Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Not MORE Catholic Than the Pope, Certainly, But Not Less, Either.... a Dead Heat, Maybe

New members of the PontificalAcadamy for Life? Turns out Nigel Biggars is just one more bad egg in the carton.
- Katarina Le Blanc of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, who uses stem cells taken from human embryos fertilized in vitro;
- Japanese Nobel laureate Shinya Yamanaka, who in spite of his fame for producing pluripotent stem cells artificially has by no means rules out continued research on the use of embryonic stem cells, and explains why in an article in the scientific journal “Cell & Stem Cell.”
- the Israeli Jew Avraham Steinberg, who admits in some cases abortion and the destruction of embryos for scientific use;
- Maurizio Chiodi, a leading Italian moral theologian, who in his book “Ethics of life” makes allowances for artificial procreation, if it is supported by an “intention of fertility.”

Saturday, 27 May 2017

"My" Mass... Surprisingly Little Relationship to the Coloring Book I Was Given When I Was Five

The author of the newly published book from OSV, “Bored Again Catholic: How the Mass Could Save Your Life,” [Timothy P. O’Malley] wants to reignite an appreciation in Catholics who may have short attention spans at Mass or find the rituals repetitive and dull.
The director of Notre Dame’s Center for Liturgy says,
“For years, my students have told me that they’re bored at Mass.” ...
Many of them come from parishes with active youth ministry programs, where the kids felt fed and uplifted. But in college, they feel less enthusiastic and worry their faith lives are receding.
“What people understood by ‘active practice of Faith,’ especially young adults,” he said, “was that faith was supposed to be exciting all the time; you were supposed to be perpetually entertained.” 
And that hasn't worked?
I am shocked, I tell you, SHOCKED.
Why, why... it's almost as if although each of us was told the world revolves around him, OTHER people think it revolves around them, and when we all get out into the real world -- well, someone forgot to tell the rest of the world.

Here's my take on it, (I'm developing this idea for Sunday school):

The Mass is the Source and Summit of the Faith.
It is the ritual in which/place where/means by which, we can most intimately join ourselves to another human being. (Ha. You thought was sex, didn't you?)
Mirabile dictu, that other human being is also God. (This union occurs to a great extent even if we don't receive Communion, but never mind that for now.)
A mind-blowingly miraculous event occurs, for everyone, but even if you were the ONLY one - JUST FOR YOU.
Yes, it, no, not "it", "HE", He is nourishing, but don't compare Him to food for the body, this Food for the soul is easier to understand as analogous to food for the mind.
In short, think of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as a book.
Think of it, of Him, as a book.
THE Book.
It is as a volume filled with "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
ALL.
So we have this Book.
Oh.... and it's hard to understand. Because it's.. well, it's pretty big.  Because It is wherein are contained ALL THE TREASURES OF WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE.
All of them.
So, we better translate it into our mother tongues, we'll "get" more if it that way.
But we don't. Because we can't. Because He contains ALL THE TREASURES OF WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE.
Which is... you know. beyond us?
But we think we should somehow understand it.
And then there are children.
And we CAN'T EVEN READ.
So instead of, I dunno, teaching us to read, you gave us books in which you had scribbled all over those "incomprehensible" words with crayons, pictures and colors you thought we'd find to our taste,and you pasted on stickers, and you gave us more markers and crayons and spray paint and ribbons and firecrackers and kites and kiddie pageants...
And then you wondered why people didn't ever recognize, much less appreciate the Book. when they encountered it in the real world
Where they weren't the center of the universe
In any language.
They couldn't understand it.
And they didn't "want" it.
So yeah, VCII liturgists and RelEd directors, and priests, and music directors, and Catholic school teachers, and USCCB-types, and random bishops (I know some  of them fought this drift.)...
You got a lot of 'splaining to do.
And you best not do it by handing out crayons...


Friday, 12 May 2017

"The Summer of Love Rape"

In "The Real Thing," Tom Stoppard had a line, something to the effect, "what 'free love' is free of is love."
All I can say is, yup.
 I reads lot of magazines, or at least, I skim them. A friend, because of her profession, subscribes to a few in which I am interested but too stingy to buy, so I asked her to give me her back issues now, instead of throwing them out, and when I finish, I'll bring them to the nursing home.
LITTLE DID I KNOW
She gets about a dozen a WEEK.
So, as I said, I skim.
But the March Vanity Fair stopped me in my tracks.
There's a piece about 1967, the so-called Summer of Love, (I thank the Lord that it passed without the notice of my prepubescent self,) a conversation amongst some glamorous or artistic women of the time, about how Fashion, with a capital " f," was completely altered for all time by the hippies and rock stars and feminists and models.
That's what the piece is SUPPOSED to be about, at any rate.
But what jumped out at me was all these empowered women telling tale after tale of sexual assault, coercion, rape, belittlement...
How, after the talk turned that way, did the author, Sheila Weller, not see that the real story was not about bell bottoms and boho blouses?
Vanity Fair is not, after all a fashion mag.
 "If someone forced himself upon you, it was almost as if you had to pay for your sins; you accepted it."
When women spoke at DDS meetings about need for equality men would shout them down, "Take her off the stage and f*** her!"
 "I remember being made to feel bourgeois by[my much older husband] if I exhibited discomfort with the freewheeling sexuality."
"Rather than fighting, you just closed your eyes and gave in."
One of the more prominent of the women does NOT, of course, reference her own notorious autobiographical confession that the entire time she was THE outspoken icon of empowerment she was herself a submissive, abused woman.

I'm surprised, even in a climate that doesn't want to admit that there is any movement toward sexual expression on which the brakes ought to be applied, this hasn't occasioned any comment, so far as I can see - because I was aware of the issue, I knew there was some too-ing and fro-ing about the movie star cover girl and whether showing her breasts in the fashion shoot contradicted her brand of feminism. (And no, I concur with her that it doesn't; although it's a damned silly looking dress.)

Friday, 21 April 2017

A Little Corollary to the Point Below

It is dishonest to not concede your opponent's valid points, and unless you are up for state high school debate teams champions, in other words, IF  YOU  ACTUALLY  WANT  TO  CHANGE  HEARTS  AND  MINDS? it's also counter-productive.

God's Church and Climate Change

No, not what you think.
As a.... okay, I'm going to say it, as a self-identified liberal Catholic I believe that a Catholic can be a faithful Catholic and not believe in man-made climate change, or that there is anything we need do about it, or that there is anything we can do about it, (which is heresy to many if not most other liberal Catholics.)
I should add, this opinion is balanced by what I, as a self-identified conservative Catholic believe - that a Catholic can be a faithful Catholic and believe in BIG Big Government as the best way to bring about God's kingdom on earth, (and that of course is heresy to many other conservative Catholics.)
But neither of these are relevant - my Faith may influence my judgment on these matters, but it does not ordain them,
Unlike say, "it's okay under certain circumstances to faciliate a woman's murdering her own unorn child," these are matters on which people of good will may disagree.

But all that is beside my point, (it is, as Sheldon Cooper would say, its own point.)

No, my point is that I read a link pointing to an ultra-conservative and (less ultra- but still strongly Traditional,) Catholic site, and immediately thought to myself, "gee hope it's a piece by Miss X, but not by Fr. Y or Mr Z."

Why? you may ask. (And even if you wouldn't, I shall answer.)
Because while I am equally likely to agree with/be interested in/learn something from all the contributors to the site, some of them are MEAN.
They are rude, condescending, given to name calling, assuming malice where ignorance or dullness would suffice to motivate, and just plain nasty, MEAN  AS  A  SNAKE.
And these are people I feel are more on the side of the angels than not, (although there are, of course, some extremists who take things so far they become utterly wrong.)

And similarly, on certain aspects of civic discourse, and what I happened to be reading of most recently was ecological disasters in the offing, the people who I believe are more on the side of the angels than not, (although there are, of course, some extremists here who take things so far they become utterly wrong,) are also given to name calling, assuming malice where ignorance or dullness would suffice to motivate, and just plain nasty.
When did smart, well-meaning people stop knowing that saying,"If you think that you are stupid and crazy and evil, let me tell you what you should think," is, uhm... a damned poor way to win converts to ones point of view?
(Don't answer, it was rhetorical, I know - something to do with expulsion from a Garden.)

As another side note, I have often had recourse in conversations as to why people have left one religious denomination or another, (since it is truly shocking to me how many people will lay blame for their apostasy at the door of personalities and practices rather than dogma and discipline that derives from doctrine,) to asking if a "mean" chemistry teacher would have caused them to doubt the periodic table, or if a nasty physics teacher negates the law of gravity.
Truth is truth, even wearing an ugly dress.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

The Harrowing of Hell

A reminder that just because it is quiet and still, just because I can see nothing good coming of events, it does not follow that nothing is happening...

Friday, 14 April 2017

"Here might I stay and sing of Him my soul adores..."


My song is love unknown,
my Savior’s love to me.
Love to the loveless shown,
that they might lovely be.
Oh, who am I that for my sake,
my Lord should take frail flesh and die?
            He came from heaven’s throne
            salvation to bestow;
            but they refused, and none
            the longed-for Christ would know.
            This is my friend, my friend indeed,
            who at my need, His life did spend.
Sometimes they crowd His way
and His sweet praises sing,
resounding all the day
hosannas to their King.
Then, “Crucify!” is all their breath,
and for His death they thirst and cry.
            Why, what has my Lord done
            to cause this rage and spite?
            He made the lame to run
            and gave the blind their sight.
            What injuries, yet these are why,
            the Lord Most High so cruelly dies.
With angry shouts they have
my dear Lord done away;
a murderer they save,
the Prince of Life they slay.
Yet willingly, He bears the shame,
that through His name all might be free.
            Here might I stay and sing
            of Him my soul adores:
            never was love, dear King,
            never was grief like Yours.
            This is my friend in whose
                            sweet praise,
            I all my days would gladly spend.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

"Now the power, Now the vessel brimmed for pouring..."

In an eMail from Magnificat - I'm not sure that the artwork isn't the greatest benefit of the magazine.
No, that would be the reflections.
Though it might be the obscure saints on various themes. Oh, except it's probably....
(Sometime I feel as if I am advertising for Magnificat, but really, you should subscribe.)
Anyway, this reminded me of the heartbreaking statue of the Man of Sorrows at St John Cantius, the same kind of stillness and power.


"Now the power, Now the vessel brimmed for pouring; Now the body, Now the blood..."

(Hymn text, by the way, which has nothing, so far as I know, to do with Magnificat, by Jaroslav Vajda.)

"The Thursday of Mysteries"

Isn't that a beautiful way to describe today?
I've only just learned it.

I appreciate that word "mysteries" used synonymously with "sacraments," very much.
At Eastern Rite liturgies I've always thrilled a bit at the phrase, "I will not reveal Your Mysteries to your enemies," as if we were suddenly plunged by the universality and sacred timeliness/timelessness of the Sacrifice into penal times, or the first century and were willing to die rather than betray the goings-on in the catacombs to the authorities.
One doesn't see it much in the West, although the sheet music from which I first learned the Bruckner Locus Iste translated sacramentum that way, IIRC.
This is, I promise you, not about aesthetic snobbery, but the music that will happen tonight at any of the Roman Catholic churches within reach will be so jarringly bad or inappropriate that I was casting about for an alternative, and my default Byzantine parish seems not to be having any liturgy tonight, can that be possible?
(Here, I can prove, at least to my own satisfaction that it's not snootiness on my part - if it were not a thousand miles away I would attend an Extraordinary Form Mass I used to hear with some regularity, where the propers that are not sung recto tono or to a psalm tone would be unrecognizable they would be rendered so badly, by a choir that included on singer with a voice like an electric cheese grater. The appropriate done badly by worshipers giving their best is more fitting than the inappropriate done well by worshipers giving their favorites.)
Anyway, I found a church, (of a rite that I don't know well at all,) whose bulletin gives a time for Liturgy of  Thursday of Mysteries.
(And between Holy Orders and Eucharist, and washing of the feet - do Easterners do that? dont know -  our evening will be filled with Mystery.)
Was this Father Hardon?
"A mystery is not a truth about which we can know nothing. It is a truth about which we cannot know everything."

The Three Graces

Not, not those!

I think I shall always be bothered by the imprecision of Pope Francis' words, for as long as his pontificate persists. The sound bites often seem Hallmark-ish, ("Hallmawkish"?) and I think it behooves a spiritual leader to take note of common words more specific meaning within his particular "faith tradition."
(It's why I had such a visceral reaction to being asked to sing Ruth Duck's As a Fire Is Meant For Burning.... really??!?#?? NOT to "preach our creeds"?)
Yes, words mean different things in different contexts, but as a Catholic, in the context of catechesis, (which homiletics is,) you wouldn't, for instance, talk about a skanky ballet dancer as being "graceful."
So Francis' talk of the Gospels at the Chrism Mass...
"A single word - Gospel - that, even as it is spoken, becomes truth, brimming with joy and mercy. We should never attempt to separate these three graces of the Gospel: its truth, which is non-negotiable; its mercy, which is unconditional and offered to all sinners; and its joy, which is personal and open to everyone,"
...seems off to me.
Because yes, those three things are sharing in God's love, freely given (the simplest definition of Grace,) but, and pardon me for putting words in the Holy Father's mouth, but I wonder if what he really meant was a reference to the Theological Virtues, which do indeed seem to correlate with what he called "graces."
Because holding on to Truth is the essence of having Faith, our confident Hope cannot but fill us with Joy, and the granting of Mercy to others, (and ourselves!) is the highest good of Love in Action, (the way I describe Love/Charity/Christian Love to my religious education kiddos.)
And, of course, what sets the Theological Virtues apart is that they cannot be obtained by human effort, but are infused by God into a person freely given, (and in need of unwrapping, as I like to tell them.)

(Is it so wrong that on the cusp of Papa Ratz's birthday, at this, as at nearly every instance in which Francis says something that starts to make sense to me and cuae me to think in a new way, my wish is to know how his predecessor would have teased out the theme and crafted it into some all but perfect gem of theology for the blundering but trying, like me? Ah, well, if wishes were horses....)

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

"You don't believe any of this....?"

Himself started watching something last night that looked interesting to me, but as I've more or less given up tv, (though yeah, I check the weather, and whether or not our country had gone to war....,) for Lent, I left the room.
He turned it off shortly afterwards, I asked what gives? and he said, "Oh, you know, the kind of programming they put on this time of year, we're being utterly objective and scientific and historical about all this Jesus stuff, and they make a big deal about anything that contradicts the Bible or common understanding, but if any hard facts support Christian tradition they downplay them...."
"Oh,"... he added, "and you know how they get jackasses or crazies for all the talking-head parts."
Yep, yep, I do know...
But, Department of Silver Linings, we don't have an Established Church in the US.

Few things in life are more reliable than that the BBC will celebrate Holy Week by running a story which causes controversy about Christianity; the only thing more reliable is that it won’t do the same about Islam during Ramadan. The latest, to be found here reveals that nearly a quarter of ‘Christians’ do not believe in the Resurrection. However, 1 in to people with no religion said they sort of believed in some way int e Resurrection, prompting this: ‘The Church of England said it showed many people held religious beliefs.’ I fear what it really shows is the failure of the Established Church in this country to do much in the way of religious education. One of the more remarkable bit of the piece was a vicar saying that: ‘”I think [people answering the survey] are being asked to believe in the way they might have been asked to believe when they were at Sunday school.’ Quite apart from the fact that it is doubtful that many people even go to Sunday School, one wonders quite what she thought was being taught at Anglican Sunday Schools? Then, with all the confidence of a modernist who doesn’t know better, she pronounced: ‘”So to ask an adult to believe in the resurrection the way they did when they were at Sunday school simply won’t do and that’s true of much of the key elements of the Christian faith.” She tells us that” And an adult faith requires that it be constantly questioned, constantly re-interpreted, which incidentally is very much what modern church is actually about.’ Indeed, and in that apercu lies much of what has gone wrong with the Church of England.
One wonder, then - if asked in a survey, does the quoted vicar think the Anglicans of the UK would deny that they loved their Mums? Because, of course, they wouldn't love them in the same way they had when they were children....

"The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, According to Saint...."

Notice, the reader* never says, "according to our beloved music director, Gary 'Gonzo' Garryman," or even, "according to the greatest composer of sacred music who ever lived, and one heck of a producer of talented and multitudinous off-spring, Mr. J. S. Bach."

I had to write this for a friend whose parish musicians decided that an ominous, drum roll or cadence like that used for military funerals might be a swell thing to add to the reading of the Passion on Sunday.
He was hoping to persuade someone in charge to read it prior to this Friday's performance.
Maybe it will be of use to someone else.
...................
In Chapter V of the General Instruction Of The Roman Missal, (GIRM, it will be in the front of the Missal in the sacristy, the big red book that used to be called the Sacramentary until the newer translation finally came out,) paragraph 313 is very explicit:
313. The organ and other lawfully approved musical instruments should be placed in a suitable place so that they can sustain the singing of both the choir and the people and be heard with ease by everybody if they are played alone. It is appropriate that before being put into liturgical use, the organ be blessed according to the rite described in the Roman Ritual.[123]In Advent the use of the organ and other musical instruments should be marked by a moderation suited to the character of this time of year, without expressing in anticipation the full joy of the Nativity of the Lord.In Lent the playing of the organ and musical instruments is allowed only in order to support the singing. [emphasis supplied] Exceptions, however, are Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent), Solemnities, and Feasts.
Using a drum during the reading of the Passion (this is me talking now,) not only violates that in letter and in spirit, it is tacky and cheesy in the extreme, it is the equivalent of adding sound effect, or dum-dum-DUM fanfares like for Youtube squirrels.
"Gee, maybe next year, every time Judas' name is mentioned, let's have Villain's-Entrance-Music, like from a silent movie!!!!!!!"
The Passion at Mass or at Good Friday liturgy is not a performance.It does not call for creativity.It calls for reverence and obedience.Anyone who would do anything that tacky would probably add water sound effects for the Washing of the Feet, in the Mandatum.
*I said "reader" instead of "deacon or priest," because for the Passion, it is uniquely possible that a lay reader will licitly do this.

Friday, 31 March 2017

When Promiscuity is Your Sacrament, and You're Terrified of Normalcy

I guess it's to be expected that those omalophobic souls who make a cult of despising virtue, or chastity, or even such a bourgeois habit as commitment, would be screaming on Those Interwebs about that strange, evil guy who, you know, does strange, evil things and set himself strange, evil rules of conduct, because he has these strange, evil notions about a strange, evil institution called marriage, and has this strange, evil superstition that there's such a thing as temptation, and he loves his strange, evil wife enough that he wants to avoid both it and the chance of giving people who delight in that sort of thing excuses to gossip, (not that the previously mentioned omalophobia sufferers have any particular affinity for dishing...)

Do you REALLY see in another person's fidelity or continence an inherent reproach to the way you've chosen to live your life?
Are ya maybe... projecting?

I wonder if there's the odd chance that any of such screamers read today's lectionary?
The wicked said among themselves, thinking not aright:"Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;he sets himself against our doings,Reproaches us for transgressions of the lawand charges us with violations of our training.He professes to have knowledge of Godand styles himself a child of the LORD.To us he is the censure of our thoughts; merely to see him is a hardship for us,Because his life is not like that of others,and different are his ways.He judges us debased;he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure.

Damon LInker on Those Who Have A Problem With Mike Pence's "Rules"

Learning new things, (and learning that I'm not learning some i ought... what's Storify?)
A columnist named Damon Linker created a Tweetstorm in response to the Mike Pence Actually Takes Steps To Help Insure His Marriage Is Never Imperiled And How Dare He? nonsense that's going on on Those Interwebs, (and even, i fear in some print media.)
And it's great and ought to be in a more readily readable form, (which I gather this mysterious Storify would do.)
About this surprisingly intense controversy about Mike Pence's marital habits.
The man currently VPOTUS said 15 years ago that he never dines alone w another woman, or attends an event where alcohol is being served.
The implication being that this could place him in a condition of temptation with someone other than his wife.
I'm a secular liberal & think it's a bit extreme, yet I don't find this scandalous. In fact, I consider it admirable.
But not many other secular liberals, who have been expressing unrestrained outrage, feel this way. The question is why.
I think it's because this difference is rooted in profoundly different, perhaps incompatible, anthropologies (visions of human nature)
For Pence, I surmise, human beings are fallen, prone to temptation and sin, in a state of moral degradation.
Place a man alone with a woman w no one around, esp if he's in a position of power, & he'll be tempted to be unfaithful to his wife.
Confronted w facts of human nature, there are 2 options: first, faith in God, which is real and powerful, but (given sin) unreliable.
Second option: act to avoid temptation. Don't place yourself in a situation where you'll be tempted to betray your marital vows.
The secular liberal outlook is very different. It is, broadly speaking, Kantian.
Despite obsession w sex, gender, etc., we believe morality involves overcoming bodily inclination/desires, which everyone is free to do.
So there's no reason not to immerse ourselves in sexualized culture, have (married) men & women work tog in all settings (dine w alcohol)
They might experience temptation, but there are internalized universalizable moral principles like "don't cheat!" to keep them in line.
One morality-abiding, bodily transcending subject should be able to have dinner w another w/o incident. Right?
This shld be possible, b/c as Kant says, it must be possible to do what ought to be done, follow principle, overcome nat inclination.
Pence's way of living denies all of this. It denies we're able to restrain ourselves with any reliability.
We need God's help, and we need to keep ourselves away from situations in which we will be tempted to cheat.
I could understand if secular liberal Kantians rolled their eyes at Pence. But why the anger about it?
I don't buy that it's because of a grand injustice to women. He could meet w a woman at the office with coworkers around.
Why isn't that an acceptable accommodation? Like how when I teach college, I'm told not to shut my office door with a student.
Isn't that the same kind of double standard? Yet there's no outrage. It's seen as a prudent measure to protect young women & male profs
The reax w Pence is disproportionate, even given the intensity of partisan rancor at the moment.
So what's really at stake? I think secular libs intuitively understand their Kantian outlook is being challenged by Pence's behavior.
And there is considerable, obvious evidence on Pence's side.
From T Kennedy @ Chappaquiddick, B Clinton & the blue dress to campus sexual assault, not to mention behavior outside modern West, …
Everywhere we see examples of people (esp men) NOT acting like good Kantians, ignoring universal principles, acting on desires.
The secular liberal response is invariably to implore the bad actors, "Act better! Do what's right!" And yes, wouldn't that be nice?
But what if this is a battle that can never be fully won on these terms?
What if it's *possible* to act morally w/o external social/cultural support, but more diff than most secular liberals like to believe?
What if morality requires more social & cultural supports & encouragement than secular liberals are willing to live with?
What if morality requires social & cultural supports that limit individual freedom & that secular liberals are unwilling forgo?
In that case, Pence's simple rules for marital living become an enormous challenge and provocation.
He's called the liberal bluff. Like saying: "If you want to make marital fidelity more likely, you might need to accept less freedom."
And that is simply an unacceptable proposition. Hence the anger, the mockery, the derision, the defensiveness.
It's the response of someone who's been forced to confront possibility that all good things might not go together as easily as hoped.
The freedom of atomistic individualism can be delightful, but it requires/presumes an awful lot from people.
Perhaps it requires far more than most of them can give, at least with any reliability.
Perhaps Pence's more morally traditional outlook has something in its favor—namely, realism.
That would mean the liberal outlook is more fragile, weaker in its foundations than most liberals are willing to accept.
And when you point that out to someone who's heavily invested in that outlook, response is what we've seen: anger and defensiveness.
FWIW, I think liberalism is better off being made aware of its weak spots, and incorporating norms/practices that shore them up.
Even if that req (modestly!) curtailing liberal individualism. In that sense, the (somewhat extreme) Pence example is salutary. //ENDIT
Does one correct spelling, fill out acronyms when one does this?
Not sure, maybe will fix later.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

A "Game-changer" for Eczema Sufferers? Still can't play....

I rejoice to hear of this, and I hope it brings many people back to the land of the living[normally].
U.S. regulators have approved the first powerful, injected medicine to treat serious cases of the skin condition eczema.
The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved Dupixent (dupilumab) for moderate or severe eczema, which causes red, fiercely itchy rashes on the face, arms and legs.
In three studies of the drug including a total of 2,119 participants, one-third to two-thirds achieved clear or nearly clear skin. About 4 in 10 had itching decrease sharply, bringing better sleep and reducing anxiety and depression.
That said, it costs more annually than our household AGI, so there's that...

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Reblog: "I'm not a Trad, but..."

I am in a very different place, (literally and figuratively,) from when I wrote this, and I'm coming to understand, and sympathize with, people on both extremes of this issue, the True Believers in the Liturgy Wars.
An Extraordinary Form Mass, a regular celebration of the Mass of the Ages has just become available to me, not too far away, and on a weekday so it doesn't usually interfere with either my parish duties, (voluntary) or my familial duties, (voluntary and yet on compulsion.)
But at the same time I am experiencing a reprieve from the sadly perfunctory and weird liturgies that are my usual lot with beautiful and careful Masses said by someone who is at about the furthest one can go in the other direction  from the EF while still being obedient and rubrically correct.
And thrown into the mix, a one-off Are-you-kidding-me Eucharistic celebration complete with off-the-leash pets, and a little labyrinth-induced game of Find the EMHC.
(Someone, PLEASE! what is with modern church architecture that encompasses aisles that dead end????!?@??)
But I think most of this, other than that dealing my employment, still holds true:
If I ...were free to participate where and when and how I would, the Extraordinary Form would not be my first choice.But now, praise Benedict and the motu proprio, I am at least entitled to ask for that, whereas I am not entitled to ask for the Ordinary Form with the Ordinary sung in Latin.Or the Ordinary Form with the priest facing ad orientem. Or the Ordinary Form with no jokes. Or the Ordinary Form without being asked to squawk Lord of the Dance. Or the Ordinary Form without a glad-handing rotary convention inserted where the Pax Christi is offered. Or the Ordinary Form where no adolescent in a football jersey will address me from the sanctuary. Or the Ordinary Form with no mention of Jambalaya or sports enthusiasms.So I am asking for the Extraordinary Form.And my aspirations are rightful.

Heroes Mourned

4157U
 

Monday, 20 March 2017

"Catholics, Look East, Look East, Look East..."

"...people, servers, deacons and priest!"
Deacon Greg Kandra had one of those moments so many of us have had regarding the liturgy, when, whether by accident or design we found ourselves engaged in a rarity that used to be routine. "Oh, THAT'S why it was done this way!"

And suddenly it all makes sense.

Save the Liturgy, and We Save the World.


Friday, 17 March 2017

Virtues Let Loose Do More Damage Than Vice

It is hard talking about vices and virtues, and Good and evil with children in a way that makes the Catholic Faith accessible.
(It's difficult with adults who disagree with us, too. of course, because while they object to our "irrational" absolutes, they refuse to see that they too come from a place of unquestioned and often ill-thought out principles, and I've said repeatedly that one of the silver linings in the glowering thunderclouds of our current political climate is the clear evidence that when push comes to shove very few parties or persons hold to their stated principles. Oh, they have principles -Freedom! Dignity of human life! Tolerance! Godliness! self-determination! Safety! - but the ones they use as talking points are not the ones they actually hold, when it comes to applying them to other matters than their pet causes. But that's another topic...)
With children the notion of positive and negative are often completely linear, and they struggle to comprehend how evil exists if a good God created everything, and they reject assurances that evil is not equivalent in power, that God is "All", that the demonic is not something they need to worry about if they hold fast to Him.
(And thanks in part to their age, and in part to the super-abundance of horror films, games, books and graphic novels, and mostly thanks to their society and families having left a vacuum where thought of God should be, they are fascinated by the devil. But that too is another topic.)
They need a different geometry through which to ponder God and Virtue and Goodness, Truth and Beauty, they need to see existence more multi-dimensionally,  they need to see that their is more than one direction away from the center, from home, from God; so that the nearer we draw to virtues, actual virtues themselves rather than the actions to which those virtues might prompt us, the nearer we find ourselves to God.
Because all else is Nothingness.
And they, WE need to discern the difference between abundance and excess.
“The modern world...is full of wild and wasted virtues...it is not merely the vices that are let loose...the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful.”
-- GK Chesterton

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

“When people approach the Church, we must offer them beauty"

Let the Church say "Amen!"
Good article in the National Catholic Register about the foundation of Silverstream Priory in Co. Meath, Ireland.
Dom Mark Kirby is one of the most inspiring people I've ever met at a CMAA Colloquium, which is saying a lot because yearly the gathering takes on the aura of a retreat, and if it's possible for an event to be a "spiritual director," it is surely one.
“Dom Benedict [the other monk with whom Dom Mark founded the community at Silverstream] and I were conscious that, in God’s providence, we were called to rekindle the torch that blazed from the Benedictine abbey of Fore in County Westmeath until its suppression under Henry VIII in 1536.”
Oh, and all this makes it seem like the right time to remind my 3.2 regular readers to vote in Church March Madness.
Though I guess that ought, with a nod to liturgical use, to be "Procession Madness."

Saturday, 11 March 2017

The Man Who DOES Kneel Before God (edited)

As I said in another context, it's easy enough to google evidence.... ENOUGH with the calumny and detraction. (Unless you think all these are photoshopped...)
     

I don't know his life, I don't know his knees - and neither, I dare say, do you.

Is Putin Testing Me? Of Course Not.

Because, um.... "my Mother had me tested"?
Me too! or me neither... not sure

I'm kidding.
But did the leader of the free world really blather inarticulately like this?
"You know what uranium is, right? It's a thing called nuclear weapons and other things. Like lots of things are done with uranium, including some bad things. Like lots of things are done with uranium, including some bad things." 
Because I may read that a public figure has said something incoherent, or stupid, or contradictory, or even just plain (and seemingly deliberately,) false and realize... maybe not true? maybe taken out of context?
And I don't memorize press conference from weeks ago.
And having friends and colleagues and acquaintances spanning the entire spectrum, often as not someone will indeed claim that what the first someone said is a misrepresentation of the facts.

But  thanks to Those Interwebs, it's possible to track the truth down when the reports are inaccurate, or, to be charitable, misremembered.

But as I'm learning all too often with certain especially prominent persons proceeding with possibly poor plans by the power of their populist platforms, (thank you, guest columnist for pointing out to the NYTimes' readers what too many of us Catholics already knew, even if you don't think it means quite what it really does,) yup, it was that incoherent, or stupid, or contradictory, or false.

Sadly, Youtube provides the hard evidence.

More recently there has been a great brouhaha about what the leader of the largest communion of the largest faith in the world has said, and as usual, both sides (and yes, they are "sides,")  have cherry-picked phrases to either promote their ideas or express outrage over someone else's, without examinigng what he said in its entirety.
Which, is easy to do because... yes, sorry, he does tend to ramble incoherently when off script.
Same as the other guy.
Or maybe I AM crazy.. crazy like a FOX

"I Haz Met the Enemy & He Iz Me"

I thank Thee, Lord, that Thou hast made me JUST as other men are, and even given me the grace to recognize it....
I do know it, really I do. I just have trouble remembering that I know it.
Himself is off to a volunteer activity, one that requires real, make-you-bone-weary labor, and he is heading there early, in order to make it impossible for anyone to guilt him into staying late.
He explained who it was who indulges in the attempted lazy-shaming, and quoted the "tired of being left to finish this up all by myself" emails, and since I know the person, I surmise that being unpleasant pretty much guarantees the same outcome every time.
Himself then drew parallels to a subordinate of his in another charitable work he does - that guy refuses to acknowledge that his area of authority is under the umbrella of a larger program,  (Himself is fine with that, hates being in charge of anyone else in the first place,) except when he needs more help, which he constantly does, and then he expects Himself to scare up some minions.
The guy is always wailing that he is too old to be doing so much on his lonesome, he needs assistance, why is his load so great? more volunteers are found by my husband, the guy talks to them as if they are mentally disabled 5 year olds, bosses them, scolds them, yells at them, insults them in front of others; they quit, and he gets to wail again that he's too old to be doing so much, needs help, behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me!
"Which," says Himself, a light bulb going off over his head, "is what he actually wanted all along."
I think in the movie, "Last Days in the Desert," a very clever thing was done in casting the same actor to play both the human incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity and the Evil One.
This is not some heretical dualism, but a visual representation of Christ the "high priest who is [not] unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way."
Surely in these tests, in these temptations to sin, one is often one's "own worst enemy."
Temptations aren't ugly, obviously evil possibilities that present themselves - they seem good and true and beautiful, THAT'S  WHY  THEY  ARE  TEMPTING.
And our sins are habitual because vices are habits we allow ourselves, even when taking actions putatively intended to produce virtuous, or at least beneficial to us, results.

See? I tried Y [solution] but it ends up that I have to do Z [sin]. It's not my fault, it's X's!!!!!! Why does this always happen to me?

It is amazing how often, and how blatantly we sabotage our own stated goals. And we don't need the Serpent to suggest it - no, the devil can take his ease, we're his Useful Idiots and will do all the work for him.
It's never my fault.
I think of the Islamists who resort to murderous violence because someone insulted them by saying they were prone to murderous violence.
It's the cartoonist's fault!
I think of the self-proclaimed "nice guy" who goes on a vicious rampage because women don't recognize his niceness, and so believes they "deserved to be dumped in boiling water for the crime of not giving me the attention and adoration I so rightfully deserve."
They didn't think he was nice, go figure...
So it's women's fault!

And yes, it's my fault. And Lent is about trying to remember that, and repent of that, and remedy that.

I think of that axiom about the government we have, and think perhaps, yeah, we all commit the sins we deserve.
It is God, against Whom we sin Who doesn't deserve them.

"Malaphor"

I have learned a new word.
(I have never told a dear friend that one of her favorite expressions, "you just watch, he'll fold like a ten cent cookie" doesn't seem to mean anything. Not that I've ever eaten a ten cent cookie. Although Save-A-Lot has some terrific crunchy, buttery chocolate chip cookies right now that work out to about that....)
(But since they're self-proclaimedly "crunchy" they, um.... won't fold.)

Friday, 10 March 2017

"King of the Friday"

Our pastor, who is, as they say, FBI, is wont to recite a poem or two he learned as a child at close of Mass or during the homily.
Often he will proclaim it in Irish as well and English.
I look forward to hearing this at least once every Lent
King of the Friday

O King of the Friday
Whose limbs were stretched on the Cross,
O Lord, who did suffer
The bruises, the wounds, the loss,
     We stretch ourselves
     Beneath the shield of thy might,
     Some fruit from the tree of thy pass
     Fall on us this night...
Beautiful, hopeful thought, is it not? that some Fruit from that tree might fall upon us?

Thursday, 9 March 2017

A Plot Against Pope Francis Not Wholly Implausible?

Or so says Fr. Alexander Lucie-Smith in the Catholic Herald.
I suppose that could mean many different things, mostly depending on how the good father would inflect the word "wholly" were he to speak his headline aloud.
One of the main intents of my partial Facebook/Twitter fast is to not comment on the Holy Father's words or actions, and more, to put a pause on my arrogant advice giving. I should say this up front, and I will avoid it, I hope.
But this struck me as wrong -
The fact that this “plot” has leaked could mean one of two things. It could be that the feeling the Pope should retire is now so widespread, that it cannot be kept secret – in other words there are too many people in on the plot. But it could mean something else entirely, namely that the plotters are very few in number and are airing their idea to see if it gains traction. Their idea might be to launch a snowball that then turns into an avalanche in the way of which nothing can stand.
I can think of a third possibility.
Could it not have been brought out in the open by one who does not wish its success, to make it less likely to happen?
I read somewhere once that Alan Sheperd was the first American astronaut because John Glenn had been selected to be.
What? you ask.
Apparently, President Johnson, who had some say in the matter, was so furious at the news having been leaked that he chose to rub the noses of the leakers or the media in it by making them wrong, even if it meant not doing what he had wanted to do in the first place. (Another axiomatic "nose" comes to mind, something about cutting and spiting, but I digress.)
And there is also the shining of light on cockroaches, who then freeze, in the hope that if they make no further moves they will remain unnoticed and safe.
Hmmm... I do not mean to insult those who might wish to compass the Holy Father's resignation, so instead of insects, let me instead compare them to valiant French partisans engaged in near-suicidal espionage against the Nazis under cover of darkness.
Shhhh... ne bougez pas un muscle. Le gardien vient de faire ses rondes, il va éteindre la lumière dans un moment et aller pour le café.
And even the "near-suicidal" may not bee so far-fetched... Guam, anyone?

Drat. I said I wasn't going to do that.

Your Cooking Tip For the Day

If you are not much of a cook and would like to oonch it up a notch, (not take a course/score exotic ingredients/master new techniques, in other words you'd like to be better without too much effort,) and if you're a fan of saving money, I'm going to do you a solid.
Buy a can of tomato paste. If you're in the US this should set you back less than a half buck.

The problem with tomato past is that while very useful, and is expressly called for in many recipes, it's mostly called for in small amounts, and then the rest of the can, even if you transfer it to another container, sits in the refrigerator until it turns brown and you throw it away.

Open the can now, while you're not making anything, and put the contents, (use a scraper to get into the corners,) into a freezer bag, (a quart zip lock should do.)
Flatten it, press out as much air as you can and freeze it.
Anytime you're cooking or heating almost any[savory]thing with more than 3 ingredients, break off a teaspoon-sized piece and add it. (Thaw if necessary, say, in hummus.)
It is compatible with a huge range of spice and flavoring palates, (is that the right "palate"?) and adds an often undefinable richness and depth to many foods.

If you don't believe me, add some to a chocolate cake batter some time.

You're welcome.

"Murder Most Frugal"

It's as if Clark Howard channeled Agatha Christie - the good folks of Arkansas are showing the rest of the patently not civilized world how to execute people thriftily.
Because the Heartland?
Eight men are scheduled to be executed by lethal injection in Arkansas in the space of just 10 days, according to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's office. The state -- which has not put anyone to death for 11 years -- plans to execute the men in pairs between April 17 and April 27. 
You know why?
It seems that the lethal drugs they use to kill human beings have reached their sell-by date.

Let's just read that, and think about that, again, shall we? The lethal drugs they use to kill human beings have reached their sell-by date.
The execution schedule appears aimed at putting the inmates to death before another one of the state’s lethal injection drugs expires.
The state’s supply of midazolam lists an April 2017 expiration date, which pharmacy experts say is commonly accepted to mean the end of the month. The state’s supply of vecuronium bromide expires on March 1, 2018.
Making America Less Again.
God have mercy on us all.


And Today, I Am Reliably Informed, Is National Meatball Day

Told Himself I was sorry that I hadn't gotten anything for him, and that it was too late to change menu plans.
That's all right, he countered, I didn't get you anything yesterday for International Women's Day.
Well, you allowed me to celebrate it, and since you control the world I guess that's something.
True.
I was being facetious, I shouted, you need to own your privilege, and be woke to my suffering,
Perhaps you should lie down, he murmurred, not even looking up from his computer, could  you get me a cup of coffee first?

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

The Few, the Proud, the Pervy

My Father would be so ashamed of his Corps

Monday, 6 March 2017

"Almost"?

A Catholic journalist quotes a Catholic feminist in the msm.
"I don’t want to say that the pope is defeated by the critics, but this is making him vulnerable. What they are doing is almost schismatic."
Not sure that is even possible, "almost in schism" is like "almost pregnant."

Perhaps one could say it as a prediction?

But anyway, who has refused submission to the Pope's lawful authority?

I have not seen it.

It is a clever way to accuse the obedient orthodox, linking them to those who dissent from, not just the Pope's teaching, from from God's express words.
The Pharisees approached and asked, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” They were testing him.aHe said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?”They replied, “Moses permitted him to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.”But Jesus told them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment.But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.In the house the disciples again questioned him about this. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her;and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
No.... is anyone not submitting to THAT whom you wish to call out, Ms Beattie?

Sunday, 5 March 2017

An International "Statement on the Current Situation of Sacred Music"

Reposted in full from The New Liturgical Movement. Full list of signatories to follow.

“CANTATE DOMINO CANTICUM NOVUM”

A Statement on the Current Situation of Sacred Music


We, the undersigned — musicians, pastors, teachers, scholars, and lovers of sacred music — humbly offer this statement to the Catholic community around the world, expressing our great love for the Church’s treasury of sacred music and our deep concerns about its current plight.

Introduction

Cantate Domino canticum novum, cantate Domino omnis terra (Psalm 96): this singing to God’s glory has resonated for the whole history of Christianity, from the very beginning to the present day. Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition alike bear witness to a great love for the beauty and power of music in the worship of Almighty God. The treasury of sacred music has always been cherished in the Catholic Church by her saints, theologians, popes, and laypeople.

Such love and practice of music is witnessed to throughout Christian literature and in the many documents that the Popes have devoted to sacred music, from John XXII’s Docta Sanctorum Patrum (1324) and Benedict XIV’s Annus Qui (1749) down to Saint Pius X’s Motu Proprio Tra le Sollecitudini (1903), Pius XII’s Musicae Sacrae Disciplina (1955), Saint John Paul II’s Chirograph on Sacred Music (2003), and so on. This vast amount of documentation impels us to take with utter seriousness the importance and the role of music in the liturgy. This importance is related to the deep connection between the liturgy and its music, a connection that goes two ways: a good liturgy allows for splendid music, but a low standard of liturgical music also tremendously affects the liturgy. Nor can the ecumenical importance of music be forgotten, when we know that other Christian traditions — such as Anglicans, Lutherans, and the Eastern Orthodox — have high esteem for the importance and dignity of sacred music, as witnessed by their own jealously-guarded “treasuries.”

We are observing an important milestone, the fiftieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Instruction on Music in the Liturgy, Musicam Sacram, on March 5, 1967, under the pontificate of Blessed Paul VI. Re-reading the document today, we cannot avoid thinking of the via dolorosa of sacred music in the decades following Sacrosanctum Concilium. Indeed, what was happening in some factions of the Church at that time (1967) was not at all in line with Sacrosantum Concilium or with Musicam Sacram. Certain ideas that were never present in the Council’s documents were forced into practice, sometimes with a lack of vigilance from clergy and ecclesiastical hierarchy. In some countries the treasury of sacred music that the Council asked to be preserved was not only not preserved, but even opposed. And this quite against the Council, which clearly stated:
The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy. Holy Scripture, indeed, has bestowed praise upon sacred song, and the same may be said of the fathers of the Church and of the Roman pontiffs who in recent times, led by St. Pius X, have explained more precisely the ministerial function supplied by sacred music in the service of the Lord. Therefore sacred music is to be considered the more holy in proportion as it is more closely connected with the liturgical action, whether it adds delight to prayer, fosters unity of minds, or confers greater solemnity upon the sacred rites. But the Church approves of all forms of true art having the needed qualities, and admits them into divine worship. (SC 112)

The Current Situation

In light of the mind of the Church so frequently expressed, we cannot avoid being concerned about the current situation of sacred music, which is nothing short of desperate, with abuses in the area of sacred music now almost the norm rather than the exception. We shall summarize here some of the elements that contribute to the present deplorable situation of sacred music and of the liturgy.

1. There has been a loss of understanding of the “musical shape of the liturgy,” that is, that music is an inherent part of the very essence of liturgy as public, formal, solemn worship of God. We are not merely to sing at Mass, but to sing the Mass. Hence, as Musicam Sacram itself reminded us, the priest’s parts should be chanted to the tones given in the Missal, with the people making the responses; the singing of the Ordinary of the Mass in Gregorian chant or music inspired by it should be encouraged; and the Propers of the Mass, too, should be given the pride of place that befits their historical prominence, their liturgical function, and their theological depth. Similar points apply to the singing of the Divine Office. It is an exhibition of the vice of “liturgical sloth” to refuse to sing the liturgy, to use “utility music” rather than sacred music, to refuse to educate oneself or others about the Church’s tradition and wishes, and to put little or no effort and resources into the building up of a sacred music program.

2. This loss of liturgical and theological understanding goes hand-in-hand with an embrace of secularism. The secularism of popular musical styles has contributed to a desacralization of the liturgy, while the secularism of profit-based commercialism has reinforced the imposition of mediocre collections of music upon parishes. It has encouraged an anthropocentrism in the liturgy that undermines its very nature. In vast sectors of the Church nowadays there is an incorrect relationship with culture, which can be seen as a “web of connections.” With the actual situation of our liturgical music (and of the liturgy itself, because the two are intertwined), we have broken this web of connection with our past and tried to connect with a future that has no meaning without its past. Today, the Church is not actively using her cultural riches to evangelize, but is mostly used by a prevalent secular culture, born in opposition to Christianity, which destabilizes the sense of adoration that is at the heart of the Christian faith.

In his homily for the feast of Corpus Christi on June 4, 2015, Pope Francis has spoken of “the Church’s amazement at this reality [of the Most Holy Eucharist]. . . An astonishment which always feeds contemplation, adoration, and memory.” In many of our Churches around the world, where is this sense of contemplation, this adoration, this astonishment for the mystery of the Eucharist? It is lost because we are living a sort of spiritual Alzheimer’s, a disease that is taking our spiritual, theological, artistic, musical and cultural memories away from us. It has been said that we need to bring the culture of every people into the liturgy. This may be right if correctly understood, but not in the sense that the liturgy (and the music) becomes the place where we have to exalt a secular culture. It is the place where the culture, every culture, is brought to another level and purified.

3. There are groups in the Church that push for a “renewal” that does not reflect Church teaching but rather serves their own agenda, worldview, and interests. These groups have members in key leadership positions from which they put into practice their plans, their idea of culture, and the way we have to deal with contemporary issues. In some countries powerful lobbies have contributed to the de facto replacement of liturgical repertoires faithful to the directives of Vatican II with low-quality repertoires. Thus, we end up with repertoires of new liturgical music of very low standards as regards both the text and the music. This is understandable when we reflect that nothing of lasting worth can come from a lack of training and expertise, especially when people neglect the wise precepts of Church tradition:
On these grounds Gregorian Chant has always been regarded as the supreme model for sacred music, so that it is fully legitimate to lay down the following rule: the more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savor the Gregorian form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple. (St. Pius X, Motu Proprio Tra le Sollecitudini)
Today this “supreme model” is often discarded, if not despised. The entire Magisterium of the Church has reminded us of the importance of adhering to this important model, not as way of limiting creativity but as a foundation on which inspiration can flourish. If we desire that people look for Jesus, we need to prepare the house with the best that the Church can offer. We will not invite people to our house, the Church, to give them a by-product of music and art, when they can find a much better pop music style outside the Church. Liturgy is a limen, a threshold that allows us to step from our daily existence to the worship of the angels: Et ídeo cum Angelis et Archángelis, cum Thronis et Dominatiónibus, cumque omni milítia cæléstis exércitus, hymnum glóriæ tuæ cánimus, sine fine dicéntes...

4. This disdain for Gregorian chant and traditional repertoires is one sign of a much bigger problem, that of disdain for Tradition. Sacrosanctum Concilium teaches that the musical and artistic heritage of the Church should be respected and cherished, because it is the embodiment of centuries of worship and prayer, and an expression of the highest peak of human creativity and spirituality. There was a time when the Church did not run after the latest fashion, but was the maker and arbiter of culture. The lack of commitment to tradition has put the Church and her liturgy on an uncertain and meandering path. The attempted separation of the teaching of Vatican II from previous Church teachings is a dead end, and the only way forward is the hermeneutic of continuity endorsed by Pope Benedict XVI. Recovering the unity, integrity, and harmony of Catholic teaching is the condition for restoring both the liturgy and its music to a noble condition. As Pope Francis taught us in his first encyclical: “Self-knowledge is only possible when we share in a greater memory” (Lumen Fidei 38).

5. Another cause of the decadence of sacred music is clericalism, the abuse of clerical position and status. Clergy who are often poorly educated in the great tradition of sacred music continue to make decisions about personnel and policies that contravene the authentic spirit of the liturgy and the renewal of sacred music repeatedly called for in our times. Often they contradict Vatican II teachings in the name of a supposed “spirit of the Council.” Moreover, especially in countries of ancient Christian heritage, members of the clergy have access to positions that are not available to laity, when there are lay musicians fully capable of offering an equal or superior professional service to the Church.

6. We also see the problem of inadequate (at times, unjust) remuneration of lay musicians. The importance of sacred music in the Catholic liturgy requires that at least some members of the Church in every place be well-educated, well-equipped, and dedicated to serve the People of God in this capacity. Is it not true that we should give to God our best? No one would be surprised or disturbed knowing that doctors need a salary to survive, no one would accept medical treatment from untrained volunteers; priests have their salaries, because they cannot live if they do not eat, and if they do not eat, they will not be able to prepare themselves in theological sciences or to say the Mass with dignity. If we pay florists and cooks who help at parishes, why does it seem so strange that those performing musical activities for the Church would have a right to fair compensation (see Code of Canon Law, can. 231)?

Positive Proposals

It may seem that what we have said is pessimistic, but we maintain the hope that there is a way out of this winter. The following proposals are offered in spiritu humilitatis, with the intention of restoring the dignity of the liturgy and of its music in the Church.

1. As musicians, pastors, scholars, and Catholics who love Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony, so frequently praised and recommended by the Magisterium, we ask for a re-affirmation of this heritage alongside modern sacred compositions in Latin or vernacular languages that take their inspiration from this great tradition; and we ask for concrete steps to promote it everywhere, in every church across the globe, so that all Catholics can sing the praises of God with one voice, one mind and heart, one common culture that transcends all their differences. We also ask for a re-affirmation of the unique importance of the pipe organ for the sacred liturgy, because of its singular capacity to elevate hearts to the Lord and its perfect suitability for supporting the singing of choirs and congregations.

2. It is necessary that the education to good taste in music and liturgy start with children. Often educators without musical training believe that children cannot appreciate the beauty of true art. This is far from the truth. Using a pedagogy that will help them approach the beauty of the liturgy, children will be formed in a way that will fortify their strength, because they will be offered nourishing spiritual bread and not the apparently tasty but unhealthy food of industrial origin (as when “Masses for children” feature pop-inspired music). We notice through personal experience that when children are exposed to these repertoires they come to appreciate them and develop a deeper connection with the Church.

3. If children are to appreciate the beauty of music and art, if they are to understand the importance of the liturgy as fons et culmen [source and apex] of the life of the Church, we must have a strong laity who will follow the Magisterium. We need to give space to well-trained laity in areas that have to do with art and with music.  To be able to serve as a competent liturgical musician or educator requires years of study. This “professional” status must be recognized, respected, and promoted in practical ways. In connection with this point, we sincerely hope that the Church will continue to work against obvious and subtle forms of clericalism, so that laity can make their full contribution in areas where ordination is not a requirement.

4. Higher standards for musical repertoire and skill should be insisted on for cathedrals and basilicas. Bishops in every diocese should hire at least a professional music director and/or an organist who would follow clear directions on how to foster excellent liturgical music in that cathedral or basilica and who would offer a shining example of combining works of the great tradition with appropriate new compositions. We think that a sound principle for this is contained in Sacrosanctum Concilium 23: “There must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.”

5. We suggest that in every basilica and cathedral there be the encouragement of a weekly Mass celebrated in Latin (in either Form of the Roman Rite) so as to maintain the link we have with our liturgical, cultural, artistic, and theological heritage. The fact that many young people today are rediscovering the beauty of Latin in the liturgy is surely a sign of the times, and prompts us to bury the battles of the past and seek a more “catholic” approach that draws upon all the centuries of Catholic worship. With the easy availability of books, booklets, and online resources, it will not be difficult to facilitate the active participation of those who wish to attend liturgies in Latin. Moreover, each parish should be encouraged to have one fully-sung Mass each Sunday.

6. Liturgical and musical training of clergy should be a priority for the Bishops. Clergy have a responsibility to learn and practice their liturgical melodies, since, according to Musicam Sacram and other documents, they should be able to chant the prayers of the liturgy, not merely say the words. In seminaries and at the university, they should come to be familiar with and appreciate the great tradition of sacred music in the Church, in harmony with the Magisterium, and following the sound principle of Matthew 13:52: “Every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”

7. In the past, Catholic publishers played a great role in spreading good examples of sacred music, old and new. Today, the same publishers, even if they belong to dioceses or religious institutions, often spread music that is not right for the liturgy, following only commercial considerations. Many faithful Catholics think that what mainstream publishers offer is in line with the doctrine of the Catholic Church regarding liturgy and music, when it is frequently not so. Catholic publishers should have as their first aim that of educating the faithful in sane Catholic doctrine and good liturgical practices, not that of making money.

8. The formation of liturgists is also fundamental. Just as musicians need to understand the essentials of liturgical history and theology, so too must liturgists be educated in Gregorian chant, polyphony, and the entire musical tradition of the Church, so that they may discern between what is good and what is bad.

Conclusion

In his encyclical Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis reminded us of the way faith binds together past and future:
As a response to a word which preceded it, Abraham’s faith would always be an act of remembrance. Yet this remembrance is not fixed on past events but, as the memory of a promise, it becomes capable of opening up the future, shedding light on the path to be taken. We see how faith, as remembrance of the future, memoria futuri, is thus closely bound up with hope. (LF 9)
This remembrance, this memory, this treasure that is our Catholic tradition is not something of the past alone. It is still a vital force in the present, and will always be a gift of beauty to future generations.  “Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel” (Is 12:5–6).

Saturday, 4 March 2017

"Words and Stuff....." and Maybe, Just Maybe... Silence?

Had a disturbing conversation, someone noticed I had traipsed through the nave with a gaggle of children in tow recently, asked me about it -
I told her, yes, it was partially to point out art and items of interest, and explain the liturgical and catechetical purpose of some of the architecture, but mostly to model behavior; cover my head in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, genuflect when necessary, maintain a reverent silence...
They don't know how to behave, do they....? she commiserated.
And I replied, how could they, most adults don't, the noise level before and after Mass, joking and trading recipes, and making golf plans -
But you must remember, it's a social event, too!
When other people are trying to pray?
But some people, that may be the only time they get out all week...
Now, understand,  our climate, weather and architecture are such that there is an embarrassment of riches for places to chat in comfort.
And I'm not an ogre - I am not condemning the wheelchair bound man who it takes two friends to get in to weekday Mass, or the senile and deaf-as-a-post babushka who shouts to ask, whadja say? at every squeak and sound.
And truth be told, the disabled man isn't among the offenders, he's impeccable - it's the Pick-a-little ladies who are heading to a meeting across the parking lot who are going to see each other all day but must start their kaffee klatsch konvo in the pew, and the wealthy retirees who want to make sure everyone hears their travel brag...
No, the simple fact is, many do not behave with reverence before and after the Liturgy, because the so often Liturgy itself transpires with precious little reverence, much less silence.
Fr Douglas Martis had a wonderful piece in Adoremus a few months ago about silence, different kinds, different dimensions. You should read the whole thing, (his words on the word, "mystery" are something I used in class,) but this descriptive phrase is a keeper -
"Invitation not Interdiction"
Again, something about which to talk with my gaggle of kids on Sunday, (in the classroom, not the nave.)
Silence as gift, not punishment. "A feature, not a bug," as the techie types say.
However -
I question his implication that speed and quiet reverence are a zero sum game, and to this end, (that of striking down such a notion,) I'd like to offer the neologism,
Breverence
Frankly, having assisted at more than one Liturgy conducted by Fr Martis, I would say it is a virtue he himself already posesses.
And finally, wihtout getting into the, "Was Shakespeare a Catholic or not?" fracas, a quote from Much Ado always pops into my mind when Silence in the Liturgy is the subject-
Silence is the perfectest herald of joy- I were but little happy if I could say how much.