Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Well Done, Your Excellency

New York's + Abp Timothy Dolan has a few words to say in his Palm Sunday homily.
Anytime the horrible, vicious sin, and nauseating crime [of child sexual abuse] is reported, as it needs to be, victims and their families are wounded again, the vast majority of faithful priests bow their heads in shame anew, and sincere Catholics experience another dose of shock, sorrow, and even anger.

What deepens the sadness now are the unrelenting insinuations against the Holy Father himself as certain sources seem frenzied to implicate this man who, perhaps more than anyone else has been the leader in purification, reform, and renewal that the Church so needs.
Sunday Mass is hardly the place to document the inaccuracy, bias, and hyperbole of such aspersions.
But, Sunday Mass is indeed the time for Catholics to pray for Benedict our Pope.

And Palm Sunday Mass is sure a fitting place for us to express our love and solidarity for our earthly shepherd now suffering some of the same unjust accusations, shouts of the mob, and scourging at the pillar, as did Jesus.
Oremus pro Pontifice

Who doesn't sing "All Glory Laud and Honor"?

Just a thought that occurred as the camera repeatedly picked up certain people during the entrance procession, (the second "entrance procession," as the first Gospel was sung from within the nave,) at the Mass from the national Basilica.

People who, I suspect, would not sing anything. ANYthing.
People whose active participation does not depend on their singing hymns.
People who would prefer, (and this is an understandable and IMO acceptable preference,) perhaps to be able to watch the procession?

Sad, Sad News

Apparently, the beautiful parish church of St Charles Borromeo in North Hollywood, (a favorite of Himself's and mine when we lived in LA and stumbled upon it, in the days before I knew you could find faithful liturgies and reverent music via the internet...,) is to be subject to a... renovation, and perhaps to the ministrations of Richard Vosko, or at least, someone who shares his liturgical and aesthetic sensibilities.

Born to Chant!

Charles in CenCa nails it.
A confession -- I always admired, liked, appreciated, wanted the chant -- but I thought it was just one among other approppriate and equally (by me,) admired, liked, appreciated, wanted forms of music;some of which, (Oh the HOWWOW!) are contemporary, and some of which are popular, (though none of which are contemporary and popular.)

Not so, not so.


I never realized before that moaning actually help relieve pain.
Been laid low with what I thought was food poisoning, (now suspecting a virus or bacterial infection,) and trying to make light of it when Himself is home.
It actually feels better to just wail or sigh or whatever -- is it a little like that strange huffing that women in labor do, (at least in the movies)? Anyway, I only do it when he's out, so I actually feel the worst at the times when I am pretending to feel the best.

Missing Sunday Mass for the first time in 9 years, I think, (could be remembering wrong.)

Thank you, EWTN.
I will truly miss the network if we do move into my Mom's environs... yet another reason to "need" a highspeed internet connection.

Satan's "Sense of Liturgy"

Fr Hunwicke has a thoughtful and deeply felt reflection on the abuse and cover-up crisis, reprinted here in its entirety:
For nearly three decades I served in the Diocese of Chichester under Bishop Eric Kemp. One of the things that made him so admired among his clergy was the care and love that he showed towards a priest with a problem. The fact that he gave an errant priest - even one whose lapse had been sexual - a second chance, seemed to us, back in the 1980s, the mark of a fine pastor. In that far-off decade, forgiveness and mercy were thought very highly of. In those days, forgiveness and mercy were thought of as characteristics of our blessed Lord himself. In those days, secular critics of the Church very commonly attacked her for being "unforgiving" towards those who had fallen from her standards in sexual matters. In those days, fashionable 'libertarian' organisations defended the right of pedophile groups to campaign for the legalisation of consensual sexual activity between adults and children. In those days, as we worked our way through the progressive decriminalisation of sexual activities, there were those who believed that the process would eventually encompass all sexualities. Indeed, why, on secular principles, should this not be so? In my lifetime, we used to imprison for homosexuality and abortion. Now these activities have been elevated into secular sanctities which it is increasingly dangerous to blaspheme and which are to be inculcated even among the very young at public expense. I would have no difficulty explaining to a pedophile why his predilection contravened given Christian Dogma, and why its expression was therefore an absolute evil which no little game of situational ethics could for the tiniest moment justify. I do not know how I would even begin to persuade him of the rationality of current public morality.

We all know that those who are gunning for the Pope are hypocrites. We know that they are in many cases dirty hypocrites whose own lifestyle is unmarked by any evidence of sexual continence. We know that they are bigoted hypocrites who are only marginally, if at all, interested if a rabbi or a humanist gets 'done' for pedophilia or if an Anglican diocese is bankrupted by the compensation it has paid out to abused Inuit children. There is
one organisation that they detest with a loathing curiously like Hitler's dislike of the Jews. There is one man for whose downfall they have an insatiable bloodlust.

Nil novi sub sole. Dante described (Purgatorio XX 86-88) how Christ was again made captive and mocked in the person of His Vicar.

How very, very, appropriate that this malevolent evil should be reaching its climax in Holy Week. Satan has a real sense of liturgy.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Happy Birthay, Magda!

Just listened to a birthday tribute on "The Recording Horn" to the legendary Magda Olivero, who will turn 100 this Thursday.


The most charming of women, and as thrilling a singing actress as anyone ever saw or heard.

Great, it's my OWN fault I've never accomplished much...

Review of an interesting-sounding book.

I have long accepted that my own sloth is responsible for most of what goes wrong in my life. (Heard some interesting discourse on the Seven Deadlies yesterday on the radio.)

Anyway, secular society seems to be in agreement with what my Faith tells me.
David Shenk with “The Genius in All of Us,” ... argues that we have before us not a “talent scarcity” but a “latent talent abundance.” Our problem “isn’t our inadequate genetic assets,” but “our inability, so far, to tap into what we already have.” The truth is “that few of us know our true limits, that the vast majority of us have not even come close to tapping what scientists call our ‘un­actualized potential.’ ”

... We’ve traditionally regarded superior talent as a rare and mysterious gift bequeathed to a lucky few. In fact, Shenk writes, science is revealing it to be the product of highly concentrated effort. He describes the work of the psychologist Anders Ericsson, who wondered if he could train an ordinary person to perform extraordinary feats of memory. When Eric­sson began working with a young man identified as S.F., his subject could, like most of us, hold only seven numbers in his short-term memory. By the end of the study, S.F. could correctly recall an astonishing 80-plus digits. With the right kind of mental discipline, Ericsson and his co-­investigator concluded, “there is seemingly no limit to memory performance.” Shenk weaves accounts of such laboratory experiments, conducted on average people, with the tales of singularly accomplished individuals — Ted Williams and Michael Jordan, Mozart and Beethoven— who all worked relentlessly to hone their skills.

Bring these two domains together, and a new vision of achievement begins to come into focus. Shenk’s “ambitious goal,” he tells us, is to take this widely dispersed research and “distill it all into a new lingua franca, adopting helpful new phrases and metaphors” to replace old and misleading ones. Forget about genes as unchanging “blueprints” and talent as a “gift,” all tied up in a bow. “We cannot allow ourselves to think that way anymore,” he declares with some fervor. Instead, Shenk proposes, imagine the genome as a giant control board, with thousands of switches and knobs that turn genes off and on or tune them up and down. And think of talent not as a thing, but as a process; not as something we have, but as something we do....

Shenk doesn’t neglect the take-home point we’re all waiting for, even titling a chapter “How to Be a Genius (or Merely Great).” The answer has less in common with the bromides of motivational speakers than with the old saw about how to get to Carnegie Hall practice, practice, practice. Whatever you wish to do well, Shenk writes, you must do over and over again, in a manner involving, as Ericsson put it, “repeated attempts to reach beyond one’s current level,” which results in “frequent failures.” This is known as “deliberate practice,” and over time it can actually produce changes in the brain, making new heights of achievement possible. Behold our long rumored potential, unleashed at last! Shenk is vague about how, exactly, this happens, but to his credit he doesn’t make it sound easy. “You have to want it, want it so bad you will never give up, so bad that you are ready to sacrifice time, money, sleep, friendships, even your reputation,” he writes. “You will have to adopt a particular lifestyle of ambition, not just for a few weeks or months but for years and years and years. You have to want it so bad that you are not only ready to fail, but you actually want to experience failure: revel in it, learn from it.”

It’s in this self-help section that two weaknesses in Shenk’s argument become evident. The first is the matter of where the extreme drive and discipline that greatness requires are supposed to come from. Shenk tells us about Beethoven writing 60 to 70 drafts of a single phrase of music, and Ted Williams hitting practice pitches until his hands bled.

... He is careful to say that we are not born without limits — it’s just that none of us can know what those limits are “before we’ve applied enormous re­sources and invested vast amounts of time.” He ducks the implication that these limits will, eventually, reveal themselves, and that they will stop most of us well short of Mozart territory. There’s a tension here between Shenk’s extravagant talk of “greatness” and “genius” and the more modest message he delivers: practice can improve your performance, perhaps far more than you imagined.

I think all this ties in, somehow, with Me and Solfege, (a play in many, many acts,) -- I resist practice, but I know, and have it demonstrated regularly to me, that in this, as it so many areas of endeavor, it works.
Not only does it work, but it is the ONLY thing that works -- there is no substitute for practice, for just doing it.

"The World's Biggest Pep Rally"

"Perhaps ... people were distracted by the parade of Asian drummers ascending the stage in their colorful costumes of blue, red, green, yellow and gold. Or maybe they were still working out what the spiraled and curved figures hanging from the ceiling were intended to represent. Once it got going ..., as the drummers were drumming, and the dancers processed, lifting and swirling with flaming braziers in their hands, it was clear that something exciting was under way."

The opening of the LA Religious Ed hoo-ha, via PrayTell

Friday, 19 March 2010

St Joseph, Pray for Us!

I am fortunate enough today to be able to celebrate by attending a Solemn High Mass [Correction, 3/20 - it wasn't a "Solemn" High Mass, I believe -- no deacon or sub-deacon? I'm still not all that familiar with the ins and outs of the varieties of EF] in the great saint's honor.
Through the efforts of a 21-year-old (who hopes to enter the seminary when he graduates,) his fellow students at Holy Cross can do likewise, at the first Mass celebrated there in the older rite since 1995. (I is a shame reverence and solemnity doesn't speak to young people...:oP)
In this time of rampant unemployment, or underemployment, I have had recourse to asking St Joseph for his intercession in his capacity as the patron of workers, and today I learned that for at least one family member, my prayers have been answered.
There are other St. Josephs, besides our Lord's foster father, for whose intercession I ask.
Joseph was also my father's name, and I have no doubt whatever that he has the ear of our Father in heaven, and is in a position to add his prayers to mine.
Happy feast day, all you Josephs out there! (especially you, Papa, and you, my little brother!)


Thursday, 18 March 2010

"Courageous?" Too funny...

Without weighing in on the merits of the health care bill, I would like to call attention to this absurdly funny bit in David Waters' in the Washington Post, about the four and a half dozen or so religious sisters claiming to represent 59,000 of their.. well, their sisters, in supporting the bill:
[Their letter to Congress said,] "Despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions. It will uphold longstanding conscience protections and it will make historic new investments - $250 million - in support of pregnant women. This is the REAL pro-life stance, and we as Catholics are all for it."

Can 59,000 Catholic sisters be wrong?

Surely they couldn't be more courageous. At a time when American sisters are under investigation by the Vatican, a direct challenge of the public position of the bishops is likely to raise a few eyebrows in the Church hierarchy.

Not sure his point in asking if 59000 can be wrong... of course they can. If it is right, it doesn't matter if it issues from a single voice crying in the wilderness, and if it is wrong, every soul on earth could agree and it wouldn't make it right.

Bu no, what makes me laugh (yes, literally... LOL. Not LMAO, however,) is the notion that there is some "courage' involved in their position --- ooooh, because the bishops won't like it?
(Scary, boys and girls!)

Because the bishops will do what, exactly? He tells us, actually.

Raise their eyebrows!

How very terrifying a prospect!

So how very valiant the sisters must be to risk such a thing!

The old guys in miters surely have no power over the sisters, after all. Right? Because the sisters aren't dependent on the bishops, or the rest of the Church for anything, right?

At least, that's what pretty much the same faction of sisters has been insisting, ever since the visitation was announced, that the Church hierarchy had no right to question them or investigate them? That they get nothing out of representing themselves as faithful Catholic, and derive no benefit from the association?

Because other than the threat of their powerful and terrifying eyebrows, the bishops have no leverage over the sisters, no call or claim on their loyalty or obedience, right?

Or have they?

And have the sisters been less than accurate in insisting that they owe the hierarchy nothing, that the Vatican had no right to investigate them?

(As for Glen Beck, I hope they make the silly man cry. His tears are highly entertaining, if not all that convincing. Is he a Catholic? I didn't know. I also don't know if the jackass who wrote the piece saying anyone can or does "assume Beck left the church long ago" isn't falling into the same error as the holier-than-thou conservatives who would try to tell those with whom they disagree that they aren't real Catholics.)

Putting Things in Perspective

Yes, we have "priest shortage" in this country, compared to the mid-20th century's vocation "boom" but look at how the "elder daughter is faring!
In today's Vatican press release, we learn that a Parisian priest, Fr. Jacques Benoit-Gonnin, has been appointed bishop of Beauvais where there are 153 priests to say Mass and confect the Eucharist for a Catholic population of 698,000.
I would be curious to find any stats about Traditionalists for that diocese.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Church Music in Ireland and the House of Brigid

Interesting blog post about 3 (American? presumably) Notre Dame grads whow have set themselves a missionary task:"to contribute to the renewal of the Church in Wexford through liturgical music and the celebration of the sacraments."
I don't think they should be surprised at the musical illiteracy they have found, (and the post is a little patronizing in that regard, though it is surely not intentional.)

After all, our nation is musically illiterate as well -- it's just that those of us involved in music forget, and start to think the circles in which we travel are somehow normal or normative. They are not. (How could Nixon have won? No one I know voted for him!)
The House of Brigid was established this summer by three fellow '09 Domers to contribute to the renewal of the Church in Wexford through liturgical music and the celebration of the sacraments. While the sacraments are readily available in Ireland, their celebration has lost its vitality and joy. The historical authoritarianism of the Irish clergy has sabotaged itself, so that in the wake of the horrific sexual abuse scandals here the Irish laity feel betrayed by the hierarchy but do not feel empowered themselves to take greater responsibility for the life of the Church. Mass is poorly attended, and young adults in particular do not see the relevance of structured religion to their lives. Some do still observe "the Sunday obligation," and young parents spend significant sums on First Communion suits, but all too often their is no sense of active participation on the part of the congregation, and a child's First Communion is also his Last.

The sad state of liturgical music in Ireland has long puzzled me. A country with such a lively folk tradition, renowned the world over for its lively trad music, ought to also have some of the most moving liturgies, I assumed. Voices that make the roof of the pub tremble on Saturday night should equally raise the rafters of the church on a Sunday morning. Yet quite the opposite is true: laypeople mumble the responses to the prayers and most Masses have no music at all, or music provided by a choir without programmes for the congregation to use to add their voices to the hymns.

Teach Bhride is trying to help the Church of the Annunciation in Clonard, Wexford to unlock its potential in Sunday liturgies and other parish celebrations, and through their music ministry they also contribute to the catachesis of the parish, since liturgical music is an expression, not an entertainment.

I was eager to visit Chris, Martha, and Carolyn in Clonard to see how the first year of the new endeavor is going. I was struck by the way they work alongside the parishioners of Annunciation, augmenting the efforts of long-laboring church musicians there. They say that they have learned a great deal from the parishioners, since they came to Clonard knowing very little about the existing choirs' repertoire and the traditions of the parish. They have moved through their first liturgical year in Ireland as keen observers and eager students, slowly introducing new music and new ways of approaching the liturgy to complement what Clonard already has. They approach their ministry with humility.

I know that coming from two years of singing in Notre Dame's Folk Choir, the trio feel their foreignness in working with Clonard's church choirs. Ireland is still enough of a folk culture that the notion of approaching music scientifically, with written scores and technical terms is strange- except for music students, most people learn music purely by ear here. If the churches have hymnals at all--which is uncommon--they usually contain only the text of the hymns. It reminds me of my summer in Ukraine in that respect, where my students would sing folk songs in four part harmony with 10 or 15 verses from memory. Ireland, as much as it likes to pretend, isn't wholly modern yet.
I believe many British hymnals are still printed that way, available text only, or with music an text separate, on facing pages.
And your average Catholic church choir in this country is not made up of readers.
I think it is probably hard to make music ministry truly catachetical, to convince people that liturgical music is "an expression not an entertainment" if you start from any place other than the actual texts of the Mass, sung in the manner that the Church has mandated is her own, with the music most especially suited to the rites.

Otherwise its just taste and personal piety.

The Dominican Habit

A very interesting post from Moniales OP about the habit worn by the nuns at the Rosary Shrine in Summit.

I know a little something about them, having worn one many times.
(And no, I don't mean as a costume in productions of Sound of Music, although I have done that, too...)

When I was little, there were Holy Hours with processions in May and October, (with a crowning in May,) and besides the Third Order, in the procession were a dozen or so small children robed as Dominicans, in tiny, authentic habits.

The habits and robes were very beautiful, and very complicated -- it took quite some time for mothers and nuns (externs?) to pin and tie each of us apple-cheeked squirmers into our garb.

My, but we were funny and cute!

(I believe as a worldly and mean-as-a-snake 5 year old, I tried to convince my four-year old brother that they were going to have to save a bald spot in the middle of his head for the occasion. Since the OP priests we knew had no such tonsure, I don't know why he was so easy to convince, but logic never was his strong suit.

I'm spending a lot of time in Purgatory, I fear...)

Lovely bit of (disputed) information about veiling from the combox there, Fr. Martin Farrell,op tells us that the Veil:
... does NOT come from medieval fashion (as did the wimple), but rather is the common element found in all monastic dress, for both men and women, perhaps even as far back as the desert fathers!

The veil is takes its origin from Scripture, actually. It points to the moment in the Sinai Desert when Moses came down from the camp after one of his meetings with God. Proximity to God had so transformed Moses that even his physical appearance changed, and his countenance was so bright that, in order for the people to be able to look at him, he had to veil his head (a factoid referred to in the Transfiguration account in the Gospels).

Religious have always veiled their heads to remind themselves that, like Moses, they dwell in God's presence and are, therefore, to be transformed. So in the East, the veil, for both men and women, has been maintained; in the West, while Relgious women still wear it, for men it has been "replaced" by the hood.

"Liturgical Music for Relaxation"

Not that I haven't snoozed through a homily or two or three, and not that some worthy liturgical music (include the very pinnacle of liturgical musical expression, )can't be very soothing, but I think marketing "some of the most popular liturgical music of our time" as an easy-listenin' backdrop to whatever it is you do to relax, may betray a misapprehension of what the term "liturgical music" actually means.

Which explains a lot.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010


... the Office of Readings, well -- it might as well be in Sanskrit.

Today, not so bad, but it continued Leviticus, I CAN not get it, and several times recently both the scripture and the other reading, clear as mud.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Creeping Clericalism

I am thinking about changing my practice, the manner in which I receive the Body and Blood of Christ.

You see, there is this priest who considers someone "coming up to communion" and "kneeling, or sticking their tongue out at the Lord and at the priest," to be "making a prophetic and transgressive gesture in the name of ‘reverence." (And he is "tempted in my bad moments to regard this as exhibitionist, a manifestation of spiritual pride," but at least doesn't state positively that it is necessarily. )

He claims that "such behaviour [as] receiving holy communion kneeling and/or on the tongue
can easily be disruptive when only a minority do it."
Kneeling is a stretch, but I'll grant him that it is possible to disrupt a communion line designed for maximum speed and efficiency, but receiving on the tongue?

I might theorize on what is "disrupted" because this priest further believes that "the practice of communion on the tongue is distasteful, insanitary, and grounded in theological misunderstandings about the nature of grace and the Eucharist."

As I said, his opinion is making me rethink my practice.

The thread in question is mostly about whether a presider who does not respect the integrity of the text of the Roman Missal is pastoral or presumptuous.

One contributing liturgist uses GIRM 20. [Because, however, the celebration of the Eucharist, like the entire Liturgy, is carried out through perceptible signs that nourish, strengthen, and express faith,31 the utmost care must be taken to choose and to arrange those forms and elements set forth by the Church that, in view of the circumstances of the people and the place, will more effectively foster active and full participation and more properly respond to the spiritual needs of the faithful,] as a refutation of the claim that "improv is never required,"

He feels that GIRM 20 "requires the person reading this rubric to exercise a pastoral judgment, not to say 'It doesn’t tell me I must do such-and-such, so I won’t', which comes dangerously close to being childish."

He reminds his readers that "something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration.”

(I have noticed that when anyone who has failed to do so is reminded that he ought to follow instructions, the defense is usually that following instructions is insufficient -- as if anyone ever claims that it is....

"GIRM 20 is saying that if you just stick to the book you are actually not doing your job properly: you have to select and arrange what the Church has proposed in order to facilitate the spiritual welfare of the faithful. ... It’s a totally different world from the rubricism of the preconciliar era, and many people including some posting here have not yet 'got it', alas."

That's it. Anyone who disagrees does so because he doesn't "get it." It couldn't be that he understands perfectly well but thinks you're , oh, I don't know.. wrong?

"I think GIRM 20 refers to a state of mind."

That's the ticket, the General Instruction tells us what our state of mind ought to be, it refers to something unquantifiable, and therefore beyond criticism, not subject to mundane considerations like "right," or "wrong," or "actually there in the GIRM."

To think otherwise "is a postconciliar vision of liturgy which rubricists, who feel safe within the confines of rules and regulations, have difficulty in understanding. The fact is that pastoral needs can be the guiding principle for much more than people realize. It is a liberation, not an abuse."

Simple soul that I am, what I have no difficulty in understanding, is something like this .

Sunday, 14 March 2010

"You Sing With Your Ears"

Susan Hallauer, of Anonymous 4 conducts chant workshops:
The music [the young women of "Angelus," a five-voice student ensemble at Mount Vernon High School,] sing is ancient, largely evolved from oral traditions, "And all of it is sacred," said Dana Taylor, their music director.

Known generically as "plainsong," the music is sung a cappella and in unison (no harmony).

People raised in the Roman Catholic tradition know the music well. [If only!] Plainsong or "Gregorian chant" is sung during the celebration of Mass; it is a ritual part of worship throughout the day in monastery life.

But the ethereal beauty of the highly formulaic sound taps into a "universal emotion" that has the capacity to lift up the spirits of all who listen, be it in a Cathedral setting or a concert hall, said Susan Hallauer, who, as a founding member of the internationally renowned vocal ensemble, Anonymous 4, has performed the Chant repertoire in both types of venues since 1986.

She also teaches others how to sing it.

And so it was, in a cathedrallike setting last Saturday, when Hallauer met with 14 Mount Vernon High School students, including members of Angelus, for a daylong Chant Camp at the Monastery of the Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand, Ind.

The event was sponsored by Mount Vernon High's music department, Taylor said, but participants included representatives from the Monastery at Ferdinand, the Arch Abbey at St. Meinrad and faculty from Indiana University's Ancient Music and Medieval Studies departments.

Where Do You Stand...?

...On the question of abstinence on a Friday in Lent on which a Solemnity, a great feast day, falls?
It's a very, very special day to me.


Laetare Sunday

I celebrated it by spending the day in a pink snuggie...


I also heard the Gospel of the Dutiful Son and the Prodigal Son read at Mass for the first time in nine years.
Yes, they actually used the Gospel from the Lectionary Cycle in which we find ourselves rather than defaulting to A.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Putting Your Money Where Your Liturgical Mouth Is

At present unemployed and impecunious, I will barely be able to pay my own way to this summer's Colloquium.
But one some blogs I frequent, the readership seems to have its fair share of "I'm not a musician myself, but I can tell you the music at my parish is lousy" posters.

Fair 'nuff.

But here's a chance to DO something about it.
Pay for a seminarian's scholarship to the Colloquium! This was in my inbox:
At present, scholarship funds for the CMAA Summer Intensive and Sacred Music Colloquium are extremely limited. Extremely.

Disbursements will not be made until late April - and it all depends on what is available. Any scholarships awarded will more than likely be partial (and as it stands now, I mean partial) rather than full. Hard times call for hard work on everyone's part.

We've already received more requests than we can fulfill. If you are planning on attending but know that you will need help, you may well need to seek out an individual or local organization who can sponsor you, or go about doing some fund raising on your own -- now -- at your school, seminary, or local parish. Bake sales, car washes, benefit concerts, special collections, playing the violin on street corners or in shopping malls, finding a parishioner willing to sponsor your trip, etc. It's time to be creative.

Here's an idea: if you have a somewhat supportive pastor, purchase a copy of the Colloquium DVD here. Arrange for a potluck dinner at your parish or student center. Explain why you are trying to get to the Colloquium, and how it will be a benefit to all. Show the DVD. Ask for donations. Make it happen at home.

Don't forget that the CMAA is an all volunteer organization, and wholly dependent on donations for scholarships.

If you are in the position to help and in particular, interested in sponsoring a musician, priest, or seminarian's attendance, please write to us at programs@musicasacra.com.

If you yourself are already registered for one of our summer programs and would like to give a little extra toward scholarships, you can add that amount to your own fees, and indicate as much on the online or mail in registration form. No amount is too small. All donations are applied directly to scholarships.

Sunday Afternoon Music Directing, and Where the Problem Lies

Ya know, like Monday morning quarter-backing? (Some sort of sports metaphor, I believe, :oP)
There is a thread at The New Liturgical Movement by the Great Bow-tied One, asking, in sincerity, what do you do when you encounter bad liturgy.

JT actually is asking specifically about music, but the question can apply to the priest, the servers...

And of course, there is a difference between the right thing done badly and the wrong thing done.

One does not go up to a lay reader after Mass and say you weren't loud enough, or you speak too quickly for someone with a heavy accent, or that's not how you pronounce braziers.

Or does one?

I've heard plenty of lousy homilies in my life, and never told a priest afterwards what I thought.

On the other hand, I did go up to a priest one December Sunday and ask him why he said the Gloria, that I thought that... (He dismissed me, telling me that I was confusing Advent with Lent.)

And since I often compliment servers, both at my parish and elsewhere, I felt entitled to speak to a couple of rowdies who whispered, joked with and jostled each other through the consecration.
I just reminded them that even though the priest couldn't see them behind him, they were directly in the line of sight of someone, in this case me, a stranger, as I looked toward the altar during the EP and that it was unfair of them to be so distracting. I wasn't "mean," as is my wont, because teenagers don't need to be handed an excuse to quit serving.

Musicians are a different matter, because I have a conversation piece, so to speak.

And I admit have climbed to many a loft and been given the skunk eye for my pains.

Musicians who set up "up front" aren't usually so proprietary about their territory.

Anyway, if something has been egregious, I will instigate a conversation, but usually only to determine chain of command, disguised as a survey of "how they do things elsewhere."

Oh, the cantor picks the music five minutes before Mass? Oh, the pastor decides what Ordinary? absolutely everyone is volunteer and the priest doesn't care if there's music or not and only steps in if he objects to something?

In my experience, the really awful stuff results from either 1) pastors who don't know and don't care, or 2) highly committed, highly organized and highly supported musicians immersed in a highly entertainment-oriented style of music.

Not a lot can be done about the latter by a visiting musician. They have worked hard to do exactly what it is you might object to, and they have the backing of large commercial enterprises to affirm them in their choices.

Take the cantor at the cathedral confirmations who, having sung the requisite three verse with the congregation of the Moore Taste and See at communion pretty "straight," and happily finding herself needing to fill time proceed to HOWL the same verses all over again melismatically as a solo -- do you think she would give my suggesting a performance style with less affect might be more appropriate more weight than that of dozens of people congratulating her that she "stole the show"?

Do you think the girl in the well-circulated picture from a Mass at last years RelEd Conference with the skirt slit up to there, writhing and wailing emotively into a mic' is unaware of her fame, and the opprobrium she earned from some quarters?

Do you think she cares?

Do you think any of the choristers whose feelings were so hurt by the contempt showered on the music at the papal Mass at Nationals Stadium "saw the light" and said, ah ha! hence forth I shall not sing such stuff even if offered the opportunity to sing at a papal Mass?

Even had more of the admonishments been delivered charitably, (and many were, although meanest is always loudest,) I don't think so.

I know too many musicians who flatly deny that their are any such things as rubrics regarding liturgical music, that "the Pope or some other old guy in the Vatican has any right to tell me what to do," or, (and this is the one that almost made me lose heart,) that the texts, not the music, but the TEXTS of the propers are inherently more appropriate to be used at their appointed places in a Mass than some popular favorite.

In fact, and this one was jaw dropping, I have a "liturgical musician" friend who, when confronted with one proper said not just that it was not more appropriate, but was completely INappropriate, not just for the Mass for which it was assigned, but ever.
And the fact that "the Church" said so, in so far as She had issued the Missal, was irrelevant. (This was in the context of one of those Ya can't sing Mary songs at Mass moments...)

So, invincible ignorance, no?

This guy makes a small fortune coordinating a huge music ministry at a wealthy parish and he is not "unaware" of the existence of the propers and the gradual and legislation on music... he just doesn't give a rat's hindquarters.

There is nothing to be done.

By US.

About THEM.

Which brings us to the first most likely situation leading to egregiously inappropriate and bad music liturgy: pastors who don't know and/or don't care.

That's where the education needs to happen. That is who needs the admonishment, the prayers, the instruction, the help -- PRIESTS.

And while there are old dogs who can still learn new tricks, I think you'll get better return on your investment, (of time and effort,) if you concentrate on seminarians, young priests and Catholic schools.

God send us holy priests. God send us many holy priests.

P.S. I absolutely reject the notion, given voice in that thread, that we are "guests" at a parish simply because we are not registered members, which I shall express over there.

Such parochialism is what has led to the Rite of Making-It-Up-As-W-Go-Along at St. Thewaywedoithere's.

"...so we'll have GUITAR instead!"

Whence the notion that since the organ is to be used but sparingly during Lent, and, if the assembly and music ministry is musically mature, not at all during the Triduum, from Gloria to Gloria,(correct,) Good Friday ought to be a piano service?(bone-headed)

Or accompaniment for the bulk of the Mass of the Lord's Supper limited to flute and guitar?

I hear about this once, I assume a misreading on the part of a local music director or liturgist or priest -- but thrice, in far-flung areas?

I smell a Facilitator.

There must have been some presenter, or some workshop, with some hand-out, or some guide sent to members of some group.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Fr Tolton's Cause for Sainthood Opened

The cause for the canonization of Fr Augustine Tolton, the first black priest in the United States has been opened.

I have never understood why a major motion picture hasn't been made of his life -- born into slavery, escaped with his mother while a child, ordained at the Vatican... really, why not?

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Extra, Extra! Read all..

.. about it.

The breaking shocker?

Not all "Catholics" practice, and not all "priests" care all that much...

Missed Opportunity

Update, 3/13, I stand corrected, out of a bajillion there are two, I had missed this:
Turner, Rev. Paul
Language: English Topic(s): Liturgy/Music
Workshops: 2
1-24: The Order of Mass(*)
4-25: The Revised Eucharistic Prayers(*)

Out of about a bajillion speakers and presenters and topics, it doesn't seem that there is anything, not one thing, about the new Missal translation.

Catechists and DREs are in a position, perhaps the best position of anyone, to really make a difference in having a smooth transition.

They have the best, regular access to the most open, nimblest minds.

And since their charge, their very purpose would be, I would think, to hand on the Faith, and since the Mass is the very source and the ultimate summit of that Faith.... what gives?

I am not among those who decry the supposedly bizarre or inappropriate liturgies that seem to pop up there, and on which the attendees are sold -- you see, our DRE is not of their number. Any "creative" ideas brought back could be an improvement over that which the DRE comes up with flying solo.

God bless them all.

And no, you can't "Sing One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church Into Being" either...

It's really not very catchy, anyway.
During today's general audience, celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope turned his attention to the written works and doctrine of St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio.

St. Bonaventure "authentically and faithfully interpreted the figure of St. Francis of Assisi", said the Holy Father. He reacted against the "Spirituals" in the Franciscan Order who, drawing on the ideas of Joachim of Fiore, held that "with St. Francis the final phase of history had begun", and looked to the creation of a new Church of the Holy Spirit, "no longer tied to the structures of old".

St. Bonaventure dealt with this question in his last work, "Hexaemeron", in which he explained that "God is one throughout history. ... History is one, even if it is a journey, a journey of progression. ... Jesus is the last word of God" and "there is no other Gospel, no other Church to be awaited. Thus the Order of St. Francis must also insert itself into this Church, into her faith and her hierarchical order.

"This does not mean", Benedict XVI added, "that the Church is immobile, fixed in the past, that there is no room in her for novelty". With his famous expression "the works of Christ are not lacking but prospering", St. Bonaventure "explicitly formulated the idea of progress", certain "that the richness of the word of Christ is never ending and that it can also being new light to new generations. The uniqueness of Chris is also a guarantee of novelty and renewal in the future".

The Holy Father noted how "today too opinions exist according to which the entire history of the Church in the second millennium is one of constant decline. Some people see this decline as having begun immediately after the New Testament". Yet, the Pope asked, "what would the Church be without the new spirituality of the Cistercians, the Franciscans and the Dominicans, the spirituality of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross? ... St. Bonaventure teaches us ... how to open ourselves to the new charisms given by Christ, in the Holy Spirit, to His Church".

"Following Vatican Council II some people were convinced that all was new, that a new Church existed, that the pre-conciliar Church had come to an end and that there would be another, completely different Church, an anarchic utopia. Yet thanks to God the wise helmsmen of the ship of Christ, Paul VI and John Paul II, defended on the one hand the novelty of the Church and, at the same time, the uniqueness and continuity of the Church, which is always a Church of sinners, and always a place of grace".

Me, I'm a Sucker For Oboe...

A truly remarkable speech (the St. John Fisher visitor lecture,) by Cardinal Levada, prefect of the CDF, essentially about the welcome being extended by the Church to Anglicans, but stating some hard, solid truths about ecumenism. Go read the whole thing.
Union with the Catholic Church is the goal of ecumenism—one could put, “we phrase it that way”. Yet the very process of working towards union works a change in churches and ecclesial communities that engage one another in dialogue, in actual instances of entering into communion do indeed transform the Catholic Church by way of enrichment. Let me add right away that when I say enrichment I am referring not to any addition of essential elements of sanctification and truth to the Catholic Church. Christ has endowed her with all the essential elements. I am referring to the addition of modes of expression of these essential elements, modes which enhance everyone’s appreciation of the inexhaustible treasures bestowed on the Church by her divine founder.

The new reality of visible unity among Christians should not thought of as the coming together of disparate elements that previously had not existed in any one community. The Second Vatican Council clearly teaches that all the elements of sanctification and truth which Christ bestowed on the Church are found in the Catholic Church. What is new then is not the acquisition of something essential which had hitherto been absent. Instead, what is new is that perennial truths and elements of holiness already found in the Catholic Church are given new focus, or a different stress by the way they are lived by various groups of the faithful who are called by Christ to come together in perfect communion with one another, enjoying the bonds of creed, code, cult and charity, in diverse ways that blend harmoniously.

Since the Church is like a sacrament, she bears within herself the truth and grace of Christ. When we say that Christ reveals God, and that the Church bears the revelation of Christ in the world, we are admitting that the unenlightened human intellect is not up to the task of knowing God’s ways perfectly. We humans need revelation, enlightenment. Baptism as the foundational sacrament of Christian faith is the normal means for that enlightenment to begin to penetrate our intellects. Even so, while God in Christ has revealed as much about Himself and about our relationship to Him as we need, revealed truths about the infinite God still exceed our finite intelligence. There is always an element of mystery in our knowledge of God and God’s work. Therefore, we fully expect that, while we may accurately know what can be truthfully said, the full knowledge of what that means is enhanced by the contemplation of many groups of people on the same mystery...

Visible union with the Catholic Church does not mean absorption into a monolith, with the absorbed body being lost to the greater whole, the way a teaspoon of sugar would be lost if dissolved in a gallon of coffee. Rather, visible union with the Catholic Church can be compared to an orchestral ensemble. Some instruments can play all the notes, like a piano. There is no note that a piano has that a violin or a harp or a flute or a tuba does not have. But when all these instruments play the notes that the piano has, the notes are enriched and enhanced. The result is symphonic, full communion. One can perhaps say that the ecumenical movement wishes to move from cacophony to symphony, with all playing the same notes of doctrinal clarity, the same euphonic chords of sanctifying activity, observing the rhythm of Christian conduct in charity, and filling the world with the beautiful and inviting sound of the Word of God. While the other instruments may tune themselves according to the piano, when playing in concert there is no mistaking them for the piano. It is God’s will that those to whom the Word of God is addressed, the world, that is, should hear one pleasing melody made splendid by the contributions of many different instruments.

The Catholic Church approaches ecumenical dialogue convinced, as the Second Vatican Council’s degree of ecumenism states, that, and I quote here: “Our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, in order to establish the one Body of Christ on earth to which all should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the people of God.” (Decree on Ecumenism: Unitatis Redintegratio)

She believes that [those three words are superfluous] she is the mystical body of Christ and she is convinced that the Church of Christ subsists in her because she recognizes that, while she is like the piano that has all of the notes, that is, all of the elements of sanctification and truth, many of those notes are shared with other communities and those communities often have beautiful ways of sounding the notes that can lead to a heightened appreciation of truth and holiness, both within the Catholic Church and within her partners in the ecumenical endeavour.

Saving the Post Office

The Post Office is in dire straits, and yes, ought to be saved, and yes, I can be dumber than a bag of hair, and admittedly don't know much about these sorts of things, but since its mission, at heart, is to facilitate communication between our citizens, no matter how far flung their domiciles, nor how heinous the weather, couldn't they become to the providers of some kind of dirt cheap, bare bones internet service? perhaps text only, email only?

There's probably some reason that this idea is inane, because, as I said, I don't know much about it, and am just building castles with internet access in the air...

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Terrific Singers, and a Terrific Cause

Anyone in the New Jersey area will want to attend this:
Rosary Shrine Luncheon and Concert, March 25
By Rosary Shrine Guild

The Rosary Shrine Guild will hold its annual luncheon on Thursday, March 25 at 12:00 p.m. at the Corpus Christi Auditorium, 234 Southern Blvd. in Chatham. The highlight of the luncheon will be a concert performed by "The Three Cantors", Angela Intelli Stokes (Pastoral Associate/Cantor St. Teresa of Avila, Summit, NJ), Mary Clare McAlee (Cantor/Instructor Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Newark NJ)and Janet Natale (Director of Music Ministry/Cantor St. James the Apostle, Springfield, NJ. The three friends have given over 25 years of service to the Roman Catholic Church and while continuing in that service they desired a way to share their combined talents, training and love of performing. They will be performing a wide variety of music.

Tickets are $30 per person. Please make checks payable to the "Rosary Shrine Guild" and send to: The Rosary Shrine Guild, 543 Springfield Ave. Summit, NJ 07901.

The Rosary Shrine Guild is part of the Dominican Nuns of Summit, New Jersey, a Roman Catholic cloistered monastic community.

For more information, call the Rosary Shrine at (908) 273-1228.

I know the lovely Angela, (prictured in the center,) from a lifetime ago, MARVELOUS singer.

Gallant, Generous, Manly and Disinterested?

The Times takes Liz Cheney to task for Cheney's taking lawyers to task for... well, for actually believing in the American system of justice, that everyone, no matter how despised, is entitled to a defense and to a fair trial.
At least one former president has already weighed in on the issue, so to speak:
I. . . devoted myself to endless labour and Anxiety if not to infamy and death, and that for nothing, except, what indeed was and ought to be all in all, sense of duty. In the Evening I expressed to Mrs. Adams all my Apprehensions:That excellent Lady, who has always encouraged me, burst into a flood of Tears, but said she was very sensible of all the Danger to her and to our Children as well as to me, but she thought I had done as I ought, she was very willing to share in all that was to come and place her trust in Providence.

"Before or after the Tryal, Preston sent me ten Guineas and at the Tryal of the Soldiers afterwards Eight Guineas more, which were. . .all the pecuniary Reward I ever had for fourteen or fifteen days labour, in the most exhausting and fatiguing Causes I ever tried: for hazarding a Popularity very general and very hardly earned: and for incurring a Clamour and popular Suspicions and prejudices, which are not yet worn out and never will be forgotten as long as History of this Period is read...It was immediately bruited abroad that I had engaged for Preston and the Soldiers, and occasioned a great clamour....

"The Part I took in Defence of Cptn. Preston and the Soldiers, procured me Anxiety, and Obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested Actions of my whole Life, and one of the best Pieces of Service I ever rendered my Country. Judgment of Death against those Soldiers would have been as foul a Stain upon this Country as the Executions of the Quakers or Witches, anciently. As the Evidence was, the Verdict of the Jury was exactly right.


Monday, 8 March 2010

The Jewish Papal Knight

From the Times:
At the Vatican, he is known as Commendatore Gary Krupp, Knight Commander of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great. For short, the Swiss Guard and cardinals address him as “Your Excellency.”

...Mr. Krupp became only the seventh Jewish papal knight in history, dubbed by Pope John Paul I in 2000 for persuading American manufacturers to donate $12 million worth of high-tech medical equipment to an Italian hospital.

Mr. Krupp has ,,, has emerged as the Vatican’s most outspoken Jewish ally in a heated debate at the crux of tensions between Roman Catholic and Jewish leaders and historians: whether Pope Pius XII, the pontiff during World War II, did as much as he could have to save Jews from the Holocaust.

Mr. Krupp, 62, has raised enough money through the Pave the Way Foundation, a nonprofit organization he founded in 2002, to travel the globe, hire researchers to scour historic documents, sponsor a three-day symposium in Rome and publish four editions of a glossy, illustrated volume of evidence supporting his view that Pius XII spared no effort to save the lives of persecuted Jews...

And in a special audience at the papal summer residence in September 2008, Pope Benedict XVI thanked Mr. Krupp for bringing attention to “what Pius XII achieved for the Jews.”

Historians and religious leaders around the world have taken increasing notice of Mr. Krupp’s work — some with alarm, some with pleasure — because his advocacy has coincided with efforts within the Vatican to promote the canonization of Pius. Pope Benedict nudged that process forward in December by affirming Pius’s “heroic virtues” and pronouncing him “venerable,” a step on the path toward sainthood.

The controversy over Pius’s wartime conduct had stalled his elevation for so many years that Pope Benedict’s action shocked scholars on both sides of the debate. And while agreeing on little else, some in both camps credit Mr. Krupp for breaking the logjam.

“I wrote 10 books about Pius XII, but in all these years I never knew how to shake things up for the cause like this wonderful man, Mr. Krupp,” said Sister Margherita Marchione, a professor emerita at who is considered the foremost defender of Pius outside the Vatican.

Deborah Dwork, a professor of Holocaust history at Clark University, put it another way: “Pope Benedict would not have had the chutzpah to go forward with the veneration process if not for this P.R. work Gary Krupp does.”

Laughing at God's Monkey

Excellent piece in the Telegraph by FrLongenecker
St Thomas More writes, “The devil...that proud spirit...cannot endure to be mocked.”

The big question, however, is whether there really is such a creature as Satan. Do we all have a demon whispering in one ear and an angel in the other like those old Tom and Jerry cartoons? Are there purely spiritual beings or is it all a projection of our religious imagination? Lewis makes the point that human disbelief in Satan’s existence is just the thing that would please Satan most. Does the Devil exist? The occurrence of paranormal activity, especially demonic possession is the most disturbing evidence that Old Nick really is alive and well on planet earth.

The whole subject of demonic possession is a specialist area of theology and pastoral practice. I liken exorcism to "spiritual open heart surgery." It’s not for the fainthearted and it is certainly not for the amateur. In my experience the devil is real and demonic possession is real. However, it is very rare and the symptoms of disturbance are more likely to be profound emotional, mental or psychic problems which have ordinary explanations. Nevertheless, the literature on this phenomenon is sufficient to conclude that there are some horrible cases of personality disturbance which seem to have no other explanation than that an alien entity has somehow infested the psyche.

Yes, I've been thinking about the devil, lately, and whether, or rather, exactly how I believe in it, (I don't wish to dignify to call it, "him" or "her",) and what effect I allow it to have one me.

I like Father's reference to surgery, since it follows that though few of us have the requisite skill for that, we can ALL watch our diets, you know, eat what's healthy?

and get our exercise -- you know, actually practice


"God's monkey," by the way, is the moniker bestowed on it by the previously mentioned Fr Amorth.

(Yes, I know that's not a monkey)

Belief in the Supernatural, and the Efficacy of Sacramentals and The Sacraments

I am a bit of a skeptic. While I believe in miracles in theory, in practice I cast a gimlet eye on claims of the miraculous.

But I cannot deny the supernatural.

A few things floating around the interwebs in these latter days of Lent seem related to me.
1. Fr Z has what I presume is a not-for-the-first-time rant about the silly practice of removing Holy Water from the fonts for all of Lent, in some cases replacing it with racks or sand (or kitty litter?) as if Holy Water served no real purpose other than symbolic.

2. Another topic is that of the devil, and exorcisms and Satanists, naturally replete with sound bytes from Fr Amorth, and the expression of scorn, not for his claims, which may or may not be true, but the quaint old beliefs in such things that make such claims plausible to him.

3. And we are gearing up for the marathon at my parish, (more about that later,) which always includes, on Easter morning, part of the Rite of Baptism for infants, (adults will have been baptized the night before,) described in the first comment.

There have been parents who wanted their infants baptized immediately, and in discussing this a catechist of my acquaintance, (NOT from my parish, I haste to add,) poo-poohing their urgency, essentially said there is no such thing as Original Sin.

And finally,
4. The oft-repeated opinion that getting the right "right" doesn't really matter, who cares what words we pray at Mass, or even if we go to Mass, or what anyone believes, as long as he's a nice person, and...

Do you see the connections, or is this reaching on my part?

It seems to me that modern man is ashamed to admit of a belief in the supernatural -- the supernatural, without which, there is no purpose other than the psychological to the Sacraments and to sacramentals.

Oh, sure, they "remind" us of things, they make us "feel" a certain way, they encourage solidarity -- but they can have nothing to do with Grace, for pete's sake.

Because, of course, Grace, if it existed, would be supernatural.

And therefore, can it really exist?

Thinking About the Cosmic and the Cosmetic

Hanging out in an all night drug store waiting for a ride, I recently learned i recently learned that there is a foundation that markets itself as "infallible."

There is also, I discovered browsing the magazines (yes, I might have bought one! and no, I didn't dog-ear any!) a line of eye shadow named, "Memento Mori."

Inspired, it is said, (though its pretty peaches and yellow belie this,) by the Day of the Dead.

I don't pretent to understand any of this.

"40% of Brooklyn parishes can’t meet expenses"

A poster in the combox quite rightly posits,
Maybe there are too many parishes in the diocese. I wonder if they ever thought of that?

You have some neighborhoods in Brooklyn that have more than one church. The days of the ethnic parish are pretty much over [SHOULD be...] in most parts of the city a...no bishop wants to be known as the guy that closes up churches but he can always create an office for some priest wanting the title of monsignor to be the 'hatchet man'

This struck a cord, as it is very much the case in my own area, (except I don't think a hatchet man has been assigned -- instead, they're just waiting for pastors to drop dead of overwork.)

The continuing parochialism, (yes, in the pejorative sense,) of so many American Catholics is a problem, as are bishops who have an obligation and won't fulfill it.

Fill your boots, Your Excellencies!
Pull up your big bishop pants and make the hard choices.

"Wish a New Church Into Being"

The Reporter is so predictable.

It doesn't take an expert church observer to understand that those who want to diminish the actual teachings of the Second Vatican Council to advance another agenda have come upon an easy sound-bite solution: Pretend Catholics who oppose their agenda are rejecting VCII, and that the Council embraced secular mores and was in opposition to what went before, but dressed up for the Catholic consumption.
It’s a “you’re for us or against us” strategy of dealing with the complexities and messiness of church reform. While a quick way to tidy the boundaries and square the edges, the strategy does a disservice to serious consideration of the council and it masks deeper problems within the community.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Pea Soup with Celery

How can you NOT love a recipe that suggest you "frizzle" chopped onion in fat?

100 Questions

Msgr. Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington has a fantastic post
One of the bigger mistakes people make in reading Scripture is that they read it as a spectator.
So, if you're going to enter into scripture, the good monsignor suggests we need to answer when the Lord asks a question. And from a book by Bishop John Marshall of Burlington, But Who Do You Say That I Am? he lists a HUNDRED of them:
1. And if you greet your brethren only, what is unusual about that? Do not the unbelievers do the same? (Matt 5:47)
2. Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your lifespan? Matt 6:27
3. Why are you anxious about clothes? Matt 6:28
4. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye yet fail to perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? (Matt 7:2)
5. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? (Matt 7:16)
6. Why are you terrified? (Matt 8:26)
7. Why do you harbor evil thoughts? (Matt 9:4)
8. Can the wedding guests mourn so long as the Bridegroom is with them? (Matt 9:15)
9. Do you believe I can do this? (Matt 9:28)
10. What did you go out to the desert to see? (Matt 11:8)
11. To what shall I compare this generation? (Matt 11:6)
12. Which of you who has a sheep that falls into a pit on the Sabbath will not take hold of it and lift it out? (Matt 12:11)
13. How can anyone enter a strong man’s house and take hold of his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? (Matt 12:29)
14. You brood of vipers! How can you say god things when you are evil? (Matt 12:34)
15. Who is my mother? Who are my brothers? (Matt 12:48)
16. Why did you doubt? (Matt 14:31)
17. And why do you break the commandments of God for the sake of your tradition? (Matt 15:3)
18. How many loaves do you have? (Matt 15:34)
19. Do you not yet understand? (Matt 16:8)
20. Who do people say the Son of Man is? (Matt 16:13)
21. But who do you say that I am? (Matt 16:15)
22. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life and what can one give in exchange for his life? (Matt 16:26)
23. O faithless and perverse generation how long must I endure you? (Matt 17:17)
24. Why do you ask me about what is good? (Matt 19:16)
25. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink? (Matt 20:22)
26. What do you want me to do for you? (Matt 20:32)
27. Did you never read the scriptures? (Matt 21:42)
28. Why are you testing me? (Matt 22:18)
29. Blind fools, which is greater, the gold or the temple that makes the gold sacred….the gift of the altar that makes the gift sacred? (Matt 23:17-19)
30. How are you to avoid being sentenced to hell? (Matt 23:33)
31. Why do you make trouble for the woman? (Matt 26:10)
32. Could you not watch for me one brief hour? (Matt 26:40)
33. Do you think I cannot call upon my Father and he will not provide me at this moment with more than 12 legions of angels? (Matt 26:53)
34. Have you come out as against a robber with swords and clubs to seize me? (Matt 26:53)
35. My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me? (Matt 27:46)
36. Why are you thinking such things in your heart? (Mark 2:8)
37. Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed rather than on a lamp stand? (Mark 4:21)
38. Who has touched my clothes? (Mark 5:30)
39. Why this commotion and weeping? (Mark 5:39)
40. Are even you likewise without understanding? (Mark 7:18)
41. Why does this generation seek a sign? (Mark 8:12)
42. Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and still not see? Ears and not hear? (Mark 8:17-18)
43. How many wicker baskets full of leftover fragments did you pick up? (Mark 8:19)
44. [To the Blind man] Do you see anything? (Mark 8:23)
45. What were arguing about on the way? (Mark 9:33)
46. Salt is good, but what if salt becomes flat? (Mark 9:50)
47. What did Moses command you? (Mark 10:3)
48. Do you see these great buildings? They will all be thrown down. (Mark 13:2)
49. Simon, are you asleep? (Mark 14:37)
50. Why were you looking for me? (Luke 2:49)
51. What are you thinking in your hearts? (Luke 5:22)
52. Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I command? (Luke 6:46)
53. Where is your faith (Luke 8:25)
54. What is your name? (Luke 8:30)
55. Who touched me? (Luke 8:45)
56. Will you be exalted to heaven? (Luke 10:15)
57. What is written in the law? How do you read it? (Luke 10:26)
58. Which of these three in your opinion was neighbor to the robber’s victim? (Luke 10:36)
59. Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? (Luke 11:40)
60. Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbiter? (Luke 12:14)
61. If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? (Luke 12:26)
62. Why do you not judge for yourself what is right? (Luke 12:57)
63. What king, marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king marching upon him with twenty thousand troops? (Luke 14:31)
64. If therefore you are not trustworthy with worldly wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? (Luke 16:11)
65. Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God? (Luke 17:18)
66. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? (Luke 18:7)
67. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth? (Luke 18:8)
68. For who is greater, the one seated a table or the one who serves? (Luke 22:27)
69. Why are you sleeping? (Luke 22:46)
70. For if these things are done when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry? (Luke 23:31)
71. What are you discussing as you walk along? (Luke 24:17)
72. Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter his glory? (Luke 24:26)
73. Have you anything here to eat? (Luke 24:41)
74. What are you looking for? (John 1:38)
75. How does this concern of your affect me? (John 2:4)
76. You are a teacher in Israel and you do not understand this? (John 3: 10)
77. If I tell you about earthly things and you will not believe, how will you believe when I tell you of heavenly things? (John 3: 12)
78. Do you want to be well? (John 5:6)
79. How is it that you seek praise from one another and not seek the praise that comes from God? (John 5:44)
80. If you do not believe Moses’ writings how will you believe me? (John 5:47)
81. Where can we buy enough food for them to eat? (John 6:5)
82. Does this (teaching of the Eucharist) shock you? (John 6:61)
83. Do you also want to leave me? (John 6:67)
84. Why are you trying to kill me? (John 7:19)
85. Woman where are they, has no one condemned you? (John 8:10)
86. Why do you not understand what I am saying? (John 8:43)
87. Can any of you charge me with sin? (John 8:46)
88. If I am telling you the truth, why do you not believe me? (John 8:46)
89. Are there not twelve hours in a day? (John 11:9)
90. Do you believe this? (John 11:26)
91. Do you realize what I have done for you? (John 13:12)
92. Have I been with you for so long and still you do not know me? (John 14:9)
93. Whom are you looking for? (John 18:4)
94. Shall I not drink the cup the Father gave me? (John 18:11)
95. If I have spoken rightly, why did you strike me? (John 18:23)
96. Do you say [what you say about me] on you own or have others been telling you about me? (John 18:34)
97. Have you come to believe because you have seen me? (John 20:29)
98. Do you love me? (John 21:16)
99. What if I want John to remain until I come? (John 21:22)
100. What concern is it of yours? (John 21:22)

The Disneyfication of the Liturgy

Jerry Galipeau at Gotta Sing, Gotta Pray nails a description of the too widespread approach to liturgy the Catholic Church has suffered from for most of my lifetime.
This brings me to a principle about the Triduum that I have always espoused. When I was in Orlando, the liturgy commissions I worked with had developed what I used to call a "Disney approach to liturgy preparation."... Disneyworld needs to change their big events (light shows, parades, etc.) on a regular basis so that they can attract people who don't want to see the same thing year after year. Many people wanted to approach the Triduum in the same way, i.e. "What can we do bigger and better this year?" It took some time, but we finally came to the conclusion that preparing the Triduum meant relying on time-tested ways of planning the music and ritual movements so that the Triduum changed very little from year to year. This is a thoroughly Catholic approach
Amen, amen and amen.
I do wish he had acknowledged that at least some fault for that might lie with the approach of those who publish, promote and sell, the newest/latest/hottest liturgical whatevers.
This approach has not just been brought to bear on the Triduum, but on liturgies the year, (or the three year?) 'round.

And it is still the prime directive for too many people in positions of some liturgical authority at too many parishes.

Let's do something new!

Does anyone ever say, "Gee, the pledge of allegience is gettin' tired, let's spice it up! and those words are too hard for little kids, that's not the way we talk anyway"?

"The Clever Remark Does Not Help in Fostering Relationships"

The most recent newsletter from Colin Mawby's organization has some advice I need to take to heart before I again attach myself to a Church music program.
I was talking with a wise priest recently who told me that in the five parishes in which he had worked, music had always been a source of division. He went on to say that if a parish priest wanted to retain a peaceful parish, he must at all costs avoid trying to reform the parish choir.

It is a terrible indictment of church musicians and clergy that something which should be a source of unity and wonder is allowed to become a cause of bitter argument and division. This has absolutely nothing to do with the teaching of Christ to "love one another".

We have all observed rows with the clergy over music - I have close personal knowledge of them - but we musicians need to take a step backwards and analyse what causes these situations. There is often a misunderstanding of the roles of Pastor and musician. The former is in charge of the worship and the latter is the musical expert whose views should be respected and acted upon. In the end it all comes down to the maintenance of good personal relationships. These are built on trust and respect.

When Pastor and musician work well together the result can be superb; when they don't, the ordering of worship degenerates into a nasty power struggle. Trust can be easily lost by careless talk - the clever remark does not help in fostering relationships....

The preservation of a good relationship between Pastor and musician is a two-way thing and both need to be on the lookout for the simple misunderstanding that can lead to permanent breakdown.
Thank the Lord, I do have a very warm relationship with my former "boss" but there were rocky times, and I believe they were mostly my fault.

The fact that I was always absolutely correct does not alter that fact.

Men of Known Piety

Only men of known piety and probity of life are to be admitted to form part of the choir of a church, and these men should by their modest and devout bearing during the liturgical functions show that they are worthy of the holy office they exercise.
In light of this scandal, rocking the Vatican, the former pastor's requesting that someone in an irregular marriage not stand up in front of the congregation as a cantor seems straining at gnats, I suppose... (me, I would have gotten rid of the singer because he's a CRANK.)

Friday, 5 March 2010


Did I really use "one" as the subject of several sentences in a single post?

How's that vaccine for pernicious pretentiousness coming along?


One reads or hears of this more and more often, it seems, whether perpetrated by malicious atheists, foolish young people, or "ignorant" (I find such a defense utterly lacking in credibility,) "journalists."
The Roman Catholic Church in Malaysia has criticised the authorities for not pressing charges against two Muslim journalists who took Holy Communion.

The two apparently put communion wafers in their mouths and then spat them out.

The Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, Murphy Pakiam, said the two men had desecrated the church, and the lack of charges appeared to legitimise their behaviour.

It is the latest in a series of incidents raising religious tensions in the Muslim-majority country.
One fears that an over-reaction will lessen the availability of communion to the faithful, of opportunities for adoration.... and yet it is hard to see that anything could be an "over" reaction to such evil.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

At last!

I awakened to bird song this morning!

Yes, its still cold, yes, there're inches and inches of snow still on the ground, yes, there are two-foot-high grey drifts and filthy snowplow spoor everywhere --- and NO, I didn't have to endure an entire winter, I was away for a good chunk of it but still, I am so awearied of winter this year, (which'll make some scenes in the Selfish Giant a great deal easier to write.)

And oh, a BIRD was singing! Aloud! (yes, they're around and get fed all winter, but understandably, they're a bit closed-mouthed...)

A bird!


Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Like I NEED a Special Reason?

Because in all honesty I have not been since Lent began.
I never realized how much I depended on living within walking distance of Church.

But in case you do, Taylor Marshall offers Seven Reasons Why You Should Go to Confession During Lent (Can't recall how or why I arrived at his page, what was I looking for in the timesuck that is the interwebs? Oh, well....)
1. Priestly absolution is an awesome gift that Jesus gave us.
Jesus gave us this Sacrament and wants us to enjoy His grace through it. He told His first priests, the Apostles:

Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins are forgiven (John 20:22).

Christ gave us this sacrament of grace and forgiveness because He loves us. It is a divine gift of mercy and love - not merely an obligation.

2. You are a sinner.
We are a sinners and we need to examine the sinful patterns of our hearts and have a priest give us absolution, counsel, and penance.

"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 Jn 1:8).

We are often not honest with our hearts and it takes an objective "physician of souls," to help diagnose us spiritually.

3. Confession is a means of grace.
Confession shouldn't be terrifying. It is peaceful. We get excited over baptisms, weddings, and ordinations. Why not the remedy for our greatest Christian struggle? Why not be excited about Christ's forgiveness being declared by His appointed deputies - the priests of His Church.

4. You may have committed mortal sin.
There is a such thing as mortal sin:

If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal. (1 Jn 5:16)

Mortal sin is deadly and it separates our souls from the pure eternal life that exists within the Blessed Trinity. Contrition and priestly absolution restores our hearts to a position of love toward God and our neighbors. It ratifies our repentance.

5. Guilt is unpleasant.
Often Satan weighs us down with guilt. Guilt can be a good thing if we transform it into repentance. Of course, Satan hates this and God and the angels love it. So free yourself from guilt and hear a tangible person with spiritual authority say, "I absolve thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

6. Confession unites you more fully to the Church.
When you make your confession to a priest, you acknowledge that you have sinned not only against God, but against every single other Christian because by your sin, you have weakened the universal witness of every single Christian. You have given the non-believer the excuse that "All Christians are hypocrites." When you go to Confession you acknowledge that you have caused every Christian to suffer by your sins.

"If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together" (1 Cor 12:26).

The priest, who represents both God and the Church by his ordination and office receives your repentance and you have the assurance of not only God's forgiveness, but also the implicit forgiveness of the entire Church.

7. Receiving the Eucharist becomes even more powerful.
When you receive the Holy Eucharist you receive the true Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ our Redeemer. When you confess your sins in a sacramental way, you also have a stronger sacramental union with Christ in the Eucharist. Also, if you are living in mortal sin, you should NEVER receive the Eucharist because you blaspheme Christ and set yourself up for greater judgment and eternal damnation! Consequently, confession heals and deepens your devotion to Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Joyous News!

It seems that the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in America has formally requested to be received into the Catholic Church.

Ut unum sint!
Orlando, FL - 1 pm EST - Bp. George Langberg

Released by the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in America, Traditional Anglican Communion 3 March 2010

We, the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in America of the Traditional Anglican Communion have met in Orlando, Florida, together with our Primate and the Reverend Christopher Phillips of the "Anglican Use" Parish of Our Lady of the Atonement (San Antonio, Texas) and others.

At this meeting, the decision was made formally to request the implementation of the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus in the United States of America by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.