Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Friday, 31 July 2009

And speaking of effort and expenditure...

I am like unto the Couch Potato, whose admiration for his Sports Idol, (or contempt for the athlete who doesn't measure up, for that matter,) is not diminished by the fact that he himself would rather die, than shift the weight of his own carcass unnecessarily.

In fact, my admiration for some of the views expressed in this combox may be increased by how far I am from living up to the ideals espoused by the Recovering Choir Director.
The fact that I believe that I shall inch closer to walking the walk with the new fiscal year earns me only my own contempt -- I'm like the Founding Father who so magnanimously avowed that he would no longer be guilty of the obscenity of owning other human beings -- oh, yeah, he'd get right on that.
After he died.
When, as it happened, the pitiful state of his finances actually caused those he vaguely intended to free be sold.... but I digress.

A very lively thread has issued, or rather been spun from commentary on a USCatholic article about the general state of the remuneration extended to lay church employees in the country, (the spinning specifically regarding the musician's position .... or "plight," depending on your attitude.)
Anyway, Aristotle had this to say, and every word of it rings true and good:
One of the reasons why I haven't returned to school to complete my degree in music is because it is grossly undervalued by most potential employers (read: most parishes and the priests and parishioners who comprise them). And forget about the music of the Church, which I have devoured since I left behind formal, accredited study in secular academia.

Based on (1) my experience in my first (and last) full-time position, which in the interest of full disclosure paid $26,000 in 2002–2003 dollars, and did not incorporate wedding and funeral responsibilities as there were none; (2) everything that I have learned about the mind and heart of the Church regarding its music during and since that fateful year; and (3) the playlists of the parishes I've frequented in my life, I'd consider accepting a paid position at most churches (full- or part-time matters not) the musical and spiritual equivalent of receiving "blood money."

The way that church music is still handled in most places — where static, visionless pragmatism-cum-mediocrity "in the spirit of Vatican II" and the tentacles of the Liturgical-Industrial Complex embrace, or even Low-Mass-as-liturgical-pinnacle EF situations — I wouldn't accept double, triple, or even quadruple the amount cited in the survey; you couldn't pay me enough to teach liturgically inappropriate and potentially spiritually cancerous music. Under the leadership of a pastor with a clear vision for liturgical praxis, however, I would work for free — and indeed, have done just that.

I don't say this to be elitist; if anything, I think it reveals my utter stubbornness and inability to tolerate a faulty status-quo. That said, I am thankful (1) that the skills unique to Catholic music that I've obtained outside the academy are actually being demanded; (2) for the remuneration I've received on a stipend basis; and (3) for the modicum of sanity I've retained for not feeling that I've been "bought off."
This SO reflects my own thoughts on the matter.
But my opinions are not evidenced in my behavior.

He calls that with which he refuses to be bought off "blood" money.
Perhaps because of my sex, it is not a hit man or snitch to whom I shamefacedly compare myself.

A-wearied of being no better than I ought to be, (yes, if not quite a harlot, at best one of Miss Kitty's saloon girls,) (can you tell that our cable just got some all-westerns-all-the-time channel, and it's been several days of non-stop Gunsmokes and Paladins?), I am having trouble getting through to family in the area to which I might be relocating, job-hunting for me.

They are not getting the idea that I am not looking for a job, I am looking for a parish, or if worse comes to worse, a single priest.

I don't want to again find myself trapped into having to do what I've been doing, I don't want to be a wage slave -- I want to be a volunteer and have the freedom to only do what I think ought to be done.

I want to be a full-time volunteer.
(Besides the freedom, I want to contribute to a liturgical music program that is better than one I could lead, but that's a' whole 'nother topic.)

The idea of my not bringing in an income, of our trying to get by without a "church job" seems to have brought out an unwonted sense fiscal responsibility in Himself.


Note, of course, that we have cable TV.
We're that kind of people.
Surely that ought to be remembered when we worry about whether I ought to seek a church job.

"The Cathedral as Sacrament "

This is an only just published account of an address given five years ago, with a truly lovely, and thought provoking encomium of the Cathedral, both as a building and as a community, reflecting on the cathedral's importance to the local Church, by the rector of Mission San Juan Capistrano, at a benefit for the Cathedral of the Madeleine.

The Very Reverend Arthur Holquin begins with a fine description of the essence of Catholicism, inspired by an encounter with a Mormon missionary twosome: what distinguishes Catholicism is "our sacramental perspective on life."

He goes on to enumerate the ways in which the catheral church itself is a sacrament, as it:
...[strives to be a place] of mercy and compassion...

The authenticity and true splendor of cathedral worship must be gauged by the splendor of its care for those who live on the margins of society...

Cathedral churches are a sacrament of justice in the quality and effectiveness in which God’s holy word,.... From the cathedra – the bishop’s chair – the good news of God’s liberating love is proclaimed – bringing “good news to the afflicted... liberty to captives, sight to the blind, letting the oppressed go free…” In the midst of a world enslaved by the lie of self sufficiency, a culture of death that views the ultimate value of life from the perspective of productivity and expediency,... there is a hunger to hear the liberating word of God proclaiming what we need to hear rather than what we may want to hear....
Cathedral churches are a sacrament and sign of God’s presence that comes to us in beauty. The language of sacrament is the language of sign and symbol. Words fail when we try to capture the meaning of life’s deepest realities....

The language of worship is so often the powerful and engaging presence of the beautiful in our lives. For centuries we Catholics have wisely shaped our liturgical celebrations and particularly those in our cathedral churches in beauty – the beauty of soaring architecture, of sacred imagery that spans the centuries, the beauty of the poetic word, and most especially the power and beauty of music....

a cathedral church is called to be a sacrament of hospitality in the midst of the city. ...in the Cathedral church all should be able to find a place where they are greeted with dignity that befits the children of God.
Of course, the beauty of which Rev. Holquin speaks, no less than the out-reach, does require effort and expenditure.
And there is always someone bound to ask, could not this ointment have been sold....?

Big Brothers

Himself, when he becomes aware of someone through media who is either not his "type" or simply of a type he is unlikely to encounter in real life, but he kinda likes, says that such a person "would do to run the river with." (People so honored with this description range from gay fashion gurus to mean-spirited talk-show hosts to croc-shod or cloistered monastics.)

"He would do to run the river with" is the thought that always plays in the sound-track of my mind whenever I read anything about Monsignor Georg Ratzinger.

He's a swell big brother (something I which I am fortunate to have quite a bit of knowledge.)
Benedict XVI arrives to Castel Gandolfo this afternoon, where he will spend the rest of his summer, with activities including a visit from swimmers competing in a world championship, afternoons with his brother, and being honored by a local peach festival.

... Sunday, he will attend a concert traditionally held in the patio of the residence....

Monsignor Georg Ratzinger will accompany his brother again this year at the summer residence.

"[Monsignor Ratzinger] is an exquisite personality, attentive to detail and always with special kindness for everyone," Petrillo said. "It is not for nothing that last year he was given the honorary citizenship of Castel Gandolfo."

The brothers will spend large portions of the days together, the director added, undoubtedly remembering childhood experiences....

The papal residence has been prepared to welcome Benedict XVI and his guests: The trees and bushes are recently trimmed, and the paths adorned with fresh flowers.

"Everything has been done with great joy and readiness because the workers are aware that they are called to carry out a direct service for the Pontiff," [the "director" of the residence] said.

The piano has also been tuned, though "for a time, the Pope should not play because of his little misfortune," the director affirmed.
I liked the absolutely naked mourning Mons. Georg's allowed himself to express, with his "oh, great, there goes our planned retirement!" reaction to his brother's election.

Perhaps the retired musician will get to show off with the more famous Mozart lover out of commission ;o)

If not for the eyeliner...

.... wouldn't this haute couture bride bear more than a passing resemblance to any number of folk and art images of the Blessed Mother?

http://www.catholicexchange.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/maryinside.jpghttp://lapalmaisland.sheilacrosby.com/uploaded_images/sauces/virgen56.jpg A008-1_Conquistadora.jpg - 103800 Bytes

But now that I think of it, even the eyeliner isn't too much of a stretch -- there is a painting of the Theotokos in a Los Angeles Orthodox church (cathedral?) that is so OTT pretty, almost glam, that Himself and I referred to it "Mary's headshot."


Thursday, 30 July 2009

Is this encounter pants-worthy?

The Feds came to question us this morning.
Or rather, a Fed.
I guess I can't use that locution, in the singular it just means some national financial authority, doesn't it?
Anyway, one guy with Homeland Security, pretty routine background check on a neighbor.
I was talking to him on the porch and would have done the interview, but Himself suddenly appeared from behind the portieres, so he answered the questionnaire.

He told me afterwards that the agent had caught sight of him lurking behind the curtain and was afraid if he hadn't come out, the agent might have thought something hinky was going on, e.g. I was a hostage.

So why were you hovering there like Polonius?

Oh, he says, says he, I was watching TV in my underwear, and before I went to any trouble to get dressed I wanted to see if what was going was pants-worthy.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Am I becoming a creepy old lady?

I have always talked to strange, ("strange" as in hitherto unknown to me,) children, toddlers and infants I encounter.
I like them, they generally like me, and I find the interaction fascinating.
I tend to address them in language and tone no different than I would use with adults, (with the addition of various sound effects, if an infant is my conversational partner, not to mention raspberries, Spanky takes, etc.)
No one has ever seemed to mind, (except Himself, who was initially embarrassed by my brazen manner.)
Indeed, I have many times been a hero to an entire plane-load or department store-full of people, (including the battle-weary parents,) since I am often evince an uncanny ability to distract and quieten a screamer.

Well, today there were various small persons waiting for boarding at the airport, in my immediate vicinity, including two cheerfully noisy toddler sisters and a slightly younger boy.
The girls were babbling delightedly to the boy, as even the tiniest child is wont to do on discovery of an even tinier one, and the boy, rather than replying to them in kind was giving them the skunk eye.
I said that they all might as well get used to it, as women would likely continue to prattle incessantly to him that that way the rest of his life; and men would likely give them that look of dismayed confusion the rest of theirs.


Both sets of parents looked at me as if I were something to be scraped off the bottom of a shoe....

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Winged Horsemen -- why....?

...does this strike me as fascinating?
Himself is a big history buff, very knowledgeable about the (American,) Civil War, with a slight interest in reenaction, which I have never encouraged in anyway.
So why, if Civil War, and indeed almost any other SCA obsession, seems only a click off Trekker conventions, does the Commonwealth reenaction (of which I did not even know the existence before today,) intrigue me?

Maybe it's the warrior archangel reference...

Monday, 20 July 2009

Sacred Music Composition Competition

The Sacred Arts Foundation is having composition competition.

Furthermore, they provide this excellent, (at least at first glance,) guide to composing Mass settings.
In providing a guide for composing a Mass for liturgical use, the Foundation for Sacred Arts intends to outline a starting-point firmly rooted in the tradition and aesthetic desires of the Church. In composing for the Mass, it is important that any desire for artistic innovation and/or musical progress be rooted in Church tradition as well as the very real spiritual needs of the liturgy. All liturgical music must be subservient to the sacred texts, prayers, and the actions of the Mass. As such, we echo the American Bishops Conference in saying that “pastoral musicians should receive appropriate formation that is based on their baptismal call to discipleship; that grounds them in a love for and knowledge of Scripture, Catholic teaching, Liturgy, and music; and that equips them with the musical, liturgical, and pastoral skills to serve the Church at prayer”

Sunday, 19 July 2009

So explain to me again why the "official" texts for the Mass in the Graduale aren't the same as the "official" texts for the Mass in the Missal?

I am at last relived to know that I'm not the only one who doesn't understand this preposterous set-up.

I'm assuming [the American Gradual] uses the texts from the upcoming translation?

The sung propers from the Graduale Romanum are not part of the translation project.

Forgive my ignorance, but what good does an English Graduale do that doesn't conform to the translation of the Missale?

There are two sets of propers: Graduale and Missale.

So who approves the translation of the Graduale?

No one. Why? it's a strange situation, fraught with confusion (in my view). Not even the translators of the GIRM seemed to understand it.

So if the Graduale is an official liturgical prayer book of the Church, can't the episcopal conferences assert the privilege of translation, with CDWDS approval? If so, why has it been ignored all this time?

Bsp. Serratelli's Pastoral Letter on the Real Presence

Not quite sure how I missed this, but it was published over a month ago.
His Excellency gives me yet one more reason to thank God that he heads the US bishops Committee for Divine Worship.
I believe he truly "gets" how the way we celebrate the liturgy impacts so profoundly on our faith, and how that is all and all to how we go out and live that faith. Go read the entire thing.
Our rediscovery of this mystery opens us to the rich and inexhaustible gift of divine life. When we come to the Eucharist reverently and worthily, “we draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation (Is 12:3). In this mystery of the Eucharist, we are renewed and the Church herself grows. ...

From the earliest times, the Eucharist held a special place in the life of the Church. St. Ignatius, who, as a boy, had heard St. John preach and knew St. Polycarp, a disciple of St. John, said, “I have no taste for the food that perishes nor for the pleasures of this life. I want the Bread of God which is the Flesh of Christ and for drink I desire His Blood which is love that cannot be destroyed” (Letter to the Romans, 7).
I desire His Blood which is love that cannot be destroyed.

USCCB: All 4 Pending Liturgical Items Have Passed

It looks as if things are finally starting to pick up at least a little speed with the new translation of the Mass.
Deo Gratias

WASHINGTON—All four liturgical item actions whose votes were inconclusive at the June general assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are now approved. Support for the action items continues the work for the English translation of the new Roman Missal for use in the United States.

The deadline for the submission of ballots was July 16. These items require two-thirds (163) votes of Latin Church members for to pass, and subsequent recognition by the Holy See.

The translation of the Order of Mass II (of the Roman Missal) received 191 votes in favor, 25 against and five abstentions.

The translation of the Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Intentions passed by 163 votes, while 53 bishops voted against it and five abstained.

The translation of the rituals for Votive Masses and Masses for the Dead passed 181 to 32 with two abstentions.

And the translation of the text for Ritual Masses received 186 votes in favor, 32 nays and two abstentions.

“This vote marks a steady and sure movement toward the translation of the Roman Missal. The modifications and amendments made by the bishops should be very helpful to the development of the final translation,” said Msgr. Anthony Sherman, executive director of the Secretariat for Divine Worship.

In the fall, the bishops will consider the Proper of Saints Gray Book, The Commons Gray Book, U.S. Propers for the Roman Missal, U.S. Adaptations for the Roman Missal and Roman Missal Supplement Gray Book. A “Gray Book” is a revised translation proposed for final vote by the International Commission for English in the Liturgy (ICEL).

Waiting for the complaints....

I like Colin Mawby's Ite missa est.
Swell piece, festive without being jolly or undignified.

Not too long, easy pedals (yeah, yeah, a MAJOR aspect of my choices...) interesting dissonance without sounding "like monster-movie music," (a complaint Langlais nets. Yes, I said Langlais.)

But oooh, horrors, that meant that today I dared flip a toggle emblazoned with the dreaded "2'".

That's okay, I got some stuff to kvetch about too -- is it too much to ask that I not have to pick up water bottle and used kleenex after a visiting choir?

Maybe for the next Mass I'll play with fire and use a mixture....

I am a Wizard

No, I am the Queen of Belgium.

Or perhaps I am a rhinoceros.

Yeah, I like that one best.

After all, I have been to the zoo a couple times this year.
And my skin is kinda rough.

But most significantly, I am a rhinoceros because that is how I choose to identify myself.

Isn't that how it works?

Friday, 17 July 2009

Utility and Aesthetics in Liturgical Music... and Something Else

What are our ideals, as liturgical musicians?

Do they include the conviction that there is an ideal, a paradigm that in a perfect world would obtain every time, every Mass?

Charles of Musica Dei Donum Optimi began a conversation at the CMAA boards, (and continued it on his blog,) of the Sanctus, and whether all the demands on it can be met, and are being met in the music we program.

He begins with only 2, utility and aesthetics, but the post and the subsequent thread radiate out to others -- or are they all encapsulated in the two?
Is making full and appropriate use of the gifts of both choir and congregation an aspect of utility? is that ineffable quality we all transcendence really a way of saying "so beautiful I feel I am in the presence of God"?
Kathy voices some concerns with most currently popular settings that I might encapsulate by saying that they are all assertive to the point of being aggressive.
Aristotle points to the absence of a translation of the word "igitur" in one, and of any "igitur to be translated in the other 3 EPs, after the Sanctus, contributing to the seeming lack of integrity of form, (that I had referenced in "Noble Simplicity",) and Bruce comes out firmly against the choral Sanctus for the violence it does to this integrity, this unity of form, (as well as criticizing certain forms and the theology they express and/or encourage, about which rabbit hole, the less said the better.)
All in all a terrific conversation.

But what most intrigued me, Richard decries the acceptance of the "bigness imperative," the sensibility that measures solemnity in decibels, and in the process throws out another possible requirement, perhaps the first requirement of an appropriate setting of words of praise we Sing With the Angels -- humility, (actually, he describes it and Charles names it.)




But making that one of our ideals does not mean that not only is a chanted Sanctus the ideal, but one that, once arrived at, can never be deviated from, surely. Musicians and liturgists are exhorted not to neglect the treasury, composers are exhorted to add to it.

But always with humility. (Humility would make it impossible to muck with the text. )


A mode of singing, and composing for that matter, that answers the question, is the Eucharist the source and summit of our Faith or are we Its?


Now please turn to number four hundred and seventy one in your But Enough About Me, God, What Do You Think About Me? hymnal.

Why We Need the ACLU

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Virginia today demanded that officials at the Rappahannock Regional Jail immediately end their illegal practice of censoring religious material sent to detainees.

In a letter sent today to the jail's superintendent, Joseph Riggs, Jr., the ACLU asks for jail officials to guarantee in writing that the jail will no longer censor biblical passages from letters written to detainees and to revise the jail's written inmate mail policy to state that letters will not be censored simply because they contain religious material.

"It is nothing short of stunning that a jail would think it okay to censor the Bible and other religious material for no reason other than its religious nature," said David Shapiro, staff attorney with the ACLU National Prison Project. "...

The letter was prompted by a complaint brought to the ACLU by Anna Williams, a devout Christian whose son was detained at Rappahannock beginning in June of 2008 until his transfer earlier this year. Williams wanted to send her son religious material, including passages from the Bible, to support him spiritually during his confinement. But rather than deliver Williams' letters to her son in full, jail officials removed any and all religious material, destroying the religious messages Williams sought to convey to her son. For example, after jail officials excised biblical passages, a three-page letter sent by Williams to her son was reduced to nothing more than the salutation, the first paragraph of the letter and the closing, "Love, Mom."

Jail officials banned additional material from other letters Williams attempted to send her son, including passages from the Book of Proverbs, the Book of James, the Book of Matthew and an article that contained Christian perspectives on confronting isolation while in jail. Jail officials have variously cited prohibitions on "Internet pages" and "religious material sent from home" as reasons for the censorship.

Yeah, that's it.... "internet pages".
And if you don't like that, we'll come up with another justification.

Et Unum Sint

There's Ecumenism and then there's Ecumenism....
Holy Mother Church's two lungs will not be breathing together any time soon:
Papism is the womb of heresies and fallacies.... The entire chorus of Fathers ...regard Papism as a heresy because apart from the Filioque, it produced a host of other fallacies, such as the primacy and the infallibility of the Pope, the unleavened bread ... Purgatory, the immaculate conception ...
...it has altered nearly all of the teaching and the practice pertaining to Baptism, Chrismation, the Divine Eucharist and the other Sacraments, and has converted the Church to a secular State.

Contemporary Papism has deviated even further than medieval Papism from the teaching of the Church, to the extent that it no longer comprises a continuance of the ancient Church of the West. It has introduced a swarm of new exaggerations ... It has adopted further innovations to Divine Worship, such as dances and musical instruments. It has shortened and essentially ruined the Divine Liturgy. In the area of Ecumenism it has set down the bases for the Pan-religion with its 2nd Vatican Council, by recognizing "spiritual life" in the people of other religions. Dogmatic minimalism has led it to a minimizing of moral prerequisites, on account of the bond between dogma and morality, ... By continuing to support "Unia" - that caricature of Orthodoxy with which it victimizes and proselytizes faithful - Papism is sabotaging the Dialogue and is contradicting its supposedly sincere intentions for union....

Generally speaking, there has been a radical change in Papism and a turn towards Protestantism after the 2nd Vatican Council, and even an adopting of various "spiritual" movements of the "New Age".
...Papism caused more damage to the Church than all the heresies and schisms put together.
But all is not bleak, there are instances where two have come together and become one:
The outlines of the new WQXR-FM emerged Thursday two days after its owner, The New York Times Company, said it would hand over its license to the public-radio station WNYC.
QXR was, is one of the great classical music stations, and I don't altogether trust that TPTB at the new conglomerate won't gut it, or at least geld it as the did WNYC, but at least its alive for now.

Prayers for the Holy Father...

... who has fallen and broken his wrist.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Gallant Women, the Martyrs of Compiègne.

Today is the anniversary of the deaths of the Martyrs of Compiègne.

Blessed Charlotte de la Resurrection, pray for us. Blessed Marie-Henriette de la Providence, pray for us. Blessed Constance, pray for us. Blessed Julie Louise de Jesus, pray for us. Blessed Euphrasie de l'Immaculee Concepcion, pray for us. Blessed Thérèse de Saint-Augustine, pray for us. Blessed Marie-Anne Brideau, pray for us. Blessed Marie-Anne de Jesus Crucifie, pray for us. Blessed pray for us. Blessed Thérèse de la Saint-Coeur-de-Marie, pray for us. Blessed Henriette de Jesus), pray for us. Blessed Thérèse de Saint-Ignace, pray for us. Blessed Marie Dufour, pray for us. Blessed Marie de le Saint Esprit, pray for us. Blessed Saint-Francois-Xavier, pray for us. Blessed Catherine Soiron, pray for us. Blessed Thérèse Soiron, pray for us.

All holy men and women, pray for us.

I have never been fortunate enough to see a production of the Poulenc opera based on their tragic and heroic deaths. (Although I appeared once with the original "Madame Lidoine," I see now in looking up its history-- how old would that make me?)

I can't imagine why, but the local station was playing Poulenc's exquisite Christmas motets this afternoon.

I seem to have digressed...

Holy martyrs, lend to us some of your strength and resolve.

New Flash: people think what they believe is correct!

And that even goes for Catholics, at least those who actually believe Catholicism, that what they hold to be the Truth is, well..... true.
And moreover, that it is, by virtue of being true, good for all people to know.
I missed this during my liturgical music marathon:

In the latest show of tensions between Catholic and Jewish leaders, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has issued a critical statement about a document released by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). ADL president Abraham Foxman said that the bishops' statement might be considered "unacceptable."

Unacceptable to whom?

In their statement, released without fanfare at the close of their meeting last week, the American bishops corrected several defects in an earlier statement, Reflections on Covenant and Mission, which had been produced as a joint product of Catholic and Jewish authors in 2002....

In a sense it goes without saying that some Catholic teachings will be "unacceptable" to Jews. After all, if a Jew accepts all of the teachings of the Church, he becomes a convert to Catholicism. And conversion is precisely the question on which the latest tensions arise.

The ADL criticism of the new USCCB document centers on the idea that in undertaking religious dialogue with Jewish counterparts, Catholics do not entirely renounce the hope that their Jewish partners in this dialogue might come to recognize the truth of the Catholic faith. The 2002 document had conveyed the impression that there is no reason for a Jew to be baptized into the Church. The new USCCB document notes that this earlier text "could lead some to conclude mistakenly that Jews have an obligation not to become Christian and that the Church has a corresponding obligation not to baptize Jews."

"This is an objectionable understanding of Jewish-Catholic relations," announces the ADL in its complaint. The ADL press release continues:

The League called on the Bishops Conference to reaffirm the sentence from the original document that states that interfaith dialogue with Jews is devoid of any intention whatsoever to invite the dialogue partner to baptism.

The US bishops cannot possibly provide the reassurance that the ADL wants; to do so would be to renounce the mission entrusted to the Church by Christ Himself: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."[emphasis supplied]

If Catholics believe that theirs is the one true faith, that the Church founded by Christ is the conduit of all grace and the instrument of salvation, it would be heartless to deny their Jewish interlocutors an opportunity to enter that Church and enjoy the full fruits of Christ's redemptive work. On the other hand if the Catholics engaged in inter-religious dialogue do not believe that the Church is the one true faith and the way to salvation, then they are not giving their Jewish partners an accurate understanding of Catholic teaching.

So we are left between a rock and a hard place. To render Church teachings accurately means running the risk that those teachings might give offense. To water down those teachings is to prevent genuine inter-religious understanding-- and to insult one's partners in dialogue.

Fortunately there is a way out of this quandary. Anyone who enters into inter-religious dialogue in a spirit of goodwill must come to the table prepared to accept the likelihood that his partners will make some statements that he finds theologically objectionable. The whole pupose of the inter-religious enterprise is to go beyond the hurling of mutual anathemas, to assume the goodwill of other parties in spite of serious differences, and to search for common ground beyond those disputes.

To put it differently, inter-religious dialogue presumes that neither party will attempt to cajole or browbeat the other into a change in religious beliefs. Jewish participants may want assurances that the dialogue is not merely a pretext for an attempt at conversion; Catholics are quite ready to give that assurance. In return, Jewish leaders should realize that Catholics cannot alter established Church doctrine simply to ease the tensions that are inevitable in this dialogue.

Umm... yes.

From the more recent of the two Catholic documents, a presumably authoitative one (as opposed to the last one put together by some consutlants and not issued authoritatively and yet passed off as such -- remind you of anything?)

Reflections on Covenant and Mission provides a clear acknowledgment of the relationship
established by God with Israel prior to Jesus Christ. This acknowledgment needs to be
accompanied, however, by a clear affirmation of the Church's belief that Jesus Christ in himself
fulfills God’s revelation begun with Abraham and that proclaiming this good news to all the
world is at the heart of her mission. Reflections on Covenant and Mission, however, lacks such
an affirmation and thus presents a diminished notion of evangelization....

Reflections on Covenant and Mission maintains that a definition of evangelization as the
"invitation to a commitment of faith in Jesus Christ and to entry through baptism into the
community of believers which is the Church" is a "very narrow construal" of her mission. In its
effort to present a broader and fuller conception of evangelization, however, the document
develops a vision of it in which the core elements of proclamation and invitation to life in Christ
seem virtually to disappear....

we also believe that the fulfillment of the covenants, indeed, of all God's promises to Israel, is found only in Jesus Christ. [emphasis supplied]

Imagine that....

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Bash or Ignore the Pope With Impunity?

Okie-doke, it's an old blog, about a different document, but I think it's relevant again:
Monday, September 24, 2007

You'll be allowed to denounce this to your heart's content, and William Donohue won't say a word:

Pope to make climate action a moral obligation

The Pope is expected to use his first address to the United Nations to deliver a powerful warning over climate change in a move to adopt protection of the environment as a "moral" cause for the Catholic Church and its billion-strong following.

The New York speech is likely to contain an appeal for sustainable development, and it will follow an unprecedented Encyclical (a message to the wider church) on the subject, senior diplomatic sources have told The Independent.

It will act as the centrepiece of a US visit scheduled for next April -- the first by Benedict XVI, and the first Papal visit since 1999 -- and round off an environmental blitz at the Vatican, in which the Pope has personally led moves to emphasise green issues based on the belief that climate change is affecting the poorest people on the planet, and the principle that believers have a duty to "protect creation"....

The blog of the Family Research Council has already responded with some literate snark. So far, not a peep from the Catholic League....
An exaggeration, that denunciation of the Pope's words might not in return be denounced, or at least criticized and bruched aside by previously ostentatiously loyal Catholics who take anything the Pope says with which they agree as gospel, whether it's authoritative or not?

You be the judge.

Honest Words, and Some Overly Flattering Conjectures from a Bishop

A sound and through-provoking editorial from Bishop Thomas J Tobin in the Rhode Island Catholic, about what we are looking for at Sunday Mass, and the implications of that.
And first, a refreshing confession about his incognito busman's holiday:
Whenever I join the rank-and-file, it’s amazing how quickly I assume the characteristics of what might be considered the “typical Catholic.” I planned my schedule so I wouldn’t arrive at church too early. I sat toward the back of the church to avoid special involvement. I complained, at least mentally, about the length of the sermon. I was dismayed to learn there would be a second collection – and yes, I did pry open my wallet to contribute to both! And I was appropriately irritated by the log jam of traffic in the parking lot after Mass.

Forget my need for “full, active and conscious participation.” I was on vacation. I wanted something short, sweet and to the point, just enough to fulfill my Sunday obligation.
Although I admit to some confusion from that last bit -- is a bishop, is not every priest required to say the Mass? is that not how his obligation must be fulfilled?
I asked myself: Why do these people come to Mass Sunday after Sunday? What are they looking for? What do they want? What do they need?

I believe, first of all, that people come to Mass on Sunday to be part of the church, part of the Christian community. Please understand that by community here I don’t mean a “hello, my name is _____, what’s yours?” experience, but something far more profound, an ecclesial community. Sometimes in the practice of liturgy we confuse the two.

The last time I attended Mass on vacation, the priest began by announcing: “As we begin today, folks, let’s take a few minutes to get acquainted with the people around you. Tell your neighbor your name, where you’re from, and what you do for a living.” And so the congregation sat down for this banal banter while the priest assumed his talk-show host persona and worked the middle aisle greeting people. Please…that’s not community; that’s a cocktail party![Bravo, your Excellency!]

People want to belong to a Church community to be with and pray with other people who share their faith, their moral values, their liturgical practice. They want spiritual companions who will break bread with them and accompany them on their life’s journey. Ecclesial community doesn’t depend on personal, intimate knowledge of others, but on shared vision and values. As a member of the Church I am in community with people I’ll never know, never meet. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, nonetheless.

Secondly, it seems to be that people come to Mass on Sunday because they long to hear the Word of God preached with conviction and enthusiasm. ...
It’s a frequent complaint that our preaching has lost its spark, its zeal, that it has become too bland, cerebral and generic. [Where? please, WHERE can I find homilies that are too cerebral? I am SO there] Good preaching, on the other hand, needs to be clear, direct and simple. People seek moral guidance and want to learn the tenets of our Faith. ...the faithful want preachers to preach as Jesus did, with power and conviction, challenging people, not avoiding difficult issues. ...

Thirdly, Catholics come to Mass on Sunday because they want to receive the Eucharist. This is a foundational element of Catholic life. Although national surveys have suggested that some Catholics lack proper understanding about the manner of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, I’m convinced that most practicing Catholics have a core belief that the Eucharist is really the Body of Christ. [They] know that the Mass is related to the Last Supper of Holy Thursday as well as the Cross of Good Friday. [I wish I could be as certain of that as he.]

It’s true that our celebration and reception of the Eucharist is far too casual at times. It’s true that we’ve tended to neglect the wonderful presence of Christ in the tabernacles of our churches. ...

Finally, I believe Catholics come to Mass to find sanctuary from the turmoil of daily existence. Our lives are active, busy and noisy – but empty. We come to Mass to be refreshed, to find peace, quiet and fulfillment. Catholics come to church on Sundays to pray not party, to converse with God, not chit-chat with their neighbors.

The church is, or should be, a true sanctuary. I’m convinced that some semblance of sacred silence is crucial, even when the community gathers together. I’m troubled that some of our churches have a free-for-all before Mass, with loud and distracting conversations and laughter, making it nearly impossible for people to pray, to be recollected before they enter into the presence of the holy.

The recently revised “General Instruction of the Roman Missal” makes the same point: “Even before the celebration itself, it is praiseworthy for silence to be observed in church, in the sacristy and adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves for the sacred rites which are to be enacted in a devout and fitting manner.” (#56)

People have enough, indeed, far too much, noise in their lives and the pilgrimage to church on Sundays should be peaceful, restful and refreshing. Churches should be a spiritual oasis in the midst of our secular desert.

The History of the Gyro

Yes, the history, and more important, the pronunciation!

I am shocked that they are of such relatively recent invention, (they were certainly a fixture, and in shops and stands that seemed to beckon from under the grime of decades of use, by the time of my earliest ventures into the city.)

Himself grew very fond of them when he lived in Gree... well, be honest, in Astoria.
I'm glad because I would eat lamb any chance offered to me, and other than in this form he hates it, (cucumbers too, but he also scarfs down that wonderful yogurty sauce)


I like cashmere.
This is not hedonism on my part, I am severely, cripplingly allergic to wool from sheep, but as an adult thrift-store habitue -- naturally I never encountered the fabric in my non-wealthy childhood, which has been followed by my non-wealthy adulthood -- I discovered I liked cashmere.
Veni, vidi, visa, I came, I saw, I charged.
It's incredibly warm yet light, it feels nice, and I don't look like Joseph Merrick after wearing it.

But other than from a thrift store, or the "Last Chance" rack at Land's End, (whence I nabbed two cashmere tunics a couple years ago for $4.78 a piece, red for Christmas no matter how cold and drafty the loft, and white for Easter, who cares what gale howls as we watch the fire being blessed? ) it has never occurred to me to purchase any, not at a real store at a real price.

Of course, like many high-end consumer products, the democratization of extravagance of the past couple decades, (a democratization no doubt built on the backs of the third world poor,) it has trickled down into venues that cater to the merely middle class.

But the rich, you will always have with you.

Anyway, a friend brought this phrase in a fashion review to my attention - You might think a gray cashmere cardigan is a gray cashmere cardigan. But this gray cashmere cardigan is almost a thousand dollars. There are surely reasons for this: the rare Italian sheep are massaged by virgins and fed opals, perhaps.

I LOOOVE that. Because it perfectly encapsulates and mocks the world of luxury goods pricing, and the sensibilities behind the actual purchase of such arbitrarily exorbitantly priced objects.

Strangely, I don't find the fetishization of luxury goods, a constant in fashion and lifestyle journalism anywhere near as disturbing, and ultimately repulsive as the current spate of articles extolling frugality as if it were some cute fad like big sunglasses or ballet flats, which those who don't need to practice it might nevertheless like to try on for fun.

Incidentally, tightwad that I am, if anyone else is similarly inclined, (to thrift,) and similarly fond, (of cashmere,) I have a tip to offer.
The week after Christmas, your local Goodwill or Salvation Army shop is more than likely to have brand new, somewhat extravagant merchandise -- rejected gifts that the recipient couldn't even be bothered to wear once to give evidence of gratitude.

O the times, O the mores....
Addendum: the delicious description of the possible provenance of the bizarrely overpriced substance was by Cintra Wilson, and there's plenty more, (witty remarks, that is,) where that came : her review of a boutique.

"Ave, Maria. Gratia plena." © Scelata. 2009

Yup, it's mine.
I now own that exact phrase.

Ya see, I punctuated and capitalized the Latin to agree with English rules of grammar.
I put a comma after the actual greeting, before the name of the person I was addressing.
And then a period at the end of that sense unit.
The next sentence, and those two words are, or at least can be a sentence unto themselves, looks as if it has no subject or verb but that's where my expertise, the real work I put into this morally justifying my assertion of copyright. See, in Latin, the verb esse need not be explicit but can be understood, and its second-personedosity (he, not that I think of it, "personedosity"also ©. And while I'm at it, personitude ©. Gotta cover my bases,) can also be understood from the preceding vocative and no other noun or pronoun in sight to be the subject.
And of course I used upper case for the initial of the first word in that sentence, but not for that of the second. In the first sentence, the second word is capitalized because it is a proper name.

So when you choose to punctuate and capitalize the phrase the same way, just give me a call -- I'll cut you a good deal on the royalities.

All this by way of an introduction to Jeffrey Tucker's thoughts on an important aspect of Pope Benedict's latest encyclical.

In response to an accusation I heard that the Bow-Tied One is a hammer to whom everything looks like a nail and the Holy Father had no intention of applying his teaching on the just application of intellectual property rights to the official music and words of Catholic worship, I say- PAH! or maybe, FEH!

For starters, JT is no hammer, he is a freaking NAIL GUN.

And secondly, how can it NOT apply?

Principles are principles, that's the whole point of calling them "principles" rather than "whims".

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

A Treasure Trove for the Organist of Meagre Talents

Because I am so absent-minded, it seems obvious that anything I know must have come to the attention of everyone else eons ago, and I often assume as much, but I know it ain't necessarily so.

In light of that, it occurs to me that not everyone knows about the Werner Icking Music Archive, running neck and neck with CPDL for second place (behind the CMAA's resources,) for the most extravagantly, graciously, (and I use that word quite deliberately,) useful site for those of us who "do" church music, on the interwebs.

Sometimes I am simply in awe of the generosity of those who have made all these gifts available, the true liberality, the love that has made this possible -- Grace indeed!

My memory was pricked by the CanticaNova article I referenced yesterday, where among the possible sins of organists cataloged by the author, was the charge of sameness.

Not a fault of which I am guilty thanks to several decisions and/or lucky breaks, but I digress -- the one I am discussing is that I DONT PLAY THE SAME MUSIC OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER... (there is one lady I know who, I swear to the Almighty, plays Preire a Notre Dame EVERY MASS.)

No, I have an embarrassment of riches, or at least, an embarrassment of comfortably-well-offs from which to choose for postludes, preludes, fill-in at the Offertory procession outside of Lent, traveling music...

In case you didn't know about Werner Icking, and in case like me you are an accidental organist, I highly recommend the works of John Stanley. I had come across a voluntary or two of his, the ones that show up in the usual Organ-For-You-People-Who-Can't-Really-Play-Organ-And-Who-Do-You-Think-You're-Fooling? albums, (Oxford has some nice ones,) but he wrot e scads of music, SCADS, several collections of, in some cases fairly long, multiple movement voluntaries.

So there you are. An entire years worth of mostly sight-readable keyboard pieces.

A reasonable variety of keys in case you like easy segues into and out of that hymntune that you are playing to death so that when you finally program it people will think they already know, a variety of moods and textures, some very short, some extraordinarily easy, all with a modicum of dignity, (that not all "liturgical" music is possessed of dignity was brought home to me yesterday when I took a funeral programmed entirely by someone else, and found myself working overtime to try to... well, the less said about it the better.)

Stanley suffers a tad bit from Telleman-itis, who is said to have written not 500 concerti, but the same concerto 500 times, but there's still a lot there, a lot.

Anyway, God bless Stanley, Icking, and the wonderful, wonderful musicians, academics, and computer whizzes who have made the archive possible.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Who'd a thunk....

.... that people would ever again obsess over a First Lady's garb, generally, and over what she wore on her head when meeting the Pope, specifically?
And read so much into it?

The politics of headgear never ceases to amaze me.

If my head didn't look goofy in most hats, and presumably veils/mantillas/burkahs/whatever, I suppose I would have looked into the whole thing in a little more detail before this.

Maybe I shall...

USAToday, Bringing you the Obvious Since 1982

USA Today, or at least someone to whom they have given a platform, seems surprised that very few care about the soon-to-be Catholic majority on the US Supreme court.

"No one seems to care that [Sotomayor's] appointment would give Catholics a stranglehold over America's highest judicial body."

Why would they? Is there any indication her Catholicism colors her judgements, or impacts on her view of justice?

I know to your average un- or casually-churched commentator, thinks that, let's say, Scalia's "voting his Faith, " (in the sense of defying the rule of law in favor of the rule of canon law, or valuing his current spiritual adviser's principles over those, er.... enshrined in the Constitution,) is a given, right?
But Kennedy is never so accused, to my knowledge.

So is it only those with whose decisions we disagree whom we do not want to be influenced by their religion?
It seems so sometimes.

And then there's this tid-bit:"Two recent books about U.S. Catholicism refer to anti-Catholicism in their subtitles as 'the last acceptable prejudice.' Not so.... anti-Catholicism is dead here both ideologically and institutionally."

Bravo Sierra.
(The man seems not to be able to differentiate between believers... well, I can't think of a single word to take the place of the phrase "those who self-identify with a words that means they believe something or practice something but are really suffering from inertia, nostaliga, or lack of an eraser to untick the box on forms.
Trying observing the reaction to someone who is so gauche as to practice it, in many circles, academic, theatrical, corporate .... and I'm not talking about introducing the subject oneself, but merely answering the "why are you dressed up?", "where've you been?", "why won't you stay out later this Saturday?" questions -- more respect would be shown to the information that one was a dedicated Phrenologist.)

I find it hysterical that he seems to think Episcopalians might have mourned loss of "their" seat -- Heaven's Gate adherents aren't doing much complaining either, nor do members of the Illuminati or Dunkards expect a seat on the court, so far as I know.

The Organ is Too LOUD!!!!!!

Worthwhile essay at Canticanova.
This point really rang a bell: often people who say the organ is too loud really mean they don't like the selection of music.

So I'm willing to admit that, that it is a worthwhile essay.

HOWEVER -- (you knew there was a however, dincha?) I am actually open to complaints, (surprisingly to anyone who knows me,) even if I doubt the legitimacy of them, but when the person is known to me and we've been through it before, and I have already determined that he has an agenda or she has a blind spot, (a "deaf spot"?), it's kind of hard to smile and say, Oh, okay, I'll see about that...

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Too busy, maybe.....

Whilst (short "i"? long "i"?) the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is ("was"? I am a grammar and pronunciation ignorama today...) working their little heads off "birthing a new form of religious life," what have those lazy jackanapes over at the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious been up to?
The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious will sponsor its second eucharistic congress Sept. 11-12 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

The congress, free and open to all, will focus on the Eucharist in the context of three types of Christian vocations – priesthood, religious life and marriage – and how each group can better appreciate the sacrament. The vocations are all characterized by an "irrevocable" commitment, an identification with Christ and a complete gift of self in love, according to the council's Web site.

The congress theme is "Sacrifice of Enduring Love.". . .

"What we really want is to incite a love for the Eucharist," said Sister Doretta D'Albero, a member of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a spokeswoman for the council.

"With the demystification of just about everything else in society, I think there's a demystification of the Eucharist," she said in an interview with Catholic News Service.

Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington will convene the congress, followed by Mass with Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia as the main celebrant and homilist. He is the episcopal liaison for the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious.

Other events will include catechesis, workshops, eucharistic adoration and procession, music and an evening fireworks display dedicated to Our Lady Queen of Peace.

Speakers will include Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus; Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec; Terry Polakovic, executive director of Endow, a Catholic educational program for women; Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston; Mother Ann Marie Karlovic, prioress general of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia; Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien of Baltimore; and Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

The first congress drew 4,000 people from throughout the U.S. in 2004. Sister Doretta said it was hard to predict the outcome of this year's event, which took a year to plan.

"You show up, the Spirit shows up, and it all unfolds so beautifully," she said.

In addition to other displays, a piece of the tilma (cloak) of Saint Juan Diego will be exhibited for veneration by the faithful. The tilma was imprinted with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the CMSWR, in 1531.

Sister of Mercy Mary Kathleen Ronan, liturgical consultant for the Archdiocese of Hartford, chairs the planning committee for the congress.

More information about the upcoming eucharistic congress is available in English and Spanish on the Web site of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, www.cmswr.org, and in the calendar section of the national shrine's Web site, www.nationalshrine.com.
Okay, that's nice, but is that really how they should be spending their time? aren't there better things to be doing?
Do they not realize that birthing new forms of religious life is the Source and Summit of our Faith? wait, I mean eco-justice, that's the Source and Summit of our Faith.
Yeah, that's it.
Or do I mean cosmology, is that the Source and Summit?

Well, I'm sure they will eventually find the Way, the Truth and the Life. Maybe when they are through with their congress....

[snarkasm off]

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Falling On Ones Ars Celebrandi

Some wildly divergent opinions of the episcopal ordination this afternoon at the National Shrine, television viewers and/or internet viewers far more critical than those in attendance.

I must say, the music for the most part struck me as a great deal better than it did the OP. I shared the distaste for how I heard the cantor, but I know that how television picks up mic'ed voices often bears almost no resemblance to what those in situ are hearing. (She had a splendid voice, although using too much vibrato for chanting and leading congregational song. -- in my opinion)

And I can't particularly blame the various clerics and ministers for not being 100% certain at every moment in a long, complex, one-off Liturgy -- that's what programs and MCs are for.

No, my problem with what I saw ( haven't watched the entire thing yet,) is two-fold --

1) people, PIPs and bishops alike, NOT SINGING, not even looking at their programs and making a stab at, say, the Veni Creator.

and (what I have come to think is perhaps the greatest stumbling block in the quest to improve the celebration of the Liturgy, today)

2) people in a #$!%^&!%!*!(!$!#!!! hurry!

What's the rush, yer excellency, ya got a date?

I thought one one the finest things about Cdl George's presidency over the Mass at the CMAA Colloquium was the care, the time he took about every bit of the ritual-- the pauses and silences, the stateliness.

Where did this insane notion that we gotta keep the Mass peppy, gotta move it along, gotta pick up our cues come from?

PK, maybe I'm over-reacting, but what set me off was watching one bishop turn around and start putting his mitre back on during the final verse of the Veni Creator -- what, you couldn't wait 6 seconds and finish the hymn to the Holy Spirit? the bus would leave without you?

Finish one part of the Mass before you move on to the next!

I know a priest who never quite finishes the Credo, because while everyone else is reciting the last phrase or two he's turning around to drop his missallette in the presider's chair, and look around for the loose-leaf notebook with the General Intercession and that pesky server.

I suppose they are in deadly fear lest they bore people who will then -- oh horrors! -- leave early.

What they don't realize is that they are essentially teaching everyone, by example, that it doesn't really matter whether we finish anything, none of it is really worth taking time with anyway.

Thus encouraging people to leave early.

Sister Schneiders's Snapped?

Although some may be laughing at it, this is not funny -- poor Sr Schneiders reference to demographic trends is so far out there as to imply stupidity (and she is not stupid,) deliberate prevarication (I refuse to believe that,) or dementia.
Is it possible she has had a stroke, or received some kind of blow to the head?
Sister Sandra Schneiders, IHM, professor at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California. "Visitations, [at the instigation of the Vatican]" she pointed out, "do not drop out of heaven newborn. They come about because somebody wants to investigate somebody."

She also described as a red herring the Vatican's concern for a decline in religious vocations as a major reason for the visitation. She insisted that the decline in the number of women religious follows the demographic trends for the greater female population.

Until recently, Sister Schneiders observed, the majority of women have been under the age of 25, and this was the pool from which the Church drew vocations.
[Emphasis supplied]
By such reasoning we should be running out of female athletes.
And female college students.
And females with tatoos, too, I suppose....

Is there a shortage of any of those?

And what about abortions? aren't most of those procured by women under the age of 25 or so? have those numbers fallen off by sixty-some percent in the past few decades?

To those Catholics who do not believe in evanglization with an eye to conversion....

Is Catholicism, and specifically your Catholicism, a "Faith" or "Preference"?

Friday, 10 July 2009

Synchronicity, and Lay Empowerment, and Cabbages, and Kings

In an odd coincidence, I am reading, (that is the present historical tense, by the way, developed in in Paramus, NJ, I believe, where the typical diction of the historian or bard is, "and then I say.... and then he says..... so I says right back....",) an interview with the retired (O, bless the Lord, my soul! and give thanks to His Holy Name!) Bishop Remi J. De Roo toward which CharlesInCenCA directed us when an email arrives from Brother 3, with a link to some apologetics from one John J. Moran.

His aging Excellency seems, with his anti-Roman droning, to be urging the Church toward an ever-greater balkanization that can lead to nowhere but protestantism which ultimately leads to oblivion, where as (the layman?) Moran quite rightly demonstrate that without a visible central authority the Church simply ceases to, would not exist.
DeRoo: In our Western world we’ve gotten into our individualism. We’ve lost that cultural concept of the people of God that the Jewish people have kept, faith as a people, as a community, as pilgrims in history. We’re hung up on individualism... the overcentralized church [is] using second-string specialists in the Vatican to control the [American] bishops, who know best in their own countries. The massive submission of the American bishops to some curialists in the Vatican is one of the saddest events in recent history. After what Vatican II said, why should the American bishops contradict themselves and back off? Because someone in the Vatican says jump? It’s very sad. I don’t want to judge; a lot of the American bishops are my personal friends. I have great respect for them individually, but there’s no question about the power and control of the Vatican. It’s scary.
So, we err in not realizing that inherent in belonging to the Faith is being in communion with other people, we err in insisting on things our own way... and we err in thinking that inherent in belonging to the Faith is being in communion with other people if they wear pointy hats at the Vatican, and we err in not insisting on things our own, or rather, the way of people wear pointy hats in the US.

Got it.
Moran: dialogue. The opening question was from one of our guests, a Methodist pastor: "What really divides us?" Before citing his own views, he solicited others'. From Catholics and Protestants in the parish hall came the same few responses: "The Pope!" "Confession!" "The saints!" "Using wine in communion!" "The Bible!"

At this first in a series of parish seminars with non-Catholic clergy, we - both sides - were about to be brought face to face with the one overriding issue that stands like the Great Wall of China between Catholics and Protestants. Our young assistant pastor brought it forth.

"It comes down to this," he said, trying not to appear confrontational. "Did Christ found a visible Church or an invisible Church?" ...

the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) declaration of principle: "We believe that the holy Christian Church is a reality, although it is not an external, visible organization. Because 'man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart' only the Lord knows 'them that are his.' The members of the holy Christian Church are known only to God; we cannot distinguish between true believers and hypocrites. The holy Christian Church is therefore invisible and cannot be identified with anyone church body or the sum total of all church bodies."...

Paul did speak of "one faith," and the first great Church gathering, around the year 50 in Jerusalem, was without doubt the manifestation of a visible Church. There the apostles, the quite visible leaders of the Church, made one of the earliest universal decisions, exempting Christians from Judaic law.

Ignatius of Antioch speaks of a visible Church when he outlines its nature in 107, marking it, for the first time of which we have record, as the "Catholic Church": "Where the bishop is found, there let the people be, even as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church."

Most of Protestantism - at least traditional Protestantism - chokes on the idea that Christ established a visible and consequently authoritative Church, no matter how clearly history seems to insist that he did. If Christ's Church is truly visible, as Catholics maintain, then it follows that no Protestant body can be that Church, for no Protestant church, quite obviously, can be dated back to the beginning...

To acknowledge that Christ did establish a visible Church necessarily would demand that that Church be identified, singled out from other claimants, and its authority accepted. Few Protestants relish such a task. They don't want to examine the tree and its branches. Their argument for an invisible Church becomes an argument made conclusion-end first....
The pairing of the invisible Church and [sola scriptura] concepts leads to the conclusion most Protestants avoid: Christ failed to keep his promise (Matt. 28:20) that he would remain with his Church throughout history; instead, he allowed it to become rudderless for the 1500 years it took to invent the printing press and to disseminate the Bible widely....

One of our guests, a layman, said, "Frankly, if Christ did found a visible Church, you wouldn't be it anyway!"

"Why not?" asked one of the Catholics.

The non-Catholic smiled a Cheshire cat smile, striving for a semblance of cordiality.

"The word 'Catholic' suggests universality. But you folks aren't 'Catholic.' You're 'Roman Catholic'!...

Certainly it was to a visible, authoritative body that Christ declared, addressing its first earthly leader, "I will entrust to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 16:19). What good would it have done to bestow the keys upon a Church so formless as to defy any effort to identify it? Then, too, Christ speaks of a visible Church when he recommends recourse to it for settling disputes among his followers: "Refer it to the Church" (Matt. 18:17). He tells his followers, who make us the Church on earth, that they are "the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp stand, where it gives light to all in the house" (Matt. 5:14-15; see also Luke 8:16,11:33).

The visibility of the Church is no light matter. It underlies the ultimate source of Christian belief: Church or Bible? Its importance surpasses that of other divisive issues, such as the veneration of saints or confession.

As was pointed out at every one of our seminars in which the question of Church visibility arose (often the subject was deliberately introduced) Christ's Church does have an invisible quality in that it is his Mystical Body on earth. But to understand the Church as having no visibility at all - and, as a consequence, no authority at all - conjures up a Church as tenuous as feathers in the wind. It's almost as if Jesus, in setting up his Church, didn't quite know what he was doing.

... only a visible, authoritative Church could have set in place the pillars that would support Christian belief and practice through the ages....
[The protestants at these seminars] were unanimous in their contention that Peter was not the foremost of the apostles, that he had no universal authority, and that he never stepped foot inside Rome. All this meshes with their view of Church invisibility, since a visible Church would have visible and easily identifiable leaders. This pooh-poohing of Peter's leadership is easy. Not so easy is the dismissal of our culture's Catholic heritage. One of the guest clergy, relating an anecdote, suddenly stopped in mid-sentence on realizing that he was portraying Peter as standing guard at the gates of heaven. For Catholic and Protestant alike, it is always Peter who is there - never Paul, or John or James or any of the others. Always Peter.

Are we under Christ's Church visible or invisible? Is it a Church of authority or an amorphous "worldwide community of believers"? Is it divinely appointed in time and place or lacking enough substance even to make itself known? Any useful understanding of the locus of Christian authority must flow from questions such as these.
There seem to be some contradictions in Bishop DeRoo's description of the lay people with whom he meets:
a) [Young people's] understanding of the church primarily comes from what they’ve heard; they are pretty well conditioned by the media. It tends to be at the level of democracy, ordination of women and power struggles with the pastors. They have relatively little understanding of the richer doctrinal and scriptural insights.
b)I generally start by inviting the people to tell one another how much they know. I let them realize how much they really already know. It’s amazing how much truth comes out of those audiences.

Hmmm... maybe he means it's only young people who have "relatively little understanding."

And how will they acquire understanding?

Not sure: The homily must regain its pride of place, not as a sermon, not as an occasion to indoctrinate, but as an opportunity to link the Scriptures with our daily experience and tie that in with the paschal mystery. Too many sermons are trying to indoctrinate... “People don’t know their religion, so we’re going to teach them catechetics while we have them as a captive audience in church.” That’s missing completely the deeper role of the liturgy as the real education.

DeRoo probably wouldn't want to hear what Moran has to say -- while he's big on a kind of lay empowerment, ("What are lay people allowed to do? What will priests allow the laity to do? The main problems of the church today are issues of power and control,") he makes it pretty clear that although the lay people who share his views of the "Spirit of Vatican Two" are in the minority, ("there is still a very alive minority of forward-looking lay people who are really on track but are prevented from fully expressing themselves because of the power control at the base of our parishes,") they are the only ones he wants to empower...

Curiously, the word "Catholic," which appears several dozen times in the Moran article is totally absent from the questions and answers in the good Bishop's interview.

I don't know if that has any significance.....

Wait, wait, don't tell me, I know the answer to that one....

"What better way to have a liturgical song for the Preparation of Gifts, a.k.a. the Offertory than to have a liturgist write one?"

Ummmmm... ?

"Noble Simplicity"

I read something about the authentic meaning of the phrase "noble simplicity" years ago when I first realized what a treasure the internet could be to anyone with an esoteric interest or unusual longing (what a sad commentary, that orthopraxy seems to qualify on both counts, even among the putatively "practicing,") and cannot remember the source, or the exact wording.

Having googled, I yet come up empty, but I did find this blog post with a little anecdote on the subject (and with a little reassurance in the combox, as well -- I am not alone in dealing with my alternately feeble and obstreperously ill-behaved recall of persons, places and pithily presented pensees.)
The phrase 'noble simplicity' is often quoted by those who love the Pauline reforms... I remember many years ago when I was a seminarian visiting [another priest], himself then just newly ordained, .... there was an Italian Salesian staying there, and he commented to me:
You Anglo-Saxons misunderstand this word 'simplicity'. In its latinate context it does not mean 'plain' or 'sober', but rather 'unified', 'harmonious'. So plain vestments in a plain church building are 'simple'. Baroque vestments in a baroque church are 'simple'.
I wonder if instead of "simplicity" of form, we would not do better to say "integrity."
Not being Italian, (or German.... there was some disagreement on the point as the thread progressed,) though hardly Anglo-Saxon either, (my Polish/Norman/Irish/African could generate enough power to light up St Peter's with their spinning, if such a calumny reached their ears,) I need to take this on faith, but it makes sense to me.

And embracing such a definition would clean up a a surprising amount of the mess we are in liturgically.

I myself am a reluctant practitioner of the "blended" liturgy, which is about as far from integrity of form, and "noble simplicity" as can be imagined.

A hodgepodge pleases no one.

The average liturgy is to that ideal liturgy for which we should be striving, as a camel is to a horse.

In fact the constant careening from speech to song is, if you think about it this way, perhaps even more than the mulligan stew of musical styles, the greatest offense against noble simplicity, the largest problem that must be dealt with.

If any of my 2.3 regular readers is more conversant in romanita, I would love to hear from you on this concept of Noble Simplicity.

So maybe he's watching too much TV...

A commercial comes on and Himself coos plaintively, hopefully, I want to recover my luminosity.

Huh? I ask, with my brilliant command of the language.

But I can't really, he mourns. I've never been luminous. I'm more of a matte finish.

I shake my head, and say to him, as he has so many times to me, You're just not right....

Thursday, 9 July 2009

"Catholic priests as Catholic priests!"

This is quite interesting to me, for several reasons.
Recently I had the opportunity to become familiar with a newly founded priestly community, The Apostles of Jesus Christ, Priest and Victim, which is located in the Archdiocese of Chicago.
The community of diocesan priests was given approbation by Cardinal George and operates on principles of Catholic theology and sacraments focused around prayer and Holy Eucharist.
What is remarkable about the community is the hinging of the daily routine of priestly ministry around the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours and the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.
Unusually enough, most priests in parochial parish assignments do not have the chance or a limited opportunity to celebrate these rituals communally with other priests.
For the most part, due to the increasingly acute priest shortage in the United States, more and more priests are commonly living alone in their priestly assignments.
The fraternity and prayerful celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours and the Holy Eucharist very often mandated in our seminal formation at seminaries is abandoned once the ordained priest “hits the parish!”
One is, that in an era of parish consolidation, and in an area where there are far fewer priests per (Catholic) capita, the potential for isolation, especially in diocesan priests, is very great.
We are social animals.
(And it's no bad thing for a pastor especially, but really for any priest, to have to accommodate someone else, at least some of the time, in some of the gazillion trivial needs and desires and preferences that we all build our daily lives around, to remember how to compromise.)

Another is that this "community hinges of the daily routine of priestly ministry around the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours and the celebration of the Holy Eucharist."

Repeat after me: Source and Summit, Source and Summit, Source and Summit....

And another is the thought that this may be another crack in the parochial system, which is not divinely ordained and which may have outlived its usefulness, at least in areas, or should I say in an era? where the next town is not a day's journey away.
Parochialism contributes to... parochialism.

And yet another is -- how is this the first I'm hearing of it?
Anyway, as Hugh McNichol writes, "Learn more about the priestly community at http//:apostlesofjesuschrist.org . Pray for their success as well as the success of our entire Catholic global community."

"Diocesan priests coming together to become priests after Christ's own Heart deepens the Church's call to holiness in head and members. This new Society is a grace, and I joyfully bless its members."

His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I. Archbishop Of Chicago.

Far be it from me to praise Nancy Pelosi....

Even when I agree with her, she is, in Himself's colorful phrase, someone whose face you wanna push in just for saying "Good morning."
(To be clear, he's never used the expression of her...)
Any way, whence this bit of un-grandstanding common sense?
Nancy Pelosi shut the door Thursday to a resolution honoring Michael Jackson because debate on the symbolic measure could raise "contrary views" about the pop star's life.

Lawmakers are free to use House speeches "to express their sympathy or their praise any time that they wish," said Pelosi, D-Calif. "I don't think it's necessary for us to have a resolution."

More on Inter-species Genetics

I am patently the product of inter-species breeding , (funny that that just struck me today, after the warning from that Fox news guy.... timely, huh?)

But it becomes clear to me that I am neither hedgehog nor fox. Or rather, I am a little bit of each.

I do know "one great thing."

But it is hard for me not to be drawn into tangents.

And while I am intelligent, I am not original, (but who is? is there anything new under the sun?) so none of the "deep thoughts" on these many thing, these tangents, these spokes are anything I could not have come to more readily, if instead of heading out to the rim I had stayed at the hub, the One Great Thing.

Saints, whatever the breadth of their knowledge and interest and erudition, are, when it comes down to it, Hedgehogs.

Well-meaning people who insist on politicizing the Truth? Foxes.

Martha, Martha, thou art careful and art troubled about many things.... Martha was, at least at that point in her life, a Fox.
We have to assume she subsequently became a Hedgehog.

I want to get back to the center.

I want to choose the Best Part

The centrifugal force of living sends, or tries to send us all out into the Foxdom, and the life of faith is all about waddling back to the Hedgehoggy center.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

I am certainly against inter-species marriage....

... and I'm guessing it would be detrimental to your mental health.
So marrying another human being as opposed to, I dunno, a salamander, or a bonobo probably does help prevent senile dementia.,
But I'd like to think a solid marriage to a wolverine or a monarch butterfly or a pygmy mouse lemur would contribute to holding on to your marbles.
But maybe not.
Thank goodness for news gathering organizations, and journalists to keep us apprised of such dangers.

Brian Kilmeade headshot 2

(I have to admit, I am relying on internet scuttlebutt for a reference on this, I don't actually watch the program in question)
On July 8, 2009 Kilmeade and two co-hosts were discussing a study that, based on research done in Finland and Sweden, showed people who stay married are less likely to suffer from Alzheimer's. Kilmeade questioned the results, though, saying, "We are -- we keep marrying other species and other ethnics and other ..." adding, over the objections of his co-host Gretchen Carlson - "See, the problem is the Swedes have pure genes. Because they marry other Swedes .... Finns marry other Finns, so they have a pure society."