Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

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.

Hoya Saxa

"What rocks?" "What stones?"
In any case,

Students Push for Addition of Latin Mass
Campus Ministry Says Training, Scheduling Concerns Pose Problems
By Elizabeth Blazey
Special to The Hoya
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The Latin Mass may be coming back to Georgetown, if one group of students has its way.
Two students submitted last month a formal request to the Office of Campus Ministry for the addition of a Catholic Tridentine Mass on Sundays in Dahlgren Chapel. Administrators said that they are considering the proposal but have not made a decision.
The students first asked Director of Campus Ministry Fr. Timothy Godfrey, S.J. on Sept. 7 for the addition of the Mass on Sundays at Dahlgren Chapel, one of the students, Steven Picciano (COL ’09), said. Picciano said that at least 50 Georgetown students support this request, and that five Jesuits have already agreed to say the Tridentine Mass should the proposal be accepted............. a Tridentine Mass is already said every Friday at 3:30 p.m. in Copley Crypt, typically by Fr. Stephen Fields, S.J., although this Mass is not part of the university’s official schedule of Masses.........Fields, one of the five Jesuits who expressed support for the proposal, said the Tridentine Mass can help enrich the spiritual experience of Catholics on campus who choose to attend the Masses, adding that some students are trying to form a Gregorian choir to enhance the Masses.
“I hope that the consequences [of adding the Tridentine Mass] will be a healthy addition to the diversity of worship on campus, a cultivation of contemplative prayer, a renewal of the riches of Gregorian chant, a deeper appreciation of the Church’s history and tradition and a deeper love of the Mass as the principal act of worship of the Church,” he said.

Lets hear it for Fr Fields.

"The Unlikely Ambassador to Islam"

Really, Fr. Jonathon? That ol' triumphalist, isolationist, anti-love peace and goodness, former-Hitler-youth, reactionary?
That Benedict?
How could he have changed so much from the person the msm has described?
Heavens to betsy....
For the first time ever, a reigning monarch of Saudi Arabia came to the Vatican to meet with the Pope.
Not just any Pope; it’s the Pope of the Regensburg address — that infamous speech against religiously-motivated violence that provoked parts of the Muslim world into proving his point....
The well-kept secret of this papacy is that it is on track to leave a legacy of effective diplomacy and inter-religious dialogue with the very group it so upset just one year ago — Muslims.
Ever since the violent protests have subsided in the aftermath of Regensburg, Muslim leaders have been flocking to the side of Pope Benedict, and he to theirs.

Sacred Music Needs Governing, Says Director of Institute

Thank You, God, for Zenit! (And of course, for the men making these statements, and the man pulling the strings, ever so gently...)
States Deviations After Vatican II Have Been Rampant
ROME, NOV. 8, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Perhaps a pontifical office with authority over sacred music would correct the abuses that have occurred in this area, suggested a Vatican official.
Monsignor Valentín Miserachs Grau, director of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, said this at a conference last Saturday, marking the 80th anniversary of the diocesan institute of Sacred Music of Trent, L'Osservatore Romano reported.
The pontifical institute directed by the monsignor was originally established by the Holy See in 1911. It is an academic institution dedicated to teaching and also performing sacred music. But, Monsignor Miserachs said, "In my opinion, it would be opportune to establish an office with authority over the material of sacred music."
Monsignor Miserachs contended that "in none of the areas touched on by Vatican II -- and practically all are included -- have there been greater deviations than in sacred music."
"How far we are from the true spirit of sacred music, that is, of true liturgical music," he lamented.
"How can we stand it that such a wave of inconsistent, arrogant and ridiculous profanities have so easily gained a stamp of approval in our celebrations?
"It is a great error, Monsignor Miserachs said, to think that people "should find in the temple the same nonsense given to them outside," since "the liturgy, even in the music, should educate all people -- including youth and children."
"Much music written today, or put in circulation, nevertheless ignores not only the grammar, but even the basic ABC's of musical art," he continued. "Due to general ignorance, especially in certain sectors of the clergy," certain media act as loudspeakers for "products that, devoid of the indispensable characteristics of sacred music -- sanctity, true art, universality -- can never procure the authentic good of the Church."
A reform
The monsignor called for a "conversion" back to the norms of the Church. "And that 'norm' has Gregorian chant as its cardinal point, either the chant itself, or as an inspiration for good liturgical music." He noted that his recommendations are not related to Benedict XVI's document on the use of the 1962 Roman Missal.
"'Nova et vetera,'" he urged, "the treasure of tradition and of new things, but rooted in tradition."
Monsignor Miserachs suggested that contact with tradition should "not be limited to the academic realm, or concerts or records." Instead, "it should become again the living song of the assembly that finds in it that which calms their deepest spiritual tensions, and which makes them feel that they are truly the people of God."

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Toward a Liturgical Language?

In a review charmingly entitled, "On the Road to Spread the Word of Good, Old-Fashioned Evil"
we learn about the hard work and diligence of a heavy/black/viking/progressive/extreme Metal group. with the sunny name of "Enslaved."
Amongst such tidbits as "The members hurtled through a typically eerie, riveting set, propelled by tricky rhythms, keyboard atmospherics, mutating guitar riffs and careful but cathartic explosions of noise and screaming. 'evil' imagery exists everywhere.... old-fashioned Satanic imagery has given way to subtler allusions to pre-Christian culture... lyrics are more suggestive than bombastic. Hints of the old black-metal misanthropy remain ('I do not pity life/I follow not pathetic order')... Enslaved was once associated with one of the most reviled music scenes of all time. In the early 1990s Norwegian black metal made headlines with a series of high-profile events: one musician’s suicide, a spate of church burnings and the conviction of two prominent figures .... for murder."
But here's what caught my eye:
"[The lead singer] mainly sings in English, partly in an attempt to close the language gap with non-Norwegian fans, [but] the foreignness of English was a benefit too: 'That dissonance helps, getting into character, removing ourselves from our daily lives.' "

Hmmmm... Universality and a transcendence of the quotidian.

I can see why a rock band would need or want to do that, but gee, why would you want either of those result in corporate worship of the Ineffable, the Almighty?

Is some seminary scraping the bottom of the barrel?

Or rather, is the Boston Archdiocese chancery official overseeing vocations doing the scraping?

A priest from Boston has been charged with stalking and harassing the talk show host Conan O’Brien, law enforcement officials said last night....
When Father Ajemian was ordained in 2001, The Boston Herald said he was a “former Episcopalian who was turned on to religion partly by Federicio Fellini’s 1960 film ‘La Dolce Vita’”.

What, I'm just lucky?

The NYTimes has an article on the "overuse" of deodorant (how someone in this celebrity-mad day and age managed to write deodorant and those stin ...., um, intrepid souls who refuse to bow to custom and use it without mentioning Matthew McConaughy is beyond me. ButIDigress.)

“Fewer than 5 percent of people really suffer from debilitating sweating..That’s called hyperhidrosis. ...
People who suffer from extreme malodor are even rarer, said George Preti, an analytical organic chemist who studies body odor at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, a nonprofit research institute financed in part by corporations."

Then how is it that I encounter so very many of them? Maybe it's the company I keep.
I have never been on a long bus trip without having a seat mate who exuded a certain fragrance.
And virtually every cast I have ever been in had one member of cast or crew who had to be dealt with, sometimes officially talked to by a costumer or stage manager.
Are actors/singers/dancers smellier than the average human being?

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Praying and Playing

Fr Z discusses a statement in Q & A format, from the bishops' conference of the Philippines regarding Summorum Pontificum and its consequences:
What happens to active participation?
While the liturgical reform of the Vatican II aims principally to promote active participation, the Tridentine Missal encourages prayerful meditation during the Eucharistic celebration.
[What a dismissive way to treat this important question! This is, of course, the horrible nightmare the old experts from the days of the Council and the subsequent "reform" don’t want to confront. What would happen to their vision of the reform if it can be demonstrated that the Church has a somewhat different understanding of "active participation", that really focuses first and foremost on active receptivity and interior activity of the soul and senses rather than clapping and all that business? If it can be shown that a deeper sense of active participation is fostered by the older form of Mass then their entire ediface begins to crack.]

Never, in all the back-and-forthing about "active participation" have I seen anyone on either side of the question (the all-singing/dancing/processing-all-the-time crowd or the "leave me in peace to talk to God, I don't do that s***" faction,) address a simple fact known to all church Music Directors, and, I assume MCs, planners of liturgy who function as MCs during "big" Masses, etc.
To whit, that many times, "activity" not only isn't equivalent to "participation", activity inherently precludes genuine participation.
In a very old issue of some church music periodical (Diapason, IIRC,) there was asked and answered such a question by asserting that the organist doesn't pray WHILE playing, or play INSTEAD of praying, but that he prays BY playing the organ.
And ideally this would, this could be true, but on the ground, the troops know that liturgical musicians become the shabbos goyim of the Catholic world.
I participate much more fully, more profoundly, even if in total silence at Mass somewhere other than my parish, than I am allowed to do in the page-turning, mirror-positioning,, celebrant-compensating, program-reading, music-finding, kleenex-offering, communicant counting, clock-watching, water-fetching, octavo-procuring, signal-waving, EMHC-summoning, silence-filling, basso-hushing, tempo-guessing, pitch-transmitting, treble-encouraging, frenzy, (often my lot) that can be dictated by circumstances and demands.
No amount of prep could stop it, and the few times I have quietly and calmly let the chips fall where they may there has been hell to pay afterwards.
I saw a choir director really go off on her soprano section once when they started asking her questions and realizing that, oops, they didn't have the right music with about 30 seconds to lift off (after sitting there gossiping and "preparing" for a half hour leading up to Mass.)
How much participatio actuosa do you think she was able to engage in?
And people do that throughout Mass sometimes. (Or will certainly do so afterwards if they are in positions of authority and something went wrong, or simply not to their liking.)
I used to know a deacon (permanent,) who said he always had to go to another Mass afterwards if a certain frequent visitor was the persnickety presider.
Yes, his submission and obedience and walking on egg-shells during Mass was a service, and even therefore a prayer, but it wasn't the prayer of the Mass.
Imagine having the aforementioned frequent visitor assigned to ones parish, perhaps even as pastor....
And if you are reading this and don't have to imagine -- well, you have my sympathy, and to bring it full circle... I'll pray for you this weekend at Mass.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Just so long as he knows which music is the doo-fer

Father Dwight Longenecker asks, What's a Hymn For?
I'm having some problems with music in Catholic America. Part of it is my problem. I spent fifteen years in the Anglican Church with the New English Hymnal--which is probably the finest hymnbook ever published in the English language. Musically and liturgically it was the best that traditional Anglicanism had to offer....
Apart from a few islands of decent church music the Catholic church in England was a wasteland.I am discovering that in the USA it is not much better....
Who on earth is writing these hymns, publishing these hymns and choosing to buy, prepare and perform these hymns? Doesn't anybody know what a hymn is for?Surely a hymn is first, and foremost part of our worship. That means the words are words that we use to address our praise, adoration and worship of God. So much of the stuff I come across isn't that at all. Instead it is sentimental language in which God talks to us to reassure us, make us feel better and comfort or inspire us. So..."Be not afraid...for I am always with you...Come follow me.. etc"
This may be a pleasant enough devotional song to remind us of God's promises, and there may be times when it is appropriate to sing such songs, but Mass is not one of those times. We're not really at Mass to sing God's comforting words to ourselves. We're there to worship Him....
Another problem are hymns that simply put Scripture verses to music. "I am the bread of life...he who comes to me shall not hunger...etc" Again, the music may be pleasant and the words of Scripture are undeniably wonderful and true, but it simply isn't a hymn. The words are the words of Jesus about himself.
They are not words of praise, worship and adoration addressed to God....
too many hymn writers seem to have little understanding of either Scripture, the symbols and types of the faith or the theology of the faith. The great old hymns that have stood the test of time were written from the authors' deep immersion in the great themes of Scripture, the great stories of the Old Testament and the great theological concepts that inspire and instruct us as we sing. The newer stuff tends to be dumbed down, sentimental and weak.....
it seems to me that the underlying problem with the contemporary hymns is an almost universal lack of understanding in the modern American Catholic Church about what Mass is in the first place. If it is a gathering of friendly Christian people around the table of fellowship in order to get strength and encouragement from one another as we all think about Jesus, why then the contemporary hymns fit the bill very nicely, but then, so would quite a few snippets of music I can think of like--"My favorite things" from The Sound of Music.
However, if the Mass is meant to take us to the threshold of heaven; if it is meant to be a glimpse of glory and a participation in the worship of the spheres of heaven itself, why then the sentimental, sweet and comforting songs just won't do. They wont' do not because they are bad or untrue, but because they are not good and true enough. Worship that takes us to the threshold of glory needs to be, well...glorious.

And after all this, he says
...not all parishes can manage to have a grand organ, a paid organist and a fine choir. True, and that's why the church recommends Gregorian Chant. With a little effort and just a little expense a small group of singers can learn Gregorian Chant which beatifies the liturgy simply and give is the transcendental glory that our worship deserves, and to tell you the truth, once you develop a taste for Gregorian chant--it's pretty comforting too.

as if the CHANT were the Acceptable Substitute for those who can't manage the Real Thing, hymnody.
Took the wrong path and arrived at the correct destination anyway, I guess (all roads lead to...?)
(Incidentally, don't get me wrong, I love hymnody. LOVE it. I think good hymn singing should be praised and promoted, just not at the expense of the Propers.)

Our Blessed Lady cares about obedience

New blog to read, Cordelia's Shoes
I like the title http://cordeliashoes.blogspot.com/2007/08/significance-of-title.html

But what drew me to it was this on liturgical music:

I often encounter the charge that American Catholic liturgy is feminized. Possibly.
But not only do I cringe at "On Eagles Wings", when I consider a manly proposition like patriotism, I also cringe at Lee Greenwood's dreadful, "God Bless the USA". Bowman is on to something by suggesting sentimentality is an enduring American feature whether the result of feminization or not.
This is why a return to good liturgy will not improve the situation no matter how much we move back toward orthodoxy.
Encouraging Latin masses, pointing the alter this way or that, albs, proper vessels and all that are important, but priority one (and the most difficult task) is expunging the 70's-style sentimental mush-music that infects even good parishes.
Bad music can obliterate all the good surrounding it.
It is that powerful.
Socrates knew it.
All the proper and seemly liturgical norms in the world will not stand when the music (and I mean the music itself, not just the lyrics) is basically teaching the sentimentalist maxim, "Just be true to yourself and follow your heart! Don't worry if you reject doctrines."
Schola chant groups are wonderful, but I am afraid it is going to take ecclesiastical strong-arming of the Council of Trent magnitude to correct this.

And this is from a guitarist.

Stole, over or under?

Himself and I had words over his costume.
Indeed, he may have seen many a priest wear the stole outside the chasuble, but it is still inauthentic and WRONG (and we will put aside the question of the biretta, I don't know, I don't know how to find out, and in any case, it is for the costumer, the director or the producer to say, not me.... but the biretta worn with the very starkly white gothic style feels all out of period.)
But today, while googling for something else, I came across my favorite NJ bishop's words on obedience to rubrics, in which he addresses this very subject.
(Truth to tell, he doesn't address any of the subjects he "addresses" --- he merely quotes already existent rubrics and laws. Very clever man, he simply reminds his sons of what in a perfect world he should have been able to expect them to already know. Kinda in the "it goes without saying that YADA YADA YADA" mode.)

Bishop's Letter to the Priests of the Diocese Concerning the Liturgy
October 18, 2007
Feast of St. Luke, the Evangelist My dear brothers in the priesthood,
Today the Church celebrates the life and work of the third evangelist. In his work, St. Luke paints for us the portrait of Christ the compassionate Savior whose life is the climax of Israel’s redemptive history that continues in the Church. Today’s feast glorifies the Holy Spirit who, in every age, raises up individuals and gifts them with the grace and charisms needed to continue the work of Christ.
With St. Luke, we priests share the privilege of spreading the Gospel. The Holy Spirit has graced us in a special way for this work. Through our ordination, we have been configured to Christ the High Priest who uses weak instruments such as us to accomplish His saving work.
On this feast day, I want to take the opportunity to thank you for accepting the vocation to be a priest. I am grateful for your apostolic zeal in serving God’s people with dedication and self-giving and for your love of the Church whose ministers we are. I would also like to address with you what is so central to our priesthood and so vital for the life of the Church.
St. Luke ends his gospel with the Emmaus story in which the two disciples recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread (Lk 24:30-32). He begins Acts of the Apostles with this picture of the infant Church: “These remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers” (Acts 2:42). Clearly for the evangelist, the Eucharist is the Presence of the Risen Lord building up the Church in the unity of faith and love.
The Eucharist is the Crucified Jesus uniting us to Himself, sharing with us His divine life and making the Church truly one so that she can be the effective Sacrament of salvation in every age and in every place. The Eucharist is at the heart of the mystery of the Church. This great sacrifice of the Lord’s Body and Blood is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (Lumen Gentium, 11). The Eucharist contains the entire wealth of the Church. Each day the Church draws her life from this gift given to her by the Lord at the Last Supper.
To every priest is given the great privilege of celebrating the Eucharist by virtue of his ordination. The priest presides at the Eucharist in persona Christi. The priest is the servant of the Liturgy. He is the steward entrusted with a gift that is not his own.
Therefore, every priest has the obligation to celebrate the Liturgy in such a way that he provides a witness of faith to the sacredness of the gift given to the Church by her Lord. He is to be faithful to the Church’s norms for the Liturgy so as to be at the service of communion, not only for the community directly taking part in the celebration, but also for the whole Church. The Mystery of the Eucharist “is too great for anyone to permit himself to treat it according to his own whim, so that its sacredness and its universal ordering would be obscured” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 52).
In each particular Church, the diocesan bishop has a most serious responsibility before God for the faithful celebration of the liturgy. He is the first steward of the mysteries of God in the particular Church entrusted to him. He is the moderator, promoter and guardian of her whole liturgical life (Christus Dominus, 28; Sacrosanctum Concilium, 41; Code of Canon Law, can. 387 and can. 835.1). Recognizing this serious duty placed upon me, I ask every priest in this diocese to follow The General Instruction of the Roman Missal as well as Redemptionis Sacramentum, issued in 2004 by the mandate of Pope John Paul II. A careful reading and attention to these instructions can only increase the individual priest’s appreciation of the Eucharist and his own special role within the Church. The Eucharist “is too great a gift to tolerate ambiguity or depreciation” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 10).
Since the people of God have the right to the Liturgy as the Church has established, both instructions are to be followed in their entirety. Priests, as well as deacons, are not free to change the rubrics or substitute their own words for the prescribed texts. Such fidelity expresses true love for the people we serve. I call your special attention to the items that follow. The Church’s instructions use strong language to indicate the seriousness with which the Church safeguards reverence for the Eucharist.
Concerning the altar.
Out of reverence for the celebration of the memorial of the Lord and for the banquet in which the Body and Blood of the Lord are offered on an altar where this memorial is celebrated, there should be at least one white cloth, its shape, size, and decoration in keeping with the altar’s design (GIRM, 304).
Concerning the proclamation of the gospel and preaching.
Within the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, the reading of the Gospel, which is “the high point of the Liturgy of the Word,” is reserved by the Church’s tradition to an ordained minister. Thus it is not permitted for a layperson, even a religious, to proclaim the Gospel reading in the celebration of Holy Mass, nor in other cases in which the norms do not explicitly permit it (SR, 63).
The homily, which is given in the course of the celebration of Holy Mass and is a part of the Liturgy itself “should ordinarily be given by the Priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it to a concelebrating Priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, to a Deacon, but never to a layperson.” (SR, 64)
The prohibition of the admission of laypersons to preach within the Mass applies also to seminarians, students of theological disciplines, and those who have assumed the function of those known as “pastoral assistants;” nor is there to be any exception for any other kind of layperson, or group, or community, or association (SR, 66). (To safeguard the primacy of the homily and the connection of Word and Sacrifice in the celebration of the Eucharist, any reflection offered by laypeople should be given after the Prayer after Communion.)
Concerning the distribution of Holy Communion.
It is the Priest celebrant’s responsibility to minister Communion, perhaps assisted by other Priests or Deacons; and he should not resume the Mass until after the Communion of the faithful is concluded. Only when there is a necessity may extraordinary ministers assist the Priest celebrant in accordance with the norm of law (SR, 88).
If there is usually present a sufficient number of sacred ministers for the distribution of Holy Communion, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion may not be appointed. Indeed, in such circumstances, those who may have already been appointed to this ministry should not exercise it. The practice of those Priests is reprobated who, even though present at the celebration, abstain from distributing Communion and hand this function over to laypersons (SR, 157)
It is not licit to deny Holy Communion to any of Christ’s faithful solely on the grounds, for example, that the person wishes to receive the Eucharist kneeling or standing (SR, 91).
Concerning the use of vestments.
“The vestment proper to the Priest celebrant at Mass, and in other sacred actions directly connected with Mass unless otherwise indicated, is the chasuble, worn over the alb and stole” (GIRM, 299).
The abuse is reprobated whereby the sacred ministers celebrate Holy Mass or other rites without sacred vestments or with only a stole over the monastic cowl or the common habit of religious or ordinary clothes (SR, 126).
Concerning the proper vessels for the Eucharist.
Sacred vessels for containing the Body and Blood of the Lord must be made in strict conformity with the norms of tradition and of the liturgical books. It is strictly required, however, that [they] be truly noble in the common estimation within a given region, so that honor will be given to the Lord by their use, and all risk of diminishing the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharistic species in the eyes of the faithful will be avoided. Reprobated, therefore, is any practice of using for the celebration of Mass common vessels, or others lacking in quality, or devoid of all artistic merit or which are mere containers, as also other vessels made from glass, earthenware, clay, or other materials that break easily. This norm is to be applied even as regards metals and other materials that easily rust or deteriorate. (SR, 117)
The sacred vessels are purified by the priest, the deacon, or an instituted acolyte after Communion or after Mass, insofar as possible at the credence table. The purification of the chalice is done with water alone or with wine and water, which is then drunk by whoever does the purification. The paten is usually wiped clean with the purificator (GIRM, 279).
Following the instructions that the Church lays down for the proper celebration of the Eucharist is not a burden, but a joy. For it enables us to enter into the spirit of the Liturgy with greater freedom and less distraction. It may take a child-like humility to do as the Church asks in the celebration of the Liturgy. However, true love is never proud. “Priests who faithfully celebrate Mass according to the liturgical norms, and communities which conform to these norms, quietly but eloquently demonstrate their love for the Church” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 52).
I thank all of you for your love of God’s people and your desire to be good and faithful “stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor 1:4).
May the Eucharist, daily and faithfully celebrated, truly be a gift of life and growth for the Church of Paterson.

Why I like Cdl Arinze

And why when I heard him preach a funeral the first time, I told Msgr. Semancik that I want him to preach mine. (Dang, my soul's gonna NEEEEEEEEEED prayers) He was the only priest I can ever recall preaching on the efficacy, indeed, the necessity of prayers for the dead.
Many seem to say the words of the Mass of Christian Burial as prescribed but then flatly contradict themselves in their sermons, (wink, wink, nudge, nudge.)
Very comforting to us living of course... what a protestant notion to have introduced into the Catholic Mass, that a funeral is primarily "for the living"!

(CNS)While Christians should hope that their deceased loved ones are in heaven, they must pray for them in case they are in purgatory, said Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze.
Vatican Radio asked the cardinal, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, about a frequent comment at funerals that the deceased is now with God in heaven.
"The people present at a funeral have no authority to canonize anyone," the cardinal said in the interview broadcast Nov. 2, the feast of All Souls.
"They can hope that the person has arrived in the house of the Father in heaven, but it is just as possible that the person is in purgatory," he said. "Only God knows if that person is already in heaven; we cannot know and, therefore, we pray for that person because he could be in purgatory. However, if the person already is in heaven, God certainly will use all of those prayers for another person," Cardinal Arinze said.
The feast of All Souls differs from the Nov. 1 feast of All Saints precisely because it offers prayers for the eternal peace and heavenly rest of "our brothers and sisters who died in a state of grace, but not totally purified," he said.
"They certainly will arrive in heaven," the cardinal said, "but for the moment they suffer in purgatory."
The Catechism of the Catholic Church said, "All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven."
The church teaches that prayer, particularly the Mass, and sacrifices may be offered on behalf of the souls in purgatory in the belief that believers can help one another, before and after death, he said.
"Our faith tells us this: The souls of the deceased pray for and help us. Exactly how they do this, we do not know," Cardinal Arinze said. "But we do know that in Christ the savior there is a communion between those who have arrived in heaven, those in purgatory and those still on earth."
Copyright (c) 2007 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Santa Muerte and Inculturation

I feel bad now, complaining about the public veneration of Origen.
I guess we could have added Muerte to the fabrication that replaces the Litany of the Saints in many parishes (mine included...)

But is it really a problem if immigrants bring along some of their authentic folk religion, grafted onto Catholicism?
And if Santa Muerte is a problem, surely we can drive her away by.... saging? (call up the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and ask where they get the ministers who do that for them.)
Or maybe beating those drums that drive out evil spirits? perhaps getting some nice "Celtic Christian" caster of spells....
Really having we gotten past that kind of religious triumphalism that thinks Christ is the only way?

Father Marco Mercado, of the Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Little Village, [Chicago, IL]visited a parishioner's home. As is common in Mexican residences, there was an altar with several Catholic saints. One statue, however, stood out: Santa Muerte. Father Mercado recalls telling the parishioner, "This is Santeria — it's not good! It's not at all connected with the Catholic faith." Many of Good Shepherd's roughly 3,000 parishioners have ignored Father Mercado's calls to destroy their Santa Muerte statues, candles and prayer cards, fearing that doing so will bring sudden death to themselves or family members. Now, he tells parishioners to bring Santa Muerte artifacts to the church. "I'll destroy it," he says.
Chicago church officials appear to be among the most aggressive in addressing the rise of Santa Muerte. Catholic officials in New York, Denver and Phoenix say they are unaware of Santa Muerte's increasing popularity in their communities. Father Oscar Cantu of Houston says he has watched botanicas and Santa Muerte gain popularity in his largely Mexican-American community, particularly among poor, uneducated immigrants. Father Cantu says he has made clear to his members that Santa Muerte is in conflict with the church's teaching. However, he says there has been little discussion about the topic among the broader church leadership. "It's probably time they receive some clarification that this is a distortion of our faith," he says, adding, "This poses a challenge for the church." (The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops hasn't issued an official position on Santa Muerte, partly because it is a relatively new phenomenon in this country.*)
Back on Chicago's 26th Street, an elderly woman is at a cart, slathering sliced mangoes with chili. Laura Martinez steps out of the botanica, into the evening's cool air. "I'm Catholic and Santa Muerte," she says, carrying a plastic bag with two candles and a prayer card. She says she doesn't go to church, partly because she's too busy, but also "because of everything you hear with priests," referring to the recent abuse cases. At home, she prays at an altar with a spot only for one saint: Santa Muerte. "She's jealous if there are any other saints around," she says, adding, "She brings me good luck. I got my job because of Santa Muerte!"

Snarking aside, let us pray for Fr Mercado

*If the USCCB as a whole were to issue anything, it would doubtless be couched in such Catholish, and such bending-over-backwards so as not to risk seeming disparaging to anyone's beliefs, regardless of his whack-job status, that it would be useless.
Get Serratelli on the case!

Marvelous Story

Sometimes, despite all the machinations, it is driven home forcefully that ultimately, the plans of the Author of Life are not thwarted.
This glorious story about a twin who was to be killed in utero:


Weak, disabled. . . unable, unfit to live?

Gabriel had his own ideas.

Sacred Music and Catholic Reading Comprehension

Forget journalism school. Forget college. Forget high school English.
If you taught 3rd grade reading, and a student read this address of Papa Ratz, and came away with the understanding that the import of what he said, the main point the made was that "sacred music needs to change," you’d have to flunk the kid for reading comprehension.
The full text of the address (my emphasis)


Via di Torre Rossa, RomeSaturday, 13 October 2007
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, Dear Professors and Students of the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music,
On the memorable day of 21 November 1985 my beloved Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, went to visit this "aedes Sancti Hieronymi de Urbe" where, since its foundation by Pope Pius XI in 1932, a privileged community of Benedictine monks has worked enthusiastically on the revision of the Vulgate Bible. It was then that the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music moved here, complying with the Holy See's wishes, although it retained at its former headquarters in Palazzo dell'Apollinare, the Institute's historic Gregory XIII Hall, the Academic Hall or Aula Magna which still is, so to speak, the "sanctuary" where solemn academic events and concerts are held. The great organ which Madame Justine Ward gave Pius XI in 1932 has now been totally restored with the generous contribution of the Government of the "Generalitat de Catalunya". I am pleased to greet the Representatives of that Government who are present here.
I have come with joy to the didactic centre of the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music, which has been totally renovated. With my Visit I inaugurate and bless the impressive restoration work carried out in recent years at the initiative of the Holy See with the significant contribution of various benefactors, among whom stand out the "Fondazione Pro Musica e Arte Sacra", which has overseen the total restoration of the Library. My intention is also to inaugurate and bless the restoration work done in the Academic Hall, in which a magnificent piano has been set on the dais next to the above-mentioned great organ. It was a gift from Telecom Italia Mobile to beloved Pope John Paul II for "his" Institute for Sacred Music.
I would now like to express my gratitude to Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education and your Grand Chancellor, for expressing his courteous good wishes to me also on your behalf. On this occasion, I gladly confirm my esteem and pleasure in the work that the Academic Board, gathered closely around the Principal, is carrying out with a sense of responsibility and appreciated professionalism. My greetings go to everyone present: the relatives, with their children, and the friends accompanying them, the officials, staff, students and residents, as well as the representatives of the Consociatio Internationalis Musicae Sacrae and the Foederatio Internationalis Pueri Cantores.
Your Pontifical Institute is rapidly approaching the centenary of its foundation by the Holy Father Pius X, who established with the Brief Expleverunt Desiderii, the "Scuola Superiore di Musica Sacra" in 1911. Later, after subsequent interventions by Benedict XV and Pius XI, with the Apostolic Constitution Deus Scientiarum Dominus, once again promulgated by Pius XI, it became the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music, and is still today committed actively to fulfilling its original mission at the service of the universal Church. Numerous students who have met here from every region of the world to train in the disciplines of sacred music become in their turn teachers in the respective local Churches. And how many of them there have been in the span of almost a century! I am pleased here to address an affectionate greeting to the man who, one might say, represents with his splendid longevity the "historical memory" of the Institute and personifies so many others who have worked here: the Maestro, Mons. Domenico Bartolucci.
I am pleased in this context to recall what the Second Vatican Council established with regard to sacred music. In line with an age-old tradition, the Council said it "is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as a combination of sacred music and words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy" (
Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 112). How often does the rich biblical and patristic tradition stress the effectiveness of song and sacred music in moving and uplifting hearts to penetrate, so to speak, the intimate depths of God's life itself! Well aware of this, John Paul II observed that today as always, three traits distinguish sacred music: "holiness", "true art" and "universality" or the possibility that it can be proposed to any people or type of assembly (cf. Chirograph Tra le Sollecitudini, 22 November 2003; ORE, 28 January 2004, p. 6). Precisely in view of this, the ecclesiastical Authority must work to guide wisely the development of such a demanding type of music, not "freezing" its treasure but by seeking to integrate the valid innovations of the present into the heritage of the past in order to achieve a synthesis worthy of the lofty mission reserved to it in divine service. I am certain that the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music, in harmony with the Congregation for Divine Worship, will not fail to make its contribution to "updating" for our times the precious traditions that abound in sacred music.
As I invoke upon you the motherly protection of Our Lady of the Magnificat and the intercession of St Gregory the Great and of St Cecilia, I assure you on my part of a constant remembrance in prayer. As I hope that the new academic year about to begin will be filled with every grace, I cordially impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you all.
© Copyright 2007 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Yet my diocesan newspaper, or perhaps their source, the US bishops propaganda machin…. I mean, news service, CNS, thought the salient feature of Benedict’s little talk was, as they headlined it, that “liturgical music should evolve with the times.”
Now, I’m not saying I don’t have an agenda of my own that could be coloring my reading comprehension.
But surely any fair reading of the ENTIRE address would see that the gist of what was said was not that music SHOULD evolve, but that it WILL, and that it is important that the evolution be guided so that it is within the context of tradition?
The quotes IN THE ORIGINAL around “freezing” and “updating” imply that those who would use such phrases aren’t getting it quite right, that preservation, say, is not “freezing” and that making worthy new contributions to this treasury is not “updating.”

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,

A parody via Organ-ci Chemist, Lyn (http://musical-chemist.blogspot.com/search/label/Parodies) via Christus Vincit, via Joe S. (don't know him, will have to look him up)

Dear Lord and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways;
For most of us, when asked our mind, admit we still most pleasure find
In hymns of ancient days, in hymns of ancient days.

The simple lyrics, for a start, of many a modern song
Are far too trite to touch the heart; enshrine no poetry, no art;
And go on much too long, and go on much too long.

O, for a rest from jollity and syncopated praise!
What happened to tranquillity? The silence of eternity
Is hard to hear these days, is hard to hear these days.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness till all our strummings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress of always having to be blessed;
Give us a bit of peace, give us a bit of peace.

Breathe through the beats of praise-guitar Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let drum be dumb, bring back the lyre, enough of earthquake, wind and fire,
Let's hear it for some calm, let's hear it for some calm.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Where's George Orwell when you need him?

Daniel Mitsui's always fascinating blog, Lion and Cardinal has a long quote from Orwell's "Benefit of Clergy"
Herewith, a reprint of the entire post:
Of course, in this long book of 400 quarto pages there is more than I have indicated, but I do not think that I have given an unfair account of his moral atmosphere and mental scenery. It is a book that stinks. If it were possible for a book to give a physical stink off its pages, this one would - a thought that might please Dali, who before wooing his future wife for the first time rubbed himself all over with an ointment made of goat's dung boiled up in fish glue. But against this has to be set the fact that Dali is a draughtsman of very exceptional gifts. He is also, to judge by the minuteness and the sureness of his drawings, a very hard worker. He is an exhibitionist and a careerist, but he is not a fraud. He has fifty times more talent than most of the people who would denounce his morals and jeer at his paintings. And these two sets of facts, taken together, raise a question which for lack of any basis of agreement seldom gets a real discussion.
The point is that you have here a direct, unmistakable assault on sanity and decency; and even - since some of Dali's pictures would tend to poison the imagination like a pornographic postcard - on life itself. What Dali has done and what he has imagined is debatable, but in his outlook, his character, the bedrock decency of a human being does not exist. He is as anti-social as a flea. Clearly, such people are undesirable, and a society in which they can flourish has something wrong with it. ...
It will be seen that what the defenders of Dali are claiming is a kind of BENEFIT OF CLERGY. The artist is to be exempt from the moral laws that are binding on ordinary people. Just pronounce the magic word Art, and everything is okay: kicking little girls in the head is okay; even a film like L'Age d'Or is okay. It is also okay that Dali should batten on France for years and then scuttle off like a rat as soon as France is in danger. So long as you can paint well enough to pass the test, all shall be forgiven you.
One can see how false this is if one extends it to cover ordinary crime. In an age like our own, when the artist is an altogether exceptional person, he must be allowed a certain amount of irresponsibility, just as a pregnant woman is. Still, no one would say that a pregnant woman should be allowed to commit murder, nor would anyone make such a claim for the artist, however gifted. If Shakespeare returned to the earth to-morrow, and if it were found that his favourite recreation was raping little girls in railway carriages, we should not tell him to go ahead with it on the ground that he might write another KING LEAR. And, after all, the worst crimes are not always the punishable ones. By encouraging necrophilic reveries one probably does quite as much harm as by, say, picking pockets at the races. One ought to be able to hold in one's head simultaneously the two facts that Dali is a good draughtsman and a disgusting human being. The one does not invalidate or, in a sense, affect the other. The first thing that we demand of a wall is that it shall stand up. If it stands up, it is a good wall, and the question of what purpose it serves is separable from that. And yet even the best wall in the world deserves to be pulled down if it surrounds a concentration camp. In the same way it should be possible to say, This is a good book or a good picture, and it ought to be burned by the public hangman. Unless one can say that, at least in imagination, one is shirking the implications of the fact that an artist is also a citizen and a human being. ...
I knew I was a genius, somebody once said to me, long before I knew what I was going to be a genius about. And suppose that you have nothing in you except your egoism and a dexterity that goes no higher than the elbow; suppose that your real gift is for a detailed, academic, representational style of drawing, your real MÉTIER to be an illustrator of scientific textbooks. How then do you become Napoleon?
There is always one escape: INTO WICKEDNESS. Always do the thing that will shock and wound people. At five, throw a little boy off a bridge, strike an old doctor across the face with a whip and break his spectacles - or, at any rate, dream about doing such things. Twenty years later, gouge the eyes out of dead donkeys with a pair of scissors. Along those lines you can always feel yourself original. And after all, it pays! It is much less dangerous than crime. Making all allowance for the probable suppressions in Dali's autobiography, it is clear that he had not had to suffer for his eccentricities as he would have done in an earlier age. He grew up into the corrupt world of the nineteen-twenties, when sophistication was immensely widespread and every European capital swarmed with aristocrats and RENTIERS who had given up sport and politics and taken to patronising the arts. If you threw dead donkeys at people, they threw money back. A phobia for grasshoppers - which a few decades back would merely have provoked a snigger - was now an interesting complex which could be profitably exploited. And when that particular world collapsed before the German Army, America was waiting. You could even top it all up with religious conversion, moving at one hop and without a shadow of repentance from the fashionable SALONS of Paris to Abraham's bosom.
That, perhaps is the essential outline of Dali's history. But why his aberrations should be the particular ones they were, and why it should be so easy to sell such horrors as rotting corpses to a sophisticated public - those are questions for the psychologist and the sociological critic. Marxist criticism has a short way with such phenomena as Surrealism. They are bourgeois decadence, and that is that. But though this probably states a fact, it does not establish a connection. One would still like to know WHY Dali's leaning was towards necrophilia - and not, say, homosexuality, and WHY the RENTIERS and the aristocrats would buy his pictures instead of hunting and making love like their grandfathers. Mere moral disapproval does not get one any further. But neither ought one to pretend, in the name of detachment, that such pictures as Mannequin Rotting in a Taxicab are morally neutral. They are diseased and disgusting, and any investigation ought to start out from that fact.
Now, I am not willing to endorse Orwell's (and I imagine, Mr. Mitsui's) opinion of Dali, without knowing more of Dali's work.
But the principle's he elucidates seem inarguable.
Where are the critics who should have said the same of film auteur T's cinematic abattoirs, or photographer M's images of beautiful men with objects inserted into bodily orifices.
Who cares what skill is brought to bear on that which is basically diseased and disgusting?
(Now that I think of it, the Eldest Sister, when I opined once that a dreadful bit of Manilo-esque "liturgical music" was at least well played, swept majestically out of church saying, you don't get points for doing a good job on crap.
She and Orwell, eh?)