Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Saturday, 29 August 2009

I Just LURVE Wedding Meetings!

I really do.

Weddings usually? not so much...

The Song We NEED, Rather Than Want

Quoting myself, in a combox at Mara Joy's, who, like virtually all chief-pickers-or-songs-at-Mass, is dismayed at the flatness, the thinness, the sameness, the banality, the redundancy of the texts of the hymns with which, for various reasons, we are stuck, as opposed to the wealth, sitting there untapped, of the propers.

We do sing praise, praise, happy, happy most of the time.

My "default" for many liturgies whose introit strikes a tone similar to today's is "There's a Wideness in God's Mercy," (which, IIRC, I needed to teach my congregation, as they had no text in their repertoire that addressed the need for mercy,) but even that states the sinner's receipt as a fait accompli rather than us having the humility and good sense to actually ASK for God's mercy.

The more immersed in Liturgy I become (and the progression through the psalms in the LotH is GREAT for teaching this,) the more I need to say or sing all those different things which the psalms encompass, often vastly different from verse to verse in a single psalm.

Such prayer becomes a process rather than a moment.

The Hymn Sandwich leaves us so theologically impoverished!

There are theologically profound hymns, of course, but they are not the ones that achieve Top Ten status, (they're not the ones people ask for, the ones they want,) and in the utilitarian practice of only singing the number of verses necessary to get from point a (in time or space,) to point b, we seldom enjoy their richness even when we do sing them.

The general instruction for the LotH has something about the desirability of using the appointed psalms even if they don't fit your current mood or perceived needs.

I suspect the psalms we resist, are the ones we most need to pray.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

"Wanted or Unwanted, Human Life, Even at its Earliest Stages, Has Rights"

I wish I knew the source of this 30-some year old letter, which is suddenly all over the blogosphere -- did the original recently come into someone new's hands and so it came to light? is it referenced in a footnoted book? has it always been part of the public record?
From a letter to Mr. Thomas Donnelly of Great Neck, NY, dated August 3, 1971.
Dear Mr. Donnelly:

I appreciate your letter containing your views on abortion. There are many moral and legal aspects arising from this complex issue which is gaining the acceptance of large numbers of women faced with unwanted pregnancies, while disturbing the consciences of a great many other Americans.

Opponents maintain that abortion is wrong from every theological, moral and medical aspect. Proponents are firmly convinced that the woman, alone, has the right to decide.

While the deep concern of a woman bearing an unwanted child merits consideration and sympathy, it is my personal feeling that the legalization of abortion on demand is not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life. Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized -- the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old.

On the question of the individual's freedom of choice there are easily available birth control methods and information which women may employ to prevent or postpone pregnancy. But once life has begun, no matter at what stage of growth, it is my belief that termination should not be decided merely by desire.

I share the confidence of those who feel that America is willing to care for its unwanted as well as wanted children, protecting particularly those who cannot protect themselves. i also share the opinions of those who do not accept abortion as a response to our society's problems -- an inadequate welfare system, unsatisfactory job training programs, and insufficient financial support for all its citizens.

When history looks back to this era it should recognize this generation as one which cared about human beings enough to halt the practice of war, to provide a decent living for every family, and to fulfill its responsibility to its children from the very moment of conception.

Edward M. Kennedy

Rest in peace.
When my uncle was in the Senate there was no question that a man could be a Democrat with prospects, yet remain a faithful, observant Catholic.
It is more problematic now.

In Support of the Sung Mass

Sing the text.
SING it.
Culled from a combox, a gem, an absolute gem from Aristotle:
If “singing is for lovers,” why ought we mutter “and also with you” at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb?

Why, indeed....
(If I were editing it for posterity, I'd re-phrase to "... why would you mutter..." Maybe I'll embroider it on a sampler to hang over the doorway of the room where the Dread LitCom meets ;o))

That Letter to the Editor from Bishop Hope

Thanks to Fr Martin over at America Magazine for the complete text of Westminster's gentle rebuke to the editors of the Tablet:

I am writing with regard to your leader “The old rite put in its place” (8 August). In his message welcoming priests to the training conference provided by the Diocese of Westminster in conjunction with the Latin Mass Society, Archbishop Nichols expresses his gratitude to those priests who have given up their time to respond to a need in the Church today.

By providing this conference for priests wishing to learn the extraordinary rite, the Diocese of Westminster is not only affirming the import ance of the worthy celebration of the liturgy and the proper attention that priests should pay to good celebration but also reminding us that the diocesan bishop is the moderator, promoter and guardian of the whole of the diocese’s liturgical life. He is not “seeking to nip potential schism in the bud” or suggesting that the place of the Tridentine Rite is “necessarily marginal”.

Just as Pope Benedict pointed out in the letter he sent to the Church’s bishops to accompany “Summorum Pontificum”, so the archbishop notes the relationship between the ordinary and the extraordinary forms. Above all he emphasises the importance of the Mass as the “source and expression of the unity of the Church”. In this Year for Priests, Archbishop Vincent recognises the responsibility priests face whatever the form the liturgy takes – the active participation of all. This is an idea, common to papal teaching on the liturgy from the beginning of the twentieth century. This “active participation” has always been understood to be internal and external. To reduce participation to solely external signs is both a simplification and a misguided attack in the “culture wars” you seek to avoid.

(Bishop) Alan Hopes, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, London SW1

Cherry picking some points from the CARA survey and report

Me, I'm doing the cherry picking, I am not accusing the "liberal mainstream media" or the "right-wing blogosphere."

I am noting some points and commenting on them, teasing out for my own understanding the facts as presented by the CARA survey.

Although the Mass in Latin is now more widely available, results of a survey conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) indicates that interest is not widespread among adult Catholics in the United States.

Well, sad truth be told, interest in any Mass "is not widespread among adult Catholics in the United States."

Asked if they favored bringing back the Tridentine Mass for those who would prefer it, the results were:
Favor - 25%
Oppose - 12%
No opinion -63%

In other words, 88% have no objection to the EF being available. Unfortunately, a large part of that anti-choice 12% own their own miters and crosiers...

In the CARA poll, 63 percent of respondents said they had “no opinion” about
bringing back the Latin Mass and ...in the 1985 Gallup poll, only 25 percent of adult Catholics had “no opinion” about bringing back the Latin Mass.

So the numbers of the ambivalent pretty well reflect the numbers of those who can't be bothered to practice the Faith on a regular basis.

In the 1985 Gallup poll, only 25 percent of adult Catholics had “no opinion”
about bringing back the Latin Mass. ... The percentage of Catholics who “oppose” the return of the Latin Mass dropped from 35 percent in 1985 to only 12 percent in 2008.

So, in 1985, those who wanted the old Mass available out numbered those who opposed it by a ratio of 8:7.
Now, this ratio has increased to more than 14:7.

So among those with an interest one way or the other, those favoring the availability of the EF has grown enormously.

The statistics by "generation" are interesting -- those with the irrational fear of the EF are obviously aging:
Pre-Vatican II (born before 1943) Favor:30% No Opinion:46 % Oppose:24%
Vatican II (born 1943-60) Favor:32 % No Opinion:55% Oppose:13%
Post-Vatican II (born 1961-81) Favor:21% No Opinion:72% Oppose:7%
Millennial (born 1982 or later) Favor:16% No Opinion:78% Oppose:6%

And approval of the celebrating the EF is greater among the better educated, those who think for themselves, and women than in the general population; its celebration favored by

19% of those with a high school degree or less, but
43% [!!!] of those with graduate degrees;

27% of Republicans,
24% of Democrats
, but
37% of Independents, 3rd Party Members, or the apolitical;

and perhaps strangest of all, (for we know that the old Mass and the spirituality it represents, oppresses women, :oP))

23% of men, but
28% of women.

Three in ten Catholics who do not “oppose” bringing back the Latin Mass say
they would attend such a Latin Mass if it was readily available at convenient times and locations. This is equivalent to about one in ten adult Catholics (11 percent overall) or approximately 5.7 million individuals.

But, only about one in every 250 parishes regularly offer a Mass in Latin.

Got that?
You do that math -- one out of every 10 would like to do what only one in every 250 has the regular opportunity to do.

I have said it before, my first choice would not be the EF -- but how can any honest person claim that the legitimate aspirations of the faithful are being accommodated in regard to the Latin Mass?
And until they are, and until the Mass of Blessed John XXII, with whatever its evangelical and catechetical powers be, is allowed the opportunity to exert its influences on that vast sea of opinionless, in far too many cases unpracticing, putative Catholics -- how can anyone opposing its availability and in some case actively working against it, claim to have the best interest of the People of God at heart?

Wednesday, 26 August 2009


.. that re-formatting that I did (of the evil PDF format) of the CARA survey didn't work at ALL!!!!

CARA on Interest in Latin Mass

The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate
News release Contact: Mark Gray
August 24, 2009 202-687-0885
Opinions about the Latin Mass have shifted over time
A Majority of adult Catholics express no opinion on return of older liturgy
Two years ago, Pope Benedict XVI gave permission for the 1962 Roman Rite
Mass to be used without a priest first acquiring a bishop’s approval.1 Using the Missal of John XXIII, this Mass is celebrated in Latin with the priest and parishioners facing the same direction toward the altar. It is the last version of the Latin Mass that was first codified following the Council of Trent in the 16th century and is thus often referred to as the Latin Tridentine Mass.2 Parish priests have been instructed by the Pope to work with parishioners when there is a “stable group” who are interested in Latin Mass to provide opportunities for this liturgy to be celebrated regularly under the guidance of their bishop. According to the Mass Times Trust, operators of the popular website, www.masstimes.org, about one in every 250 parishes regularly offer a Mass in Latin in the 117,000 parishes for which listings are available (in more than 200 countries).

Although the Mass in Latin is now more widely available, results of a survey conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) indicates that interest is not widespread among adult Catholics in the United States. Instead, it appears that the wider availability of the Latin Mass may have come too late to appeal to the majority of Catholics today who have no memory or experience of this older form of the liturgy.
As you may be aware, Pope Benedict XVI recently eased restrictions on the use of the older Latin Tridentine Mass, as celebrated just before the Second Vatican Council in the mid-1960’s.
Do you favor as an alternative to the newer Mass, bringing back the older
Latin Tridentine Mass for those who would prefer this option?
Favor 25%
Oppose 12
No opinion 63

A February 2008 CARA survey included questions replicating a series from a
1985 Gallup poll. The CARA questions are altered slightly to most accurately reflect
changing events.3 Both surveys utilized nationally representative samples of adult selfidentified Catholics who were asked whether they favor or oppose bringing back the older Latin Mass as an alternative to the newer liturgy.

In the CARA poll, 63 percent of respondents said they had “no opinion” about
bringing back the Latin Mass and those who “favor” bringing back the Latin Mass
outnumber those who “oppose” this by more than two to one (25 percent compared to 12 percent).
In the 1985 Gallup poll, only 25 percent of adult Catholics had “no opinion”
about bringing back the Latin Mass. By comparison, when restricting the CARA sample to those who are 41 or older, or those who would have been at least 18 years old in 1985, the “no opinion” response today was given by 57 percent. The percentage of Catholics who “oppose” the return of the Latin Mass dropped from 35 percent in 1985 to only 12 percent in 2008. Thus, opinions about the Latin Mass, either positive or negative, have appeared to weaken as time has passed.

Among the strongest supporters for the return of the Latin Mass in 2008 are
weekly Mass attendees (33 percent favor its return). Yet even among these frequent
Mass attenders, nearly half (47 percent) still say they had “no opinion” and one in five (20 percent) “oppose” the wider availability of the Latin Mass.
As shown in the table below other groups who show more support the return of
the Latin Mass include older Catholics (born before 1961), those who have earned a
graduate degree, and political independents—including those leaning toward the
Republican Party.
As you may be aware, Pope Benedict XVI recently eased restrictions
on the use of the older Latin Tridentine Mass, as celebrated just
before the Second Vatican Council in the mid-1960’s. Do you favor as an
alternative to the newer Mass, bringing back the older Latin Tridentine
Mass for those who would prefer this option?
Favor No opinion Oppose
Frequency of Mass Attendance
Weekly or more often 33% 47% 20%
Less than weekly, but at least monthly 29 58 13
A few times a year or less often 21 71 8

Catholic Generation
Pre-Vatican II (born before 1943) 30 46 24
Vatican II (born 1943-60) 32 55 13
Post-Vatican II (born 1961-81) 21 72 7
Millennial (born 1982 or later) 16 78 6
High school or less 19 68 13
Some college 28 63 9
Bachelor’s degree 28 58 14
Graduate degree 43 45 12
Male 23 66 11
Female 28 60 12
Party Identification
Republican 27 59 14
Leans Republican 33 54 13
Independent/3rd Party/Apolitical 37 60 3
Leans Democrat 10 71 19
Democrat 24 64 12

Three in ten Catholics who do not “oppose” bringing back the Latin Mass say
they would attend such a Latin Mass if it was readily available at convenient times and locations. This is equivalent to about one in ten adult Catholics (11 percent overall) or approximately 5.7 million individuals.

If the Latin Tridentine Mass were made readily
available at convenient times and locations,
and you were able to attend, would you?
Respondents who “Favor” or have “No opinion” about
easing restrictions on the Latin Tridentine Mass
Yes 29%
No 25
No opinion 46

Among those who do not oppose the return of the Latin Mass, interest in
attending a Latin Mass is more likely among frequent Mass attendees. More than four in ten of these respondents, who attend Mass at least once a month, say they would attend a Latin Mass if it was available.

If the Latin Tridentine Mass were made readily
available at convenient times and locations,
and you were able to attend, would you?
Respondents who “Favor” or have “No opinion” about
easing restrictions on the Latin Tridentine Mass
Mass Attendance
Weekly or more Less than weekly but at least once a month A few times a year or less
Yes 45% 42% 18%
No 20 16 30
No opinion 35 42 52

Survey Methods
The results above are from a February 2008 survey including the responses of
1,007 self-identified adult Catholics from Knowledge Networks large national panel of
households, which have been assembled by regular random telephone survey methods (probability sampling). A survey with this number of respondents has a margin of sampling error of ±3.1 percent. As a rule of thumb, every 1 percentage point of the total adult Catholic population is equivalent to approximately 500,000 persons.

Color me, er.... CGI me cautiously optimistic

I think short of Maurice Sendak's drawing actually coming to life, in 3D, this looks like the best way way for them to have gone, the best we could hope for with "Where the Wild Things Are" and I can't wait!
Max Records stars as Max in Warner Bros. Pictures' Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

But some other images I'm seeing? not so evocative....

Well, we'll hope for the best.
Did you ever read Dear Mili? Wonderful, touching Wilhelm Grimm story, gentle lovely illustrations. I love Maurice Sendak's work, love it.

Hard Sayings for the Hard-Core

I have so many questions.
Does this guy sympathize with or decry what the Pope is doing? (I honestly, on re-reading cannot tell; his lone commentator seems to find herself in the same boat. Or should I say, "the same Barque"?)

And what is a "hard-core Catholic"? Someone who actually believes what he claims to believe?

I've always wondered how Protestants, ("hard-core" Protestants? those who essentially define themselves negatively, that is, in opposition to the dogma of the Big Dog of Christianity?) deal with this past Sunday's Gospel. Actually, I wonder how they deal with John at all.

But the absence of a tag to the story, something like Jesus running after folks, wincing and smiling at the same time, No, no, ya got it all wrong, come back, it's a METAPHOR!, surely gives them pause?

Back to the column in The Trumpet, I don't find the author's digest of Benedict's... whoops, I was about to use the metaphor that gets me in trouble, I won't call them "ballsier" .... whoops, I just did, ignore that... I don't find the author's summation of Benedict's more in-your-face actions and words over the past few years inaccurate or unfair.

And for a non-Catholic he really seems to understand the radical position of the Eucharistic Liturgy, that it is the root of everything else, of its fundamental importance to every facet of the Church's mission.
The Pope’s Challenge to the Faithful
Joel Hilliker
August 26, 2009 | From theTrumpet.com
“This saying is hard,” he says as he marches forward with his conservative agenda. “Will you also go away?”
Catholic priests are now encouraged to perform mass ad orientem—facing east, with their back to the people. ..

Pope Benedict xvi is leading the way, his back to the people, challenging them to keep up. Inside the church, he is continuing his decades-long campaign to expel liberals and stack the deck with conservatives. In Europe, he is working to reestablish a Catholic continent. Among non-Catholic Christians, he seeks to draw worshippers under papal authority. In the world, he is leveling a strong attack against secularism and godlessness. And to Islam, he has unmistakably shown a resistance, a toughness, that promises to grow stronger. He has repeatedly spoken out against those who would stand in his way, unafraid to offend, unafraid to turn opponents into enemies.

In March 2006, Ratzinger lashed out against European secularism—and Islam—with his book, Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam. Co-authored with the president of the Italian Senate, it addressed the “advance of Islam” ...

In September, Pope Benedict traveled to his home state of Bavaria for a six-day visit where, among other things, he spoke with German President Horst Kohler about the dangers of Islamic penetration into German society. His most famous speech on that trip was a lecture at the University of Regensburg...

In March 2006, Pope Benedict xvi chose to drop “patriarch of the West” from his lengthy list of official titles and became merely “Bishop of Rome, vicar of Jesus Christ, successor of the prince of the apostles, supreme pontiff of the universal church, primate of Italy, archbishop and metropolitan of the province of Rome, sovereign of Vatican City State and servant of the servants of God, his holiness Benedict xvi.” ...

In July 2007, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith restated the doctrines of Dominus Iesus, a document the pope—then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger—had signed in 2000 to proclaim that non-Catholics were “gravely deficient” and that Protestant churches are “not churches in the proper sense.” ....

Mid-May that year, the pope traveled to Brazil to open an assembly of the Latin American bishops’ conference—not by invitation, but by personal choice. There he challenged the bishops to galvanize a continent-wide crusade against competing non-Catholic religions...

The pope has also resurrected [I would have said "reinvigorated" since, never having been murdered, despite assassination attempts, it was not in need of being resurrected] the Tridentine Mass.... The more inclusive, modern mass the church adopted in its place was scorned by hard-core Catholics, one of whom was a younger Joseph Ratzinger. [I don't think this is a fair characterization of Ratzinger's critiques of the Pauline Missal, at any point in his or its history] In July of 2006, Pope Benedict reversed that restriction, reconnecting the church to its medieval past. [The sentence would have read better and been more accurate without the word "medieval"]

The offense to Jews grew worse when, in February of 2008, the pope revised the “Good Friday Prayer for the Jews” portion of the Tridentine Mass. The new version reads: “Let us also pray for the Jews: That our God and Lord may illuminate their hearts, that they acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all men.” ...

Conservative Roman Catholics see nothing to balk at in praying that Jews would emerge from darkness. They see no problem with labeling non-Catholics gravely deficient. Catholicism, after all, is universalism. The church can never attain its universal potential—more are coming to believe—unless it stops pretending that those outside of it have access to God. [This is simply wrong, but I imagine it reflects the author's own denomination's theology]

While some take offense at the pope’s political incorrectness, an increasing number find it refreshing in a world sick with moral relativism. They appreciate his courage in turning his back to lead the congregation [love this image he has used several times] ...

This was the message of Pope Benedict’s sermon this past Sunday. He spoke of how Jesus’s saying offended many, who responded, “This is a hard saying! Who can listen to it?” The pope then said, “And from that moment on, many of His disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him. Jesus, however, does not lessen His claim. Indeed, He directly addresses the 12 saying, ‘Will you also go away?’”

This is the pope’s challenge to the faithful. “Jesus in fact is not satisfied with a superficial and formal following,” he said. Total devotion—even in opposition to non-believers—is required.

It appears they are accepting the challenge—and that, remarkably, their numbers are swelling. It’s been said that crowds came to see Pope John Paul ii, but they come to hear Benedict xvi. Over his pontificate, Benedict has consistently attracted larger audiences to witness his weekly homilies in St. Peter’s Square than did his predecessor.[There has been some questioning of the way the numbers at papal audiences are interpreted to prove one point or another. I have no opinion, so I don't wish to endorse his.]

As their devotion grows, so does the indignation of the pope’s growing list of opponents. And so too does the inevitability of a violent clash—prophesied in the Bible—between the church and its fiercest enemies, which are becoming more polarized before our eyes.
I do get the impression that he might think the Catholics are running interference for the "true" Church, and I would quibble with his characterization of the Holy Fathers actions as an attempt to "expel" the less orthodox.

And that his looking forward to Armageddon shares a bit too much of the emotion with which a child awaits Christmas.

"For the time being...."

Is that what is called misdirect?
The Vatican is denying rumors promulgated by some news organizations that announced forthcoming changes in the liturgy.

Father Ciro Benedettini, deputy director of the Vatican press office, clarified that "for the time being there are no institutional proposals for a modification of the liturgical books used at present," Vatican Radio reported.

In recent days some media sources incorrectly reported that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments had presented proposals to Benedict XVI for a "reform of the liturgical reform" motivated by the Second Vatican Council.

Now anything, or nothing could happen, without him having uttered an untruth.

Monday, 24 August 2009

One Poor Afflicted Man

I was glad, after three weeks of it, to have played/sung/listened to the refrain to Haugen's Gustate et Videte for what is probably the last time.

I wrote out chanted verses for the cantors of course.
Since Ord 19 & 20 , cycle B, use very different verses than Ord 21 cycle B, there were two different editions, of course.

But it was only this year that I noticed that besides using one fewer verse than the preceding week, the lectionary psalm for the 20th Sunday of the year speaks of "the poor one," rather than "the afflicted man."


Squelching Liturgical Rumors...

Catholic News Agency reports that there is no truth to the rumors that the Vatican was about to move to amend the liturgical books as part of the "Reform of the Reform."
The Press Office of the Holy See today denied reports in the Italian press that Pope Benedict is poised to make changes to enhance the sacredness of the liturgy. The statement added that there are currently no institutional proposals to alter the rites being used to celebrate the Mass.

The Assistant Director of the Press Office, Father Ciro Benedettini, said that "so far there are no institutional proposals for amendment of the books currently in use."

Fr. Benedettini made the statement after the Vatican watcher Andrea Tornielli wrote that the bishops who comprise the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments had voted on March 12 to recommend a series of liturgical reforms to the Pope.

Tornielli wrote that the bishops of the Congregation voted almost unanimously to “restore greater sacredness to the rite, to recover the meaning of Eucharistic adoration, to restore Latin in the celebration and to revamp the introductory parts of the Missal to put an end to abuses, experimentation and inappropriate creativity.”

The bishops also reportedly voted to reaffirm that the norm for receiving Holy Communion is on the tongue and not the hand. However, noted Tornielli, some bishops’ conferences have received an indult from Rome to allow the reception of the Eucharist on the hand.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Who decides? (Not me, I'm submissive.... or is it "subordinate"?)

If you have multiple Masses of a weekend, and multiple priests, and multiple deacons, and multiple lay readers (our parishes has all,) and a Sunday such as this with a "long form" and a "short form" of one of the scripture readings comes 'round, whose call is it?

I just assumed one of the several Shes-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed made the decision in the case of a variable Prophecy or Lesson, (funny aside, the broadcast of the EF Mass for the Immaculate Heart of Mary from EWTN informed us via caption that the "Epistle" was from Ecclesiastes,) and the celebrant made the call for the deacon or himself if it were a Gospel that offered options.

But this weekend, one of the more famous -- notorious? let us just say, contentious Epistle pericopes made its appearance and the male lay readers chose the longer, more controversial version, and the female the shorter, less likely to raise hackles one.

I didn't find the particulars as interesting as the simple fact that there was no consistency, that it wasn't a LitCom decision, nor one from the pastor -- and those are people who like to try to involve themselves in my choice of psalm settings, organ registration, cantor assignments, and the wording of the script for saying "Good morning..., the Offertory Hymn is number..., our psalm response is on page...."

Febreze Home Fragrance Collection?


Because some people prefer to remain in the comfort of their own homes yet enjoy the odor of the Goodwill Thrift Store?

Friday, 21 August 2009

Deciphering Slang and Slinging Catch-phrases

Is "just sayin' " really "a way of defanging — disingenuously, perhaps — a potentially confrontational statement"?

I, who am of course too old and out of touch to know anything about slang or cathcphrases, would have described it as nearly the opposite of that -- a way of signaling ones opprobrium more clearly while at the same time indicating ones lack of faith in the listener's ability to recognize the justice of that disapproval, or to effectively change.

Liturgical Restoration in Rochester

No, not that Rochester, (sorry if I got anyone's hopes up) - this one:
At 34, the Rev. Matt Fasnacht was born a decade after the Roman Catholic Church started moving away from the traditional Latin Mass that was the standard for centuries.

Today, Fasnacht is playing a role in reviving the Tridentine Mass, which recently received a boost from Pope Benedict, who in 2007 eased restrictions on them.
"It has so much mystery," Fasnacht said. "The ritual expresses an idea of, 'Hey, this is really important what's going on right now.'"

Fasnacht, of St. Bridget Parish just south of Rochester, has been hosting Latin Masses at the church for two months. While other priests have celebrated the Masses so far, Fasnacht plans to undergo training next month in which he will learn the Latin Mass's exacting language, gestures and genuflections.

After about five days of training, Fasnacht will become the fourth priest in the rotation to lead Latin at St. Bridget's.

Latin Masses were held for about five years at the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Rochester before their recent move to St. Bridget's.

The move was made partly because St. Bridget's still has an altar in place from the pre-1960s era when Latin Masses, which priests celebrate with their backs to the congregation, were the norm, said Dr. Donald Hagler of Rochester, who has been a driving force behind reviving the Latin Mass in the Rochester area.

At the same time, the smaller crowds that come to the Latin Masses make St. Bridget's a better fit than St. John's, which has a relatively large sanctuary, said Monsignor Gerald Mahon of St. John's....

Fasnacht said he doesn't have a clear preference between Latin Masses and the standard Mass now celebrated by Catholics. But the Latin Mass does have a certain sense of mystery, solemnity and reverence for the Eucharist that can be lost in the modern Mass if it isn't celebrated well, he said.

At the same time, he thinks the Latin Mass resonates with at least a portion of Catholics in the area.

"I think there is a need here, that there's people who would benefit from that ritual," he said.

And that really matters, no?

"The Principles Associated With Christianity Have Fundamental Importance for Europe's Identity and Development"

Who knew there were Lutherans from Poland?
(That secularists are a whiney bunch, that was not a surprise...)
The new president of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, from Poland, has started his term by saying he wants to “deepen dialogue with the continent’s Christian churches.”

Mr Buzek, who defines himself as Lutheran, and was Poland’s Prime Minister from 1997 to 2001, is the first president of the European Parliament from a post-communist eastern European country.

Speaking after his election on 14 July, he said: “The principles associated with the whole tradition, culture and, above all, faith of Christianity have fundamental importance for me, as well as for Europe's future identity and development. A debate with churches and other religions on our continent’s problems is essential. I've no doubt Christian values should be very important at an individual level for each politician and leader, but also collectively since they define and show the key ways a politician can act."

The 69-year-old politician now heads the 736-seat parliament for the 27-nation European Union.

Mr Buzek, who is a member of the Christian Democrat grouping in the Parliament, continued: “Respect for others who think differently is also a special value for Christians. Such is my understanding of the presence of these values in social and political life. I have never manifested my faith in a persistent manner. The best way of showing what we believe in is through our own actions and behaviour in daily life, and by acting publicly in a way which reflects our deep Christian faith.”

Buzek said the “vision of Europe” promoted by the Pope John Paul II still indicated “the end to which we should strive”, and said he was concerned European politics had “somewhat renounced Christian values”.

Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society, said: “It is depressing that such unrepresentative people keep getting elected into key positions in politics. They do not reflect the feelings or thoughts of large numbers of the people they purport to represent and their desire to promote religious influence in public institutions is undesirable for many reasons. Europe is not a ‘Christian continent’ any more, and it is dangerous for someone in Mr Buzek’s position to talk of it in those terms."
Only one offense is now vigorously punished, - an accurate observance of our fathers' traditions. For this cause the pious are driven from their countries, and transported into deserts."
--- St. Basil

"Worship is not for tapping into the creative powers but for bringing before God our sacrifices"

It seems that Evangelicals also know that lex orandi, lex credendi.
Here We Are to Worship:
Six principles that might bring a truce to the age-old tension between tradition and popular culture

The worship wars are alive and well. In part, that's because more than ever, churches strive to make their worship culturally relevant, and when they do, this invariably raises questions about the nature of Christian worship....
The church has used and adapted thousands of cultural symbols for worship that reflect and shape its view of God and of the gospel of salvation. Pulpits, kneeling benches, vestments/robes, fish symbols, pictures of Jesus and the disciples, video screens, incense, movie clips, and so on all affect the church's view of God and the communication of the gospel.
Herewith the six, which I think are arguable:
(1) All liturgical action is culturally conditioned....
(2) The relationship between liturgy and culture is theologically framed by creation and the Incarnation....
(3) Integrating liturgy and culture requires us to be critical of our own cultural context....
(4) The extremes of either complete identification with or rejection of a given culture should be avoided. ...
(5) Worship must reflect common elements of the Christian tradition through the unique expressions of a particular cultural context....
(6) The liturgical actions of the church—including proclamation of the Word, common prayer, baptism, and Eucharist—are among the "universal" or common factors in the Christian tradition.

Two points struck me.
In support of the contention that the liturgical actions of the church must be universal across the Christian tradition, the authors, Brad Harper and Paul Louis Metzger, remind us that the Church is "not only a multicultural community, but also a historical community, one that always finds its identity in the same God revealed in Jesus Christ. ...theological and relational realities unify the church [and] this unity should be reflected in a consistency of symbols."

Inconsistency is the Enemy of Ritual.
In Catholic sacramental theology we recognize that proper form and matter are essential to the efficacy of the Sacrament, but even without that, the psychological power of a Sacrament, or any ritual, derives from its familiar shape.

And this section really struck a chord:
As theologian Donald Bloesch has written,
Worship is not a means to tap into the creative powers within us rather than an occasion to bring before God our sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. Hymns that retell the story of salvation as delineated in the Bible are being supplanted by praise choruses that are designed to transport the soul into a higher dimension of reality.
Worship is not about a search for meaning or experience, but an acknowledgment that meaning and salvation are found in God's incomparable act of redemption in Christ. Methodist pastor Craig Rice agrees: "As long as the church continues to confuse the hunger for God, extant in every human heart, with the same yearnings that drive a market culture and a consumerist society, its worship will remain irrelevant at best and an outright impediment at worst."

The Liturgy is such a gift -- let's not fall into the inappropriate practices that even our less liturgically-minded separated sibs are seeing the error of!

"The church isn’t supposed to be a place of stuffy silence, it’s where people meet and ‘be church’!"

Or so one suffering soul was told when he complained about the din in Church.
Much commiserating on a thread at Fr Z's.

A suggestion from one poster -"I also like to recite the Leonine prayers after Mass. An organized recitation of the prayers after the Mass would also serve to 'usher' the chatterers outside—I’d wager few people are so far gone that they’d continue to stay and chinwag during public prayer in church."

I bet I'd take, a bet I'm afraid he'd lose -- we had an anointing of the sick after Mass in the nave, and Father asked not once, but thrice for quiet from the pockets of people who stayed to visit with friends after the dismissal.

One woman looked at him smiling and then blithely continued, with no diminution in volume.

Of course, if our ministers ordained and otherwise acted as if a respectful and reverent refusal to participate in inappropriate conversation and activity were a quotidian necessity, rather than a special-occasion thing because this particular time he had something churchy to do -- well, he might have had more success.

Of course, not everyone on the thread was sympathetic: "There is ample time to pray in solitude or silence throughout the week, even before the Blessed Sacrament."

For some of us, who are fortunate indeed.

But I know people whose church is shuttered and locked as soon as it can be cleared after Mass on a Sunday, and virtually all the time during the week.

But HERE'S a ray of Son-shine, from one poster:My parish has had this long-term problem, and last Sunday, Father delivered a fire-and-brimstone homily about respect for the Eucharist. He covered the chatter before and after Mass, asking people to take their conversations out to the lobbies. He asked people to refrain from applauding the choir after Mass. He reminded people of their obligations to go to Confession and be in a true state of grace if they wish to receive the Eucharist. And he encouraged people to consider following the Holy Father’s recommendation and receive the Eucharist kneeling.
And it was very quiet after mass, with many people staying to kneel in prayer. I’d never have believed it possible in that parish, but prayer and a good priest can make profound changes.

So, a pastor can make a difference.
But I'm not a pastor, and neither is the poor original letter-writer.

So me, I'd suggest the family sing.
Something loud and prayerful.

Really, as loud as their family can manage, while still remaining prayerful.

The Solemn tone chanted Te Deum, maybe?

When people first started being rude with their shrill cell phone conversations, if they were too close to me on the subway, or in a store, from time to time I would retaliate by warming up or even singing.

I could vocalize up to an e above high c, (an f if I'd already warmed up. Which I hadn't. ;oP)

Taking a Whizz

A Whizz Peach, that is, I believe I have the correct ingredients for it.

My curiosity about "alcopop" led me to the Wiki article on shandy, (I love the stuff,) and the discovery that the denizens of every country in Europe, even the oenophiliac, (and, perhaps, justifiably beverage-snobby,) French have some similar local punch.

Biermischgetränke is just an unbeatably wonderful name for kiddy liquor, no?

Imagine trying to say it when you were even a half a sheet to the wind.
The Whizz Peach, made by the private Wilhelm Rummel Brewery in Darmstadt, is made with 50% Kristallweizen (filtered wheat beer) and 50% peach-flavored lemonade.
I don't actually have peach lemonade, of course, but I do have some diet peach Fresca.

Think of that, diet Biermischgetränke...

Still want to try absinthe.

Active Homosexuals May Openly Minster in ELCA

Reuters reports:The largest American Lutheran denomination cleared the way on Friday to allow gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve in ministry, ending a policy that had opened leadership posts to them only if they remained celibate.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America also encouraged its congregations to find ways to support or recognize members in "accountable lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships."

But it did not give official sanction to gay marriage or approve any rites for such ceremonies.

Still, the stance taken by the 4.6-million-member church is one of the most liberal by any U.S. denomination on matters of sexual orientation, which are among the most divisive political and religious issues in America today.

The church adopted the resolution at its biennial meeting in Minneapolis.

I loves me a good analogy...

'Course, I also loves me a loopy analogy.

Not sure which this is, but a commentator at Damian's blog waxes eloquent and verbose with alcoholic beverage and other mood-altering substance metaphors:
As far as the Church is concerned, I think that there was a period of collective drunkenness, starting with the excesses of good wine with V II itself and continuing with the ocean of vodka of “the spirit of V II”. The top (the Vatican) has sobered down relatively fast and in 1978 sobriety was firmly in charge within the conclave, but there was no courage to eradicate bad habits among the generation of guitar-strumming alcoholics who in the meantime had spread all over Catholicism, starting from the bishops.
What I think is happening is that from above (the Vatican) Chianti Classico is slowly being introduced again, but that it will never establish itself as a habit among those who have spent a life amidst bloody marys and alcopops.
Whilst I think that a bigger effort should be done to kick out some of the worst offenders (the South of England being a point in case), I do understand that there is no great desire at the top to start fights when, as a famous drug addict once said, “time is on our side”.
I think there's some kind of cosmic synchronicity in the simultaneous discussion, (amongst those CMAA sots,) of absinthe, and Tullamore Dew, and Dos Equis, don't you?
Shameful, shameful...
I am suddenly a-thirst.

What's an alcopop, is that like shandy? and where can I get some?

His Excellency, Bishop Alan Hopes, My New Hero

Why? because he can be kindly and gracious, he is able resist adding that one true but unnecessary word or two that changes virtuous admonishment into sinful attempt at shaming and scolding the one admonished.

The British Tablet ran an ugly and dishonest piece about the new(-ish) Archbishop of Westminster's attitude toward, and instructions to, the Extraordinary Form Mass and those who are attached to it.

Well, Damian Thompson reports that one of +Archbishops Nichols' auxiliaries, the aforementioned +Bishop Hope has corrected the Tablet, contradicted it, informing it that, no, his boss,
is not ‘seeking to nip potential schism in the bud’ or suggesting that the place of the Tridentine Rite is ‘necessarily marginal’ …
and that,
‘active participation’ has always been understood to be internal and external. To reduce participation to solely external signs is both a simplification and a misguided attack in the ‘culture wars’ you seek to avoid.”
Now me, I would have been tempted to write that the Tablet had launched "a misguided attack in the ‘culture wars’ YOU SAY THAT you seek to avoid."

But that would risk being seen as an accusation of not inaccuracy but dishonesty.

Wouldn't it just...

And he knows that these misguided, misspeaking people are not his enemies, they are his patients.

"The Mass is Not Worth Your Time"

No, no, it is not true, and no one, no priest, no liturgist, no MC, no Office of Worship actually SAYS this.

Well, not in so many words...

But over and over, this is the message telegraphed, this is not worth your time, so we'll make it more efficient, bow to the backside of the person ahead of you in the communion line, (that's right, reverence someone's glutes, rather than wiat till you can reverence the actual Blessed Sacrament); don't let that time while we are singing the song of the Heavenly Host, (Glory to God in the Highest!) go to waste, we'll get the Gloria out of the way while we do the Sprinkling Rite or the new archbishop's reception line...

No, no, we'll avoid unnecessary ritual, and singing, and moments of silence accompanying the Word of God, and then, oh, I dunno, the re-presentation of the ritual torture and execution of the Son of God for the salvation of all the world, before He condescends to feed you with his very Body and Blood -- so we can spend time on the little roast we're gonna hold for our beloved parish secretary, who is retiring; or the cute presentation the third-grade has been practicing, (with hand motions!); or the three girls from our youth ministry who are gong to tell you, tag-team style, about the swell sacred sleep-over from which they are just returned.

But ye gods and little fishes, don't make people hang around for the long form of the appointed Gospel reading, or one more verse of the entrance hymn which would remind us that there's a third Person in the Trinity!

So that attendance that's, ewww, we hate this word, an obligation? we'll make it worth your while, we do some cool extra stuff so that it's not a total waste of a fifty minutes on a Sunday morning.

Thursday, 20 August 2009


Heavens to betsy, all the whining and carping because one American Bishop has decided to "restore the venerable tradition" of facing the same direction as the people when he offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

At Ignatius Insight's "Scoop" one overwrought commentator suggests that this is an "act of violence on those who've never known another liturgy and are pretty happy about it."

Yes, American Catholics are so "happy about" the Liturgy that 3 out of 4 of them don't attend.

What, the experience is so close to perfection that they feel no need to ever do it again?

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Was able to watch only a few seconds at the beginning of the re-broadcast of the latest episcopal installation in the US.
Noted with pleasure the genuflections on approaching the altar (tabernacle is presumably on central access behind altar of sacrifice.)
Noted with displeasure that wild applause, cheering and whooping broke out toward end of entrance processions.
Nothing so becomes a church as silence and good order. Noise belongs to theatres, and baths, and public processions, and market-places: but where doctrines, and such doctrines, are the subject of teaching, there should be stillness, and quiet, and calm reflection, and a haven of much repose.
- St. John Chrysostom

Could be a new reality show - "America's Got Sin!"

The thing I like about this story is that in mapping the concentration of the Seven Deadlies, they made up goofy, but plausible combinations of statistics, (per capita income + poverty rate for Greed, f'rinstance,) but they reckoned the prevalence of Pride by calling it the aggregate of all the others.

Spot on.

Not "a Party With Jesus"?

'Cause that's what I heard it Mass was.
At Mass...
From the ambo.

When you hear Mass,
do you come in the same frame of mind
as the Blessed Virgin at Calvary?
Because it is the same God,
and the same Sacrifice.

Miles Christi

Via the website of the Knights of Divine Mercy I learn about the Miles Christi who have this to say, on their website, about their understanding of liturgical celebration:

aithful to the Catholic spirit, in Miles Christi we cultivate the most precious elements of liturgical tradition. In the midst of so much mediocrity and banalization of the sacred, we seek to bring forth an incessant reminder of the divine transcendence through nobility and beauty of form. The solemnity of liturgical worship allows a glimpse into the splendor of the supernatural--a ray of Heaven coming to touch the earth.

In our Religious Order, in communion with the living liturgical tradition, we give a privileged place to the use of Latin, a sacred language which, besides "being for the Church an inexhaustible source of human-Christian culture, and a most precious treasure of piety, guards intact the dignity, beauty, and original vigor of prayer and chant." It is the language that "surpasses the boundaries of nations and possesses a marvelous spiritual power" (PAUL VI, Sacrificium laudis, Aug 15, 1966).

A liturgy "devoid of the modulation of Gregorian chant, which is born in the most intimate fibers of the heart and in which faith is enthroned and charity burns, would be like a blown-out candle which henceforth could neither shine nor attract the gaze and thoughts of men" (Ibid). In Miles Christi we cultivate Gregorian chant, this expression of genuine piety that the Church continues to recognize as "proper to the Roman liturgy. Therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services" (Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 116).

I see no link on their website to the newsletter from which the Knights of Divine Mercy quote, so I will just repeat that which I find on the latter's site
"The musical evolution that drifts away from Gregorian Chant leads to a decline in the sense of Church and of God. In a hand-written message, revealed on the occasion of the Centenary of the Motu Proprio of St. Pius X, 'Tra le sollecitudini,' on the renewal of sacred music, John Paul II called on the Church to begin a profound renewal of liturgical chant and of music in the Mass and in other ecclesiastical celebrations.

In his letter, dated November 22, 2003, the feast of St. Cecilia -- patroness of sacred music -- John Paul II pointed out that this centenary gave him 'the opportunity to recall the important role of sacred music, which St. Pius X presented both as a means of lifting up the spirit to God and in the public and solemn prayer of the Church.'

The Holy Father then gave an account of the Church's age-old teaching on the nobility and importance of liturgical chant and pointed out that 'in this perspective, in the light of the Magisterium, of St. Pius X, and my other Predecessors, and taking into account in particular the pronouncements of the Second Vatican Council, I would like to re-propose several fundamental principles regarding the composition and the use of music in liturgical celebrations.

First of all, it is necessary to emphasize that music destined for sacred rites must have sanctity as its reference point. The Holy Pontiff warned, 'Today, moreover, the sacred music genre has been broadened to include repertoires that cannot be part of the celebration without violating the spirit and norms of the Liturgy itself.' He also pointed out that 'consequently, not all forms of music can be considered suitable for litrugical celebrations."

Another principle 'is that of beauty of form. There can be no music composed for the celebration of sacred rites which is not first of all true art.

The sacred context of the liturgical celebration must never become a laboratory for experimentation. Pope John Paul II later said, 'Gregorian chant has a special place,' since it 'also continues today to be the element of unity' in the Liturgy.

The Holy Father recognized the value of popular liturgical music, but regarding it he pointed out that 'I make my own the fundamental law that St. Pius X formulated in these words, 'The more closely a church composition approaches the Gregorian melodic form in its rhythm, inspiration, and savor, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the father it is from that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the church.'

John Paul II continued, 'Recalling the Holy Father (St. Pius X), the special attention which sacred music rightly deserves stems from the fact that, 'being an integral part of the solemn Liturgy, sacred music participates in the general end of the Liturgy, which is the glory of God and the sanctification and edification of the faithful.' Since sacred music interprets and expresses the deep meaning of the sacred test to which it is intimately linked, it must be able to add greater efficacy to the text, in order that through sacred music the faithful may be better disposed for the reception of the fruits of grace belonging to the celebration of th emost holy mysteries.'

In this regard St. Pius X pointed out, using the term 'universality,' the other prerequisite of music destined for worship, 'while every nation is permitted to admit into its ecclesastical compositions those special forms which may be said to constitute its inherent music, still these forms must be subordinate in such a manner to the general character of sacred music, that no one from any other nation would receive an impression other than good on hearing them.'

The fact is that Gregorian chant is, above all, a sacred chant - liturgical, reverential, and enriching. Gregorian chant is not content with putting music, like a veneer, over the liturgical text, nor with putting lyrics into some music. Gregorian chant makes the words sing the music they contain. Studies show that the musical evolution that drifts away from the Gregorian leads to a decline in the sense of the Church and of God.

Gregorian chant is a school that teaches how to serve God and be a true man. It helps us to be human and Christian. It imprints its mark on one's character and sensibility, it fine tunes the soul. It can be sung by one person alone: it places each individual before God. And, at the same time, it has a social role: it is never socialistic. Sensibility and spirituality are not two juxtaposed realities, but intertwined. Gregorian chant is not the work of virtuosos, but of great contemplatives who draw their inspiration from their life of intimacy with God.

Gregorian chant is above all, a prayer. In consoles, edifies, and sanctifies the faithful; and through it, the faithful are better prepared to receive divine grade: it is a 'sacramental.' It favors silence and meditation, creating a disposition that leads to the supernatural world: in it prayer becomes music. The relationship with God is deepened and leads one to listen to his unique vocation. With nothing that is artificial, it excludes all types of mediocrity, fulfilling the desire of St. Pius X, 'that the faithful pray with beauty.'

It is good to bear in mind these documents of St. Pius X and John Paul II. Moreover, we know already the deep concern of Pope Benedict XVI - a lover of good and classical music - to foster true sacred music and Gregorian Chant for the Roman liturgy. 'An authentic updating of sacred music can take place only in the lineage of the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony.' (Benedict XVI, June 24, 2006).

Thus, the French philosopher, Simone Weil said, 'A passionate lover of music can be a perverse man, but I would have great difficulty believing that of a man who thirsts for Gregorian chant."

"Gregorian chant is a school that teaches how to serve God and be a true man"... I love that.
I think the manliness of this music is something that is not often enough noted.

"Sit ventus, occidet domus, quicumque hominum struet, fundabit nisi Dominus"

This site, (H/T to the the Morbers) is a collection of hymns translated from English, into Latin.
Mark Mortimer has taken more than 300 English hymns, including many old favourites and some less well know, and produced Latin versions of them in the same metres. They are therefore singable to the same tunes, at the same time as preserving the rhyme-schemes of the originals.
I admit I don't know the English hymn of which the title is a translation -- it just paraphrases a verse I like to fling, especially when the National Anthem of Sovereign Kingdom of Pelagia is suggested as our opening hymn.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

That's Not What It Means!

Palliative care means that intended to alleviate suffering.


It does not invariably mean, "end of life" care.
This article does the field a great disservice, by tying the obviously benign medical practice, which should be available to all at every stage of their lives, terminal disease or not, to the currently much feared, and not necessarily benign creation of "panels" to determine whether one qualifies for care aimed at cure; and thus sugar-coating what many fear will be an evil fruit of health care reform.

Palliative care's purpose is to improve or maintain quality of life, not merely to "take care of" those whose quality of life doesn't earn them more aggressive medial care.

(This is not to say that easing the pain of the dying, and in the process ascertaining if a more stringent, asertive medical regimen would be welcome or unwelcome, is not the Lord's work.)

Everybody needs somebody...

Even if that somebody is... a scrub brush?

I just bought a natural bristle brush/comb with a really comfortable wooden handle, at a BigLots, or somewhere, and washed it today, (because i wouldn't dream of bringing something like that home from a store and NOT washing it before I used it,) and, I don't know how else to say this -- it smells like the animal from which it presumably came.

Gamey, and kind of earth/dirty.

Oh well... maybe I can donate it to an animal shelter.

Cute though, that story about the 4 little baby hedgehogs, no?

Salt of the Earth

It never occurred to me (D'OH!), until Sunday's Office of Readings excerpt from a homily on Matthew by St. John Chrysostom - we who are called to be "salt of the earth"?

Salt is not only a flavoring, a seasoning -- it is a preservative! it saves.


Do it.

Whiskey Tango Hotel

When the actual facts don't support the narrative you've chosen....
What to do, what to do?
It's not surprising that a man of Gingrich's ambitions would be drawn to the grandeur of worship at the basilica.

Look, I can't think of anything I like about Gingrich.
I don't agree with his politics.
I can't imagine circumstances under which I would vote for him.
I think him, (for no specific reason, just a visceral reaction,) smarmy.
But, HUH?
WTH kind of indication of a man's ambition is it, that he is drawn to a rite, and a celebration of that rite, that makes all men equal; makes him subordinate to a much greater reality, to greater Person, (to three Persons,); is liturgical and therefore limits his autonomy...

Monday, 17 August 2009

Hymn for Year for Priests

The always-worth-a-look blog of Vincent Uher has an original hymn text graciously offered for use in this Year of the Priest.

Hymn for the 'Year For Priests'

In honor of
The Most Reverend Edward James Slattery
Bishop of the Diocese of Tulsa
And in honor of Father Mark Daniel Kirby and
The Adorers of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus, O.S.B.

Friends of Christ, O royal priesthood,
Sing God’s praise for every priest –
Strong and faithful, weak or lonely –
From the greatest to the least.
Brother priests of the Good Shepherd
Called to live the Lamb’s high feast,
Witness to your love of Jesus,
Lord and Master, Great High Priest.

Take the Cross upon your shoulder.
Place your mind within your heart.
Make of Christ your perfect model.
Walk His steps and learn His art.
Beat down Satan with each footstep.
Fight to free each captive soul
Till the world’s deceits and pleasures
Are no longer mankind’s goal.

Learn from Mary Blessed Mother;
Ponder in your hearts God’s grace:
How Christ makes His living presence
Real to feed the human race –
The Atonement raised to heaven
Through the holy hands of priests
For the life of all creation
Christ’s own life, His Heart, His peace.

Forward go the royal banners
Of our Eucharistic King.
The Wise Virgins follow closely
Lamps of seven in offering.
Priests of God guide Christ’s lay faithful
To bring forth their gifts and lights
And to call both friend and stranger
To the Way of Jesus Christ.

Now behold the Cross illumined
By the uncreated light.
See your Lord alive and risen
Calling you to share His life
And around Him all assembled
Martyred priests and Saints of God
Calling all of us together
To the Wedding Feast of God.

Copyright © 2009 Vincent William Uher III
All Rights Reserved.

Suggested Tunes:
Beach Spring
Chartres (Hymnal 1940)
In Babilone (Dutch melody)
Meter: 8 7 8 7 D
From Mr Uher:
Terms for reproduction: (1) the text must be printed in its entirety; (2) No alterations may be made to the text; (3) a copy is mailed to me if it is reproduced in a newsletter or other parish publication.
(Address at that link)

Such Happy Men

I should have included in my post that used the rites at St John Cantius as a jumping off point for my Eeyore-ing, (oh, we caterwauled Sing to the Mountains, I think I'll go eat thistles...) a plea for prayers for these men who made professions, or were vested, as they continue their journey.
Almighty Father, bless and sustain Brothers David, Justin, Michael, Juan, Matthew, Mark, Robert, Nathan, Robin, Kevin, Jonathan, and Scott, and all of their Society.

I met up with a lovely, devout woman from my parish there at Vespers, who, when I saw her back home later in the week, could not stop exclaiming, wide-eyed, "how happy all those young men are!"

And so they seem. And so I believe they are.

Small World - sometimes it depresses me...

Last week I was privileged to attend the vesting of three novices into the Canons Regular of Saint John Cantius in the context of Solemn (first) Vespers for the Feast of the Assumption, and the First Professions of three young men at Mass that evening, as well as the renewal of vows by a larger number. (I hope I have all these terms right, though I probably have not...)

A woman whom I though looked familiar though the same thing of me, and it turned out that she had attended the Chant Intensive with Scott Turkington that preceded this year's Colloquium.
Her son was vested that afternoon.

Small world?
Yes, very small.
Sometimes the recognition of this fact saddens me.
Isn't it possible to view the fact that I, who am hardly knowledgeable, scarcely competent, and barely active, know personally so many people who seem to be the movers and shakers in the movement, as a reflection of how very few of us followers there are?

The ephemerists are making much, in their reporting of the mean old men investigating the heroic old ladies, * of the fact that, yeah, the orders that embrace continuity and tradition and Tradition and orthodoxy may be the only ones quickening, but they are still puny, in comparison to their "discovering new ways of being Church" and "moving beyond Christianity" older sisters, whose orders suffer from organizational osteoporosis.

But in addition to the fact that the adherents of T & t are quickening, are vital, are growing, I am gladdened by a kind of cranky desperation I am reading from the dinosaurs.
"Smoldering resistance" characterizes the conversations"'we all [emphasis supplied] have shared"?
No, sorry...
(And give me leave to disbelieve that Fred Moleck has actually had any conversations in which anyone asked "Why was the pope's back toward us when he celebrated Mass in the Sistine Chapel last January?"
I would have believed it if he had said the questions amongst those of like mind to him went something like, "How can the pope dare to celebrate other than how we have claimed for the past 40 years that everyone must, thereby proving us to have been wrong/prevaricating/out of touch?"

* How odd... the blog post worrying about the risk of whiplash to the elderly , (not to mention broken hips!) seems to have been removed.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Stay Churchy, My Friend!

Colloquium Dos Equis: Running the Gamut

Enormous gratitude to Aris.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Pittsburgh? Where's Pittsburgh?

No, but how do you FEEL?

From Conversion Diary a post about the "Great Nothing" we sometimes get in our (out of our?) prayer.
Or really, the Nothing that we feel.

What is significant is not that the pray-er realized that it's all right not to "feel" God near, but that by allowing her to not feel the feeling she sought, He allowed her to understand Him, Who Am in a much more profound and important way.
Her "fickle emotions change not a single thing about God."
[At Adoration during a retreat] I gazed up at the monstrance on the altar....
If I were ever going to have a religious experience, it would be here.

... I grabbed a couple Kleenex from the box next to me for when my own powerful experience began. As regular readers know, God rarely speaks to me so clearly as when I'm in Adoration ...and it seemed inevitable that going to Adoration in such a beautiful chapel surrounded by such God-loving women at such a Christ-centered retreat would leave me open to the Lord's promptings as never before. I crossed myself, prayed, gazed at the monstrance, and waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

I felt nothing, I heard nothing, so I said another prayer asking God to speak to me. I even did that thing where I make my inner chatterbox shut up for a minute so that I can just listen and see where the Lord seems to be leading my thoughts. Still nothing. My thoughts were only led to the facts that I had a slight headache and the room was cold.

When I looked up at the monstrance, I did not sense the Lord's presence at all. If I am to be totally honest, my gut reaction was, "That really does look like it's just a wafer."

I leaned back in the pew, tucking my Kleenex into my pocket since I obviously wouldn't be needing it...
I waited for the inevitable frustration to bubble up within me... but it never came.

I felt fine. Actually, I felt great. I might not have had the pleasant emotions I wanted, but I had something else...perhaps, to my surprise, something even better.

It occurred to me that the knowledge and experiences God has given me over the past few years, along with the grace of the sacraments, has left me in a place that is best described not in terms of belief versus doubt, but simply in terms of awareness.... I've been brought to a place where I no longer even think of it in terms of whether or not God exists -- "exists" being a weak word with an obvious antonym, implying that nonexistence is possible. To say that something "exists" usually has the unspoken implication of a transitory state, since every material thing in the universe will eventually cease to exist. Duck-billed platypuses exist; spiral galaxies exist; I exist. The English language doesn't have a proper word to describe the state of being of God, who always was and always will be, who is more real than reality, other than to simply say that God is.

I realized that this relatively new understanding of God gave me a certain kind of joy. [emphasis in original] ... it was the calm, steady, quiet joy borne of knowledge of the truth. In place of the feelings I might have hoped for, I felt a great freedom -- an emancipation from emotion.

Who knows why I couldn't hear God's voice or feel his presence the way I often do in Adoration: maybe I was too tired, maybe it was the headache, maybe there was a reason God wasn't speaking to me the same way he usually does. But a smile spread across my face when I realized it didn't matter, and it never would. I don't know why it had never occurred to me until that moment, but there in that pew I could finally appreciate just how liberating it is to know that my fickle emotions change not a single thing about God. So often I had often carried with me, hidden in the back of my mind, a worry about future spiritual dry spells. "What if I don't feel God at work in my life next week? What if I face a problem and it doesn't seem like God is there? What if I go to Adoration and I don't feel anything?" My whole body physically relaxed as I let those worries pour out of me.

As I looked up at what looked like just a wafer in the monstrance, again feeling nothing inside, I felt the quiet peace, the silent joy of being able to rest in the knowledge that its power comes not from how I feel about, but from what -- or, rather who -- it is. I basked in the presence of God in the Blessed Sacrament and all around me, aware of him not because I felt him, but because he was there.
This understanding is a great gift she has been given.
I find that widespread sacramental understanding is deficient, is severely damaged by the fetishization of feelings.
No, I cannot see into anyone else's mind or heart, but time and again in liturgy planning (it all get back to Liturgy, for you, doesn't it? yes, it does,) the reasons advanced for musical choices or requests are "the way it makes me feel."

The power of the Sacraments to make God Present is independent of our perceptions, yet the emphasis in the presentation of the Rites seems to be on the feelings and actions and responsibilities of the recipient or of the community, there is no understanding of ex opere operato.
In Baptism we make people feel welcome, in Communion sing and walk and stand together to signify and to increase our feelings of solidarity with our fellow communicants, in Confirmation we become fully-fledged members, in the Reconciliation Service we support and encourage each other to get past our feelings of brokenness and of guilt.

A Kander and Ebb song about love, the about Real Thing, the quiet thing, is running through my head.
How many of us do look for crashes of thunder in the Presence?
When it all comes true... you'd think you'd hear a choir sing; it's funny but the bells don't ring -- there are no exploding fire works, roaring of the crowds... and yes, we are granted the immeasurable privilege to hold the entire world in our trembling hands.

Be content with that.

Be still.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Put on a Frock and Dance!

I have no idea if Colin Firth, an actor I quite like, actually said this or not, but I really hope he did:
Actors are basically drag queens. People will tell you they act because they want to heal mankind or, you know, explore the nature of the human psyche. Yes, maybe. But basically we just want to put on a frock and dance.

Himself, who has always held to the late Chuckles the Clown's motto, ("a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down the pants",) ought to appreciate that, I think.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Making Theology Portable

Let's face it, even in a liturgical denomination, even in the Catholic Church with Her (much neglected) propers, hymns are not going anywhere, any time soon.
No, make that ever.

Hymns are a part of our liturgy.
Oh, really?
Yes, she says slyly.
And the two most important hymns in the liturgy are, Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus; Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua. Hosanna in excelsis. Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini,
Gloria in excelsis deo,
et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.
Laudamus te. Benedicimus te. Adoramus te.
Glorificamus te. Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam. Domine Deus, Rex caelestis, Deus Pater omnipotens.
Domine fili unigenite, Jesu Christe.
Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius patris. Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis. Qui tollis peccata mundi suscipe deprecationem nostram. Qui sedes ad dexteram patris miserere nobis. Quoniam tu solus sanctus. Tu solus Dominus. Tu solus Altissimus, Jesu Christe.
Cum Sancto Spiritu in gloria Dei Patris. Amen.

But there will always be other hymns, sandwiched in or tagged on; and that's not even counting the Liturgy of the Hours where they are an integral part of the liturgical form.

And that's why the words matter.

Because they are, as this article so succinctly puts it, "portable theology."

“If you know what hymns a congregation is most addicted to, you will be able to infer what, in Christianity, means most to that church.”

When the late hymnist Erik Routley wrote that in 1982, worship wars in the United States had reached fever pitch.

More than a quarter-century later, the clash—especially between advocates of hymns on the one hand and praise and worship choruses on the other—essentially has stalemated. While worshippers still maintain strong stylistic preferences, and often voice them aggressively, church musicians today seem to be focusing less on stylistic disagreements and more on content. ...
Centuries after the first Christians crafted simple hymns to express their faith, music sung and heard in congregations continues to shape Christians’ theological outlook.

Solid content—undergirded by compatible music—is crucial, many church musicians insist.
In evaluating Christian choral music, music directors should ask, “Is the text of a particular (worship song) really worth remembering?” said Deborah Carlton Loftis, executive director of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. “Considering that repeating the words of many songs will plant the text deep in a congregation’s memory, is it worth it?”...“If the words don’t communicate an accurate and true picture of the gospel, then that song is inappropriate.”...
Tim Sharp, [says,] “Hymns were meant to pack theology into a tight, memorable suitcase that Christians could take with them.”...
[Mark Hayes, a composer] warns against music that undercuts the words.

“You really want to avoid an ‘entertainment’ quality, because if it goes too far with jazzy rhythms...then it gets in the way of connecting people with God,” he said. “The music overwhelms the text.

“That’s not to say that there aren’t times when you want to feel (in music) the full force of God’s majesty. But the style, groove, vibe—whatever you want to call it—can’t supersede what the words say. That kind of music doesn’t instruct.”
[Some current day American Christians exhibit] “irrepressible optimism—the sense that to acknowledge the deep darkness of the shadows or the possible starkness of death itself is to be fundamentally unfaithful; the sense that praise is the alpha and omega of worship, and that the only proper praise is happy praise.”

Sharp detects that “quick resolution and gentle emotional approaches are more popular than other kinds of religious experience,” and that theological inclination is reflected in the texts and tunes of many worship songs.
...Worship songs written in a pop music genre lend themselves to texts with easy resolution, he said.... my relationship with God is one that I can’t always find easy answers for. And I would embrace that struggle.”

(Just to be clear, no way I'm ever going sing a paraphrase of one of the songs of King David to the tune of Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer.)