Today consisted of a an attempt to visit...the “Catholic Cathedral.”...The shock of the afternoon came when... we wandered into the local cathedral. It looks like a lot of cathedrals around the world from 1901, ie, somewhat ornate but not insanely so, and rather pretty with what looked like some local touches. ...
it was when the singing started that my heart sank. I’ve been to masjids, to Buddhist temples, to Hindu temples, and at each place some degree of modernity had crept in. But the music in Catholic Churches — recognizable worldwide, by the way, from its earnest, inoffensively tonal strains, its simple (and incessantly repeating) sub-Broadway-melodies accompanied by mediocre piano music. It is inoffensive, but also unflattering, uninspiring, and completely interchangeable piece-to-piece.
It reminds me of the polo shirt, a style that itself is styleless: it bespeaks, in both women and men who don it, a milquetoast conservativism, that thoughtless preppiness, that mediocre concession to fashion. It makes men look all alike, and flatters not at all the female form; rather, it is — at least in Korea, where it remains immensely popular — the shirt of refuge for women who hate their bodies. It is less a fashion than an inoffensive option from a set of options set out before one of a certain mindset or social class and background — social class and background so often translating to mindset anyway.
Yes, indeed, Catholic Church music is the polo shirt of religious music. Which, when you have actually heard the works of Ockeghem, and Bach (Lutheran though he was), and other amazing European composers who produced sacred repertory, is especially depressing. Europe’s finest music was written on church coin, and now the best they can offer is folksong sing-along verse-chorus-verse. So predictable and unartistic it hurts. Hurts, I tell you…
It’s like having the Bible translated by Hallmark Card writers, just to achieve mass appeal. Sigh. Anyway…
Sunday, 28 February 2010
The Archdiocese of Washington has scrapped its 80-year-old foster care program, claiming it’s no longer eligible to serve as an adoption provider due to the District of Columbia’s pending same-sex marriage law....If the Church had the courage of its convictions, it would not close the foster care program but conduct it just as it always has and simply ignore the law on gay marriage.
Under the legislation, which legalizes same-sex marriage in the nation’s capital and which goes into effect March 2, all outside contractors must recognize gay couples in the District.
In a press release posted on its Web site Tuesday, the archdiocese, which opposes gay marriage, said it had no choice but to transfer its foster care program to the National Center for Children and Families, or NCCF.
Let the gays [more probably, the city of DC,] take the Church to court and let the Church defend herself on freedom of religion.
It struck me as a "take my marbles and go home" tactic which serves no one.
Of course, the idea of civil disobedience is almost anathema to the Church, and to most of Her members.
Saturday, 27 February 2010
...no part of Orthodox doctrine, worship, prayer or life stands in a category of its own. Everything refers and reveals the one thing in Christ – our salvation. Even the doctrine of the Trinity, as utterly sublime as it is, remains a matter revealed for our salvation. ...Beautiful.
In my limited reading I have never read any particular commentary that spoke of the music of the Church as an icon, but I feel confident in describing it in that manner. It is possible to say this, at the very least, because all of creation can properly be seen as icon – a window to heaven.
To say that music is an icon is not to have said all there is to say about music. But it does say something about the proper place of music in the Church. Music is not about us. Music in the Church does not exist for our enjoyment or entertainment, even though the joy associated with it may at times be exquisite.
Archimandrite Zacharias (of St. John’s Monastery in Essex) describes the heart of worship as “exchange.” It is not an exchange in the sense that we offer something in “trade” with God. Rather, it is an exchange that is also named “communion” and “participation.” God becomes what we are and in and through Him (by grace) we become what He is. This “exchange” is our salvation. ...
Music exists for exchange and union. It is the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving in which we unite ourselves in offering our bodies (the voice) as a living sacrifice to God...
Not all paintings are icons. Not all music is iconic. Not every voice is raised in union with the heavenly hosts. ... To sing in a manner that reveals heaven and unites us with the heavenly hosts is a great thing indeed. We were created to sing in just such a manner....
Music that renders heaven opaque – particularly music presented as Christian – is tragic. We were meant to sing with angels – just as they delight in singing with us.
Life is not long enough for me to be wasting energy on the opacity fatherstephen decries.
The first few weeks of the year encompassed a really extraordinary variety of liturgical experiences, considering they almost all consisted of assisting at ordinary parish Ordinary Form Masses from the pews, (one Mass of Christian burial, and two EFs thrown in for good measure.)
Musically, they were all disappointing, except, surprisingly, for a single EF Mass done with very limited resources.
Not that they didn't hold some beautiful and beautifully played and/or sung music.
But I am astonished at how many ways there are to do things badly, and distractingly -- and this is emphatically not because I think there is only one way to do the music at Mass well.
Yes, I have preferences, but though I like to play the nit-picking curmudgeon, I can be happy with an enormous range of liturgical practices.
But I am weary of the inauthentic, the ego-centric and the just plain incompetent.
Is it a betrayal of a pre-conciliar mindset, of latent clericalism that I blame, not the musicians, but the priests, the pastors? ;o)
And is that fair of me?
Friday, 26 February 2010
At the Name of Jesus, every knee must bow....
Much discussion in response to Fr Z's rant about the actual rubrics regarding genuflection, and kneeling and and bowing during Mass, (and otherwise,) by priests, and ministers, and laity (and otherwise.)
What caught my eye:
Unless you are carrying something big or precarious, whether it is during Mass or simply heading across the sanctuary after Mass to scrape some wax off the floor, in my opinion we should genuflect when we walk before the Lord, truly present.Precarious, shmecarious; big, shmig... I knew I was somewhere special when I stopped into a particular parish church for the first time, (midday, just to make a visit,) and from a pew in the back, in the shadows, (I say this to indicate that the person I observed was most probably unaware there was another mortal in the place,) I saw a painfully slight young man in a cassock crossing the sanctuary bearing a step ladder, (aluminum, it looked, about a 12 footer,) and without hesitation, shifted all the weight of the ladder into his left hand, dropped to one knee, and blessed himself solemnly as he passed before the tabernacle.
Then he proceeded to the other side of the sanctuary to replace the candle in a tabernacle light.
As I said, someplace special.
Thursday, 25 February 2010
The school's board of directors chair "said that the lack of interest from prospective students led the administration to make a 'data-driven' decision.
'There was just no demand for the program.' ...
the move reflects a shift -- some call it a crisis -- in the ..profession [of liturgical musician, which] has undergone a sea change in the past 30 years...
shifting trends in ... music and the preference for more participatory services and tunes that congregants can sing along to have changed the expectations."
But some say that these musicians are the "stewards [of] an important musical and liturgical tradition that shouldn't be lost"
Oh, did I forget to mention that this article was about Jewish Cantors?
Yes, this was an Episcopalian woman, but....ewww.
The woman herself seemed very nice and sincere, but in everyone else's manner and attitude, there were echos of the tackiness of Geraldine, Vicar of Dibley.
(The subject of the make-over even had a vaguly clerical dim blond sidekick)
Make-over shows have been my guilty non-secret, but this may have cured me... what was the Waugh expression, "just too, too sick-making"?
provide[s] a framework for understanding things done in the sacred liturgy. ...I have to admit, in my experience only, I see not so much either clericalism or congregationalism as committeeism, or middle managementism, or DREism - an overemphasis on the creativity and preferences of a small group or even in individual, with scant knowledge, who have, for whatever reason, attained inappropriate authority in liturgical matters. (The demi-clerics, I have read them called, and it seems an apt appellation.)
We've all heard complaints over the years that "Father did such and such" or "the music director did so and so." Usually we have a sense that something was wrong, but don't often know what. Usually these things aren't so much matters of overt heresy as they are of imbalance. Lay people try to do things that are reserved for the ordained, the priest tries to appear approachable to the congregation and departs from the rite, the musicians want "high music" at the expense of participation, or they want "low" music at the expense of the rite itself.
Monsignor Mannion's helpful triangle, .... can come in handy in determining the nature of the problem.
His basic argument is that in the earthly dimension of liturgy, there are three different irreducible parts: the rite (texts, vestments, art, music, architecture, etc.), the ordained minster (priest or deacon) and the congregation (everyone else). These are intended to be in proper balance, and if they get out of balance, some other aspect of the liturgy tends to suffer.
If the rite so dominates the priest and the people -- turning the Mass into a fashion show of vestments and incense or a concert of sacred music -- we see the appearance of ritualism. If the people become the center of the worship to such a degree that they disregard the proper role of the priest, the texts of the Mass, or liturgical art, we see congregationalism at work. If the priest decides that the ritual book is his alone (either by denying the people their proper role or by making unauthorized changes) one gets clericalism.
My sins in this area would tend incline me toward ritualism, I think, but I believe with all my heart that this inclination is a necessary corrective to The Way Things Are Now.
I have never experienced the ACTUAL "rite so dominating the priest and the people"
And as to the claim that in "turning the Mass into ... a concert of sacred music -- we see the appearance of ritualism," again, in my experience only, these performances, this entertainment model of the Liturgy is the polar opposite of ritualism.
I've seldom encountered this with "high" music, and I have frequently been subjected to it with the lowest of the low, a revving up of "the crowd," and an atmosphere and aesthetic that caters to those more at home in a stadium than a church.
The music at these Masses, seems chosen and performed without reference to any prescribed ritual, (at least, not to any ritual prescribed by the Church.)
"Ritualism" is the accusation that seems to be dragged out by some bloggers NOT in response to the way anyone is conducting liturgy, but in response to objections to the way others conduct the Liturgy. They defend the (often indefensible) disregard of rubrics by pretending that those of us who urge fidelity to them think that following the rubrics is sufficient, when we actually think them, though essential, to be only a beginning.
Oh, interesting and charitable stuff in the comments at CMR.
I grew up in an Archdiocese which seemed never to have drifted away from the practice, so it strikes me as neither pre-conciliar, nor empty nor something to which "priests of an older generation", (or those of a younger, for that matter,,) would either object, or, to quote every secular media outlet's favorite sound byte provider for Catholic stories, "have little or no respect."
The story quotes one Chicago priest as being agin' it, (and claiming that most of the rest of the Chicago presbyteral council agree with him,) and one Chicago priest as fer it.
(I could see out of polite humility demurring about the honor for oneself, but objecting to it for someone else seems churlish.)
I wonder a bit why a Chicago-based Catholic medium would bother to go to Fr McBrien for a quote, but I imagine, (I "suppose"?) that they did so because they could rely on on which side of any question he would come down.
But more, I wonder about the word "suppose."
Yes, it can literally mean something along the lines of "think or believe or guess without any actual basis in fact or evidence."
But idiomatically, I think most people use the phrase, "it is supposed," to mean, "it ought" or "it should", or "the rules say."
How do you think Fr McBrien meant this:
Monsignors "were supposed to be out of fashion after Vatican II,"?
The phrase "out of fashion" is funny.
And who do you think he meant by "priests of an older generation"?
Those who were in ministry before the "fashion" changed? those his own age?
Is that just one more reference to the generational divide between priests we keep hearing about?
"Those young whipper-snappers won't listen to us when we tell them people don't have to listen to authority!!!!!"
("Ah, Benson. You are so blissfully free of the ravages of logic!")
(Yeah, I know it's "intelligence.")
Anyway, I know a number of priests who are more than deserving of such an honor.
And those minor distinctions in choir dress, ain't exactly, to my way of thinking, "colorful priestly garb" that can be worn by those who bear the title of Monsignor.
Thanks to a new resurgence of allergies, doncha know....
Instead of Jake La Motta, I now look like Tim Spall.
"Yup," she said as she resumed munching on edamame and meat loaf.
I have been pretty disconnected for a few months, so I may have missed it, but I should dearly like to see any evidence of such characters, if it exists.
"Any expectation that people will flock back to mass because a new translation is in place is not likely to be fulfilled."
I would be really surprised if anyone had such an "expectation." I'd like a link, if anyone has one.
But I should think better translation, a better Mass, would primarily beneift, oh, I dunno, those who were actually AT Mass?
And it is they, with their lived Faith, and their evangelization, who will or will not bring people "flocking back" to Church.
I am surprised at commentators who think this is all so much kerfuffle over nothing, or worse, rearranging "the deck chairs on the Titanic."
I would think they would all be staunch supporters of VCII.
Because if you actually believed what the Second Vatican Council taught, you know, that the Liturgy was the source, the actual font of our faith -- wouldn't you want that spring from which you drink to be as pure, and as perfect as we can manage this side of heaven?
(Yeah, yeah, we all know from Man vs Wild that you can drink and survive on some pretty unappetizing water... but why settle?)
Is it wrong of me to suspect some people with whom I have discussed this of a certain disingenuousness?
If it really didn't matter, if the changes were really immaterial or too insignificant to be worth doing... why would anybody care enough to object? or waste their breath bringing the subject up so that they can express its unimportance?
I think I first became aware of him and his group in the fracas referred to as "The Day the Music Died," which, as far as I could see, did nobody any credit.
Ah well, without conflict, we'd have inertia, I suppose.
I do love the idea that liturgical music could be a family trade, something that is passed on.
(In a sense, that is what happened with us, although the Holy Spirit had to have a large hand in the actual transmission...)
A snapshot of the Catholic Church, and Her numbers.
One might say, the Body is still alive and kicking, (for She cannot die,) but in a kind of "famine mode," as so many of us ignore our nutritional source and summit...
Incidentally, last week I heard the "Alleluia" thrice at Mass.
Three times, (3 different priests,) seems like more than coincidence - is that a Florida thing?
an Irish ex-pat thing?
Monday, 22 February 2010
The Anglican bishop of Ebbsfleet and the Forward in Faith group have called Anglicans to mark today's feast of the Chair of St. Peter with prayer -- preferably together with Roman Catholics -- to discern the path to follow after Benedict XVI has opened the way for them to enter communion with Rome.
"[T]his is not a day of decision," Bishop Andrew Burnham wrote in the prayer materials provided by Forward in Faith. "The apostolic constitution ('Anglicanorum Coetibus') is not a crisis point but the opening up, permanently, of a new way into unity with the See of Peter. Decisions about how and whether this should happen for each of us will take place in different ways, and at different times. The time now is a time of prayer and discernment."
Anglicans around the world have been discerning their response to the Pope's November document, which provides the possibility of Anglicans establishing personal ordinariates, expressing full communion with Rome, but maintaining Anglican tradition.
Saturday, 20 February 2010
That sort of discourse is why dinner with my family is such an adventure.
No wonder Himself is on pins and needles all the time.
Worse than advertised.
Perhaps in the top five worst pieces of claptrap I have ever been asked to sing at Mass. (I didn't, after the first 3/4 of a verse or so, but paged through the Broken Bread instead.)
Spoke with the cantor afterwords... large, prosperous Catholic parishes hereabouts, (or the pastors, thereof,) seem, as a rule, to think that professional musicians are something they can do without.
Seriously, nine Masses a weekend and no guiding hand in the music ministry? and Father takes no hand in it other than to sometimes say after the fact, "Don't do that again," or "no Latin" or, (this seems universal,) "too loud"?
One parish has sung Mass of Creation every Sunday for 4 years, and another, O Lord I Am Not Worthy at every Mass for at least a year and a half.
Another has an entirely volunteer cadre of cantors, self-selected, (vocal ability not being a prerequisite,) who decide on their own authority what songs to lead and/or solo on.
Their choices vary in aptness.
I am very discouraged about the move.... one of the draws of being no longer employed as a church musician for this NON-morning person was being able to forgo crack of dawn Masses -- but I STILL can't sleep in! Because the crack of dawn Masses are the only way to escape the music.
Wednesday, 17 February 2010
The former assistant Bishop of Newcastle, Paul Richardson, has been received into full communion with the Holy See, I am pleased to reveal. Richardson – also a former Anglican bishop in Papua New Guinea and diocesan bishop of Wangaratta in Australia – was received into the Church at the chaplaincy at Durham University last month.
He tells me that his conversion is not the product of recent controversies. “I would have become a Catholic even if the Church of England wasn’t ordaining women bishops,” he says. “In a sense I feel it’s what I’ve always been, so this is like coming home.”
Without complaining too much about the liturgical grab bag into whihc I have found myself forced to reach, of late, can I say how much I look forward to, YEARN for, access to an Anglican Use parish?
Is this a fast, to keep
The larder lean?
From fat of veals and sheep?
Is it to quit the dish
Of flesh, yet still
The platter high with fish?
Is it to fast an hour,
Or ragg'd to go,
A downcast look and sour?
No; 'tis a fast to dole
Thy sheaf of wheat,
Unto the hungry soul.
It is to fast from strife,To show a heart grief-rent;
From old debate
To circumcise thy life.
To starve thy sin,
And that's to keep thy Lent.
Circumcising my life.... hmm.
Wishing you a prayerful Lent.
Monday, 15 February 2010
The fifth anniversary of inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI will be commemorated in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington DC, by a Pontifical Solemn High Mass in the “Extraordinary form”—commonly known as the “Traditional Latin Mass” or “Tridentine Mass”—celebrated by the Vatican prelate Darío Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos of Colombia.
This will be the first such Mass said at the Shrine’s High Altar in nearly 45 years. All Catholics are invited, many of whom may never have another opportunity to attend such a Mass. Cardinal Castrillón is the President Emeritus of the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei (Church of God), where he assisted Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI in facilitating this Mass.
(And no, I STILL prefer the OF... but you can only do what you can do.)
(And the EF is no guarantor of beauty, reverence and appropriateness, in and of itself, as I've been reminded forcefully, of late.)
Sunday, 14 February 2010
Jesus isn’t just human. Jesus is God.Yeah, it's worth thinking about.
The Son was ever God. There was never a time when He was not. Jesus, the Incarnate Son, was God from the instant of His conception.
"Consubstantial" will impress on people the fact that Jesus is God.Let’s consider the claim of the liturgical left that people started finally to understand Mass when it was in the vernacular, and then their crystal-ball-gazing claim that "Joe and Mary Catholic" won’t be able to understand "consubstantial".
We must ask, with a little shudder, "What do they understand now?" If you ask them what they understand about who Jesus is, what answer will they give?
Can liberals offer a prediction?
It is worth thinking about this.
Short personal anecdote: when my husband went through RCIA he had been busy and had had a wierd schdule, and so missed a number of sessions, (since he was not a potential convert, but a baptized, believing Methodist, he needn't have gone at all,) and so the very next year since he was free he wanted to take our parish's "church tour," given to the inquirers, which he had missed out on, an evening that takes place a couple months into the catechesis.
So, there has been a turn-over in RCIA personnel, new members & new leader, DRE in charge instead of associate pastor, a much more "organized," (and somewhat less flexible,) program.
Anyway, we invite ourselves along, hanging back and listening. (It's a beautiful church, by the way, gorgeous, too much to ever see in one visit, lots of symbolism, iconography, evidence of interesting ethnic devotions and parish history throughout.)
I'm a bit taken aback by the manner of the tour, people lounging on the edge of the baptismal font, leaning on the altars, etc.
Anyway, the Pooh-Bah is explaining something about a statue of Christ to her charges, when one of the guys who's been making this spiritual journey under her guidance suddenly gets a weird look on his face, like he's just caught on to something, and interrupts her -- wait a minute! he says squinting at her quizzically, you're talking about Jesus like He was, I dunno, like He was GOD or something...
Somehow, in whatever... Faith Sharing had been going on up to that point in RCIA, they hadn't gotten around to that, I guess.
Priorities, doncha know.
So I repeat, yeah, it's worth thinking about.
Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine... (and earworm I've got today!;o))
(The mention of the valuable property seems snarky and unnecessary)
The head of the non-conformist denomination said it was ready to come back to the national church after 200 years apart, if it would help spread the word of God.
A merger would have profound implications not just for both sets of worshippers but also the finances of the united Christian church and its property portfolio.
The Methodist Church of Great Britain has just 265,000 members compared with the 960,000 who attend Sunday services each week in the Church of England.
However it owns a network of 5,800 chapels across Britain, including a particularly valuable asset in Westminster Central Hall, the large conference venue near Parliament.
I worry a bit about anyone seeking safe harbor by clambering aboard a possibly sinking ship... at least it won't be overcrowded.
Ah well, on day...
I wonder what effect, if any, this will have on the relationship between the two parallel denoms in this country.
Friday, 12 February 2010
The path chosen by Therese of Lisieux was not called Therese's Smug Way, or her Sanctimonious Superior Way....
So, learn how not to think how very good you are for dealing, 'kay?
Monday, 8 February 2010
At her most audible, (I was 3 feet away,) during the sermon.
She looked, I dunno, 60? 70, tops.
She wasn't really little, nor praticularly old. rather chic. And involved, quite obviously part of the group of "doers" in this parish.
She did stop the rosary long enough to say the EP along with the celebrant.
All in all, odd.
(Oh, and, The Lord is with you.... was the salutation, and the reply came every time, He should also be with you. Is it Mosebach who decries that he who assists at Mass is forced to become a "critic"? It's so distracting. People -- why can't mass-goers be 'droids?)
Wednesday, 3 February 2010
(Since my eyes were swollen shut, didn't have much choice.)
I blame it on my Mother's peanut butter cookies, (damn and $!%#&&!%$ the reduced fat fetish of food manufactures, and the plague of corn syrup that has struck the land!)
And now, for the first time in my long acquaintance with steroids, I'm experiencing the insomnia, the motor-mouthedness, and the... well, the being even louder and meaner than is my usual high level of achievement in that area.
At least today my hands are working.
I marvel at how, in seven years on the job, I never, never once was incapacitated -- the Holy Spirit and my guardian angel took note of my schedule!