Accordingly, when there is problematic approach to the liturgy, and when unauthorized innovations are introduced, there can be a deficiency as well as a coinciding distortion of Catholic belief passed on to the faithful, and further a loss in the power of the liturgy to move the human heart and mind towards God.

By contrast, the sacred liturgy, when celebrated well and focused on God, is where the building of the culture of life begins for within the liturgy one experiences and encounters the perfection of the culture of life from the giver of life Himself, God our Creator. It is through this deep encounter with God in the liturgy that we witness and learn a perfect love that is self-giving and self-sacrificing; from that flows the possibility of conversion of heart and the reciprocal love for God in giving of our lives to Him and His Church just as Christ gave His life for us, a sacrificial reality which is perpetuated upon our altars at every Mass. From that love for God and desire to serve Him naturally flows an ability to better move outside of ourselves and love our neighbour, seeing their lives as inherently of value. Therefore, if we are to build a culture of life within our parishes and serve as leaven for our culture, the sacred liturgy must be oriented to God in all things, both interiorly and exteriorly. The liturgy must be celebrated in accord with the authorized texts and rubrics so that we might avoid obscuring Catholic doctrine or falling into a subjectivist mentality. The ceremonies must be reverent and beautiful, speaking to the worship of the Lord and the sacredness of what occurs, moving and focusing us accordingly. Finally, there should be liturgical catechesis for the faithful to help them to understand the greater meaning, focus and sacrificial reality of the Mass, emphasizing its primary end as the worship of God through the sacrifice of the Cross, including through postures and gestures, signs and symbols.

Pope Benedict XVI Leads by Example

The Pope has consistently written of and witnessed to the importance of both interior and exterior dimensions which orient the sacred liturgy toward God. He has led by example in directing how certain exterior forms contribute to a God-centered liturgy, such as through the “Benedictine altar arrangement” with a central Crucifix; his celebration of Mass ad orientem in the Sistine Chapel; the use of beautiful sacred music and vestments within the liturgy; and finally, by re-introducing kneeling for Holy Communion in his own liturgies. Moreover, the Holy Father has emphasized the importance of interiorly directing our minds and hearts toward God through mystagogical catechesis (meaning the teaching of the mysteries of the Faith) so that we can more fully know God through beauty and the sacred mysteries experienced in the liturgy and further be drawn into a more profound encounter with the Divine which can lead to a deeper conversion.

In Conclusion

To conclude, let us recall the teaching of the Church about the centrality of the liturgy and how all flows from it. Let us also follow the example of the Holy Father in addressing any crisis among Catholics first in looking at the liturgy and never neglecting it as a central part of the solution. Indeed, everything that happens within the sacred liturgy matters and all that is done to lead the faithful closer to God will ultimately work toward building the culture of life, which will necessarily come through, not simply legal means, but conversion of heart and mind to God.

Postscript: Addressing Some Common Objections

As a postscript, it would seem important to address a few common objections that arise whenever there is an attempt to assert the central importance of the liturgy in all its forms and aspects.

One objection is summarized by the sentiment that "all that really matters at Mass is that Our Lord is present in the Eucharist. These other matters are ultimately not of significant importance. They are simply nice-to-have’s or just a matter of taste.” This is a common objection that often comes up from many Catholics, and even some priests, when attempting to explain the importance of the sacred liturgy as though validity, sacramentality or Eucharistic piety is all that is of concern. Obviously they are of concern, but this view is not in accord with the Church's teaching and is based on what Ratzinger has called “abstract sacramental theology” and “reductionism”. Everything in the liturgy matters which is why the Church regulates it accordingly. In that regard, our focus cannot merely be upon validity or receiving and adoring the Blessed Sacrament, it must be deeper, and it must take more serious consideration of the Mass in all its aspects and dimensions and the implication of those aspects and dimensions. The teaching of the Church and the teaching of our Holy Father speak contrary to such an assertion.

A second objection is the suggestion that the liturgy really doesn't affect whether or not Catholics follow the Church's teachings on contraception, abortion, and so forth. This also does not follow, for if, as the Church teaches, the sacred liturgy is the source and the summit, the font, from which everything else flows, this clearly has the implication that what flows from the liturgy will also likely be manifest in the Catholic faithful who are present, for good or for ill. How could it have such importance and influence and not have such effects?

Another objection might be the suggestion that doctrinal catechesis through study, preaching and such methods is far more important in the building the culture of life than what goes on in the sacred liturgy, but this fails to consider some basic realities. First, liturgy and doctrine are inseparable; what goes on in the liturgy is catechetical in itself. It is an experiential form of catechesis, and accordingly, very powerful. Second, the liturgy is the first and primary source of catechesis as it is a living experience of the Catholic faith that draws one into an encounter with God. It is there that most Catholics come into the most prolonged and profound contact with their faith and it is through this means that they are most impacted and potentially moved, making them accordingly more disposed to receive more intellectual forms of catechesis. "By its nature, the liturgy can be pedagogically effective in helping the faithful to enter more deeply into the mystery being celebrated. That is why, in the Church's most ancient tradition, the process of Christian formation always had an experiential character."(Sacramentum Caritatis, para. 64)

A final objection might be that good liturgy doesn't guarantee that a Catholic will be pro-life and poor liturgy doesn't mean that a Catholic won't be pro-life. Of course this is true in point of fact, but while it may not be an absolute guarantee, and while exceptions can surely always be found, it does not change the fact of the central importance of the liturgy in Catholic life and faith, nor does it change the teaching of the Church on this matter.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Yeah, sure...

Playboy apologizes for releasing an issue of their Mexican edition with a picture of a naked woman draped in veil-like fabric, posed in front of a stained glass window, with the caption, "we adore you, Mary," (te adoramos, Maria,) in the run-up to the Feasts of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe.
No offense was meant, certainly no religious reference was intended.
Right....

Bravo sierra.

How do you embed?

For now I will just link to this video of the CMAA colloquium on Youtube, but how do you embed? (Gee, it only took me two and 1/2 years to figure out how to do links in my blog, I should have this figured out by the time of colloquium 2013...)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5emKd8ajSc

Sunday, 14 December 2008

"Woman Who Left Church..."

An oldie but goodie, (last spring,) from Maureen Martin at catholicnews.org:

Actually Just Wanted to Sleep In
Neighbors are becoming disenchanted with Sandy Shaw's activism against the Catholic Church.


BOISE, IDAHO – Neighbors who hailed an area woman for leaving the Catholic Church over the sex abuse scandal are coming to grips with the fact that she just wanted more time to sleep and run errands.

Sandy Shaw, a data entry technician for Global Technologies, Inc. in Boise, impressed her friends and neighbors when she announced last year that she had “had enough of the sex abuse scandal” and was “leaving the Catholic Church” as a result.

“She was indignant,” said Marla Davies, her next door neighbor. “She said she had had enough of the Church and didn’t want to bring her children up in it. I was proud of her and invited her to my church. She seemed excited at first, but every Sunday morning when I would walk over to see if she, her husband, and the girls wanted to go to church, one of the girls would answer the door, saying her mom was asleep,” said Davies.

“The last Sunday I approached her, she just waved me off, saying she had to get her nails done,” said Davies. “That’s when I lost all respect for her. She’s no activist. She’s just tired and vain.”

Other neighbors said they were also impressed with Shaw’s stand at first. “It was kind of like a David and Goliath story, except, you know, with a woman,” said Phillip Turner, who lives across the street from Shaw. “Here was this mother of two, taking on the Vatican of all places, by deciding she wasn’t going to church anymore. She was going to show them that she wasn’t going to stand for the abuse.”

“I thought it was all really cool, until I started seeing her out in her robe, watering her gardenias on Sunday morning,” said Turner. “What she was doing didn’t seem any more heroic than me drinking beer on my porch for hours, which is what I do every Sunday. I guess I was kind of hoping for a neighborhood Erin Brockovich, but what I got were some old reruns of that show Alice. It sort of shattered the whole activist image for me.”

Cassie Donovan said she really felt for Shaw and the hurt she had experienced over the Church sex abuse scandal. “She said she was so upset about the scandal that it played a part in her getting her tubes tied. Sandy said she didn’t know of any priest personally who was implicated or involved in the scandal, but it really made her angry."

"She didn’t want to bring any more kids into the world and risk having them abused -- she said that, and that the two kids she had were about to drive her mental and she didn’t want anymore,” said Donovan. “Not long after that, she quit the Church.”

“At the time, I really admired her strength,” said Donovan. “It was like she was thumbing her nose at the Church and everything it stood for. But then after awhile, I realized she was just thumbing her nose at the Church and everything it stood for.”

It's always nice to have a principle to stand behind, (or recline on,) as an excuse for something ya just wanted ta do, anyway....

Must have been that depressing "God Rest Ye Merry...." in that dreary minor key

The funny thing about the "War on Christmas," that fatheads tried to pretend was some sort of conspiracy last year, is that there is no war, there is no enemy.... it's a bunch of erstwhile Christians shooting themselves in the foot, or taking down their bolder compatriots with 'friendly fire."

From Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, UK comes the story of children banned from performing the Christmas carols they had practiced for a winter festival because the ditties were too religious... or perhaps because they weren't "upbeat" enough?"

Around 60 children aged between seven and 11 had spent six weeks practising favourites including Once In Royal David's City and Silent Night for the Corringham Winter Festival....

The school's headteacher, Sue Morris, said pupils had taken part in 'a great deal of rehearsal' before they were informed the songs 'would not have dovetailed into the event's theme'.

'There was no time to reorganise the choir's planned programme and we thought it best we did not take part,' she added.

The non-religious event was planned by Corringham Town Festival Partnership, even though the area is in Thurrock, where 75 per cent of the population described themselves as Christian in the 2001 census....

Last year the Bishop of St David's in Pembrokeshire, the Rt Rev Carl Cooper, warned political correctness was destroying the meaning of Christmas.

'Teachers and other public servants have become paralysed with fear and political correctness. They need to regain confidence in our culture and traditions,' he said.

The chairman of the Corringham Town Festival Partnership yesterday made the bizarre claim carols had been dumped because the winter festival was meant to be 'upbeat'.

'It was nothing to do with being politically correct or anti-Christian, it was a Christian celebration,' he said.

Look, I have no objection to winter festivals, but there is only so much time, so much energy, so much money, (so much voice?) ... if those who believe that Christmas is important -- which surely includes all Christians? -- would refuse to spend time, energy, and money, on events, objects and entertainment that are in opposition to, or interfere with, the message of Christmas (which is NOT "for the children," or "really about family,") I suppose they could make a difference (particularly in an area that is nominally 75% Christian.)

But are they willing to forgo shopping the bargain Christmas Sales at Victoria's Secret, and singing about rosacea-plagued reindeer, and working on "Winter Festivals"? to spend as much time praying as they do cooking? give as much to the gospel message as to the mall?

It's up to us not to be Useful Idiots, (as was that loud mouthed TV host last year, whining and spinning about "Happy Holidays" supplanting "Merry Christmas" as the seasonal greeting, only to be exposed as the purveyor, or at least hawker of "holiday ornaments" on his website.)

And it's up to the Church to reclaim Christmastide, instead of buying into the insane build-up to a single day, and the abrupt end -- a timetable that serves nothing but commerce, and honors no god but moloch.

My bad, my bad, my ginormous bad...

I like to think that I have put enough thought into realistic and unrealistic expectations, into recognizing my own short-comings, and into their quirks of personality or musicianship that the choir doesn't really test my equanimity.

But between my short fuse, which I like to blame on my cold/sore throat/allergies.... oh, all right, nodes; the unavoidable interferences to rehearsal time; the work load (for them,) the fact that there was no heat in the loft and a howling gale was making itself heard and felt through the 90 year old windows; and the fact that I was giving the same note for the umpteenth time, (and was striving for relative diplomacy instead of saying 'everyone's perfect EXCEPT YOU!!!!!'), I lost it in rehearsal.

I have a tenor, (I should have faced the obvious when he "returned" to the choir a few weeks after I began my tenure and everyone told me that all my predecessors had thrown in the towel with him, so the he had resigned/been forced out, and rejoined the choir a half dozen times,) who likes to repeat any direction or correction I make.

He has what I thought at first was an annoying but acceptable mnemonic device: I would say, That consonant needs to come on the third beat, and he would parrot, Right, that consonant needs to come on the third beat.
And sometimes it sounded apologetic, (or was that wishful thinking on my part?) when he repeated some egregious mistake.
But as I got to know him better, my perception of his tone of voice changed, and he sounded not remorseful, and not even as if he were agreeing with me, so much as weighing in on the subject, as if his judgement were the one that mattered, Yes, right, that would be better if we were softer the second time.
But then I began to notice, he would repeat what I had said officiously to other people, as if he had "caught them," or as if it were the other tenors who were screwing up.
And then he began chiming in when I was talking to other people, other sections, Bob, you're a little late on that second entrance, he'd turn around, Right, Bob was a little late; and even laugh, sopranos that phrase was a bit choppy, can you not re-attack on the third and 7th notes? ... right, you sopranos were choppy, he'd chortle.

And so at rehearsal today I lost it.
I'd stopped for the 3rd time for the same fault, in the same phrase, and repeated myself in the same measured tone, and when this tenor, (who was actually the only one singing it wrong,) began "that's right, it should be--- " I'd just had it and crazy-smiled, "I know it's right, I said it because it's right, that's why I said it.... THREE TIMES. And it was RIGHT all three of them."

Well, that's why God invented the sacrament of Confession.
(Or is that why God invented Shiraz?)

Saturday, 13 December 2008

The Holy Father's Telegram...

... on the death of Cardinal Dulles

HAVING LEARNED WITH SADNESS OF THE DEATH OF CARDINAL AVERY DULLES, I OFFER YOU MY HEARTFELT CONDOLENCES, WHICH I ASK YOU KINDLY TO CONVEY TO HIS FAMILY, HIS CONFRERES IN THE SOCIETY OF JESUS AND THE ACADEMIC COMMUNITY OF FORDHAM UNIVERSITY. I JOIN YOU IN COMMENDING THE LATE CARDINAL’S NOBLE SOUL TO GOD, THE FATHER OF MERCIES, WITH IMMENSE GRATITUDE FOR HIS DEEP LEARNING, SERENE JUDGMENT AND UNFAILING LOVE OF THE LORD AND HIS CHURCH WHICH MARKED HIS ENTIRE PRIESTLY MINISTRY AND HIS LONG YEARS OF TEACHING AND THEOLOGICAL RESEARCH. AT THE SAME TIME I PRAY THAT HIS CONVINCING PERSONAL TESTIMONY TO THE HARMONY OF FAITH AND REASON WILL CONTINUE TO BEAR FRUIT FOR THE CONVERSION OF MINDS AND HEARTS AND THE PROGRESS OF THE GOSPEL FOR MANY YEARS TO COME. TO ALL WHO MOURN HIM IN THE HOPE OF THE RESURRECTION I CORDIALLY IMPART MY APOSTOLIC BLESSING AS A PLEDGE OF CONSOLATION AND PEACE IN OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

And in other news, hell freezes over

H/T to Rorate Coeli

As reported elsewhere, at the High Mass (according to the Missal of 1962) celebrated at Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois every Sunday, a special guest will be present at the altar this Sunday - the Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Vingt-Trois, who never was a great friend of the motu proprio.

R.I.P. Craig Ewert

And may God forgive you and those who "aided" you.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081211/ap_on_re_eu/eu_britain_televised_suicide

Britain's obsession with reality television reached new heights — or depths — Wednesday night with the broadcast of the assisted suicide of the 59-year-old terminally ill American at a Swiss clinic.

Showing the final moment of death had long been a final taboo, even for no-holds-barred British TV, where sex and violence are common, and the broadcast unleashed debate on an issue that strongly divides public opinion.

Photographs of Ewert's final moments dominated Britain's newspaper front pages Wednesday — "SUICIDE TV" screamed one tabloid

In the sun He has placed His tabernacle: and He Himself like a bridegroom going forth from His chamber will rejoice like a giant to run His course

Fr Hunwicke has a superb post on Advent's clues to the theological and scriptural underpinnings of ad orientem worship.

Psalm 19 ... except that in the Vulgate and the Septuagint, the 'official' Latin and Greek translations of the Book of Psalms, it's Psalm 18 (let's not go into the different enumerations of the psalms just now) ... is central to the thinking of both East and West about the Incarnation: and several other things too. If you already know about this psalm and its 'reception' in the Fathers and Hymnographers of the Eastern and Western Churches, then it's a waste of your time to read this post. But if you don't, then please consider giving some thought to it, even though what follows is a bit dense and deep at first sight. Doing so will draw you deeply into the way in which those who framed our liturgical thinking did their theology....
Instead, here is a translation of two crucial verses of this psalm, as rendered by the Latin Vulgate and the Greek Septuagint (abbreviated to LXX), the two versions by which Christians of both traditions have have always worshipped.

5.In the sun he has placed his tabernacle: and he himself like a bridegroom going forth from his chamber has rejoiced (LXX: will rejoice) like a giant to run his course.
6. From highest (LXX: furthest) heaven {is} his going forth: and his meeting is even unto its highest (LXX: furthest); neither is there one who might hide himself from his heat.

To be as brief and plain as possible (which means slicing through some complications), our Christian forebears took the bridegroom to be Christ. The bridal-chamber is the womb of the Blessed Virgin. In that Womb he united Godhead with manhood as bridegroom is united to bride, so that he is a giant with two natures in one Person. His going forth is his eternal generation, as the Divine and Only-begotten Son, from the Father. His meeting is the Son's meeting even to an equality with the Father.

Now consider the Advent Office Hymn (from Advent Sunday until December 16 at Vespers) Conditor alme siderum. We will take the clever and accurate translation of the Anglican John Mason Neale which appears as Number 1 in the English Hymnal (the book sensible people will use if they are saying their Office in English).
Thou cam'st, the bridegroom of the bride,
As drew the world to evening-tide;
Proceeding from a virgin shrine,
The spotless Victim all divine.

And the hymn Veni Redemptor gentium ( in the Liturgy of the Hours, the hymn at the Office of Readings after December 16)
Forth from his chamber goeth he,
That royal home of purity,
A giant in twofold substance one,
Rejoicing now his course to run.

The Liturgy of the hours misses out ('ad brevitatem') the next stanza, also based on our psalm, which Neale (English Hymnal 14) renders
From God the Father he proceeds,
To God the Father back he speeds;
His course he runs to death and hell,
Returning on God's throne to dwell.

The English Hymnal does not provide the hymn Fit porta Christi pervia, which the Liturgy of the Hours orders to be said at Morning Prayer on January 1. Here is a crude prose version of the second stanza designed to show its indebtedness to Psalm 19:
The Son of the highest Father has gone forth from the palace of the Virgin, bridegroom, Redeemer, Creator, the Giant of his Church.

Fantastic Resource!

A (new-to-me) blogger, at The Cross Reference (great name, I'm a sucker for puns, as long as they don't appear in liturgical settings,) has a searchable database of over one hundred magisterial Catholic Church documents.
Yup.
To quote the favorite nun of anyone who attended CMAA Colloquium '08, How great is that?

(Perhaps this is old news, and all of my many, that is to say, two, readers already knew of its existence...)
Thank you, Mr Pinyan!
I will have to find some time to explore his blog.

No Atheists in Breadlines...

The NYTimes has a piece reminding us that bad business means good business for some areas of endeavor:

“It’s a wonderful time, a great evangelistic opportunity for us,” said the Rev. A. R. Bernard, founder and senior pastor of the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York’s largest evangelical congregation, where regulars are arriving earlier to get a seat. “When people are shaken to the core, it can open doors.”


No doubt.
God can draw straight with crooked lines, and it is not being Pollyanna-ish to look for the silver lining in all this.
.
I heard a wonderful story in a homily once, a woman parishioner had been stricken with a fast moving and inexorably deadly cancer. In ministering to the family, the priest heard from the husband, who was unchurched, that it was the worst that that had ever happened, that ever could happen.
.
But on her deathbed, the wife told the same priest that her cancer was the greatest gift from God, the most marvelous thing that could have happened: her husband had been brought to pray with her and she had grown closer to him than she had though possible; and her sons had been estranged from their father, and nothing had been able to bring them together until the ultimatum of the weeks the prognosis had given her.
.
And now they were a family again, and she could die happier than she had been for years, happier than she had ever thought to be again.

So...
But one quibble with the article, or rather, with a Catholic priest quoted in the articel:
Msgr. Thomas McSweeney, who writes columns for Catholic publications and appears on MSNBC as a religion consultant, said the growth is fed by evangelicals’ flexibility: “Their tradition allows them to do things from the pulpit we don’t do — like ‘Hey! I need somebody to take Mrs. McSweeney to the doctor on Tuesday,’ or ‘We need volunteers at the soup kitchen tomorrow.’

Huh?
HUH?????
NO.
It doesn't. Or at least, it shouldn't.
Their tradition "allows" them to do exactly what you could perfectly well do. What is to prevent you from preaching mission? From explaining exactly what the gospel message demands of your parishioners? from preaching Universal Truths and applying them to Local/Personal/Immediate actions?

The Mass is the Only Thing That is Equal to Death

This is a beautiful column in a Canadian paper that is about something else, it is basically a tribute to a beloved and admired parent upon his death, but it speaks eloquently to the power of the Catholic Liturgy, the evangelical abilities of the Mass:

David Warren,
The Ottawa Citizen
Saturday, November 29, 2008

An old man I know told me how he became a Roman Catholic, after an upbringing that would perhaps have better fitted him to become some sort of "humanist." He was young, at the rebellious age, and weighted more with questions than with answers. His relation with his father was tense and difficult, perhaps creatively so. His father died, and his world shattered. The inadequate Christian faith he had absorbed in childhood was tested, against grief, and found wanting.

On the question of weight, a lady I know said, "I remember when my father died, it felt like someone weighing five hundred pounds was sitting on my chest." People may do strange things under such circumstances. But usually they are muffled, quiet.

The man began sitting at the back of Catholic churches, during Mass. He needed something to do with all his time. Those were the days when the old Tridentine Mass was available everywhere; was the bond that held Catholics together. He did not go to church to look at the Catholics, he went as a spectator of that Mass. He was a young man with a classical education, and some poetry in his soul: he wanted to hear the Latin words and the music. (To this day, people who are not even slightly Catholic go to concerts, and buy CDs, to hear the old Mass ordinary -- because it has been set, gloriously and repeatedly, by so many of the world's greatest musical composers, over so many centuries.)

Went to hear, and inevitably, went to think, while the words of the Mass were sung for him, from the invocation of the Kyrie, a text old as the Psalms if not older: "Lord have mercy."

From one Mass, he was drawn curiously to another, until in due course his diverse thoughts organized themselves into a single thought. And that thought was: "This is the only thing that is equal to my father's death."

And, of course, it speaks to my mood of late, YES, that is how , when feelings are at the forefront, it feels, or should feel, when we assist at a funeral.
That is certainly how M's funeral was -- the Mass was big enough, powerful enough to be more than equal to Death, and to him, and to all of us and our inchoate needs.
Indeed, Death seemed puny, insignificant.
As it is.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Arghhh!

Who do I write to? the Pope? the president? the UN?
Surely it should be illegal, and certainly it is immoral for an eating establish to call itself a diner and NOT SERVE ANY MEAT!!!?!?%!^!&!*!?!! No cheeseburger? No bacon with your eggs?
Forget the corrupt governor, this is something the state of Illinois needs to deal with if the Daley machine won't.
(I am perturbed by the odd synchronicity of posting about cured, processed pork products twice in a short period of time, but never mind...)

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Cardinal Llovera to CDW

Cdl. Arinze's replacement has been named, and no surprise -

The AP has it:
Pope Benedict XVI has named a Spanish cardinal to be the new head of the Vatican's office in charge of rules for celebrating the liturgy around the world.

Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera succeeds Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze who had held the job since 2002. Both men are considered to be conservatives.

The Vatican said in a statement Tuesday that the 76-year-old Arinze had resigned for reasons of age.

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is a key Vatican office that keeps custody of the church's style of worship, sacraments and liturgy.

The 63-year-old Canizares Llovera has been serving as archbishop of Toledo, Spain. He was among a group of new cardinals that the pope named in 2006.

Monday, 8 December 2008

The Oxford Junior Dictionary

Quite a dust-up over the decisions, (or decisionS, as the changes came about incrementally,) by the editorial staff of OUP to newly define certain words in their Junior Dictionary aimed at 7 year olds and up, at the expense of other words, which are seen by them as not as not so very necessary.

Of course, such choices and sacrifices have to be made for all but unabridged dictionary, but some of this does seem particularly bone-headed.

The OUP has in effect challenged my assumption that it was self-evident that a dictionary ought more properly prepare you to read great literature, rather than cereal boxes, People magazine and owners manuals.... I'll have to give that some thought.

Some newly promoted vocabulary:

Blog, broadband, MP3 player, voicemail, attachment, database, export, chatroom, bullet point, cut and paste, analogue, celebrity, tolerant, vandalism, negotiate, interdependent, creep, citizenship, childhood, conflict, common sense, debate, EU, drought, brainy, boisterous, cautionary tale, bilingual, bungee jumping, committee, compulsory, cope, democratic, allergic, biodegradable, emotion, dyslexic, donate, endangered, Euro, apparatus, food chain, incisor, square number, trapezium, alliteration, colloquial, idiom, curriculum, classify, chronological, block graph

Some oldies that failed to make the cut:


Carol, [???]cracker, holly, ivy, mistletoe
Dwarf,[???] elf, goblin
Abbey, aisle, altar, bishop, [???]chapel, christen, disciple, minister, [???]monastery, monk, nun, nunnery, parish, pew, psalm, [???]pulpit, saint,[???] sin, devil,[???] vicar
Coronation, duchess, duke, emperor, empire, monarch, decade[???]
adder, ass, beaver, boar, budgerigar, bullock, cheetah, colt, corgi, cygnet, doe, drake, ferret, gerbil, goldfish, guinea pig, [???]hamster, heron, herring, kingfisher, lark, leopard, lobster, magpie, minnow, mussel, newt, otter, ox, oyster, panther, pelican, piglet, [???]plaice, poodle, [???]porcupine, porpoise, raven, spaniel, starling, stoat, stork, terrapin, thrush, weasel, wren.
Acorn, allotment, almond, apricot, ash, bacon,[???] beech, beetroot, blackberry, blacksmith, bloom, bluebell, bramble, bran, bray, bridle, brook, [???]buttercup, canary, canter, carnation, catkin, cauliflower, chestnut, clover, conker, county, cowslip, crocus, dandelion, diesel, [???]fern, fungus, gooseberry, gorse, hazel, hazelnut, heather, holly, horse chestnut, ivy, lavender, [???]leek, liquorice, manger, marzipan, melon, minnow, mint, nectar, nectarine, oats, [???]pansy, parsnip, pasture, poppy, porridge, poultry, primrose, prune, radish, rhubarb, sheaf, spinach, sycamore, tulip, turnip, vine, [???]violet, walnut, willow


And I have to agree that appearances, at least, are that there was an agenda beyond staying "current" in play here.
But some of it's just bone-headed (bacon? BACON? BACON???? that's a processed meat for the love of pete, the "we're an urban people, not country folk, and don't encounter the thing the word expresses anymore" line of reasoning doesn't even apply.)
And "devil"?
As a blogger I know would ask, whiskey tango hotel?

Late abortions of "less than perfect" foetuses are the subject of a secrecy row with the Government

Late abortions of "less than perfect" foetuses are the subject of a secrecy row with the Government

A British paper, the Telegraph, has a story on a legal battle between an entity I gather is charged with implementing their "Freedom of Information Act," and a pro-abortion rights entity called, oddly "the Department of Health," which has begun withholding health statistics it used to publish, seemingly on political grounds.

I don't pretend to know, much less understand, the legal ramifications or technicalities of this, and I am disturbed by the implied claim that there are probably unborn babies privately murdered because they have webbed toes without any corroberative detail.

One of my brother has some webbed toes -- who would have thought that was even thought of a disability much less a "serious risk of physical or mental abnormality."

Although as I cut and paste that phrase I realize it does not say what I thought -- yes, I suppose if something was a dead certainty, that would be "a serious risk."

But surely the intent was to allow such private murders of the unborn when there was a "risk of SERIOUS ABNORMALITY," not a serious risk of a minor abnormality.

For the love of pete, freckles are an abnormality, aren't they? Not to mention eczema, really big feet...hell, perfect pitch is an abnormality, suppose they found a pre-natal test for that?

It was the Jepson suit mentioned in the article, appearing in the news on the day I received a gift magazine subscription and the magazine fell open to a Smile Train ad that first caught my attention of this perversion of "health care" in the UK.

Such evil.

Such evil...

Prof Stuart Campbell, the leading obstetrician whose 3D-scan images of babies "walking in the womb" at 12 weeks led to calls for a lowering of the 24-week limit for social abortion, said last night: "It is a disgraceful situation for this data to be suppressed.

"This is not about whether one agrees with abortion. These statistics used to be published, now they are being withheld.

"Transparency is the essence of medicine. If we don't have that, all sorts of wrongdoing can go on. I am not saying that using abortion is doing wrong, but we need to see the data in order to understand what is happening." Health chiefs stopped publishing full abortion data three years ago after a public outcry over the termination of a foetus with a cleft palate at 28 weeks' gestation. The legality of this late abortion, carried out in 2001, was challenged by a Church of England curate, Joanna Jepson, who was born with a congenital jaw defect.

.....................

Update: one googled source lists the standard as " evidence of extreme foetal abnormality" another as "on account of congenital anomalies."
I am now very curious as to how the British law reads.

A Perfect Vessel



And again, h/t to Fr Longenecker, for a lovely post on the occasion of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Isn't it wonderful, how the sensus fidelium preceded the formal declaration?
St Bernadette, pray for us.

Pro-choice? Pro-every-bad-choice-you-can-think-of

H/T to Fr. Longenecker of Standing on My Head for THIS story, in my own backyard.

A Bloomington Planned Parenthood employee has been suspended for doing something that is surely safe, illegal, and rare.

I mean, surely it's rare, right, it was just bad luck for PP that this never-happen-again-in-a-million years nefariousness just happened to be caught on video.

In the [undercover] video, the “patient,” [ 20 year old UCLA student Lila Rose] who is accompanied by another female identified as a friend, states that her name is Brianna. She tells the nurse she is 13 years old and has missed her monthly period. The nurse responds that anyone under the age of 13 needs parental consent to get an abortion in Indiana. “Brianna” further reveals that she doesn’t want to explain who the father is because he could get in trouble.

She later says that the father is 31 years old.


In the video, which has breaks and cuts, the nurse advises how to lie about the father’s age. The “patient” is then shown a piece of paper which Rose alleges showed her that she could get an abortion in Illinois without parental consent.

Rose, who has done previous videos at Planned Parenthoods in Los Angeles, where she posed as a pregnant teenager under 18, is a 20-year-old history major. She said Wednesday that Indiana is just one of many states chosen by liveactionfilms.org for “audits.” She called Bloomington a “major” clinic in the state, explaining why it was chosen. She said she expects videos of other clinics will be released that show similar scenarios.
“In the vast majority of cases, you’re going to find sexual abuse cover-up,” Rose said in a telephone interview.

But don't be silly, those just-in-time-for-Christmas-vacation gift certificates Planned Parenthood is pushing probably wouldn't be used for abortions.
And certainly not by an abused child.

We should sing "God Bless America!"

So I'm dragging my exhausted and sick carcass into Mass yesterday afternoon, (after learning that the diocese "officially" discouraged anticipated Masses for today's holy day.... ah well,) and trying to sort through the 2nd Advent choir programs from the morning that somehow missed the recycling bin and are now getting mixed up with the I.C. programs, and wondering where I put the readable accompaniment copy of the Gloria when I took it out of the cantor's book two weeks ago, and looking for a band-aid because my hand was bleeding all over the psalms as I passed them out, (thank you Jeff Ostrowski, nice work!) and trying to explain to a Bass that no, he doesn't need my setting of Psalm 128, and please don't sing it while the rest of us are singing Psalm 98, that there's a reason I ask people to hand in any copy of any psalm they have in their folders after any Mass, and freezing under 1 layer of coat, 2 layers of sweater, one of blouse and 1 layer of long underwear shirt, because besides my being sick, the boiler is out, it's 12 degrees and the loft is draughty... when I hear, hey, we should be singing, "God Bless America," why aren't we singing "God Bless America" and I fix the skunk eye on the speaker and see that she is not joking and foolishly ask why.
Pearl Harbor Day!
Darnit, apparently some dummy messed up the ordo again.

The Ladies of the Bread Baking Ministry

Looking for something else, I came across a liturgical "advice column," wherein a priest answered a query about whether the questioner should listen to the stuffy old meanies, the "some [who] say" bread for the Eucharist at a Roman Catholic church shouldn't be made with honey, salt and oil.
The answer, in toto:

One of the best resources to answer your questions and to give a solid presentation re: many of the issues around the Eucharist and Eucharistic ministry is from Liturgy Training Publications (LTP, Chicago) 1-800-933-1800
"The Communion Rite at Sunday Mass" by Gabe Huck ($8.95). Included is a decent recipe for Eucharistic bread using only flour and water.

Huh? Do you receive royalties or some kind of a kick-back on book sales, Padre?

A one word answer would have sufficed -- Yes.

Or if that's too blunt, if you get paid by the word, yes, you should listen to those who tell you that wheat flour and water* are to be the only ingredients, and the "some" who says this includes -- the CHURCH.

(*whoops)

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

When I was young, one of our priests actually made his entrance into the sanctuary once to the strains of Here Comes Santa Claus.

More recently, at a Byzantine Rite church, when the sixth of December fell on a Sunday, after Divine Liturgy, a mysterious figure in bishop's robes made his way in to the church and led the children of all ages present in a prayer, before handing out small trinkets.

Saint Nicholas is, (Greek, Άγιος Νικόλαος , Agios Nikolaos, "victory of the people") is the common name for Nicholas of Myra, a Lycian saint and Bishop of Myra in Lycia of Anatolia (modern-day Antalya province, Turkey). Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercessions, he is also known as Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker. He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and is now commonly identified with Santa Claus. His reputation evolved among the faithful, as was the custom in his time. In 1087, his relics were furtively translated to Bari in southern Italy. For this reason, he is also known as Saint Nicholas of Bari.

I like the idea of his relics being transported "furtively". At night while most slept, perhaps? were there entrances and egresses by chimney involved?

Like the news, only important...

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