Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Saturday, 22 December 2007

The Fragrance of Christ

On my way to a funeral, and thinking about the incense, which I love, and which we don't use enough of, IMO (our parish is really smokin' at funerals, I must say.)
If you don't read Zenit.... well, you should.
I am not sure that fragrance is not also a good metaphor for the intuitive communication that seems to be an attribute of women.
Interview With Biblical Scholar Núria Calduch Benages
By Miriam Díez i Bosch
ROME, DEC. 20, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Jesus Christ, with his words, gestures and works, emanates a fragrance, which a biblical exegete calls the perfume of the Gospel.
Núria Calduch Benages, Old Testament professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University, is the author of "Il Profumo del Vangelo: Gesù Incontra le Donne" (The Perfume of the Gospel: Jesus Encounters Women), published by Paulist Press.
In this interview with ZENIT, the author comments on this fragrance, and on Christ's encounters with women.
Q: What is the perfume of the Gospel?
Calduch: The perfume of the Gospel is nothing other than Jesus Christ: That which emanates from his words, from his gestures, and from his works; a perfume of nard, pure, very expensive -- the fourth evangelist will write later -- whose fragrance filled the whole house at Bethany, where Jesus was found eating with his friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus six days before the Passover.
"The Perfume of the Gospel" presents various encounters of Jesus with women, some of which were characterized by the presence of perfume; an element full of connotations and rich in symbolic significance which, according to the context, permits various interpretations.
Q: What happens when Jesus encounters women?
Calduch: Nothing strange and exceptional, but all his encounters were born from his gratuitous love manifested in his preference for the poor, the little, and people marginalized from society for many reasons. All the women appearing in the book belong, in some way, to that category of society's victims, either because of her sex, because of her illness, because of her work, religion or nationality.
Jesus met the unclean Israelite woman with the hemorrhage, a Canaanite woman from the Greek culture, a public sinner and many other disciples who, once they followed Jesus, had no fear of violating the male-centered system that dominated Israel in the first century.
Jesus openly spoke out in favor of these women and, becoming one with their pain -- physical or spiritual -- brought into being a new trend in humanity.
Q: What symbolic role does perfume or fragrance have in the Gospel?
Calduch: Perfume is a refined liquid used for special and unusual occasions. It is not used like water. Perfume is delicate and costly. We remember the pure nard perfume which filled the house of Mary of Bethany with its fragrance [cf. John 12:3], or the verse about the sinful woman at the feet of Jesus in Simon the Pharisee's house [cf. Luke 7:37-38].
Perfume is not given to just anyone, nor is it wasted pointlessly. It is a present to be given to those people who are especially cherished. So, perfume is the fragrance of gratitude. Perfume symbolizes love's triumph.
Q: Your book has a very interesting end; there is a rough sketch of the figure of Jesus as the "Wisdom of God." What does the wisdom of Jesus have to do with women?
Calduch: The figure of Jesus as Wisdom of God seems appropriate for our agitated world, but it is also a critical counterpoint. His acts continue being acts that our world needs: The blind see, the lame walk, the dead rise, and the invitation to the table of Lady Wisdom is a language every human being of today can understand.
Awareness of life is something we all need, in order to know that life doesn't live us, but that we live life. But it is also certain that we need silence from time to time and, above all, we need to value the mark time leaves, because with time comes all the stored-up and inherited wisdom. Youth is not the only, nor the best, moment to value in life.
Jesus, the Wisdom of God, extends beyond knowledge and information. He invites our lives and not only our minds; our emotions and affections, and not only our rationality; our body and not only the soul, to be saturated with his perfume and his gifts.
Women, in Christ, continue to have the relational capacity of dialoguing with God. And already today this capacity continues being one of the gifts of women.
© Innovative Media, Inc.

Crunch time

Am I the only one who does such things?
But here it is two 1/2 days to Midnight Mass, (yes, yes, I know Mass During the Day, is the pinnacle of the Three Mass Marathon, but logistics and the fact that no one would be there to listen preclude the pre-Liturgy carol-fest, which everyone insists on, including me -- it is a chance fro them to get out of their systems the items that are much beloved but are not going to happen during Mass on my watch.... but I digress,) here is is, etc., and I have not delivered music to the instrumentalists, or indeed even given it much thought, or touched base with them since securing their services months ago.
Crunch time indeed!
DO I have a trumpet part for the Kuykendahl?
Does the flautists know the Herbeck?
Have they all done the Vermulst mass before?
And what key does the Mass of Remembrance Gloria end up in?

And WHY isn't' that one cantor returning my phone calls and am I gonna hafta go medieval on him if he leaves me stranded at the early Mass on Christmas? (or impose on the ever-trusty Himself?)
Anyway, are there no prisons, are there no workhou.....
Erm, wait, no, I mean, God bless us everyone!

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Umm... 3? ....7?

How many Gospels are there?
A sad, but not surprising article about the general ignorance in the putatively Christian country of Ireland, the subjugated counties.

An opinion poll conducted by Millward Brown Ulster on behalf of the Iona Institute and the Evangelical Alliances of Ireland and of Northern Ireland showed that levels of religious knowledge in the North are even lower than in the rest of the Emerald Isle.
The poll is a follow-up to a religious-knowledge poll conducted in the Republic of Ireland in April. This found low levels of basic religious knowledge in the population, especially among young people. This latest poll allows a comparison between levels of religious knowledge in the North and the republic, and between Northern Catholics and Northern Protestants.
The poll finds that levels of religious knowledge among Northern and Southern Catholics are roughly the same. However, in general, levels of religious knowledge among Northern Protestants are lower than among Northern Catholics. Thus Northern Ireland as a whole seems to show lower levels of religious knowledge. In the Republic of Ireland, the population is almost 90% Catholic.
David Quinn of the Iona Institute commented, "As with the poll conducted in the South, we find that levels of religious knowledge in the North are very low, especially among young people. It shows that knowledge of Christianity, both North and South, is disappearing from general knowledge."
The Northern Ireland poll showed that only 42% of respondents can say there are four Gospels (Catholics, 52%; Protestants, 36%). Some 65% of Catholics could name the persons of the Holy Trinity, whereas only 45% of Protestants could.
Protestants were more able to name the first book of the Bible -- 68% got that question right, compared with only 54% of Catholics.
Almost 40% of Catholics could say the First Commandment; only 26% of Protestants could.
The poll also found a marked difference between the levels of knowledge among younger and older age groups.
Just 21% of Northern Ireland respondents aged 16-24 could say there are four Gospels. Some 54% of those over 65 could.
Similarly, only 33% of young respondents could name the persons of the Holy Trinity, whereas 67% of those over 65 could.

Desperately Seeking a Kidney

No, not me.... but plenty of other people.
You don't need both of yours, why not check into GIVING SOMEONE BACK HIS LIFE by offering your spare?
Theoretically, kidneys should be in booming supply. Virtually everyone has two, and healthy individuals can give one away and still lead perfectly normal lives.
Yet people aren’t exactly lining up to give.
At the beginning of 2005, when I put my name on the list, there were about 60,000 people ahead of me; by the end of that year, only 1 in 9 had received one from a relative, spouse or friend.
Today, just under 74,000 people are waiting for kidneys.
I found the article interesting, a bit surprising in how little it mirrored my experience.
A potential donor "needed to talk it over with her husband but thought it would be fine."
(A step I almost forgot until it was insultingly late.)
But then a knowledgeable friend "talked her out of it."
The knowledgeable friend, a transplant surgeon seems merely to have informed her about some of the risks.
The "chance of death [that is so] tiny" the recipient poo-poohs it even as she reports it?
Put it this way.
Imagine something you want or need -- say the amount of money it would take, however many millions, to change your life and the lives of everyone you love, utterly and irrevocably for the better. Now double it, just to make the reward of this step you're about to take really meaningful. Okay? And there it is for the taking, on that table. Oh, one problem... it is attached to a bomb. And there is a chance, one in 5,000, that it will blow up and kill you. So yeah, that means that there is a 4,999 in 5,000 chance everything will be fine.
I don't know how you can call someone else's 1 in five thousand chance of death "tiny," frankly.
Let me say right now, I don't know if that is even an accurate statistic.
And it is certainly one I can call tiny. I'm entitled. But she, frankly, does not have that right.
I am also taken aback at her supposition that no one who is squeamish about blood and pain would step up to the plate.
She doesn't know anyone with a greater aversion to needles than I, or a bigger wuss about pain.

I am not sure how I feel about this:
Altruism is a beautiful virtue, but it has fallen painfully short of its goal. We must be bold and experiment with offering prospective donors other incentives for giving, not necessarily payment but material reward of some kind — perhaps something as simple as offering donors lifelong Medicare coverage. Or maybe Congress should grant waivers so that states can implement their own creative ways of giving something to donors: tax credits, tuition vouchers or a contribution to a giver’s retirement account.
In short, we should reward individuals who relinquish an organ to save a life because doing so would encourage others to do the same. Yes, splendid people like Virginia will always be moved to rescue in the face of suffering, and I did get my kidney. But unless we stop thinking of transplantable kidneys solely as gifts, we will never have enough of them.
Not at all sure...
But the concept of “tyranny of the gift” she goes into fascinates me.
Because what developed is a sort of dread, not of the recipient's gratitude, but of that of one of her relatives. And it is not only I who suffer from it, but Himself.
This was as nearly as close to anonymous as any other altruistic donation could be, didn't know the family before, have only discovered third and fourth degree connections since (everyone in town, but us, is related...) and we have virtually nothing in common.
We meet for dinner once a year, if they remember.
The author is correct about the satisfaction of the donor. I suppose there is a bit of vanity in it -- it fulfilled my expectations of the person I pretend to be.
Anyway, where was I?
Oh, yeah.
Donate your organs.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

So tired....

Obviously I'm approaching all this wrong, or I wouldn't feel like this, and so many plausibly psychosomatic problem would not be plaguing me.... BUT
But, BUT, BUT--
The Berlioz chorus sounds not just not bad, but GOOD. And "Bring a Torch" sounds joyful and confused and perfect. And the psalm (Thank you, thank you, Jeff Ostrowski!,) sounds quite beautiful (I have set some verses polyphonically and in, [my (perhaps mis-)understanding ]of faux-bourdon.) And the Bach chorales sound purposeful and positive. ANd the various Ordinaries, inevitable.

And, best of all, In splendoribus finally sounds like a prayer. And besides that, (I was going to say "beyond that," but it is quite clearly a lesser achievement,) gorgeous. GORGEOUS.

Sometimes, it is just about finding the precisely correct words to convey to the choir what, in your heart, your soul, your brain, you KNOW it should sound like.

But Lawdie, I feel lousy....

Friday, 14 December 2007

The last hurrah...

... of the Regressives?


John Allen has a report on Asbp. PIERO Marini's new book.
I wonder if I can wanglemy way into the CTU presentation?
I'll ask a few people. I'd be very interested.


"No, no, I don't celebrate Christmas, I'm a CHRISTIAN!"


One has to admire the rejection of secular commercialization of a religious commemoration, but....

"I'm pro-life but I'm not part of the pro-life movement"?


Can anyone from Canada, or conversant with matters Canadian explain this to me?

The Unborn Victims of Crime bill, submitted to the Canadian parliament by Conservative Ken Epp, received its first hour of debate in the House of Commons on December 13.
The bill-- which would allow criminal charges to be laid in the death or injury of an unborn child when the child's mother is the victim of a crime-- faced heated opposition, however. Among the leading opponents was Raymond Gravel, a Catholic priest who was given permission to enter politics by Bishop Gilles Lussier of Joliette.?
"I'm a Catholic priest," said Gravel as he began his remarks on the proposed legislation.?Gravel said he was "uncomfortable" with the bill "because the member putting it forward is part of a group called the pro-life group which in my view is a rather extreme fanatical group, when it comes to life." Gravel continued, "I'm pro-life but I'm not part of the pro-life movement in Canada."??
The priest-- who had promised his Bishop before entering politics that he would not take positions that went against the doctrines of the Church-- added, "I also think this bill will open the door to a re-criminalization of women who have abortions, and that's not to be desired."


As CNA reported they would, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Levada has produced a VERY big document.
Because a lot of what passed for, like, evangelization and junk, was kinda, ya know, "centered on feelings or confused ideas about the teachings of the Church on the nature of Jesus."
Ya think?
The fact that prominent Catholics, even prelates, do not wish others to be brought to knowledge of Christ Jesus, and loudly proclaim their opposition to evangelization, limiting missionary efforts to good works, to social work; or decry efforts at true ecumenism, at true unity, in TRUTH, under... was that what gave you the clue?
Anyway, a summary is up on the Vatican website.

How's this for getting to the heart of the matter? --
3. Today there is "a growing confusion" about the Church’s missionary mandate. Some think "that any attempt to convince others on religious matters is a limitation of their freedom," suggesting that it is enough to invite people "to act according to their consciences", or to "become more human or more faithful to their own religion", or "to build communities which strive for justice, freedom, peace and solidarity", without aiming at their conversion to Christ and to the Catholic faith.
Others have argued that conversion to Christ should not be promoted because it is possible for people to be saved without explicit faith in Christ or formal incorporation in the Church. Because "of these problems, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has judged it necessary to public the present Note."

Or this:
10. For Christian evangelization, "the incorporation of new members into the Church is not the expansion of a power-group, but rather entrance into the network of friendship with Christ which connects heaven and earth, different continents and ages." In this sense, then, "the Church is the bearer of the presence of God and thus the instrument of the true humanization of man and the world."

This is simply beautiful:
The communication of truths so that they might be accepted by others is also in harmony with the natural human desire to have others share in one’s own goods, which for Catholics includes the gift of faith in Jesus Christ. Members of the Church naturally desire to share with others the faith that has been freely given to them.

I am reminded of a story I read about, IIRC, Hillenbrand, in which he recoiled when a Jewish friend told of a Catholic mentor who had not tried to convert him.
How can we not want to share this, share Him?

Thursday, 13 December 2007

RIP, Alfons Maria Cardinal Stickler


A great man, and a great friend to the (genuine) progressive * movement in Catholic liturgy.

In paradisum deducant te angeli: in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem

Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere aeternam habeas requiem

*I have set myself a mission -- I am going to rehabilitate certain words co-opted by the Forces of Dimness.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

"Fishers of Men"

You have to see this.
Actually, you've probably seen it, I'm probably the last Catholic in the US to have heard about it. (And all because I was malingering after the funeral this morning, resting and elevating my giant, potato-shaped feet.)
Excellent film, on the vocation to the priesthood.
Stirring, interesting, beautiful.... any admiring adjective you care to insert.
It's like the best recruitment film ever made.
Every Catholic should watch it.
Several times.
We should show it in our schools and parishes. Regularly. Constantly.
I take back everything I ever said.... hold on there, Skippy, don't get carried away -- I take back some of what I've said about the USCCB.


CMAA President Interview

Well, I taped Fr Pacwa's interview with Dr Mahrt, as I was playing for a Mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe, (or "-loopy", as the celebrant pronounced it...,) and when I got home asked Himself if he was interested.
Nah, not really, and it will be over my head
So I sat down to watch and ten minutes later, when Himself had to get ready to turn in, he asked, could you stop it, or else leave the tape out for me to watch tomorrow, that guy's great. He's saying stuff I somehow knew but hadn't expressed, and it's not too technical.
One voice at a time... (I would have said "one heart," but that's that drippy theme song [from an excellent program,] on Relevant Radio. And besides, it's voices that need to be won, lex cantandi, lex.... and all that)

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Always wanted to be a Mom...

I admit, I sometimes think of Himself's conversion as the only motherhood I shall ever experience.
But here, via Zenit:

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 11, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican Congregation for the Clergy is looking for people willing to offer Eucharistic adoration for the priesthood and "consecrated feminine souls" ready to become spiritual mothers of priests.
A new Web site from that Vatican dicastery offers explanations and resources both for the campaign to begin Eucharistic adoration and for those who would like to be spiritual mothers of priests, following the example of the Virgin Mary.


So, not enough priests? And you haven't a son to "give" to Holy Mother Church?
Adopt one!
Stop complaining, and start sending up prayers!

When do you lofty types receive the Blessed Sacrament?

Obviously, the configuration of every church is different, and timing differs from day to day, season to season, even from Mass to Mass on the same day.
When I was a child, and a college student in another place (another lifetime, it sometimes seems,) we trekked down the stair right after singing the Lamb of God, (or even!!!! the Agnus Dei!!!) and were, in effect, the head of the line. This was so at several different parishes.
My recollection is from the Age of Standing for Communion, but I think it was so in the kneeling days as well.
At my first job, we were not in a loft, but the pattern held. Choir "went first" in silence, then began to sing, whether a piece particular to them, or in leading congregational singing.
(What I can't recall in all this is when Unnecessary Ministers of Holy Communion came into the picture. They seem always to have been there, but obviously, this is not so.)
At my present parish we are up three flights, for all intents and purposes, and an EM, (UM,) or two , or occasionally a deacon, or VERY rarely, a priest makes the ascent. (That person is called a "runner.") We have a number of EMs in the choir, and often one will meet the runner, receive, and then become the minister of one species.
The current trend among liturgisti is that singing must commence as the priest makes his communion. No silence until the musicians are ready, no instrumental music to "tide us over."
Naturally, between the stairs and the church which is nearly a city block long, we do not receive very near the beginning of communion.
When I began my tenure, I had the choir sing their anthem or proper first, then the cantor downstairs would announce the PIP hymn, which would often time out to begin just as the choir was starting to receive.
If things worked out very well I was "head of the line" and receiving as the announcement was made. Sometimes I would forgo the Precious Blood in order to get back to the bench.
Sometime, we would be well into the congregational piece and I would receive when it was over.
Sometimes, the PIP piece would be on going, (and more verses obviously needed, the lines downstairs still reaching the back of the church,) and I would receive while playing.
But many of the most requested contemporary pieces, not because of their difficulty so much as their nonsensical arrangement, do not allow me to spare a hand or even my gaze in order to receive, so I either had to stop the piece or wave the EM off.
In any case, I was never able to devote the attention to receipt of the Body and Blood that He deserved.
Sometimes, we were not quite finished with our piece, and although he claimed not to mind, the deacon, ( whether upstairs with us, or in the sanctuary playing "wine steward,") would be visibly steamed.
Some choir members, despite my requests, would stop singing, even a complicated piece of polyphony and dash to the side of the loft the minute the EM came in sight. Some did this because of a reverence that would not allow them to keep Him waiting. Other because they wanted to either receive from the chalice first or not at all.
Now, for an expectedly long Liturgy, say, Christmas, when a longer choir piece might reasonably be programmed, the "runner" would still likely arrive right in the middle of the entire communion time, meaning the longer than usual piece fit in neither before nor after the choir's receipt of communion.
And of course, a storm could mean that numbers downstairs were so small and numbers upstairs so great, that even without singing a choir piece, hence no waiting for the EM, he or she would return to the sanctuary well after communion was over for everyone else.
Then there came an insistence from TPTB that the congregation was to sing at the very beginning of communion.
Never mind if the choir were singing the actual proper or a very good approximation of it, and the piece we sang with congregation was a barely-better-than-random "communion song," from the meager offerings of Gather.
The latter took precedence over the former.
Strangely, the insistence came from someone who rarely attends a choir Mass, and probably had little idea of the week in and week out realities of how things timed out, but would be basing the decision on Holy Thursday, the Paschal Vigil and Midnight at Christmas.
What began to happen then was that the congregational communion song would run out just about when the choir had the opportunity to receive.
So, should I receive? have a time, or will there be excessive (and verboten,) silence? should I improvise endlessly as an introduction to what we would sing? are enough sopranos back in position to begin? have the tenor picked up their octavos or hymnals yet? have the EMs finished with the choir members with canes who can't get to their station by the door? are jaws still working, have the basses swallowed yet?
And then, looking downstairs -- is the communion procession over for all intents and purposes.
And of course much of this hinges on the ambulatory powers of the EM, some of whom arrive a good while before others would. This is not something that can be planned for.
On "big" feasts, the crowd, (extra instrumentalists, choirs from other parishes in the cluster, relatives who've begged a good seat,) make it impossible for the EM to get to, or sometimes even to see who has not yet received, and they abandon us; but that is a different problem altogether. The configuration of the loft, platforms, risers, console, shelves and pillars is awkward, to put it mildly, and I am not able to change it.
It's a royal mess.
Our bishop, or the liturgista who speaks for him, has requested that "post-communion" pieces be done rarely, if ever, so the obvious solution to some of this is out.
All this has made it difficult for me personally, to quote P the B, one of the P that B, "to enter prayerfully into the Liturgy."
I simply cannot devote the attention to receiving my Lord that such an action deserves.
On non-choir weekends, I simply go down to the sacristy after one of the Masses and ask a priest or EM to give me communion.
Several weeks ago I decided I would just do that all year long.
It "feels" odd, but feelings are not really germane.
Anyway, it certainly "feels" better than scrambling to receive with one eye on the organ, one on the procession downstairs, and virtually no attention to spare for Our Lord.
(I know some of the Liturgy Nazis work themselves up into a froth at the very idea of receiving outside of Mass.... tant pis.)
Of course, this way I never can receive the Precious Blood.
I am not really sure about all this....
And I appreciate that when I make this request of the deacon, he always, at least during the flu season, washes his hands after having pressed the flesh at the door.
This past week, while he was going to do so, the celebrant returned from hugging and shaking (among other things,) and he, who never washes his hands, went to the tabernacle for me.
Somehow, nearly a dozen Hosts fell to the floor (I can't figure why, he did nothing sloppily or abruptly and the ciborium was not that full.)
I helped pick them up (my eyesight is better than his,) and offered to consume them, so I guess deep down I'm not as fanatical about things as my hand-washing concerns might indicate...
(He refused my offer, incidentally.)
Odd weekend, all in all.
Should I just not take Communion so often?

Dr Mahrt on EWTN

Also from TNLM -
I am fairly sure that my readership, whihc must number 2 or even 3 by now (how it is growing!) all read TNLM, but just in case not, you will want to watch one of the heroes of the contemporary Catholic Church in America on television:

Wednesday, December 12
CMAA President, Wiliam Mahrt,
Speaks on Sacred Music and Liturgy
on EWTN Live TV and Radio.
He will be on the "EWTN Live" show with host Fr. Mitch Pacwa at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time/7:00 p.m. Central (also several re-runs, check your listings.)

Watch! Tape! Tivo! Get your pastor and choir to watch!

New Liturgical Movement

It looks as if comments are closed over there, completely.
I though conversation of late was very edifying, and nothing seemed in danger of veering off course, so I can't believe it wasfound necessary to moderate it for... well, being immoderate.
Hopefully just a temporary glitch.
The have a link to a striking new piece by vaticanista Sandro Magister, on the forces of rupture (the Herniators?) and their response to the champion of continuity, our own Papa Ratz. which is must reading.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Article on Abp. Marini's Book


John Thavis, in what is, for all intents and purposes, the USCCB's newsletter, presenting their take on HOW THINGS ARE, gets it wrong in the very first sentence:
In a new book, a Vatican archbishop has chronicled the birth pangs of the liturgical reform generated by the Second Vatican Council and warned of a Roman Curia tendency to return to a "preconciliar mindset."

Birth pangs, indeed!
What can you expect of those who mistake a sullen and wayward adolescence for infancy?

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Good discussion on S to the L

Between health problems and an insane schedule, I have had time to read and form an opinion of the guidelines, Sing to the Lord, but not to blog on it.
Let me direct anyone reading this to two worthy on-going discussions.



Meanwhile, anyone reading this, prayers would be appreciated. (Nothing serious at risk, just my sanity....)

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Starting Playing Dress-up

NCR (yes, yes, it is as confusing as the "good" cholesterol, bad cholesterol thang... but this is the BAD one, or perhaps merely the silly one,) titles their lead editorial, "Finished Playing by the Rules," although my title would be better, don't you think?
And without a touch of irony a "Catholic" periodical gives us profiles of 5 women "Catholic" priests.


Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Why don't your Aunt Susie keep ducks?

That was my late Grandma's retort to any question she thought idiotic, impertinent, irrelevant or otherwise unworthy of answer.
It flashed across my mind when one of my crankier, less faithful choir members took exception to the news that we would always be singing at the same Mass from now on.
No, I have no intention of directing and (singing with, and sometimes carrying the high notes for) a choir without some contiguous preparation, and no, I have no intention of rehearsing a choir at 7:15 am.
This extra rehearsal business for Christmas is wearing me down.... I don't mind it, indeed I planned it, but it is not as fruitful as it could be, and attendance makes me question my liberal policy in that regard.
On the other hand, a dear soprano who has been deathly ill was well enough to come and sing with us this evening, so Alleluia!
Pueri Concinite is going well (will I have enough voice in 3 weeks to carry it off?) and the Berlioz Shepherds' Farewell is going to be a keeper for us.
Yes, those chromatic harmonies are difficult, (and there was some whining,) but no harder than the Rutter What Sweeter Music? we did last Christmas, whihc they all ended up loving and being very proud of..
I cannot go along with the (to me, spoil sport,) attitude toward the tradition so many places (here included,) of a concert of sacred and religious Christmas music as a prelude to Midnight Mass. It is a lovely custom.
I have written some 4 part verses (some faux bourdon, one polyphonic,) for the Chabanel psalm for Midnight Mass (God save Jeff Ostrowski!) that sound not too bad.
Mr. Webb's Hail Jesu Christ, Born for Aye, which we started on, but just couldn't quite "get" last year is going to fall into place juuuuust fine this time 'round.
A few old favorites, of course. And, truth to tell, probably a few old... what's the opposite of favorite?
There are certain customs that I just can't buck successfully, so there will probably be at least one wretched song, and one wretched arrangement of a marvelous song, and who knows, maybe even a wretched rendition of a wretched arrangement of a wretched song...
And certain members will of course fight me yet again on the In Splendoribus.
Interesting teachable moment, last week working on on of the Advent Introits at choir rehearsal, (to a simple psalm tone.)
An indignant, "You mean we're not going to sing a hymn??!?" (where were they all of last Advent? or this past Lent, for that matter? but never mind...) allowed me to explain to yet a few more people the way poor substitutes have been allowed to usurp the place of what the Church actually asks for, and the providing of which we are in a position to implement.
But GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD, it's tiring, it's like pulling teeth sometimes, and it's wearing me down and I'm losing my voice and I can neither bend nor fully straighten out my legs thanks to the swelling from the eczema and...
What can I say?
I'm feeling put-upon and unappreciated and holding a pity party. (And I think it'll be a good party, with cocktails :-P)

Diagnosed to Die: Hospice Extends to Babies


Beautiful, beautiful article on families who refuse to capitulate to the Culture of Expediency, the Culture of Death.
A story of modern day saints....
Doctors told Mary Kellett that her son Peter was not worth the resources it would take to treat the chromosomal abnormality they detected before his birth."Wrap him up in a blanket and let him go," they advised. But Peter's older sister discovered on the Internet that not all babies with trisomy 18 -- the condition affecting her little brother -- died before birth. In fact, she found out, some live two or three decades.
Peter's family did not want to abort him. Mary Kellett said the strong discouragement to treat Peter "was and remains the most painful feeling I have ever felt as a mother. ...

The organization she founded: http://www.prenatalpartnersforlife.org/
Prenatal diagnoses of illness are more and more common. And yet, even advanced medical technology can fail. The ANSA news agency reported from Florence in March that a healthy fetus was "mistakenly aborted." The baby boy was diagnosed in the womb with a defective esophagus. The mother chose to abort, and the procedure was performed at the 22nd week of pregnancy. However, during the abortion, the doctors realized the baby, who weighed just 1.1 pounds, was healthy, so they quickly moved to resuscitate the child. The boy died five days later from a brain hemorrhage incurred during the abortion.

(Explain to me again why abortion isn't murder?)

[Dr. Byron Calhoun, vice chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at West Virginia University-Charleston] acknowledged that "there is tremendous pressure by physicians, genetic counselors, and family members to perform abortions."
But, he says, "much of this stems from ignorance of hospice and the mistaken thought this will help the patients. Malpractice is part of the issue, but the majority of the issue is to 'do something' and to 'get it over with.' This approach does not work and actually traumatizes patients more."
The doctor lamented that many physicians and organizations are not aware of perinatal hospice and are often ill-equipped to deal with all the issues necessary to care for these patients and their families.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

You be the judge....

Is this material anti-Catholic?


Thank you to Catholic and Loving It's James Pearce for culling the money quotes from the apparently well written and engaging muck.

There's a lot of ascii being spilled across the world debating the question: "Are Pullman's books anti-Catholic?" A lady at Church recently told me she had read the first one and wasn't sure they were (she said it was too dull to read the other two). Personally, I'm really suprised this is even a question.
I read the whole trilogy just over a year ago and the best way to explain it is like this, imagine if somebody wrote a book set in a parallel world where the Prime Minister of Britain Adolf Hitler heroically saved the freedom loving Nazi's from an evil global Jewish conspiracy. Such a book, fiction or not, would be a tad offensive. Nobody would say "It's just a story", especially if a rift were opened between said parallel world and our own.
In the first book, the one being released as a film, the anti-Catholicism is subtle. The bad guys are called "the magisterium" and they have "priests" but it could be a coincidence. Couldn't it?
By the beginning of The Subtle Knife, things are becomming a bit more obvious. When a rift opens between Lyra's world and our own, Ruta Skadi, queen of the witches tell us...
"Sisters," she began, "let me tell you what is happening, and who it is that we must fight. For there is a war coming. I don't know who will join us but I know who we should fight. It is the Magisterium, the church. For all it's history - and that's not long by our lives, but it's many, many of theirs - it's tried to suppress and control every natural impulse. And when it can't control them, it cuts them out. Some of you have seen what they did at Bolvangar. And that was horrible, but it is only one such place, not the only such practice. Sisters, you know only the north: I have travelled in the south lands. There are churches there, believe me, that cut their children too, as the horrible people of Bolvangar did - not in the same way, but just as horribly - they cut their sexual organs, yes, both boys and girls - they cut them with knives so that they shan't feel. That is what the Church does, and every church is the same: control, destroy, obliterate every good feeling. So if a war comes, and the church is on one side of it, we must be on the other, no matter what strange allies we find ourselves bound to.
Thats right, the Church is the enemy of freedom and sexual organs. Lyra befriends a chap called Will from our world who finds an object called the Subtle Knife that can be used to travel from parallel world to parallel world.
Now Pullman goes all Screwtape on us. First he tells us about the fall...
There is a war coming, boy. The greatest war there ever was. Something like it happened before, and this time the right side must win... We've had nothing but lies and propaganda and cruelty and deceit for all the thousands of years of human history. It's time we started again, but properly this time..."He stopped to take in several rattling breaths."The knife," he went on after a minute; "they never knew what they were making, those old philosophers. They invented a device that could split open the smallest particles of matter, and they used it to steal candy. They had no idea that they'd made the one weapon in all the universes that could defeat the tyrant. The Authority. God. The rebel angels fell because they didn't have anything like the knife; but now..."
God was a tyrant you see. Then he tells him about the two sides in the war between good (mankind) and evil (the aforementioned tyrant)...
"There are two great powers," the man said, "and they've been fighting since time began. Every advance in human life, every scrap of knowledge and wisdom and decency we have has been torn by one side from the teeth of the other. Every little increase in human freedom has been faught over ferociously between those who want us to know more and be wiser and stronger, and those who want us to obey and be humble and submit.
Next, Screwtape (I mean Pullman) tells us about how God didn't create us and just deceived us all...
"Tell me, then," said Will. "Tell me about the Metatron, and what the secret is. Why did that angel call him Reagent. And what is the Authority. Is he God?"He sat down, and the two angels, their forms clearer in the moonlight than he had ever seen them before, sat with him.Balthamos said quietly, "The Authority, God, the Creator, the Lord, Yahweh, El, Adonai, the King, the Father, the Almighty - those were all names he gave himself. He was never the creator. He was an angel like ourselves - the first angel, true, the most powerful, but he was formed of Dust as we are, and Dust is only a name for what happens when matter begins to understand itself. Matter loves matter. It seeks to know more about itself, and Dust is formed. The first angels condensed out of Dust, and the Authority was the first of all. He told those who came after him that he had created them, but it was a lie. One of those who came later was wiser than he was, and she found out the truth, so he banished her. We serve her still. And the Authority still reigns in his kingdom and the Metatron is his Reagent.
God, by the way, is getting on a bit...
"Well, where is God," said Mrs Coulter, "if he's alive? And why doesn't he speak any more? At the beginning of the world, God walked in the garden and spoke with Adam and Eve. Then he began to withdraw, and Moses only heard his voice. Later, in the time of Daniel, he was aged - he was the Ancient of Days. Where is he now? Is he still alive, at some inconceivable age, decrepit and demented, unable to think or act or speak and unable to die, a rotten hulk? And if that is his condition, wouldn't it be the most merciful thing, the truest proof of our love of God, to seek him out and give him the gift of death?"
Maybe we should euthanise God?
First, we need to profoundly misunderstand what "Spirit" and "Soul" means...
"You know," Mary said, "the church - the Catholic Church that I used to belong to - wouldn't use the word dæmon, but St Paul talks about spirit and soul and body. So the idea of three parts in human nature isn't so strange"."But the best part is the body," Will said. "That's what Baruch and Balthamos told me. Angels wish they had bodies. They told me that angels can't understand why we don't enjoy the world more. It would be a sort of ecstasy for them to have our flesh and our senses.
Now we can get on with killing God. How do we go about doing that? Well how the fall happen last time? Remember the Garden of Eden? For maximum offense let's have somebody called Mary (you know, the one who says "Yes" to God and tramples the serpent underfoot) play the part of the serpent. Mary tempts Will and Lyra...
"I used to be a nun, you see. I thought physics could be done to the glory of God, till I saw there wasn't any God at all and that physics was more interesting anyway. The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that's all.""When did you stop being a nun?" said Lyra"I remember it exactly," Mary said, "even to the time of day. Because I was good at physics, they let me keep up my university career, you see, and I finished my doctorate and I was going to teach. It wasn't one of those orders where they shut you away from the world. In fact we didn't even wear the habit; we just had to dress soberly and wear a crucifix. So I was going in to university to teach and to do research into particle physics.
"Anyway, some of my colleagues were going to a restaurant a little way down the coast, and they asked if I'd like to go. [...] Well, sitting opposite was a man I'd seen once or twice around the conference. I didn't know him to speak to; he was Italian, and he'd done some work that people were talking about and I thought it would be interesting to hear about it [...] He was handsome," she went on "He wasn't a ladies man or a charmer. If he had been, I'd have been shy, I wouldn't have known how to talk to him. But he was nice and clever and funny and it was the easiest thing in the world to sit there in the lantern light under the lemon tree with the scent of the flowers and the grilled food and the wine, and talk and laugh and feel pretty. Sister Mary Malone, flirting! What about my vows? What about dedicating my life to Jesus and all that?"Well I don't know if it was the wine or my own sillyness or the warm air or the lemon tree, or whatever... But it gradually seemed to me that I'd made myself believe something that wasn't true. I'd made myself believe that I was fine and happy and fulfilled on my own without the love of anyone else. Being in love was like China: you knew it was there, and no doubt it was very interesting, and some people went there, but I never would. I'd spend all my life without ever going to China, but it wouldn't matter, because there was all the rest of the world to visit.
I suddenly realised I had been to China. So to speak. And I'd forgotten it.
I was twelve years old. I was at a party at the house of one of my friends, a birthday party, and there was a disco [...] Usually girls dance together because the boys are to shy to ask them. But this boy - I didn't know him - he asked me to dance, and so we had the first dance and then the next and by that time we were talking... And you know what it is when you like someone, you know it all at once; well, I liked him such a lot.
As Mary said that, Lyra felt something strange happen to her body. She felt a stirring in the roots of her hair: she found herself breathing faster. She had never been on a roller-coaster, or anything like one, but if she had she would have recognised the sensations in her breast: they were exciting and frightening at the same time, and she had not the slightest idea why. The sensation continued, and deepened, and changed, as more parts of her body found themselves affected too. [...] She sat trembling, hugging her knees, hardly daring to breathe, as Mary went on:"And I
think it was at that party, or it might have been at another one, that we kissed each other for the first time. It was in a garden, and there was the sound of music from inside, and the quiet and the cool among the trees, and I was aching - all my body was aching for him, and I could tell he felt the same - and we were both almost too shy to move. Almost. But one of us did and then without any interval between - it was like a quantum leap, suddenly we were kissing each other and oh, it was more than china, it was paraside.
I thought: I want to go to China. It's full of treasures and strangeness and mysteries and job. I thought, will anybody be better off if I go straight back to my hotel and say my prayer and confess to the priest and promise never to fall into temptation again? Will anyone be better for making me miserable?"And the answer came back - no. No one will. There's no one to fret, no one to condemn, no one to bless me for being a good girl, no one to punish me for being wicked. Heaven was empty. I didn't know whether God had died, or whether there never had been a God at all.
I took the crucifix from around my neck and I threw it in the sea. That was it. All over. Gone."So that was how I stopped being a nun," she said.
Lyra is 11 years old by the way, and this is a book for children. Lyra decides to act on Mary's wisdom...
Then Lyra took one of those little red fruits. With a fast-beating heart, she turned to him and said, "Will..."And she lifted the fruit gently to his mouth.She could see from his eyes that he knew at once what she meant, and he was too joyful to speak. Her fingers were still at his lips, and he felt them tremble, and he put his own hand up to hold hers there, and neither of them could look; they were confused; they were brimming with happiness.Like two moths clumsily bumping together, with no more weight than that, their lips touched. Then before they knew how it happened, they were clinging together, blindly pressing their faces towards each other."Like Mary said -", he whispered - "you know straight away when you like someone - when you were asleep, on the mountain, before she took took you away, I told Pan - ""I heard," she whispered, "I was awake and I wanted to tell you the same and now I know what I must hav felt all the time: I love you, Will, I love you -"The word love set his nerves ablaze. All his body thrilled with it, and he answered her in the same words, kissing her hot face over and over again, drinking in with adoration the scent of her body and her warm honey-fragrant hair and her sweet moist mouth that tasted of the little red fruit.
It does the trick. Will and Lyra's love for one another (which wasn't real love until they got physical) saves the world by creating a load of that Dust stuff. God can't stand it and dies.

Friday, 30 November 2007

The Detecting Singer

I look like a leper. (Bad time to be emulating the hopefuls at a casting call Dennis Potter mini-series.)
This is my first day all week without at least two rehearsals and/or services.
I'm exhausted, I'm losing my voice and I'm tired of explaining my medical condition to people when we need to be working on entrances. (I'm kind of liking the wrist bandages I've made from old sweat socks, and even after the eczema clears up, I may continue wearing them as a fashion statement... :oP )
I don't know how any of this is going to turn out.
Can't we change the date of Christmas this year??!?%?#?
I really was recharged by the visit to the lake.

Ah-ooooooooooooooo! werewolf of Milford...

A Waste of a Tree


Sing to the Lord , now available on the USCCB site.
Eighty seven pages of the sometimes painfully obvious, and sadly, of the already prescribed but ignored and neglected.
Are there no editors? Are there no restrainst? (Are there no prisons, are there no workhouses?)
And, it's all basically irrelevant since it's merely "guidelines."
Ah well, onward and upward.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

The Protocols of the Elders of Rome

Snopes, I find pretty reliable.


A forwarded mass email regarding Golden Compass inspired some acrimony in my family, with one person offering another a thousand bucks if he had actually read the books or seen the movie about which he was complaining, and thinking that proved he was narrow-minded.
And no, I have not read them, either.
But that is a ridiculous standard -- we all rely on the empirical knowledge of others, whom we, empirically, have come to trust.
The stock market went up xxx points today --- oh, do you know it did? were you on the floor of the exchange? better yet, did you run around to the headquarters of and speak to the CFO of every big board company, find out how they were doing and do the math yourself?
Of course not.
So I'm pretty happy to take Snopes word for something.
And I think there is something evil and dangerous in the books.
And I agree with the blogger who said if Judaism or Buddhism were slandered and parodies in this manner a studio would never touch the property.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

New and Noteworthy Discussion Group

The CMAA fora are open for business, and promise to be a source of information, interest and, dare I admit?.... consolation. (Because, yeah, it gets lonely...)


So go register, and contribute to the conversation.


Wednesday, 21 November 2007

So far...

...so good, a marvelous visit, and NOTHING going according to plan.
Had to give up the notion of Mass at one of the notable R2 parishes, must less the EF parish in one of the Oranges.
One of the pleasure of an enormous family - trips to the NJ/NY area are always filled with too much to do, and too many people to see to leave any time for individual concerns.
The session at Dempsey's was swell. And a first for me, I'm sporting swag from a promotion, a liquor promotion (yes, I drank plenty of swag last night...)
That's okay, I'm glad to be a walking billboard for the Big Fella.

So here, a little plug, or two -- try Dempsey's NYC, 2nd Ave between 4th and 3rd St, preferably when a session is in session.
And have a shot of Michael Collins.

Now that NYC is smoke free, the pubs are fantastic, and the smell of wood floors soaked with decades for ale and whisky is magical, Himself and I found ourselves transported to the cliffs of Moher, and that fantastic place with the bacon and cabbage and Guinness stew, and to Clonmacnoise and to the pub in Dublin where we saw Purgatory, and to any number sites of honeymoon memories. (Necessary pledge: we will get back there, H., we WILL. And I won't make you carry my luggage.)

I think P. has found quite a nice life for herself, really very nice indeed. You could do worse than spending all your free time fiddling and hanging with those people.
Just as I have found greater joy in my post-professional theatrical life, I wonder, if my involvement with liturgical music were along the same lines as hers with Irish Traditional, it would not be better, in the long run, for my spiritual life, not to mention, my blood pressure, and maybe, even, for my parish...
Something to think about.

And the next generation is going to be all right, Joe and Rose done good, and their offspring continue the tradition - one of the comrades last night, Himself and I were setting eyes on for the first time since she was a spoiled toddler jabbing the family's kindly and long-suffering hound with a pencil.
She is a charming, interesting, incredibly mature adult of eleven now.

The only downside of all this, I am going to return home having caught up on NONE of the sleep deficit incurred between Patent Leather Shoes and the Festival Chorus, (not to mention kitchen remodling, the Scelati, church schedule changes, and preparing for Christ the King,) and plunge right into extra Christmas rehearsals, two Christmas "shows" for small groups, granite countertops...

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Our Lady of the Ill-Behaved

Himself and I once, planning to attend the local LCM* only to discover it had been canceled due to a parish festival, found ourselves in East Chicago, in a parish we have since referred to as "the Church of the Ill-Behaved," and both vowed never to darken its doors again.
(Shortly thereafter, that became very unlikely, for obvious reasons... the Saturday after Thanksgiving I will have my first sub for weekend Mass since summer of 2006, and will actually miss one, [since I was running in and out of that one,] for the first time since February of that year, and only the second in the last four years.)
Anyway, after Mass today, Himself turned to me and said, that's a first.... huh?
I glanced down, and sure enough, there was a kid, 9 or 10 y.o., with wheelies, apparently trying to decide between hardwood, terrazzo and marble for a home renovation she was contemplating, and testing them all, under the approving, or at least noncommittal gaze of her parental units.
Boorishness has grown to interesting proportions.
Is Catholicism becoming a network of sacramental service station for the essentially unchurched?
We are changing the Mass schedule, it is very sad and is going to cause some real hostility, but it is necessary.
Many reasons, demographics, etc., but I offer that one with a powerful impact is that the attitudes, of far too many who do attend, naturally informs their behavior, a behavior that trivializes the Liturgy and the space in which it is celebrated; a behavior that inarguably telegraphs to the young, to the seeker, to the fence sitter, that what we're doing just ain't all that important.

*Last Chance Mass

Friday, 16 November 2007

Honey Crisps....

Oh my, oh my, apple of my eye, where have you been all my life?
A former colleague of Himself's (weirdly they worked together on a project that both he and I were connected with and performed in, long before we knew each other, in entirely different parts of the country, and his in DT and I, though the production was professional, in an academic setting.... yes, and with some of the same horrible walking cliches of obnoxious show-biz types. ButIDigress.)
A former colleague came bearing gifts, and the Honey Crisp apple is one of the most delightful foods I have ever encountered -- if you see'em in your local market, TRY them.
I sahll have to look for them in this part of the country, (Himself is a Granny Smith man....)

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Hating Children

I've read sociologists or trend-spotters (is there always a difference?) that at the very time part of American society was idolizing children, building lives and schedules around them (though not necessarily for them,) dressing them up like miniature idealized selves, etc.; another part was rejecting them outright, endorsing their murder in the womb as a basic human right, producing novels and movies in which perfect, pale innocence was a mask for the demonic... and of course, these two segments of society were not mutually exclusive.
Where does the moral superiority lie between murdering your unborn child so that he will not impinge on your life-style, and murdering your 10 year old so that you will need to find food for one less mouth?


Accusing and abusing children for being "witches" is a growing problem in some parts of Africa - not one those in our society who still cling to the noble savage myth, now morphed into the all-faith-systems-are-equal axiom, or the "if only we could be as genuine and pure as the people of the third world platform", will want to acknowledge.

We all fell in the Fall...

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

"Sing to the Lord"

Now word on the street, (or rather, in the blogosphere,) is that I was correct, it was not withdrawn, the vote was delayed.
And that it passed.
And that it is not good.
Or that it is good.
I am curious to read it, (and I admit, envious of those, like Chironomo, in a thread below, who tell me they have read it.)
Well, it won't change my situation.
I'll need to find a refuge, eventually. And I shall find one.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

More on the New Translation of the Missal

... via Zenit.org

An excellent explication why the words we might "naturally" use to to say something aren't necessarily the most appropriate in Liturgy, among other good point.

A Richer Liturgical Translation: Interview With Bishop Roche
LEEDS, England, NOV. 13, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The English translation of the 2002 Roman Missal in Latin will be an opportunity for the faithful to discover the great theological richness of the text, according to the bishop in charge of the translation process.
Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds, chairman of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), announced Nov. 1 that the draft phase of the process to translate the 2002 Roman Missal from Latin to English has been completed.
He reported that the last installment -- the appendices -- of the draft version of the English translation was sent to the bishops of the commission's 11 member conferences.
In this interview with ZENIT, the bishop comments on the five-year process of translating the sacred liturgy, and how he thinks this translation will serve as an opportunity for catechesis.
Q: Can you describe the process of translation from the original text in Latin? How many editors and translators have worked on the text sent out now to the bishops?
Bishop Roche: It is quite a long process and very thorough as it involves a wide number of people. For example, each text is translated initially by a base translator, who has the "nihil obstat" of the Holy See. This version is seen by three or four revisors, who send their comments to the secretariat of ICEL, where a revised version is prepared that takes these comments into account.
This revised version then goes before an editorial committee composed of six people, the majority of whom are bishops. They further revise the text and propose a version for submission to the 11 bishops of the commission. When the commission meets it discusses the text, amends it if necessary, and then sends it out as a draft version in a Green Book to all the bishops of ICEL's member conferences.
These bishops consult whom they wish, and send their comments to the secretariat; local liturgical commissions often assist in this process by making a provisional collation of the comments.By this time the text has been seen by a great number of people. The commission then reviews the text once again in the light of comments received, and either sends out another Green Book for further consultation, or issues a Gray Book, which contains its final version.
It is at this point that the bishops take a canonical vote on the text and forward it to Rome for the "recognitio" by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
Q: In translations, a decision often has to be made between translating exact words and translating concepts (formal equivalence versus dynamic equivalence). In translating the liturgy, how is that decision made, and what are the implications for bad liturgical translations?
Bishop Roche: The terms "formal equivalence" and "dynamic equivalence" are outmoded these days. They have been abandoned by their originator, Eugene Nida, who considered that his theories had been misunderstood and abused. Translation theory has moved on since the 1960s.
Language conveys not only facts and concepts but also images and feelings. We use words not only to say things but also to do things. These considerations are clearly important for the translation of the liturgy.
Just a quick example. There are various ways in which one can ask a person to close a door: "Shut the door"; "Shut the door, please"; "Would you mind closing the door, please?" Which, if any, of the courteous forms is appropriate for the liturgy?
The prayers of the Roman rite do not order God around, they respectfully request and plead. Nor do they tell God who he is, they acknowledge his greatness and his power, his love and his compassion and generosity.

Q: Other than the problem of literal-versus-conceptual translation, what is the main difficulty in translating Latin texts into the vernacular?
Bishop Roche: Latin shows the function of a word by means of its ending, English by its place in the sentence. In Latin, word order often expresses emphasis. English has to try to convey this, but has fewer means for doing so.
In some cases, Latin has many words for a concept for which English has few -- for example, "love." Sometimes, the reverse is true.

Q: Can you comment on some of the principal differences between the translation of the 2002 Roman Missal, and that of the one translated more than 30 years ago?
Bishop Roche: When the present English missal was published back in the 1970s, it was readily accepted by the bishops of the day that the translation would need to be revisited, because the translation had been done speedily in order to supply an English text, as quickly as possible, for the revised liturgy.
The new English translation of the now third edition of the Latin "Missale Romanum" will be a fuller and therefore a more faithful translation. We have endeavored to ensure a nobility of language as well as faithfulness to the Latin words and to the origins of the prayers themselves. A great deal more time and expertise, from a very wide range of scholars as well as bishops, has been employed producing the new translation.
So, for example, the new English texts will show more clearly the relationship between the liturgical texts and their scriptural origins. Let me give you an example in order to demonstrate this as well as the painstaking scholarship that goes into the translation of a text.
Sometimes at Mass we hear the priest greet us with these words: "The grace and peace of God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, be with you all." ICEL is proposing this: "Grace to you and peace from God, Our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
Some will wonder "why make such a trivial change, what difference does it make?" Well, that greeting, "Grace to you and peace from God, Our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ," comes eight times in those exact words, in the letters of St. Paul. Outside the writings of St. Paul in the New Testament, the phrase, "Grace to you and peace," occurs in the First and Second letters of St. Peter and in the Book of Revelation. It is a slightly odd form, "Grace to you and peace from God," with the two nouns, "grace" and "peace," and the "to you" between them.
Wouldn't it be more natural to say, "Grace and peace to you?" I think it probably would be. But the fact that it occurs so often in the New Testament, no less than 11 times, suggests that that distinctive form of words has been a greeting among the Christian people from the very earliest times.
And you know the way it is sometimes, when you greet somebody or somebody greets you, the way they greet you tells you what sort of person they are, where they come from, from where they belong. Sometimes it's a secret sign, maybe a handshake or a wink. Or it might be a particular way of speaking, like "G'day sport." If you hear someone speak to you that way you would assume that the person came from Australia.
Well that slightly quirky form of words, "Grace to you and peace" seems to be an indication from the earliest times of the way Christians have greeted each other. The Greek, as well as the Latin, translation keeps that same word order: "Grace to you and peace."
Even Martin Luther, one of the first translators of the Bible into the vernacular in modern times, kept that order of words, "Grace to you and peace." And in the King James Version, produced for the Church of England, your find the same: "Grace to you and peace." It's the same in the Douay Bible, the Catholic version that was made in the 16th century: "Grace to you and peace." Then if you come up to more recent times, the Revised Standard Version, the New Revised Standard Version, those two also have that form of the words, "Grace to you and peace."
So across 2,000 years, translators have thought it wise to preserve that distinctive pattern, the distinctive word order, that distinctively Christian greeting, "Grace to you and peace." ICEL is proposing that this word order continue to be used in the Christian assembly, 2,000 years on. It puts us in touch with a very early stratum of Christian tradition.
There are lots of other examples, too: e.g., "The Lord be with you. And with your spirit" (Galatians 6:18; 2 Timothy 4:22); "Behold the Lamb of God" (John 1:29); and "Blessed are those called to the banquet of the Lamb" (Revelation 19:9).

Q: How will the eventual changes be introduced? What consequences will this have for the Catholic in the pews? Will the new translation be problematic or helpful for the faithful?
Bishop Roche: The introduction of new texts is a matter for local bishops' conferences. With good catechesis, on which work is already in progress, the new translation will help deepen the understanding and spirituality of everyone in the Church.
I believe that Catholics will welcome these next texts -- they are fuller and very beautiful. Of course, anything new always takes a little getting used to, but Catholics are generous and I believe that the Catholic instinct for truth, depth, accuracy and nobility of language will dispose them to the beauty of these new texts.
It has not been uncommon for me to hear from those with whom I have shared the new texts, comments like: "But I had no idea that this is what the text was trying to say!" There is a great theological richness being uncovered in these translations which itself will be highly catechetical.
We have a saying: "lex orandi lex credendi." In other words, the way we pray is formative of our faith. The Roman Missal conveys the faith of the Church, carefully handed down to us century by century since earliest times. This is a treasure from which we shall be fed and nurtured each day and one that needs to be carefully handed on.

Q: It has been stated that the post-conciliar Roman breviary also has many translation problems. How did these problems arise? Will a new version of the breviary be issued?
Bishop Roche: Like the missal, the breviary was translated in a hurry for the same understandable reasons. From what I can gather, there seems to have been little overall editorial control on the translations we have and therefore, there is an unevenness in the translation of the texts. A new version is most certainly needed, but until the Roman Missal is completed, it would be impossible to embark on such a project. It will be for the member conferences of ICEL and for the Holy See to consider what should then follow.

A New Blog

... to me.
Obviously, it's been around, but thanks to a visit here, ( "to my humble chapeau...") from said blog's proprietor, I learned of its existence.
Words Words, Words it's called. http://paulrbuckley.blogspot.com/
Do check out Mr Buckley's excellent wrtiign.
This is something of his on appropriate texts for us to sing in our worship of the Triune God:
The answer to the “worship wars” is in the back of the pew in front of you. There, languishing between the storied suffering of Job and the royal wisdom of Proverbs, lies the Book of Psalms – one hundred and fifty of the greatest praise and worship songs ever.
How many churches squabbling over music have sung even one, first verse to last?
How many have even considered it?
Christians these days are rethinking what they sing. Not all that’s old is good. Not all that’s new is bad.
But the Psalms and biblical canticles are the measure of both.
Any congregation that rallied around that point would eventually find its musical taste transformed.
The best would drive out the pretty good, regardless of age. Almost miraculously, water would be displaced by wine.
Our songs shape our piety. More than most preaching, they’re the things that stick with us after we’ve exited the pew and passed through the back door. If we wallow in schlock and schmaltz, our devotion grows schlocky and schmaltzy. Our faith becomes long on sentiment, short on substance.
It is one thing to sing a line such as “now I am happy all the day,” to quote a traditional old hymn with a lie in its refrain; it is another to sing, with the author of Psalm 119, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” We can (and should) outgrow ditties and bad hymns.
We cannot outgrow the Psalms. Psalms mature us.Biblical music is a gift of God. Scripture is full of songs – those of Miriam, Moses, and Hannah, of Zechariah, the Virgin Mary, and Simeon. The letters of St. Paul contain hymns, and so does the Revelation. The Bible doesn’t come to us first as a theology textbook but as a storybook and songbook. We’re invited to put ourselves into the story (by faith and baptism) and then to join the songs.
That singing them never occurs to many “Bible-believing” Christians uncovers a baffling irony: The churches that claim to make the most of the Bible in their theology make the least of the Bible in their worship. For all their emphasis on the authority and God-givenness of Scripture, evangelicals have the least biblical worship in Christendom.
There are churches – even some that bear the name “Bible” – in which the Scriptures are a closed book, liturgically speaking. They aren’t sung. They aren’t prayed. They often aren’t even read, save as an aperitif before the sermon.
By contrast, Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox churches abound in biblical song. They sing Psalms and canticles. They sing the Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer. They sing songs full of biblical language and imagery.T
he point of comparison isn’t to vilify one tradition while idealizing others. It has to be admitted that some churches that sing Psalms often settle for truncated versions and intone them with little relish. Every tradition has its liabilities. But Christians wrangling over worship would do well to learn from their brothers and sisters who have not forgotten that the Psalms are the church’s first and finest hymnbook.
The Psalms have always held a cherished place in private devotion. St. Jerome, the great fourth-century Bible translator, reports hearing them sung by people in the fields and in their gardens. But the Psalms were also central to public worship, and Psalm-singing churches perpetuate a tradition rooted in the Bible itself.
What is the Book of Psalms about?
Many things, of course.
Praise and lament, wisdom and wickedness, secret sins and tender mercies. But the deepest Christian conviction about the Psalms is that ultimately they speak of the suffering and glory of Jesus.
It is a conviction that springs from words attributed to the risen Lord himself, who opened his disciples’ minds to the things concerning him “written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms” (Luke 24:44).
Jesus prayed the Psalms. They were twice on his lips when he was dying. To sing them after him is to join his prayer. What stronger incentive do churches need?
One stumbling block is obvious. Many churchgoers aren’t accustomed to chanting, which is the kind of singing that best suits the shape of the Psalms. But the success of chart-topping chant CDs proves that such music retains its appeal. Of course Gregorian chant isn’t the only way to sing Psalms. But the key thing is that chant, in all its various forms, adopts a posture of humility before the text. It seeks only to give the inspired word pre-eminence, to be conformed to it, and to glorify it. Ideally, it bends the singer to do the same.
If churches limit themselves to an hour of gathered prayer each week, shouldn't’ they apply their voices to the best, most profound songs they’ve got?
Wouldn’t biblical songs top the list? Many congregations sing so little as it is. Four hymns take as little as five minutes. The rest is talk. Churches can do better than that, and they’ll have to if they hope to acquire the mind of Scripture, which is the mind of Christ. Doing better will require moving beyond skirmishes over “choruses versus hymns.” It will require a long look back at the patrimony they have lost and a resolve to reclaim it.
By all means sing the words of Wesley and Watts. And sing the best words of writers today. But sing, above all, the words with which Jesus made his prayer to the Father.A postscript: When this was published in a newspaper, it drew a varied response. Evangelicals who wrote letters tended to take umbrage. No church, one of them wrote, sings all the psalms. (He was wrong.) Another said chant was unrealistic. (I think he was wrong, too.) A Methodist worship director challenged my assertion that four hymns can take as little as five minutes. Anyone who plans worship, she said, knows that you allot five minutes per hymn. Maybe so, but I stand by my stats.
I took a few well-known hymns -- "Holy, Holy, Holy," "O God, Our Help in Ages Past," etc. -- and timed them. When worship leaders in a rush shave a verse off a hymn at the end of a service, they're often not saving more than 25 seconds or so.
A Lutheran or two were full of thanks. One Anglican said: Keep on, but evangelicals are not going to listen. Since the piece was published, I've done a number of psalm-chant workshops at several Presbyterian churches and twice at Dallas Baptist University. The Baptists have been the most enthusiastic.
The first time I was on their campus, several of them hung out around the piano for an hour afterward, expressing their weariness with contemporary Christian music.
The second time, a student came to me afterward and said, "I like this music because it doesn't call attention to itself. It calls attention to the text."


I just heard anchor Raymond Arroyo (Pee-wee Herman's decorous, upright brother, I've heard him described,) talking about cost-cutting measures by the USCCB, say that the press was given cds to print out documents themselves, rather than thick stacks of paper.
On the other hand, they did not provide their line by line budget in any form.
I would like to see them pinching pennies on their own accommodations.... like that'll happen.
Part of the problem is the size of the gathering, I suppose; a big hotel or convention center is probably needed, (although if they did in in the summer, I imagine a college campus with teensy little shared dorm rooms, and a gymnasium with rented folding tables could surely be made to do? And they could get by on decent cafeteria food rather than the Marriot's catering?)

Monday, 12 November 2007

New Term

Googling about the current USCCB meeting's conference, I came across this new slang for imprimatur: statement of okeydokeyness
This from "Maureen," via the late Open Book http://amywelborn.typepad.com/openbook/2006/11/talking_about_m.html

Sing to the Lord

The benefit of swanning around the house, swooning onto the couch, doing NOTHING (I can't even phonate enough to make phone calls telling people why I'm NOT making phone calls...,) is watching the proceedings of the USCCB assembly as much as I care to, as they unfold.
Drawback? My head is so stuffed I'm not at all sure of what I've heard.
But I THINK after all this to-ing and fro-ing on music, the Bishops have decided to issue "guidelines" rather than "law" so it's all moot.
Toothless (not the first body part I though of for the metaphor...)
Interesting that most of the suggested modification dealt with Latin, and with Gregorian chant.
Dos this mean that the document leans enough to the side of traditio that they didn't think they could GET a 2/3 majority rather than a simple majority?
Or is it indicative that the document is so out-in-left-field that they doubt it could get the recognitio from the Holy See to become normative?
Just hafta wait

(I am praying to my own cadre of saintly musical persons, none of whom is apporved fro public veneration, so I won't name them.)

He's coming....

The papal nuncio has made it official, the US, or at least the right coast, will be getting a shot of B16 in April.
Signing off (YES, I have dial-up,) to call our chancery and see who I bug for tickets. I sense a road trip coming on, I feel the wanderlust....

Saturday, 10 November 2007

"Latin Mass Draws Interest"

.... according to the NYTimes.
Fr Z is, I believe, quoted without being named. (Wasn't the "nutty aunt" remark his?), as is the peculiar Fr Pecklers.
And is the article written from the site of Michael Lawrence's new gig?
They get some things very right.

MERCHANTVILLE, N.J. — Kelly Rein, 16, used to spend most Thursday nights doing homework. These days, Kelly wears a lace mantilla over her striped T-shirt and stovepipe jeans and attends a class on the traditional Latin Mass.
“I always attended the English Mass, but I never really paid much attention,” said Kelly, who took her parents and sisters to St. Peter Roman Catholic Church in this suburban Philadelphia town, where the first traditional Latin rite is scheduled for December.
At a Catholic summer camp, Kelly was struck by the reverence of the Latin Mass.
“It’s quiet,” she said. “People are paying attention. In the English Mass, it’s noisy. There are babies crying. But here people are completely focused on God.”
More than 40 years ago , the groundbreaking Second Vatican Council introduced Mass in the vernacular, sending the Latin Mass into disuse and alienating some Catholics.
But last summer, Pope Benedict XVI eased restrictions on the rite, and new celebrations of the Latin Mass are flowering. To the surprise of many, the rite has attracted priests and parishioners too young to have experienced the Latin Mass when it was the norm.
For adherents of the traditional Latin Mass, the interest of young people is proof of its enduring resonance and offers hope that it may revitalize an American church struggling to hold on to the young.
But the groundswell that many backers had predicted has not surfaced and seems unlikely, Catholic liturgists and church officials say. The traditional Latin, or Tridentine, Mass has emerged in just one or two parishes in most of the 25 largest dioceses in the country, according to a phone survey of the dioceses.
In some dioceses, there is so far almost no interest, diocesan officials said.
“Those that turn to it are looking for a sense of mystery, a sense of the sacred they find is missing otherwise,” said the Rev. Jerome Fasano, pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church in Clifton, Va., which began celebrating the Tridentine Mass in mid-September. “The more people are exposed to it, the more they are drawn to it.
“But it won’t be multitudes. I don’t think the traditional Latin Mass will be normative by any means.”
The Tridentine Mass was codified at the Council of Trent in 1570, after which it is named. In it, the priest faces the altar,
Correctomundo! not the congregation. He prays in Latin, much of it in a whisper, although readings from Scripture and the sermon are in the vernacular. A missal in Latin and English allows parishioners to follow along.
After the switch to the vernacular, Pope John Paul II allowed the Tridentine Mass to be celebrated, but only with the permission of local diocesan bishops.
In July, however, Pope Benedict issued a letter giving parishes the authority to celebrate the Mass without obtaining bishops’ permissions.
“What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us, too,” Pope Benedict wrote.
Where the Tridentine Mass is now being revived, the response has been encouraging, advocates said. In Clifton, 200 people show up for the Wednesday evening Mass at St. Andrew’s. Another is held on Saturday mornings.
At the first Tridentine Mass at St. Leo the Great Church in Pawtucket, R.I., on Oct. 21, about 180 people attended the sunset service, filling nearly all the pews.
A sense of the holy and the mysterious pulls across generations, drawing in children and their parents, who themselves are often too young to recall the Tridentine Mass.
“I have no memory of the Latin Mass from my childhood,” Anne McLaughlin said at St. Leo’s. “But for me it’s so refreshing to see him facing the east, the Tabernacle, focusing on Christ.”
Her daughter Aine, 15, agreed and said, “It’s so much prettier.”
Experts on the church say they have been surprised that young people have shown such interest.
“There’s a curiosity, and it is consistent with people looking for the transcendent and holy, which they maybe didn’t see in the Mass they attended growing up,”
Gee, ya think? said the Rev. Keith F. Pecklers, professor of liturgy at Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
Still, those who study Catholic youth say that fewer than one in five attend Mass weekly and that the Tridentine Mass will not draw them in greater numbers. Instead, they are seeking a greater focus on social justice and sexual equality,
Right, and heaven forbid you provide a fuller experience, one that unites them with others across time and space, of the Source and Summit of the Faith that should drive the quest for Truth, Justice, and the Christian Way.... said Vincent Bulduc, professor of sociology at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., who conducted a study of Catholic college students in 2004.
The way Catholics came to worship after the Vatican II council has been a source of passionate conflict for some. A tiny but vocal minority was outraged by what they considered abrupt and misguided changes of the council, and Pope Benedict’s letter was meant to heal that rift.
“One priest said on a blog that now we can’t be considered the nutty aunt in the attic,” said Jason King of Seattle, a board member of Una Voce America, a group that promotes the Tridentine Mass. “The pope’s letter legitimized our aspirations.”
Yet many Catholics, including priests and parishioners who grew up with the Tridentine Mass, recall services that were hasty and with little scriptural content.
“Most Catholics all over the world who have experienced the liturgy of Vatican II would say it’s not perfect, but most Catholics would admit that they are in a better place than 45 years ago,” Father Pecklers said. “They can understand the liturgy. Men and women are invited into celebration. There’s greater diversity and a
Howler alert: greater sense of ownership of the parish by the laity.”
On a recent Wednesday evening at St. Andrew’s, young families and the elderly, children in school uniforms and craggy men, along with many women in mantillas, gathered in a hush as Father Fasano celebrated the Tridentine Mass. He leaned over the altar and prayed in a soft rumble of Latin.
Parishioners seemed confused at times about when to sit or stand. Yet no one seemed to be straining to hear the priest. They looked instead to their missals or prayed on their own. Some parishioners at St. Andrew’s spoke about how abandoning the Tridentine Mass weakened American Catholicism.
“The Mass was like this for 1,500 years, and it was changed by committee in the 1960s,” Joseph Dagostino, 35, said after a Wednesday night service at St. Andrew’s. Joseph Strada, 62, said, “When you can change the liturgy, you can change anything.” Mr. Dagostino interjected, “Like the church’s teachings on abortion or the sanctity of life.”
But those hoping that the Tridentine Mass will restore the Catholic Church of 50 years ago are likely to be disappointed, said the Rev. John F. Baldovin, professor of historical and liturgical theology at Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Mass., and a critic of the old Mass.
“A lot of them think this is the way to go, back to the future, because it is really going to revive Catholicism,” Father Baldovin said. “You can produce a Tridentine Mass, but can’t reproduce the world it came from.”

Friday, 9 November 2007

Well, we SOCIALIZE together, what's the diff?


A story from Baltimore about a Catholic priest "fired" for letting an Episcopalian priest "join him" during a funeral Mass.
Read the story and you discover that as the latest in a string of incidents, (including dogs in the sanctuary?), the priest allowed the woman in question to perform a duty reserved to ordained Catholics, (which had to have been a deliberate flouting of liturgical law, since the Episcopalian priest, a close friend of the deceased, could just as easily and effectively have, say, proclaimed the OT reading, or the non-Gospel NT scripture); and that he probably encouraged her to receive, in defiance of canon law.

But the real problem, IMO, is that the people who this priest should have been most concerned with ministering to ,(after praying for the soul of the deceased,) the surviving family, have apparently received such lousy catechesis over the years that one could say something like this:

[The deceased's] son ... who had invited [the Episcopalian priest] to participate in the service, was stunned and outraged by the action taken against Martin."I am sickened that they would treat our pastor this way," ... and that such ecumenical activity wasn't unusual at the church."In our neighborhood, when you go to church dinner or a church function on a social level, people from all churches are involved," he said.

There you have it.
Adult, apparently "practicing" Catholics, generations of them now, that don't know the difference between a church social and the unbloody re-presentation of the ritual murder of the Son of God.

Why am I surprised that a bright, good Catholic kid, (a top student through eight grades of Catholic school,) can can apologize to me that he didn't show up last Sunday because his family "went to Mass at the Baptist church"?

The wonder of Gregorian chant

A Christian Scientist (I presume, perhaps I shouldn't?) reflects on the power of the authentic voice of the Church:

The wonder of Gregorian chant
Without knowing it, I had visited one of the world centers of Gregorian study – renowned to musicians, historians, and so many others.
By William Caverlee
In the spring of 1974, I was making plans for a backpacking tour of France ... an acquaintance suggested that I ought to try to hear some Gregorian chant while I was there. A strange suggestion, I thought.
At the time, I didn't know the first thing about Gregorian chant – nor, at the blithely self-assured age of 23, did I have any interest in Christian liturgy, Catholicism, or any other religious goings-
before I left Vendée, I asked where one would go to hear Gregorian chant, and my friend's father said that a place in the Loire Valley was just the ticket. It was a Benedictine monastery called the Abbey of Solesmes ....
I spoke to my first monk – nondescript, amiable, middle-aged. Yes, of course, just throw your backpack under this table and hurry, hurry, you can go out that way, there, yes, toward that door.
Pushing open the massive door to the church was like entering a movie set. Inside, I found seats in the dim light and waited, not knowing anything. There were no other visitors.
The sound began quietly – literally from far away. From somewhere on my left, the sound grew in volume as it approached, then a door opened and the monks arrived, walking in pairs in a long, slow line, singing as they walked.
They wore black robes – no special dress or vestments – this was a simple vespers service. They filed their way past me and settled into their own places up front – in two halves, facing each other. The singing was in Latin – unaccompanied.
The old cliché was true: I had never heard anything like it in my life. Maybe clichés are about all one has at such unearthly, beautiful, inexpressible moments.
I carefully watched the faces of the men as they trooped past at the end of the service. They could have been a collection of Rotarians at any mid-size city in America – young, old, ordinary, grizzled, unremarkable.
It was not until a year later that I read up on the abbey. Without knowing it, I had visited one of the world centers of Gregorian study – renowned to musicians, historians, believers, unbelievers, any and all. Not only was I hearing this sublimely beautiful music for the first time, I was hearing it sung by its premier practitioners.
The distinctive sound of the Solesmes monks is the result of hundreds of years of daily practice, and goes hand in hand with their study of manuscripts, musicology, and liturgy.
It was as if I had stumbled into Oxford University, not aware that it had a reputation for scholarship and study. Or as if I had wandered into a performance of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra without a clue about what I was hearing.