Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Friday, 1 October 2010

St Hildegard

My sisters tell me that this movie is about to be released in this country.


The chances that it will play anywhere that I can get to are slim to none, but I am fascinated by St Hildegarde. (I highly recommend for your consideration anything Pope Benedict says about her and anything Emma Kirkby sings by her.)

Love her.

Not to mention her cookies. (My sister the pastry-baking whiz makes these at Christmas, but surely she could be persuaded to get out her measuring spoons a little early this year?)

The movie looks like... a film.

But com'on, would you just LURVE to see Hyacinth play the role?


Thursday, 30 September 2010

Saddened, But Not Surprised

I was willing to accept what many said, that that hand wringing by the more Catholic Than Thou sect over much bruited about poll results, (were they Gallup?,) that were purported to prove that most Catholics don't believe in the Real presence was uncalled for, that the questions were so phrased that it was possible to have a very good, (if not very profound,) understanding of Eucharistic theology and have answered the survey question "wrong, that it was badly confusingly phrased.

Well, the Church in America can now breath a sigh of relief, it is NOT a majority of us who don't believe in the Real Presence.

It is only about 45%.
Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups on a new survey of religious knowledge, outperforming evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions.

On average, Americans correctly answer 16 of the 32 religious knowledge questions on the survey by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life. Atheists and agnostics average 20.9 correct answers. Jews and Mormons do about as well, averaging 20.5 and 20.3 correct answers, respectively.

Protestants as a whole average 16 correct answers; Catholics as a whole, 14.7. Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons perform better than other groups on the survey even after controlling for differing levels of education.

On questions about Christianity -- including a battery of questions about the Bible -- Mormons (7.9 out of 12 right on average) and white evangelical Protestants (7.3 correct on average) show the highest levels of knowledge.

Jews and atheists/agnostics stand out for their knowledge of other world religions, including Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism; out of 11 such questions on the survey, Jews answer 7.9 correctly (nearly three better than the national average) and atheists/agnostics answer 7.5 correctly (2.5 better than the national average).

Atheists/agnostics and Jews also do particularly well on questions about the role of religion in public life, including a question about what the U.S. Constitution says about religion.

These are among the key findings of the U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey, a nationwide poll conducted from May 19 through June 6, 2010, among 3,412 Americans age 18 and older, on landlines and cell phones, in English and Spanish. Jews, Mormons and atheists/agnostics were oversampled to allow analysis of these relatively small groups.1

Previous surveys by the Pew Research Center have shown that America is among the most religious of the world's developed nations. Nearly six-in-ten U.S. adults say that religion is "very important" in their lives, and roughly four-in-ten say they attend worship services at least once a week.

But the U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey shows that large numbers of Americans are uninformed about the tenets, practices, history and leading figures of major faith traditions -- including their own. Many people also think the constitutional restrictions on religion in public schools are stricter than they really are.

More than four-in-ten Catholics in the United States (45%) do not know that their church teaches that the bread and wine used in Communion do not merely symbolize but actually become the body and blood of Christ.
(I would have flubbed the Jonathon Edwards question.)

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Although I Would Not Mind Seeing Msgr. Ganswein ...

... competing in gymnastics, swimming, diving, running, equestrian....

But no, Stephen Fry informs us that that the Vatican does not field a team, and apparently this is very significant, impinging as it does on whether or not the Holy Father should be making a "state visit."

And Mr Fry is a very intelligent individual, so it must be so.

(I have no means of seeing or hearing any of said visit, at least for a week or so, so I must content myself with such snarking.)
(Which may be a violation of a recently renewed resolve to detach myself from sin, it's certainly putting myself in harm's way.... well, I am who I am.)

(Hey, and I guess the conceit behind the whole post, or at least the title and explanation of the title is another occasion of sin.... well, see above.)

Sunday, 12 September 2010

I have just returned from Mass, (an aside, it scares me goofy to plan on attending a "last chance Mass", but we did arrive in plenty of time, and there was a Mass,) brimming with hope for the future of the Church.
If the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is both the source and the summit of our Faith, it bodes well for us all when the Mass is this well celebrated.

It was in the Extraordinary Form.
This young priest apparently attended a training session of the Canons regular of St John Cantius half a continent away, and then, by studying DVDs, immersed himself in the EF sufficiently to celebrate it very beautifully and very precisely indeed.

(Do I say "indeed' too much?)

He subtly raises his voice exactly the right amount to prompt what I believe is called a
dialogue Mass."

What struck me was how well, how thoroughly this priest, (whom I have assisted at Masses in the OF in years past,) submits himself to the Liturgy, of either Form.

It is so utterly NOT about him.

And you must understand, he is a witty charmer.

But he disappears in the Mass.

Because he decreases, He increases.

Sheer chance, because of the day, his excellent homily was about humility, and the "safety" it affords us.
Marvelous coincidence.

God send us many holy priests!

This icon (egg tempera and gold leaf on wood panel, 28” x 22”) is “based on a fifteenth century Greek prototype; here Christ is shown in Latin Rite vestments with a gold pelican over His heart, the ancient symbol of self-sacrifice. The borders contain a winding grapevine and altar prepared for the celebration of the liturgy of the Mass; in the borders are smaller icons of Melchizedek and St. Jean-Baptiste Vianney.” Incidentally, it is St. John Vianney whom Pope Benedict XVI, with the announcement of this special year, has declared the Universal Patron of PriestCzarnecki explains: “I wrote the icon about seven years ago [for seminarians and priests] to be able to see Christ in themselves, and themselves in Christ. We often hear that the icon is called a window; in this case, it’s also meant to be a mirror.” The Good Shepherd reminds the priest that he is to “lay down his life for his sheep” (www.seraphicrestorations.com).

Only the Dead Can Not Change Their Minds

We, the quick, (well, I'm of the sloooow quick,) can learn and grow.

Interesting interview with a filmmaker

The making of this film has been something of a voyage of discovery for me. I can’t be the only Catholic in the world who had major apprehensions on April 19 2005 as the conclave made its decisive choice to elect the first German pope since the 11th century (I don’t count Adrian VI, born in Utrecht in 1459, part of the Holy Roman Empire). I was worried about whether the former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith might be just a little too polarising. I am no expert of conclave arithmetic, but my hunch was that he simply had too many doubters inside the College of Cardinals to get the required votes. Wrong. And I have been wrong about him, too. It is not that he has changed radically since taking up the papacy; it is simply that when you have to make a one-hour programme on one of the most clever and gifted people on the planet you have to look behind the headlines and the angry rants on the blogosphere. In short, you have to do justice to the man as best as you can.

Something similar is going on with Pope Benedict at the moment as has been occurring with John Henry Newman in recent months. Recognising the brilliant intellectual acumen of an individual often leads to wings, sections of the Church, staking their claim. They want to possess them as “their own”. I can understand why. But there are occasionally rare moments when these drives towards colonising the output of a gifted mind simply fail on account of the sheer dynamism and multi-facetedness of the individual concerned. So Pope Benedict’s uncompromising language on homosexuality, his disciplining of liberation theologians and 2007 Motu Proprio on the Old Rite of the Roman liturgy all have conservatives ticking their boxes and approving. But how then to deal with some rather contradictory evidence, not least of all his championing of workers’ rights in Caritas in Veritate and his uncompromising critique of neo-liberal economics?:

“I would like to remind everyone, especially everyone engaged in boosting the world’s economic and social assets, that the primary capital to be safeguarded and valued is man, the human person in his or her integrity” (italics from the text).

Similarly, those who complain of the betrayal of Vatican II and have this pontificate down as unreservedly restorationist and insular have some explaining to do. How is it that such a man commands the respect of a towering figure and atheist intellectual such as Jürgen Habermas, so much so that they are prepared to engage in a dialogue in public? How is it that such a man devotes his first encyclical to a profound discussion of human love and ponders on the potential for Eros and Agape to be a bridge between the human and the divine? Furthermore, how is it that this pope has taken every opportunity to emphasize that care from the environment is not some woolly-minded aspect of New Ageism, but an integral part of his theological outlook? So much so that in January His Holiness called in many of the ambassadors accredited to the Holy See and berated them for the “economic and political resistance” that resulted in the failure of last December’s climate summit in Copenhagen....

That Joseph Ratzinger has not quite lived up to his predictable billing is a point well understood by the Italian senator Marcello Pera, with whom Pope Benedict wrote a book on Europe and culture called Without Roots. When I met Pera in the heart of Rome earlier in the year he told me of the reaction of his fellow legislators.

“There was a huge prejudice,” Pera said. “Everyone was expecting the Rottweiler. I had invited him to address the Senate: this was the first time a cardinal had ever set foot inside the building and they were amazed. He really charmed them.” What exactly was Pera doing, as a godless man, engaging with the Vicar of Rome?

“I wanted these secularists to reflect. They talk about the absolutist nature of human rights, but they have no idea of the basis of where such an idea comes from – namely, that everyone is made in the image of God and deserves respect and has an integrity based on that.”

Pera makes a further point: “Let’s look at this question from a historical point of view. What happened to Europe, when it denied Christianity? We had Nazism, Fascism, Communism, anti-Semitism. That means that when Europe tried to avoid its own roots and so the culture of rights, specially the respect of the human person, Europe finds itself in dictatorship.”

Good for Pera. Can you imagine this from the archpriest of atheism, Richard Dawkins?

But the real delight for me has been in engaging with the writings of this 83-year-old man. The encyclicals have been given deserved space and attention. Yet you have to go back to 1968 for his classic, Introduction to Christianity, a work in which it becomes abundantly clear that, for this gentle and determined Bavarian, that man does not create his own truth through effort and endeavour, but, as he writes: “To believe as a Christian means in fact entrusting oneself to the meaning that upholds me and the world, taking it as the firm ground on which I can stand fearlessly… to believe as a Christian means understanding our existence as a response to the word, the logos, that upholds and maintains all things.”

I indulged in a long rant one night at dinner during the Colloquium this June (I have always depended on the manners of strangers... how I impose!) Does NO one understand the difference between primary and secondary sources any more?!?#?$%? I whinged.

But my pet peeve is warranted, I believe. How many of us in this country form our political opinions about someone based solely on what his enemies have said about him?

How often does someone want to operate based on the knowledge of a document which he has received from the "hand-out" given by a "facilitator" from a "workshop" -- rather from the easily accessed document?

How many hate the Church for what they just KNOW She believes --- and about which they are utterly mistaken? (Asbp Fulton Sheen had a famous thought on that...)

Excellent column in the paper a week or so back, (sorry, can't credit it,) warning us to beware of believing secondhand information that supports our prejudices and preconceptions.
Very wise words.

The sweet man who we are so blessed to have as pope right now has been a real victim of that sort of thinking.

"....because She loves."

(H/T to Dad29, via Domine, Da Mihi Hanc Aquam, via Mark Shea)

"The Church is intolerant in principle because she believes; she is tolerant in practice because she loves. The enemies of the Church are tolerant in principle because they do not believe; they are intolerant in practice because they do not love.
-- Pere Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP

When I was small I tried unsuccessfully to explain my vision of the Church, as (the best my inarticulate self could do,) "lots of rules, little enforcement", and why that was just as it should be.

Thankfully, there are brilliant theologians to put things into words.

Friday, 10 September 2010

"Ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis..."

This morning the priest/confessor absolved me and blessed me in Latin.

I almost forgot to perform my penance, i was so startled...

To the best of my knowledge this priest never uses a word of Latin or Greek in the Mass, nor does anyone else in this parish, (though their practice is generally old-fashioned,or at least in a style I am assuming is old fashioned, since i don't recognize so much of it but it all has a whiff of "Flowers of the Rarest.")
(Except, strangely for the actual music, which emits the odor of a more recent but equally stale epoch.)

Saturday, 4 September 2010

"Ideally, the cantor should have an average voice"

"Let My People Sing" in US Catholic back in July by one Fr Phillip makes some good points (vis a vis silencing the song leader, re-orienting the choir,) but is pretty uninformed ( too much music pitched for "altos and sopranos, whose range is beyond the reach of ordinary voices" -- although I will grant that treble voices of whatever fach, when "leading" congregational singing are said, by some studies, to be more difficult for possessors of changed voices to follow or tune with.)

And his suggestion to "lower it a half note" betrays his misunderstanding of even basic vocabulary to discuss music; but he does have a point, (Although I think the problem is generally not key but range...)

'Here Is something a pastor will never hear in the back of the church after Mass: "I wish the people around me didn't sing so loud!"'

No, but those of us wont to sing out DO hear it, Father, and when people are too "polite" to actually say it within earshot, we still get "the look."

"Ideally, the cantor should have an average voice that by its ordinary sound encourages others to sing."

The jokes write themselves, ladies and gentlemen.

"I have seldom heard the congregation singing. The people may be singing, but I can't hear them. And I doubt if they can hear one another. What we all hear is the cantor or choir and organist or musicians, whose sound is well amplified throughout the church

I would venture to guess the fault is not the musicians', who are indeed amplified, but whoever had the place carpeted; and perhaps the musicians but just as likely the priest, liturgy committee or the congregation plumping for certain "contemporary" styles of music.
Both of these unfortunate situations positively REQUIRE amplification.

"If a parish has a trained choir, they could gather together to sing a hymn about five minutes before the start of Sunday Mass. This helps to set a prayerful mood. Then I suggest that they fan out into all sections of the congregation, sitting with family or friends, and assist the congregation in singing from the pews."

This may be a good temporary solution if you have limited congregational participation, or a great technique to use for special events, (I always loved it when one of my cantors who was a terrible cantor but terrific congregational singer assisted at Masses when was not leading the singing, because she, unlike every other cantor, sat toward the BACK. The entire congregation benefited and sang out more lustily, especially during communion, when at almost any Mass I've ever attended it was obvious that for the most part the people who are EAGER to participate audibly gravitate toward the front of the nave so that within a few moments for the beginning of the Communion of the Faithful congregational singing, for all intents and purposes, ceases.

But no, the real solution is to return to (or begin?) a true understanding of progressive solemnity (dialogues, anyone?) and of the differing vocal roles of the congregation and the choir/schola.
Repeat after me:

Asking the congregation to sing a bunch of hymns lessens the probability that they will sing that which is more important. Decades ago now, the no-one-would-possibly-accuse-it-of-being-conservative-or-traditionalist Notre Dame study of parish life noted that the more they are asked to sing within a given liturgy, the less the people WILL sing.
It stands to reason.
The recent emphasis by some liturgists on congregational singing "as long as" (bad translation of "dum", BTW,) the communion procession is patently absurd -- Billy Bigelow's notoriously long "Soliloquy" hasn't the duration of the vocal effort many parishes expect of their pew-sitters.
So, all the verses of three to five hymns, a psalm response, a Kyrie, a Gloria, an Alleluia (or other acclamation,) a Sanctus, a Memorial Acclamation, a "Great" amen, an Agnus Dei... and that list doesn't even include the Dominus vobiscum, Verbum Domine and preface dialogues, the dismissal, or the Lord's Prayer -- all of which should take precedence over The Church's One Foundation or Gather Us In.

(Why don't priests know that? forget music per se, what exactly is the liturgical training they receive in seminary?)

"have those waiting in the pews sing the words of a hymn while those walking in procession simply hum the melody. Humming can be very prayerful."

Omm..... okay, given the doggerel we are sometimes asked to sing humming might actually be preferable, but PLEASE - do you hear what you are saying?#?$?%?
Such an approach de facto elevates the tune to the point where it is not just equal, but superior to the text!
Do we think music is more important than the Word?
(That of course is another huge problem that, in the average Liturgy, we are just singin' words instead of singing the Word , but I digress.....)

"A parish grade school provides an ideal setting for teaching new acclamations, responsorial psalms, and hymns throughout the year. Once the children are taught a new song, they should be instructed to bring it home and let their parents hear what they learned. The students in the parish religious education program should also take part in learning new music. The children need to know how important they are in helping the congregation to sing on Sunday."

Amen, but said music needs to be selected by liturgical musicians not catechists who are mostly uninformed, (or worse, grossly misinformed,) about both liturgy and music, and appropriate praxis.

"Most parish congregations at Sunday Mass are made up of a wide variety of ages. That means that the music selected needs to include a wide variety of styles. Some music will appeal to young people, other music is more to the liking of seniors, and still other music will fit the tastes of folk enthusiasts or classical music lovers. If the music selection is all of one style (the favorite music of the director), it will soon bore many who can't relate to it. "

Nonsense. Smorgasbords are for cruises, not the gathering of the Mystical Body of Christ.

What anyone "likes", (including, no, especially the music director,) is almost irrelevant.

"In churches that are long and narrow, I recommend that people turn and face the center aisle for the gathering hymn. This way they can see the faces and hear the voices of those gathered across the aisle and get the feeling of being united in community. "

Right prescription, wrong reason -- IF you choose to forgo the Introit in favor of a congregational song, at least let the people SEE the procession.

"I would like to see the day when the priest, the lectors, the eucharistic ministers, the musicians and singers all face the congregation at the end of Mass and clap for how well they, the assembled faithful, sang and participated. "

Aside from the icky self-esteem-trophies-all-around! odor of that kind of patronization, umm... aren't these "singers" whom you want to clap for the congregation just PART of the congregation in your ideal ?

And come to think of it, if THEY are, why aren't the lay readers, (not "lectors",) and the Extraordinary (not "Eucharistic",) Ministers?

Friday, 3 September 2010

Saint Gregory the Great,
defend us in liturgy committee meetings;
be our protection against the silliness and snares of the Liturgical Industrial Complex.
May God rebuke them, we humbly pray:
and do thou, O patron of the heavenly chant,
by the power of God,
thrust into the dumpster their "planning guides" and all the insipid earworms
that prowl about the worship space perhaps not seeking but nonetheless compassing the stultification of souls.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

"Suffer the Tinkers to come unto..."

Interesting potential for a spanner in the works of the Papal visit to the Celtish Isles:
THE Pope's visit to Britain has been thrown into turmoil amid fears swarms of gipsies will turn up hoping to meet him.

Waves of travellers have already started descending on Birmingham ahead of the pontiff's four-day tour of the UK next month....

An emergency meeting with the Catholic Church was called over fears the whole city could be flooded with thousands more.

Police evicted the travellers who have come over from Co Donegal, Ireland.

But they just moved their camp yards across the road to the Shire Country Park yesterday.

The travellers told council officials they didn't have £25 pilgrim passes for the event on September 19.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

On the assumption that the editorial supporting Creative Commons is itself....

... in the commons. Here is JT's article from Chant Cafe:
I've written uncountable numbers of words scolding ICEL for keeping its texts proprietary and charging for access - on grounds that this is a practice contrary to the whole history of Christianity. Even before Christianity, Judaism taught that the teaching of the Torah and the knowledge of the rabbis was not a commodity to be bought and sold. They could charge for the time, for the room in which they teach, and the books that contained the teaching, but the knowledge itself could not be commodified or limited. The Christian ideal of the same impulse is embodied in the prohibition against "simony" - a sin named for Simon Magus (Acts 8:18-24) who offered disciples money in exchange for the laying on of hands. Peter said to Simon: "Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money."

But enough with the condemnations and lectures. I would like to make positive case for something wonderful and easy that ICEL could do right now. It could post a single note on its website that said: "All texts bearing an ICEL copyright may be distributed, copied, transmitted, or recorded, provided ICEL is acknowledged as the source." Over time, the front matter of all ninety-six books could be customized with this announcement on the next printing, but, for now, the digital announcement would be enough.

ICEL could formalize this announcement with a legal stamp of a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license, which is nothing other than a means for getting around certain legal contingencies on texts. The plainly worded announcement would do the same work. The point is to put the texts into the commons where they belong and where they would be were it not for modern legislation that artificially restricts the use of texts.

How could ICEL do this? It is just a matter of doing it. There is nothing more to do. ICEL owns the texts and can control them completely. It is as simple as that. It is a small step with enormous consequences.

For starters, the outpouring of joy across the entire world would be spectacular to behold. It would be one of the largest jail breaks in the history of Christendom, all this wonderful books set free at last, just as the teachings and sermons and liturgical books of all ages were free from restrictions on their distribution.

For decades, ICEL has been the subject of decades of derision and beating, and now with the new texts on the way, this problem has intensified. All of this would change instantly. The global sense of elation would be palpable. The world press would take notice. The New York Times would sing the praises of ICEL. The point of Christian generosity and charity would be undeniable. There isn't a soul who wouldn't praise ICEL for having done the right thing. It would be a bright day in the history of the faith.

In light of this, ICEL should put up a banner on its site that says: "If you support our efforts to evangelize the world with these free resources, please consider a contribution." I would certainly dig as deep as I could. So would thousands, even millions of others. The gratitude would translate into vast financial contributions that I would expect would far exceed the amount that ICEL currently receives in royalties. Even better, this money would be given voluntarily, not extracted by force. The ICEL staff would feel better about itself and be flush with new resources to do its work.

What happens next? That's when the world community of English-speaking Catholics gets to work. Imagine of blizzard of fantastic iPhone apps that contain the Rite of Baptism for Children, The Book of Blessings, The Book of Prayers, The Code of Canon Law, The Order of Christian Funerals, and the entire Roman Missal, right there in the palm of your hand. No more lugging around heavy books (though anyone would be free to do so). No more being stuck without the right blessing at your fingertips.

What would ICEL have to do to develop these? Nothing. They would all be developed within a matter of weeks and months, on the initiative of people like me and thousands of others.

Every single one of the texts would be scanned and put online, some low quality but many high quality, perfect for printing at a moment's notice. These texts would appear on uncountable numbers of websites. They would be multiplied again and again and again without limit.

There would be Kindle editions and iPad editions and editions for every epub that is around. Publications that routinely pirate these texts without payment - you know who you are - would no longer have to fly under the radar screen or fear the copyright police. They could go about their missionary work with their heads held high.

Monasteries, convents, and parishes could all freely record their liturgical services and post them on youtube without having a sense that they are doing something wrong. They could sell CDs and custom missals to raise money for themselves.

The new missal, when it appears, would come in a huge range of editions. Some would be heavily bound with the most expensive leather and beautiful medieval stylings. Other editions would come in small paperback editions that you can carry in your pocket, and wouldn't that be glorious to have an edition that every single Catholic could afford to carry (imagine a price of, say, $7)? Talk about evangelization!

The Bishops and ICEL are right now extremely concerned about catechesis on the new missal. Well, stop worrying about it. Making the texts part of the commons will allow all the creative energies of all Catholics to put to use in the cause of education. Nothing educates like the text itself, and so long as the text lives in copyright prison, there will be problems. Why limit the Gospel? Free it completely and 90% of the work is already done for you. ICEL has limited resources, so why not call upon the vast energies out there just waiting for a chance to help?

The next stage will be spin off publications. There will be manuals, hymnbooks, songbooks, children's books, commentaries, reference sets, dictionaries, concordances, searchable files, illustrated books, and many other media types that no one has yet thought of. There will be audio books and instructional DVDs and CDs, as well as downloadable MP3s. Do you know of priests who have trouble singing the whole Mass? Well, this is an easy thing to correct if anyone can make a demo file and distribute it without paying for the privilege. Keep in mind that none of this can be done now, at least not legally, without jumping through hoops and paying ICEL. This is why it is not being done now!

Why not harness all of these energies on behalf of the Catholic liturgical project? ICEL needs help. It cannot be singularly charged with the whole burden. It cannot expect only four publishers who know the ropes to do the bulk of the work here. It is a very simple matter of freeing the texts that would make the difference. In other words, all of ICEL's texts would take on the same precise status as all Christian texts have had from the first to the late nineteenth century when copyright enforcement first became global and some Christians wrongly took the bait and deliberately set out to limit their influence.

To be sure, many Christian texts are part of the commons already. The old Latin Missal is an example. No one has to pay anyone to publish that text. The same is true with Gregorian chant from all ages. The same is true of the Douay-Rheims Bible and hundreds of other translations that are in public domain now.

Take a close look here: all of these source texts are flourishing in every way right now! I can call take out my phone and look at the completely music in the old rite for the whole of today's services, right now, and it takes about two seconds. I cannot do this with all of the texts that are under conventional copyright. There is a reason for this.

The ICEL decision would inspire other publishers too and perhaps put an end to the copyright arms race that is killing the life of the liturgical text. GIA might move to do the same with the Grail Psalter. The same could happen with the NAB translation of the Bible. Composers might even follow in line. The entire house of copyright cards could fall, and what a blessing that would be! But it all must start with ICEL.

So a plea to ICEL: thousands of others like me want to be involved. We want to help. We want to spread the Good News. We want to work as messengers for Catholic liturgy. Please allow us to do so in every possible way. It is just a matter of posting a simple sentence.

St. Augustine once gave a homily about the divine qualities of the word and its capacity for being shared. He pointed out that he need not parse out his words carefully for fear of losing them to the hearer, but rather that the hearer can take all of his words even as he can retain them. He made an analogy here to the way the Father and the Son can have the same thoughts and the same words without the one displacing the other. Herein lies the mystery and glory of the message, the magnificence of the idea and its infinite reproducability. It was precisely the capacity of words to be spread, and for truth to be held by an unlimited number of people, that inspired the spreading of Christianity all over the world.

Let's recall that power, that glory, and make it happen again.
(dang, I miss easy internet access... who'd a thunk?)

Liturgical Orphans

One untoward effect of a good retreat, or a sacred music colloquium, or even a serendipitous stumbling upon the Divine Office being prayed solemnly and corporately and beautifully, (am I remembering correctly, was there some question on the 900-Pound Catholic Blog as to whether one was actually joined to the Church's liturgical life when one prayed the L ot H alone? I digress...) all three of which I have had the great blessing to experience in the past two months, is that it takes real, conscious effort not to subsequently sit... er... kneel in judgment when one finds oneself in less... carefully prepared liturgies.

Even when one is not annoyed, one can hardly help but be distracted when a presider greets the Faithful with "The Lord IS with you...", and then gives what amounts to a long homily betwixt the greeting and the penitential rite; when an, admittedly lovely-voiced, cantatrix croons suggestively into the console-mounted mic'; when a phalanx of seven extraordinary ministers routinely marches on the sanctuary to help the shepherd feed his flock of, I-am-not-making-this-up-I-counted-the-second-day-of-the-routine-mea-culpa, THIRTY-something, (when is someone in charge going to notice that more time is spent singling the ems out with a specially choreographed Communion than is saved by having them then administer the Sacrament to the rest of the assembly; when not one, not two, but THREE different individuals open for the Main Event, each welcoming us, each introducing themselves, (in one case also naming "my partner in proclaiming the Word,") and each reminding us what day it was; an adult server whose alb is so tightly cinched and so snugly fitted that I was reminded of Joan on Mad Men; loopy General Intercessions...

On this house-hunting expedition, I am feeling, (and Himself shares this,) most homeless on Sunday mornings.
And who would have imagined it? but the fact that it is out of season has meant being not so much deprived as spared as we seek a parish. "Dry" masses are preferable, for the most part, to those with music, (which tend to the insipidly moist...)

So it is with great joy, (and not a little shame for my pessimism, O Me, of little faith!) that I say that Mass on Sunday was very well prepared and conducted indeed.
I had only half-jokingly said the day before that my major goal was simply to avoid Hail Mary Gentle Woman, but that I had no expectation of being able to do so.
Well! three sturdy hymns, a nice little responsorial Magnificat during the Communion procession, the correct lectionary psalm, a decent Ordinary, superbly played and sufficiently assertive and vigorous organ accompaniments, excellent organ pre- and postludes and interesting improvs, (though I might question the Music From the Hearts of Space registration on one of the latter...;oD); a suitably talented yet even more suitably diffident cantor; a wide ranging homily that utilized the readings AND practical application AND pertinent personal anecdotes AND doctrine and dogma AND Catholic identity...

Anyway, I don't know to whom to be grateful, the cathedral rector, or the diocesan O of W, or the Bishop -- but thank you, thank you, thank you.

Come to think of it, who am I, (is the accepted term Left-foot Lucy, or One-foot Wanda?) to question anyone's registration?

It is probably too far away to make it my parish when the dust settles on our domestic arrangements, but it's a great comfort to know it's there.

Incidentally, the aforementioned serendipitous L ot H? an errand in Chicago last month finished early, Himself dropped me off at St John Cantius en route to another errand. I figured I could pray quietly until Vespers, (it wasn't actually the Vespers themselves upon which I stumbled, I knew about them...) and instead was uplifted by what I can only suppose was a bit of practice for an upcoming organ recital by Br Jonathan Ryan. Passion Symphony by Marcel Dupré?
Glorious, thrilling. (And talk about "Christmas in July"...)
I am frankly envious of anyone who can attend.
But I shouldn't feel too deprived, I shall keep my eye out for what Adam Brakel (sp?) is accomplishing at the cathedral here.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

"Gay priests giving gay priests a bad name"

No, honestly, that's how the headline to Bryan Cone's US Catholic piece reads.

You can't make this stuff up, well, maybe the Onion could, but there's no need, it satirizes itself.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

The Value of Ritual Over Spontaneity

A thread over at PrayTell misled me with the lede, I thought it would be about the General Intercessions, since it concerned a book by James McCartin, Prayers of the Faithful.
No, it more generally concerns the spiritual life of American Catholics, and to some extent, the expression finds in devotions, in popular piety.

Two commentators had thoughts that caught my attention:
Most of us don’t live in our parents’ neighborhood or even their state. ISTM that the rise of the traditionalists in all their varieties are one of many attempts to build praying communities within a widely dispersed Church.
Michael O'Connor
I'd never thought of that before, but surely the hunger for custom, and ritual denied so many of us either by our nomadic existence, or by deliberate suppression, is a force to be reckoned with in the burgeoning of the various forms of neo-traditionalism.

And I thought this was a wonderful apologia of liturgical worship in response to another poster's bemoaning the lack of aptitude, (I would ascribe it to a wholesome reluctance,) for spontaneity he finds in Catholics:
Catholics have traditionally understood talking to God through the use of non-spontaneous texts as being just as authentic as spontaneous prayer.

...At times of significant rituals of life – especially [death] – spontaneous words are not often lacking, but often become obstacles, whereas ritual expressions convey the inexpressible more aptly.

To some extent, that reliance on ritualized texts is a sign of the inexpressible dimension of our conversation with God. ... the use of the ritualized texts has more dimensions to it....I would be wary of is the assumption that spontaneity=authenticity.
Karl Liam Saur
Not only do words other than of our own immediate devising better convey the ineffable, but there is extraordinary comfort in being able to rely upon them, in not having creative demands added to the burdens one is already under at some of life's great moments.
I really think this, the notion of a received pattern to our worship, is one of the greatest strengths of Catholicism, and one of its strongest tools in effecting true catholicity, and I think TPTB have ignored that to their perils, and ours, in recent Church .... doings.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Fly? Why?

What is it about the human psyche, okay... MY psyche, that feels such inordinate satisfaction of a steamy summer afternoon, to have finally vanquished, er, well ... successfully swatted a lone, noisy fly that had loitered about the house for the last day or so?

The Mighty Hunter

Keeping the Sabbath

This article doesn't really resonate with me, (I have little patience with those who are nostalgic for the trappings of a faith they do not hold,) I only take note of the fact that a piece in the NY Times startlingly admits that James Carroll, the go-to guy for commentary on Catholicism for much of the MS print M, is, and identifies him as, a "dissenting Catholic."

No doubt were the article on a page more journalisticly demanding than the Style section, the "dissenting" would have been omitted, and the Times would go back to pretending that a disgruntled ex-employees unable to live up to pledges and promises freely given offer the most objective insights into an institution...

I, of course, am non-compliant, for years nearly my only gainful employment has been on the Sabbath; even today, I am scurrying out to sub, (I had forgotten how interesting it can be to hear the same homily four times -- I am serious, speaking only of prepared homilies now, now the winging-it nonsense of one of my favorite priests, which becomes very tiresome. Observing the differences, and the homilist's willingness to engage, [or otherwise,] the changing "character" of his auditors from Mass to Mass is like watching any other kind of live performer, and one can learn as much from the nont-so-competent as from the fine ones.)

Friday, 16 July 2010

Prayers Requested

Please pray for a dear, dear woman, a long time friend of my family, Sr Virginia Mary, a cloistered Dominican.
I have heard that she is gravely ill.

One of the jolliest saintly people I have ever known.

Speaking of false choices...

... I have tried never to make the Mass of Creation my own personal whipping boy for all that is wrong with contemporary music that is used by Catholics (note: not "contemporary Catholic music,") but isn't there some middle ground between holding it up as the epitome of all that is rotten, and holding it up as some sort of ideal?
Lots and lots and lots of new Mass settings were set out and presented and sung at this convention. They all started to sound the same after a while. A few somewhat nice things here and there, but no apparent new “Mass of Creation” or “Community Mass” on the horizon.

And another thing...

... how is programm[ing] the entire Ordinary and much of the Proper in Latin [and Greek] chant, and us[ing] Latin for some of the presidential texts" producing "a sudden lurch, [that] would [inarguably] feel like someone is pushing an agenda" (which happens to be the Church's agenda for the Roman rite, but never mind....,) the only alternative to dual liturgies one entirely in Gregorian chant, and one entirely in English and chant-free?

It's a false choice.

Pride of Place and Offering Options

Shall we take the road less traveled, or the one with the best pavement?
Did you know that Morning Prayer at NPM is entirely in Latin, sung to Gregorian chant? But only one monk keeps showing up, so they hold it in his hotel room. The Alternative Morning Prayer is in the convention hall, and over a thousand show up for that one. It’s in English.

Does NPM give Gregorian chant “pride of place” as Holy Mother Church taught at the Second Vatican Council? No, would be the obvious answer. Not much is in Latin at all. “Lauda Sion,” the Corpus Christi sequence, was sung in Latin during Communion at Mass last night, but the music (very solid, BTW) was by Michael Joncas. The choir sang “Christus vincit” in Latin before the closing hymn, “To Jesus Christ, our sovereign king.” But Ordinarium or Proprium Missae in Latin Gregorian chant? Nope.

At Morning Prayer the opening verse, “Lord, open my lips,” is in different settings each day, none of them based on Latin chant. About the only chant here is the Lord’s Prayer, in the eminently usable English setting by Robert J. Snow.

But wait. Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship, the US bishops’ document on liturgical music, says this at no. 73: “The ‘pride of place’ given to Gregorian chant by the Second Vatican Council is modified by the important phrase ‘other things being equal.’ These ‘other things’ are the important liturgical and pastoral concerns facing every bishop, pastor, and liturgical musician. In considering the use of the treasures of chant, pastors and liturgical musicians should take care that the congregation is able to particpate in the Liturgy with song. They should be sensitive to the cultural and spiritual milieu of their communities, in order to build up the Church in unity and peace.”

NPM is following this advice – one almost wants to say, to the letter. Suppose the planners of a future NPM convention Mass programmed the entire Ordinary and much of the Proper in Latin chant, and used Latin for some of the presidential texts. It would be a sudden lurch, and it would feel like someone is pushing an agenda on everyone. One can hardly understate the depth of ill will and hurt feelings which would result. “But it’s the Church’s agenda,” someone will glibly object. Well, yes and no. “Building up the Church in unity and peace” is the Church’s agenda.

The music at NPM liturgies is a grab bag. Some (but not much) chant, quite a bit of so-called traditional hymnody and service music, and lots of contemporary music, sometimes in languages other than English. The music draws on the liturgy and the Bible and it reflects the people gathered. The music helps everyone to celebrate the sacred mysteries, to unite themselves to the Lord and each other in song.

NPM has a chant section. They asked me to start this a few years ago. Across NPM, interest in chant seems to be quite strong. Nobody is anti-chant, at least not publicly.
Of course not, that would be like talking about crazy Aunt Hazel in front of non-family members...

Oh, and if you find that disappointing you are a "zealot."

Just Another Flavor...

There is quite a conversation going on over at Musica Sacra regarding the advisability of otherwise of the CMAA "manning a booth" at a large convention of liturgical musicians.

I am all for outreach, missionary work, reconciliation, however you want to wrap your mind around what this would be, except --

I think it would be dangerous and self-defeating to present the aims of the CMAA, (not the CMAA itself, mind you, we're just a bunch o' guys with no claim to authority, but the aims,) as just another item on the buffet, and an exotic and not-to-everyone's-taste item at that.

Gregorian chant, music that promotes reverence and recollection, adherence to the music precepts of the Church as expressed in authoritative documents, respect for the integrity of the actual texts of the Mass -- these are not pickled herring.


I think a better way to go would be offering add to the "swag."
A beautiful pamphlet digest of the musical rubrics of the current GIRM, for instance, also providing links to free msucial resources on the Interwebs.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Tough Times, All Over

This story about the Vatican running a deficit actually gladdens my heart.

Firstly, yet another sign that we're all in this together.
Second, the expenses incurred are for worthy matters, pastoral visits, improved communications, preservation of what the Church already has.
And third, despite the MSM's getting-tired-by-now meme about purportedly endemic loss of love for, faith in, attachment to the Church and Her leaders - "annual donations from churches worldwide - known as Peter's Pence - were up."

Um... yeah.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

"And in other breaking news, prohibition is repealed..."

A periodical devoted to liturgy and ministry, from a more or less Catholic perspective, (less "more" and more "less" all the time,) is all... het up?... over something that happened four decades ago.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

These words from John 14:1 are encouraging, but how hard we struggle with them. We find so much to be troubled about. ...
We are living through troubling times in our world and in our church. In past years, [this periodical] has filled the pages of this music ministry issue with articles by leading pastoral musicians who were excited by the next page in music ministry. There were always new texts to explore, new perspectives on ritual forms, new ideas, and renewed purpose.

Not this time.

In the past, pastoral musicians were joined here by liturgists who wrote about the integration of various musical forms into the liturgy, enhancing ritual elements through sung prayer.

Now, no one wants to take the chance of saying the wrong thing and being censured for it. For example, we know that we will receive a new Roman Missal and that as a result of the translation most of the musical settings of the common of the Mass (music we have come to love and know by heart for years) will cease to exist.

That’s troubling. It’s very troubling to the hearts of pastoral musicians who have devoted countless years to building up repertoires of Mass settings for their assemblies that for the most part will be discarded. It’s troubling when people who are fine musicians, fine pastoral people, and solid theologians are replaced by individuals who have no formation but can play “what the people want to hear.” It is very troubling that the people with the right training, the right skills, the right formation, and a close connection to the Holy Spirit are considered too threatening, too challenging, too subversive for parish life.
It also seems a little drama-queeny to throw a pity party now, in light of the fact that there are finally signs of this situation being remedied.

Yes, good and skilled organists and composers and singers were, figuratively speaking, thrown on the bonfire in the '60s and '70s, while their instruments and pages and pages of music were lost to the auto da fe, somewhat more literally.
And they and it were replaced with graduates of the "Gee, nobody else knows what he's doing, so I might as well be a Catholic music director too!" school of liturgy, and music cribbed from "Skunk in the Middle of the Road."

But that's all water under the thingummy.

Oh, wait... are they really talking about discarding the build-up of rubbish that has passed for liturgical music in recent years? THAT'S what passing is being mourned?

Hmmm.... maybe I was reading The Onion.

(p.s. I do not rejoice in ANYone losing his job, particularly if he is competent.
But I don't see that happening.
At all.)

Monday, 12 July 2010

Three Rules to Live By

Since I'm not even sure I'll be able to afford the Colloquium next year, (still haven't come down from that mountain, much less gathered my thoughts to post about it, but I shall, eventually,) Ireland's out of the question, but wouldn't it have been loverly?
Fr Stephane Quessard spoke on the renewal of Sacred Music commencing with a potted history of the origin and use of the term itself from it's apparent coining by Michael Praetorius around 1614. Quessard observed three challenges to Sacred Music in the thought of Joseph Ratzinger (1) That sacred music must go beyond the limits of current European thinking avoiding triteness and commercialism. (2) That the Church has to restore the logos at the centre of sacred music. (3) That the chant repertoire must be emphasised as normative to the Rite.
And what of THIS?:
Finally James Macmillan spoke, or rather gave his manifesto for the future, in a talk entitled The Spirit of the Liturgy: Rejoice in Tradition and Embrace the Future. Macmillan obviously knew he was 'preaching to the choir' with much he said but seemed a little more circumspect than he has been elsewhere- probably considering the presence of three bishops in the room by this stage. He concentrated on the problem of the value of 'beauty' and it's general neglect, indeed deliberate exclusion of the concept, from much liturgical consideration in recent years. In the context of the general alienation that occurred between Church and professional musicians, in the 1960s, Macmillan touched on the misinterpretation of participatio actuoso that has prevailed

Oh, you mean the prevailing translation, or at least understanding of the concept, "full, conscious and calorie-burning participation?

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Proudly Pro-Choice

Nah, don't worry...

But in a quick skim of headlines and blogs, (everything is needfully quick until I am back home... or homish,) came across more of the on-going fracas over the attempted public shaming that is "Ten Worst..." lists; a plea for a better, more civil approach, (people from CenCa are just obviously better people...) which notes the limited resources we all have; and the news that a number of bishops have withdrawn their support of the Catholic Campaign form Human development.

The latter is my themes, and the bishops' the choice which I proudly favor.
Not funding or de-funding of the CCHD per se, but the acknowledgment of limitations and the acceptance of the fact that choices must be made in expenditures, be the of time, talent or treasure.

And no, I suppose I wouldn't send money to the CCHD and necessarily trust that it would be spent wisely, in support of aims I share.
It might be, but it would be like using a poor search engine, or taking the time to sing through OCP packets, one merely guesses of course, but based on past disappointment it doesn't seem the wisest way to allot limited resources.

It makes more sense to give directly to charities one embraces, or to use Google, or to look specifically at new offerings from composers whose work one admires.

For that matter, since the CCHD dust-up is about charitable monies, I should also add, based on how they've spent my money in the past, I don't give much to my diocesan appeal.

I'd rather give directly to retirement funds for religious, or family counseling services, or the St Vincent de Paul society, or Peter's Pence.

Whereas, say, Kwanzaa parties are fine and all, but not on my nickle.

So, I'm all for choice, sometimes...

I'm not a Cafeteria Catholic, but does this make me a Buffet Benefactor?

Friday, 2 July 2010

A new round of Motu Mania?

No access, no posting, no time, but this popped into my mailbox on an alert:
What Benedict means by 'new liturgical movement

Sometime soon, the Vatican is expected to release a motu proprio, meaning a legal document under the pope’s authority, which will transfer responsibility for an aspect of marriage law from one Vatican office to another. Though it will probably fly below the public radar, the document provides a glimpse into Pope Benedict XVI’s approach to liturgy, meaning how the church celebrates the Mass and its other rituals.

Specifically, Benedict is expected to encourage the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Vatican's office for liturgical policy, to focus on promoting what he describes as a “new liturgical movement." The obvious question, of course, is what exactly he means by that.

In a narrowly tailored legal document, the pope can’t unpack the idea, but Vatican observers say that Benedict’s broad liturgical approach can be described in terms of “continuity,” i.e., recovering elements of the liturgical tradition which he believes were too hastily set aside or downplayed in the immediate period after the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). His own style when he celebrates Mass reflects this thrust, including distributing communion on the tongue, rather than in the hand, and placing a crucifix on the altar to remind people that the focus is on God rather than the celebrant.

The “new liturgical movement,” then, is one which attempts to restore what Benedict XVI and like-minded observers believe was lost in the post-Vatican II period, perhaps principally, in the pope's mind, a strong sense of transcendence.

The phrase “new liturgical movement” was first used by the pope back in 1997, when as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger he published a set of memoirs about his life up to 1977 under the title Milestones.

Here is the relevant section, which I’ll quote at length:

“There is no doubt that this new missal [after Vatican II] in many respects brought with it a real improvement and enrichment; but setting it as a new construction over against what had grown historically, forbidding the results of this historical growth, thereby makes the liturgy appear to be no longer a living development but the product of erudite work and juridical authority; this has caused us enormous harm. For then the impression had to emerge that liturgy is something ‘made’, not something given in advance but something lying within our own power of decision. From this it also follows that we are not to recognize the scholars and the central authority alone as decision makers, but that in the end each and every ‘community’ must provide itself with its own liturgy. When liturgy is self-made, however, then it can no longer give us what its proper gift should be: the encounter with the mystery that is not our own product but rather our origin and the source of our life. A renewal of liturgical awareness, a liturgical reconciliation that again recognizes the unity of the history of the liturgy and that understands Vatican II, not as a breach, but as a stage of development: these things are urgently needed for the life of the Church.”

“I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy, which at times has even come to be conceived of etsi Deus non daretur, in that it is a matter of indifference whether or not God exists and whether or not he speaks to us and hears us. But when the community of faith, the worldwide unity of the Church and her history, and the mystery of the living Christ are no longer visible in the liturgy, where else, then, is the Church to become visible in her spiritual essence? Then the community is celebrating only itself, an activity that is utterly fruitless. And because the ecclesial community cannot have its origin from itself but emerges as a unity only from the Lord, through faith, such circumstances will inexorably result in a disintegration into sectarian parties of all kinds - partisan opposition within a Church tearing herself apart."

"This is why we need a new Liturgical Movement, which will call to life the real heritage of the Second Vatican Council.”

That extract provides the context in which the phrase from the forthcoming motu proprio should be understood (assuming it appears as expected), which otherwise may seem a bit out of the blue.
What does the Holy Father mean?
I think he means, Save the Liturgy, Save the World...

Friday, 25 June 2010

"Sacred Signs and Actions of the Mass, Standing, Kneeling, Singing ..are Themselves Prayer"

Well done, Your Excellency (why must the Mundelein musicians' retreat and the CMAA's shindig coincide??!?#?%???)

The liturgical act requires a new kind of consciousness, a “readiness toward God,” an inward awareness of the unity of the whole person, body and soul, with the spiritual body of the Church, present in heaven and on earth. It also requires an appreciation that the sacred signs and actions of the Mass -- standing, kneeling, singing and so forth -- are themselves “prayer.”....
Does modern man seem incapable of real worship? I think so. But the more important question for us is this: If [so] what are we going to do about it?
One of the few people who have wrestled with the issues [is] Father Robert Barron.

Barron puts the issue this way: “The project is not shaping the liturgy according to the suppositions of the age, but allowing the liturgy to question and shape the suppositions of any age. Is the modern man incapable of the liturgical act? Probably. But this is no ground for despair. Our goal is not to accommodate the liturgy to the world, but to let the liturgy be itself -- a transformative icon of the ordo of God.”

Barron suggests that in the post-conciliar era, the professional Catholic liturgical establishment opted for the former path, trying to adapt the liturgy to the demands of modern culture. I would agree. And I would add that time has shown this to be a dead end. Trying to engineer the liturgy to be more “relevant” and “intelligible” through a kind of relentless cult of novelty, has only resulted in confusion and a deepening of the divide between believers and the true spirit of the liturgy....

We need to discover new ways to enter into the liturgical mystery; to realize the central place of the liturgy in God’s plan of salvation; to truly live our lives as a spiritual offering to God; and to embrace our responsibilities for the Church’s mission with a renewed Eucharistic spirituality.

Read the whole thing.
I say, a red hat for Chaput!

Oh, yeah... and

More on Vevuzelas and the Liturgy! (well, kinda...)

I'm not the only one who sees a possible future for the Vevuzela in Catholic worship.

(But unlike me, most good Christian folk seem to be ag'in'... have they no vision? are they against progress?)
The Telegraph reports that Archbishop Vincent Nichols is concerned that vuvuzelas, blamed for ruining the usual respectful silence of football matches, [emphasis added, LOVE that line,] could be used during the Papal Visit to the UK. Tatchell, Hitchens, Fry and Dawkins have apparently all responded by letter to the Archbishop, saying, "Thanks Archbishop! Great idea!"
'Although himself an avid football fan, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, is worried that the forthcoming Papal visit could be marred by vuvuzelas. "I have had enough of them already," says the Archbishop of Westminster. "I hope they stay in South Africa. Personally, I think the football would be more enjoyable without this constant cacophony."

Novelty at Mass?

Not what you might be thinking when you hear that phrase.

In fact, the true "novelty" is all the more reason we don't need and MUST NOT BE GIVEN the kinds to which we are often subjected. Listen to the Holy Father:
In the offering that Jesus makes of himself we find all the novelty of Christian worship. In ancient times men offered in sacrifice to the divinity the animals or first fruits of the earth. Jesus, instead, offers himself, his body and his whole existence: He himself in person becomes the sacrifice that the liturgy offers in the Holy Mass. In fact, with the consecration of the bread and wine they become his true body and blood. Saint Augustine invited his faithful not to pause on what appeared to their sight, but to go beyond: "Recognize in the bread -- he said -- that same body that hung on the cross, and in the chalice that same blood that gushed from his side" (Disc. 228 B, 2). To explain this transformation, theology has coined the word "transubstantiation," word that resounded for the first time in this Basilica during the IV Lateran Council, of which in five years will be the 8th centenary. On that occasion the following expressions were inserted in the profession of faith: "his body and his blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar, under the species of bread and wine, because the bread is transubstantiated into the body, and the wine into the blood by divine power" (DS, 802). Therefore, it is essential to stress, in the itineraries of education of children in the faith, of adolescents and of young people, as well as in "centers of listening" to the Word of God, that in the sacrament of the Eucharist Christ is truly, really and substantially present.[I wish a regular commentator on one of the newer liturgy blogs could get this concept through his head...]...
The Holy Mass, celebrated in the respect of the liturgical norms and with a fitting appreciation of the richness of the signs and gestures, fosters and promotes the growth of Eucharistic faith. In the Eucharistic celebration we do not invent something, but we enter into a reality that precedes us, more than that, which embraces heaven and earth and, hence, also the past, the future and the present. This universal openness, this encounter with all the sons and daughters of God is the grandeur of the Eucharist: we go to meet the reality of God present in the body and blood of the Risen One among us. Hence, the liturgical prescriptions dictated by the Church are not external things, but express concretely this reality of the revelation of the body and blood of Christ and thus the prayer reveals the faith according to the ancient principle "lex orandi - lex credendi." And because of this we can say "the best catechesis on the Eucharist is the Eucharist itself well celebrated"

Overheard at the Colloquium...

"You're so clever... I love it when people have children!"

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Enamored of Our Bridegroom

The Holy Father at yesterday's general audience:

One of the elements highlighted by the Pontiff was St. Thomas' devotion to the Eucharist.

"Speaking of the sacraments [in the third part of the Summa], St. Thomas pauses particularly on the mystery of the Eucharist, for which he had a very great devotion, to the point that, according to the ancient biographers, he used to lean his head on the tabernacle, almost as if to hear the beating of the divine and human Heart of Jesus," the Pope recalled.

He cited one of the saint's explanations of the Eucharist: "The Eucharist being the sacrament of the passion of our Lord, is also an effect of this sacrament, it not being other than the application in us of the passion of the Lord."And in this light, the Pope reflected, "Let us understand well why St. Thomas and other saints celebrated the Holy Mass shedding tears of compassion for the Lord, who offers himself in sacrifice for us, tears of joy and of gratitude."

He continued: "Dear brothers and sisters, in the school of the saints, let us be enamored of this sacrament! Let us participate in the Holy Mass with recollection to obtain its spiritual fruits, let us nourish ourselves on the Body and Blood of the Lord, to be incessantly nourished by divine grace!"

"Let us willingly and frequently converse, face to face, in the company of the Most Blessed Sacrament!"

We are Barbarians

There are many wonderful Saints and Blesseds who present themselves as perfect intercessors for prayer to end the scourge of abortion, the private murder of the unborn.
To Whom should we pray to end the barbarism of, (non defensive,) capital punishment,I wonder....?
I think the Big Guy, Himself.


Or, as Homer would say, "DOHH, re mi..."

... which is about how I am reading and singing just now.

No, actually, my reading is getting quite a bit better, (drat.... now I have to admit that yes, solfege DOES work, IS necessary, MUST have time made for it...)

But i am practically voiceless, (I have a range exactly equal to my most bored and enervated speaking voice...) which, while it fills me with terror if I think long-term, is quite a blessing in the short-term -- since I could not sing or contribute to my schola's rehearsal, (my contribution is minimal at the best of times,) had leisure to observe the rehearsal style, warm-ups and chironomic practices of a different chant master.

This is just a remarkable week. I have so much to say about it, but I can hardly wrap my mind around all that is happening, so I may never say anything, I may just think about it.

The openness and generosity of heart of the people who do this, I don't mean us attendees, but those who make it happen is just over-whelming.

And the skills, not just the erudition and insight being passed on to us, but the mad teaching skills of Wilko, Arlene, Dr Shaefer, Ann Lebounsky and a dozen others, (not to slight those others, these are just my experiences of the past half a day!)

But now as I prepare to let the sacramenty goodness of this afternoon's Mass wash over me, (in lieu of calorie-burning participation as mandated by the Guardians of the Spirit of VCII -- it's their mis-interpretation of "active" participation, doncha know?) I shall, in keeping with the day, follow the example of the author of Ut Queant Laxis, and pray to St John the Baptist, if not for the restoration of my voice, for some kind of hint as to where my state should lead me...
Which kinda get me back to.... Ut... I mean DOHH re me fa sol....

(And St John? just to let you know I'm putting some effort into this, I made Lauds this morning....for the first time this week.... for YOUR feast day.... )

(Oh, and happy birthday)

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Robert Batastini on the Grail Psalter Licensing

From PrayTell (I think hearing GIA's side of this ongoing fracas over private ownership of the Church's official sacred text is of some importance, and it is all right to reprint it in its entirety. I still think Creative Commons would have been the way to go, but my understanding of copyright law is limited, plus my head is the world's largest repository of untruths and factoids. What's that word Damian uses for "WRONG"?)
The copyright on the Revised Grail Psalms (RGP) is held jointly by The Grail, England, and Conception Abbey, Missouri. Their contract with each other insures full protection of the Church’s interests in perpetuity.
They have jointly entered into an agreement with GIA Publications, Inc., Chicago, to serve as literary agent. GIA has the staff, experience and ability to efficiently perform this function. Furthermore, this relationship obliges GIA to act in the best interests of the The Grail, Conception Abbey, and the Church, or otherwise risk being in breach of the agreement resulting in the right of the copyright owners to pursue dissolution.
Because GIA is itself a publisher, there has been some negative speculation regarding its role in administering the RGP, and the relationship will most likely always be under a degree of hightened scrutiny. Understanding this concern, and being fully aware of the potential for favoring GIA’s publishing efforts in this regard, GIA has imposed a strict discipline upon itself, in order to guarantee that all publishers have an equal access to the RGP. Specifically, no composers have been given the RGP text, and not one word of the text has been set to music by the GIA editorial department. Not until the day the text is released to the public will anyone, including those associated with GIA, have the opportunity to work with the text. All that said, however, the final text has not yet been received from Rome, so that no complete accurate copy even exists. Only drafts are in hand.
The GIA web site contains a great deal of information as to the conditions for licensing the RGP, including when and by whom it may be used without a formal license. In brief, there will always be a royalty required whenever commerce is involved. In other words, if any revenue is received for the use of a publication—physical or digital, a percentage of that income will be collected in the name of the copyright owners. For all other uses specific conditions apply according to circumstances, and may result in either a fee for use, or gratis permission. GIA will license to all bona fide users on an equal basis, and will pay the same royalties for its own editions as will all other commercial publishers.
Royalties for liturgical and biblical texts have always been a part of the publishing of these texts. The Vatican assesses a royalty from the publishers of liturgical books. ICEL does similarly for its texts. The US Conference of Catholis Bishops requires a royalty for the publishing of the New American Bible Texts, as do the publishers of the New Revised Standard Version, The Jerusalem Bible—all used in Roman Catholic liturgy in various parts of the English-speaking world. The standards for assessing such royalties have long been established and are generally the basis followed by all. For licensing the RGP, the royalties will be thoroughly consistent with these establishes standards.
Finally, all revenue earned by GIA for administering the RGP comes from the assessed royalties, with no fees whatever charged to the end user.

Lead, Kindly Light, and I Shall Follow

Nice, huh?
Deus, qui beátum Ioánnem Henrícum, presbýterum, lumen benígnum tuum sequéntem pacem in Ecclésia tua inveníre contulísti,concéde propítius, ut, eius intercessióne et exémplo, ex umbris et imagínibus in plenitúdinem veritátis tuae perducámur. Per Dominum.

O God, who bestowed on the Priest Blessed John Henry Newman the grace to follow your kindly light and find peace in your Church; graciously grant that, through his intercession and example, we may be led out of shadows and images into the fulness of your truth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Embroider That On a Sampler

Plainchant for Plain Folks

Church of the Epiphany

I don't know when I've been so utterly but joyfully exhausted.



Built in 1902 as the temporary cathedral, with a cornerstone blessed by the Bishop Phelan, the Church of the Epiphany has played a central role in this city’s history. The parish, which has marvelous acoustics (probably the best in the whole of the diocese) and stunning beauty throughout, has graciously opened its doors to the Church Music Association of America for its liturgical schedule. The building is a red brick Romanesque structure with Byzantine details. Edward Stolz was the architect. Taber Sears painted the images of Christ and the apostles in the sanctuary. George Sotter designed and installed the remarkable stained glass between 1902 and 1919. The marble canopy over the main altar, ordered an cut in Pietrasanta, Italy, contains the extraordinary Venetian mosaic tympanum of the Visit of the Magi, and on the upper arch the enameled mosaic of the Lamb of God. The outside statuary, larger then life, came from the original cathedral. The organ was original built by Austin Organ Company of Hartford, Connecticut, in 1903, and was restored in 2007.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Simply Divine!

The Divine Liturgy and Carpathian chant was a perfect way to begin my week -- and now on to Pittsburgh, and Seven Days of Musical Heaven!

Friday, 18 June 2010

You Want Inculturation? I'll Give You Inculturation

From what I can only think is an allergic reaction to an absurdly fecund spring, I am without voice, or without enough voice to phonate for more than a phrase or two.
Very discouraged, thinking that in order to sing at all at the Colloquium, I shall need to limit myself to a chant schola, and take a pass on the polyphonic choirs.

Thinking of spending more time reading, and maybe composing, or rather arranging and "type-setting" as I have not the skill or charism for the real thing.

But I'm inspired by a friend who tells me that he is putting the finishing touches on a new plainsong Mass setting (he says he was inspired by the wonderful new enthusiasm for for chant displayed by the usual suspects from OCP, GIA and other shudder-inducing groups of initials.)

He says there will be a sort of pedal-point accompaniment, scored for vuvuzela ensemble (that means it has to be in either B flat, E flat or F doesn't it?)

Blow, Gabriel, blow....

I shall be sorry to miss its premier at NPM.
Think he's pulling my leg?
Of course, there are legitimate reasons to consider the vuvuzela a liturgical instrument.

This could be the ultimate "stadium Mass", no?

Is it so very different? Could you necessarily tell which is which?

Thursday, 17 June 2010

"Well, whuzzit matter as long as you're a nice person, right...."

A common enough approach to many, many facets of life, often to one's faith by someone who does not share it, no?
The marvelous Mia, a frequent, and extraordinarily insightful and gracious poster over at MusicaSacra informs us of a possible etymology of the word "nice":
[Middle English, foolish , from Old French, from Latin nescius , ignorant , from nescīre , to be ignorant ; see nescience .]

Oh no!!!!!! Not a FRIENDSHIP!!!@#!$!%!!??!!!

Can you imagine how HORRIBLE that would be, if children were allowed to develop close, unique friendships??!?#?$??
Really, is there anything more destructive than having someone you can depend on, someone special?
Adults in authority must do everything they can to discourage this!
How dreadfully children are warped by having a best friend....
“I think it is kids’ preference to pair up and have that one best friend. As adults — teachers and counselors — we try to encourage them not to do that,” said [the boneheaded] director of counseling at [a bonehead] Country Day School ....
In recent years [Bonehead] Lake Camp, a co-ed sleep-away camp [GOTCHA...]... has started employing “friendship coaches” to work with campers to help every child become friends with everyone else. If two children seem to be too focused on each other, the camp will make sure to put them on different sports teams, seat them at different ends of the dining table or, perhaps, have a counselor invite one of them to participate in an activity with another child whom they haven’t yet gotten to know.

“I don’t think it’s particularly healthy for a child to rely on one friend,” said [a boneheaded] camp’s director. “If something goes awry, it can be devastating. It also limits a child’s ability to explore other options in the world.”

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

"Crisis and Response... Reflections and Suggestions"

Why isn't Catholic liturgical music music better?
  • Except in some ethnic Catholic cultures, there is a general resistance to the acceptance of singing as an integral part of worship. This is usually attributed to the Irish heritage.
  • In an effort to overcome this resistance, parish “music ministers” feel pressured to “give the people what they like”, although their judgement on this matter is usually based on their own tastes rather than any authentic or objective research.
  • Parish pastors are often untrained, unskilled and/or ignorant in liturgical music and song, and so delegate the choice of music used in the liturgy to lay coordinators (who often may be capable musicians but may not be much better trained or prepared in the liturgical and theological principles).
  • Due to a shortage of trained musicians and to the new technology now available, cantors and musicians are being replaced by vocal recordings. Since many worshippers are conditioned by our entertainment society, they have learned to listen to these recordings rather than join in the singing themselves, with the result that recorded song tends to discourage congregational participation rather than encourage it.
  • At the same time, no published print resource of Catholic liturgical music and song which has been authorised by ecclesiastical authority currently exists for purchase in Australia today.
  • This leaves a vacuum which is being filled by other enterprises, usually driven by commercial interests of composers and publishers rather than by the interests of the Church and of what is most appropriate to the liturgy of the Roman Rite.
  • Nevertheless, new material is being produced and introduced into our parishes and schools at a vast rate by private enterprise, with the result that Australian Catholics have no shared repertoire of song among themselves, let alone with other English speaking Catholic Churches, nor any lasting personal appropriation of the Church’s song, nor any consolidated patrimony to pass on to new generations.
  • On the contrary, a “cult of the new” is being fostered by publishers and composers to the detriment of the Church’s patrimony in music and song.
  • The music of this new material is often too difficult or unsuitable for congregational singing, having been written and designed for solo performance by the song writer at concerts.
  • The new music often has little connection with the tradition of the music for the Roman Rite.
  • Many of the texts of the new material suffer from a number of drawbacks, primarily theologically, such as in the naming of God, the use of the voice of God, meaningless or trite phrases, or doctrine simply contrary to the Catholic faith.
  • Many new texts are also deficient linguistically (they contrast markedly to the language of the new translation of the missal) and poetically.
  • Many of the new texts display a lack of comprehension of the purpose of liturgical music and song, not only in ritual terms, but also in terms of the theological function of liturgical praise and adoration.
Same old same old?

Not really.

This is an article from the blog of one David Schütz about the crisis in Catholic liturgical music, fascinating to me, for offering the perspective of a convert, a former Lutheran minister, and of an Australian, for a change, and how like unto our Yanks' it is! (Though his remedies are by me, too hymn0centric.)

I'm just intrigued by, despite the differing background, (ministerial, Lutheran, Australian,) how similarly one might hear the problem explained by those in this hemisphere.

(I'm certainly delighted to have found the blog, and shall continue reading it.)

It's a good, long article, go read the rest, (you probably already have, it's a month old,) and also the comboxes.
Is it a form of schadenfreude to note with relief that his bishops have failed to address this as neglectfully as ours?