Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

But I believe he's being given the honor regardless...

Father Hugh W. Cleary, Holy Cross superior general in Rome, has asked Pres. Obama to "reconsider" his position on abortion.


Not much incentive for him to reconsider, ws there? what could have, should have, been the opposing forces was standing at the road side as he marched through town, scattering blossoms before the conquering hero.

Monday, 30 March 2009


Forgive the shouting.
It's just that I wanted to make certain no one who thinks we sing to make things "pretty," or to build up "fellowship," missed this through being hard of hearing.
For Byzantine Catholics, the chance to participate in liturgy is an opportunity to experience heaven on earth, according to John Michalski, the cantor at St. Nicholas of Myra Byzantine Catholic Church in Anchorage.

Because of the sacredness of the Mass, almost the entire liturgy in the Byzantine rite is sung or chanted.

"This is to set the tone and speed and create an atmosphere of prayer," Michalski explained to the Catholic Anchor. "When the priest chants the Gospel, it is meant to do it slower to communicate clearly the message of God to everyone."

For Doctor Ron Kichura, who cantors north of Anchorage at Blessed Theodore Romzha Mission in Wasilla, Byzantine rite music "moves like a conversation with God."

To walk into a Byzantine church is to walk into a rich tradition, steeped in a sense of the sacred.

In the way that St. Gregory the Great influenced the Gregorian chant in the Western churches, the liturgy in the Eastern rites — including the Byzantine Catholic rite — is based primarily on the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chyrsostom throughout much of the year, and also on St. Basil’s.

"Right now as we move into the Great Fast (the Byzantine observance of Lent) our liturgy is based on St. Basil," Michalski explained. "That liturgy is a bit longer, more somber in tone and focused on prayer."

The more somber tone heard during the Great Fast of Lent is one of eight musical melodies that are used throughout the year, Michalski elaborated.

The melodies rise and fall in a chanting form, Kichura explained, and are sung either in monotone or with harmonization, depending on the church and the cantor. In keeping with the Byzantine tradition, the music is entirely vocal, with no musical instruments.

"We’ve had some requests (at Blessed Theodore) to do harminzations, but if we do, it’s more of an impromptu thing," Kichura said. "It’s all acappella, that’s just a tradition for Byzantine Catholics over the centuries."

.....Both Michalski and Kichura emphasize the importance of getting the entire congregation to participate in the liturgical music.

"There is less of an emphasis on a choir," Kichura said. "Rather, it is supposed to be music that everyone participates in, rather than having a choir where people don’t participate."

"When I teach (cantors) I tell them their role is not to be a soloist," Michalski said. "Rather, their goal is to set the tone to clearly communicate the message of God."

Both cantors said the music is organic; the congregation picks up the music by participating in the liturgy.

"We do it naturally, you hear it every Sunday and you just do it," Kichura said. "There is a reverence about it that people appreciate."

Kichura has an undergraduate degree in music. For him, the goal of music — even secular — is something that should lead people to the ethereal.

"Music for me has always been a spiritual experience," he said. "It is something that should bring you closer to God."

Singing the liturgical prayers — especially in the slower chant form — helps people to meditate on what they are reading, Michalski said.

"It helps you really feel what you are singing," he said. "If you go slow and say the words distinctively and clearly, it helps you realize what you are here for."

A Play I Want to See

Tovah Feldshuh is starring on B'way in Irena's Vow, a play about Irena Gut Opdyke, the Polish woman in World War II who was to Poland, what was to Occupied Poland what Miep Gies, was for the Netherlands: a life-risking hero who hid Jews from the Gestapo and certain death.

Whereas Gies hid the Frank family and four others in the sealed-off back rooms of her company's office building in Amsterdam, Opdyke was able to stash a full dozen in the cellar of a confiscated Jewish villa where she was housekeeper for the highest ranking Nazi officer in the area, a Major Rugemer. This population grew in that cramped confinement, and, when an abortion was proposed as a safety measure for the whole group, Opdyke railed against it. Being a Catholic as well as an eye-witness to the Nazi atrocities being committed, she vowed to save every life she could.
You know how long it's been since I was in NY and there was anything playing in which I had any interest?

Learning How to Think of Sin

Excellent sermon from Henry Parry Liddon, a member of the Oxford Movement, courtesy of CanticaNova, on Psalm 51 and the nature of sin.
[Sin] considered as an act of the will directed against God, is an act of hostility; it is an act which would, if possible, annihilate God. This is not a rhetorical exaggeration, it is a plain statement of fact.
A little different from the penance services (one of whihc I will be attending in a few days,) where we bring the Father "our brokenness" and ask Him to kiss our boo-boos, huh?

Man up, Man....
Sin violates and defies the Moral Law of God: and what is God's Moral Law? It is a law which, like the laws of nature, as we call them, might conceivably have been other than it is? Certainly not. We can conceive much in nature being very different from what it is — suns and stars moving in larger of smaller cycles, men and animals of different shapes; the chemistry, the geology, the governing rules of the material universe, quite unlike what they actually are. God's liberty in creating physical beings was in no way shackled by His own laws, whether of force or matter. But can we, if we believe in a Moral God, conceive Him saying, "Thou mayest lie" or "Thou mayest murder"?
You'll want to read the rest.


Reiki, according to the USCCB's watchdogs of doctrine is neither scientific nor Christian, and therefore, inappropriate for Catholics.
I've had what amounted to a good back rub from a Reiki practitioner who donated her time to a theater.
I hadn't really heard much of it before, but when I asked her exactly what it was, beside massage, that she was doing, she was a little vague.

Well, a lot vague.

And I don't think it was deliberate obfuscation. It seemed likely to me at the time, that it was similar to a lot of peculiar spiritual practices, (EST, what I refer to as "Theatre Buddhism," etc.,) in that adepts don't want to tell neophytes too much at the beginning, so that they can rope them in with the sensible, practical side of something.
The Big Truths are the purview only of higher-ups.

It's one of the reason I was so against the RCIA programs attempt at secrecy and surprise, no, no, sponsors, don't tell our catechumens what's going to happen to them when we ask them to line up in the sanctuary and we all impose our hands on them, let it be this great mystery, for maximum effect!

What are we, Masons? Skull and Bones?

But as I said, it was a good back rub.

(Incidentally, I followed along in the ritual books at the Katholic Kranial Massage Ekstravaganza this year, rather than just trying to remember the prescribed language and gestures... even more creative than I suspected.)

So have at it, all you English Catholic minxes....

Look at item 0853.
That's right, neither of the two princes would be booted from the line of succession for marrying you.

Well THAT'S a relief.

I thought it would be better, i.e. lower...

It must be from the times I use Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, or Bravo Sierra...

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?

Deep Thinking

A former Christian, but now a neophyte of the Church of What Is (I Like to Think, But which May Be or May Not Be,) Happenin' Now had a conversation with a denizen of Holy Smoke's combox.

Yes, I suppose it might be apocryphal, but it is most tragically and most wonderfully like conversations I've had with other members of the Church of What Is I Like...., oh, for pity's sake, let's just call them "Relativists."
Recently I have had a depressing discussion on the concept of Truth with a friend of mine, who claims to to be Christian. I tried to prove a point to him by saying:

'We have two statements:

1. The earth was created by God and 2. The earth was NOT created by God. Now, surely you'll agree that ONE of this statements MUST be true, regardless of which one it is. '

And you know what he said? 'Not necessarily. This is too inflexible'

Where has the logical thinking gone? People no longer THINK.

My friend went on to say that it cannot be that only one religion is right, and that I was' rigid', 'subjective', 'authoritarian' and 'inflexible'.
As our processional here at The Church of...., oh, sorry, for the Relativists, please turn in your Fake Books to number, er... in your hymnals, to...

"Oh no, Anita, no! It isn't true, not for me, it's true for you, not for me, I hear your words, and know they're smart, but my heart, Anita...."

The Struggle

In yet another post at Fr Z's about the ongoing fracas regarding the honoring of a certain well-known and very pro-abortion public official by a very well-known and yeah-we-might-use-the-word-"Catholic"-but-we-don't-let-it-affect-our-LIVES-or-anything place of higher learning, he makes an off-hand snark about what he calls "The Struggle."

I detect a whiff of the universal excuse I call "the struggle". If you "struggle" with something, you are to be exonerated of any guilt for doing something wrong.

He's right, it is an excellent weasel word.
And is often used when the speaker or writer doesn't want you to think for a moment that he is blaming the person about whom he is writing or speaking.
As long as you don't throw a self-congratulatory party lauding yourself for committing some heinous act, or taking some reprehensible position, you can be said to have "struggled" with the action or position.

The guy who went out for a pack of smokes ten years ago and never saw his wife and kids again?
Struggled with commitment issues.
Realized you couldn't get your party's nomination for dog catcher without championing the "rights of oppressed women" to privately murder the unborn unwanted?
Struggled with the abortion issue.
Wanted to go to war even though your advisers weren't able to come up with any hard evidence for the rationale you wanted to give those whose children were expected to go die in it?
Surely a struggle.
An athlete took banned performance-enhancing substances?
Well, there was that struggle with pressure to be good.

I think nowadays the most common sparring partner in a "struggle" is "demons."

Which is kinda funny, since so many people don't believe in the devil.

Of course, they are usually inner demons (those would be the kind who scratch messages on your skin in unknown ancient languages from the inside? yeah, I seen that movie....)

Me, I struggle with sloth, snarkiness and that last piece of cheesecake.

What's that you asked?

Well, no, I don't win, or anything.

But I get points for struggling, right?

Singing the Marian Antiphons

Jeffrey Tucker over at The New Liturgical Movement has a positively lyrical essay on a subject I touched on just the day before, the way the Church's great patrimony of music has an ability to connect us with the communion of saints, and with all the Church, Triumphant, Militant and Suffering, not just those with whom through accident of time and space we are sharing a pew at the moment.

(I wonder, has any study been done on whether, in the GIRM in particular, since it is the prescriptive document most often utilized in great pan-Catholic sport of rubric-flinging, "the faithful" is more insightfully read as one or the other or both or sometimes one and sometimes the other? But I digress...)

Anywho, JT puts it far more eloquently than I ever dreamed of, and then takes it up a notch, in the process giving a pep talk to all the laborers in the vineyard whose vineyard is.... a dusty loft.

Thus (partially,) spaketh the Bow-Tied One (go read the rest of it, of course,) :
Part of our ambition as a schola is to bring popular chant hymns from all ages back into the life of Catholic people. So this year, we made an effort to sing the Marian antiphon for Lent—Ave Regina Caelorum—following communion every single week. We put it in the program each week and we have sung it without fail. Today, on the fifth week, the people joined the singing as if they owned it. It is now part of their experience of the faith.

... Perhaps it will be sung quietly in their heads before drifting off to sleep tonight, and perhaps it will be recall tomorrow morning as well.

This was not true only weeks ago, when hardly anyone in the parish knew this song. Now it is a living reality in their lives, and they have added it to their intellectual and aesthetic store of understanding of what comprises the marks of the Catholic faith. This song is added to a thousand other signs, from holy water to rosary beads, of what it means to be a Catholic.

Today, we tend to regard[the Marian antiphons] as somehow high-brow music characteristic of “high-Church celebration,” but this is not really correct historically. This music might be regarded as true Catholic folk music. It has pious origins, rooted in the popular expression of our faith, sung by all Catholic people in all times, and their continued presence for one-thousand plus years, some of the dating to the Patristic period, speaks to their quality as music and as true expression of the sense of faith.

These small tunes have a special quality to unite people in a song, a point which might sound like a cliché until we consider precisely what Catholics mean by the term unite. It is [not] unity of the trivial sort, pertaining only to those present in the room at that moment. That sort of unity is rarely achieved in a parish environment in any case, given the characteristic nature of Catholics to avoid being cajoled into group-based activities. There will also be a solid quarter of the congregation that will resist singing no matter how compelling the cantor or familiar the song.

By unity, then, we mean unified across geographic and national lines, and across time, stretching back generations and generations. Our voices are united with people we do not know and could not know. This is a mystical form of unity that leaves the physical space we experience with our sense alone. We can only imagine people one thousand years ago singing the same tunes with the same words at the same Mass during the same season. We do not know and cannot imagine what their lives were like, what they wore, what they ate, how they thought and spoke, their trials and troubles, their joys and fears, but we can, after all, sing the same songs as they did. So our unity with them in song is a magnificent expression of what it means to be Catholic, to broaden our thinking and living outside the boundaries of time and space.

Thus can we understand the importance of Latin here. The tunes are written to accommodate the language and express it as beautifully as possible. To adapt them to another language is possible but it sheds an importance aspect of unity,

... why do it? It is a matter of the obligation we all have to assist in making the faith as beautiful as we can, in our own space and time, insofar as we can. We sing these songs for the same reason that we plant flowers in our front yards and window boxes. ...

Planting [flowers which will die] is a way of entering into a continuous effort, made by every generation, to bring color and brightness to the vale of tears in which we live.

I also like to think of the job of a Church musician as comparable to entering into a stream of living water that began to flow at the beginning of life of Christ. This stream grows and grows through time, and sometime falls back, but it continues to exist and move only in a forward direction. We have so few years on this earth, but we have the opportunity to become part of this stream of music and make a contribution to carrying from the past into the future.

When we sing these songs, our voices become part of the water and its continuous movement. Doing this as musicians gives our lives meaning beyond our time.
We partake in the great effort of color the world with Christian art, an art that points to the great truth that we seek and that gives our lives meaning.
[Emphasis supplied, need I add, and I may take those tid-bits in to my choir to whom I was most unlovely yesterday, on the morrow.)

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Brave New World That Has Such Fetuses In it

Fetal Farming is Not a Pipedream: History of Living Fetal Experiments

"Duty" to Die... well, if you're POOR

This is very old "news."
But I never read it at the time, and the law, so far as I know, still exists.
I knew of, but hadn't heard the name applied, "Futile Care Theory."

There is a truism that whenever someone says, "it's not about the money," that it's about.... the money.

So what is a life worth?

I think prayers for the soul of Tirhas Habtegiris are in order even at this late date, but prayers for the staff of Baylor Regional Medical Center in Plano are probably more urgent those in the same position, and for the officials of the government of the Sovereign Hellhole of Texas, and states like them (Idaho?,) most of all.

A medical center
disconnected a dying, uninsured [emphasis supplied] cancer patient, Tirhas Habtegiris, from the ventilator that was keeping her alive.
The 27-year-old abdominal cancer patient was conscious and did not wish to be disconnected because she hoped that her mother would arrive from Africa for one last visit before she died. The hospital warned the patient and her family that it would keep her on the ventilator for just 10 more days.
Ms. Habtegiris died 16 minutes after the ventilator was shut off...The hospital acted pursuant to a law passed in 1999 that allowed it to discontinue "inappropriate" medical care despite the wishes of a patient or the patient's family.
Because the Culture of Death's attempts to deprive people of "futile care" continue.
I am also disturbed by support for eliminating the "dead donor rule" for organ procurement.
Oh, hell, why not snatch organs from living patients if they are either cognitively "devastated" or who will die pretty soon anyway?

Because it is just as important to strive for unity with Pius X, Maria Goretti, Francis of Assisi and Guido d'Arezzo ...

... through our celebration of the liturgy as it is for unity with the people who, through accidents of time and space, happening to be sharing the pew with you.

A lovely story about a youth choir preparing for Mass in Detroit:
The classical sounds of the Latin language are to echo inside a Detroit cathedral today as children from across the region gather for a special mass featuring area Catholic youth choirs.
It's a sign of the growing interest in the Latin language among Catholics who are yearning for tradition.

About 100 children from parishes in Michigan and London, Ontario, are to practice and then perform during the mass with Archbishop Allen Vigneron at Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, the seat of the Archdiocese of Detroit.

After the reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, greater emphasis was placed on using English in masses so singing in Latin increasingly fell out of favor, said local Catholics.

"When I was young, we only sang in Latin," recalled Cindy Stempin, music director at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Livonia.

"Latin was the universal language of the church," she added. "They are going back to their roots."

Some of her students say they like it.

"It's pretty cool to be singing in a different language," said Alexa Orosz, a sixth-grader at St. Michael school. "When you get used to it, it's not hard at all."

Stempin helped about 25 children in third grade to eighth grade get ready for today's concert, which is organized by the American Federation Pueri Cantores, a national organization that promotes religious music among youngsters.

The children are to rehearse today under the direction of Paul French, a noted composer and conductor who directs William Ferris Chorale in Chicago.

Nancy Deacon, director of music at the cathedral, remembers hearing Latin sung as an elementary school student, and then noticed the changes after the reforms.

"It went from one extreme to the other," she said. Singing in Latin is "something that had been missing for a generation or so."

How did I get here? What am I doing here?

Ah, yes, the great existential questions... but it was really an absent-minded slacker's bemusement at finding herself on a web-page and trying to recall what peculiar sequence of links is behind such self-discovery.
Certain mentally undisciplined conversationalists often find their discussions hurtling through such amazing scenery, they are curious to board that train of though for the return journey.... what were we talking about?

So, what were we talking about?

Oh, yeah...
The interwebs are a worse "time suck" than the card catalogue of my remote youth. How many term papers were written at the last minute because I was distracted during research time?
(Focus. FOCUS!)

A casual thought about ecumenism leads to curiosity about Orthodoxy; and recollection of a bi-ritual Roman Catholic priest who was supposed to be expounding on the difference between Byzantine and Roman instead going off on a tear about Bugnini, Masons and the filioque; leads to profanum vulgus comboxorum, and a post in which the word "Mottram" catches my eye, (so yeah, I opened some new tabs on various aspects of Brideshead, but that's a different rabbithole;) that seems to have inadvertently been posted to the wrong thread; which (other) thread links to a snarking famous pot commenting upon a famous kettle's conversion; which leads to a gallery of "famous converts."

(I admit to not recognizing all of them... which is sad, because I've already come to terms with not even recognizing the names of most "celebrities" or "stars", because I'm too old to have any interest in the areas of pop culture from which some fame devolves; and now to not know the names of persons someone as old as Christopher Buckley considers famous! But I digress.)
(See what I mean?)

Anyway, famously wooden but photogenic movie star Gary Cooper was received into the Church late in life.

I don't know why, but that made me happy to read. Maybe because he'd been a notorious swordsman, with a messy life...
I like the idea of hope for us all.
And it is the Church, the Catholic Church in which the Church founded by Christ subsists, which help me to live in hope, in joyful hope.

Faith helps give meaning to existence; the Church, our association with Christ and with all those who make us His Mystical Body, illumines the existential darkness in which man finds himself.
So, back where I started!
(Appropriately enough, because I do run in circles....)

Thursday, 26 March 2009


As a shameful technidiot, I'm not really certain what all this means, but it sounds interesting.
(iTunes, I take, it is like a tiny Victrola?;oP)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ (MARCH 25, 2009) - Have you ever been sitting in church and wished you could more easily follow along with the Mass Readings without having to lookup the reading and deal with those bulky books. Have you ever been unable to attend a Mass and wished you could easily get access to the Mass Readings to read via your iPhone or iPod Touch? Now you can!

Whether you are a life-long Catholic or new to the faith, this application is for you! iMissal presents the liturgical year's worth of Sacred Scripture, allowing the faithful to follow and delve further into the Church's holy celebration.

The liturgical texts provided in iMissal are used with the permission of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine and the International Committee on English in the Liturgy. They are the official texts approved for use in the dioceses of the United States by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

iMissal includes the following features:

1) Liturgical Calendar - Full calendar displaying all of the liturgical seasons. The calendar is color coded based on liturgical season and shows Holy Days of Obligation, Solemnities, Major Feasts, etc.

2) Mass Readings - All the Mass Readings for every liturgical cycle (A,B,C,I,II) are included! This includes First Reading, Palsm, Second Reading, Alleluia, and Gospel for all Sunday and Weekday Masses. Reading text is always available for every day, no WIFI connection necessary. Uses translations officially approved for Mass in the U.S.

3) Daily Bible Verse - Hundreds of popular bible verses are available. Each time application is accessed a new verse is displayed to reflect upon.

4) Prayers - Over 50 of the most popular Catholic prayers are included.

5) Order of Mass – Follow along in Mass and have all the prayers, and responses available.

Great for all Catholics and RCIA candidates. Thousands of pages of scripture all on your iPhone/iPod Touch.

Oh brave new world that has such gadgets in it!

The Invisible Organist

Help is on the way for the short-handed parish music ministry:
The current church organist shortage has resurrected a modern form of what was once called The Barrel Organ. Like music boxes that have pins sticking out of a little drum that pluck out tunes, these organs had large drums that pins would be inserted into in musical patterns to play hymns in churches that were without organists.

In 1982 popular musical instrument manufacturers met and worked out an agreement to make popular electronic musical instruments compatible and able to communicate with each other in an easy manner.

This resulted in the creation of MIDI, which refers to the mechanical means of connecting instruments and the programming language used for the communication.

Before long MIDI appeared in church organs that produce sound from digitally recorded sampling of organ pipes, but now it is also common in pipe organs as they adopt the use of digitally controlled keying systems.

Even historic-style tracker pipe organs now can be fitted to record and even play back MIDI files.

MIDI makes possible the recording and playback of instruments, so when an organist has to be away or when a church cannot find an organist, it is possible for an organist to record all the hymns and liturgical music and have someone punch buttons to play the organ. And not through speakers as you would with a CD, but the MIDI file plays the real pipes or sampled sounds of the organ just as a live organist would.

And now it is also possible to purchase MIDI files on floppy disks for older units and USB thumb drives and memory sticks for newer instruments. A cottage industry has popped up that provides these MIDI files of hymns and even anthems for choirs so that organist/directors may have their hands free to direct the choir.

A Google search on ORGAN MIDI FILE provides links to many files, some free and some for purchase, for those interested in knowing more about this new development in church music.

Noel Jones is Creative Director of Frog Music Press and Editor of The Catholic Hymnal in Englewood, Tennessee. He may be reached by email at noeljones@usit.net


Did those so indignant at one bishop's unheard of (c.f., Gambling at Rick's,) criticism of other bishops wax similarly indignant at the Vatican official who criticized the Brazilian bishop who excommunicated those who facilitated or performed an abortion on an incest victim?

I'm sure they did, to be so biased in their application of principle wouldn't be nice...


... I am strangely gratified to see other people denouncing Randall Terry for the weasel I always feared he was.

Reporting vs. Editorializing

The AP doesn't seem to know the difference.
Is it deliberate editorial policy? a lack of oversight of reporters? bureau chiefs with axes to grind?

Simple ignorance and incompetence?

Case in point: "Pope Benedict XVI has gone on YouTube and his speeches appear in Chinese on the Vatican Web site, but judging from the uproar over a Holocaust-denying bishop and his pronouncement that condoms deepen the AIDS crisis, he's clearly struggling with his message."

Is he?
Is that clear to you? "His" message, (um, that would be the Gospel message, but leave that aside,) is indeed being struggled with, but it is the "journalist's" unsupported opinion that the Pope is the one dong the struggling.
Jesus was not "struggling with His message" when some disciples deserted Him, whining, "This is a hard saying."
My Mom was not "struggling with her message" when 11 brats whined that it was too early ta hafta go ta bed, even if it was a schoolnight.
Oh, I misspoke, the "journalist" was supported in his opinion by Politi and Reese, who, I dare say, always seem to be "struggling with" the Holy Father's messages when they whine about them.... before he delivers them.

2nd Case: Cdl Kasper helped in a menorah rededication "amid fallout from the Holy See's botched decision to the lift" the SSPX excommunications.
The pejorative verbal, "botched" seems intended to be expressive of the reporter's opinion of the merits of a theological and ecclesial decision, not informative as to.... oh, I dunno, facts?

And lastly: Archbishop Raymond Burke, the former St. Louis prelate who now leads the Vatican supreme court, said President Barack Obama 'could be an agent of death' if his support for abortion rights becomes a model for leaders in other countries.... The White House press office did not respond to a request for comment. Obama has pledged to find ways to reduce the abortion rate, to find common ground with opponents."

Is Obama's "pledge" really the most relevant tag for this story? Is that really the most pertinent information, assuming you want to end your little "news pyramid" with the president's position which is being denounced by the subject of your story?
Not, oh, let's see.... what's actually been DONE by the president? as president? the repeal of the Mexico city policy, the reversal of an executive order allowing for conscientious objection to participating in abortion under the guise of "health care," the support of killing new embryos to create new stem cell lines....

The AP doesn't even keep up a pretense of objectivity, it seems.

Their journalistic integrity stinks like week-old tilapia.

April First

It seems that "The Vatican is to receive condoms in the post from subscribers to a Facebook group protesting Pope Benedict XVI's recent comments against the use of condoms to combat AIDS in Africa.

Organisers of the Italian group on the social networking website said 60,000 subscribers will send a condom to the Vatican on Friday.

But deliveries could total millions after similar Facebook groups across the world also pledged to participate.

Condoms will be 'addressed to the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, 00120 Vatican City' and organisers are hoping they will all arrive on April 1."

How appropriate, since they are showing themselves to be utter fools.

In related news, international aid societies are hounding the Vatican to help distribute crash helmets to drunk drivers.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Are TPTB at GIA really that ill-informed?

The fourth Sunday of Lent [is called] “Laetare Sunday” because, before the reforms of Vatican II, the introit (entrance chant) for the Fourth Sunday began, “Laetare Jerusalem, et conventium facite omnes quis diligitis eam” just as “Gaudete Jerusalem,” the entrance chant for Advent began the same way: “Rejoice, Jerusalem.”

Oh, really?
How does the Introit of that Sunday begin now, that is, since the reforms of Vatican II?
Oh, you say you didn't know that Introits still exist?

Is it just me....?

... or does the Holy Father kinda look in this picture like, "I know something you don't know..."?

Probably just me...

Okay, I'm convinced...

... thanks to the Catholic Thing.


The Petition Thing

The petition denouncing Notre Dame's announced plans for commencement has signatures approaching the 115 thousand mark.
Ralph McInerny has been particularly fiery and eloquent on why it is a scandal for a purportedly Catholic place of higher learning to bestow honours on a man who has, in a very short time, done more personally to facilitate the Private Murder of the Unborn Unwanted than at his most optimistic Satan ever thought possible.

I have not signed it.

I'm not sure, if Obama were merely the commencement speaker, (and yes, it is a great PR and prestige coup to have the POTUS as your graduation speaker,) but were not being given the honorary doctor of jurisprudence would it be all right?

I have always thought that non-Catholics who did not hold to that to which all members of the Faith are bound in conscience to hold, (and yes, I know plenty of people who consider themselves "good Catholics" don't -- well, they're wrong,) need not be excluded in quite the way putative Catholics did, from appearing in Catholic places, at Catholic functions, as long as it was not to explicitly or implicitly proclaim doctrine at odds with the Faith.

So the commencement address would seem to be acceptable -- IF Obama, a man whose beliefs and actions are at odds with a basic tenet of NATURAL LAW were not being giving that LAW degree.

Of course, the nose-thumbing of Notre Dame may be a tacit endorsement of the president's enthusiasm for the Private Murder of the Unborn Unwanted .
There are indications that the vast majority of TPTB at ND are also committed to keeping the Private Murder of the Unborn Unwanted legal.
But in charity, I'll assume they think Obama's facilitation of the Private Murder of the Unborn Unwanted is a flaw in an otherwise impeccable morality.

Oh, and well done Bishop D'Arcy!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Mundelein Psalter Endorsement

This year old thread on the MusicaSacra boards has been revived, with an apparently heartfelt thumbs up for the Mundelein Psalter from a self-described non-musician:

I love the Mundelein Psalter. I had previously prayed the Liturgy of the Hours for many years simply reciting it. I had long wanted to be able sing the office but didn't know how: there are so few resources available for singing the office. Indeed, whenever I attended a celebration of Evening Prayer in a church, I inevitably found that the psalms were replaced with contemporary hymns from a hymnal. This, to my mind, is not really the Liturgy of the Hours and has always left me feeling let down. I wanted to sing the office using the psalter but clearly even most [parish] music directors don't know how to do that anymore. I was on my own in learning how to do that. And since I am not a musician, any resources I might have found wouldn't have helped me much. I was left high and dry longing to be able to sing the office but having neither the tools nor the skill to do so.

And then the Mudelein Psalter was published!

Suddenly I had a tool for praying the office and it provided music and musical notation that I could learn and use without the support of "real" musicians. Using the Mundelein Psalter, a few guides to square note notation easily found on the internet, the recordings from the Mundelein Psalter website and a collection of diatonic harmonicas that I can use to model the melodies, I was able to teach my self to read the notation and to chant the melodies. I was able to fulfill my long time desire of being able to sing the office.

After a little over a year of using this psalter I can almost sight read the gregorian notation - at least the simpler notation as found in the Mudelein Psalter. I certainly can't easily read the notation found in the Gradulae Romanum, but I can manage the notation in the Parish Book of Chant. I am no where near being able to sight read standard notation.

Did I mention that I am not a musician? In a little more than a year I have acquired more musical skill using the simple modal music offered in this Psalter than I have in all my years trying to sing the standard repertoire found in most parishes. One surprise benefit that I seem to have received from using these melodies is the clearing up of a lot of residual tone deafness. There seems to be something about this kind of music that teaches you to hear musically. I don't know how to say or describe it better than than that but the results are clear. I hear more accurately now and, as a consequence, I can now sing more accurately. The Mundelein Psalter provided an important first step for me to begin acquiring more sophisticated musical skills. I am not going to be performing at the Met anytime soon, but I am a better singer now than I was a year ago and I can credit that to the this psalter and to other simple chant resources that I have discovered.

I have learned enough now that I am ready for greater challenges but I am glad that the Mundelein Psalter provided the wonderful first step it has. Even though I am ready to tackle bigger challenges I have not yet grown tired of the psalter and continue to use it daily.

Is the music in this psalter simple? You bet it is - but that is a huge advantage to non-musician like me who will often find that they have to learn this material largely without the support of real musicians.

Now that's enthusiasm.

It's really a wonderful volume. I can't imagine there are many parish or community music programs so advanced they wouldn't benefit from this. (Imagine going from doing Evening prayer, or rather what is called "Evening Prayer" out of the Gather hymnal, and then graduating to this -- you'd think you'd died and gone to heaven.)

There was talk that there was going to be a companion volume, Hymnal.
Wonder if that's still in the works...

Organ Playing in the Context of the Mass

An interesting thread at the new Liturgical Movement, occasioned by a post from Amy Welborn that mentioned organ ineptitude, or perhaps more accurately, inapt use of the instrument.

I daresay I am, at least from time to time, guilty of all the sins enumerated in the combox and in the original post(s).

But I am nothing, if not facile with an excuse, and there are often ... mitigating circumstances.

I accept much of the advice, (although it is mostly couched as dicta, not advice,) at least in principle, but don't intend to avail myself of all of it.

If a mic'ed someone wails in his own tempo I have got to assume he can't hear the organ and it is too quiet.
This goes for choir, priests and cantors. (The choir of course is not mic'ed, there are simply certain members, and at times entire sections whose attention I.... need to get.)
Someone else is bound to complain that I am too loud in all these situations.
So it goes.

If TPTB insist on a certain acclamation, and it is not the one that we have always used since a particular ordinary has been used in the past, the intro has to be long enough that there is no doubt as to whether form A,B,C, or D is being used, and sometimes that means the entire tune.
So it goes.

If the choir has begun a postlude and a pick-up touch football match breaks out downstairs, (this is only a guess on my part, I'm not sure of the cause of the surge of yelling, screeching, and shouting that occurs on a regular basis in the aftermass of Liturgy, ) then what was intendedat rehearsal as a comfortable mf may, perforce, become fff.
So it goes.

If there are not very good but much loved anthems with pianistic accompaniments that really don't hang together as vocal music without booming out the cues that I choose to program before Mass to put down the Why Can't We Sing the Old Songs? mutinies they will probably earn a registration that is a little too insistent for loveliness, but necessary for insuring entrances.
So it goes.

I suppose if I had any integrity I would just get rid of half the choir, insist on control of the amplification, and refuse to countenance interference from anyone who can't demonstrate with organ or chironomy what it is he wants.

And we won't even go into the tempo wars that are a root cause of my current consideration of a major life change.

Hmmmm, haven't I just put myself in a lousy mood for choir rehearsal tonight?

There is really only one Enemy...

.... but he's got a hell of a lot, or rather, an earth of a lot, of Useful Idiots.
But it is good to remember, or try to discern, amongst those to whom you find yourself in opposition, which are to be counted amongst those who don't really want to accomplish a faithful and authentic implementation of Vatican II, and which the merely uniformed.

Chironomo has an excellent post on this, (I am looking forward to another forthcoming post of which he hints, about Fr Ruff's recent presentation at a Floridian "Theology Day."
The problem, of course, is that the very progressives who constantly mouth the mantra of "Vatican II... Vatican II...Vatican II!!!" will be the first to object to such a faithful and authentic implementation. They don't want to hear that Vatican II called for the Mass to remain in Latin (except for the readings and homily), they don't want to hear that the priest was to remain facing the same direction as the faithful (ad orientem), they don't want to hear that Gregorian Chant was to remain as the normative music for worship while allowing for "other styles of music to be permitted"..(such as Renaissance Polyphony, Classical Polyphony, Mozart, Haydn, etc...). They don't want to hear any of that. They cringe at the words of Pope Benedict when he said in his letter to Bishops last week;

"But some of those who put themselves forward as great defenders of the Council also need to be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life."

They don't want an authentic "Vatican II Church", they just want the Church the way it is now, and that status quo is being challenged and exposed. The thought of having to accept the traditions of the Church because that is what Vatican II called for shatters their 40 year old facade. The idea of turning to Pius X's "Tra le sollecitudini" as the foundational document for liturgical music sends them running. That is why the Holy Father used the figure of speech "those who put themselves forward as great defenders of the council".... he sees the facade for what it really is. There are those who are truly responsible for misleading the Catholic faithful, and then there are those who have been innocently mislead. One is the enemy, the others should be the objects of our compassion and help.

Grand Marshall of Queer America

No, that's not the entire title of the address being given by Loyola Marymount University graduate student Ann Russo, but I couldn't bring myself to use it as a post title.

“Queers can embody a Christian lifestyle and still be in healthy homosexual relationships,” argues Ann Russo.

The talk, first conceived by the U.S. Jesuit Interreligious Advisory Board, is seen as an implementation of the “directives of the 34th General Congregation on dialogue.”

In related news, 4 out of 11 children...

.... say Mom should make brownies every night, and not that Pillsbury mix, the ones we like; and that we should get to decided on our own bedtime. A sizable majority believes that she let's Larry and Ted get away with murder.
More than four in 10 French Catholics want the pope to step down and most want the church to change its stance on abortion, divorce and homosexuality, according to a poll to be published on Sunday.

Some 43% of Catholics want Pope Benedict XVI to resign or retire, compared to 54% who do not, according to an IFOP poll to be published in France's Le Journal du Dimanche weekly.

The poll was conducted over telephone on Thursday and Friday and involved 620 Catholics spread over France, aged 18 or above.

Sentiments against Benedict are higher among non-practising Catholics, with 47% wanting the pope out of office, according to the survey, while only about a third of practising Catholics do.

Meanwhile, more than 80% of Catholics polled want the church to modify its position on contraception and abortion, while significant majorities also want it to change its opposition to remarriage after divorce as well as homosexuality.

Moreover, almost half consider Benedict does a bad job defending the values of Catholicism, according to the IFOP poll - a sharp increase from 13% who judged so in a separate survey last August for La Vie magazine.

Is anyone else curious as to which "values of Catholicism" this "more than half" wish the Pope would do a better job defending? the ones they believe in, or the ones they don't?

Monday, 23 March 2009

Source and Summit; and Don't "Nice" People Share?

Two only peripherally related subjects, joined in my mind by the fact that the blogger, in each instance, was quoting another priestly blogger.

Hat tip to Damian Thompson, who quotes the newly rosily vested Father Fr Tim Finigan, unfairly maligned recently by a journalist member of the the Could-Not-This-Ointment-Have-Been-Sold-And-the-Money-Given-to-the-Poor party, (founded by whom, I can't quite recall....?
Last week we had a Family Fast Day for Cor Unum which raised nearly £700. We raise money for the Manna Centre for the homeless, for small development projects in the Third World, for the Demelza Hospice for children, for Aid to the Church in Need, for Mission projects and for the local centre for the unemployed.

None of these things; support for the family, or charity to the poor, would happen were it not for the heart of the parish which is the altar and the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. By contributing to the beauty of our worship, your readers have also contributed to the many other good works undertaken at Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen.

The other is Fr Longenecker quoting Blackfen's (isn't that a great place name?) Fr Ray Blake as he quotes our beloved Holy Father on the false charity of refusing to evangelize, neglecting to promote the One True Faith, declining to actually believe that what one professes is, finally and simply, THE Truth:
Someone may object: “Why not leave them in peace? They have their truth, and we have ours. Let us all try to live in peace, leaving everyone as they are, so they can best be themselves.” But if we are convinced and have come to experience that without Christ life lacks something, that something real – indeed, the most real thing of all – is missing, we must also be convinced that we do no injustice to anyone if we present Christ to them and thus grant them the opportunity of finding their truest and most authentic selves, the joy of finding life. Indeed, we must do this. It is our duty to offer everyone this possibility of attaining eternal life.

You say "pink", I say, "rose", you say "tomato", I say.....

... sour grapes?
Someone please, please, please tell me what is the intention when the sniping over what is the precise shade necessary to fulfill liturgical directives as the sniper wishes to see them fulfilled?

I suppose that is just the gesture and posture of am eighty-something-year-old sitting outdoors, under several layers of cloth, in a climate where the heat index is in the vicinity of 100 degrees.

But many Americans of my generation, (or viewers of Nick, or something,) might imagine he's saying, "Buffy, Jooooooo-die....!" in exasperation, whilst sweeping his hand over his face, in the hopes that we he looks out again, the kids will have stopped their bickering.

I'm not just talking about vestments, here -- although obsessors over what I have heard called "liturgical tat" seem the most guilty just now.

Can we not be kinder, more charitable, to what are surely efforts made in good faith? It's not as if, in the case of, say, the tie-dyed horrors of Cologne, (IIRC,) a few years ago, we know the ugliness that barely skirted the edged of the correct colour was deliberate.

Or, as in the case of awful music at some mega-Mass in the US we know good and well what resources were available and rejected.

We all, probably, in our church work, whether salaried or volunteer, encounter both the ignorant or unskilled, and members of the don't-CARE-what-some-mean-old-document-says-this-is-the-way-we-do-it-HERE party.
Let's not lump them together.

The Heart of a Lion

Congratulations are due the people of Oakland, and condolences the people of San Diego, (where he was an auxiliary... come to think of it, condolences may be due the Catholic of San Diego, PERIOD,) on the naming of "Monsignor" Salvatore Joseph Cordileone to the see vacated by Bsp. Vigneron's move to Detroit.

Bsp Cordileone presided at some liturgies for the CMAA colloquium last year -- one of the most "centered" presiders I have ever had the privilege with whom to pray.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Chant for Beginners in Michigan

If you're anywhere in the area you'll want to attend this:
Chant for Beginners

An Introductory Chant Workshop

Presented by Fr. Rob Johansen and Fr. David Grondz.

The Workshop will include presentations on:

Reading Chant Notation
History and Spirituality of Chant
Some Fundamental Chants of the Roman Rite

No previous knowledge of Chant required - This is truly for beginners!
Saturday, March 28, 2008
9:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Participants will have the opportunity to put to use what they have learned, as we will be singing for the parish 5:00 PM Vigil Mass.

St. Bernard Catholic Church
555 E. Delaware
Benton Harbor, Michigan.

For more information call SS. John and Bernard parish at (269) 925-2425, or e-mail me at frrob AT earthlink DOT net.

(Benton Harbor is located approximately 40 minutes West of Kalamazoo, off of I -94.)

Cost: $30.00 per person (includes lunch and a copy of the Parish Book of Chant).

Co-sponsored by the Diocese of Kalamazoo: Office of Christian Worship, St. Philip Neri House, and SS. John and Bernard Catholic Church.

Fr. Rob Johansen has an extensive background in music, having studied voice, ‘cello, and conducting at the University of Illinois. He studied Chant at the Catholic University of America, and continued his Chant studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary under Calvert Shenk. He has degrees in Religious Studies, Classics, and Patristic Greek and Latin. He currently serves as Pastor of St. Stanislaus parish, Dorr.

Fr. David Grondz received his S.T.B. from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and was ordained to the Priesthood in 2006. Fr. Grondz has studied Chant for 13 years, and served as assistant organist at the Pontifical North American College. He is currently the Parochial Vicar of St. Mary Church, Kalamazoo, where he regularly celebrates the Sung Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
(Fr. Rob was in the same polyphony choir as I at CMAA Colloquium 2008)


In his address to young people in Angola, Papa just reminded them that at the crucifixion, Jesus and his ministry must have looked like a failure to most people... even to some who were putatively His disciples.

And in other news...

(Or is it "other"?)

Friday, 20 March 2009

The Times, They Are A-....?

I am not one to... oh, who am I fooling?
I am one to gloat! The Society of St Gregory Forums thread which I referenced in an earlier post?
It yielded up this, written a week and a day ago, which warmed the cockles of my grinchesque heart:
I despair.
But times change and I must accept that.
My parish priest – 11 months older than I – said recently: "We must get used to the idea that we're the sad old gits now".
And we sit back and watch the youngsters with their Graduals and Libers and birettas and incense and lace.
And we sigh and remember the old days when we sang Huijbers and Tamblyn and Barr and music was the servant of the liturgy.
Alas, alas, alas....
Don't mistake me, I want the man who wrote this to be happy.

But even more, I want him to be right. And to come to understand that in this new liturgical world of which he is so needlessly fearful, the music IS "the servant of the liturgy."

And on t'other side of the pond....

The Society of St Gregory has a discussion forum (new to me, and a newish thread,) where the suitability to liturgical use of different genres and styles of music is on the pan.
I don't know the song discussed, (although I was led to this thread by another discussion of a piece I know very well indeed, and what I thought was an absolutely bizarro thought for liturgical programming -- Va Pensiero, from Nabucco! Can you even imagine??!?!?&?#??)
But though the song is foreing (to me,) the truth is universal.
And tragically true.

You may be assured that I don't play "Colours of day" voluntarily. However, the Sunday School teachers, or Youth Leaders as they prefer to be known, choose the music for the monthly "Youth" mass. They say that children like "Colours of Day" and so we should play it for them. It is certainly true that under sevens like it. However, teenagers think it is stupid and beneath their dignity. Even worse, they often become ashamed of ever having sung it. It leads them to conclude that religion is for the simple minded and then they leave. [emphasis supplied]
In one of the essays collected in The Whimsical Christian, Dorothy Sayers reminds us that we are all to become like little children -- and the one trait virtually all little children share is that the long to grow up!
How much better to present Christians with something they need to reach for, aspire to, delve into -- rather than something whose depths have been plumbed before one is toilet trained.

Prayers requested...

... for this poor woman. She has no faith, yet wonders that the Faith refuses to conform itself to what she has replaced it with, following her rejection of it.
As a Catholic who lapsed in high school, only Lent has the power to draw me back in...

But then the Pope has to go and say something infuriating as he did on the way to Cameroon on Tuesday. He stated that condoms were not the safeguard against AIDS, the epidemic roiling the African continent. Instead he advocated for a "spiritual and human awakening" with plans to talk to young Africans about abstinence and monogamy...

I respond to Pope Benedict's comments ... as a once and former Catholic, one who is embarrassed yet again by the only church I have ever known....

Like his predecessor John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI has no intention of altering the teachings of the church for current realities...

How nice it would have been for those of us who can't help the fact that we were born Catholic, to see the church listen and respond to the world we inhabit. Maybe the dons in Rome don't care that I've long since lapsed, but this time of year, I do.

The irrationality and sadness of her words needs no commentary, only prayer.

Let us pray also for lapsed Catholics: that almighty God may remove the veil from their hearts; so that they too may acknowledge Jesus Christ our Lord.

Almighty and eternal God, who dost not exclude from thy mercy even secular faithlessness: hear our prayers, which we offer for the blindness of that people; that acknowledging the light of thy Truth, which is Christ, they may be delivered from their darkness. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen

Is a non-Catholic providing the voiceover on the Papal Mass?

Watching the Mass I taped last night, the announcer told us, following the confiteor, that they would now be singing "the kee-ree," which is how I imagine someone who had never encountered the word kyrie would attempt the pronunciation.
Perhaps she thought it was a word in an African dialect.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Looking For a Poem

St Joseph, [bowing my head, on his feast day, one venerates the name of a saint,] has me thinking.

Dialing past a show that I didn't know, with a priest/presenter I did not recognize, (or I would write to EWTN,) a year or more back, I heard the tail end of a very sentimental poem about the harrowing of hell, and Christ being welcomed by various Old Testament figures, and at the end, one solitary figure greeting him with, "How's your Mother, Son?"

At the time it struck me as mawkish, but I have never forgotten it, and find it ever more moving every time I think of it, and would like to find it.

Internet searches turned up nothing.

Anyone know it?

What Hath the Organist Done Unto Thee?

Much thanks to the redoubtable Sir Monocle for this:

AND IT CAME TO PASS, when Paul was at Corinth, he and certain disciples came upon a mob that was stoning an organist.
2 And Paul said unto them, "What then hath he done unto thee that his head should be bruised?"
3 And the people cried with one voice, "He hath played too loud.
4 Yea, in the singing of psalms, he maketh our heads to ring as if they were beaten with hammers.
5 Behold, he sitteth up high in the loft, and mighty are the pipes and mighty is the noise thereof, and though there be few of us below, he nonetheless playeth with all the stops, the Assyrian Trumpet stop and the stop of the Ram's Horn and the stop that soundeth like the sawing of stone, and we cannot hear the words that do come out of our own mouths.
6 He always tosseth in variations that confuse us mightily and he playeth loud and discordantly and always in militant tempo, so that we have not time to breathe as we sing.
7 Lo, he is a plague upon the faith and should be chastised."

8 Paul, hearing this, had himself picked up a small stone, and was about to cast it, but he set it down, and bade the organist come forward.
9 He was a narrow man, pale of complexion, dry, flaking, thin of hair.
10 And Paul said unto him, "Why hast thou so abused thy brethren?"
11 And the organist replied, I could not hear them singing from where I sat,and therefore played the louder so as to encourage them."
12 And Paul turned around to the mob and said loudly, "Let him who has never played an organ cast the first stone."
13 And they cast stones for a while until their arms were tired and Paul bade the organist repent and he did.
14 And Paul said unto him, "Thou shalt take up the flute and play it for thirty days, to cleanse thy spirit," and afterwards they returned to Corinth and sang psalms unaccompanied and then had coffee and were refreshed in the faith.

Thus endeth the Lesson.

(Attributed to Garrison Keillor, manuscript edited and corrected.)

Rather as if Lot had said...

... no, no, keep your filthy hands off my sheep, you perverts, have at it with my daughters, instead (I always wondered if the daughters resented Dad for that...)

The European Union is to radically restrict laboratory testing on animals - by insisting human embryos are used by scientists for research instead.

Toxicology tests on animals will be permitted only after similar research on tissue taken from human embryos has proved fruitless, according to a proposed new directive from the European Commission (EC).

Before scientists can test any new medicines on animals they will first have to determine that no other method is "reasonably or practicably available". Such methods, according to the EC, include testing human embryonic stem cells - a procedure controversial in most European countries because the embryos are destroyed during the process of extraction of such tissue.

Yes, the Great Humanitarians of the EU think that before Fluffy or Squeaks are subjected to danger, death or dismemberment, Junior must have exhausted his usefulness in that regard.

Experiment on parts you extract from your children.
Oh, sorry, not your children.
Some other human persons' children.
Who were conceived especially for you to cannibalize them for parts.

O brave new world, that has such parents in it!

London Statue Commemorating Destruction of Marian Shrines During Protestant Reformation

I'm looking forward to seeing this.

If I find a picture of the proposed work, or a website for donations, I'll post it.
One of Britain's leading sculptors is to erect a statue of Our Lady and the Child Jesus on the site of London's medieval Marian shrine.

Paul Day will spend a year creating the work, called Mary Most Holy, outside the front entrance of the Church of Our Lady of Willesden, north London. It will commemorate the Marian shrines destroyed during the Reformation.

The sculpture was originally intended to stand on land alongside the River Thames at Chelsea where King Henry VIII ordered the statues taken from 64 Marian shrines to be burned on huge bonfires in 1538....

The proposed statue of the Virgin and Child will be a bronze triptych on a granite plinth. A "beautiful" Virgin Mary holds up the Child Jesus against the backdrop of ruins and two side panels show reformers beheading and smashing up the statues of saints and destroying a crucifix....

Devotion to Our Lady at Willesden can be traced back to the late Anglo-Saxon period. Willesden means "spring at the foot of the hill" and there was a well with supposedly miraculous properties.

The well and the Marian shrine that grew around it were connected to the Church of St Mary that was mentioned in a 10th-century royal charter. By 1249 there were two statues at the shrine, one of which was a Black Madonna encrusted with gold, silver and precious jewels.

During the medieval period pilgrims travelled in their thousands to pray at the shrine. St Thomas More was a regular visitor and made a pilgrimage just months before he was arrested for refusing to take an oath attached to the Act of Succession.

Vespers from Cameroon...

... were beautiful, from what I could see and hear (problems with the sound on my end...)

Lovely chanting.

Coverage not as extensives as I would like, and I could not see the Mass I though I was taping, (me and technology :oP)

Prayers going up for the Holy Father.

A Bleg on the General Intercessions at NLM

Or as they often seem to me, the Particular Intercessions.
And I don't just mean the last one
As a rule, the series of intentions is to be

For the needs of the Church;
For public authorities and the salvation of the whole world;
For those burdened by any kind of difficulty;
For the local community.
Nevertheless, in a particular celebration, such as Confirmation, Marriage, or a Funeral, the series of intentions may reflect more closely the particular occasion.
No, no, we get specific with the Almighty right off the bat. Sometimes, I believe we not only tell Him our problems and concerns, but we tell Him what He ought to be doing about them.

Over at NLM there is a bleg and string of replies about the nutzoid practice of opening the Prayer of the Faithful to the floor.

I mean, maybe if they followed Robert's Rules of Order of declined to pray unless the newly-minted intercession could get a second....

I was at a lunch-time Mass in The Big City once, and, had I not been on a schedule I might have actually been amused by the hysterical harangue one woman chose to give as she took advantage of what was, seemingly, the accepted practice of the cathedral community.
She went on for a good 10 minutes, flecks of spittle flying, as she castigated her alderman, her neighbors, the news media, her daughter.... I can't remember if we ever declared solidarity with her intentions by answering "Lord, hear our prayer."

A goodly chunk of our Liturgy Committee time last night, (God so loved the world, that He sent... NOT a committee,) was devoted to the artfully composed intercessions for various Holy Week Masses.
It is not my bailiwick, so I stay out of it, (other than to ask that I please be given them in the languages in which they will be delivered ahead of time so that the cantor, choir and I can be prepared to sing the response the committee has chosen,) but I wonder why the urge to reinvent the wheel?

1.The Church,
2.Secular structures, all of humanity
3.Those in difficulty
4.The local community
5. Anything extra you want to add

I think one year at one Triduum Mass, (NOT Good Friday, when many are prescribed,) we had eight, each read in more than one language.

Fun. It was like a guessing game for the cantor, reading body language, waiting for someone else to take a breath so she could jump in... Fun, big fun.

The ones we will do this year have an elegant simplicity, and a blessed brevity.

Well done! (Would that the sanitizing of the Extraordinary Ministers hands... um, before communion? and the traffic pattern required to accomplish said, had been dealt with as neatly. That was the longest discussion of the night.)

No mention of the d-l-s of EMs and expedience...

Our Kids are Going to Drive Drunk Anyway!

So the responsible thing to do is to put all our efforts into getting them to wear helmets.

Helmets are practically a sacramental, if you look at this thing the right way.

What, you disagree?

You must hate our children!

"The Man Who Listened to the Angel"

(... as Fr Benedict Groeschel referred to him.)

Wishing you blessed Saint Joseph's Day!
Do the Blessed in heaven really take particular interest in any of us hear on earth? do members of the Church Triumphant play favorites with their intercession, the way members of the Church militant do with their intercessory prayer?

I pray to two saints of the name of "Joseph," and it is because of the particular interest I like to think one of them takes in me that I.... not "believe," but confidently hope in a kind of universalism. Everybody is loved by somebody (oooh, sounds like a bad pop song,) and that somebody by somebody else, and that somebody.... eventually, playing seven degrees of Kevin Bacon with the Mystical Body of Christ, we're probably all connected to a canonized saint.

I know intellectually that enjoying the Beatific Vision one can want for nothing more, but as a dim human being I feel that heaven or no, a mother, for instance, cannot be "happy in heaven" knowing her child is not going to make it.

Hmmm... that was probably a heresy.
St Joseph, pray for me! (and for your name sake who is beset by harpies...)
Help me to listen to God's messengers and trust as you did.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

"Onward, Christian Facilitators!"

Marching as to lunch?
Diogenes, at Off the Record, on the attempts to ....er, pacify those who are not too keen on the image presented by the term, Church Militant and any hymn lyrics that might contribute to that image.
Unless I'm mistaken, the "hosts of God" [in the text to Lift High the Cross] who once combined in "conquering ranks" have now become "glorious ranks." No doubt that is to reassure everyone that we Christians aren't in the conquering business anymore.
He and one of his readers also suggest "vibrant" ranks, "nuanced" rank... anything to add?

Those conquering ranks might want to marshal their forces against the Forces of Dimness.

Why we NEED to strike our breast, and genuflect, and breath and sing, and make the sign of the Cross, and bow profoundly , and....

A strong and beautiful post by Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault on Beliefnet, about singing the psalms, how vital and how simple and how natural it is.

Do read the whole thing, some great advice for those who mistakenly believe themselves to be "non-singers," although there is also some flat-out misinformation in some of her articles, e.g. For many centuries Latin was the universal language of Catholic Christianity ... Vatican II issued a firm directive toward returning the language of worship to the vernacular; and some fuzzy theology -- but I love this story she tells:
There's a wonderful story from the Eastern Orthodox tradition in which a cynical and intellectual young man came before an old staretz (one of the wise elders of the community) with this question: "Father, I have no faith. How can you help [me have] faith?"

The staretz replied, "Do a hundred full prostrations a day for a month and then come back to me."

Now, a full prostration is one of the great art forms of Eastern Orthodox prayer, in which one extends oneself fully on the ground while saying the words, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me." So this very dubious young man went and did a hundred prostrations a day for a month, and when he came back to the old staretz, he said, "Father, I have found my faith."

This is so because, as the wise old teacher knew, faith enters us primarily through our bodies. It's our bodies that equip us and sustain us to understand and become one with those difficult words of our faith.
How often we experience that, that the mind begins to think, the heart to feel, and the soul to believe that which the body enacts. (The expression "to make love" contains a very deep truth.)

Repeated Pronunciations of Guilt!!!

Oh, no, we can't have that!

Not when we've come to Mass to be affirmed our Okayness!*
A new translation of the Roman Catholic Mass that is to be introduced worldwide in a few years is getting an accidental trial run in South Africa, where some parishioners are complaining it's too hard to understand.

..."I am resistant to change and I think the older community in my parish will feel the same," he said. "I can accept change when there is a good reason but I cannot see one."

His daughter-in-law, Anne Armstrong agrees: "We are all familiar with the liturgy we have used since we were children. Why is there the need to say Mass differently?"

The Rev. Efrem Tresoldi warned in The Southern Cross, a regional Catholic weekly: "I've heard it said that younger people are leaving the Church because, among other things, the language used in our liturgy sounds foreign to them. I think this new version of the order of the Mass is even more alienating."

Lay leader Paddy Kearney also points to the theological implications in the "mea culpa." The new translation reverts to repeated pronunciations of guilt emphasized by beatings on the breast reflected in the Latin Mass: "Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault."

Under Vatican II, the breast-beating was abandoned and people pronounced only once on grievous sinning.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that the rubrics (oh, no, not THEM!) still call for a solitary blow to the breast. I believe even when the "new" Missal came out, (the one that the quoted elderly people are clinging to like iceboxes and victrolas,) it specifically said "only once" as opposed to the 3 blows that had been prescribed previously.

*Do I owe Mark Shea royalties on that phrase? if not civilly, morally?
I need a ruling on that from JT....

In LITURGY, We Pray in the Name of the Entire Body of Christ

Leave your "Oh, I just had a great idea!" moments for personal prayer.

The General Instruction for the LotH has a word to the wise for those who look at Liturgy as a blank canvas on which to give free reign to their creativity and personal expression:

Those who pray the psalms in the liturgy of the hours do so not so much in their own name as in the name of the entire Body of Christ. This consideration does away with the problem of a possible discrepancy between personal feelings and the sentiments a psalm is expressing: for example, when a person feels sad and the psalm is one of joy or when a person feels happy and the psalm is one of mourning. Such a problem is readily solved in private prayer, which allows for the choice of a psalm suited to personal feelings. The divine office, however, is not private; the cycle of psalms is public, in the name of the Church, even for those who may be reciting an hour alone. Those who pray the psalms in the name of the Church nevertheless can always find a reason for joy or sadness, for the saying of the Apostle applies in this case also: "Rejoice with the joyful and weep with those who weep" (Rom 12:15). In this way human frailty, wounded by self-love, is healed in proportion to the love that makes the heart match the voice that prays the psalms.

A great deal of flexibility is inherent in most of the Church's liturgies, we need not seek to exercise options no on offer.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Dear God in heaven, spare us...

... miserable sinners that we are.

There is no such thing as an over active imagination.
There is no such thing as reductio ad absurdem.
There is no such thing as a swiftian modest proposal so outrageous some demonic force will not cause the proposal to be made in earnest.

I made a typically snarky comment on Amy Welborn's about the selfishness of some celebrity proponents of ESCR not offering themselves or their loved ones for spare parts.

Because we wouldn't really take "spare parts" out of a human being without his express permission, (I know a little something about this, and the hoops I had to jump through when giving such an item.)
I mean, those wikced Red Chinese are supected, but civilized people....?

Slate describes a slippery slope that indicates otherwise:

Earlier this week, when President Obama lifted the ban on federal funding of stem-cell research using destroyed human embryos, I said the moral dilemmas in this field would become increasingly difficult.

Buckle up. We're on our way. Last week, the Oxford International Biomedical Centre held a symposium on "New Body Parts for Old: Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine." At the symposium, Oxford professor Richard Gardner delivered a talk titled "Stem Cells: What They Are and Why They Are Important." According to London's Daily Mail, Gardner told the audience that kidney and liver tissue from aborted fetuses offer "at least a temporary solution" to the shortage of available organs for people in need of transplants.

Calling for studies into the feasibility of transplanting foetal organs, Sir Richard, an advisor to Britain's fertility watchdog and the Royal Society, said he was surprised the possibility had not been considered, and that experiments in mice have shown that foetal kidneys grow extremely quickly when transplanted to adult animals. Sir Richard said: "It is probably a more realistic technique in dealing with the shortage of kidney donors than others."

Two arguments have persuaded the United States to fund stem-cell research using destroyed embryos. One is that the research will save lives. The other is that the embryos, left over from fertility treatments, will otherwise be wasted.

Both arguments are now being applied to fetuses. The Daily Mail notes:

Almost 7,000 of the 8,000 Britons waiting for a transplant need a kidney. More than 300 are hoping for a liver, 222 need lungs and almost 100 have requested a heart. Kidney donors have a less than one-in-three chance of receiving an organ in any given year, and hundreds on the transplant list will die before a donor becomes available.


Professor Stuart Campbell, who has argued for the abortion time limit to be lowered, had no ethical objections to the proposal. He said many babies were aborted quite late, "and if they are going to be terminated, it is a shame to waste their organs."

The argument against fetal tissue is that because it's less fundamental and less pliable than embryonic stem cells, it's less useful for research. But in some ways, its advanced development makes it more logical as a source of transplants. As Gardner pointed out, our prospects for engineering completely functional organs from stem cells are "remote." And if stem cells do prove useful in this endeavor, fetuses may still be crucial. Four days ago, Art Caplan, a leading bioethicist who supports Obama's stem-cell policy, observed:

No one … knows what the best source of stem cells will be for treating diabetes, spinal cord injuries or cardiac damage from heart attacks. No actual scientist can say with any degree of certainty whether it will be embryonic, fetal, adult, cloned or induced stem cells—those made by modifying adult stem cells so that they act like embryos—that will prove most effective. It will take a lot of money and at least five to 10 years to find out.

From this uncertainty, Caplan concluded that "embryonic stem cell research ought to be generously funded and aggressively pursued."

Why isn't the same true of research on fetuses?

Chickens coming home to....

Well, let's be honest.
Not "roost."
Chickens coming home to ______________ all over you.
(Fill in your favorite euphemism or obscenity or alternative scientific term for "defecate.")

Keith Pavlischek at First Things informs that a leading "moderate" evangelical Christian ethicist and purported pro-life proponent has noticed, after supporting the man for election to the presidency, that Barack Obama turns out to be .... not exactly Pro-life.
(File under "Gambling at Rick's? I'm shocked, I tell you, shocked!")

The ethicist's reaction seems to be essentially, oops! my bad....

A line from Pavlischek, the ethicist was "convinced that Obama would be pro-life in the same way that the pop star Rhianna is convinced that her boyfriend Chris Brown will not beat her the next time they get into an argument."

Face it, those of us who are "anti-abortion" advocates who held our noses and voted for Obama for other reasons in the belief or hope that he wouldn't turn out to be quite as gung-ho, (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more....,) on abortion as he had hiterto demonstrated himself to be --- you been had, you been hosed.

And while I'm at it -- anyone who claims to be personally opposed, but supports abortion rights only, or at least primarily because she says she thinks "criminalizing desperate women" is the wrong way to go about ending the scourge of abortion;

but supports public funding for abortion, requiring health care professionals to violate their consciences and faciliate or perform abortions, governmental propaganda encouraging abortion; and opposes parental notification, or governmental regulation of abortion mills?

She's a liar.

The Pope In Yaoundé

I am sure I am not the only one worrying about an over-worked 82-year-old man who feels some responsibility for the salvation of several billion souls taking a long journey and arriving in a place where there is a great press of humanity, to whom he has much to impart..... and where the heat index is over 100 °.

Offering prayers for the Holy Father.

(Off-topic, I am confirmed in my distaste for the saxophone used in any music except jazz.)

Wishing You a Day Full of Craic

No Saint Patrick's partying for me, rehearsing the kidlets in Pirates of Pizazz, the grown-ups in a sung Stations and the Reproaches and an "Easter Screamer" or three.

But I do want to proudly announce that i took our Christmas tree and the creche down -- before St Patricks.

If I had the leisure and the cash, it would be great to have toodled out to the Right Caost and joined the Eldest Sib, fiddling away at some pub, (last time I had that privilege, someone from Cherish the Ladies was sitting in on the session!)

A good article by Jimmy Akin, putting to rest the nonsense that Patrick founded some sort of extra-Roman, Celtic Catholic Church, (the Eldest Sib is fond of that one, the independent Celtic Spirituality myth, despite its having no more truth to it than the stories modern day "witches" like to tell themselves about the ancient wellsprings of their fabricated 20th c. cult.)