Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Saturday, 31 January 2009

First Attempt at Embedding

(Oh, well, second, because I did try with the Colloquium video, albeit unsuccessfully)

This is very powerful.

And DOESN'T it just expose the hypocrisy of some segments of the MSM?

Yes, this is the ad rejected by NBC for the Superbowl, because only propaganda in favor of lower mammalian species' rights is politically correct.

3,000 a day.

Give or take.

Some Sad, Old Womyn

The NYTimes brings us this story of "lesbian colonies" around the US that are dying out.

I realize in retrospect that a friend and colleague who was "moving to Alabama to make jewelry" was probably heading fro one of these mentioned in the article. (Though at the time, an actor? who was born and raised and worked in a major theater city??? moving to, oh, can we even say the word.... ALABAMA?????????)

An interesting and telling reference is made that these Womyns Lands face "some of the same challenges as Catholic convents that struggle to attract women to cloistered lives."

It would have been a little more honest, though perhaps off-point, for the journalist to admit that only a certain type of religious community was dying out this way, or rather, or since they are in the majority, that a certain type of convent faces no such bleak future, and those that do in some cases have a great deal in common with the lesbian communities.

In one of these self-imposed ghettos, the "womyn"...
live in simple houses or double-wide trailers on roads they have named after goddesses, like Diana Drive. They meet for potluck dinners, movie and game nights and “community full moon circles” during which they sing, read poems and share thoughts on topics like “Mercury in retrograde — how is it affecting our communication?”

Hmm. I don't know why, but this shot of a liturgical fashion show seemed an appropriate addendum:


Pray the Devil Back to Hell

The documentarydiscussied in this op-ed piece by Bob Herbert sounds more than interesting.

In Liberia amidst a war of "excruciating violence", Leymah Gbowee...

...rallied the women at her Lutheran church to pray for peace, ... organized them into a full-blown, all-women peace initiative that spread to other Christian churches — and then to women of the Muslim faith...
Working with hardly any resources, save their extraordinary will and intense desire to end the conflict, the women’s initial efforts evolved into a movement, the Liberian Mass Action for Peace....
Thousands of women responded to the call, broadcast over a Catholic radio station, to demonstrate at the market for peace. The women showed up day after day, praying, waving signs, singing, dancing, chanting and agitating for peace.

They called on the two sides in the conflict to begin peace talks and their calls coincided with international efforts to have the two sides sit down and begin to negotiate.

Nothing could stop the rallies at the market, not the fierce heat of the sun, nor drenching rainstorms, nor the publicly expressed anger of [Charles Taylor, their despotic "president",] who was embarrassed by the protests. Public support for the women grew and eventually Mr. Taylor, and soon afterward the rebel leaders, felt obliged to meet with them and hear their grievances.

The moral authority of this movement that seemed to have arisen from nowhere had become one of the significant factors pushing the warring sides to the peace table.

Really, it seemed to arise from nowhere?
It arose from these women's love. and more specifically, it arose from their FAITH.

(Take that, Christopher Hitchens.)

Friday, 30 January 2009

Treasures of the Triduum? Terrific!

The day up at Mundelein was wonderful, wonderful. It was described thusly :

The Church gives "proper" texts for nearly all of its liturgies, [WHAT A CONCEPT! are ya listenin?, you know who you are...] texts specifically chosen for each day, intended to enhance comprehension of the day's readings and prayers. By recovering the use and meaning of these texts and their musical settings, the deep intellectual and affective content of the Easter Triduum can be unlocked and made more fruitful for the faithful.
This workshop offers theological insight and practical ideas presented to inspire a deeper understanding of the mysteries and to foster more conscious participation in them.

They can do no wrong at the Liturgical Institute -- what a richly rewarding workshop.

Frs. Fuller and Martis were a very compelling combo, (if they ever wanted to branch out into stand-up....)
In all truth, the perfect touch, taking what they do seriously, and themselves not at all.

I urge anyone who has the opportunity to participate in Liturgy, Justice and Social Reconstruction, "Theology of the Priesthood" with Dr.Matthew Levering, or their annual Sacred Music Retreat, register, NOW.

When I think how many fortuitous, seeming accidents afford me these opportunities...

I am very blessed.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Choristers, Committment, and Quality

A new (to me) blog, Jupiter Jenkins, had this post, which struck a chord, (albeit a slightly flat, bass heavy one with a weak yet strident topper,) with me.

His train of thought is a bullet train, and I don't recognize all the stations, nor yet comprehend how we got from one to the next for the track is not linear, but I enjoyed the railway journey nonetheless.

It is, as I said there, Ladies and gentlemen of the studio audience, like I have a TWIN.
Maybe it is the lot of most church choir directors nowadays.
Another choir member announced at the choir party last night that she will be missing many rehearsals in the upcoming months. I wrestle with taking a more traditional approach to choristers who skip rehearsals and expect to perform on Sunday.

In this day and age, so many volunteers feel less and less commitment to anything they say they will be part of. Trying to be strict often has the unlooked for effect of shooting one’s self in the foot. My strategy has been to continue to come up with music that is interesting and within the grasp of the people who show up to perform. Obviously this isn’t working. Ah well. ...

We are singing a watered down SAB version of ... Several of my choir members were unhappy with this version and complained quite vocally again last night as I rehearsed it at the party. They don’t seem to realize that soon we won’t even be able to sing three part harmony if people keep deserting the ship....

see the decline of the choir as my own failure...

I am a pretty good church musician. I can direct choirs and play the organ okay in a field where many if not most are mediocre. [a point of divergence, I as an organist AM, unquestionably mediocre] ...
my problem is that I .... don’t bully people that much. I guess image trumps reality even in this case. Ah well. The spheres keep listening and I keep feeling lucky to be able to spend so much time personally with great music. It just looks like at church it’s going to be more and more organ and congregational music rather than great choral music.

Although that is another point of divergence - our choral music, I think, is a cut above the congregational choices I must make.

Although last week, not a word of the psalm or the ordinary was other than as prescribed, and all four slices in the Hymn Sandwich I am constrained to serve up in place of the propers was at least a good, sturdy, well sung hymn. (Deo gratis for the Conversion of St Paul-afforded opportunity to squeeze in another chance to sing SINE NOMINE, and Faith of Our Fathers to whatever the usual tune is... and yes, we skipped the "...of our mothers" verse Gather offers.)

The Kingdom of God and I Received... (with my four original verses,) rounded it out.
And they were all well sung, very well sung.
Himself, "Why, they sang them like a buncha Methodists!!!!!"

(Wonder how much participation there was on Awesome God at the other Mass...)

Snake Oil?

I realized recently, with a shock, that I had more or less stopped caring how I looked.
Not quite sure when it happened, it must have been gradual.
I don't mean, film-shorthand-for-clinical-depression-the-actress-playing-Sylvia-Plath-has-dirty-hair insouciance, more moisturizer's-job-is-to-keep-your-face-from-cracking-not-be-the-fountain-of-youth insouciance.
In my other life my looks mattered in a way they do not now.
Poor Himself, after all, he bares the brunt of my carelessness.

So, you'll have to take my word for this, the claims that a pillow case could cure crows' feet or a "craggy neck" is of little interest, but the idea that new copper-infused bed linens might help with eczema and allergies?
I'm all over that.

I dearly hope its claims have at least an eentsy bit of some basis in fact.

Something to enhance, not my looks, and not my health, but my comfort?
I want to go to there.
This could be to this decade what my discovery of the wonder that is Bag Balm was to my last. (Cursed be those cows for trying to keep this to themselves!!!!!!)

A few years ago, (when I did still care about my appearance a tiny bit, IIRC,) a wonderful, wonderful, religious brother temporarily in residence here absolutely laid me out with a wisecrack.
It was insanely cold and I had some monstrously ugly Thinsulate thing from Land's End on my head, and he said -- quite a chapeau. Well, I guess you're old enough not to care how you look.

(As you can imagine, Br. G was the terror of the rectory. I miss him.)

Speaking of Marriages...

Can someone, one of my 1.7 readers, explain to me why there would be any question of the validity of SSPX marriages?
What would be lacking, intention? matter? form?

I've tried to google but get nothing but polemic, I'd ask on one of the busier blogs addressing these sorts of questions, but any thread featuring the letters "SSPX" quickly turns into Gang Wars at the Monkeyhouse.

(Wouldn't that be a good title for a "grindhouse" movie?)

Holy Father to the Roman Rota

As someone who benefited enormously from the low bar set by American Catholic tribunals, it pains me to say that the Holy Father is, of course, right.

The, "oh, you were too immature/neurotic/dumb to get married, it doesn't count, you get a do-over"* mindset would probably render virtually the entire human race incapable of contracting marriage.

I mean, I guess Albert Schweitzer and Mother Theresa could have been an item.

"Schweizteresa" wouldn't have quite the ring, gracing the cover of Us as "Brangelina," would it?

Benedict XVI recalled how "the Code of Canon Law's norm concerning mental incapacity, and the application thereof, was further enriched and integrated by the recent Instruction 'Dignitas connubii' of 25 January 2005. ... In order for this incapacity to be recognised, there must be a specific mental anomaly that seriously disturbs the use of reason at the time of the celebration of the marriage, ... or that puts the contracting party not only under a serious difficulty but even under the impossibility of sustaining the actions inherent in the obligations of marriage".

"We run the risk", the Pope went on, "of falling into a form of anthropological pessimism which, in the light of the cultural situation of the modern world, considers marriage as almost impossible. ... Reaffirming the inborn human capacity for marriage is, in fact, the starting point for helping couples discover the natural reality of marriage and the importance is has for salvation. What is actually at stake is the truth about marriage.

(*not the one employed by Himself's advocate, but still...)

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Or, what the FOCA?

St Gianna Beretta Molla, Sainted Mother of Modern Times

St Gianna, pray for us. Holy Innocents, pray for us. St Joseph, patron saint of it's-not-only-"birth-parents"-who-have-a-stake-in-this, pray for us. All Holy Men and Women, pray for us.

Another Prodigal Returning Home?

The Man, despite Jesus' tightening up of the story fro drmatic purposes, had more than two sons.
Another may be on his way home.

It appears Rome is on the brink of welcoming close to half a million members of the Traditional Anglican Communion into membership of the Roman Catholic Church, writes Anthony Barich. Such a move would be the most historic development in Anglican-Catholic relations in the last 500 years. But it may also be a prelude to a much greater influx of Anglicans waiting on the sidelines, pushed too far by the controversy surrounding the consecration of practising homosexual bishops, women clergy and a host of other issues.
The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has decided to recommend the Traditional Anglican Communion be accorded a personal prelature akin to Opus Dei, if talks between the TAC and the Vatican aimed at unity succeed, it is understood.
The TAC is a growing global community of approximately 400,000 members that took the historic step in 2007 of seeking full corporate and sacramental communion with the Catholic Church - a move that, if fulfilled, will be the biggest development in Catholic-Anglican relations since the English Reformation under King Henry VIII.
TAC members split from the Canterbury-based Anglican Communion headed by Archbishop Rowan Williams over issues such as its ordination of women priests and episcopal consecrations of women and practising homosexuals.
The TAC's case appeared to take a significant step forwards in October 2008 when it is understood that the CDF decided not to recommend the creation of a distinct Anglican rite within the Roman Catholic Church - as is the case with the Eastern Catholic Churches - but a personal prelature, a semi-autonomous group with its own clergy and laity.
Opus Dei was the first organisation in the Catholic Church to be recognised as a personal prelature, a new juridical form in the life of the Church. A personal prelature is something like a global diocese without boundaries, headed by its own bishop and with its own membership and clergy.
Because no such juridical form of life in the Church had existed before, the development and recognition of a personal prelature took Opus Dei and Church officials decades to achieve.
An announcement could be made soon after Easter this year.
Yet another intention in support of which to pray, fast and give alms this Lenten tide!

St Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles, pray for us!
St Therese, patron of missions, pray for us!
St Joseph, father of Whomever the Father asked him to be father, pray for us!
St Thomas More, St John Fischer, all Holy Men and Women, pray for us!

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Which do I love?

I complain often enough of idiocy coming from the source, so I must credit a lovely and thoughtful article in GIA's latest advertizing-supplement/liturgy-planning-guide.

Gerald Custo, (no mean choral composer, he, I believe I've mentioned works of his on this blog,), is also the author of the current "Choral Master Class." He calls this one, "True Confessions."

Mr. Custo writes of what he has learned from his choristers, and what he owes them, and for what he apologizes to them.

A colleague shamed him, (unintentionally,) with her profession of love for "her people."

He admits that there were times when, no, he loved the music more than the choir he was asking to make that music.
And that is bass ackwards.

And I, ever the pharisee, read it and thought, oh, yes, that must have been something you needed to learn, Mr Custo.
I myself, on the other hand, knew it when I was a mere slip of a 20 year old lying to my choir that I was older to try to assume a little extra authority -- why, they LOVED me, I could see it. So I must have loved them, that's why they loved me.

But the fact is I was acting, and I didn't always. And they were better than I was and loved me despite my lack of charity.
And even now, do I love them? (a new bunch of "them," halfway across a continent, )
Oh, yeah, sure, most of them.... but most of them IS NOT ENOUGH.

Mr. Custo describes one of the fruits of his colleague's charity: her choir trusts her, will do anything for her.
And I must admit, shamefully, I gave up on that a bit recently, I only cared that the ones whose judgement I respected, (who would follow me into the fire.)

And I tried to get by with bribes, to earn the compliance of the rest of them, (yes, payola, consisting of the traditional offerings of Kough drops, Kleenex and Kookies.... oh, and readers, gotta keep a supply of spare readers, ranging from 1.25 to 3.50 for those who forget their glasses -- do ya love Dollar Bills Discount Store, or what??!??@?$??%??!)


So, I firmly resolve, with the help of God's grace, to amend my ways.

I am going to do my best to love them. Not manipulate them, LOVE them.



Good essay, Mr Custo, thanks for the sorely needed kick in the pants.

A Man Had Two Sons

A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.' So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.

When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any.

Coming to his senses he thought, 'How many of my father's hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers."'

So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.'
But his father ordered his servants, 'Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.' Then the celebration began.

Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him, 'Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'

He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, 'Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.'

He said to him, 'My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.'"

It is not recorded whether or not the neighbors, peering from behind their shutters at the goings-on, tsk-tsked, and said, "Eeeeew, it's that awful prodigal son. Can't stand that kid. Well, if the Old Man is dumb enough to take him back we are NOT going to socialize with that family anymore. THAT'LL show him..."

Fair and Unbalanced?

David Swensen and Michael, writing in the NYTimes, have a modest proposal: the print newspaper is dying, and could be resuscitated by re-organizing financially along the lines of schools and university, endowed by wealthy or idealistic philanthropists.

Hmm... seems like a good idea on the face of it, right? The Free Press is a Good Thing, so newspapers are a good thing, too.

The authors rightly quote Google the CEO that the Internet can be a "cesspool" of misinformation. (I've probably contributed to the sink myself.)

But I would be a little more sympathetic if the authors made any acknowledgment of the problems of editorial bias and outright falsehood that have plagued many major new outlets over recent years, including print newspapers, including the one in which they are writing.

But is it only of recent years?
It is the faster dissemination of facts (as well as falsehood,) by means of new communications technology, such as the internet that has brought MSM's missteps to light in recent years -- is there any reason to assume that, until it became so much easier to catch them out, they were paragons of precision and objectivity?

I can't see it.

I can't recall ever reading an article of any length, on a matter of which I had first-hand knowledge that was fully accurate, totally free from slant and loaded words, completely objective. (And that's not even getting into headline-writing, one of the most egregious aspects of many newspapers and news agencies.)
How can I then presume their objectivity and accuracy in matters in which I depend on secondary sources, such as them?

And look, I loves me a good newspaper, the Old Grey Lady is my news media of choice, but I'm not sure putting her in an ivory tower to get her out of the drafts is a solution to her monetary woes.

"Academic freedom" at many institutions means freedom to agree with the rest of the academics. Minority view-points need not apply, (even, sometimes, when beyond the groves of academe those views are actually majority view-points.)

How would endowed newspapers be different?

I think it's telling that both writers are connected with Yale. That their area of expertise is one in which subject judgment plays so minimal a role may indicate a certain naivete about the lack of objectivity brought by academics to many other areas of endeavor.

If newspapers’ autonomy would be enhanced by endowments what they were "shielded" from might be not just economic forces but any need to be, as they say,... "fair and balanced."

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Mary Jane Ballou and Schola to Sing for Groundhog's Day

(Sorry, couldn't resist -- HOW could the "journalist" write that?)

The St. Augustine Schola Cantorae
will sing Vespers for the Feast of the Presentation in the Temple (Candlemas) at 6 p.m. Feb. 2. With music from the time of the Shrine's beginnings in the 17th century, the Schola will honor both the feast and the oldest Marian shrine in the United States.

Vespers will combine Latin and English, Gregorian chant and polyphony, and will end with the traditional Salve Regina, sung by all.

Best known in the United States as Groundhog Day, this feast was already celebrated in Jerusalem in the early 4th century. In northern Europe, sunny weather on Candlemas was a predictor of a longer winter.

Thus, when it's sunny and the groundhog sees his shadow, we'll have six more weeks of winter.

Formed in 2007 and directed by Mary Jane Ballou, the St. Augustine Schola Cantorae is a women's vocal ensemble that specializes in Gregorian chant and a cappella (unaccompanied) sacred music.

To learn more, go to http://www.cantorae.com or call 1-800-863-3613.

The Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche is located on the historic mission grounds on San Marco Avenue.

For information on the shrine, go to www.missionandshrine.org or call 824-2809.

Wish I could be there, (I'll be about two days later, driving through the area en route to Jupiter.)

Monday, 26 January 2009

How many times is one ordained?

In all the brouhaha about the status of the SSPX bishops, I realize I am completely ignorant of Catholic sacramental theology pertaining to ordination as it applies to the episcopacy.
The consensus of seemingly knowledgeable people is that the 4 were validly but illicitly ordained bishops and therefore, they ARE bishops, since the bishop who consecrated them had the ability, though not the right, to do so. (I am reminded of an hysterical novel by A N Wilson, the title of which escapes me, that deals with a surfeit of preposterous bishops, valid, by Anglican lights, but illicit, wandering about England creating mischief and sowing confusion and continuing their valid but illicit lines of episcopal succession. But I digress.)

Now I understand the conversations about illicit but valid Masses, or, as in recent goings on in Australia, IIRC, baptisms that were invalid, (though, had proper form been used, they would have been valid.)

Is the consecration of a bishop not an "ordination"? is it a sacrament?
So ordination is not a sacrament that can only be received once, (patently, as one is "ordained" to the diaconate.)
If ordination leaves the "indelible mark" on a man when he becomes a priest, does consecration to the episcopacy just... leave a bigger mark?
A darker mark?

And since sacraments confer grace, irrespective of the virtue or sinfulness of the minister of that sacrament.... is Bsp Williamson due the deference bishops are? a shepherd with whom one may disagree but whose pronouncements are to be respected?

Are there some gaps in the logic of sacramental theology? There are certainly some gaps in my understanding of it, some trains of thought that have not yet been explored and definitively explained...

Personally, I love cassocks

I own one, in fact. Very beautiful, very fine silk. Enormous, I've thought about having it tailored and shortened, but why?
My wearing it would be very offensive to some people, in consideration of my sex.

But Fr Dwight Longenecker has a charming post on the pros and cons of wearing one.

  • It looks smart
  • It really is more comfortable than a jacket
  • If your ermm, body shape fluctuates you have more expansion room
  • the pockets are capacious
  • It's cool when you want it cool--you can wear shorts and T-shirt underneath
  • It's warm when you want it warm--just wear warmer gear underneath
  • the high school kids generally think it cooler than a tab shirt etc.
  • it looks great with the big black cape I still have from my English days
  • the scapular makes a handy hotpad for getting things out of the oven
  • people in airports take notice
  • it is a sign of contradiction
  • a guy at the cash register at Office Depot asked about RCIA
  • The scapular makes you look thinner
  • it says 'Catholic and proud of it' in the Bible Belt
  • You are not mistaken for an Episcopalian
  • You can hide a sawn off shotgun underneath the robes
  • You can't misbehave when wearing the uniform


  • They're more likely to frisk you at the airport security... You might have a sawn off shotgun hidden up there
  • The scapular gets stuck in the car door
  • Personal errm...hygiene matters become more complicated
  • It can be tricky going up stairs
  • Like the Scotsman's kilt--people wonder what you wear underneath
  • The cat thinks the scapular is a plaything
  • The children think the scapular is a plaything (it is treated as a train or blindfold)
  • You're mistaken for a monk.
  • You're not mistaken for a monk.
  • The scapular gets caught in the spokes of the motorcycle wheel--definitely not good--especially at high speeds
  • All those buttons....but I'm not cheating with one of those zip up jobs
  • People at airports take notice
  • You can't misbehave when wearing the uniform

May I make a confession?

I feel kinda outsider reading some of my usual blogs of late.
I have no earthly idea what a "cylon" is, nor why one should care who the last one is....

It's got a good beat and it's easy to dance to....?

An interesting conversation at the Music Sacra fora about what makes a tune "catchy."

Naturally, the thread eventually turns to rumination on the simple truth, known to many a fisherman or young lover, that that that is most easily caught is often not worth the having.

Healing Our Own House First?

A couple of points regarding secular reaction, (and the reaction to the Church's own Mrs. Jellybys,) overtures made by the Vatican to Lefebvrists recently...
From an "analysis" in the NYTimes:
It was just the latest example of how the pope is increasingly focused on internal doctrinal issues and seemingly unaware of how they might resonate in the larger world.
As such, it perfectly captured the theological aspirations — and political shortcomings — of his four-year-old papacy.

"Seemingly unaware?" The presumption of commentators on a man of demonstrable intellectual brilliance, caution, and charity boggles one.

Because the Pope does not share the commentators' aims, he must be "unaware" of the preferabilty of the course of action they would have chosen? if only he were as worldly and wise as they, he would surely have acted as they would have?

And oh, dear... political shortcomings.

We might also mention that he seems unaware that by remaining citizen of somewhere other than the US, he was unable to vote in the last election.
Or that by spending so much time reading and praying and thinking and writing instead of engaging in some serious cross-training, he's doing his physique no good.
Or that by listening to classical music in his spare time instead of practicing with video games he could become a first rate air guitar player.

I mean, he does those things, so he must be unaware of what the results would have been had he not.

If only he had been aware.

And these two sentences from an earlier article in the times:
Among the men reinstated Saturday was Richard Williamson, a British-born cleric who in an interview last week said he did not believe that six million Jews died in the Nazi gas chambers.

and eight paragraphs later:

In a November interview broadcast on Swedish television last week and widely available on the Internet, the bishop said that he believed that....

Although I have seen nothing to indicate Williamson does not still hold, and would not still express reprehensible and evil views, (although denying the accuracy of the numbers, or the methods employed in the Holocaust is not evil in and of itself,) it seems journalistically dishonest to say that "last week he said," as Miss Donadio has.
(Although I am not of the school that is trying to blame the television people rather than Williamson for the tempest rightfully stirred up by his opinions and beliefs.)

By the way, another completely unrelated point: those of you who are parents know that it is virtually impossible to discipline or instruct ones children when they have run away from home and severed all communication.

I'm just sayin'...

Haunted By a Chant

I have an Ear-Wonder, (yeah, I just made that up, but the Ear-Worm is it's evil twin.)

I think I may be remembering it from a bumper or credits on EWTN? something I heard yesterday at the Mass for the Conversion of St Paul?
But in any case, it goes like this:

La--- sol la ti do ti --- la --- (the dashes represent the long notes)

If any of my 1.72 readers can identify, I would be mightily grateful.

Taking risks for Him Who is Truth

This is kind of old, but I don't think I posted it when I came across it at Orthfully Catholic, and it's wonderful.
My pastor gave a terrific homily this weekend where he contrasted Paul's risking-all commitment to the Truth to the sometimes silent voices of those who have the bulliest pulpit to the Sanctity of Life.

At Mass today Father gave a whole new meaning to in persona Christi. He said more priests should be thrown out of their parishes by their parishioners as Our Lord was thrown out of the Synagogue in today's Gospel simply by preaching the Truth.

He said priests are not preaching the truth from the pulpit anymore and Catholicism is becoming too comfortable. He used today's patron, St Alphonsus Liguori as an example, he preached the moral truth, God's Moral Law, something priests aren't doing any more.

So come on Fathers, preach the truth and get thrown out of your churches for Jesus!

Beauty Amidst the Din

(I have some vague memory, which I will not pursue, that this author is someone I disagree with on something, or 'thingS fundamental, but i can't remember exactly what it is, or who he is, and as they say, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.)

Inside Catholic as a piece called "How Beauty Can Renew the Catholic Church" that makes some wonderful points about where we need to put the emphasis, where we need to re-focus our attention and energies to renew the Church.
Apparently an earlier piece gave people the idea that he was, essentially, advocating what I think of as the Protestant Sacrament, elevating "Fellowship" as the highest value.

So what makes Catholics distinctive among other Christian groups? ...[papal primacy, universality , sacraments] Of the sacraments, our belief in the "real presence" of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist not only distinguishes us doctrinally but liturgically as well. When a Catholic comes to Mass, his expectation -- the one foremost in his mind -- should be this real encounter with Christ in the Eucharist. If this encounter with His presence lacks vibrancy -- if it has the ho-hum quality of required ritual -- then renewal is the antidote.

How is this vitality recovered? This is where I think the "logic" of being Catholic sends us on a different course than that followed by other faith groups. There is the tendency to assume this renewal should be summoned up from within, based upon prayer, rosaries, or some sort of spiritual exercises. These are all good to do, of course, but that leaves aside the most obvious place to look for renewal: the liturgy itself.
My only quibble is that he does not mention the (at least as common, IME,) failing in much current liturgical praxis, rather than "hum-drum" the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, as conducted, is as rackety as a pep-rally, with as many added distractions as the mind of a catechist can invent.

I think I am beginning to see a point to the spirituality centered around contemplation of the Christ-child, of the Infant King, (which has always, not exactly puzzled me, as I didn't give it that much thought, more "escaped" me.) To really make our worship "vibrant" (though I despise that descriptor in common usage,) we need to zoom in on something, or rather, someone seemingly tiny, seemingly quiet, seemingly weak.

Him Whom all of creation cannot contain, in a space so small we can hardly see Him through the communion of saints and sinners gathered 'round.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Alter Christi

You must read this eloquent testament to a great priest, by Mark Shea.
If you can do so without weeping, you have no heart.
If you can do so without giving thanks to God, you have no soul.

On January 11, my family went to noon Mass at Blessed Sacrament parish in Seattle. It was being celebrated by our visiting priest, but after he processed up to the altar, we were astonished to see that Father Tom Kraft had taken a seat beside him.

Father Tom is one of the sweetest and holiest men I have ever known: a thoroughly priestly man with a profound sense of his vocation, a deep love for the poor, a beautiful humility, and a sheer radiant goodness.

He is also dying of esophageal cancer that has metastasized. We've been praying for him for months, but God has made it clear that He picks the fruit when it is ripe. So Father Tom ended his chemotherapy some weeks back, went to Spokane to say goodbye to his loved ones, and returned to us at Blessed Sacrament to spend his last days surrounded by brother priests in the rectory -- and to say goodbye to all of us.

After the homily, Father Daniel Syverstad, our pastor, had to give a brief report on financial matters, but then he gave (as he had done at all the previous Masses) a report on Father Tom. He was as astonished and moved as the rest of us to see Father Tom there, so much so that his normally dry and imperturbable Norwegian demeanor was shaken, as were we all. His voice trembled a couple of times and he said the beautiful truth about Father Tom: that he was one of the finest and most beloved priests Blessed Sacrament has ever had (which is saying a lot, because we've been blessed with extraordinary men, some of whom I believe will be canonized someday). Father Tom, with typical humility, cried as the people spontaneously applauded him. Well done, thou good and faithful!

But that was not all. This supremely loving man who could barely sit up through the Mass actually stood and assisted at the consecration. You could barely hear his voice -- a thin, papery whisper that demanded everything of him (the cancer has spread to his lungs). But he did it, gripping a chair to keep his balance and then leaning on the altar itself.

"Through Him, with Him, in Him." I've never seen the meaning of the priesthood so clearly incarnated before my eyes. Alter Christus. Priest. Victim. Sacrifice. This man and his Lord were standing so close together it was hard to tell them apart, especially from my seat up in the Nosebleed Section of the Human Race, so very far from that kind of sanctity.

They made it through the consecration and someone hurried to Father Tom's side to help him. I thought to myself, "For the love of God, go sit down, Father Tom. You've done enough."

But instead, this great man insisted on coming down with the Body of his Lord and distributing the Eucharist to us. He gave every last bit of himself out of love for God and for us. I was very tempted to change communion lines and receive from him (and I know others who actually did), because I knew I was looking at a saint. But instead, I just went up in my line, bawling, grieving, moved, and grateful beyond words for what I was witnessing.

After it was all over, Father Tom processed out and even stood on the steps of the church in the January cold, greeting people, blessing them, giving (as much as any soldier at Gettysburg or Normandy) "the last full measure of devotion." I had the great honor of shaking his hand and squeezing his bony arm, thanking him (and telling him he should really go lie down and rest). He said, "This gives me energy." Later, I'm told, he asked the Dominicans to take him for a car ride around town. They marveled -- and complied.

My eyes blur with tears as I write this. My wife said afterwards that she thought of Henry V's speech, "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers." I felt so privileged and honored to be able to witness what I saw that day. A friend of mine said, "I have been to Mass at the Garden of Gethsemane. I have prayed at the tomb of Christ and celebrated Holy Week in Jerusalem. But I have never been as moved by a Mass as I was by what I saw today."

Father, thanks be to God for your holy servant, Tom. We know he has to go soon, but we also know he will be happy with you. Grant him the grace of a happy death through out Lord Jesus Christ.

God bless you, Father Tom, for your beautiful gift of your heart and your life. We love you.

Benny's a Busy Boy

Our beloved Holy Father has indeed lifted the excommunications of the SSPX bishops, (yes, even the crazy one, despite the latter's best efforts, one might surmise....) and filled yet another long vacant see.

Denominational Loyalty Among Catholics

Ellison Research has released a study (apologies, that link is PDF format,) indicating that among active church-goers, those actually practicing something, denominational attachement is pretty low.

I am encouraged to see that there hasn't been a total catechetical failure among Catholics for the past few decades, a greater number of Catholics have a loyalty to the Mass, than Protestants to their services.
That indicates many practicing Catholics do understand, even if they cannot articulate it, the uniqueness of the Real Presence gratuitously available to them in the Blessed Sacrament confected by the ordained presbyterate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. (or maybe their grannies just inculcated them with fear of going to hell if they missed Mass ;oP)

Denominational loyalty differs strongly between Protestants and Catholics. Six out of ten active Catholics would only consider attending a Roman Catholic church, and another 29% prefer this, although they do not rule out other denominations. Eleven percent of Catholics do not show a specific preference for attending a Catholic parish.

In comparison, just 16% of Protestant churchgoers will only consider attending their current denomination. Fifty-one percent do express preference for one denomination, but would also consider others. Thirty-three percent do not have any preference for one specific denomination. This is little difference between the loyalties of people who attend evangelical Protestant churches and those who attend a mainline Protestant denomination....

There are relatively few demographic differences within the findings. Denominational loyalty does not vary significantly by gender, household income, age, or type of community (rural/small town, suburban, or urban). It does vary by race/ethnicity and by region of the country.

However, these differences are driven more by the Catholic/Protestant divide than by the actual demographics. Hispanic churchgoers – a majority of whom attend a Catholic church – are the most intensely loyal to their denomination, while African-Americans – relatively few of whom attend a Catholic church – are the least loyal.

Similarly, loyalty is highest in the Northeast, where Catholicism is more common than in any other part of the country, and lowest in the South, where Catholicism has less of a presence.

Roman Catholics are far more likely to be loyal to their denomination than they are to be loyal to specific brands within [consumer categories such as automobiles, toilet paper, pain relievers, and grocery stores.] The story is much different for Protestants.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Associated Press has Reported Scores of Facts Over the Years

In fact, I daresay scores of people find the AP at least a slightly reliable news-gathering and disseminating organization.

I think for instance, their reporting has helped us to know that scores of Americans have been killed in the Iraq War, and even more scores of Iraqi civilians.

Scores of people have died of AIDS in the US in the past year.

There are scores of people losing their homes in the mortgage crisis.

Scores of Americans are being laid off and filing for unemployment this month.

The CEOs and boards of some of the companies the taxpayers are bailing out spent scores of our dollars on frivolity in the wake of the bail-out.

Do those sentences sound about righ,t to express the magnitude of the numbers of people involved? They sit okay with you?

A good piece from the Los Angeles Times by Peter Johnson went into detail about the bias that amounts to lying with the truth exhibited by many media outlets on life issues ten years ago.

Not much has changed in half a score of years.

Woolies, it is...

Well, not really, allergic, you know.
But honestly, one day? ONE LOUSY DAY in a month and a half!??!?#?$??%?^?
Yes, today was the first day since November when I did not wear long underwear or leggings under my clothing.
It was nearly 30 degrees, and it felt like high summer!
And then, by the time I walked home from a wedding I played at 5:30, it felt like the antarctic again and I knew I'd made a mistake getting dressed this morning... ah, well.

In a few months I'll be moaning about the heat.

I cannot be pleased.

Seriously though, is this the worst winter in memory for anyone else? (My utility bills indicate it.)

How can one NOT snigger?

I am not going to repeat any of them here, but.... oh, all right, jut the one:


That is the name of an actual village in the UK.

Apparently, there is some officious, I mean, official move afoot to keep names open to lewd or disgusting interpretation off road signs. The NYTimes has the goods. (Or the bads.) You can read them there.

They're really not in a league with a well-known section of Pennsylvania we drove through on the B & B phase of our honeymoon.
But the British ones seem somehow, quaint. Or cute, like old people using kids' slang.

Oh, okay, just one more.

Pratts Bottom

New Cancer Drug of Great Promise

This story appears, oddly at first glance, in Zenit.
But there is nothing odd about its presence there, for it is a story of the Faith.

...a medicine that has a staggering 75% success rate in treating cancer, and yet is a natural and ethical product, owned by a nonprofit company headed by devout Catholics... this little-known product, which works by rebuilding the body's own adult stem cells and destroying tumour cells, already has a 25-year track record as a highly effective cancer treatment. Called CellAdam, it is most effective in preventing the early stages of cancer. But it also impedes the malignant process, and has an analgesic effect in the hopeless stage of an advanced tumour. Because of its natural composition, it has none of the hallucinogenic effects you get with morphine. The ingredients simply include a fatty acid complex extracted from soy and sunflower.

"This is a totally unusual and huge breakthrough," says Dr. Thomas Janossy, president of Biostemworld, the company producing the drug internationally. "In the next two to three years, it will become the first anti-cancer prescription drug in the world that is nature-based."

The developers of this are a perfect example of how, if we live our lives as God measn us to, everything we do is to His glory, every task we undertake is a sacramental, a means of living the Gospel.

They were staying... at the modest Generalate of the Sons of the Immaculate Conception. Their purpose was to meet members of a Catholic hospital run by a religious order whose charism is to help the sick.

The company wants the order, which has 400 cancer researchers in Italy, to carry out human and animal research on the medicine. ...

The Catholic factor in this is significant. Rather than make large profits from CellAdam, the company wants to plough all revenues made from the drug back into research, or to help Church missions. ... "the inventor, who is a Christian, was looking for people who spoke Hungarian, were Christian-Catholic, and who had scientific and business backgrounds. ...

the company steered clear of the United States because of its heavily profit-oriented pharmaceutical industry, and instead looked toward this Italian Catholic hospital. "Their whole approach to healing is so different," Janossy says. "The president is a priest who's not picking up a salary. All the profit goes back to research or is sent to the missions. That is extremely unique. So we said, 'OK we will share this product and the potential it has.'"...

"We feel in a lot of ways that Our Lady has really inspired us," says [theri public relations person] who is also a member of the Catholic movement Focolare. "[Governments] know the system can't manage it -- they've said it. There's no way they can take care of all those people."

She pointed to the growth of euthanasia, which is gaining popularity in the West as demand for health care for the elderly increases. "My first thought when this company was forming was: bingo, this had to come because the medical establishment is saying: 'What are we going to do with all these old people?'"

Dalgarno felt it was "truly God's work," not only because it could help counter the push toward euthanasia, but also because their products are less expensive, less dangerous and more ethical. Embryonic stem cell research plays no part in this medicine.

"We put our work daily under the protection of Our Lady," says Dalgarno, "knowing she is guiding our work and the 'mission in the health field' that we feel called to."

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Preferential Options...

Pro-life prayer service, very nice. Decent speaker, (though weirdly focused on animal life, to my ear,) EXCELLENT readers.
There were, essentially, 7 petitions, 7 prayers, 7 groups singled out, (or "sevened" out?) for specific mention.
The unborn, those imprisoned, the aged and infirm, the disabled, the poor... I'm blanking on the 6th.... and those in the military.

Believe me, I have no trouble praying for those in the Armed Forces, neither ours nor those of any other nation.
(I have plenty of military in the immediate family, if it comes to that. Semper Fi)

But why would we specify the services? Why are they specially in need of or deserving of prayer? why more so then the police, who also put their lives on the line for our protection and the preservation of ideals of civilization? or the fire department, who I believe are even more at risk, statistically speaking, than law enforcement?

I'm just curious.

The "Proper" Approach to Liturgy

From the wise and wonderful blogger of Hymnography Unbound, this gem, in a combox at the CMAA discussion boards:

Two things can be "caught"--as distinct from "taught"-- by the propers
a) correct relationships, both human-divine and ecclesial, and
b) the elevation of desires.
In other words, the propers form the mind for life in the reign of God.
And that's just the words!
The singing, and the ecclesial presence brought about by singing, form the whole human being:
body, soul, and spirit.

You just might be formed differently by giving voice to the sentiments, "Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice; seek the Lord and be strengthened," than you would by, say, joining in the national anthem of the nation of Pelagia, which begins, "Let us build a house....," or celebrating the wonderfulness of yourselves, "We are called, we are chosen, we are..."

Treasures of the Triduum

A little late, but this one day workshop sounds as if it would be marvelous, (come to think of it, everything I've ever known the Liturgical Institute to offer is marvelous.)

Treasures of the Triduum 2009:

Learning from the Church's Own Music and Texts

After the success of last year's "Treasures of the Triduum" workshop, the Liturgical Institute is pleased to present a follow-up event with all new topics on the liturgies of the evening of Holy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday. The treasures of the Triduum can never be exhausted, and this year's event concentrates on the very texts and chants given by the Church.

The Church gives "proper" texts for nearly all of its liturgies, texts specifically chosen for each day, intended to enhance comprehension of the day's readings and prayers. By recovering the use and meaning of these texts and their musical settings, the deep intellectual and affective content of the Easter Triduum can be unlocked and made more fruitful for the faithful.

This workshop offers theological insight and practical ideas presented to inspire a deeper understanding of the mysteries and to foster more conscious participation in them. Perfect for preachers, teachers, RCIA directors, liturgy directors, musicians, the lay faithful and all who desire to enter more deeply into the heart of the Paschal Mystery. Participants will return to their parishes with theological knowledge, spiritual depth, and resources for music and liturgical practice.

Participants will take home a packet of music and notes for use in their parish settings.

"Like a slap in the face"

Archbishop Jean Jadot has died.
Requiescat in pace.
Archbishop Jean Jadot, the chief papal representative to the United States in the 1970s... died Wednesday in Brussels. He was 99...
The pope had plucked him from relative obscurity to press the American church to carry out the reforms of Vatican II, over whose final sessions the pope had presided...
Archbishop Jadot turned what had been a largely ceremonial position into a bully pulpit for the seven years ending in 1980. ...
Bishops and other church leaders railed at what was seen as rabble-rousing by Archbishop Jadot, and he received a stream of anonymous hate mail. A close friend in Rome told him “they” were “out to get him,” ... he was responsible for the appointments of more than 100 new bishops, Dr. Dick [his friend and biographer] said. At one time, Dr. Dick said, more than a third of all American bishops were Archbishop Jadot’s choices. They were called “Jadot’s boys.” ...
With time, conservative bishops appointed under the papacy of John Paul II largely replaced “Jadot’s boys.” But some critics still say that the church’s sex scandals are linked to appointments made by Archbishop Jadot, saying they were ill advised.

Dr. Dick, who discussed the subject with Archbishop Jadot, responded in the interview that the scandals surprised and saddened the archbishop but that he accepted no blame for them....
In the spring of 1973, he accepted Pope Paul VI’s request to be his envoy to the United States. The pope told him he was chosen partly because he was not part of the Vatican bureaucracy, and thus might not be as pliable in the hands of powerful American bishops.

Although Archbishop Jadot strongly adhered to most [isn't that special?] of the church’s teachings, including its opposition to abortion, his willingness to leave some questions, like artificial contraception, to individual consciences rankled some church leaders...

Despite widespread speculation that he would be named a cardinal, it never happened. Then his successor, Archbishop Pio Laghi, who had appointed conservative bishops, was named a cardinal on May 29, 1991.

That day, after lunch, Archbishop Jadot said to Dr. Dick, “It is a slap in my face.”

Pray for Life

But darkness shall not be dark to thee, and night shall be light as day: the darkness thereof, and the light thereof are alike to thee. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast protected me from my mother's womb.

How Discouraging

The AP is reporting it now, so it may not be true:

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Two newspapers say Pope Benedict XVI has decided to lift the excommunications of four bishops consecrated 20 years ago by the late French ultraconservative Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

Lefebvre rebelled against the Vatican's modernizing reforms of the 1960s, including replacing Latin with local languages at Mass.

Benedict has already reached out to the rebels in the hopes of bringing them back into the Church by making it the old Mass more readily available.

The Italian newspapers Il Giornale and Il Riformista said Thursday that Benedict has now decided to meet their demand that the excommunications be lifted. The newspapers said, without citing sources, that Benedict has already signed the decrees and that they will be made public soon.

The Vatican declined comment on the reports.

Ut unum sint!

I think the Holy Father is very wise to gather the lost sheep who are nearest at hand, before going after the ones who've wandered over to the next county....

The Jubilus Course

It is hard not to be encouraged by what is going on all over the Catholic world.
And thanks to the blessing of the Internet, the news goes out to all the world!
(And though state-of-the-art technology, the mimeograph, helped trash the Liturgy in the day, the new technology will speed the clean-up.)
Gregorian Chant ...a way of singing parts of the Mass in a way that elevates it to a more contemplative, peaceful experience and adds a spiritual dimension... Today, it has found a young audience. A Gregorian chant course run during World Youth Day at St Augustine’s Church in Balmain last year drew so many pilgrims – over 200 – that they had to use the Protestant church down the road to cater for them all.
Jeremy Fletcher, a 37-year-old graduate of music at the Australian Catholic University, helped run the course, as well as one during Melbourne’s Days in the Diocese.
“If you present something to young people when you’re passionate about it and they can see you know what you’re talking about, they respond to it,” he said.
He was only two years old when Paul VI issued Jubilate Deo “as a gift” to the bishops of the world, but ever since learning the organ from an Anglican as a teen growing up in Grafton, NSW, he has been passionate about promoting music of good quality.
“I’ve always been dismayed that many Catholics have been unfamiliar with things like Paul VI’s letter to Catholics,” he said.
So he started the Sacred Music Centre in West Melbourne in 2006 and last month released the Jubilus Chant Course – based on Paul VI’s Jubilate Deo - to make ordinary Catholics more familiar with their heritage in an easily accessible way.
It is the first multi-media course in Gregorian Chant, incorporating a DVD, a chantbook, an audio CD and internet services.
Initially transferred from generation to generation by oral tradition, the need to transcribe the chant onto paper arose in the 10th century.
It was only a matter of time, Jeremy says, before chant became available through digital media.
Gregorian chant is difficult to produce, he admits, as it has its own form of notation. Compared to conventional music, the stave uses four lines instead of five, and the notes are square instead of round. Singers must also be able to sing without the accompaniment of an organ or piano.
Initially transferred from generation to generation by oral tradition, the need to transcribe the chant onto paper arose in the 10th
Jubilate Deo contains simple chant settings in Latin of the parts of the Ordinary of the Mass: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation and the Agnus Dei. It also provides musical settings for the dialogues between priest and people, such as before the Preface, and the Ite Missa est, the response to the Prayer of the Faithful, and others.
An expanded edition of Jubilate Deo was later issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship in 1987. Yet most Catholics still haven’t heard of it. Jeremy plans to change that....
It would nourish the personal faith of everyone who is involved in sacred music – which is basically singing, which means everyone in the congregation would benefit”.

Diocese of Fort Wayne/South Bend Getting With the Program

WARSAW — Study “Music in Divine Worship: Tradition and Today” at this year’s Liturgy Day gathering from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 7 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 225 Gilliam Drive. Paul French, director of the William Ferris Chorale, a 24-voice professional choir in Chicago, and music director at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Chicago, will guide the two liturgical sessions. The first session will explore the impact on liturgy, the implications for clergy, parish music directors and the worshipping community and the evolution of the United States Bishops’ document, “Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship,” has. Session two will examine the Gregorian chant. After each presentation there will be a question and answer session. Cost is $20 and must be received by Wednesday. Registration forms will be available online at www.diocesefwsb.org/WORSHIP. For information, call (260) 399-1401.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

A nice shmata for his eminence?

Well, it's not as if AP has professional reporters working for them or anything....

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI has blessed two lambs whose wool will be shorn to make shawls [sic, emphasis supplied] for newly appointed archbishops to wear.

My Fault, My Fault, My Most Grievous Fault

My Fault, My Fault, My Most Grievous Fault

I think my most grievous vault.... hmm, but since it is mine, can that possibly be an objective, a correct assessment?

And it's got competition, there's my laziness, my careless ways with... "details" of the truth.
Nonetheless, I think my worst trait is my score-keeping, which stems from various combinations of pride and envy (they don't call certain sins "deadly" for nothin'.)

Hmmm, I've done this for her, and she's only done that for me, so I'm ahead, no need to put myself out.

Well, why has X happened for Y, when I've done a zillion times more Z than he? I'm not going to do anymore until things even out.

How can B act so entitled to C when I'm much better than she at A? She doesn't deserve it.


Well, it just went with the territory in my former life, so I don't feel to awful about it.

But now, when there's no excuse for it, despite my lack of skills, or perhaps because of them, I feel twinges from time to time at other musicians' situations.
And the fact is, when I look at it as objectively as possible, I would bollix up the opportunity, not for me, but the opportunity for the Church and for Her Liturgy, and for Her sacred music, if I had found myself in a more receptive parish, or with a more supportive employer, or with a less stubborn choir.

There are two "pastor's columns" making a bit of noise around St Blog's, (H/T to the New Liturgical Movement, incidentally.)

Oh, if ONLY....! one thinks, reading the words of Fr Markey, I should BE so lucky!

Nonsense!!!! Look at the name of the fortunate music director! Fr Markey is as fortunate in him, as he is in Fr Markey!

All of this is to say, when I relocate, I hope I am lucky enough not to be worthy of, not to be good enough for the parish to which I wish to belong, I pray that I am the least competent and knowledgeable and talented member of the schola, or intern in the beginners' choir, or better yet -- PIP! And that I am humble enough to know it, and learn from it and love it.

Oh, and if you haven't read it elsewhere, read what Fr Markey has to say:

January 18, 2009

Part I: These past two Sundays I have dedicated my Pastor’s Column to New Year Resolutions. First I recommended that following Pope Benedict XVI’s lead, people no longer receive Holy Communion in the hand, and start receiving on the tongue. Secondly I recommended that people start correcting themselves when they use the Lord’s name in vain. This week I recommend that everyone in the parish make it a point to attend the 9:30 am Extraordinary Form of the Mass at least a few times during the coming year.
To begin to understand why, perhaps it is best to ask a question: How many Catholics today even realize that there is a liturgical crisis currently going on in the Church? Many parishes during the post-Vatican II era fell into irregular liturgical practices to such an extent that Pope John Paul II needed to commission a juridical document in 2004 for the universal Church in order to address the issue: “It is not possible to be silent about the abuses, even quite grave ones, against the nature of the liturgy and the sacraments as well as the tradition and authority of the Church, which in our day not infrequently plague liturgical celebrations in one ecclesial environment or another. In some places the perpetuation of liturgical abuses has become habitual” (Redemptionis Sacramentum, 4).
Habitual abuse means that neither the clergy nor the laity at Mass even realizes that the Sacred Mass, that which offers true worship to God and forms Catholic identity like no other act, is being deformed. Such ignorance of the nature of the liturgy prompted Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, to write in 2000: “Liturgical education today, of both priests and laity, is deficient to a deplorable extent. Much remains to be done here.” Sadly these attempts by Rome to correct liturgical abuse seem to have been virtually ignored by much of the Church at the parish level.
Since I arrived here at St. Mary Church in 2003 I have tried to address these issues and as everyone knows, I have made the renewal of the liturgy a priority for the parish. The first thing I did as pastor was to simply bring St. Mary Church into conformity with the norms of the Church. In the following years, I introduced singing the Latin Mass parts into all of the Masses, depending on the Mass and the occasion, as the documents require: “...steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 54). Thirdly I reserved altar serving to boys alone in order promote vocations to the priesthood. Finally, I have tried to imbue the liturgy here with a sacred spirit, avoiding profane greetings and actions, and I sought to build a sacred music program that would truly reflect our rich and ancient heritage.
Most importantly, I have attempted to educate everyone about why I was doing all of this. I have held numerous evening classes on the liturgy over the years, given homilies and written bulletin columns, trying to explain the proper spirit of the liturgy, and the authentic liturgical norms of the Church.
Many Catholics, who have been rightly offended by the profanation of the sacred over the years, joyfully embraced these changes. Some while not familiar with liturgical theology, have grown to understand better why a reverent liturgy is a more prayerful experience, and have also supported the changes.
Nonetheless the decisions I have made have been hard for others, and there have been not a few complaints. I am sometimes saddened by the brazen words of people who come to me and criticize a St. Mary’s priest for actually prayerfully offering the Mass according to the liturgical norms. To me, the person’s comment is symbolic of the current liturgical crisis: many years of a more casual liturgy, and even habitual liturgical abuse, are hard to overcome. Furthermore, the fact that so few parishes are implementing what the Magisterium is asking us to do makes the changes at St. Mary Church appear even more strange.
Yet how many Catholics truly understand what the Mass is: the re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Christ’s crucifixion to God the Father? (Catechism #1367) Some people are still coming to Sunday Mass expecting liturgical abuses or to be entertained by the priest, rather than the real reason we come – to worship God, offering this perfect sacrifice according to the means handed down to us by Mother Church.
If only more people understood that novelties and priestly creativity in the Mass take away from this transcendent reality, and suddenly the sacred act is profaned, taking on the mere personality of the priest. No! As Padre Pio says, at Mass we are to humbly pray like St. John and Our Lady at the foot of the cross. Would that more people’s comments to me about the Mass reflected this understanding.

January 25, 2009

Part II: Yet beyond the lack of fidelity to the Vatican II liturgical norms there is still a deeper question which has only now begun to be addressed by Pope Benedict XVI: whether the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council that we have today was what the Fathers of the Council intended. Addressing the discontinuity between the Council’s idea of liturgical renewal and the final form of the Vatican II Mass, the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote: “(I)n the place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries, and replaced it –as in a manufacturing process- with a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product.”
For example, today much of what Catholics think is the Second Vatican Council liturgical reform did not in fact come from the Council: “To the ordinary churchgoer,” wrote Cardinal Ratzinger, “the two most obvious effects of the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council seem to be the disappearance of Latin and the turning of the altars towards the people. Those who read the relevant texts will be astonished to learn that neither is in fact found in the decrees of the Council.” There is a long list of other changes as well that are simply not in the Vatican II documents either: removing altar rails, Communion in the hand, altar girls, etc.
For this reason Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to liberalize the Traditional Latin Mass (Extraordinary Form) is essential to reconnecting us with our lost tradition, and understanding what authentic worship of God is all about. This Mass was the Mass of our forefathers, of countless saints, and which in its essence dates back to the earliest Church.
Inspired by the Holy Father, I began the Extraordinary Form at the parish every Sunday over a year ago. As your Pastor I wish more people in the parish would understand that we have been given a treasure here at St. Mary’s with this Extraordinary Form, and while the Mass is definitely growing, it is still a disappointment that more people do not recognize what this is all about.
If we look at the full array of Masses here at St. Mary’s, we see that there is a progressive solemnity to each of the liturgies on Sunday, with the 9:30 am Extraordinary Form representing the fullness of our liturgical patrimony. The Ordinary Form at 4:00 pm, 7:00 pm, and the 8:00 am are done reverently, and has the fixed parts of the Mass (Kyrie, Sanctus, Agnus Dei...) sung in Latin during Advent and Lent. The Spanish 1:15 Mass has a beautiful choir which sings the Latin Mass parts all year round. The 11:30 am Ordinary Form of the Mass has the largest volunteer choir, with the Gloria, Credo, and Pater chanted in Latin every Sunday, and at least once a month the entire Mass is done in Latin, ad orientem (facing East). Finally, once again as the fullness of our liturgical patrimony, we have the Solemn High Extraordinary Form of the Mass, with a professional schola singing the Mass parts in Gregorian chant and renaissance polyphony, and a full set of servers.
I encourage people to come and attend the 9:30 am Extraordinary Form so that they will experience what is in my opinion is the fullness of Catholic worship, and which communicates the Sacred to a higher degree than the other forms. The Ordinary Mass is a simpler version of this more ancient form, yet points to this fuller expression of worship.
I ask you to attend a few times because it sometimes takes a little while to appreciate its subtly, beauty and order. Even if you prefer the Ordinary Form of the Mass, your attendance at the Extraordinary Form will at least help you understand our history and the Ordinary Form better.
With all of the liturgical growth here at the parish over the past five years I hope that these two Pastor’s columns would help people to understand the big picture of why I am making these decisions. It is not my own personal whim which motivates me, but my desire to have our parish think and worship with the mind and heart of the Church.
Furthermore I think it more than a coincidence that the crisis in the liturgy over the past forty years coincided with so many other ecclesial crises: the radical decline in priestly and religious vocations, the shrinking and closing of Catholic schools, the breakdown of the family and the growth of the culture of death, the painful clergy scandals, etc. The Mass is the heart and source of our faith. If is the Mass is deformed and weak, then so is the rest of the body. As Pope Benedict XVI has written, “I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is, to a large extent, due to the disintegration of the liturgy.”
In conclusion, nothing will affect a renewal in the Church and in the culture more than a renewal in the liturgy. The Mass not only expresses what we believe, it shapes what we believe. Come, open yourself to what the Holy Spirit is doing at this point in history, and worship our Lord in the coming year in spirit and truth.

Sincerely in Christ,

Fr. Greg J. Markey

Point of information...

Beyonce did not sing "Etta James'" At Last....

She sang Harry Warren's At Last.

Movie Ratings, Movie Advertizing, Movie Messages

I was watching some bits of the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie, (get that condescending, disapproving grimace off your face this instant! it was purely for research. Honest! For a project. Honest!)
Anyway, may I just say, that it is disgusting?
The grim ugliness of the opening, including that child being hanged is simply appalling, and it goes downhill from there.
I believe the rating was PG 14; but if I had a fourteen year old, I don't think I would want him watching it.
The first in the series was also sort of awful, but from what I can recall, (I never saw all of it, only the parts I needed for my research, YES, research...,) I would not have judged it offensive to the sensibilities or innocence of a fourteen year old.
I'm assuming it had the same rating, but whether it did or not -- I should think the expectations of anyone who saw the first, or read the first of such a series might be that the others would be appropriate for an audience of the same level of maturity.

And I don't think that is unreasonable.

But unfortunately it is no longer true -- if it ever was.
Now that I think of it, the second Indiana Jones movie was full of gore and nastiness that the first would not have led one to expect.

And not a series, per se, but I'm sure that more than one parent had to deal with a traumatized child after the Disney Hunchback, despite having been charmed by B&tB, or Little Mermaid.

Now, certainly authors or film-makers are entitled to change direction/genre/style/target audience.
(IIRC, Judy Blume took some unwarranted criticism for daring to write a novel aimed at adults.)

My problem is more a lack of truth in advertizing.

I think it is reprehensible to make your product look like something it is not, in the hopes of luring those who not only would not otherwise have given it a shot, but will almost certainly hate it when they are drawn in, (and perhaps hate you, for tricking them.)

This seems to happen far too often with movies, and films, in pursuit of "the Big Opening Weekend."
Advertizing, PR, hype, can accomplish their purpose very nicely, very deceitfully if you don't give a tinker's dam about the subsequent word of mouth.

I went to see Despereaux over the holidays. It is the first movie I have paid to see since the the final Indiana Jones installment, (ah, the joys of SAG membership! although I didn't actually pay for Despereaux, either, I was given a gift certificate.)

The ad campaign, regardless of the fact that the book on which it was base, (which I hadn't read,) was aimed at ten to twelve year olds, made it look cute, cuddly, uplifting; and enjoyable and safe for much younger children, even toddlers.
There were enough mothers with small children in the theater to show that I was not the only one thus fooled.
I talked with some afterwards, and they were justifiably angry.

The ugliness, and even hints of sadism in the violence, whether depicted, threatened or indicated to be happening off-screen, was pretty startling.

Having complained about all that, I should add that I, a middle-aged person, enjoyed it quite a bit -- the art direction was fabulous, the animation quite lovely, the references to classic art beautiful, the references to classic movies by turns witty charming and ironic, (I loved the Alexander Nevsky figures when the characters in a book came to life,) and the voice characterizations almost uniformly excellent.

My biggest non-age related complaint, and now that I think of it, this is age-related too -- the incredibly heavy-handed polemic masquerading as narration.
What happens when you make something illegal that is just a natural part of the world?
(Hmmmm... natural part of the world...mind-altering substances? homosexuality? killing of other members of ones own species? what did you have in mind?)

I don't think it was accidental.

An adult could ignore it, or take it, for good or ill, for what it was, but I can't help thinking it was intended to stealthily talk children into a point of view that would be far from universally held by their parents.
We're not talking about who-can-argue-with-that? messages like love your neighbor, obey your parents, clean your plate.

(And now that I think of it, that may be why it was advertized skewing to smaller viewers than it should have been. Get'em while they're young.)

I can't be the only one who thought there was some kind of dig at organized religion in the close-minded cowardly council of mice. (And why shouldn't Soup Day be "bigger than Christmas," especially since they're both fabricated, basically secular holidays, huh?)

And it wasn't even honest to its principles within it's "tolerance is the ultimate virtue" and "beauty is only skin deep" parameters.

Because rats did turn out to be villainous as a group, (as a race? as a lifestyle?)

And homely people did turn to be meant to spend their lives.... with pigs.

"The Lord of History"

Marvelous phrase, used by a British priest in giving his blessing to close out an episode of an EWTN program called "The Journey Home."

(When we first received this channel on our cable, the "TV guide", rather amusingly, I think, described this as a program about people returning to the land of their ancestors. But I digress.)

The Lord of History's Church must be the Church of History.

I am fascinated by how often converts, (in the commonly accepted meaning, I understand that most of the people to whom I refer were already Christian, and did not "convert", but rather "were received into the Church," or into full communion with the Church,") are historians in one way or another.
A deeper awareness of where one has come from is always going to provide a surer guide of where one ought to go from here.
It seems to me that anyone who delves into the origins of Christianity, and believes, cannot rationally belong to any denomination.

There is either the Church, or there is, not even congregationalism, but individualism.

There is either Catholicism, or there is making it up as you go along, and acknowledging it. (The latter is defensible.)
I can understand the sense of betrayal that often leaks through in combox comments from "converts" (in the sense described above.)

Imagine being struck by Splendor of Truth revealed in the Catholic Church, the Universality Her message, the historicity of Her claims -- and then learning that your local Office of Worship, for the Diocese of West Singanewchurchintobeing, not only promotes manufactured prayer and sacred music and holy days, but actively discourages or suppresses any facet of Ritual that might connect you with anyone in the Communion of Saints who was naive enough to have existed before the flowering of the Faith that occurred in the latter part of the 20th century; or hearing Father Scooter Wedontgointforthatmedievalstufftheolgyhasevolvedpastit preach; or finding out your local parish is Saint Thewaywedoithere's.

There is, as a read somewhere, a reason "parochial" means what it has come to.
Can "diocesan" as a pejorative be far behind? or "conferential"?

"We don't care how they do it in Rome" is all well and good until you realize that people who say that often really mean "we don't care how anyone does it who isn't right here right now," or "we don't care how the Church Universal does it."

Training Wheels

Another thought on my cowardice in singing that funeral yesterday...

I did not learn to ride a bicycle, until I was, what 11? 12? can't remember, but somewhere really "up there." This is in contrast to everyone else in my large family, all of whom learned at 6 or 7, or eight at the latest, as is more usual.
Oh, I had reasons, I had excuses... but that's not the point.

I'm essentially a coward. I will take no risks, unless I am forced.

Everyone who has ever played a largish role on stage is aware that there is a point in the memorization process (the perpetual civilian question: HOW do you LEARN all those LINES?!??!??!?,) when the script actually hinders your progress. You must, as it were, take the training wheels off and risk falling, or rather, risk going up completely, or not only will you not know if you can do without, you actually can not do without the crutch of the written word.

There must be the moment of free-fall.
And I know it, but I am one of those actors who stays on book until the director expressly orders it out of my hand.

I realized looking at some music this morning that I will NEVER achieve any real skill at solfege, and never proper facility with square-note as long as, when push comes to shove and I'm on my own, and absolutely must sing, I can turn to my modern notation Liber.

Now, an actual liturgy is not the time to take those risks, so it's a good thing for me that my parish, in the bad-old-pre-VCII-days, before the joys of Glory and Praise were known, used modern notation, and in a forgotten drawer there awaits my little crutch.

But at home, I should put the modern notation Liber, (which I cadged for a fantastic price on eBay a few years ago,) on a high and nearly inaccessible shelf, or in a box in the attic, or under something and try to forget what.

Saint Agnes

Are the "About Todays" on Universalis usually so colorfully and conscience-tuggingly written?

As with so many of the early Roman martyrs, very little is now known about Agnes’ life. Partly this is because the details have been obscured by the light that shines from her martyrdom and the cult that it inspired, and partly because if you are martyred at the age of 12, your life has not really acquired that many details in any case. Agnes was filled with the love of God from an early age, vowed herself to celibacy, and when the opportunity of martyrdom arose, she did not hide away but stepped forward and took it.
That is really all that is known: but it is enough. We who are used to compromising with the world at every turn, and would find excuses to avoid any inconveniences that our faith might cause us, let alone martyrdom (“yes, of course I would die for my faith in principle, but wouldn’t I be able do more good in the long run if I stayed alive just now?”), should admire the simple wisdom of Agnes, [emphasis added] realise that there are moments where compromise and moral ambiguity just will not do, and pray for the strength to live up to such moments when they happen.