Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Friday, 30 May 2008

FSSP Ordinations

Some thoughts on the FSSP Ordinations
Or really, thoughts on comments made in the blogosphere on the ordinations...
1. Yes indeed, thank you EWTN.
I would think it possible that more people will have seen an Ordination in the EF today than viewed such a rite in all the rest of history combined.
Certainly more Americans than ever before?
2. No, it is not a very beautiful building.
It looks extremely familiar but I am quite certain I have never been to Mass in Lincoln Nebraska, so I am wondering if it bears a strong resemblance to a church somewhere in Lawrence, Kansas or Denver. I'll ask Himself when he comes in, because I have a strong memory of attending Mass with his Methodist self by my side, doing, as he called it, the protestant lean (i.e., parking yourself on the very precipice of the pew and ducking your head so that that you can pretend to yourself that no one else can tell you are the only on in attendance not kneeling ;o))
But the essential homeliness of the surroundings does not, somehow, clash with the beauty of the vestments, etc., making it clear obstructionist bishops toeing the party line are talking nonsense when they insist that the EF cannot be celebrated because church buildings in the diocese don't allow for it.
3. The idea that pre-conciliar churches are dark and depressing in contrast to post-VCII churches which are light and airy and uplifting is balderdash (I knew that, but it's nice to have the evidence on National, if not international TV.) (For that matter, I personally like "dark," and don't find it depressing.)
4. Not familiar enough with the EF, much less the Ordination rite to have an opinion on whether the MC is a little intrusive, but it occurs to me when one is very aware of the MC, as one can be even in papal liturgies, it nicely illustrates the point that it is NOT all about the celebrant, and he is no more "in charge" and able to do whatever he wills than the altar servers.
Improv not allowed!
and finally...
5. Our diaconal ordination will be nothing like this.
I had a very disheartening final choir rehearsal last night, and an email that I somehow missed from a day earlier, that I am not certain I have now replied to in time to get necessary information in the program. I am, however, trying to see if I can't look on my disappointments, if I SHOULDN'T look on my disappointment as thwarted ego -- ooooh, look at the musically wonderful liturgy I put together -- rather than it being any real set-back to the beauty and solemnity of the liturgy.

Every Time We Look at the Sacred Heart

James Douglas Conley, elevated today to the episcopacy, (aux., Denver,) has a most interesting history. A convert, this beautiful incident related in his homily at Vespers last night is a tiny but obviously significant part of that history: (via Rocco at Whispers, http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2008/05/in-rockies-conley-friday-dawns-early.html, emphasis mine.)

Shortly after my conversion to the Catholic Church, I ... spent the winter at a Benedictine monastery in France, trying to figure out just what God wanted me to do with my life.
... I left the monastery to visit and pray at some of the famous Catholic shrines in France.I had heard about the apparitions of the Sacred Heart to Saint Margaret Mary, and so I set out on foot with backpack in tow, for Paray le Monial.
I ended up hitch-hiking most of the way, and I arrived at the little French village in the late afternoon in the pouring rain.
I had not made any prior reservations, of course, and so I did the logical thing.
I knocked on the door of the Rectory where the parish priest lived.
He was a kind old priest, and he told me that there were some empty rooms over in the old seminary which had since closed down.He gave me a key, and I made my way over to the seminary. I found one of the rooms and changed out of my wet clothes.
The room was very old, but it was warm and dry. There was a small wooden desk against one wall, and so I sat down and began to write a letter to my mother.I pulled out the desk drawer, and the only thing in it was a small crucifix -- this crucifix.
I took the crucifix in my hand and turned it over. And there on the back of the crucifix, in French, was engraved a date.
The date was June 6, 1878.
I thought nothing of it until I realized that the present date was also June 6 -- of 1978, exactly 100 years later to the day, from the date on the back of the crucifix!
I didn’t have a clue as to the date’s significance, but I did know that the crucifix was meant for me – and so I took it with me and have kept that crucifix to this day.
For me, this story from Paray le Monial, the home of the Sacred Heart and the coincidence of the date on the back of the crucifix, was an affirmation that Jesus loved me, that he laid down his life for me and that his guiding hand was with me, even though I didn’t know where he was leading me.
It came at a time in my life when I wasn’t sure where to turn to next. It gave me the confidence to forge on, in faith and in trust, knowing that God was watching over me and guiding me and that I was on the right path.
Every time we look at a crucifix or a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we should be convinced that God loves us. He sent his only son who died for us to save us. He continues to draw us into the love of his Sacred Heart. He beckons us to lay down our lives in service to the Lord and to each other.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Sacred Music Retreat

Again, wish I could go.
The once last year, (Fr Samuel Weber was the retreat master,) was very moving, very refreshing and.... well frankly, tons of fun.
Good people, good prayers, good music.
Mundelein is beautiful.
A Guided Retreat for Church Musicians
June 22nd to June 27th, 2008Fr. Gregory Labus, Retreat Master
The Liturgical Institute proudly presents its second annual spiritual retreat for church musicians. Intended to combine theological and practical aspects of church music with prayer and meditation, the retreat takes place on the beautiful campus of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary just outside of Chicago.
Experienced cathedral musician Fr. Gregory Labus will lead spiritual conferences on the theme "Praise God in Song" as a guide to explore the mysteries of the Christian Faith. Using such theological concepts of being called, the priesthood of all believers, gifts of the Spirit and being sent, Fr. Labus will explore how the ministry of liturgical musicians is rooted in Christ’s call to discipleship.
The scriptures, sacred music and the new bishops' document on liturgical music, Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship, will be employed to guide an understanding of liturgical music ministry.
Each day includes spiritual conferences, sung morning, midday and evening prayer, rehearsal for a retreat schola to sing at the Solemn Mass for Ss. Peter and Paul, free time for prayer, and confession and spiritual direction if desired.
Don't miss this rare opportunity to pray, learn, rest and recharge for your music ministry!

Chant Institute, in Indiana July 3 - 6

I will not be able to attend, but this may be of interest to someone. (I loved my short time in Renssalaer, at "chant camp.")

The four-day Gregorian Chant Institute is designed for beginners as well as for those with previous experience. For the first segment of the institute, participants will be divided into two tracks: "Fundamentals," with Prof. Sandra Hobbs, and "Seminar" with Fr. Anthony Ruff. O.S.B. Both groups will come together for the second segment, led by Fr. Ruff. Topics include: reading 4-line notation, pronunciation of Latin, chant books and resources, modality, psalm tones, programming in the reformed liturgy, interpretation of Mass Propers based on lineless notation of the 10th-11th centuries, rehearsal and performance techniques. Participants will receive a handout before the course and will be asked to spend a few hours of preparation before the course begins. Principal text: Graduale Triplex.

Fr. Anthony Ruff, O.S.B., monk of St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, and Associate Professor at St. John's School of Theology, continues the tradition of the Rensselaer Gregorian Chant Institute begun by Fr. Lawrence Heiman, C.PP.S. Fr. Ruff is Chair of the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Chant of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians and serves on the executive committee of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada.

Sandra Hobbs, M.M.E., M.A., is Director of Choral Activities, Music Theory, and Handbells at Lake Central High School, St. John's Indiana. A longtime student of Fr. Lawrence Heiman, C.PP.S., she also has studied Gregorian Chant with Fr. Columba Kelly, O.S.B., and at the Abbey of Solesmes, France.

Gregorian Chant Institute fee: $195 ($365 for one semester credit)
Housing and meals: $155

I need to stop embracing my victimhood...

.... my fashion victimhood, that is.
Because there are real victims.
One of my least admirable traits is my onlyoccasionalbutthenborderlineobsessiveburstofinterest in fashion.
I know it is shallow and irrational, I know it can be socially and fiscally irresponsible... I even know it's mostly ugly.
But from time to time, sometimes out of the blue, I will experience a sudden urge, a need (or so it feels,) to "look good," (albeit "good" by no objective standard.)
Himself's current gig is putting me in a fairly unusual situation for me, socializing (that is rare enough!) with people I do not know at all, and straddling two very different circles, (one moneyed and social, the other artsy and theatrical,) leaving me uncertain what I am "supposed" to wear, and eager to put HIM as much at ease as is possible, (which, given his personality, means not very...)
So I'm thinking not my one of my bizarre men's dressing gown worn as a wrap, or craft project sweaters, or....
There was an article in the NY Times today about the growing disparity between the price points of high-end, luxury fashion, and low end, but still fashionable clothes.
Anyway, so now having glanced at the S & F section , I think I'm probably cured of this fascination for a good while, at least....
Flexing Your Buying Power Dress for Less and Less
Over all, apparel prices have gone down primarily because of two factors: the overwhelming movement of manufacturing to countries with cheaper labor, where the clothes are made, and increased competition between traditional retailers and discounters, where the clothes are sold.
In some cases, the low prices today seem almost ridiculous. Steve & Barry’s sells celebrity-branded shoes and dresses for $8.98 or less. Target offers a silk faille ball gown from Isaac Mizrahi on sale for $129.99. Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, promotes an Op T-shirt for 97 cents.
But how low can prices go? While fashion deflation may be good news for consumers, it is not necessarily so for stores. Such prices at the low end and, conversely, such high prices at the luxury end, where $1,300 handbags are piled up like tomatoes at Saks Fifth Avenue, are beginning to cause concern among retailers and analysts, because they are having a profound impact on the way people shop.
The fashion and retail industry fear that the appeal of price, for consumers of both mass and luxury goods, is becoming a more important factor in decisions about what to buy than desire, which has been the driving mechanism behind the growth of fashion and luxury for decades.
“We as a business cannot afford to have a customer take a second look and ask, ‘Do I need this?’ ” said Bud Konheim, the chief executive of Nicole Miller. “That is the kiss of death. We’re finished, because nobody really needs anything we make as a total industry.”
[Such dangerous honesty! that struck me.... but then this:]
The divergence of price extremes has become so striking that some fashion executives, including Mr. Konheim, are openly asking whether prices have reached both their nadir and apex at the same moment. “As far as bottom costs go, we’re there,” Mr. Konheim said. “I think we’ve exploited all the countries on earth for people who really want to work for nothing.”

St Stan's Troubled Future

The reason the question of obedience resonated so loudly for me when I read of the document, The Service of Authority and Obedience, despite my not being in religious life... (or wait, aren't we all in religious life?) ... (you know what I mean,) is that I have been reading about the unholy mess in St Louis.
Yes, what started as mean-old-Bishop-Burke-trying-to -infantalize-people-by-telling-them- what-to do-with-their-own-money has become schism.
The once seemingly reasonable parishioners have now shown their true, non-Catholic colours.
It is not that they rejected one bishop's fiscal authority, it is that they reject the very notion of Church authority, to ordain, to confer the sacraments, to be the union of all the members of Christ's Mystical Body.
I don't buy the idea that they were "driven" to it by some initial intransigence on the part of Burke.
"The Made Me A Criminal" is a great movie and all, yeah, yeah, we know about Robin Hood and his merry men forced to either poach or starve....
This ain't it.
(The merry men didn't go, hey, let's start an organized crime syndicate, down with the government.... screw King Richard when he comes back too!)
ISTM that either one accepts the mere idea of authority or one doesn't.
This has been part of my own.... shudder, but yes, I'm going to use the phrase... faith journey.
I intended to be a priest.
I wanted to be a priest.
I was sure, given the signs of the times, that when I reached the age where it could happen, that I would be a priest.
(Notice the arrogance, it never occurred to me that other than an XY chromosome and various body parts that I could possibly, in anyway be lacking in the Right Stuff.)
And this colored many of my opinions on Church matters.
But at some point I realized that people way smarter, way holier and way wiser than I, who had thought about it way longer, disagreed. People, and collectives of people who were right about everything else disagreed with me.
And the people who agreed? they were wrong about everything else, and getting wronger and constantly finding new ways in which to be wrong.
So even though I still didn't "get" it, hell, I still don't entirely get it, with whom did I absolutely need to align myself?
I absolutely HAD to assent.
And having assented, as an act of will, (as opposed to, to ride my current hobby horse, thinking, yeah, that feels right to me...,) lo, and behold! She turns out to be right. (I may even some day feel that women cannot be ordained, but it doesn't really matter to me whether I do or do not.)
So, back to the tragedy in St Louis, with whom do the St Stan's Six align themselves? Well, as the headline has it, the fringe.
"The feisty, stubborn members of the Polish church... [are] set to follow a renegade priest into the fringes of the church.... the church's pastor, the Rev. Marek Bozek, ...who had been suspended by his own bishop in the diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau....[may] soon be laicized, or stripped of his priesthood.
If Bozek is laicized, he said he will ask a different bishop to oversee St. Stanislaus, and the board's chairman says the congregation will support him.
One option is worshipping under the authority of an excommunicated Zambian archbishop who is married to a Korean acupuncturist, and whose organization — funded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon...Last fall [Bozek] participated in an ordination ceremony for two women at a synagogue. The women became priests of an organization called Roman Catholic Womenpriests."

Either the Church is the Church or She isn't.
Either the Church is the Church or there is no Church.
Either the Church has the authority given Her by God, and has been preserved from error according to His promise, or all Christians can and should just go their merry way.
We should all be protestants. And we should each be his own magisterium.
And the idea of a Protestant authority is an oxymoron.

I wonder if the concept of obedience comes easier to me because I was a musician and an actor.
Some things simply do not "work" without a leader.
And there is no point in working for a leader whose vision you don't respect, or can't agree with.
Surely each of us who performs has found himself a member of an ensemble with a protestant violin or a cast with protestant character man....

We wont' even get into the trickle down protestantism of the child who ignores his parent/parishioner who ignores his priest who ignores his bishop who ignores his pope.

(Mostly because I am in recovery from dealing with the chronologically impaired, height challenged, and do, really, really do, intend to put my thoughts down on Working With Children In Theatre.)


Have not found a link to the document itself yet.

Vatican Gives Guidelines on Religious Obedience
Congregation for Consecrated Life Releases Instruction
VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2008 (
Zenit.org).- Obedience in the consecrated life is a journey in search of God, aiming at becoming aware of the design of his love, says a 50-page document released by the Vatican.The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life today published a 50-page instruction titled: "The Service of Authority and Obedience." It was presented this morning at an assembly of men and women superiors-general being held at the Salesianum in Rome.
A communiqué released by the congregation reported: "In the first place, the text examines the theme of religious obedience, the root of which is seen in that search for God and for his will which is particular to believers. [...] Christian and religious obedience does not, then, appear simply as the implementation of ecclesiastical or religious laws and rulings, but as the momentum of a journey in search of God, which involves listening to his Word and becoming aware of his design of love -- the fundamental experience of Christ, who, out of love, was obedient unto death on the cross."Authority in religious life must be understood in this light, in other words, as a way to help the community -- or institute -- to seek and achieve the will of God. Obedience, then, is not justified on the basis of religious authority, because everyone in a religious community -- first and foremost the authorities themselves -- are called to obedience. Authority places itself at the service on the community so that God's will may be sought and achieved together."The communiqué noted that the question of religious authority should be placed in the context of a "great shared commitment to obedience."DifficultiesThe instruction also considers "the delicate matter of 'difficult obedience,' that in which what is requested of the religious is particularly hard to carry out, or in which the subject feels he sees 'things which are better and more useful for his soul than those which the superior orders him to do,'" the communiqué added. "Drawing from a still-relevant text of Paul VI, the document also dwells upon the possibility of 'objections of conscience' in the subject who must obey."It continued: "The instruction seeks to recall, above all, that obedience in religious life can give rise to difficult moments, to situations of suffering in which it is necessary to refer back to the Obedient One par excellence, Christ. [...] It must, moreover, be borne in mind that authority too can be 'difficult,' experiencing moments of discouragement and fatigue which can lead to resignation or inattention in exercising an appropriate guidance [...] of the community."The reference to conscience helps people to consider obedience not just as a passive and irresponsible execution of orders, but as a conscious shouldering of commitments [...] which are a real actuation of the will of God."
"If the document contains a serene and faith-motivated exhortation to obedience, it also offers a vast and coherent set of guidelines for the exercise of authority," such as "inviting people to listen, favoring dialogue, sharing, co-responsibility, [...] and the merciful treatment of people" entrusted to authority, the communiqué added.
The instruction, the statement concluded, "gives particular resonance to the religious community as a place in which, under the guidance of the superior, a form of 'community discernment' must be exercised in decision-making. This practice, for the implementation of which important suggestions are offered, does not however eliminate the role of authority. [...] And it must not be forgotten that, by ancient tradition, the highest authority within religious institutes resides in the general chapter -- or similar institution -- which is a collegial body."

Vatican, May. 28, 2008 (CWNews.com) - The Vatican has issued a new document underlining the importance of obedience in religious life.
Entitled "The Service of Authority and Obedience," the 50-page document from the Congregation for Religious takes the form of an Instruction. It was presented to the superiors of male and female religious orders on May 28 at an assembly held in the Salesianum in Rome.
Obedience, the Vatican document says, should be understood by religious as "a way to help the community or institute to seek and achieve the will of God." The basis for religious obedience, the Instruction notes, is found "in that search for God and for his will which is particular to believers." In offering their obedience, religious imitate "the fundamental experience of Christ Who, out of love, was obedient unto his death on the Cross."
The document from the Congregation for Religious explicitly takes up the question of "difficult obedience," which arises when the individual religious finds the superior's directions "particularly hard to carry out." It also considers situations in which the superior's orders might cause conflicts in the individual's conscience.
Obedience can "give rise to difficult moments," the Vatican document acknowledges. Nevertheless the Instruction observes that religious should reflect on the fundamental role of obedience as a path to understanding God's will. The exercise of religious authority can also be difficult for the superior, the document notes. Everyone in religious life is called to embrace obedience "not just as a passive and irresponsible execution of orders, but as a conscious shouldering of commitments."
The Instruction offers some direction for religious superiors, encouraging them to use their authority prudently, "inviting people to listen, favoring dialogue, sharing, co-responsibility." Superiors should show pastoral concern and mercy for those living under their rule, the document notes.
The Vatican Instruction repeatedly calls readers back to the understanding that obedience is not only a means of structuring the life of religious communities, but a way of seeking and understanding God's will. Religious, the document stresses, should recognize in their obedience to superiors "a real actuation of the will of God."

When we teach Mathematical Ed...

As the facilitator guides us in Breaking Open the Numbers, we might divide into small discussion groups for Equation Sharing.
Here are some talking points:
(An oldie but goodie from the Curt Jester http://www.splendoroftruth.com/curtjester/)

*How do you feel about numbers?
*Meditate on your favorite number, then write a paragraph about why it is your favorite.
*Choose a song and identify some of the ways in which numbers are present in it. Play the song for the class and lead a discussion about what the class thinks the song expresses about numbers.
*Which number is most present to you in your life today? Which number is most absent?
*We’re going to watch a movie. At the end of the movie we’ll discuss the ways in which numbers are explicitly and symbolically portrayed in it.
*What can you do to be more aware of numbers in your everyday life?
*What are your best and worst experiences involving numbers?
*Make a poster in which you creatively and colorfully depict a number of your choice.
*Although some numbers are called “greater” and others are called “lesser”, in what ways are all numbers really the same? In what ways can the “lesser” numbers be considered greater than the “greater” numbers, and in what ways can the “greater” numbers be considered less than the “lesser” numbers?
*Even though irrational numbers cannot be expressed as the quotient of two integers the way rational numbers can, explain how irrational numbers should be respected and considered to be no different from rational numbers.
*Explain how the traditional classification of integers as either odd or even is merely a social construct.
*Explain how every number has something good about it.
*Do you accept the way that previous generations have used numbers? How do you think numbers should be used? Is there a right or a wrong way to use numbers? What do you consider to be the most personally meaningful way to use numbers?
*How has the way you use numbers changed throughout your life? How do you think you will use numbers in the future?
*Explain why a diversity of numbers is good and what you can do to promote number diversity.
*Explain how multi-cultural approaches to numeral systems (e.g., Mesopotamian, Roman, Arabic) can enrich our appreciation of numbers. Also explain why no numeral system is better than any other system.
*You will have to do a group project in which each person contributes a number. Present to the class all the ways your group can relate the numbers to each other. Your presentation can be a PowerPoint or a video in which you creatively animate the numbers your group selects.
*Write an essay in which you pretend that you are a number. Explain what you think it would be like to be that number.
*If you believe in your heart or in your conscience that 2+2=5, does anyone else have the right to tell you that you’re wrong? Explain why we should avoid judging other people’s mathematical operations.
*Fractions are divisive. Can you think of better ways to express a quotient, without using divisive fractions? Is division something we should strive to do with numbers anyway?
*Explain why the labeling of numbers as either “positive” or “negative” is discriminatory, hurtful, and a manifestation of the bigotry of value-ism. How would you feel if you were labeled a “negative” number? What can you do to help end this kind of discrimination?
*Create a collage of numbers.

I dunno, call me a Traditionalist, but at some point shouldn't felt and burlap come into this?

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Feelings, nothing more than feelings...

In looking for that pastoral letter from Bishop Morlino on liturgical music I came across a contentious and far ranging thread on the topic.
It is old enough that I felt no urge to refute some of the worst cant, misinformation nonsense and uninformed opinion expressed --- among the howlers is the commonly voiced notion that a church musician's preparation consists of so small a commitment of time and his skill is acquired so easily that he should no more be paid than the volunteer RE leaders who takes care of a class every week.
But that sort of failure to recognize what another's work consists of is common as dirt, - a five minute sermon takes five minutes to write, so what the hell does a priest do with all his free time; a SAHW, or M with kids in school must get to lie on the couch and watch Oprah all day eating Hot Pockets; you call that art? my five year old could do that; an actor earns a weeks salary for putting on a costume and make-up two hours a night; etc., etc. You know the drill, you know my attitude, hardly worth the trouble to contradict, (unless of course it is put forth by a pastor, finance committee, parish council member...)

But this error was what struck me:
If the music being played at Mass does not express what the people are feeling, then it's dead, dry and meaningless. It doesn't serve the purpose of what music is to be for.

There's your root mistake, buddy, there's where the whole system started to go wrong..
Liturgical music is not to express our feelings, not your feelings, not my feelings.
It is to express our Faith, and our Faith is not a "feeling," it is not an emotion.
Still less than it is to express them, is the purpose of liturgical music to generate or stir up emotions.
Appropriate liturgical music may do so incidentally, it may, particularly if it is GOOD music provoke a great range of emotion, but when it is ordered to that purpose it is likely, among other problems, to be very one-note in the emotional responses it seeks, and we are cursed with the Liturgy-As-Pep-Rally model that has damn near lost two generations of souls.
And for that one out of twenty moment when instead of Happy All the Time, the contemporary liturgy makes a concession to reality, and as a worshipping body we are instructed to portray "sad," the Pep Rally gives way to the Therapy Session.
That is why the contents of the GOH Hymnal* published by WnF is not just so ineffective to its proper purpose, but has proven so actively destructive to the practice of the Faith, and to the Church.
It has been said, in very simplistic terms, that the major difference between Classical music and Romantic music is that the latter tries to manufacture in its listeners that of which the former more diffidently calls them to recollection.
Which may be why the latter is often more accessibly "fun" the former is probably more likely to be suited to the Liturgy. But that is another topic.
Anyway, as the thread went on, (and on, and ON...) the proponent of expressing his feelings changed, you'll forgive the expression, his tune, and with it the parameters of the discussion.
Ah, music, as it was an "art," was therefore meant to express thoughts and feelings.
And the "feeling" it is most meant to express is "love" of God.
There's the second great error, and it has worked toward the destruction not just of the liturgy, but of society.
He, and perhaps most people think Love is an emotion, a feeling.
It's why the institution of marriage is in shambles, it's why the idea of commitment is alien to a large and growing segment of society.
If "love" is primarily a "feeling" - and feelings by their very nature are inconstant and unprincipled and uncontrollable - rather than an act of the will, if Romantic Love is the primary meaning of the word, then humanity has tried to anchor one of it's bedrock institutions, the Family, in quicksand.
I think sometimes that the greatest value in growing up in a larg--- in an ENORMOUS family is that one learns, not as outsiders guess, "to get along with all types," but that one needn't like someone to love him.
Job knew what Love was, he knew how to love God, even when he wasn't exactly moony about the Almighty.
When the bloom was off the rose, so to speak.
(The Office of Readings seems to have been designed especially for me, and where my thoughts are wandering at this moment in history, I sometimes think.)
(*THAT little snark, on t'other hand IS an expression of both my feelings AND my faith. WAF, only my feelings. My feelings. My feelings about feelings.... woa-woa-woah, feelings.)

Black Lists

I am not convinced that Black Lists are the way to go, but I am certainly in sympathy with those who do.
On a thread below a commentator opined that all the talk of principls by which music should be removed from consideration for programming in the Liturgy will do no good until some Person In Charge starts getting specific, naming names, going on record.
I told him that one of our bishops had (correctly,) but referenced All Are Welcome (incorrectly.)Having misidentified the song in question, I thought I'd best find the document in the public record, a letter sent by His Excellency Bishop RobertC. Morlino, of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, to all the priests, deacons, parish liturgists and music directors; and post it (since it came out before I was blogging here, even though my memory is laughable, I am fairly certain I have not previously posted it.)
While I am at it, can anyone explain his use of the phrase, "sacramentally intense"?
I don't disagree with his assessment, his "ranking", if you will, of the Presences strikes me as intuitively obvious, but that's not much to hang an argument on. I would concur in his opinion that "after the council, an overemphasis was given to the presence of Christ in the assembly, so that the other ways Christ is even more sacramentally intensely present suffered a certain neglect," but I know that there are many, of a less traditionally Catholic, more sympathetic to the protestant reformers bent, who would not.
Dear Friends,
The clear teaching of the Second Vatican Council is that the presence of Christ at Mass occurs in four different ways: the most sacramentally intense presence of Christ is His Real Presence under the signs of bread and wine; the second most sacramentally intense presence of Christ is in His proclaimed word; the third most sacramentally intense presence of Christ is through the priest, who is ordained to act in the person of Christ; and the fourth most sacramentally intense presence of Christ is in the assembly. These four "places" of the presence of Christ are all important but they are not all equal in sacramental intensity.
Misinterpretation of council teachings
In previous communications, I have written about what Pope Benedict has called the discontinuity hermeneutic, that is the various misinterpretations of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, which have occurred since the council and which now stand in need of correction.
After the council, an overemphasis was given to the presence of Christ in the assembly, so that the other ways Christ is even more sacramentally intensely present suffered a certain neglect.
Evidence of that is given through the occurrence, not unusual throughout the United States, of the practice of the taking of the consecrated Precious Blood of Christ, which remained after Mass, and pouring it down the sacrarium or even an ordinary sink. Evidence of this is also given in the need seen universally among the Bishops of the United States to issue a document affirming and clarifying our belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharistic species.
As I have said repeatedly, everything that we do or do not do at the Eucharistic liturgy teaches. Pope Benedict has called us recently to a reflection about the music that is sung during the liturgy, and in fact our national bishops' conference will be considering this matter further at our coming meeting in November.
Music during the Mass
The question arises, does some of the music routinely sung embody the incorrect overemphasis on the presence of Christ in the assembly, so that people are confused as to the importance of the sacramental intensity of His presence, especially under the signs of bread and wine.
Certain songs come to mind where the lyrics raise a real question for me. For example: "We are called, We are chosen, We are Christ for one another, We are a promise, We are sower, We are seed, We are question, We are creed." Singing that song repeatedly teaches people something, and I am afraid that it is something that I as Bishop do not want to teach them, but we certainly need to begin a dialogue about these matters.
Another example of this same problem would be the lyrics of the hymn Gather Us In, where a seemingly endless explanation is given to God about who We are, who are gathered in.
Pope Benedict has said that the music at Mass is not an extrinsic accompaniment to the liturgy, but is intrinsically part of our prayer of praise and adoration and thanksgiving to the Lord. The words of the songs we sing should be focused on giving praise and adoration to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, rather than explaining to God things about ourselves or even praising ourselves.
When we gather for the Eucharist, we gather as sinners as the beautiful Eucharistic Preface teaches: "You have no need of our praise, yet our desire to thank You is itself Your gift. Our prayer of thanksgiving adds nothing to Your greatness, but makes us grow in your grace, through Jesus our Lord." That prayer of the Church contains the truth about the assembly. We are an assembly in whom Christ is indeed present, an assembly blessed with this wonderful gift even though we are sinners. The music we sing at Mass should teach nothing different than that.
Open discussion about music at Mass
I make these observations in order to open a discussion about the music we sing at Mass, in the context of my addressing my second focal point since coming to Madison (vocations has been the first focal point), of liturgy and catechesis. This is just the beginning of a discussion. I will in the near future be issuing additional guidelines for music at celebration of Confirmation only (which will take effect next Easter), and any further liturgical approaches that we take as a diocese will depend on the continuing wisdom which Pope Benedict offers us about liturgical music, on the wisdom we receive from our deliberations as a National Conference of Bishops, and upon the reflections I hear from our good priests and people in the days ahead.
But I write this present communication in the hope that pastors and brother priests, deacons, and various liturgical ministers in the parishes will begin to reflect on and discuss this particular important matter, so that the liturgical prayer of our people will be more integral with and more expressive of authentic spirituality and theology, and as a result our faithful people who pray that prayer will be even more holy than so many of you already are.
We must remember that as we pray before the "Holy, Holy, Holy," the angels and saints are present with us giving praise to the Trinity. The hymns we sing should be worthy of the participation of the angels and saints.
Thank you for reading this, God bless you and yours. Praises be Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

A Singular, Vital, Formative Role

When I was in another profession, the people I admired were those who took their roles seriously, and themselves, not at all.
How seriously are we all taking our roles now? and how lightly ourselves?
Bishop Earl Boyea, ordinary of the Diocese of Lansing delivered this homily to musicians of his diocese, at Vespers on Trinity Sunday in his cathedral.

Via http://marajoy.blogspot.com
In 1922 a fragment of an early Christian hymn was found at Oxyrhynchos dating to about 280 AD. Some of the very few words which survive are these: “All the glorious creatures of God should not remain silent and be outdone by the radiant stars…”
The stars, in their radiance, in their power and majesty, are praising God by their very existence. We can do more. We can sing our praise and thanks, especially on this great day as we praise our Most Blessed Trinity.
Thus we give praise as do the stars. However, we, by consciously acknowledging the source of all goodness, our God, Three in One, our creator and redeemer, go beyond the stars and the rest of creation by deliberately not looking to ourselves but rather to the Other, the One.
This evening I wish to thank all of you for assisting our priests in leading the people of this local Church of Lansing in their acts of thanksgiving and praise of our God. I have often told parish musicians that everything you do is like another homily or instruction. Thus the words we use in our songs and hymns and inspired songs are of critical importance.
Thus, if we are singing hymns which glorify ourselves or what we do rather than give God the glory, then we clearly are not heeding Psalm 115: “Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to your name give the glory.” If we sing and celebrate that somehow we create the Church or our salvation or the goodness of the world rather than acknowledge God as the source of all and in comparison we are nothing, then we clearly are not heeding Psalm 144: “Lord, what is man that you care for him, mortal man, that you keep him in mind; man, who is merely a breath, whose life fades like a passing shadow?” In short, if we celebrate ourselves rather than our God, then we clearly are not heeding Psalm 146: “My soul, give praise to the Lord…make music to my God while I live. Put no trust in princes, in mortal man in whom there is no help. Take their breath, they return to clay and their plans that day come to nothing.”
Yes, you have a singular, vital, formative role in our Church.
If it is true that Lex orandi, lex credendi, then your assistance in the life of prayer which we live out each weekend in our parishes, is truly formative of the faith of our people. This also means that you bear an awesome burden—do not teach wrongly, do not teach idly, do not teach carelessly; rather teach in season and out the great truths of our faith. We preachers need you song-preachers to assist us.
For this to happen you must let the word dwell in you richly. This is the first and most important part of your ministry. To live in and with the Word of God. It is only out of that abiding with Jesus that any of us can presume to speak about the word.
Secondly, know well the Church, that bride of Christ for whom Christ shed his blood and to whom he gave that outpoured blood and his broken body as food.
Now to do both of these things may require of you some more work.
It is not enough that you may be skilled and technically proficient in your tasks.
You need also to breathe and know Christ and His Body, the Church.
First of all, pray, pray, pray—know Jesus, know our Heavenly Father, know the Holy Spirit.
In addition, then, read, take courses, become certified.
Do whatever is necessary that you may more effectively proclaim this faith.
For then you will truly be doing all in the Name of the Lord Jesus and thus giving Thanks to God.

I dunno, ya think Mass or a Margarita?

Which will make me feel better?
That's what matters most, right?
Some wonderful thoughts from one David Andrews, writing on the CMAA forum. (Someone I hope to meet at the colloquium -- there are so many people I would like to thank for their words in cyberspace.
A colleague had opined to him,
that as church musicians, we're not entitled to have a "bad day," because it is so quickly and easily reflected in our music and how we do our job.
This got me to thinking about two very important aspects of what we do as assistants in the liturgy: 1) objectivism versus subjectivism in the liturgy and its music, and 2) humility versus pridefulness.
On the first subject, ISTM that since the Second Vatican Council we (or should I say, progressivists) have spent entirely too much energy on making the music of the liturgy "moving." Indeed, how many of us who support the advancement of chant and chant-based polyphony have been accused of wanting "tired, old, boring" music rather than promoting "music that feeds and nourishes the people," whatever that means. Over the last two years I've come to the conclusion that chant and its children and grandchildren found in polyphony and hymnody are timeless precisely because they do not rely upon moving the "passions" in the post-modern, new-age understanding of the term. Quite the contrary, I believe that the beauty of chant, etc., lay in the fact that it lives in a realm of purity and objectivity, which has the power to stir the soul, not merely move the "humors."
This notion of objectivity versus subjectivity I think quite easily leads one to the concept of true humility. I've been reading and re-reading a little article that appeared over at NLM (Nicola Bux: The Liturgy is the Manifestation of the Sacred Reality of God). In it, we read, "Kneeling becomes the most eloquent expression of the creature before the present mystery. And for that reason obedience to the sacred liturgy is the measure of our humility. How often are those of us dedicated to a restoration of the use of the music of the liturgy accused of being insensitive to the needs of the many in the congregation? How often are we tarred with the broad brush of snobbery, elitism or arrogance when we dare to speak the truth regarding the mind of the Church in matters of music and liturgy?
While charity and humility are sisters, and we must do everything with charity, we nevertheless must not permit those who exercise pridefulness and arrogance in their tampering with the liturgy to their own ends attempt to deflect the true destructiveness of their actions by accusing us of the very vices they demonstrate on a regular basis.
Take heart, then, and quietly measure your work with all humility, honoring the mystery of God, and let us not fear the truth which S. Paul tells us, passes all understanding.

My own lesser contribution (I do tend to say the same things, over and over....)
I read, somewhere online, long ago, a young priest, relating words of wisdom from a mentor -- Don't make a god of your "feelings."
I am sometimes so wearied by liturgists, musicians, priests, congregants, whoever, this great mass of people who treat Liturgy not as worship of the Triune God, not even as a vehicle for their own and others' sanctification, but as some kind of communal Zoloft.


I have been wanting for some time to cobble together an arrangement of RVW's prelude on Rhosymedre (surely the most sublime gloss on a pedestrian hymn tune ever conceived,) with and SATB setting of the tune, to use as a choir anthem. (I should add, I don't play the piece itself competently, my brain still tells my left hand to play that dang pedal line, the default to which piano-trained-late-in-life-organists are often, IME, wont to default.)
But none of the texts I had encountered seemed both worthy of the effort and versatile enough to give me a return on teaching it to the choir.
And it's been under my nose for a while, in the New English Hymnal -- Charles Wesley's "Author of Life Divine," (Cyber Hymnal says it's John's.)
Gentle Readers, if any there be, what say ye?
Is this an appropriate text for a Catholic to use during a liturgy?

Author of life divine,
Who hast a table spread,
Furnished with mystic wine
And everlasting bread,
Preserve the life Thyself hast given,
And feed and train us up for Heav’n.

Our needy souls sustain
With fresh supplies of love,
Till all Thy life we gain,
And all Thy fullness prove,
And, strengthened by Thy perfect grace,
Behold without a veil Thy face.

They Have Received Their Reward

When I was a kid, and we I and other kids customarily gave up TV/chocolate/desert for Lent, many, if not most of us, made sure everyone around us knew from what we were fasting, and how painful it was and how, therefore, we suffered, (pretty much ensuring that any "pain" was distributed pretty well to those who had to deal with us, rather than ourselves.

" take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you....When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.

Golf? Really, GOLF? how brave...

Monday, 26 May 2008

The St Noel Chabanel Psalter

I have been meaning to post a link to this worthy project, more or less since I began blogging, but I'm still not certain I can do it properly.
Let's see if the button works, despite my interneptitude...


"Turning toward the mystery that the Church represents with its liturgical tradition"

This journalist nails the man -- what he says is so compelling because he exudes "love, friendship with God, the joy of being Christian."


ROME, MAY 26, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is an effective communicator, not just because every talk he gives is like an "encyclical in miniature," but because there is a secret to his efficacy, affirmed the author of a biography of the Pope.
That secret, says Giuseppe De Carli, is the beauty "that convinces almost more than rational arguments: love, friendship with God, the joy of being Christian. ... Tell me that this is not a Pope who is happy to be Christian."
De Carli, head of the Vatican bureau of the Italian public broadcaster Radiotelevisione Italiana, and a 20-year veteran in covering the See of Peter, has just released "Benedictus: Servus Servorum Dei" (Benedict: Servant of the Servants of God).
The book was presented last week by a group of Church and civil leaders along with the author.
The volume opens with De Carli's description of the Pope as "a man of timid character on the stage of the world." De Carli said he hopes the book "will be at least be placed among those contributions that help in some way to understanding Benedict XVI's personality."
"I made an entirely journalistic attempt to talk about Joseph Ratzinger," De Carli said. "It is the only edition of a newspaper; indeed, it is a newspaper-book. Today there are newspapers that seem like books; I wrote a book that seems like a newspaper."
Communicative minimalist
De Carli described the present Pontiff as the "father of the Church of our time, a great catechist, a theologian-pastor or a pastor-theologian."
"We have gone from the communicative and charismatic eruption of John Paul II to a kind of effective communicative minimalism with Pope Ratzinger," the author proposed. "It is effective because it is not supported by the physicality of gestures."
Every talk given by Benedict XVI is an "encyclical in miniature," De Carli said. The Pope's intellectual profile "is that of one who knows how to teach," and "his public, in its many-sidedness, would be surprised by an advertiser."
De Carli suggested: "Pope Wojtyla's style was centrifugal -- he obliged the media to abandon all logic and follow him toward everything and everyone. Benedict XVI's style is centripetal -- he obliges the media to turn toward the mystery that the Church represents with its liturgical tradition.
"From that which has been seen so far, it is a pontificate of concentration and deepening. [...] The fulcrum of the Christian faith is charity, love, it is the only thing that can give a prospect of hope and then rationality and the beauty of the faith.
"I believe that he is a pastor who says much to the people of our time, those who believe and also those who don't believe."

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa...

Snarkily, I used to give people who annoyed me the gift of a holy medal, St Dymphna.
Yes, I've always been one of the devil's Useful Idiots.
I try to draw crooked, with straight lines.

It's times like this...

I feel like ranting, but it's really all so minor and it's no ones fault, but I'm just so TIRED.
(So, how is it that you had time to muse on the careers of middle-aged movie actresses? Shut up!)
Directing thirteen-year-olds really burns up fuel, whatever stores of emotional or physical energy you have...
The Schola is the same way in some respects, with some even younger children, of course, but because it is elective, there are no soul-suckingly sullen participants; and while I really fray my cords by the end of a season, my physical exertion other than singing is running up and down the 2 1/2 stories to the loft, demonstrating and leading them in some full body stretches and warm-ups, and from time to time popping out from behind the console and up onto the risers to exhort or intimidate at closer range.
This was brutal, physically.
But I think I learned a great deal from it, I think my own acting will improve, or at least my ability to articulate my thoughts on acting and performing, and even, because of the nature of the piece, on Christianity.
My expectations have been both raised and lowered, strangely enough. I'll try to put down some thoughts on that some time.
But the whole experience has left me in lousy shape going into this ordination (and the al fresco Memorial day Mass at the cemetery, then several weddings and other "big" [i.e. with "clients" rather than worshippers,] Masses, and the chant intensive, and the colloquium after that!) and everything is going wrong.
And yes, everything going wrong, (or in some cases, merely not as expected,) is minor, really, really, really MINOR, but.... I'm on the verge of tears, I'm so tired I'm being unreasonable, (with myself, most of all.)
St Dymphna, come to my aid...

“The funny thing is that you punch him and then you kiss him,” he said...well, that’s love .

I don't know why it mattered to me so much that Marian was back for (surely!) the last Indiana Jones movie.
But it did.
And she is.
I don't know when, but i will make time to see it on the big screen.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Crossing the Tiber

News of a most blessed event, via the Catholic Herald, A British medium:

Thousands of Iraqi Christians cross Tiber
By Ed West
23 May 2008
Three thousand Iraqi Christians have been received into the Chaldean Catholic Church in California, with up to 300 in Britain also joining an "exodus" into the Church.The congregation of the Assyrian Church of the East were reconciled with Rome after Bishop Mar Bawai Soro was suspended by its Synod. The bishop served as the Church of the East's Bishop for California and was also the Secretary-General of his Church's Inter-Church Relations and Education Development. However the hierarchy were unhappy with his ecumenical position and attempts to bring the church closer to the Vatican.In November 2005 the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East_(ACE) issued an official letter to Bishop Soro informing him of his expulsion.
The man described by Fr Robert Taft as a "zealous and brilliant religious leader of his people" has felt that, in this time of intense religious persecution in Iraq, the church's traditional isolation from the rest of Christendom was counter-productive.
The Chaldean Catholic Church, which descends from the Church of the East, has been in full communion with Rome since 1551 when Mar Yohanan Sulaqa met with Pope Julius III. Its patriarch, Emmanuel III Delly, was elevated to the role of cardinal last October.
Bishop Soro said: "Myself and the followers of our movement understand our present efforts of unity to be in the same spirit and motivation that continue the work started by Archbishop Timothy and Patriarch Sulaqa.
"People really desire some sort of hope in the wake of the tragic situation in Iraq. I directed a number of ecumenical dialogues over 20 years, especially with the Holy See, but the Assyrian church withdrew, because they did not want to become accountable. According to our theological tradition Rome has a great place in the heart of the Assyrian church. We are the only apostolic church not in communion with any other church. But thank God our people did not stay still, but gradually clustered around me. After two years and a campaign of defamation and a legal battle, we were able to organise a union with the Chaldean Church.
"Thanks to the Chaldean Bishop Mar Sarhad Jammo the community were able to purchase a church in Ceres, California, which was consecrated on Pentecost Sunday.
And already between 200 and 300 members of the Assyrian Church within Britain's 5,000-strong Chaldo-Assyrian community have crossed the Tiber. As well as the ecumenical issue, many accuse the Assyrian church of being linked to the Kurdish Democratic Party, which aspires to an independent Kurdistan that includes the Assyrian Ninevah Plains.
Albert Michael, a British-Assyrian, said Bishop Soro "stood up for the truth".
He said:_"For centuries all they [the Assyrian Church] have done is control the Assyrian people. They were shocked that one of their own has stood up to them. He is truly a man of God, and for this reason thousands of Assyrians worldwide have left ACE and joined the Chaldean Catholic Church of the East or the Ancient Church of the East (Old Calendar).
"It already is an exodus. In the UK, I for one was a member of the ACE but now I want nothing to do with these people. I'm not against the church, I'm against these corrupt clergy. This movement will keep growing because we know the truth is on our side. We're in the Catholic Church now - you'll need to make room for us."
Bishop Soro said: "This unity movement is crucial for the future of Iraqi Christians because it can serve as a catalyst for a wider and more comprehensive unity... a successful unity movement will inspire hope in the hearts of people and as such the results of real hope can effect the survival and livelihood of Christianity in Iraq."

Thursday, 22 May 2008

How glorious it would be!

There is always a reason why a Corpus Christi procession is out of the question at our parish, out of the question.
But how good it would be...
I can see an altar set up on the steps of the parish school, one in the K of C parking lot, perhaps?
I can see all the First Communicants being given an excuse to put back on their white gowns, their little suits.
I can see them strewing petals.
I can see every alb that hangs in the closet in the servers' sacristy being filled with a body.
I can see the "Lifeteens" wearing their matching t-shirts, and the knights in their capes and feathered hats, and the Rosary Society ladies all wearing blue.
I can see the theater guild taking leadership in making beautiful stations.
I can see a quartet from the choir waiting at each altar to sing a motet.
I can see the few, but lovely banners we have, being processed.
I can see the school band, sounding like something out of "The Godfather," in happy anticipation.
I can see an affirmation of our belief in the Real Presence, I can see a proud proclamation of it in the face of a disbelieving secular society.
I can see a valuable, prophetic and possibly evangelical witness to the Faith.

I can see all this, alas, because I have a damn good imagination.

A world full of chatter...

That is a given, we accept it (although I, personally, fight against it at Mass, in church generally.)
But since when does the English-language commentator on the Vatican feed talk during the Eucharistic Prayer, DURING the consecration?

Striking, though -- everyone receiving from the Holy Father KNEELS to receive!


"Beauty is intrinsic to the triad which, with truth and goodness, civilizes man"

In its entirety, an interview with the eloquent and elegant Fr George Rutler, (who single-handedly redeems the state that is home to the most ignorant drivers in the country,) on the New Liturgical Movement.
NLM: Fr. Rutler, I asked this question in an interview with Fr. Joseph Fessio, and I would like to ask it of you as well: sometimes the "reform of the reform" is understood as simply meaning improving the music and general ethos of the celebration of the modern Roman liturgy -- something that is very important of course. Others propose that this is only one aspect of the reform of the reform, and that there is also a need to propose deeper reforms of the modern liturgical books themselves. What is your thought on the matter?

Fr. Rutler: The "reform of the reform" certainly encompassed more than improving aesthetic elements of worship. This is not to say that beauty in all its forms is peripheral, for beauty is intrinsic to the triad which, with truth and goodness, civilizes man. As any reading of the Pope's liturgical logic will show, the "reform of the reform" is all about the beauty of holiness, without which ritual externals are not much more than cosmetic. The holiness of worship is at the heart of the true renewal that the Second Vatican Council intended when it spoke of the liturgy as the "source and summit" of redeemed life. Without a full dedication of mind and heart, the reform of the liturgy would quickly degenerate into a vain aestheticism little different from the aesthetic movement which marked the decay of the Victorian age. There are Christian denominations that have gradually cloaked their abandonment of Gospel truths in outward ceremonials which become a kind of fancy dress paganism. A defect in some of the recent liturgical innovations has been an exaggerated emphasis on affective piety as a substitute for objective sacrifice. The sturdy language of the traditional texts assumed that the "ex opere operato" fact of the Sacrifice of the Mass will issue from and lead to an evangelical expression of this Sacrifice in the dedication of the worshipers to Christ's commission: to proclaim the Gospel and manifest the Faith in works of mercy. I think one way to get this across is for the liturgical calendar to embrace the many new saints who have lived the Eucharistic life in the challenges of modern conceits. Otherwise the sacred tradition will only be an indulgence of nostalgia.

NLM: In terms of the post-conciliar Roman Missal, sometimes called the Pauline Missal or "Ordinary form of the Roman liturgy", are there any specific reforms to its texts and rubrics that you believe are important as part of the programme of the reform of the reform?

Fr. Rutler: Most importantly, the texts need to be faithful to the editio typica, and the vernacular should be in a more elevated diction. Not only is the present translation banal, sometimes it is even ungrammatical. This also applies to the approved texts of Scripture for the lectionary; I have grave theological reservations about the neuterized translations, both with regard to the substance itself and to right to alter, and not just translate, the Scripture. The alternative opening collects should be eliminated, as they are painfully bad. The Psalm responses between the readings are too prolix and, as they now stand, the response oddly is taken from a translation different from the verses. I'd eliminate the many rubrical options, and also the fey kind of oblique rubrical suggestions: e.g. "may," "might," "could." The Roman Canon should be the norm. The preparatory prayers at the foot of the altar from the usus antiquior could be included (with congregational participation in the responses.) There should not be rubrical options in the wedding and funeral rites - this engenders pastoral difficulties.

NLM: You've also written and spoken before on the issue of hymnody. In your opinion, how important is it, not only musically but also liturgically, to recover the propers of the Mass (Introit, Gradual, etc.) which have been predominantly replaced by hymns in most of our parishes?

Fr. Rutler: Approved hymnody is appropriate for processions and closing devotions and during Communion. Hymns, with precedent in the early Church also took the form of the mediaeval tropes. The substantial music of the Liturgical should be Plainchant propers. The "hymn sandwich liturgy" consisting of a said Mass interspersed with hymns is liturgical bipolarism and should be cured. On the other hand, an overlap of singing and the celebrant's prayers as is common in Eastern rites, and in the extended Sanctus in the usus antiquior, is an effective interplay of liturgical roles.

NLM: On the topic of the usus antiquior, many believe that the spread of it into parish liturgical life, or even just the fact of priests learning about this form of the Roman liturgy can be a leaven for the reform of the reform. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Fr. Rutler: The saying "a rising tides lifts all ships" applies here. Learning about the usus antiquior can raise the general conscience of parishioners to a clearer understanding of what worship is. Each age is tempted to ape the current cultural milieu in its approach to God. The tendency to make the Mass an ecclesiastical form of television entertainment is a mistake of our day, but it is not more seductive than the inclination of an earlier generation to make the Mass operatic. Pope St. Pius X tried to reform that by his attention to Gregorian chant. Bad money drives out the good in every epoch, and some of the worst elements in current liturgical life have just updated the pietism of earlier times. From my experience, young people respond to classical worship well, albeit at first with astonishment and bewilderment, but their response is healthier than that of some older people who lack the humility to admit that their abandonment of authentic worship was a mistake. For those in their twenties and thirties, the guitars and faux folksiness of the 1960's is as archaic as the culture of the 1920's is to those in their sixties and seventies. To recover the virile authenticity of true worship, I certainly prefer the sacral language of the Latin texts but, more importantly, I think the "leaven for the reform of the reform" would best begin with worship "ad orientem." The psychological shock some may have when they realize the priest is not looking at them when he prays can be a very good tonic.

NLM: On the subject of sacral language, Fr. Uwe Michael Lang of the Oratory has presented papers at various liturgical conferences on this subject in relation to the adoption of Latin into the liturgy and how it differed in idiom from the Latin of the typical Roman in the street. Taking the retention of Latin in the liturgy as a granted, where the vernacular is used within parts of the liturgy, how do you think should be manifest?

Fr. Rutler: Without the question, the low quality of the English in the present use has been a principal causes for criticism and even, sadly, ridicule. I hope the Vox Clara project will signal an improvement. That said, ours is not a golden age for the English language. For all his heresies, it must be admitted that Thomas Cranmer was a fine Latinist and also lived in a sublime age of English letters, with the result that the Cranmerian translations, when they wanted to be accurate and not polemical, remain superb models and replicate Latin preciseness and even intonation. A generation ago, attempts to "modernize" those collects in the Anglican prayer book produced prayers which were wordier than those of the sixteenth century - rather like the very lame poesie of the alternate collects in the Novus Ordo. ---All would benefit from more frequent use of the Latin editio typica of the Pauline missal. It is easier to encourage sacral language when it is chanted. It is more difficult, and can seem stilted, when it is recited. Any language is sacred when it is prayed, and we should not confuse mystery with mystification, but the wider use of Latin transcends both time (connecting with other ages) and space (uniting different cultural groups.) In a society more mobile and mixed than ever, a common sacral language unites phonic groups, so that there is less emphasis on an "English Mass" versus an "Hispanic Mass" etc. The failure of a vernacular liturgy here is evident in the irony of having polyglot prayers in the vernacular liturgy, for instance using different languages in the petitions of the Prayers of the Faithful. Thus what was organically universal has merely become politically international.

NLM: Many would hold that aside from its value for a "reform of the reform", the wider availability of the usus antiquior is in and of itself of value in the life of the Church. Would you concur?

Fr. Rutler: Unless the usus antiquior is more widely available, it could end up being the exotic indulgence of few for whom it can function as a symbol of other problems they have with the Church and with life in general. Quite simply if it is not centric it will be eccentric and will give the impression that it is for people who do not want to face the challenges of our age. When the usus antiquior is rare, it attracts the rara avis type of person who discourages others. I am impressed by the large number of people, including an increasing number of young ones, who do not use the liturgy as an expression of the psychological baggage that weighs them down. One proof of this is how the usus antiquior celebrated without self-consciousness or some subconscious social agenda, inspires priestly vocations among solid young men.

NLM: You have recently started to celebrate the ancient Roman liturgy on occasion at your own parish, the Church of Our Saviour in New York City. Have you found anything in the texts and/or ceremonies of that Missal that has particularly struck you on a liturgical or spiritual level?

Fr. Rutler: Actually, I was spiritually formed as a "High Anglican" more familiar with the rituals of the usus antiquior than many of my Catholic contemporaries and, upon becoming a Catholic, the adjustment to popularized forms of the Novus Ordo, albeit not envisioned by the Fathers of Vatican II, was painful. Most of the Masses in my parish are Novus Ordo but they are celebrated in such a way that visitors often think they are "the old Mass." But what impresses me deeply about the usus antiquior is that it really is hard work, and properly so. It is a cult of God and not of personality. I find this even more so in the liturgies of the Eastern rites which combine the sublime and earthly in a blatantly Catholic sacramental economy. While we rightly venerate the Latin ethos, the "hermeneutic of continuity" must be a continuation of a spirit that goes back beyond the Baroque or even mediaeval to the organic life of the Church before the trauma of 1054. While not compromising the integrity of respective rites, we have much to learn from the Eastern sensibility. As the Western and Eastern churches have been called "two lungs" of Christendom, so also are they "two lobes" of the Church's brain, and they are incomplete in isolation. The positive response of many Eastern church leaders to the "reform of the reform" bodes well.


I reprint, in its entirety, an email I received, (I think yesterday, but I might as well have been aboard a submarine the past three days, between directing the children and fighting through a cold, but more about the former later.)
Anyway, I agree utterly with the author, with the organization, it IS a worthy cause, and if you have a few bucks to spare, I respectfully suggest....
p.s. I did not find their Beg and Grovel campaign even slightly excessive, and I say this as a long time kvetcher about PBS, NPR, every classical music station to which I listen, etc., etc., etc.)
Dear friends,
A few readers have written us to complain about our donations campaign. "Isn't
ZENIT supposed to be free?" they ask. Others query, "Isn't this barrage of
letters an exercise of psychological pressure on readers?"
I can assure you, no one wishes we could shorten or simply omit this ask-a-thon
more than we do! Appealing to the generosity of our readers is a sort of
necessary evil for ZENIT -- it's what allows us to keep ZENIT cost-free for the
many who simply cannot pay.
In fact, as of now only about 3.5% of ZENIT's half-million readers donates
anything at all.
But the campaign also allows you, our readers, to perform a good work, a
"corporal work of mercy." Giving alms to those who beg carries with it an
eternal reward, our Lord promises.
If the campaign feels like pressure to you, maybe it's your conscience inviting
you to give a little something to this worthy, non-profit enterprise. Your
little sacrifice will keep ZENIT providing the best Catholic news for another 10
To send a donation, click here:
For questions or more information, contact us at infodonations@zenit.org
Thanks for your generosity!
With my best wishes,
Karna Swanson Lozoya

Witty headline....

... if a trifle raunchy.
Himself pointed out the headline of a story in one of the myriad newspapers he reads, (online and in paper... I have never known such a current events junkie.)
I concerned an airline pilot and stewardess discovered en flagrante aboard a plane.
It described them as "in the upright and locked position."

Sunday, 18 May 2008

I dunno....

I admit, I spent half of my "music ministry" time this a.m., (as opposed to the stop-take-a-deep-breath-kneel-down-and-remember-why-you're-here time...) ever so slightly steamed.
When I checked in, in the sacristy, to ascertain if anything odd, or previously undisclosed was going to happen, I learned from priest A that priest B, who had the anticipated Mass complained that "everything was too slow."
Now, priest A habitually, as in two out of three weekends, complains that something was too slow; priest B? never before to my knowledge.
And without thinking I blurted out that that was surprising since he was three beats behind the organ and the cantor for most of the Mass.
So by the time choir Mass was over, the choir, all except the members who are also cantors, (and thus, privy to the on-going criticism of tempi,) were looking at me as if I had taken leave of my senses.
The thing is, my internal metronome is, objectively, slightly fast.
From the first Mass I played here cantors, choir and congregation members have regularly asked me why everything is so fast. (Actually, that is inaccurate. No member of the congregation has ever asked me anything. They tell me things. No ambivalence, no passive-aggressive manipulation going on -- I don't like the way you..., what the hell was that? I hate that....., You're a terrible cantor, I can't sing in your keys!
No shrinking violets, they.
And I'm not exaggerating, or paraphrasing.)
And I have pretty much ignored them. Well, mostly ignored them.
And yet also from the beginning, priest A has been on me, and he's been on the former early morning organist, and on the cantors, that everything is too slow.
Some of the tempi this morning were absurd.
And he said, "that's better."
Better than what??!?@?#??! He wasn't even at the Mass yesterday to whihc he was "comparing" it.
Oh, well.
Maybe I'll program Pescador....
I wonder how my predecessors fared -- I can't get any of them to tell me anything about tempi, and I know two of them take everything much slower than I.


Forgiveness, a scandal?
The scandal against which we must guard is a word or action evil in itself, which occasions another's spiritual ruin. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13506d.htm
But there is another "scandal" we must embrace, that which the world may see as contrary to good judgement or self-interest, but we know is the path to salvation.

Mark Shea has a good commentary in NCR on one aspect of the Pope's visit to these United States, and on a great man.
For me, the single most arresting display of Christlike humility in the meeting of the Pope and the sex abuse victims belonged to Olan Horne. After Benedict apologized to them and asked forgiveness, there occurred this amazing exchange:
“I asked him to forgive me for hating his Church and hating him,” said Olan Horne, 48, of Lowell, [Mass.,] who gave the Pope a picture of himself as a 9-year-old boy, just before the Rev. Joseph Birmingham started molesting him. “He said, ‘My English isn’t good, but I want you to know that I can understand you, and I think I can understand your sorrow.’”
Horne’s act is, quite simply, a miracle only possible by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. It will be seen by no small number of people as scandalous (like the cross itself). The notion that a victim should apologize for his unforgiveness will (according to the “It’s All About Power” interpretive grid of the world) be taken as an act of self-hatred, of the hideous Mind Control of the Church, etc.
In fact, what Horne did was liberate himself from the last and most insidious shackle of the monstrous sin committed against him: the temptation to believe that bitterness is healing.
More than that, by his unfathomably noble act, Horne made it possible for many others to likewise forgive and let go of the imprisoning rage that always tempts us to remain in the power of those who have harmed us.
This act of forgiveness and humility is the power and the scandal of the Gospel on display in full strength. I am humbled and shamed by it as I look at my own slowness to relinquish anger and bitterness when I am hurt.
God bless this man and Good Pope Benedict for this beautiful scandal of reconciliation and healing!

Saturday, 17 May 2008


Two new books about Padre Pio, of whom I had never heard until, while at Mass on our honeymoon in Wales, I learned how deeply devoted to him many Catholics in the Celtish Isles ("Great Celtain"?) are. (Coincidentally we are in the middle of the annual nostalgia-fest of reading Himself's journal of the trip, where I first learned that Himself will "follow me up the hill." What hill, you ask? It matters not, he loves me.)
Coincidentally, last night on Letterman there was a member of the studio audience named Pio, and Dave says he showed off his erudition and worldliness by asking, oh, that's an Italian name isn't it?
Yes, replied the audience member.
What part of Italy are you from?, asks Dave.

Friday, 16 May 2008

If you see a person drowning, you must jump into the water to save them, whether you can swim or not


Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker whose ingenuity and daring saved 2,500 Jewish children from extermination in the Holocaust, a feat that went largely unrecognized for 60 years, died Monday in Warsaw. She was 98.She had been hospitalized since last month with pneumonia, said Pawel Maciag, a spokesman for the Polish Embassy in Washington.

In paradisum deducant te angeli

No kneeling!

A parody I don't think I ever posted -- just to be clear, this is NOT the attitude of our liturgist.
(The tune is from Guys and Dolls)

1. I dreamt last night, I was kneelin' in St Peter's,
And had, by chance, brought a liturgist along,
And as I knelt, thinking God was due some reverence,
She insisted that to kneel was all wrong,

The liturgist shrieked, stand up!
Stand up, you're rocking the boat!
The liturgist shrieked, stand up!
Stand up, you're rocking the boat!

2. I guessed perhaps, it was all to be "inclusive,"
The order was, genuflection was to cease!
We wouldn't want anyone to feel unwelcome,
(As you know, the devil's got no knees....)

And the liturgist shrieked, stand up!
Stand up, you're rocking the boat!
The liturgist shrieked, stand up!
Stand up, you're rocking the boat!

3.My previous practices would not be allowed at,
This nightmare liturgy in "bizarro Rome"
But as I lost any hope of adoration
I awoke, safe at my parish back at home

But our liturgist shrieked, stand up!
Stand up, you're rocking the boat!
The liturgist shrieked, stand up!
Stand up, you're rocking the boat!

I have a new model....

Until her death, and the flurry of all but panegyric obituaries, I had never heard of this woman, Mary Berry, convert, academic, musician -- what a role model! what a heroic, yes, heroic role she played!
Her life (putting aside the nun part ;oP) is what I should aspire to.
I've got to find more ways to inspire and motivate my singers. (Last night, perhaps because I was dropping, and my cords feeling as if they were in shreds, choir rehearsal was sensational. We made real progress, we made real music, and I think, I THINK they were happy... no complaints about the Gregorian verses of Ecce Panis which we will alternate with verses from that motet, no whining about too much new music, none of the near-refusal to exert themselves a little that I sometimes get from a few, a very few of them.)


Mary Berry
Musicologist and nun. Born June 29, 1917. Died May 1, aged 90.
MUSICOLOGIST, nun and don of the University of Cambridge, Mary Berry was highly influential in reviving Gregorian chant in Britain and abroad. Through the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge she promoted the teaching, study and performance of Gregorian liturgical music within a 2000-year-old tradition of Christian song and, after the sweeping changes generated by the Second Vatican Council in the mid-1960s, she preserved the chant and kept it alive when the old certainties were falling all around her. ...

Devout and erudite, Berry radiated a joyful and sunny blessing, occasionally interspersed with crisp commands if singers hit a wrong note. There were no concessions to ignorance - either of the chant or the liturgy - but her bubbling humour leavened long hours of choir practice.
With a fund of interesting and mildly scurrilous anecdotes delivered with a twinkle in her eye, she was fortunate to attract many fine cantors to sing at festivals and record CDs on the Herald label.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Ember Days

Ember Days

Posted using ShareThis

I admit I had no idea what they are (H/T to Mary Jane at Sacred Miscellany, both for the explanation and ShareThis.))

Now will someone do the same for Rogation Days?


I subscribe to an "e-letter," an edition of which arrived sometime this week (I'm tearing-out-my-hair-busy, no idea when...)
IIRC, (although nothing is more probable than that all of my recollections are INcorrect,) it happened because i wanted to register on some site so that I could also mouth off and share my opinions...
Anyway, the appropriateness or otherwise of lay preaching interests me.
As does the way a bishop can affect his diocese for good or ill.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis now has a new spiritual leader. John Nienstedt took over as archbishop on May 2. He previously had been bishop of New Ulm, Minnesota, and in 2007 he was appointed coadjutor of St. Paul-Minneapolis.
In not a few cases the appointment of a coadjutor--a bishop with a right of succession--is a sign of the Vatican’s disapproval of how the current bishop has been doing. I have not followed the situation in St. Paul-Minneapolis closely enough to know whether that was the case there (the fact that Flynn requested a coadjutor is not dispositive of the question), but, given an article published May 7 in the online version of “The Catholic Spirit,” I would not be surprised if it were.
My only personal acquaintance with Flynn was when he was the bishop of Lafayette, Louisiana; I met him when I gave a parish seminar there more than fifteen years ago. In 1995 he was appointed to St. Paul-Minneapolis, and in the years following not a few conservative commentators began to complain about him. Some liberal commentators complained too, after he refused Communion to people wearing “rainbow sashes.”
The article in “The Catholic Spirit” is titled “Directive from Archbishop Flynn Ends Lay Preaching at Mass.” It explains that lay preachers have been used at 29 parishes in the archdiocese for about 25 years. Many of these preachers were trained by an organization, set up by lay people, called Partners in Preaching. While the article does not explicit says so, it appears that most of these lay preachers have been women.
In general, the preaching seems to have been in place of the priest’s homily. For example, the article starts off with an account of how the pastor at St. Joseph’s parish in New Hope finished reading the Gospel, stepped away from the ambo, and blessed a woman who then preached to the congregation. The priest did not give his own homily.
Patricia Hughes Baumer, who co-founded Partners in Preaching, claims that lay preaching differs from a homily and is called instead “lectionary-based liturgical preaching.” Inasmuch as a homily is “lectionary-based liturgical preaching,” you legitimately might wonder what the difference is. She says that homilies are reserved to priests and deacons. When homilies are given by lay people, then, they are not called homilies, even though in form, functioning, and timing they are the same as the remarks given by priests and deacons.
Why the dissimulation? Because homilies really are reserved to priests and deacons (and to bishops, of course). Lay people are not permitted to give homilies--no matter what misleading term may be used instead of “homily.”
In his directive--which was sent to pastors in January and which asked that parishes have in place, by the date of Flynn’s retirement a “pastoral plan” to end lay preaching--Flynn acknowledged that lay preaching is a liturgical abuse, as is suggested by the weasel words that Baumer used to describe it.
“Why now?” asks the article. Why, as his parting shot, did Flynn call for an end to lay preaching, something that had been going on widely and persistently during his 13-year tenure? That I have no answer to. The article brings up the speculation that Flynn wanted to “clean house” before John Nienstedt took over, “but Archbishop Flynn said this is not the case.”
Those who back lay preaching make a specious appeal to canon law. This is how the article introduces the issue:
“Lay preaching was prohibited by canon law until 1983, when a revised Code of Canon law was promulgated. Canon 766 addresses lay preaching, saying ‘lay persons can be permitted to preach in a church or oratory, if necessity requires it in certain circumstances or it seems advantageous in particular cases,’ Baumer said.”
(Baumer seems to be motivated by a grievance. She says that “The suppression of lay preaching is simultaneously the suppression of female voices, because no matter how God has gifted a lay woman to break open the Word, the community will not have access to that word as it gathers on Sunday.”)
Let’s look at the canon law provisions that apply here, to see if they permit lay preaching. We begin with the complete text of canon 766:
“Lay persons can be permitted to preach in a church or oratory, if necessity requires it in certain circumstances or it seems advantageous in particular cases, according to the prescripts of the conferences of bishops and without prejudice to canon 767 section 1.”
The first thing one ought to ask is “What is preaching?” It includes giving a homily based on the readings for a Mass, but it goes beyond that. Canon 762 refers more widely to “the proclamation of the gospel of God to all,” and in the Code of Canon Law the canons dealing with preaching fall under the subtitle “The Preaching of the Word of God.” This is pretty broad and, I think, can be construed as referring to any sort of public speaking that teaches or explains the faith.
If I am right in that, then I have been a lay preacher. On numerous occasions I have given talks at parishes. Sometimes they have been in the parish hall, but more commonly they have been in the church proper--but not during Mass. Usually the talks have been in the evening, outside of the context of Mass.
I have stood at the ambo (because it has a microphone), and my audience has been in the pews, and I have given a “proclamation of the gospel of God to all,” even if my proclamation concerned only a small slice of that gospel. So I guess I have served as a lay preacher, but I never have been a lay homilist, and that is really the question in St. Paul-Minneapolis.
Let’s return to the provisions of canon law. The first section of canon 767 is key. It says, “Among the forms of preaching, the homily, which is part of the liturgy itself and is reserved to a priest or deacon, is preeminent; in the homily the mysteries of faith and the norms of Christian life are to be explained from the sacred text during the course of the liturgical year.”
So the homily takes its cue from the readings of the day, and the homily is to be given only by the priest or deacon. It seems clear to me that any talk during Mass that construes the readings is a homily, even if it is given some other title. Thus any such talk may be given only by a priest or deacon.
This means that when priests, such as the pastor at St. Joseph’s parish, turn over the ambo to a lay person, whether man or woman, and when that person gives a reflection on the readings, a liturgical abuse occurs. What is more, the priest shirks his own duties.
Section 2 of canon 767 says that “a homily must be given at all Masses on Sundays and holy days of obligation which are celebrated with a congregation, and it cannot be omitted except for a grave cause.”
In other words, priests have to prepare a homily each week . . . unless, of course, they find a way to pass that duty along to a team of lay preachers.
Preparing a good homily isn’t easy. Although I never have had to prepare a homily, I have had to prepare plenty of lectures, and the process is not fun.
You might think lectures are harder to prepare. Not necessarily. In a 45-minute lecture you have the liberty to speak discursively, to stretch out your thoughts, to take a winding path to your conclusion. In a 5-minute homily you have to get right to the point.
It’s much like writing an E-Letter. These 1,700 words take me less time to write than would a 200-word commentary. The latter requires a lot more editing.
A conscientious priest, such as my own pastor, may spend 20 hours preparing his homily: studying next Sunday’s readings, doing ancillary research, praying deeply about what he should say, writing out his remarks in full, editing them severely, reducing them to one or two note cards, and then putting those note cards to memory.
I know that most priests don’t devote that much time to their homilies (you can tell, listening to them), but that is what it takes to end up with a truly substantive homily. How convenient, then, lay preachers would be for a priest who thinks he has better ways to spend those 20 hours!
Yes, I have heard the blather about “empowering lay people”--the article in “The Catholic Spirit” provides several such quotations--but I know enough about human nature to know that motives usually are mixed.
I defy anyone to locate a priest who, having turned over his preaching duties to lay people, is frustrated because he no longer has the chance to spend many hours weekly working up his own homilies. (“Dang! Why do I have to be so thoughtful? I really would prefer to restrict all the preaching to myself, but I feel compelled to empower my parishioners.”)
The real mystery here is why Harry Flynn never got around to doing his duty, until the very end of his tenure. This liturgical abuse was widespread in the archdiocese. He could have ended it at any time during the past 13 years by issuing a three-word command to his priests: “Stop it now!”
Well, maybe there was a reason, beyond the archbishop’s request, that the Vatican assigned him a coadjutor.