Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Do entertainment "journalists" even TRY to get things right?

Are there no fact-checkers? do they have no access to the interwebs?

In an article explaining why Disney needs to be so wary of the whiff of racism, we are infor---, misinformed, that "All the animals in 'The Jungle Book' from 1967 speak in proper British accents except for the jive-talking monkeys who desperately want to become 'real people.'”

Jungle Book?
Sterling Holloway?
Or the lead, Phil Harris?

This kind of easily verifiable, or rather contradictable, "fact" regarding something I already know about used as evidence of a thesis makes me mistrustful of everything else the guy says.

Careless, and therefore likely wrong.

God have mercy on us

This is just a tragedy compounding a tragedy.
Please pray for the soul of Dr Tiller.

"Do you mind if I make a suggestion.....?"

And as if I had only just fallen off the proverbial turnip truck, I reply, "No, of course not."

Which is how I came to receive advice from a sixteen year old that I ought not to program Latin for the congregation.

Because they don't know it.

I was in the middle of something else, and so could only give him a very small portion of my spiel about whattheChurchactuallyasksustodo, and whatVaticanTwosaid, and whattheGIRMsaysaboutLatin, and...

I also overheard someone who thinks of herself as "progressive" complaining that she is about to be expected to learn different English texts for the Mass than she has used "for d*** near half [of her] life!"

Who, I ask, is the hide-bound traditionalist? who is it who sees the liturgical experience as akin to a fly in amber?

"It burns, it BURNS!"

No, not the Holy Spirit.
Himself has predicted that their will be a Mass exodus today at the Offertory, like something from a horror movie, people screaming in pain and writhing, like vampires confronted with a crucifix or running water.

Because I've programmed a congregational song in... shudder... Latin!

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Saturday, 30 May 2009

Blame Hitler

Well, yes, for many other things far more serious, and I know it's trivial of me, but --
For Haydn's anniversary I would REALLY like to be able to use the hymntune AUSTRIA.

Prelude today, I improvised, (oh, don't dignify it with that description,) -- I noodled around, on VENI CREATOR, DOWN AMPNEY, and ST ANTHONY CHORALE.

Pretty nice, actually.

But I woud have liked to have incorporated AUSTRIA.

O Brave New Church...

The Kirk is considering remedying their priest shortage by providing priestless parishes with "virtual priests" via video link.

Well really, if they would just leave the Middle Ages behind and allow women and married men to be priests, they.... excuse me?


Never mind...

Schubert Saturation?

Or Art Song Ennui?

Ave Overload?

In any case, I am suffering from it.

It seems worse this season, perhaps because in addition to the usual weddings at this time of year, we have growing numbers of Quincenearas, and because other parishes are asking me to help them out for funerals.

Anyway, I am tired of singing it. I am tired of hearing it.

I try to steer brides, (yes, it is virtually always their decisions, try as I do to involve grooms in the decision-making process,) to something else for the Marian prayer/dedication, (what is the correct term for this little rite shoe-horned into the wedding ceremony?) but the only time I had any success, it backfired -- Hail Mary Gentle Woman.

In 7 years I have convinced exactly ZERO couples to re-think the procession, and bring it more into line with what should be normative, (since the priests don't care, this is not likely to change, and the couples look at this as some eccentricity of mine. Kind of like my insistence that "the chant between the readings" is Scripture.)

It has become clear that what I am expected to "bring to" this, what I am being paid for, is doing a tolerable job playing the Canon in D and the Prelude to Charpentier's Te Deum, and doing a bang-up job singing some pretty song.

Encouraging song from the assembly is just another eccentricity. Prioritizing that participation, ranking the acclamations and dialogues over "our favorite song"?
Another quirk.


I have found that the Offertory is the moment when the chance for enthusiastic congregational singing is highest, (I know this is not universal, in some parishes according to posters on the MusicaSacra boards, it is the very worst, but this is so at regular Liturgies and ritual Masses, where everyone is seated and the bride and groom are not in motion, and their adorable 5-year-old accessories are not creating a photo op,) but again, we are an "All Hymns, All the Time" parish and I have never been able to interest anyone in a strophic approximation of the propers; and seldom in a text with any relevance to the situation. ( River's God is Love, Love Divine All Loves Excelling, Where Charity and Love...,")

These are some recent wedding "congregational hymn" requests or regrets:

Be Not Afraid
Amazing Grace
On Eagles Wings,
and my personal favorite (drum roll, please, ............):
We Rise Again From Ashes

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Well, SOMEone knows....

The president has nominated an ambassador to the Vatican:
A Hispanic Roman Catholic theologian who was an adviser to Barack Obama's presidential campaign will be nominated to serve as the next U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, the White House announced Wednesday.

Miguel H. Diaz, 45, an associate professor of theology at St. John's University and the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota, would be the first Hispanic to serve as ambassador to the Vatican since the United States and the Holy See established full diplomatic ties in 1984. Diaz was born in Havana.

The announcement comes in the same week Obama nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who was raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools, to the Supreme Court. She would be the high court's first Hispanic justice.

The selection of a Vatican ambassador rarely attracts scrutiny. But Diaz's nomination comes as tensions run high in the U.S. church over Catholics' voice in the public square and the politics of abortion.

Obama's recent commencement speech and acceptance of an honorary degree at the University of Notre Dame — Diaz's alma mater and the nation's flagship Catholic university — provoked controversy and criticism from dozens of Catholic bishops because Obama's abortion stance clashes with a core church teaching.

The previous ambassador to the Vatican was Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard University professor and conservative Catholic scholar with longtime Vatican ties. Glendon turned down Notre Dame's top honor, the Laetere Medal, because of the school's decision to honor Obama.

In an interview with Catholic News Service at Obama's inauguration, Diaz said he was looking forward "to moving beyond the politics of fear to the politics of hope." He said Obama was "committed to working" with people who defend "life in the womb" and deeply respects people who hold positions he does not agree with.

"Wherever we can, we should advance life at all stages," Diaz said..... [Where we CAN? are there places where we can't "advance life"?]

He declined to answer questions about his positions on issues, saying it would be inappropriate before his confirmation hearing.

Time will tell. I am encouraged by the fact that the president's campaign promises are turning out to be as unprincipled as most politicians'.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009


Did you know there was a word for medical, that is, literal, tone deafness?

I am fascinated by the phenomenon because I find an ever higher an higher percentage of young people are, if not literally, at least functionally tone deaf.

That can't just be caused by the way the creation, (as opposed to the consumption,) of music is an ever more infrequent occurrence in most people's lives, can it?

Or can it?

I have read it surmised that societally, memorization is becoming a lost art, that the more wide-spread the ability to read and write, the less need to commit important things to memory, and that we're just kinda forgetting how to do it.


Kurtas R Us!

I'm making that up, what the label really says is "Babak's House of Kurtas."

Ok, I made that up too, I can't remember the proper name that began it, but it really was "So-and-so's House of Kurtas."

Like most labels, it cried out for removal -- why, why, WHY are the labels in the necks or waists of most clothing sold in this country made out of some combination of razor blades and barbed wire? (I feel like Andy Rooney asking it, but there it is...)

Anyway, in the quest for piratical garb at the Goodwill, I came across this marvelously rich coloured (mauvish,) fabric with an interesting texture and sheen, pulled it out of the rack and found what I now know to be a "kurta." No use for the show, but what a kewl garment -- and what a cool garment.
Seriously, so comfortable and graceful.

And I've always loved costumey clothing, (and have very little sense or discretion,) so I'll get plenty of wear out of it IRL.
I've been thwarted in giving free rein to the proclivity to dress eccentrically in recent years, both by the need to avaid calling attention at work, (a church, duh...,) and by both the layout of the loft and my limited organ skills, (I do a lot of running around and climbing onto risers; I NEED to see my feet at the pedal; and I have discovered that many a thing can get caught on keys, and that leather sticks to the banch.)

I wonder if Himself is ever embarrassed by how I look?
He is far too midwesternly polite to mention it...

Monkeys That Glow in Ultraviolet Light

BUT!!!! -- they're healthy and do not glow under normal lighting conditions.

Well, THAT'S a relief!

Change is Upon Us!

Some places, anyway.
Anyone in or within easy reach of Kalamazoo might be interested in this:
Lauda Sion:
Catholic Liturgy in a Time of Reform
St. Mary Catholic Church
939 Charlotte Ave., Kalamazoo, Michigan
June 13, 2009
Liturgical change is upon us in the life of Catholic parishes.
A new Missal translation is on its way.
New music in English and Latin is available as never before.
The older Missal of the extraordinary is in early stages of living alongside the modern Missal of the ordinary form.
All of this points to a new interest in solemnity, decorum, and beauty in Catholic liturgy.

This conference will explore these new trends with top experts on liturgical texts, music, and vestments, with the goal of the fully sung Mass with chant in English and Latin at the vigil Mass for Corpus Christi, followed by the extraordinary form Mass the next morning.
The assembled choir will rehearse and sing the full ʺLauda Sionʺ chant, along with newly published English chants.
Presenters and teachers are Fr. John T. Zuhlsdorf (ʺAsk Fatherʺ and ʺWhat Does the Prayer Really Say?ʺ),
Jeffrey Tucker (New Liturgical Movement, Sacred Music, and author of Sing Like a
Fr. Robert J. Johansen (St. Stanislaus Catholic Church), and
Fr. David Grondz (Parochial Vicar of St. Mary Catholic Church).
Reserve your place by writing brodavid@stphilipnerihouse.org.

9:45am Registration ($20) [How reasonable is THAT?]
10:00am Authentic Liturgy: The Source of Catholic Culture (Fr. Robert Johansen)
10:45am The History and Meaning of Corpus Christi (Fr. David Grondz)
11:30pm The History and Meaning of the Sequence (Jeffrey Tucker)
12:15pm Lunch lecture: Benedict XVIʹs Approach to Liturgical Continuity (Fr. John Zuhlsdorf)
1:00pm Music Practice for Mass
1:45pm Roundtable on Liturgical Reform
2:30pm Music Rehearsal
3:30pm Music Rehearsal
4:15pm Mass

Cynicism, Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Lie Them

I am a cynical person.
I always have been, I remember taking a very jaundiced view of human beings when I was in fifth grade. (I may actually be less cynical now than when I was nine...)

I really struggled in the last election.

My inclination is to cynically presume that many of the positions espoused most stridently by politicians are purely opportunistic, the extreme positions in particular are unlikely to be held on principle -- nah, he's just lying to get elected.

But even I am taken aback by the complacency with which anty number of pundits are now trying to reassure people like me -- see? isn't that great? he WAS lying!

My diocese

Well, my home dicoese....

Do I spy a CASSOCK?

Anyway, they done theyselves proud.

A Big Ol' Mess of Steaming Pottage

(Big ol' mess of steaming something...)

A h/t to the Catholic Cooperator, (no, I didn't know what one was either,) a self-described baby-boomer, for this Amazon review of a cd of older Catholic music, by a mere infant ;oP, (the 16-year-old Teresa,) which the Cooperator thinks sheds some interesting light on generational differences in viewing the last 40 years in the desert, (that's my descriptor, not the Cooperator's.)
I often feel as though those '60's generation Catholics quietly disposed of the rich and all-embracing ("catholic"!) Faith that was to be my birthright, and, beaming, set a big ol' mess of steaming pottage in front of me instead.
They told me how lucky I was not to have grown up being forced to listen to Latin, be taught by real live nuns, or shock my poor tender eyes on statues or ornate high altars.
Instead, I would have the privelige of attending guitar-and-maraca Masses, where the priest warbled the words of consecration in a sort of blues tune, and-... Ai!
Is this really about the God "who gives joy to my youth"?
Then why did they, ahem, cut that line? Trying to reconcile all this relentlessly chirpy weirdness with the Holy And Awesome Sacrifice that IS going on - it always deals me Kafka-esque trauma and a headache.
[emphasis supplied, there -- loved the phrase "relentlessly chirpy weirdness"]

Another young sufferer labels his review, Burn the "Glory and Praise" hymnal!
I resent the 1960's generation who felt the need to throw out 1500 years of beautiful sacred music and replace it with the Paul Simon-like strains of "Here I Am Lord." When I hear this music in Latin, all I can say is "DEO GRATIAS!"
(Paul Simon should feel slighted by the comparison, but he seems like a nice man, and is probably forgiving.)

Incidentally, not all of this "traditional" music is necessarily suitable for liturgical use, either.


Homer Simpson, liturgical musician and technidiot, here...

Like many people at my skill level, I know I need to solfege every day if I am ever going to acquire any facility, I really do know that -- but I somehow don't do it.

And like many people at my income level I have abysmally slow dial-up.

And like many people at my intellectual level it take me forever to see the obvious.

Yes, if I place my liber and a pair of spectacles from Dollar Bill's that are the correct magnification for that print, (NOT the degree I need for the monitor screen,) the seemingly interminable wait for some plages to load is now filled delightfully and usefully.

As I said, doh!

(Strange, is it not, that the set which comprises the musical tasks on which I need to work to fulfill the obligations placed on me by my employers so that I can continue to eat, and play the mortgage, and that sort of thing, has hardly any intersection with the set which comprises the musical tasks on which I need to work to fulfill the obligations placed on me by my Church and my own understanding of the liturgy, the Source and Summit of our faith....)

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Ok, so kinda Catholic...

... is that it?
But not the kind whose Catholicism actually has any impact on her life or practices or beliefs?

I find that less insulting than the ostentatiously "practicing" but unbelieving.


Dumbing Down & Jazzing Up

This is post and comments thereon, by someone in Auburn California (of which, and of the practice of Catholicism in which I know nothing whatever,) on what's wrong with the Mass.

I am certainly not agreeing with the entire assessment, but I think it might be instructive to those of us in the trenches ("in the lofts?") because it is not, to turn the old phrase on its head, the choir doing the preaching.

Seemingly ignorant of musical and liturgical matters beyond what an average PIP likely know (I am basing that on unfamiliarity with the diocese to diocese difference as to kneeling after the Agnus Dei, where the practice was to be "laudably" maintained..
She, (I'm assuming she.... "Birch"?) has a top ten of complaints
Have any other Catholics noticed the "dumbing down" & the "jazzing up" of the Mass? It's terrible.... Don't conform to to a watered down version of Mass just to blend in. Don't do it. ...

1. The music needs to go or I need to wear earplugs. Not just at out local Churches, but in many others.

2. People don't kneel for a second time prior to receiving the Eucharist. Why?

3. Bad homilies. Priests should not read something from "Readers Digest" to me. I can do that myself. They are supposed to be versed in theology & history... so what's the deal. (This is in regards to only one local Church in particular)

5. Again... the Gloria & Sanctus should never be sang as a striptease.

6. Out of control and/or crying children. There is a "Crying Room." If a person has kids... go sit there. I used to when my daughter was little. Just in case.

7. The Priests aren't chanting any of the Liturgy at the Eucharist. Why not?

8. Holding hands at the "Our Father." Knock it off! It's so corny... please, give it a rest.

9. What do I need to do to get some incense around here once in awhile?

10. I don't know... just give us back some sense of the sacred, please.

What do any other Catholics think?

Please, God, how do you expect me to learn humility when You keep letting me be right all the time?

I have been feeling, not guilty exactly, but questioning of myself, of my motives because -- I may have exerted undue influence to rid myself of having to deal with, collaborate with, someone with whom I was at liturgical and aesthetic loggerheads.

Her phone rang at Mass this morning. Dreadful, loud, silly ring.
All right, lots of people forget to turn the blasted things off.

But she took the call.
And proceeded to carry on a conversation.

"Oh, not much.... I'm at Mass... no, no, not that church, you're thinking of the one...."

During the second part of the Eucharistic Prayer.

As I said, sometimes, I'm right.

(And no, she's not a transplant surgeon....)

Monday, 25 May 2009

Things I wish I'd said....

Well, how very hubbly-jubbly for you....

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Ascension of the Lord - May 21, 2009

The Name of God

Makes the Western, predominantly Christian world's Should-We-Pronounce-The-Unpronounceable-Name-Of-God liturgical arguments, (and I did hear actual arguments) ; the who-owns-the-texts-of-the-Mass campaign in blogdom; and the tiffs over which Bible translation, (in general, or Psalter in particular,) we should use quite tame.

Malaysian Muslim have objected to Catholics referring to God as "God," (or in their language, referring to Allah as "Allah.")

And now a publisher has weighed in by flogging a non-approved Bible translation, the use of which by Catholics that will make the Islamic majority happy.

Islam owns the rights to God's name?

The Catholic Church has taken legal action against the government after it was ordered not to use the disputed word ["Allah"] under threat of having its paper's publishing permit revoked.

Malaysian authorities argue the word should be used only by Muslims, who form the bulk of the country's multicultural population.

[The Catholic Herald's editor Father Lawrence] Andrew said Malaysian Christians have been using the word "Allah" for centuries in translations of the Bible, and in popular prayers. The opposition has also called for the ban to be revoked.

"The term 'Allah' has been used in Indonesia and the Middle East by Christians without prosecution or controversy, despite both being overwhelmingly Muslim-majority regions," opposition lawmaker Tony Pua said.

"It has been proven beyond doubt that it is not a term specifically monopolised only by Muslims," he said in a statement Saturday.

Pray for the Catholics, no, pray for the people of Malaysia.

Memorial Day Mass

How many parishes have one, I wonder?
Ours is a mixed bag for me -- I am somewhat resentful of choir members who can always make time to sing for this, every year, but have a million excuses fro missing Sunday choir Mass and Thursday rehearsals this time of year.
And while I think this is important, and would gladly do it if it weren't my job, the logistics of setting things up for an outdoor liturgy, and the fairly wretched choice of music, (Let There Be Peace On Earth, and On Holy Ground, for instance, which I would never countenance for a Mass in an actual consecrated Church,) set my teeth on edge.
Well, that's all good penance...
See full size image

But this will be my first Memorial Day, (my first trip to a cemetery? can't remember,) since the death of my brother, (who was career military,) and I'm not sure what Taps, the sight of the honor guard, etc., will do to me.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner...

I have just come from a nuptial Mass where there was horrible, irreverent, almost blasphemous behavior.

One of the ministers whispered, (to make matters worse, near a mic' that apparently is not usually live, and today of course, was,) "it sounds like a damned RedWings game in here!"

But the lack of decorum of the congregants wasn't the sin.
And neither was the cursing of the short-tempered deacon.
It was me, me and my, (what has escalated from annoyance to,) anger at Catholics who don't know how to behave in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, and even worse, my anger at the one person who could do something about it and declines to.
I'm the one who doesn't know how to behave in the Presence of the Lord of Life, whole and complete in the Blessed Sacrament, and mystically in my brothers and sisters.
With that profound humility which the Faith itself
inspires in me,
O my God and Saviour Jesus Christ,
true God and true man,
I love Thee with all my heart,
and I adore Thee who art hidden here,
in reparation for all the irreverences,
profanations and sacrileges
which Thou receivest in the most adorable Sacrament of the
I adore Thee, O my God,
if not so much as Thou art worthy to be adored
nor so much as I am bound to do,
yet as much as I am able;
would that I could adore Thee
with that perfect worship which the Angels in heaven
are enabled to offer Thee.
Mayest Thou, O my Jesus, be known, adored,
loved and thanked by all men at every moment
in this most holy and Divine Sacrament.


I think I need to stop subbing there, it's making me a worse and worse person.

Maybe sometimes....

When we laugh and enjoy life we are touching God, and God is touching us.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Ministers of... Music, Hospitality, Sound, Doughnuts?

I don't know... "minister? should we all be claiming this title?
We've had some sound system problems, and the techie who came out to look at it wanted to know who the "minister of Sound" was and if he would be there for the consultation.
Wikipedia, NOT NECESSARILY CORRECT BUT arbiter of common knowledge, and the commonly accepted says that, "that in Christian churches, a minister is someone who is authorized by a church or religious organization to perform clergy functions such as teaching of beliefs; performing services such as weddings, baptisms or funerals; or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to the community."

I hereby announce myself over buzzwording terms that, in the conduct of our faith life demand to be used with more precision.

God and Emily Post

Probably not the best title -- it implies the post will be facetious, which it is not.
Fr Rutler has a wonderful essay, at Inside Catholic, (I myself am a bit of an Outside Catholic, at least in trying to bloom where I am currently planted....;oP) entitled Manners Makyth Man
"Evil communications corrupt good manners" (1 Cor 15:33).
Real manners are more than etiquette, for they indicate a philosophy of human dignity. [emphasis supplied] The Romans, not in their best years, were threatened by the graceful conviviality of the "followers of Christus" in their refrigeria, which were free of the vulgarity and sadism that the post-republican empire had come to equate with fun. [I know equating current society with Romans before the empire's fall is a cliche, but come one, people -- can we not acknowledge the justice of the comparison? and feel the reproach inherent in it?]The early Christians proclaimed the Resurrection surrounded by a Culture of Death that, like our own, could only cultivate morbid manners.

Loss of reverence for life corrupts the mannerly behavior of any age, and what was golden decays into gaudy excess. No social rank has a patent on manners. A Yankee Doodle farmer, conscious of the noblest classical virtues, could laugh at the Macaroni dandy whose dress hid a pox. Dr. Johnson said Lord Chesterton had the manners of a dancing-master and the morals of a whore, but he meant form rather than real manners. When deviancy from the ethos becomes the ethos, calling virtue bourgeois, the servant is deprived of his royal dignity as a child of God, and the king is absolved of his duty to revere those he governs. ...

The way people dress and speak and treat one another signals their self-perception. I have seen enough undershirts worn as dress shirts emblazoned with scatological curses, and have heard enough four-letter Elizabethanisms from the mouths of debutantes, and have been to enough receptions with ear-shattering rock music, to know that we are not in a golden age, or even a reduced gilded age, of manners.
John Henry Cardinal Newman defined the gentleman, and perforce the lady, in cadences which have become almost as incomprehensible as the terms "gentleman" and "lady" themselves. "It is almost a definition of a gentleman to say he is one who never inflicts pain."

And it is a very good thing to have a double standard: Eve is supposed to civilize Adam, and when a woman is vulgar she shows her man the exit from paradise. In speaking of pain inflicted, Newman speaks of moral care for the consciences of others. The gentleman puts others at ease and "makes light of favours while he does them, and seems to be receiving when he is conferring."...

[Office holder, celebrities and Arbiters of the Done Thing nowadays join] in harsh laughter and added sexual innuendos. Like the Vandals who ridiculed the archaic Roman senators, they mocked abstinence from vice and dissected virtue as weakness. The cynicism matched Oscar Wilde saying that a gentleman is one who never inflicts pain unintentionally.

Drawing on the fifth-century Psychomachia of Prudentius, medieval writers charted kindness among the "heavenly virtues" as a cure for envy, which is a motive for cruelty, and as an antidote to pride, which is the alchemy of disdain. Newman knew, with St. Paul, that classical kindness is only aesthetical moral furniture without the virtue of love (cf. 2 Cor 6:6). But he also knew that uncourtly behavior courts blaspheming the Holy Spirit. [Emphasis supplied]
My posting this is not Pot/Kettle stuff.
The rebuke is directed at much at myself as anyone.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

The Greatest Children's Books

Posting over at The New Liturgical Movement about art works, (in that case, religious songs,) created especially for children, and their unsuitability for Liturgical Worship, set me to thinking about great childrens books.

The Laureates' Table is "a new promotion at Waterstone's [a British store,] that is part of the 10th anniversary of the Children's Laureate. Children's laureates Quentin Blake, Anne Fine, Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Rosen each selected seven books."

What, no Where the Wild Things Are?

(I am a little disturbed at how few of them I have read.)
The full list of titles on The Laureates’ Table is as follows:

Chosen by Quentin Blake:

1. Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain by Edward Ardizzone (published 1936)
2. Queenie the Bantam by Bob Graham (1997)
3. The Box of Delights by John Masefield (1935)
4. Rose Blanche by Ian McEwan and Roberto Innocenti (1985)
5. Five Children and It by E. Nesbit (1902)
6. Snow White by Josephine Poole (1991)
7. Stuart Little by E.B. White (1945)

Chosen by Anne Fine:

8. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken (1963)
9. Absolute Zero by Helen Cresswell (1978)
10. Just William by Richmal Crompton (1922)
11. Journey to the River Sea by Iva Ibbotson (2001)
12. Lavender’s Blue by Kathleen Lines (1954)
13. A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson (1885)
14. Sword in the Stone by T.H. White (1938)

Chosen by Michael Morpurgo:

15. Five Go to Smuggler’s Top by Enid Blyton (1945)
16. Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton (1939)
17. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (1838)
18. Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (1902)
19. A Book of Nonsense by Edward Lear (1846)
20. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (1883)
21. The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde (1888)

Chosen by Jacqueline Wilson:

22. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868-9)
23. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1905)
24. What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge (1872)
25. The Family From One End Street by Eve Garnett (1937)
26. The Railway Children by E. Nesbit (1906)
27. Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild (1936)
28. Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers (1934)

Chosen by Michael Rosen:

29. Clown by Quentin Blake (1995)
30. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (1947)
31. Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner (1928)
32. Not Now, Bernard by David McKee (1980)
33. Fairy Tales by Terry Jones (1981)
34. Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear by Andy Stanton (2008)
35. Daz 4 Zoe by Robert Swindells (1990)

I shall have to look up the Terry Jones, right away!

"I cannot, I must not, I will not..."

But I should have.
I had finally decided I was never going to open my mouth at Liturgy Committee meetings about matters that do not fall absolutely in my purview, i.e., music; and rarely even when they do so fall.

But ya just couldn't shut yer yap, could ya?

I did forbear to express opinions, only gave information, and only on specific matters brought up by others; but none of it was welcomed, and none of it was my area, and none of it will have any impact on anything, and nobody wanted to hear any of it.

We as a committee determined the correct way for lay people to administer blessings in the context of Mass; that a priest's first blessing is best administered at the party in the parish hall afterwards; that we will try to get as great a turn-out as possible for one event but not mention or facilitate the reception of any such thing as an indulgence; and that in light of several recent incidents we need to promote greater reverence among the faithful to Jesus Christ Present in the Blessed Sacrament, but that the attitudes and modeling of parish leaders, (calling Him "it," for instance,) wouldn't have any bearing on that, and so are not in need of reform.

Expectations of Ourselves

He was speaking of something quite else, but I liked this, from + Archbishop Nichols: we really do have to raise people's expectations of themselves.

It just seemed appropriate on the pre-ante-paenultimate-vigil of Ascension.

"Ya mean, like somethin' IMPORTANT was goin' on?"

(That was the gist of a conversation I had with an eighth-grader once, when she first objected to, and then understood the point of something being done not in the happy-clappy style to which she and her school-mates were used.)

Oh my sweet Lord, you should hear the fanfare and processional.
I am reminded of Dr Mahrt's expressing a kind of resentment at being told, implicitly, that as a member of the assembly one cannot watch the procession.

I, who am not so measured or politic in my words would have been resentful, but INCANDESCENT at having to find and keep track of which dang verse of THAXTED or LASST UNS ENCANTSPELLIT, (at best -- at our cathedral it would probably be Gather Us In,) I was expected to sing, rather than watch this glorious ritual.

Well done.

I had no memory of the "official" letters with the "assignment" and the papal benediction were so beautifully written -- I have seen installations of this level before, prehaps they were badly read?

Congratulations, to Catholic England, to all of England, and to all the world, really.

I have a feeling this is going to prove more important than any American appointments made so far.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

New English Missal Translation Judged, and Found Wanting

Yes, we are told it is "goofy", did not arise from the liturgical movement and the council, but from one lousy dicastery, it is "flawed" and "rigid," it's already "scorned" by virtually everyone, its language "unspeakable" and "incomprehensible," the "work of ideologues rather than pastoral theologians and poets" (unlike the non-ideologically driven one foisted on us 40 years ago, you mean?), whereas the current one is so theologically rich that it formed his faith, (as opposed to that inaccessible furrin' thang that was so ineffectual that it formed the faiths of... oh, let's see, every canonized saint of all time?)

And besides, the "guys" saying Mass now aren't following the current text, so... well, I'm really not sure what the "so" of that point was.
But he seems to think it's relevant, and he's pretty sure these liturgical paragons won't "buy into" the new translation.

And who is the source of these insights?

The crack theologian who think he himself is the bread of life, that I and he are the bread of life.....

Yeah. That guy.

More Advice to the New Archbishop of Westminster

Fr Ray Blake, who really has one of the best blogs out there, writes an open letter to + Archbishop Vincent Nichols, (whose installation Mass tomorrow will feature some particularly well-chosen music as well as ritual not seen, I believe, in centuries.)
I commented there that it would be no bad thing if it were sent to every one of the nearly 3ooo Catholic dioceses in the world, but have rethought that -- it should be sent to every priest, every liturgist, every DRE, every catechist, every musician, every worshipper, every seminarian, not just in the Church, but in all of Christendom.
Your Grace,
Tomorrow, by the Grace of God and favour of the Apostolic See, you become the successor of St Augustine and the eleventh Archbishop of Westminster. I join with every Catholic in England and Wales in offering you my best wishes and congratulations.

At this particular time not only the Catholic Church in England and Wales, but Christian’s as a whole and our nation is hungry for clear spiritual leadership, you can offer this. I am reminded of Cardinal Winning, who was once asked a question by a journalist, who began, “As head of the Catholic Church in Scotland ...”. He replied, “Jesus Christ is head of the Catholic Church in Scotland”. If you remember that Jesus Christ is head of the Church in England Wales then all will be well. If you make sure that everything you say and do is turned towards Him, all will be well.

There is a crisis in the Church and nation, I see it as a crisis of Grace. In the Church and the nation there is a loss of a connection with God, we have allowed God to be sidelined, pushed to the edge. Even in the Church we have come to rely on our own efforts rather than His power. This has robbed the Church in England and Wales of a sense of Hope. We have got to the point where most bishops are managing decline, so many priests are expecting not to be replaced, our institutions: adoption societies, care agencies, schools are becoming more and secularised. We need you to tell us that shipwreck awaits us unless we turn to the Lord, and trust in His promises rather than our own efforts. Like the alcoholic in the gutter we need to discover, “the Power beyond ourselves”, that power is the Grace of God.

A problem with modern society is a sense of powerlessness of the individual, it is perhaps the cause of many of our social problems, such as drug addiction, teenage pregnancy, frustration with our political structures. For a you, as Archbishop of Westminster, this sense of powerlessness is actually advantageous, faith transforms our powerlessness into hope, not in ourselves, but in God.

A tag traditional Catholics use is “Save the Liturgy, save the world” is important.

The Liturgy is the public expression of the life of the Church. It is the “source and summit of Christian life” the fount from which and to which everything flows. At the centre of the Liturgy is the adoration of God, worshipped with, in and through Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Here mankind is raised from enmity with God to the position of Sons, here Christ raises us to share in his own Divinity. A mundane liturgy robs us of the sense of Grace, of Divine Power.

If we are merely celebrating our own community then we are conscious only of our failure.

The Liturgy, properly celebrated gives us a new anthropology, a vision of mankind conjoined to angels and saints in communion with God Himself.

If we have a vision of what we have become through the sacraments, in the Church we will become the leaven that the world, and our nation desperately needs. With my prayers, etc...
... and then, all will be well.
May not immediately, maybe not even in this lifetime.
But all will be well.

I have to admit to a tinge of dismay at a recent installation in the US, to note a liturgical sensibility in the new prelate that was extremely ....casual? is that the word I want?
Yes, casual.
This is troubling because "casual" in the high-ranking or high profile gives aid and comfort to those who relax beyond "casual" to "careless."

The eyes of [the many :oP] look to you, Your Excellency.

Don't let us down.

Now THERE'S an idea with merit!

(H/T to Fr. Ryan Humphries)

Just what I needed, for future gift giving: Nerd Merit Badges!

One of my brothers, (in seventh grade he was given excused absence by the B of E to consult on the new computer system his middle school was getting, and to help the teachers learn to use it,) merits every single one of them, but most especially:
05: Family Tech Support

05: Family Tech Support

Requirements: Provide hardware, software, and telephone support for extended family computers and electronics. Voluntarily or...

Oh, and I misspoke - he could never earn this:

03: Homonyms

03: Homonyms

Requirements: Correctly spell words that sound the same

His letters from camp and college were thrillingly misspelled.
His second grade teacher had once reported that he informed her very matter-of-factly that he was very sorry, he knew his spelling was terrible, but she should not worry -- he didn't need to ever learn how to spell, he would have staff for that.

What's in a name?

I'm sorry the Arbiters of the Done Thing changed the name of the latest viral danger from "Swine" flu to "the Aetch-One-En-One."

Not only is it five syllables to one, (except when I personally am bloviating to a captive audience, I prefer economy,) but when it is used in a caption or a crawl on TV my brain reads, or sounds out "hienie."

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Nostradamus might have had the decency to warn us!

Is it just Gerald Warner? I hope not....
The man is too, too sharp, like a good stilton.

Well, that's it! He's really done it this time. Pope Benedict XVI has apparently driven Carla Bruni, First Lady of France, out of the Catholic Church on account of his opposition to the use of condoms in Africa and his claim that they aggravate the Aids problem. "I was born Catholic," said Bruni, "I was baptised, but in my life I feel profoundly secular. I find that the controversy coming from the Pope's message - albeit distorted by the media - is very damaging."

Nostradamus might have had the decency to warn us about this. Can the Catholic Church survive without La Bruni? The prognosis cannot be good. The loss of this deeply devout single mother who married President Sarkozy as his third wife - the President displays a commendable support for marriage - could have demoralising repercussions. Will this disillusionment mean that Bruni's Brussels lace mantilla will no longer grace Vespers at St Nicolas-du-Chardonnet? Will she be absent from the Chartres pilgrimage this year?

Now Catholics know how Anglicans felt when Newman fled the coop. "I think the Church should evolve on this issue," said Bruni, echoing the words of the Rev Tony Blair on a similar issue not long ago. So there is unanimity within the Airhead Tendency: evolution is the answer - Darwinian Catholicism.

Even from a secular viewpoint, if we did not have the wise words of Carla Bruni to guide us we might have lent credence to the Catholic abstinence campaign in Uganda which reduced the 18 per cent HIV infection rate among adults in 1992 to 5 per cent in 2007. Without Bruni, we might be tempted to listen to uninformed commentators such as the director of the AIDS Prevention Center at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies who said: "The best evidence we have supports the Pope's comments."

So, can the Catholic Church survive such a defection? The loss of Madame la Guillotine, or whatever the ceremonial designation of the First Lady of France may be in the post-Bourbon era of republican buffoonery, will surely be felt hard in Rome. There will be lights burning late in the Vatican Secretariat of State, as the most astute minds in the Papal diplomatic corps try to devise means of mitigating the effects of this blow.

If Bruni is truly lost to the household of the Faith, the next priority must be to strain every nerve to prevent a similar departure by the Blessed Tony Blair, who must surely not only be considered papabile, but the strategic thinker best equipped to shape the Church for Vatican III. "Hey, look, I'm a pretty straight sort of Lollard"... If copies of any ICEL liturgical documents should chance to fall into his hands, he will be gratified finally to have achieved his ambition of discovering weapons of Mass destruction.

I Am the Master of Scandinavian Gloom.

If you believe internet quizzes.
(Which I Do.)
I'm not sure why, but this answer was very satisfying to me.

Forgive me if I decline to celebrate....

Tomorrow is World Copyright Day and the Vatican is issuing a stamp to commemorate.

In all honesty, I don't know much about copyright in the rest of the world, but I think current US law is indefensible (thanks so much, Disney....)

Father Weslin

Father Norm Weslin is the "star" of a video showing an elderly priest, among others, being cuffed and hauled away by the police for "trespassing" at Notre Dame, when prayers were being said against the private murder of the unborn and against governmental promotion of that murder.

He has led quite an interesting life.

In several articles in the NY Times, dating from a decade and more ago, efforts are made to suggest guilt by association with violent members of the anti-abortion movement.
Much is made of a relationship, through Lambs of Christ which Weslin founded, with James Charles Kopp, and Weslin's attempts to block access to abortion mills are, dishonestly it seems to me, characterized as trying "tried physically to restrain patients trying to enter clinics." (If this were an accurate characterization surely some of the priest's dozens of arrests would be for assault, rather than for blocking access, and trespass.)

A bias in reporting would be an interesting subject to pursue, vis a vis coverage of civil disobedience and/or violence in support of a cause the Times espouses.

But I digress.

What interested me was another instance in which Fr. Weslin's name comes up upon googling it.
In Michael Rose's Goodbye, Good Men we learn this, about the former paratrooper's seminary days:
I formed a rosary group, which met daily in my room for evening rosary. The authorities told me to stop. I asked why. They answered that the floor may cave in. It was a sturdy new building so I seriously doubted their explanation.

Incidentally, I am concerned about what seems to be misinformation in the blogosphere.
(Gambling at Ricks!)
Some are saying that the 80 year-old's arms were broken by police at Notre Dame, but that seems to have happened in a much earlier arrest at a "clinic" protesting the private murder of the unborn.

People Who Don't Fit In

What do we as a society do with them and from them?
More important, what do we as Catholics do, what must we do?

Fr Ray Blake has a disturbing post:
"Father, I have X in my car, he has just got out of prison, I've got a tent, he stay in your garden".

I screw up my face, hunch my shoulders saying "no" but not wanting to mouth the word.

X has been in prison dozens of time, he drinks, he takes drugs, he steals, he can get violent. In his childhood he was unloved, and most probably unwanted, moving from institution to institution. He has lived in my garden before, the garden is tiny, he lived around the corner of a bay of the house, I didn't notice until the smell of human waste became overpowering.

What would Our Lady do? She wouldn't refuse the poor. Well I didn't actually say the word, "No!"

Lawrence gives the lead to a story in the Argus in which one of our rough sleepers was sheltering in a rubbish bin and was nearly crushed to death.

We don't know how to deal with people who don't fit in, if they are mad they can be institutionalised, if the criminal they can be imprisoned, if they are poor they end up on our streets. If they are like X the bounce around the system like something on a pinball table.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Aha? Eureka? Sumpin' like that...

It's a relief when the light bulb goes off.
"Pontifications" used to mean a blog by the brilliant Fr Al Kimel.
So why do I read quotes from it that seem to be the worst sort of "Yeah, we Catholics believe that, but we don't really BELIEVE that" prevarication?

Aha, because now, it refers to the thoughts of this guy.
One of the obligations [of claimed adherence to the Catholic Faith] or at least challenges beyond baptism is belief, and the baseline there is the Creed, the Nicene or the even earlier and simple Apostles Creed. [which would differ from the obligations of Methodism, or Lutheranism, how exactly?]

Q: I attended Catholic schools in the 1970s and 1980s. We learned great lessons about social justice, community service, tolerance and how to love our neighbors. The music in church was even spirited and good back then -- guitars, flutes and drums. What has happened? The church has been reduced to several highly politicized issues, and the music stinks! The message in Catholic schools seems to have turned to "worship" rather than "service." What caused this tide to change, and how can we bring back the "good 'ole days"?

A: Well,... your "good ole days" would be another Catholics "bad ole days"! In fact, a prevailing trend is to go back further still, to before the Second Vatican Council and the reforms that critics say unleashed all that social justice "kumaya" [sic] Catholicism.
You are in many respects--as are we all--caught up in something of a backlash against the post Council reform. It is what Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, calls "the reform of the reform." That does often mean a priority on "high church" worship and what is called a more "cultic" view of the priest (vertical) as opposed to the more horizontal and communitarian view of the "priesthood of all believers" and the servant-leader model of priesthood.
These two are necessarily in tension--the vertical and horizontal make a cross, after all--but the focus on "right belief" (orthodoxy) seems to be winning out over the earlier emphasis on "right action" (orthopraxy).

Q: Vatican II opened up the church to the real beliefs of Christ. It has been the conservative bishops like Bishop Darcy and Bishop Doran that have tried to close the church again. They are losing members because they are not understanding the real nature of the church....

A: You make a very strong point, and one that finds a great deal of agreement in the wider society. ...

Q: I'm a cradle Catholic who is constantly struggling with my faith, thanks to the bashers both inside and outside the Church who tell me that if I'm not a judgmental right-winger I must be doing it wrong. As a faithful Catholic I would never have an abortion myself or recommend it to any girl or woman I cared about, but I fail to see why the Church's prohibition should be a matter of law. ...

A: Well, as I tried to say in the Outlook piece, we are all cafeteria Catholics now--conservative or liberal.

Advice to the Primate

(Is that the right word, is +Archbishop Vincent Nichols about to become the "primate" of England & Wales? Anyway...)
The Times (the UK one, h/t to Holy Smoke) asked a number of people, mostly members of his flock-to-be, what the greatest challenge facing the future Archbishop of Westminster was, (they also asked one Anglican bishop his opinion, and in a remarkable display of self-centeredness, he offered that the greatest challenge facing Nichols would be to sustain the "warm" relationship with Anglicanism.)
James MacMillan, the (very fine,) composer continued his take-no-prisoners assault on the embarrassment that is current liturgical practice in so much of the English speaking world. Hear, hear!
The new Archbishop will no doubt be aware of a widespread anxiety in the Church, stretching from the Pope himself right down into the pews, that there are problems with the liturgy.
Vatican II gave clear guidelines that Catholic tradition should be maintained and nurtured in the new rite. Liturgical “activists” have used the vacuum after the Council to push their own agenda of de-poeticisation, de-sacralisation, and a general dumbing down of the Church’s sacred praise. Pope Benedict is determined to confront the problem.
The faithful are fed up with sloppy practice, inappropriate, terrible music and the gradual drift away from Catholic standards in the liturgy.
My hope is that Archbishop Nichols will give a clear lead in the pursuit of profundity in liturgy.
This means a recognition that there were terrible mistakes made in the past few decades that have made new Catholic congregational music a laughing stock.

MacMillan understands. If we truly believe that the Eucharistic Liturgy, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the Source and Summit of our Faith, we can do nothing more important than performing its rituals to the very utmost of our ability, than purging it of deformations, than bringing it and its life-giving power to the entire world.

Save the Liturgy, Save the World

Also of interest to me was evidence of the thinking of another (rival?) British Catholic journalist often taken to task by Damian Thompson, of Holy Smoke.
It seems he may have a point.
She said:there is a chance for him to urge people to think about how we create a people-centred rather than money-centred society.
Why would a Catholic, or any Christian want to create "people-centred society"? Shouldn't we want, and want our shepherd to point us toward a GOD-centered society?

Acronyms -- ARGHHHH!!!!!

I am perennially confounded by use of the letters "POD" in blog posts.
Everytime I encounter it, it seems to mean something else.
I was confused again today, could make no sense of it in context, looked it up again for a new meaning -- "A new meaning??!?#?$??%" As in "a SINGLE new (to me,) meaning"?
This time, I found:
POD Proof Of Delivery
POD Pay On Demand
POD Print On Demand
POD Picture of the Day
POD Prince Of Darkness
POD Plain Old Documentation (Perl)
POD Payable on Death
POD Point of Departure
POD Payable on Death (band name)
POD Point of Difference
POD Probability Of Detection
POD Pick of Destiny (Tenacious D movie/album/song)
POD Proper Orthogonal Decomposition
POD Point of Distribution
POD Point of Dispensing
POD Piece Of Data
POD Processing of Data
POD Publish on Demand
POD Postoperative Day
POD Point-Of-Deployment (cable TV)
POD Point of Deployment (module; television cable industry)
POD Plan Of the Day
POD Plain Old Data (programming, especially C++)
POD Ping of Death (type of hacking/network attack)
POD Pay On Delivery
POD Post Office Department
POD Port Of Debarkation
POD Precise Orbit Determination
POD Proof Of Deposit
POD Passed Out Drunk
POD Payment on Delivery
POD Pacific Ocean Division (USACE)
POD Plain Old Document
POD Port of Discharge (shipping)
POD Problem of the Day
POD Point of Divergence (alternate history)
POD Port of Departure
POD Point of Destination (navigation)
POD Power of Darkness
POD Post Of Duty
POD Point of Development
POD Programmatorische Overheidsdienst
POD Pelagic Organism Decline
POD Party of Death (book)
POD Point of Discharge
PoD Point of Destruction (computer gaming clan)
POD Path Of Daggers
POD Point of Demarcation
POD Play on Demand (Line 6)
POD Pouch of Douglas
POD Pin on Disc
PoD Plane of Disease (gaming)
POD Probability Of Damage
POD Proof of Design
POD Protective Oceanic Device
POD Personnel On Duty
POD Paracetamol Overdose
POD Pay or Die (role playing game)
POD Playable on Death (band)
POD Priest of Discord (Everquest)
POD Parent Of the Day
POD Pool of Darkness (Dungeons & Dragons computer game)
POD Per Our Discussion
POD Parts on Demand
POD Project Overview Document
POD Parachute Opening Device
POD Peace Out Dawg
POD Permissible Operating Distance
POD Processor on Demand
POD Post Operation Day
POD Porpoise Detector (static acoustic monitoring instrument)
POD Phase Opposition Disposition
POD Point Of Destitution
POD Product of Desire (UK clothing company)
POD Post-Orgasmic Disgust
POD Proof of Development
POD Programmable Option Devices
POD Post-Orgasmic Depression
POD Place of Dolphins (chat server)
POD Patient Own Drugs
POD Process Oriented Description
POD Planar Optical Display
POD Percent of Decrease
POD Project Operations Director
POD Process Operational Diagram
POD Package Outline Drawing
POD Packet Over DSL
POD Perspectives of Difference
POD Past Over Dosed
POD Planar Orthogonal Drawing
POD Program Objectives Document (DCAA)
POD Program Operation Description
POD Pfeffer Outpatient Disability Scale
POD Programmer on Duty (help desk)
POD protocol option device
POD Pious or Overly Devotional (blog slang)
POD Post-Operation Debriefing
POD Program Operational Date
POD Procurement Office Desktop
POD Point/Port of Delivery
POD Point of Disconnection
POD Personal Operable Device
POD Phase-Only Digitized
POD Pressure Operated Directional (valve)
I give up!

What a Difference a Year Makes!

The survey which I posted on below, with its reference to the Papal visit to the US of just over a year ago reminds me of something I meant to write about last month.

A newsletter I receive for a religious order had an article in their April issue about their surprising up-tick in vocation inquiries they had experienced in the preceding 12 month period.


The article speculated on what the reasons for this happy turn of event might be. The author came up with several different possibilities.

Interestingly, not one of their hypotheses required use of the words "pope," or "Benedict" or the phrase "apostolic visit".

There are none so blind as those who will not see....

Knights of Columbus-Marist College Survey

A Zenit article by Carl Anderson, (Supreme Knight of the KofC) on the "hunger" for the truth:
Packing venue after venue during Benedict XVI’s visit last year, Americans showed an eagerness and enthusiasm to hear his Gospel message that many did not expect. They exhibited a hunger -- for the truth and for moral leadership.

And -- despite a trend in the media to be very critical in their coverage of Benedict XVI -- more than a year later, by wide margins, Americans in general -- and American Catholics in particular -- have a positive view of the pope and a strong desire to hear him speak on the most pressing issues of the day.

A Knights of Columbus-Marist College survey, conducted in late March, found that Americans have a positive view of Benedict XVI by a nearly 3:1 margin (59% to 20%). Among Catholics, he is viewed favorably by a nearly 7:1 margin (76% to 11%).

By a nearly 3:1 margin (4:1 among Catholics), he is seen as “good for the Church.”

That Benedict XVI remains so respected by Americans -- in spite of a 24-hour news cycle often hostile to him and his message -- is a great testament to the Pope’s ability to communicate the Gospel directly to people. It also says something significant about the American people’s desire for the message of hope and love that Benedict XVI preaches in calling us to say “yes” to Jesus Christ.

And that message has not been lost on a great number of the American people, who want to hear him weigh in on the most contentious issues of the day. This underscores a quiet hunger for the truth of the Church’s message, the message enunciated by Benedict XVI.
I think at a time when more and more people are finding it less and less easy to throw money at their desires and appetites, in a vain attempt to sate a spiritual hunger with material nourishment.... well, as a society we may make a profound advance.

"Pray that nothing bad happens..."

We had a sermon that was a little wacked-out and free form even by the usual standards of the deacon-homilist.
A disgruntled man in the pew in front of me sighed, loudly enough to be heard by quite a number of us, "at least he's not talking about Notre Dame."
So of course, then he did.

And that was all he said, "Pray, we should all pray that nothing bad happens today at Notre Dame."

Who could argue?

(Neatly side-stepping the issue that there are differing opinions as to what would constitute "something bad."
If only our composers of the General Intercessions could achieve similar ambiguity! So often they begin, unimpeachably, "For X...." but then proceed to presumptuously tell God, "that Y," as if He isn't a better judge of what would be best for X's salvation. I notice that also happens at almost all gatherings where the intercessory prayer is opened to the floor...)

Sunday, 17 May 2009

A Child is Born!

Always a cause for joy -- but often a challenge, too, for course.
I doubt anyone reads this blog, who would not also have read the blog on which I learned of this, but on the off chance...
My son, Benedict Amadeus Mitsui, is now more than a week old. As I type this, he and his mother are napping on the couch in the sunlight. Ben had his first appointment with the pediatrician this week, and appears to be in excellent health. My wife will likely be recovering for a long time, but her energy seems to wax as the days pass. Te Deum Laudamus...

Michelle started to have regular contractions on the afternoon of Sunday, May 3rd. Her labor lasted seventy-two hours, the first sixty unmedicated. After a final three hours of hard pushing, the doctors declared that the baby was showing signs of distress, and that a caesarian section was the only remaining option. Thusly our son was born, just after 4 o'clock on Wednesday afternoon, May 6th. In all the history of laboring women, few have suffered more pain and disappointment than my poor wife, or done so more gracefully and selflessly. She is the strongest, bravest, most wonderful woman I have ever known. [ Scelata says: She has a lvoley voice as well, she is an artist in her own right] I love her. ...
It is likely, even with insurance my wife and I have, that the hospital bills for so difficult a delivery will destroy us financially. The one asset that I can hope to convert to money is artwork - and I have a lot of it. In the coming weeks, I will be posting several notices of sales on my existing artwork. If you have contacted me in the past about buying a drawing, only to find it too expensive, please contact me again. All prices are open to negotiation.

In addition to the works displayed on my website, I have many drawings, prints and paintings in storage from the years 2000-2005, which will be offered for sale here for the first time. My artistic principles have developed significantly over the past five years, so some of these older pieces may look strange to those of you who have only seen my recent work (indeed, they sometimes look strange to me as well). But they were all carefully and lovingly made, with exceptional attention to detail - I am sure that someone somewhere will like them. They will be sold at prices far below their usual value.

I will also offer for sale limited edition fine art prints of a few of my best works. Please keep your eye on this blog in the coming days for details about all of this.


Aside from the sale of artwork, the only way I can think of to raise money through my website is simply to ask for it. Although I have long had a Paypal account linked to this web log for donations, I have never demanded remuneration for my work here, or hosted advertisements. But time has come for me to call in all favors and appreciations. Since December of 2005, I have devoted countless hours to this web log - writing original essays, researching obscure topics, transcribing rare books, editing beautiful pictures. This is probably one of the highest-maintenance web logs in existence, and the time that I spend on it is time that I do not spend on more lucrative pursuits. And the server space needed to host so many pictures as I post here is not free. But I continue to maintain this web log because I believe that I am doing something important - I am showing people good, true and beautiful things that they would never otherwise encounter, and I am sharing a knowledge about sacred art and iconography gained from long study and experience. So I ask you, dear readers, if you appreciate what I have done here, what I have shown you, what I have taught you - and if you wish for me to continue to devote my time to The Lion & the Cardinal - please show your appreciation by purchasing artwork or making a donation.

Kind Regards,

Daniel Mitsui
The work that Mr Mitsui does is brilliant.
BRILLIANT. He deserves your support.

A Rule of Thumb for Catholic Artists

Intended, I suppose, as an instruction to those in the plastic arts, but the principle applies to composers and other musicians:

The composition of religious imagery is not left to the initiative of artists, but is formed upon principles laid down by the Catholic Church and by religious tradition... The execution alone belongs to the painter, the selection and arrangement of subject belongs to the Fathers.

-- Second Council of Nicaea


Reading about Notre Dame's graduation ceremonies.
I find myself wondering, Was anyone pleased with themselves for coming up with that, for making that response?

Stop killing our children.

Yes, we can.

That's what you answered?

Saturday, 16 May 2009

"In a world where...."

I love television ads.

Okay, no, I'm not a complete moron, most ads are drek, and there are two strains of advertizing that seem to be on the rise right now that I detest -- one presents its target consumer as either idiotic, obnoxious or evil, thus telling the viewer that "if you are an imbecile, a boor, or a scoundrel, this product is for you!"
The other is just as deliberately disgusting as its pea-brained creators can imagine in order to get attention, (the miniature adult in the baby-carrier who says he like breast milk, for instance, fall in this category.)

But there's a lot of wit and visual imagination out there too.

And I particularly like film commercials (they actually save a lot of time and money, because for certain genres, every single frame of any interest makes it into the 30 second montage, no need to sit through the rest.)

I am fascinated by movie ads, and the practice of excerpting a phrase from a presumably non-partisan source, that seems to praise a novel, or television show or film, and that often, in context... well, to not quite.

But there's an ad I've seen and heard a lot recently that says, "better in every respect than...." the movie to which the current release if a sequel.

This cannot fail to be true.

But that is because the last one was the most colossal, inept bore imaginable, and I could be wrong, but I think almost universally acknowledged as such.

Why would anyone base an ad campaign essentially on the premise that "this isn't as bad as...."

Surely they could have found a better quote?
"This is better than that other pile of steaming dung" just isn't very persuasive.

Why was Jesus Crucified?

According to a syndicated column in my diocesan paper, Jesus was crucified because He was hated because of His "inclusivity."

I know columnists must sometimes need to really fish for a hook (isn't that a backwards metaphor?), on which to build a piece for which a deadline is approaching, inspiration may not always strike, but allow me to ask, Huh?

The writer also tells us that, "after the death of every person, we receive his or her spirit in a way that was not possible before he or she died."

I think to say that we "receive" any spirit but the Holy Spirit is ... probably not the best turn of phrase?

Friday, 15 May 2009

"History is the enemy of...."

....well, pretty much everything but the Faith.
Very nice piece from George Sim Johnston about the Church, it's history and the abysmal ignorance of both Her adherents and Her enemies as regards that history.
No institution in history is remotely comparable to the Catholic Church. It is a subject that well repays study. And yet most Catholics know very little about their own history.

This is unfortunate for many reasons, but especially today, when a dinner-party conversation can suddenly turn to some specious best-seller that presumes to rewrite Church history. The culture is now flooded with bogus scholarship whose main purpose is to put Christianity -- and especially orthodox Catholicism -- on the defensive. But most Catholics have no idea how to respond, and more than a few take these books and documentaries at face value. After all, they have the imprimatur of the History Channel or a large publishing house like Doubleday.

I was a quick student, attended faith formation well past the point when most of my (public school) classmates did, and was actually interested --do you think I heard word one about the Fathers?
The Church's history pretty much went from the end of Acts to the calling of the Council in the 1960s.

But I did paint some nifty rocks.
Around the year 180, St. Irenaeus, battling heretics who presumed to correct and supplement the Faith with their Gnostic speculations, wrote that if anyone wishes to know true Christian doctrine, he has only to find those churches with a line of bishops going back to one of the apostles. But it is simpler, and suffices, to find out the teaching of the Roman see: "For with this Church all other churches must bring themselves into line, on account of its superior authority."

The early Church was not only hierarchical, it was liturgical and sacramental. But it was above all Eucharistic. St. Ignatius, in his letter to the church at Smyrna, attacks local heretics who "abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of Our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins...." By the year 150, when St. Justin Martyr described the Sunday liturgy in some detail, all the principal elements of the Mass are in place: Scriptural readings, prayers of intercession, offertory, Eucharistic prayer, and communion. There was no need back then to remind the faithful that Sunday Mass attendance was obligatory, since they regarded the liturgy as absolutely central to their lives as Christians.

Lowered Expectations

About Ascension Thursdaysunday, "when the fortyfortythree days had passed," as we are wont to sing, (doesn't really scan a whole heckuvalot worse than many a ditty in the hymnal, does it?) a priestly blogger has this to say:
The Holy See allowed conferences of bishops to transfer the celebration of Ascension Thursday to the following Sunday....
The bishops hope to expose more people to the mystery of the Ascension of the Lord. Because it is too hard to go to Mass also on Thursday, they moved the feast to Sunday....
My present view of human nature suggests to me that when Holy Mother Church’s pastors lower expectations regarding the liturgy, people get the hint: it just isn’t that important. Maybe none of it is important.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

A Living Connection With Our Forbears in the Faith

That's Johan von Parys, director of Liturgy and Sacred Arts at the Basilica of St. Mary in downtown Minneapolis, quoting from SttL, in explaining some changes made in their music program.
St Mary's, at east for the short time I spent in the Twin Cities, and from everything I have heard since had a reputation for executing a rather loosey-goosey litrugy.

Things ARE changing...

Anyway, courtesy Stella Borealis, this is a recent parish bulletin article from Mr von Parys, that ran during Lent:
You will have noticed that we are using a bit more Latin and Gregorian chant in the liturgy during Lent. Some of you are undoubtedly delighted by this and desire even more. Others may be less pleased and would prefer that there were none.

Whether we like it or not, Latin has been the language of the liturgy for some 15 centuries and Gregorian chant has been the musical norm for nearly as long.

The origin of Latin in the Mass goes back to the early centuries of the Church when Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire. In the Western part of the Empire, commoners did not know Greek, so the original language of the gentile Church (Greek) was replaced with the language of the people: Latin.

Note that the language used for the liturgy in other parts of the Mediterranean was the language spoken by the people of the area. As a result, the liturgy was celebrated in Syriac, Greek, Latin, Coptic, etc. Latin was used long after the empire had collapsed and long after people stopped understanding this original vernacular language of the liturgy.

Despite this “stability” in language in the Roman Rite and although the perception may be completely opposite, the reality is that the liturgy of the Church has never been absolutely static; on the contrary the liturgy has adapted itself to every time and every place. Sometimes this happened in very dramatic ways; at other times, the change was more subtle and hardly perceptible to the untrained eye.

As a result we have a repository of liturgical texts, rituals, art, architecture and music that is extraordinarily rich and diverse. Every generation of Christians has interpreted the time proven ritual in light of the contemporary context. Sometimes this was accompanied by a moment of iconoclasm of sorts when the “old” was thrown out in favor of the “new.” At other times the old was merely adapted and reformatted.

In terms of music we are heirs to an enormous repository of liturgical music composed for use in the Roman Rite over nearly 2000 years. Although not all of it is of the quality that would warrant use in the liturgy today, some of the old favorites surely have their place in today’s celebration and Gregorian chant is part of the latter.

Gregorian chant indeed “is a living connection with our forbears in the faith, the traditional music of the Roman Rite, a sign of communion with the universal Church, a bond of unity among cultures, a means of diverse communities to participate together in song, and a summons to contemplative participation in the liturgy.” (Sing to the Lord, par. 72) Because of this, it is good to use Gregorian chant in the liturgy, albeit with care and moderation.

“Each worshipping community in the United States, including all age groups and all ethnic groups, should at minimum” learn some of the easier chants of the Mass (Sing to the Lord, par. 75). These include the ones that are being used during the Season of Lent.

Let us embrace our Tradition, old and new, learn from it and inspired by it journey to the Easter celebrations.

Is Ray from MN right when he opines, "There seems to be some light at the end of the musical tunnel"?
One can only pray...