Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Monday, 30 November 2009

Candy and Christmas and Craziness

There are people for whom i wish to get little Xmas gifts and I figure since I'm gonna buy them something anyway, and there' nothing these people need, when making this little gesture why shouldn't i spend the money with people or orgnizations I want to support...

So is it crazy to buy candy from one community of religious women as opposed to another on no basis other than that the website of one talks about Adoration and Benediction while the other talks about Centering Prayer?

Yeah, probably.

Where to draw the line on funeral texts?

Funeral chaos this week, one in the evening, of all things, (necessitating several hours of rearranging schedules for rehearsals for another gig because the rectory gave me a time, assured me it was written in stone when I explained I had a conflict I would have to resolve; and then called back with no qualms whatever to say the stone had been erased, and THAT, Father, is why you pay the bench fee, because your underpaid MD has made a commitment to put the parish's needs first, and you make it deuced difficult for her to supplement her income in any meaningful way when you pull stuff like that... the trouble is, of course, that it is not he, nor is it the parish that I would leave in the lurch were I to put my foot down, it is a family in mourning.)

And that funeral's the least of my concerns; an obviously protestant-except-for-words-on-a-form-filled-out-decades-ago family with music choices that would really be pushing the envelope -- had not the Church chucked the envelope in the recycle bin years ago, pretty much saying anything goes, if it makes you feel good we'll do it.

If we jettison the prescribed texts, if we forgo any thought that the dead might be in need of prayers.... well, heck, maybe peace DOES begin with me, blessedly assured as I am, as I walk, (Glory, hallelujah!) in the garden.

We really have no standards, so I haven't a leg to stand on in objecting to what are perhaps more unusual but not really more inappropriate songs than our customary fare....

Speaking of prescribed texts, last week one of the priest preached on THE INTROIT.
I would have wept tears of joy, had I not wept tears of chagrin, for he obviously wrote the sermon in the expectation that he would be entering to some Advent hymn, so despite the fact that we actually had sung the entrance antiphon, (in English,) he kept referring to the sentiments that would have been expressed had we not sung a hymn....

I would have concerns about our diction, if this were not the same reverend Father who is wont to carry on loud conversations with departing worshipers over the final verse of a hymn or during a choral postlude; and when it is pointed out that perhaps his microphone just might have accidentally been left on, he cavalierly smiles and sweeps any implicit reproach aside, I don't doubt it! and continues his amplified bandinage.

It's all good....

Sunday, 29 November 2009

If only women, or married men were admitted to the priesthood..."

[The clergy shortage is] not related to money but to vocations. “The bigger pressure is the really quite encouraging number of ordinations is not as big as the number of those retiring.

Gee, if only those short-sighted fools in charge would see that if they would just permit....


Oh.... never mind.
The Church of England is facing the loss of as many as one in ten paid clergy in the next five years and internal documents seen by The Times admit that the traditional model of a vicar in every parish is over.

The credit crunch and a pension funding crisis have left dioceses facing massive restructuring programmes. Church statistics show that between 2000 and 2013 stipendiary or paid clergy numbers will have fallen by nearly a quarter.

According to figures on the Church of England website, there will be an 8.3 per cent decrease in paid clergy in the next four years, from 8,400 this year to 7,700 in to 2013. This represents a 22.5 per cent decrease since 2000.

"Latin Mass Appeal "

Apparently it was 40 years ago today that all hell broke loose, and its forces, Hell's that is, have been been singing, designing, and filling spot on liturgy committees ever since (actually, I'm not certain the First Sunday of Advent fell on the same date that year, but let it go...)

I kid. (As one of those singers, designers and spot-fillers, I hasten to assure you, I don't really think we're in the employ of the prince of darkness.)

The New York Time has an op-ed piece about the liturgical revolution of four decades ago!
The to-be-expected, (though not in the pages of the Times,) digs at the late Abp. Bugnini.

Many of Bugnini’s reforms were aimed at appeasing non-Catholics, and changes emulating Protestant services were made, including placing altars to face the people instead of a sacrifice toward the liturgical east. As he put it, “We must strip from our ... Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren, that is, for the Protestants.” (Paradoxically, the Anglicans who will join the Catholic Church as a result of the current pope’s outreach will use a liturgy that often features the priest facing in the same direction as the congregation.)

How was Bugnini able to make such sweeping changes? In part because none of the popes he served were liturgists. Bugnini changed so many things that John’s successor, Paul VI, sometimes did not know the latest directives. The pope once questioned the vestments set out for him by his staff, saying they were the wrong color, only to be told he had eliminated the week-long celebration of Pentecost and could not wear the corresponding red garments for Mass. The pope’s master of ceremonies then witnessed Paul VI break down in tears.

I am curious about this -- I have read this story many times, but never from a primary source, never with attribution.

Is it like the beehive-coiffed woman whose brain was eaten by spiders?

Or the choking doberman?

I don't recognize the name, Kenneth Wolfe.
Should I?

Saturday, 28 November 2009

"Everything I need to know about men..."

This conversation with her six year old son is from the Crescat:
The Crescat: Do you still play with Joey at school?
[back story: Joey was a little boy that lived next door and was The Boy's best friend but his family moved 3 weeks ago.]

The Boy: Not much. We have recess at different times.

The Crescat: Do you miss him?

The Boy: I suppose.

The Crescat: How does Joey like his new house?

The Boy: I don't know.

The Crescat: Has he made any new friends in his new neighborhood?

The Boy: I don't know.

The Crescat: You don't know? You guys still talk right?

The Boy: Yeah! But boys don't talk about junk like that! Geesh!!! [insert huge eye roll]

The Crescat: Really? What do boys talk about then?

The Boy: I don't know mom, good grief! We talk about Storm Troopers and farts and stuff!

"Well known as a good person, he says he has never let his morality interfere with his policy decisions"

Can you imagine a politician making such statement?

Or, "Well, yeah, I hold a code of ethics and behavior, but I would never let my sense of right and wrong affect doing what people want me to do"?

It should be easy, for it happens, for all practical purposes, all the time. (The link is Australian, but it could just as easily be a story about a US pol.)

It is understandable that outsiders might think your Faith is merely a set of rituals and forms, something you take off like fancy-dress clothes to put on your workman's overalls in the real world -- but for for you as a believer to do so is inexcusable.

Yeah, I'm Catholic, but it's not like I believe any of it, or anything...

Friday, 27 November 2009


May I just say that Himself's sister-in-law makes the greatest, most delicious cranberry relish of all time? (Not to mention roasting a pretty mean turkey...)

Thursday, 26 November 2009

"It is not about us, or our ideas..."

I had heard that Canada was worse off liturgically than the US, but this sounds as if it's heading more or less in the right direction. (Perhaps soon they will also be facing in it...)
Liturgy is not meant to be about personal preferences or individual expressions of faith. Instead, says Father Bill Burke, director of the National Liturgy Office of the Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops, it is about the meaning that is intrinsic and exists within it.

"Eucharist is not about our ideas, or about us, in that sense. It is about meaning, the meaning given to it by a young Jew named Jesus and his offering of himself in love to the Father.

"We are not called to create the meaning for ourselves all over again; we are called to enter into it."

Speaking to more than 300 participants at the Table of Hope Conference sponsored by the Diocese of Calgary's Diocesan Liturgy Commission held in Calgary Nov. 21, Burke said the individualism of our culture encourages people to want to insert personal expressions into the liturgy.

He especially sees that in family requests around planning the funeral liturgy.

There is a place for personal expression, but it is not during the funeral liturgy. It is not a celebration of the deceased's life, but an expression of the hope we as Christians have in the resurrection, he said.

"Through liturgy we are incorporated more fully into the life of the Trinity, which is a deep mystery. A Catholic funeral is celebrating the passing over into that mystery in its fullness. We are entrusting the deceased person to that mystery which reaffirms our own trust in the mystery."

While many people today have been cut off from the ritual treasury of the Church, for many reasons, Burke said they still cling to what was known.

"When tragedy strikes we see those spontaneous shrines created at the site. They always include candles, sometimes crosses, and, if a child is involved, teddy bears. People take what they remember, what comforts them in this individualistic society where they feel cut-off and use them again."

Burke said that we do not invent the meaning of the liturgy, we receive it, and it is protected by the rubrics that give both direction as to how the liturgy is to be celebrated and the parameters within which it is acceptable to celebrate.

Bernadette Gasslein, editor of Celebrate!, a Canadian liturgy magazine, and coordinator of liturgical life at St. Charles Parish in Edmonton, agreed.

"Liturgy is being engaged in the act of the love of Jesus to the Father, where he pours out himself to the Father in love, and in response to the Father's love," Gasslein said.

"We need to get a grip on the notion that what we do at liturgy does not begin with us." ...

Liturgy is structured and the structure and the texts have been received from the Church. It is set and has a purpose and meaning that needs to be entered into, not tampered with or changed.

It has a "given-ness" to it and is oriented towards praise of God and intercession for the world. It is ritually structured with gestures, repetition, engagement of the senses through body movement, for example, kneeling, standing and is replete with symbols....

Liturgical prayer has a shape that is significant and is repetitive and familiar. Gasslein likened changing liturgy to changing the rules each time the team comes out to play the game.

She said you would no longer be able to function as a team if that happened. Personal prayer may or may not have shape, though a prayer like the rosary does have shape. Overall, it is more adventuresome and can be new each time.

Liturgical prayer relies on the familiarity with the beauty, the text and the song and symbols as an agent to draw us into the divine, where we enter into the incarnated sphere of Jesus present with us. It is, by its nature, always communal while personal prayer can occur alone

I don't like the overemphasis on the minor matter of shared posture at all moments, but all in all, good stuff.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Another Lapse in Judgement to Answer For on Judgement Day....

(Yes, Mrs. Hetherington, if you are reading this, I know it should be " for which to answer")

As if betrayal of a spouse, dereliction of duty and misappropriation of public funds weren't bad enough, doesn't this rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors?
(I think I'll googlificate [accent on the second syllable] the date and see if other horrors occurred on April 30, 2005.)

(H/T to Uncle Di at Off the Record.)

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

So Sad...

It is not uncommon for those in crisis to resist any intervention from those who are trying to save their lives.
Not uncommon at all, but still very sad.
The vast majority of U.S. women religious are not complying with a Vatican request to answer questions in a document of inquiry that is part of a three-year study of the congregations. Leaders of congregations, instead, are leaving questions unanswered or sending in letters or copies of their communities' constitutions.

"There's been almost universal resistance," said one women religious familiar with the responses compiled by the congregation leaders. "We are saying 'enough!' In my 40 years in religious life I have never seen such unanimity."

The deadline for the questionnaires to be filled out and returned to the Vatican-appointed apostolic visitator, superior general of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mother Mary Clare Millea, was Nov. 20. On that day, according to an informed source, congregation leaders across the nation sent Millea letters and, in many cases, only partial answers to the questionnaire. Many women, instead of filling out the forms, replied by sending in copies of their Vatican -approved orders' religious constitutions.
I wonder, though, if this "vast majority," the "universality" on which they report is any such thing, or merely a majority of those sisters who are known to the often dissenting and equally-in-need-of-intervention NCR community.

Of course, the ones refusing to participate in a process that may be key to any chance of their own survival are probably the communities most desperately in need of aid.

But it is like salvation -- no one forces you to cooperate in the process.

Some people just will not be helped.

I pray to St Joseph, that the death of these fast-fading communities will be happy and painless.

Best Wishes to You and Thine at the Holidays

At The New Liturgical Movement, initiated by the Bow-tied One's post about the new translations and such, 2nd person, or rather 2nd Person, pronouns are the subject.

I have no problem either way, except for the cacophony of final "r"s when the contemporary possessive is sung, but I do think the choice is often a marker for the care and attitude with which the rest of a given text is crafted.

But not always!

For the conversation reminded me of a P & W song I rehearsed on last night, whihc we must sing at an interfaith Thanksgiving service tomorrow night.

Quite aside from the brain-numbing repetitiveness of the words and the insipid, jingley tune -- for reasons unconnected to rhyme, it scampers happily between use of Thee/Thine and You/Yours when addressing God, all in the space of fewer than 2 dozen words.


And this is actual published music, from a major publisher.

Over in the aforementioned combox, one poster said:
'And with your spirit' is better, though, than 'You too.'
How 'bout the Missa Hoosieriana's "right back atcha"?

The Family Feud Approach...

I'm planning pre-Mass Christmas music, and reading about polls as to whether Bishop Tobin or the hapless Rep. Kennedy is "right," and my mind is wandering...

I can understand secular press coverage of the latter matter, but am less certain of the point of their voting (who should be kicked out of the Big Brother House next? seems more appropriate to be answered by that means.)

Ever watch Family Feud?

It is the quintessential modern American game show -- why?

Because the contestant's aim is not to come up with the correct answer to anything, but the most popular answer.

We as a society have fetishized "majority rules," not just in deciding upon courses of action, but in discerning truth.
Whatever most people think must be right, right?

How often in programming music intended to give shape to our corporate worship of the Triune God and to edify and sanctify ourselves, is "people like/want/expect it" given as the reason that trumps all others.

A total stranger struck up a conversation with me once during a theater intermission. He asked if I had seen the biggest show in town, a just-opened, multi-million dollar spectacle.

As it happens, he and I had both been at opening night. "Whadya think of...?" he named the leading man.

"Not much," I began, intending to go into the unsupported high notes of his Amercian Idol-style singing, his wayward intonation in the middle of his range, the self-indulgent histrionics that kept him from connecting with anyone else on stage.

I never got the chance, because he interrupted me, demanding, "Three thousand people gave him a standing ovation, who's right, them or you??!?#?!?"

Such a question presumes there is only possible one answer. ("Survey says....")

I don't make a practice of telling people that they are wrong to like what they like, (though if asked I am ready to give reasons for my dismissal of something.)

And there are some questions that really are just matter of "taste."

I'm trying to remember that as I shudder at the thought of some of the choir favorites -- after all this is extra-liturgical.
So what if I like beets and someone else prefers limas...

(Incidentally, so what if Fr Z or anyone else rallies his troops to sway such polls? they are ultimately meaningless attempts to gauge public passion, no?)

"In Chant, Listening and Singing Become One"

This is essentially an arts review, of "performance" chant that I somehow missed in the New York Times this past Sunday, but in it, Chloe Veltman tells some wonderful truths and interesting speculations about chant -- as a device of contemplation, communion and worship (emphasis supplied throughout):
Chant, the practice of intoning sounds or words rhythmically and repetitively, has been a staple of spiritual systems for millenniums. Owing to the popularity of recordings like the 1993 album “Chant” by the Benedictine monks of Santo Domingo de Silos in Spain, and Enigma’s 1990 crossover hit, “Sadeness (Part I),” ...

But chant exists in many forms — including mantras, hymns, prayers, Shigin (a form of Japanese chanted poetry) and plainsong — and can be found in religions as diverse as Judaism, Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Hinduism.

Perhaps in response to the growing velocity and techno-centricity of daily life, more people have sought out chant. The sounds of “om” and “kyrie” are filling Zen meditation centers, Buddhist retreats, plainsong-infused candlelit church services, and yoga studios around the Bay Area and beyond.

Meanwhile, chant has been on the rise as an artistic pursuit. Vocal ensembles like Anonymous 4, Sequentia and Cappella Romana have garnered critical acclaim for their concerts and recordings. The field is clearly evolving. But is chant as engrossing to hear as it is to sing?

In theory, listening to a chant should be roughly the same as singing it. In practice, however, most of us aren’t relaxed, psychologically present or in tune enough with ourselves to be mindful of this effect, which is, after all, quite subtle. As a result, listening to chant, especially without the aid of a religious framework to guide your engagement, can be frustrating.

This was certainly the case last weekend during the Sabbaticus Rex performance at Old First Presbyterian Church in San Francisco. ...

The group’s anti-melodic, seemingly directionless soundscape drove my guest to the point of distraction. She called the music “primitive” and “annoying.”

... by concentrating on my breath and listening for subtle textural and rhythmic changes, like the quiet roar of a gong or the interjection of a rippling flute motif, I was intermittently able to climb inside the ensemble’s musical meditation....

The next morning, I visited the Seventh Avenue Presbyterian Church across town, where I participated in the Medieval Sarum Chant workshop ...

[It] was surprising in some ways. From an aesthetic standpoint, our attempt to sing “Ave Maris Stella,” an English liturgical chant composed in honor of the Virgin Mary, left much to be desired, even though producing a pitch-perfect performance was not the aim of the day.

We weren’t particularly in tune or in step with one another. And learning the chant by rote (as the monks would have done in medieval times), rather than by reading music, added an entirely new level of complexity.

But as we were singing together, time vanished.
I had no idea what “Solve vincla reis, profer lumen caecis” meant, but the act of chanting these words en masse had the same effect on my mood as eating good, dark chocolate. (By the way, it means “Dissolve these earthly chains, give light to the blind.”)

By relating these contrasting experiences, I don’t wish to imply that chant isn’t worthy of performance. Listening to Anonymous 4 sing “Ave Maris Stella” on its “Four Centuries of Chant” CD (released this year on Harmonia Mundi) or in concert demonstrates just how sublime chant can sound to the listener’s ear when the performers follow the contours of the language, flow through the lines and generally possess what Ms. Hellauer calls a “unity of intent.”

Listening to the great Lebanese vocalist Sister Marie Keyrouz intone Middle Eastern Christian chant or Tina Turner sing a Buddhist chant has a comparable effect.

As the Oakland Nada yoga (yoga of sound) expert Ann Dyer put it in a recent phone interview: “Fundamentally, chanting and listening are not that different in terms of how we respond as organisms. Even when you’re listening to chant, the whole body is responding, experiencing the vibration, and the vocal cords will vibrate in sympathy if relaxed. It’s a very kinesthetic response.”

But inasmuch as any activity in life tends to be more meaningful than experiencing it from the sidelines, chant derives much of its power from active participation.

“There is a difference between listening to someone chant and actually making those same sounds in your own body,” Ana Hernández writes in her 2005 book, “The Sacred Art of Chant.” “There’s a difference in the way the vibrations affect you, depending on whether they come from outside or within you.”....

I have no objection whatever to chant as performance.
I wonder why this is?
I saw a shabby chic-ish design program set in New Orleans once and found myself highly offended by pillows and runners in the "splendid ruins" category, that were constructed from antique liturgical vestments.

HIGHLY offended, to see, tucked into the corner of a divan, a gilt-embroidered IHS for someone to lean an elbow or an arse upon.

Why not a similar reaction to the Lord's or the Blessed Virgin's name being bruited about as part of a commercial, secular event by unbelievers? (Not referring to anyone mentioned in the article, I know nothing of any of them.)

Inconsistent, am I?

Oh well, the hobgoblin of little minds, and all that....

Monday, 23 November 2009

Life is Always a Miracle...

... but this story of a Belgian man "recalled to life"is something beyond the beyond. (h/t to Creative Minority Report.)
Most remarkable is M. Houben's determination to enjoy life and society, and LIVE.
A car crash victim has spoken of the horror he endured for 23 years after he was misdiagnosed as being in a coma when he was conscious the whole time.

Rom Houben, trapped in his paralysed body after a car crash, described his real-life nightmare as he screamed to doctors that he could hear them - but could make no sound.

'I screamed, but there was nothing to hear,' said Mr Houben, now 46, who doctors thought was in a persistent vegatative state....

Doctors used a range of coma tests before reluctantly concluding that his consciousness was 'extinct'.

But three years ago, new hi-tech scans showed his brain was still functioning almost completely normally.

Mr Houben described the moment as 'my second birth'...

Mr Houben said: 'All that time I just literally dreamed of a better life. Frustration is too small a word to describe what I felt.' ...

The disclosure will also renew the right-to-die debate over whether people in comas are truly unconscious.

Ya think?

God Bless Fr Bozek

Things may be coming to a resolution in St Louis.
The priest at a predominantly Polish Roman Catholic church in St. Louis at odds with the archdiocese says he's willing to step down if it will help the parish.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Rev. Marek Bozek told parishioners at St. Stanislaus Kostka on Sunday that he doesn't want his personal circumstances to get in the way of what is best for the parish.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis filed suit last year to regain control of St. Stanislaus. Since 2001, the church board has twice amended its bylaws giving it control over church matters.

Standing in the Need o' Catechetics

A writer on a food and nutrition "news" site, of all things, weighs in on the public confrontation between a bishop and a sinning member of his flock, (publicly sinning, I should say, we are all sinners, but most of us don't call news conferences or give interviews to trumpet it, and hence save ourselves widespread discussion of our moral failures.)

Putting aside the question of, why? (and it's a pretty big one,) she thinks that is the correct forum for the topic, she gets one thing remarkably right.

From her complete ignorance of some pretty basic tenets of the Faith I have to assume she is not a believer, and yet -- she knows that ultimately the Blessed Sacrament of Our Lord's Most Precious Body and Blood belongs in the category of "nourishment."
So, right for the wrong reasons.

Here's the howler:
Holy Communion in the Catholic Church is one of the holy sacraments. Practicing Roman Catholics believe in extreme unction; in other words, that the wine and unleavened bread are transformed into the actual body and blood of Christ - a belief that in itself, is somewhat controversial.
Commentators on the site spew the to-be-expected anti-Catholic venom, but even worse is the scandalous level of ignorance displayed by supposed Catholics in her combox.
It looks like everyone noted the mistake regarding Unction, but I think most Catholics also understand that the Holy Sacrament is SYMBOLIC and that we understand that Jesus also meant for the act to be symboic. Not that we actually think it turns into the body/blood of Christ....literally. C'mon, get your act together or don't write articles in the future. GEEZ!
So much work to be done.
The families who grace our sanctuary during our baptismal marathons are, in many cases, patently "unchurched."
Someone got the idea that the way to make them better informed was to increase the requirements on them, of attendance at classes "taught" by a Church Lady, (note that the term does not indicate the sex of the person to whom it is applied,) of attendance at specific liturgies over a several week period, etc.

This does not seem to breed attachment to the Church and her Rites, or to the parish -- it breeds resentment. (The resentment is, not unnaturally, highest among those who are already faithfully practicing Catholics involved in parish life.)

I gather from recent reading that Mormonism has the highest "retention" rate of any denom in the US.
There is something to be said for compulsary education and mandated service.

I'm just not sure what it is.....

Sunday, 22 November 2009


It is very hard to impress upon your choir that they are singing a prayer, not an opera, when their surroundings seem to be a bullring, not a church; and the sound of the activities of those below, those of a corrida, not a liturgy.

S Cecilia, ora pro nobis!

Blessed are the Lukewarm!

From an advice column, in reply to a worried mother whose four year old has asked for baptism. Without comment, (but with emphasis):
Who can predict the obscure and myriad ways our children will find to try us? I may not have the answers, but I certainly come equipped with some experience on this one. At eight, in an act of direct rebellion against my atheist parents, I began secretly attending Mass. T... with the excuse of an innocent playdate, and for six months I embraced Rome with a fervour not witnessed since Isabella and Ferdinand ruled Spain. When my mother eventually found out she was furious at my "betrayal", but luckily I'd wearied of the sermons, hymns and Hail Marys, and was more than happy to embrace pastures new. A further period of devotion followed in my early teens, when my social life briefly revolved around prayer meetings, where we sang folksy religious songs. In mitigation, "Jesus Christ Superstar" was soaring up the charts at the time, so I wasn't alone in my addiction to God Pop, and it was no coincidence that the object of my teenage fantasies, Louis, was a signed-up guitar-strumming devotee. When I realised he preferred God to me I moved on.

I tell you all this not in order to cause death by dreary anecdote, but to illustrate that children are highly impressionable, and that their lives are made up of many phases, most of which they'll outgrow. They also tend to be motivated by forces not involving intellectual consideration; making them, in many ways, ideal fodder for zealots of all varieties.

Your son is lucky in that neither of his parents qualifies for the Z word
, although your ex-husband's determination to keep him free from religion could be bordering on the obsessive. It seems to me that prior to your kid's mystery conversion, the choice you jointly made regarding your offspring's right to choose was a sensible one. Your eldest professing to "hate" religion is as likely to change as your youngest's desire to embrace it. Your job as parents is to keep them updated with the facts while avoiding indoctrination....

Clearly, someone has been breathing biblical hell and damnation into your youngster's ear, or perhaps more seductive tales of lambs and salvation. My energy would be engaged in finding that propagandist rather than using the issue to score points against your ex-partner.

Theology is one of many ongoing areas of discussion for parents to engage in with their children. For those unconvinced of the merits of joining the flock, it's certainly sensible to allow your offspring to make their own decision. I suggest you continue to discuss all the possibilities with your son; he's clearly got a healthy interest in matters many of us neglect to consider. My five-year-old daughter, whose current favourite word is "amen", told me the other day that she thought "probably the world was made 50% by God and 50% by science".

Okay, one comment.
There is a four year old in Great Britain who needs your prayers.
Actually, a whole, albeit partitioned, family.

Saturday, 21 November 2009


The Holy Spirit.

From time to time we sing movements from choral Masses that we could never use, for one reason or another, in an actual liturgy.

I had a setting of the Sanctus planned as a prelude for the Feast of the Guardian Angels -- you know, Holy Holy Holy, the song of the angels?

And what with one thing and another it didn't work out, soloist not in tip-top form, basses shaky on some of those enharmonics, our 3 big gun sopranos, (needed for the high A, no, not all my sopranos have an a,) out of town...

Next "big" holy day, All Saints, we already had too many much more apt works.

Okay, so tomorrow, as a prelude on Christ the King, we'll sing this Sanctus.
It's a big cheesy thing, but it's mighty tasty cheese.

The Sanctus from a Gounod Mass.
The St. Cecilia Mass.

And the Solemnity of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, King of the Universe? it just happens to fall on Saint Cecilia's day this year, which I had not even noticed until I was typing up my choir programs this afternoon. (The choir is now begging to have it included in the hour of "carols" we sing before Midnight Mass. It's just plain fun to sing.)



I am... disappointed? alarmed? disgusted? worried?.... cannot pin down or put into words the exact affect produced in me by recent current events. (Ineffable, huh?)
Let's just say I'm agin'em.

And not only the events, but the picture being painted of the events by the chattering classes.
For instance, this article is headlined, "Lawmakers Defy Church Pressure on DC Gay Marriage."

But it would have been just as fair to say "Church Defies Lawmakers' Pressure on DC Gay Marriage."

But the first makes the D.C.council out to be the brave little principled underdogs battling a move by the big bad Magisterium--- when in truth, they have all the power, they are the ones changing the ground rules, and they are the ones trying to coerce the Church into supporting something She teaches and has always taught.

Now, the body of the article presents a little more balance. But the opinion pieces I am reading, in supposedly reputable rags to which I will not link are unrepentant Yellow Journalism.

The anti-Catholic spin they are trying to put on it is that the Church is given government/public/state funds to do what She wants, and instead ought to start doing what the government/public/state wants.

Bravo Sierra.

The government/public/state needs certain tasks performed and without the charitable work of the Church THEY WOULD NOT GET DONE.

Now, She, the Church, does this work anyway.

But the government/public/state gives her money to do more of it than She could with Her own funds because it needs the work done; it is in the government/public/state's vital interests to have it done and it needs to to contract people and entities to do it.

And the Catholic Church is among the largest, best equipped, and most efficient, (yeah, that last part baffles me, too, I admit) of the entities to do this kind of work.

And She's still willing to do it.

And the government/public/state will still be looking for people and entities to do it for them.

But the DC council is saying that She is not eligible by their new rules.

So it's still going to try to contract people and entities to do the work.

But the D.C. council is saying that no one who insists on believing what the Church believes is worthy to care for D.C.'s poor, feed D.C.'s hungry, clothe D.C.'s naked, find parents for D.C.'s orphans, cure D.C.'s sick or house D.C.'s homeless.

Why is the DC city council more interested in having the Church sign on to their politically correct view of psychology, sex and society than in caring for its city's poor?


How Should Catholics Market Catholicism?

Jeffry Tucker has an interesting article on the topic.

I have wondered almost since I was a child, before I knew the word "relativism," at the paths taken.

The One, True, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church? Those guys, what do they have to offer? Yes, Truth, yes, salvation.

But relative to the world, even relative to other attempts at Christianity?

Well, there's unbroken succession from him to whom was given the keys of the kingdom, genuine universality, a way of discerning and then codifying what that Truth means for humanity in practical terms that has stood the test of time. The sacraments, but above all,

The Real Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Whole and Entire, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.

And of late has She been proclaiming that?
Or has She taken bad advice from Her marketing experts, er..... I mean, ecumenists.

Would Tiffany's try to market diamonds by serving hotdogs, providing banjo-pickin' for your listenin' pleasure and giving away promotional T-shirts?

Would Don Draper have come up with this slogan?

Hey, you guys, it's just like everything else."

Friday, 20 November 2009

Like a Buzz in the Blood? Great, Evocative Phrase

Sometimes I miss living in New York-land...... not that Chicago-land doesn't have its charms.

I would love to see this exhibit:
At monasteries on Mount Athos in northern Greece, you wake in the night to the sound of Greek Orthodox monks chanting Byzantine prayers. It’s an unforgettable sound, distant and unearthly, but also inside you, like a buzz in the blood.

The painter Domenikos Theotokopoulos, better known as El Greco, almost certainly heard it growing up far to the south on the island of Crete. You can hear it today when you visit “The Origins of El Greco: Icon Painting in Venetian Crete,” a lustrous exhibition at the Onassis Cultural Center in Midtown Manhattan
With its extraordinary ensemble of almost 50 religious images, most of them painted on Crete — seven by El Greco and some of the rest by artists whose names are not known, ...it roughs out the texture of a specific, cosmopolitan, East-meets-West island culture.
Most of the population was Greek Orthodox, but economic power was in the hands of a Roman Catholic minority. Local artists necessarily catered to both, turning out Byzantine-style icons for one, late Gothic devotional paintings for the other and, increasingly, synthesizing the two modes....
By the 15th century, painting in Crete had moved far beyond categories like Byzantine and Gothic. Artists had absorbed Renaissance naturalism and were pushing toward Mannerism, inventing, stealing and collaging motifs as they went.

Wonderful writing by Holland Cotter:
a 1603 oil study for a “Coronation of the Virgin” ... The composition has an iconlike symmetry. The figures, in their expressive abstraction, are as much Byzantine as Mannerist. And the picture scintillates with light, illusionistically painted rather than reflected from gold. Even cherubs tumbling around like kittens can distract from the picture’s nuclear focus: this is an image meant to promote, as music can, time-suspending, space-vivifying contemplation.

Exactly this psycho-sensual dynamic lies at the heart of how icons, as spiritual utensils, function. I wish the exhibition made something of this; had taken, as its third theme, the reality of these objects, not just as historical artifacts illustrating the progress of a culture or a famous career, but also as living and interactive energy sources, designed to embody and radiate charisma.

But that’s a major subject. It needs a full-dress show of its own. Maybe some day we’ll get it.... Miraculously, admission to all of this is free.

In praise of the vocative case...

... and other fine points of the new translations.

The always interesting M. Jackson Osborn commenting over at the Musica Sacra discussion boards:
the studied absence of the vocative leaves something to be desired greatly. It might seem, on the surface, to be but a small thing; but there is a tremendous difference of respect and awe (and concommitant reality) between the somewhat presumptuous 'Lord, you are holy...', and the appropriately reverential 'O Lord, you are holy...'. And, not just of a difference in the sense of proper attitude and worship due, but of cadence and poetic feel; perhaps one could say even 'of heiraticity'. (?)

The restoration of the first person in the Creed is laudable, as is the obligatory bowing at the incarnation.
'Consubstantial...' (a really nice & fine locution) is at least as potent and fulfilling as the Anglican Use's 'being of one substance with...'. They are each impeccable in their expession of the ineffable unity of Substance shared by the Divine Persons, a didactic and philosophical task at which the rather nebulous and gossamer
'one in being' fails.

Bells should be rungen, and Te Deums sungen after Masses Solemn, [LOVED that!] and a new feast should be put on the kalendar: The Bestowal of THE Translation of Novus Ordo.

A Te Deum is in order! Just think of it! People will be Smarted UP for a change, not....... any more.

I wonder if neglecting proper address to the Lord, and the near-extinction of the custom of capitalizing pronouns displanting names and titles of Persons of the Blessed Trinity have notcontributed to a certain degree of confusion as to to whom we speak at Liturgy.

The gotta-make-eye-contact school of psalms singing, absurd even on practical grounds when chanting for a congregation of hundreds; and the acting out of Christ speaking to His disciples at the Last Supper and showing 'round the bread, during the Eucharistic Prayer despite its being addressed to "You, our Almighty Father" -- are they cause? are they affect? are they part of a vicious cycle?

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

"Bibles of Stone"

Or blank "Hello Kitty" journals...

We can worship in a variety of... volumes.
At his regular weekly audience on November 18, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the immense flowering of Christian art in the medieval period, and especially "the most exalted artistic creations of all civilization: the cathedrals."

Speaking to about 8,000 people in the Paul VI auditorium, the Holy Father said that the growth of monasticism helped to touch off a period of great Christian architecture, culminating in the construction of Europe's great Gothic cathedrals in the 12th and 13th centuries. These buildings, he said, "reveal a synthesis of faith and art, harmoniously expressed through the universal and captivating language of beauty."

The sculptures that were done for these cathedrals, the Pope continued, represented a new sort of art insofar as they were intended to provide religious instruction and inspiration. They were "Bibles in stone," he said.

Pope Benedict observed that "the artistic masterpieces created in Europe over previous centuries are incomprehensible is we do not take account of the religious spirit that inspired them." He voiced the hope that Christians in the 21st century might "rediscover this way of beauty as one of the paths-- perhaps the most attractive and captivating-- to encounter and to love God."

(Unaccustomedly, I would disagree with His Holiness that cathedrals are "the most exalted artistic creations." But they're up there...)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Latin Alphabet Only, Please

A note to my 2.4 readers -- I apologize for any inconvenience, but the spam has increased tremendously, so I have decided to delete any post I cannot understand.

No Cyrillic alphabet, no Greek symbols, no hieroglyphics, no runes no ancient Chinese pictographs, none of whatever that font is that looks like tiny dominoes...

Your cooperation will be appreciated.

"Soft Kitty...

"... warm kitty,
Little ball of fur,
Happy kitty, sleepy kitty,
Purr, purr, purr"

I wonder, does that song exist outside of Big Bang Theory?


More than elation, more than success... this feels like relief.
Hopefully, that will be overtaken by feelings of ... anticipation?
166 to 46 is pretty definitive.
194 to 20, even more so.
Another surprise element introduced on the opening day of the bishops’ Nov. 16-19 meeting came during initial informational presentation of several supposedly final segments of the new English translation of the Latin Roman Missal.

As the first of the five final segments was introduced, Bishop Donald W. Trautman of Erie, Pa., rose to ask what had ever happened to the translations of the antiphons – which the bishops had discussed in the first draft form a couple of years ago, he said, but which had never come back to them in final draft form for actual debate and vote.

Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli ... answered that the antiphons did not come back to the bishops for approval because in the meantime the Holy See has taken their translation to itself.

Trautman asked, “How does that square with” the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on Sacred Liturgy ...

Serratelli could only reiterate that the Vatican had assumed authority over the English antiphon translations and taken it out of the hands of the English-speaking bishops’ conferences around the world.

George ruled Trautman’s question out of order in the context of the business at hand, which concerned another set of texts, not the antiphons. When Trautman asked when or how his question might be in order, George assured him that room for his question would be made later in the meeting.

Except... oh, that's been taken care of.
NOT the easiest source of info.....

Bishops stand for 30-second stretch before tackling liturgy items.
Deliberation on liturgy begin by addressing Trautman concern about antiphons.
Trautman asserts that Rome is overstepping rights of the Conference to consider this part of the translation.
Trautman moves to have graybook from ICEL on antiphons before recognitio be issued.
Serratelli answers Trautman's charge. Paprocki is addressing the Code of Canon Law.
Paprocki has taken the meeting into Latin. [???]
Paprocki says Trautman has raised a legitimate point. George says this question should be discussed later. Trautman says no.
George urges that the bishops move on to the work before them. Trautman asks to speak again.
Trautman notes that his motion is still alive. "Not to complicate matters further, but ..." [No, not to complicate things...]
Serratelli is introducing Proper of Saints, noting this is bishops' last chance for input.
Passage of this, as other items, requires 2/3 vote of Latin-member bishops.
Serratelli notes that a decade-long process is nearing an end.
Bishop Sklba stands to note good work of Serratelli and committee, but flaws of translation.
Sklba suggests that welcoming of traditional Anglicans will mean our translation is unfavorably compared to Book of Common Prayer. [ya think?]
Niederauer notes that everyone can find something to dislike here. [:o)] Blaire notes that other English-speaking countries have passed this.
Bishops voting on Proper of Saints.
88% percent of bishops approve (195).
Serratelli presents Roman Missal Supplement.
There are no amendments to this document.
Silva notes that saint whose feast is celebrated in Hawaii is eligible to be on national calendar.
Serratelli and George say this can be considered under US Proper discussion.
Serratelli presents translation of Commons.
In arguing inclusion of Hawaiian saint, Silva notes several saints on calendar who lack the "national cultus" his saint presumably lacks.
Bishop Rosazza notes that English-speaking bishops seem to be held to tighter translation than, say, the French.
Bishop Trautman re-raises point about Rome stepping in on the antiphons. [Tunnel vision?] Serratelli asks that current text be addressed.
Impromptu amendment on mentioning Native Americans accepted on the spot.
US Propers goes up for vote. Bishops approve.
US Adaptation of Roman Missal passed. Serratelli calls this historic moment. George quips, "Not yet." [Touche]
Serratelli: Perfection will come when liturgy on Earth gives way to worship of God in Heaven.
Serratelli speaks on importance of catechesis on translation. Says time of implementation of translation will be determined by recognitio.
George thanks head of ICEL for his work on the translation
George says Trautman issue will still be addressed, as Conference may have right to translate antiphons.
Says USCCB could sue Congregation in Apostolic Signatura, or USCCB could say they approve Congregation's help with translation.
Bishops take evening coffee break.
Trautman makes motion on antiphons.
Wuerl asks if body can simply approve antiphons based on what they've seen in order to get recognitio.
Abp. Myers asks if another vote follows recognitio.
Vigneron asks if Trautman's motion might be remanded to committee. Wants thoughtful review of appropriate people.
Chaput wants opinion of canonist if bishops can vote to delegate to the Congregation on matter of antiphons.
Conlon, Bruskewitz, Mahony, Listecki, Sample, others speak up.
Pilarczyk offers to submit motion that work on antiphons be remanded to Rome
Trautman says bishops shouldn't get into habit of walking away from having their rights overstepped.
Bishops voting on Trautman motion.
Motion fails.
Pilarczyk submits motion that antiphons be remanded to Rome. Bishops voting.
Motion passes overwhelmingly.

Jane Eyre to Fr James Martin

He asks, over at America magazine, What should a gay Catholic do?

She answers, Do as I do: trust in God and yourself. Believe in heaven... I advise you to live sinless, and I wish you to die tranquil.... We were born to strive and endure -- you as well as I.

I would add something: stop thinking that you are your disordered sexuality.

We all have problems, tendencies to sin, handicaps, burdens, diseases, disorders, broken parts of ourselves -- we are not them.

We need not identify ourselves so, nor let them define us, to take over our humanity.

Monday, 16 November 2009

My Father's Anniversary

Compline this evening very lovely; even Himself is starting to recognize and hum along with bits of the Salve Regina, (oh, that Methodist boy...)

It is understandable, in retrospect, that despite being very involved in Church, very active in the parish, throughout childhood, (both as an individual and as part of a large family,) I didn't even notice this going on.

I only vaguely remembered that from the time I became aware of its constituent parts, the Mass seemed to be in a constant state of flux, and I do remember in the months following my father's death, hearing various priest and musician friends of my parents saying that the "new Mass" would have killed him.

Our Dear Sons and Daughters:

We ask you to turn your minds once more to the liturgical innovation of the new rite of the Mass. This new rite will be introduced into our celebration of the holy Sacrifice starting from Sunday next which is the first of Advent, November 30 [in Italy].

A new rite of the Mass: a change in a venerable tradition that has gone on for centuries. This is something that affects our hereditary religious patrimony, which seemed to enjoy the privilege of being untouchable and settled. It seemed to bring the prayer of our forefathers and our saints to our lips and to give us the comfort of feeling faithful to our spiritual past, which we kept alive to pass it on to the generations ahead.

It is at such a moment as this that we get a better understanding of the value of historical tradition and the communion of the saints.
Ya think?


Not the best way to follow what's going on at the General Assembly.

"Bishops are singing at open of the meeting's first session."

Singing what? one wonders.

Veni Sancte Spiritus?
Our God is an Awesome God?
Show Me the Way to Go Home?

Bishops General Assembly

I am peeved to be unable to watch the plenary sessions of the USCCB General Assembly, they were very informative last year, (the minutiae of the discussion of SttL was particularly instructive.)

Where are they on television?
I don't know anyone who has access to them. (Me, I have dial-up and an eleven year old computer, and basic cable, ya know?)

Whatever the USCCB's, or members' thereof, issues with EWTN or their anchors, this seems to have been a bonehead move.

(I must add, I am not claiming to know who are the osteocraniacs here -- bishops? CTN? EWTN? Anyway, a disservice has been done to the Roman Catholic faithful in the US.)
Update -- it may be that EWTN will show the Telecare feed, which doesn't start until the afternoon session, apparently.
Vincent, if you read this and wouldn't mind, can you tell me what it was about the interview with Cardinal George on EWTN that gave an indication that relations between the USCCB and EWTN were not as good as they might be?

Polish National, Catholic Dialogue Focuses on Clergy Transfers

I am confused by >this:
The challenges of clergy transfers between churches stood as a key topic at the annual Polish National Catholic-Roman Catholic dialogue, this year at the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) Center in Scranton, Pennsylvania, September 28-29. Bishop Edward U. Kmiec of Buffalo and Bishop Anthony Mikovsky of the Central diocese of the PNCC co-chaired the meeting.

Members held a lengthy discussion on proposed recommendations about difficulties that arise when a clergyman transfers from one church to the other. A proposed text was refined and a process of consultation with appropriate bodies in the two churches will now be undertaken.

I didn't know there was the possibility of clergy "transfer", since they are not in communion with each other.
Is this really just a consideration of whether we, (those in communion with the Bishop of Rome, the successor of Peter,) consider their orders valid? and in what language we couch any recognition of apostolic succession?

Does this have bearing on the Anglican situation?

Et unum sint...

Can you spell "gouge"?

Can you spell gouge?
I thought you could.
Even as drug makers promise to support Washington’s health care overhaul by shaving $8 billion a year off the nation’s drug costs after the legislation takes effect, the industry has been raising its prices at the fastest rate in years.

In the last year, the industry has raised the wholesale prices of brand-name prescription drugs by about 9 percent, according to industry analysts. That will add more than $10 billion to the nation’s drug bill, which is on track to exceed $300 billion this year. By at least one analysis, it is the highest annual rate of inflation for drug prices since 1992.

The drug trend is distinctly at odds with the direction of the Consumer Price Index, which has fallen by 1.3 percent in the last year.


Himself has had a sudden, localized instance of eczema which is, at worst, annoying.

Now, eczema on virtually my entire body, so severe that sometimes a splash of water makes me scream, (imagine alcohol on paper cuts -- and your entire body is covered with paper cuts,) is something I have dealt with on a continuous basis for my entire life.
(To give you an idea, last Christmas I played Mass wearing sweatsocks on my hands, with strategically cut holes -- and I still got a certain amount of blood on the keys.)
Anyway, on one of his regular trips to a dermatologist, (justified caution, melanoma,) he mentioned this new problem and was given a prescription.

Maybe this is something you ought to look into, Scelata, if it works.

Sure, Himself, let me know how it goes.

His insurance is better than mine, I am not about to drop in on a specialist for a chronic condition to hear the Same O' Stuff I've been hearing since I was five, (hydrate, moisturize, too-much-cortisone-bad,try this soap, avoid known allergens,) but yeah, if there's been a real advancement...

And Himself can try it out under a prescription plan that covers waaaay more than mine, so he can tell me if its worth it.

He walked out of the pharmacy white-faced.

$160.oo for a tiny spray can, enough to last three weeks, (since its only his hands, it would last me about a week.)

One hundred and sixty dollars.

WITH insurance.

So he's using it, but I'm not even going to ask if it works, it's irrelevant.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Cultural Diversity in the Church, and Language Skills

One of your better known Catholic "composers" feels pretty strong that we ought to move beyond singing an occasional "token" song in a different language.

He accuses himself of ignoring liturgical music published under such headings such as “Hispanic,” “Latino,” “African American,” or “Vietnamese,” partly because he is "not adept in any of these languages."

I believe there are parishes that actually invite this guy to give workshops...

We all know that Dan Quayle didn't really say that he couldn't understand the people of Latin America because he didnt study Latin, so I'm going to assume this was just an editing error, and this liturgist/musician doesn't really think that some language other than English, (the one in which he wrote his essay, so I'm pretty sure he's somewhat "adept at it,) that African Americans speak.

Interestingly, though, the reader is left with the impression that he sees no reason at all that congregations should not sing and pray and hear scripture in a language the majority of them don't understand.

Sound like he and the SSPX are on the same page there....

But what in the name Monty Python does "embrace a new chapter of infusion and interconnectedness in our worship" mean?

That's one language I HATE:


What is this place?

Is it a place made by God, a mystery beyond measuring and beyond reproach?


Or is it only a house, the earth its floor? walls and a roof sheltering people, windows for light, an open door?

Does it become a holy place, a sign of grace, a sacrament, a mystery only "when we are gathered here, and know" .... something?

Is it only when we are there to "know God is near" that it acquires some stature beyond that of any other conglomeration of bricks and beams?

The latter take on it is the one that, judging by their behavior within it's confines, most erstwhile Catholics whom I encounter actually espouse.

But the former is the only one possible for anyone who believes in Christ's Eucharistic Presence within the tabernacle.

What is this place where we meet?
And will our demeanor and attitude when we are here give evidence to the unbeliever that we actually believe what we claim to believe?

Heading Back to Conservatory...

... to get me one o' these (not):
McNally Smith College of Music is proud to announce a new three semester Diploma program dedicated to hip-hop studies.

Our new Diploma program in Hip-Hop Studies is for prospective students who want to explore and develop in a cross-departmental curriculum that covers music, recording technology, language, music history, and music business. [What? no marksmanship?]

You’ll get hands-on technical training on recording and mixing music in a studio. You’ll take part in a three-course history sequence that grounds hip-hop in its cultural origins. You’ll learn the fundamentals of language through creative writing and performance. You will take part in a hands on introduction to deejay techniques and hip-hop music production

I am reminded suddenly, that a friend from college, basically a budding opera coach, applied for some major music grant "to study with the great page turners of Europe."
And also that, speaking as a Catholic, I feel that Minnesota already had a lot to answer for in music...

Thursday, 12 November 2009

The "U" Word

As Mother Church prepares to welcome (at least a few) poping Anglicans, the parallels with Byzantine Rite Catholicism, and the situation our Eastern Brethren once faced has been noted by more than once commentator.

At one time I lurked for a bit on a newsgroup or board about equally divided between Roman and Byzanine Catholic. (Well, actually the latter made up only about a third of the denizens, but a single Ruthenian seemed responsible for half of the posts all on his lonesome....)

I read more than one flame war begun by arguments over the word "uniate."

Some used the word without affect, of themselves, while others, of both rites, acted as if "uniate" was the ecclesialogical equivalent of... nope, I can't bring myself to type it, or rather, can't steal myself for the reactions using the word "n*****" might earn me.

But let me just say that some were rabid.

Anyway, "uniate" has been used in some of the discussion I've read, certainly in blogs, and even in the MSM, IIRC.
It appeared on description cards for works in an exhibit at one of the top five museums in the nation, that I attended.

So am I correct that the war of that word has been fought and an armistice achieved?

That the word "uniate" is right and proper? (It seems such an excellent and precise descriptor.)

Kind of like the quondam insult "methodist" proudly taken up by those who were the word's intended target?

Or did it go the other way, like "whore," where the corruption of a euphemism acquired the power of the word it use sought to avoid?

Or is it only objectionable applied to members of the Eastern Churches, and just hunky-dory for former Anglicans?

Or is it like "scotch" permissible when applied to a thing but not a person?

In any case, ut unum sint.

Hmmm, now that I think of it, is "poping" a rude word? even when used by such an unabashed papist, not to say papolater, as myself?

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


I hope the fellow got an "A."From a blog combox:
I used the theme of ‘save the liturgy, save the world’ for one of my major essays in my theology course this semester! (It was for a Christian spirituality course – I wrote the paper on St John Vianney and the Mass.)
Comment by BLC — 10 November 2009

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Interesting point

A friend of Fr Ray Blake's pointed out to him:
The poor widow gave away her last two mites to the Temple treasury, not to the poor; to support the worship of God not to alleviate someone else's need.

"Reclaiming the Treasure"

NCR has a very good piece on the Stonehill Symposium of late last year, and what part it may have played in the timing and focus of the Vatican interventions in American communities of religious sisters.

What is NOT so good?... the level of animus displayed in the combox.

Hatred of the Vatican. Hatred of feminists. Hatred of men. Hatred of obedience. Hatred of the Second Vatican Council.

(Incidentally can we declare a moratorium on the word "flip-flop" which seems to have devolved to mean, "stopped agreeing with me"? in the combox an obedient sister is accused of "flip-flopping" on the question of the ordination of women. Aren't people supposed to grow? aren't their opinions and judgment supposed to evolve? did anyone of her supporters note that the.... um, well-known Sister Laurie Brink seemed to have "flip-flopped" on the Church, and "even [on] Jesus"?)

Anyway, courtesy of Whispers in the Loggia, here is Sr Sara Butler's address from the symposium, (what was Rocco trying to say by calling Cardinal Rode the "Religious CZAR," do you think?
(This is just some snippets, read the entire address at Whispers.)
Religious life belongs unquestionably to the life and holiness of the Church, although it is a “charismatic” rather than a “structural” element; one could even say it is an essential expression of that holiness.

It is a gift by which God the Father through the Holy Spirit animates and refreshes the Church with an outpouring of grace that calls forth communities distinguished by their courageous faith, steadfast hope, and passionate love for Jesus Christ and the world he came to save.

Consecrated religious have a place in the heart of the Church because, by leaving all to follow Christ, they announce with their whole lives that God has made us for himself and our hearts are restless until they rest in him.

We who accept the vocation to religious life make profession of the poverty, chastity, and obedience of Jesus Christ “freely, willingly, and purely for the love of God.” In fact, our freedom must be assured; our vows are invalid if we have been subject to any alien pressure. We ask to be admitted to public vows in response to a deep personal experience of being loved and chosen, and in the light of a strong attraction to the charism of a particular institute. This impulse to “sell everything” to buy the field in which we have found the “treasure” (Matthew 13:44) is from the Holy Spirit. If our request is accepted, we commit ourselves to observe the evangelical counsels, to live in community, and to carry out a particular mission in the name of the Church—according to the charism and constitution of our institute. Because our witness arises from a free personal gift of self, lived according to a way of holiness approved by the Church, it possesses moral authority—the kind of authority, in fact, that is indispensable for transmitting the faith and accomplishing the Church’s mission.

We are here to reflect on our vocation. Most of us are aware that all is not well, that something has been lost and must be reclaimed.

What is this “treasure” that needs to be reclaimed?

The problem is not only that so few are joining our ranks. It is that the current polarization and division in the Church at large is found among us as well. It exists in the uneasy and even fractured relationships among our apostolic institutes, within many of our institutes, and—for many—in the relationships of religious with the diocesan clergy, the bishops, and the Holy See.

The reality of this polarization is more than regrettable; it is a cause of scandal, a counter-sign.

Our way of life was born from the ardent desire to reproduce the apostolic ideal in which “the company of those who believed was of one heart and one soul,…had everything in common, [and] devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers” (Acts 4:35; 2:42)......

Spiritual Renewal according to the Founding Charism
There was one more challenge the Council put to apostolic religious, namely, the challenge to spiritual renewal according to the Gospel, the legacy or charism of the founder(s), and the authentic traditions of each institute. We may have taken this up years ago, but perhaps the only way to reclaim the treasure now is to return to that task with fresh vigor and determination. If we want to regain the moral authority once enjoyed by apostolic religious, if we long for that “full participation” in the Church’s life which is identical with holiness, the perfection of charity, let us “start afresh from Christ” and from the charism of our founders, free of “politically correct” considerations. Why did our founders request canonical status? What is the ideal that attracted us to this institute? How faithfully are we expressing it? What is it our institute continues to offer the Church today?

Let us study, along with our founding stories and documents, the many exhortations addressed to apostolic religious by the Holy See—from Perfectae caritatis to the most recent instruction on Authority and Obedience. Let us really study them, and use them for individual and communal self-examination. Are we still willing? Do we still desire to profess the poverty, chastity, and obedience of Jesus Christ “freely, willingly, and purely for the love of God”? Shall we help each other to do this?
The “treasure” many of us would like to reclaim, perhaps, is the possibility of living the religious life fully, in peace, according to the charism of our communities, in communion with the hierarchy and collaboration with the laity, that is, according to the ecclesiology of communion, “one in heart and soul” with the Church. Beyond that, the “treasure” might be the confidence that our consecration makes a difference; that we belong to Christ and to his Church in and through the mediation of our religious institute, and that our charism and mission are valued by others in the Church—laity and hierarchy—as a gift of the Holy Spirit. We would like to get beyond the stress of being suspicious and being under suspicion, and enter into a realm where we are recognized as a resource, where we are needed and wanted, where we can make a corporate impact through ministerial service that is coordinated with or supplements diocesan plans.

Those of us who choose to remain, and who embrace the obligation to live the religious life as the Holy See defines it, long for the rebirth of relationships in which our place in the Church is clear and unambiguous, and in which we can ask of one another the witness of holiness according to the nature, purpose, and spirit of our institutes. We desire to develop apostolic initiatives that will allow us to live and work together so that our efforts will build up the Church, give striking witness to her mission, and attract vocations so that our charism will continue to be a gift to the Church. Let us keep our eyes on the “treasure.” Let us renew our willingness to “sell everything” to possess it.

Seeking Advice on "Monastery Gifts"

In giving little gifts at Christmas time I would like to spend my money where it will benefit causes and concerns in which I believe. (I mean, I like Target and all, but I'd rather, say, The Rosary Shrine get what little lucre I have to spend.)
New! Theme Scented Gift Collections

Generally, the recipients are of an age when consumables are best, (either because they are middle aged and have everything they need, or young and living in tight quarters.)

I have given people the Parish Book of Chant and the Adoremus Hymnal in the past, and St John Cantius CDs were found under many a Christmas tree over the past two years.

But this year I'd like to stick with edibles, or other consumables.

So, Mystic Monk Coffee, I know about, and practically having grown up in then nuns' back yard, everyone in my family already is familiar with the treasures of the Dominicans of Summit gift shop.

But not everyone drinks coffee, and you can't give someone soap every year or they'll start to think there's an ulterior motive.

And, this is going to sound odd, but if I am contributing in any way to a religious community, I want to know that they are not, well... whackjobs.

Anyone know about Genesee Abbey? The cakes look wonderful, but does anyone know anything about the monks? Are there practices orthodox and their cakes delish?
. Fruit cake assortment

How about candy?
Anyone care to recommend some good, solid bunch of nuns who make chocolates?

Monday, 9 November 2009

Cartoonist Needed

The investigation of US Catholic religious sisters has inspried me with a wish to draw.

But I can't draw... well, I can draw, pretty well actually, but I can't cartoon, and I think someone needs to do a cartoon, of religious sisters... of a certain age? clad as might be expected, perhaps caught in a moment immediately post-terpsichorean? confronted by a circle of sad, serious, habitted sisters and other Catholic officials with looks of kindly consternation on their faces, speaking the language of the intervention: We love you, and don't want to lose you, you have to get help.

Because that is the real context of these investigations -- family and friends seeing communities with an addiction to secular values, vocations anorexia, spiritual unhealthiness, and wanting, NEEDING to help before its too late.

How very dependant on your point of view your.... well, your point of view is

Today the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus was released by the Vatican.

When the special structure for Anglicans who wished to enjoy full communion with the Church was announced in mid-October, it was made clear that an apostolic constitution, which would, (juridically, I believe,) detail the new structure was undergoing revisions but would be published within the next fews weeks.

So today the document appeared, and why does the religion writer for the Paper of Record think it was published?
The announcement seemed aimed at dampening recent debate about whether in creating a new Anglican rite within the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican had brought in a kind of Trojan horse — married former Anglican clergy — a practice that might someday normalize the acceptance of married Catholic priests.
To WHOM would it seem so?
Only someone so self-centered as to be unable to imagine that the Catholic Church's "aims" could possibly differ from his own.

Yeah, the Pope must have decided to do what he had already announced he would do several weeks ago because of the way I and my colleagues have gotten our knickers in a twist over it all since then, by focusing on what is among the least important aspects of the whole magilla, and, readily available facts to the contrary, insisting we knew the real reason the decision had been made in the first place.
Yeah, that's it.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Go, or don't go if you don't wanna, the Mass is ended, but feel free to stay and make some noise

Today was not a good day for me to read this, a plea, or at least a suggestion that Catholics not hightail it out of church before the postlude.


I can only dream of having the congregation leave.

The rudeness, the noise level is not to be believed.
And I don't mean to me, (although I feel bad for the choir,) I couldn't care less whether people listen to me play.
I refer to the disrespectful and irreverent demeanor in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament, in God's holy tmeple.
The Bow-tied One offers that "it would only take one or two announcements in the homily to make the difference."

Ah, well, first it would take the homilist thinking that respectful silence was a good thing, or at least a better thing than never risking alienating parishioners by admonishing them, however gently.

And he himself would have to be a practitioner.

Once this weekend I was aware of extremely loud laughing and talking, (and by "aware", I mean I could hear and understand every word of the joke being told,) while I finished up, (half a verse of the final hymn and 35 seconds of organ voluntary.)

I went down stairs and whispered to the priest in the vestibule that I though his mic' was still on.
"Yes, probably," he waved me off nonchalantly and continued his conversation.

And that was the quiet Mass, not the one that had me contemplating how suitable the Missa Sousa would be for this bunch.

Letter to the Editor

Part of a letter, from a formerly Anglican priest, that ran in the N Y Times last week:
[The Time] describes Anglicans attracted to Rome as being against women’s and homosexual ordinations.

But this does not describe the real motivation for why priests like me reconcile with the Roman Catholic Church.

The main issue is the fact that the Anglican Church has no consistent doctrinal authority and often acts independently from the historical positions of the universal church.

In light of this, the ordination of women and practicing homosexuals is merely symptomatic of much more fundamental problems
It is so easy to caricature positions with which one disagrees by pretending that the straw that broke the camel's back was the entire load, and sound bite journalism will always go for the glib half-truth.
Nice to have someone who actually made the jump testify to the reasons driving the decision, (even if they aren't the sexy ones the paper wanted to use as the peg on which to hang their story.)

Small Victories

Catholics actually banded together to help acheive something that is actually consistent with Catholicism.
Pelosi, the first woman speaker and an ardent defender of abortion rights, had no choice but to do the unthinkable. To save the health care bill she had to give in to abortion opponents in her party and allow them to propose tight restrictions barring any insurance plan that is purchased with government subsidies from covering abortions.

The restrictions were necessary to win support for the overall bill from abortion opponents who threatened to scuttle the health care overhaul.

The results of that fight, waged heavily over two days, were evident as one liberal Democrat after another denounced the health care plan because of abortion restrictions, even though they were likely to hold their noses in the end and vote for the bill itself....

The fight over abortion foreshadows difficult soul searching in the months ahead as Democratic lawmakers confront deepening divisions among their caucus on issues like abortion rights and gun control.

Through the 1980s, the Democrats struggled over abortion. But by the 1990s, the share of Americans supportive of abortion rights had grown. Democrats lost their majorities for 12 years, leaving the most liberal and pro-abortion rights members in office. As a result it seemed to fade as a public issue. Now, however, Democrats once again have a large and diverse House majority, with more members from conservative-leaning districts where anti-abortion rights groups are active....

The sensitivity around the abortion fight — and the likelihood that it would not disappear from the health care debate — was evident from the start of floor proceedings on the health care bill on Saturday.

And it was part of the drama outside the Capitol as well. Roughly 300 protesters who rallied against the health care bill included a number of anti-abortion demonstrators with large placards showing grisly photos identified as aborted fetuses. Inside the building, House Democratic leaders had hoped to spend the day rallying their members around a historic vote. ...

Instead, Ms. Pelosi found her caucus caught up in the fierce dispute over abortion.

First, Ms. Pelosi met with leaders of the Pro-Choice Caucus, then she huddled with staff members from the bishops conferences, and with Mr. Stupak and two other leading Roman Catholic lawmakers, Representative Mike Doyle, Democrat of Pennsylvania, and Representative Brad Ellsworth, Democrat of Indiana.

The representatives of the nation’s bishops made clear they would fight the bill if there were not restrictions on abortion. In an extraordinary effort over the last 10 days, the bishops conference told priests across the country to talk about the legislation in church, mobilizing parishioners to contact Congress and to pray for the success of anti-abortion amendments.

The bishops sent out information to be “announced at all Masses” and included in parish bulletins, and urged priests and parishioners to tell House members: “Please support the Stupak Amendment that addresses essential pro-life concerns.” They added: “If these serious concerns are not addressed, the final bill should be opposed.”

In the end the abortion opponents had the votes, and Ms. Pelosi yielded, allowing Mr. Stupak to offer his amendment.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

All God's Children Got "Special Anxieties"

The California bishops passed a resolution affirming... er, thanking... well, maybe supporting...
What does "supporting" mean -- agreeing with? siding with? providing coffee and blankets?
It could mean so many things, it may end up meaning nothing.
The California bishops voted last week to pass a statement of support on behalf of U.S. women religious who are facing a Vatican investigation....

In the letter addressed “Dear Sisters” the cardinal writes:

“We are all aware of the special anxieties which surround our women religious these days,” wrote Mahony, “and I am writing to offer you my prayers of gratitude and my support for all of your members. The bishops of California met last week and passed a statement of support for all of you, and I am pleased to send a copy of that statement to you.”

He praises “the historical presence” of women religious in California beginning back in the 1800s. “I can honestly state that there would not exist our Catholic schools, hospitals, and social service outreach apostolates without you.”

The cardinal goes on to write that women religious in Los Angeles “opened the first hospital, established the first schools, and provided the first social services to those most in need.” He added that our “church’s history of outreach after the example of Jesus Christ and the Gospels would not exist today without your initiatives and creativity.”

Um, yes.

And that relates to what members of those orders as they exist today are doing, exactly how?

I was pretty sure we don't hold people responsible for what their predecessors did, for good or ill.

...then they came for the crucifixes?

I can not, of course, fully understand comprehend the manner in, and the the degree to which Christianity is part of the national psyche of Italy, but the outrage over a European court ruling against crucifixes in Italian schoolrooms seems genuine, principled and possibly useful, if it stirs Europeans Christians to deeper consideration of, and a resolve to strengthen their identity as, a society, a civilization whose roots are Christian.

I feel something of the sort in the American experience of Catholicism. Our nation's birth being so different, its experience of religions has been different, but I don't think it can be argued that while various branches of Christianity had more to do with our founding than secularists would like to admit, the Catholic Church has always been Other.

And the less Other it becomes, the less Catholic it becomes.

Sometimes Catholics have done it to themselves, so eager to kiss the the hindquarters of various goddesses: Prosperity, Political Power, Fame, Popularity...no, no, I'm just like one of you, I don't take orders from a foreign power, I don't let my club membership in the Catholic Club affect my judgement or opinions, I don't need time off on a Thursday to go to Mass, I don't need to forfeit the game on Sunday morning, I don't snap mackerel....

And sometimes it's done to us -- no, you can't say that at graduation, run an adoption agency that way, have a permit for that gathering, expect us to change the date for you, refuse to sell that, ....

I wonder at the locus of the tipping point, exactly when do we notice and protest? (Niemöller would know how to word the answer memorably.)

We so casually allow "superfluities" to be whittled away, picked away, bargained away.

Bit by tiny bit we acquiesce to the removal of what we might once have unquestioningly held to be an essential part of ourselves, but now seems mere ornamentation...

What a surprise, to sit in the chair at the salon, expecting a little trim to update our look, and in place of the hairdresser with his little scissors see the headsman approaching with his axe.

There's a Valid Reason for Attacks Against the OHC & A Church

Archbishop Dolan of New York blogs on the anything-but-even-handed manner in which the New York Times "reports" and opines on Catholicism.
He correctly names the "selective" outrage, and correctly declares that Orthodox Judaism, Islam, historically Black protestant denoms, etc. would never be subjected to such lop-sided scrutiny, and even, at times, such sheer, malicious, meretricious ugliness as the Catholic Church has been.
But there is a reason, Your Excellency.

Good people in search of the truth, and evil people in the employ, (whether they know he's their employer or not,) of the Enemy -- they all have good reason to focus on the Catholic Church.

Catholicism matters.

And it matters in a way that no other belief system does, or can.