Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Monday, 31 May 2010

"Hot Mess"

Is there a name for that particular activity of the brain when one only actually reads or sees part of a word, and with no regard to sense or context, the brain thinks it has seen the rest of word?
I just did it at the MusicaSacra forum, where I should have known no one would have a blog called "Clams for Desert."

And several times recently, I thought Longchamps was being bracingly honest, since it had indeed hired a hot mess for its ad campaign:http://cdn5.mattters.com/photos/photos/638817/KateMossLongchamphandbag.jpg

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Trinity Sunday...

... so of course we're singing "All That We Have and All That We Offer", an Ave Maria, "Pescador", "God Bless America" and something about" the brush of angels' wings" on our faces.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Good Cop, Bad Cop

I sometimes think the point of having ideological or political allies is not support, per se, but in order to have someone who shares your ultimate aims to put forth arguments which support those aims but flatly contradict other lines of reasoning you might use to bolster your position.

It's very noticeable in the semi-anonymous tribalism of the Interwebs, and the endless, unwinnable arguments of discussion forums.

What do you mean? that's the exact opposite of what you conservatives/progressives/fundamentalists/atheists/flat earthers/whigs/cannibals were arguing last week in regard to the same principle applied to positions taken by liberals/neo-orthodox/relativists/religious fanatics/Roswell fanboys/tories/vegetarians!

Well, I never said that, it must have been some other conservative/progressive/fundamentalist/atheist/flat earther/whig/cannibal -- I'm not responsible for his arguments, I don't have to defend his position, (even if the time I more or less chimed in with a "What he said!" and an encouraging emoticon.)

There's a sort of tag-team (borderline trolls,) on one forum who have each other backs disagreeing with virtually everything the Church actually says, who, when one of them is called out on some piece of nonsense, cede the contra poistion on a thread to the other who can thentruthfully, if disingenuously, insist, "I never said that...."

Right now, from the overwhelmingly politically conservative Catholic chattering class, I am hearing the same sorts, but not perhaps the same, people, who, (rightly,) wondered why the Pope was blamed for not instantaneously fixing a mess he had not made and which he did not always have the tools to deal with, nor the cooperation of those who created the mess; blaming the president for not instantaneously fixing the oil leak in the gulf, a mess he had not made and which he did not have the expertise to deal with, nor the cooperation of those who created the mess and those who protect and shill for its creators.

The Oberammergau Pastime Play?

The Oberammergau Pastime Play?

The Oberammergau Pleasant Afternoons in the Sun Play?

The Oberammergau Profile of a Prudent Professor Play?

The Oberammergau He was a Good and Wise Teacher and a Swell Guy Not the Son of God Who Was Ritually Murdered By All of Us For All of Us?

Human beings have such a capacity for excess... apparently it was not possible to find a middle ground between anti-Semitic caricatures of God-killers, perhaps accompanied by Hostel-worthy levels of gore and what I think of as the Sue Anne ("What's All This Fuss About Famine?") Nivens approach -- let's not pay too much attention to all the unpleasantness:
"For many centuries Oberammergau was concentrated on a suffering Christ," says Christian Stückl, who is directing the play for the third time. "I wanted to give him a deeper profile, ["deeper" than that of God giving His very life for our salvation? wow, that WOULD be deep...] to show that he was a man who wanted to say something."...

"For me the message of Jesus is not only that he died for our sins on the Cross" says Frederik Mayet, one of the two actors who portray Jesus in the current production. "He had very simple statutes like, 'Love your enemies' and 'If someone slaps your cheek, give him the other.'...
Although it is unlikely that first-century Jews carried silver menorahs in public, as happens here, the anachronism helps the audience understand Jesus' heritage. "It's important to know that Jesus had a bar mitzvah," says Mr. Stückl. "What's a bar mitzvah?" people in the village now ask him.

"Now Jesus is portrayed as a reformist rabbi," says Rabbi Noam Marans, the associate director for interreligious and intergroup relations of the American Jewish Committee.

Seriously, change the name, guys.
Word Origin & History


late 12c., "sufferings of Christ on the Cross," from O.Fr. passion, from L.L. passionem (nom. passio) "suffering, enduring," from stem of L. pati "to suffer, endure," from PIE base *pei- "to hurt" (cf. Skt. pijati "reviles, scorns," Gk. pema "suffering, misery, woe," O.E. feond "enemy, devil," Goth. faian "to blame"). Sense extended to sufferings of martyrs, and suffering generally, by early 13c.; meaning "strong emotion, desire" is attested from late 14c., from L.L. use of passio to render Gk. pathos. Replaced O.E. þolung (used in glosses to render L. passio), lit. "suffering," from þolian (v.) "to endure." Sense of "sexual love" first attested 1580s; that of "strong liking, enthusiasm, predilection" is from 1630s.
(On second thought...)

Of course, if we actually hold to the creed of The Church of As Long As You're a Nice Person that a God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross, focusing on Christ's sacrifice becomes a kind of porn for those who love depictions of violence, doesn't it?

The "Conscience Clause" -- for or agin'?

It occurred to me were certain people not so opposed to the idea of pro-life Christians being permitted by law, via the so-called "conscience clause" to forbear from colluding in the legal (by the State's laws,) private murder of the unborn, they'd have been able to suggest that their latest heroine is entitled to invoke a "conscience clause" to forbear from colluding in the necessary (by the Church's laws,) prevention of the private murder of the unborn.

Godparenting for the PoMo, or "Ya Want Inculturation? I'll Give You Inculturation!"

Apparently, Martin Amis is a lousy godfather.
Gambling at Ricks?

Today's whingeing isn't about him, we're all sinners, we all fail at our duties, we're all in need of the Lord's gracious salvation. (Full disclosure, I am the godmother of one person, to whom I diligently tried to impart the Faith to the best of my ability, as befitted the child's own age and ability to receive it IMO. This young person is of a sudden non-practicing, half-believing, and proudly fornicating. I trust, I pray that this is a phase.)
(Oh, and I was in my thirties when my own godmother was startled to learn that she was not only the wife of my godfather, but had stood up for me herself at my baptism.)

It's about the secular, no, the ANTI-religious world misappropriating the trappings of the religious world, (I would have said "reverse inculturation" were it not indistinguishable from the pastiche of religious rituals and profane pastimes that is inculturation the way it has been misunderstood and practiced so often...) and trying to strip them of their significance.
Presumably, the prince of the world thinks by trivializing the outward signs he can trivialize the deeper reality?
Who knows...

But I doubt his Useful Idiots at the NYTimes have any such clear intention when they suggest that godparenting, despite the etymology of the word isn't really about God, (much less about Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God,) no, no, no.... it's about friendship.

The ultimate value.

People who share your taste in jazz, with whom you enjoy gin and tonics on the terrace, who can dress and chit-chat presentably, and whom you can depute to take your child on day trips with which you don't want to be bothered.

No wonder parishes are beginning to have difficulty explaining to parents why, no, you CAN'T have your Muslim best bud stand up at your little one's christening.

I gather, (from watching too many movies starring the likes of Hugh Grant or various persons named Rupert,) that in England, where having gobs of godparentage is already de riguer, that for some time the only requirement has been being able to afford the obligatory gift of a sterling cup, since everyone is only vaguely of whatever faith he is "of." (One of the natural consequences of an established religion...)

In my own family, which has used a single christening gown for over a hundred years, (lovely, if unbearably fragile batiste,) this secularization has reared its horrid, horned head.
The Jewish-Buddhist branch of the family couldn't understand the reluctance by the keeper of said gown to hand it over for the "coming out party" of their little one.

Interesting times in which we live.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Sing a Different Song... PLEASE

The Bow-tied one hits it outta the park.

It most mostly about the musical possibilities necessarily presented by the new translation, new musical possibilities for good or ill.

I shan't (should that word have 2 apostrophes in it?) sha'n't reprint the entire thing, I wearied long ago of checking out what "improvements" the Masses I am forced to sing or asked to program would undergo (more power to the tireless JT that he has not), the specifics just make me sad, I don't actually know all the Ordinaries Jeffrey mentions, and I am happily out of the getting-people-to-participate business for the time being.

More about that later, but how this kind of clarity on the subject is needed!
Above all else, there is the core principle, said to be derived from "the documents," which must never be violated and which must serve as the guiding force: it must inspire vigorous singing among the people.

Now, there is something remarkable about this doctrine. It has been elevated above all other considerations for some forty years now. And yet, if you saunter into nearly any parish on Sunday morning and observe what is going on, you will come away with an impression of people barely engaged at all, and certainly not singing with vigor. Most stare blankly ahead, enduring it all with pious patience. It reminds of some version of the old joke about the Soviet economy that the workers pretend to work and the party pretends to pay. In the case of Catholic liturgy, the musicians pretend to inspire participation and the people pretend to participate.
Being "out of the getting-people-to-participate business" for the time being has afforded me, (putting aside what it has not afforded me, since I can't afford... well, never mind,) the opportunity to observe different assemblies in different regions from different perspectives and I can state categorically, this is by and large true.
Yes, yes, I know, your parish is different, someone will say.
In fact, someone did say to me not long ago. Having sat amongst his actual congregants, I can tell you, (though I cannot tell him,) that he is deluded.

There is a quick fix, of course -- Aristotle's (I think I'm giving the correct credit,) "Stadium Mass."

That's the equivalent of what too many places tried 4 decades ago, (I had though them apocryphal, I learn to my utter woe, not so, not so...)

"Lamb of God" to the tune of Edelweiss, "hymns" sung to the tunes of Michael Rowed the Boat..., Skunk in the Middle of the Road, and She'll Be Comin' "Round the Mountain...

But I am begging that every pastor, chancery and liturgy committee do the right thing, not the easy thing.

I have been saying for years that major progress could be made if the bishops' conferences would require that any hymnal or missallette published be required, absolutely required in order to earn episcopal approval or imprimatur, or whatever, to use the Sacramentary chant in the "Order of Mass" not whatever setting of the Ordinary the publishers were hawking.

It sounds, from JT's words, as if the "official" setting from the Missal must be included by publishers, but not necessarily in the Order of Mass, which I don't think can be effective. The presence, buried in all the offerings of Gather, of the components of the "Jubilate Deo Mass" or Missa Primitiva, or whatever you want to call it was immaterial with the GIA-owned Massive Cremation being given pride of place, and made to look like the "official" music of the Mass.
Interestingly, the US Bishops have required that all materials produced for Mass include the chants from the Missal directly. This has never been done before. To me, this suggests some impatience at the top with the domination of Catholic liturgy by commercial publishers. They are trying to take the liturgy back. It might not work and there have already been many missteps but at least the mandate suggests that someone knows there is a problem.
We can hope.
We can pray.

(Oh, and one last nod to this zinger: One wonders about the point of revisions when faithfulness to the existing texts has not been a feature of existing settings.)

Thursday, 27 May 2010

The Hymnographer Speaks

I wish the brilliant New Ephrem over at Hymnography Unbound blogged more, but at least she posts regularly over at MusicSacra.
There has been a great deal of talk about the (apparently, I did not see or hear it,) abysmal music for the liturgy for the installation of the new co-adjutant ('zat the right word?) in L.A. and about what authentic inculturation is, and this, I think, speaks mightily to both subjects:
Whenever you see a picture of Pope Benedict talking to people, he's got this shy smile thing going on. And yet, he's brilliant, and although welcoming of people, he's ruthless about ideas. Regarding liturgy he can see nonsense claims coming from miles away--and then he devastates them.

[H]is remarks on the way back FROM Africa were ... dramatic. As I read them, I thought I heard the echoes of the old Bat Man comics' fight scenes.

Speaking of the Masses he celebrated in Cameroon and Angola, the Pope said,
"[I was] moved by the spirit of meditative absorption *POW!*
in liturgy, the powerful sense of the sacred *BIFF!*;
in the liturgies there was no self-presentation *BANG!*
of groups, no self-animation, *ZAP!*
but the presence of the sacred, of God Himself; even the movements were always movements of respect and awareness of the divine presence. *KAPOW!*

This multi-whammie, smiling pre-emptive measure undermines all future attempts to point to the African liturgies as a positive example of the multi-cultural fad in liturgy. Yet another ephemeral wave in the endless cycles of fads that have mainstreamed since the last Council, multiculturalism (like all the others) effectively downgrades the liturgy from the most intimate possible sharing of heavenly and earthly realities available to us on earth, to an anthropological celebration.

The most astonishingly candid expressions of the superficiality of multiculturalist liturgy are the various Dancing Puppet Liturgies, in which non-human, non-animate artifacts are dressed up to represent various colors and genders--which then "participate" in the liturgy.

I'm sure that we can all see the difference between Africans dancing at Mass vs. midwesterners, and their puppets, dancing at Mass. Yes? But the Pope wisely made a very public and clear distinction.

It's not wrong to express ourselves in the liturgy. But we must express ourselves liturgically, and in Christ. We are at Mass to open ourselves to God and to come into direct, real contact with the Father through Him--never losing the "sense of the sacred" and the "respect and awareness of the divine presence."

Incidentally, if you haven't bought a copy of her hymntexts, Hymns for the Liturgical Year, you really should. (And I, the cheapest, skinflintyest, most tightwadesque, miserish, scroogeazoid on earth do declare: THEY ARE A BARGAIN.

Think Globally, Act Locally?

Apropos of that, and the wisdom of the monk of Ivíron quoted, does anyone think it beyond tragic that an "Ecumencial" Council in its rush to find and demonstrate common ground with some of our separated brethren hurtled pall-mall away from those of our relatives to whom we were closest, ecclesiastically and theologically speaking?
I mean, shouldn't that have been the first and most important breach to heal?

"Martha, Martha, Martha...!"

You are busy about many things. Only one is necessary.
(When that Gospel is read, I always, momentarily, sacrilegiously? hear Eve Plumb's voice.
Marsha, Marsha, Marsha...! -- Jan Brady)

I often think at Mass, after centuries of clerics sacrificing their opportunity to just sit at His feet and listen, so that most of us can choose "the better part", we have stupidly taken on, ever more aggressively, being busy about many things.
How often it seems that the planners of them think the most "successful" liturgies are those where the largest number of people are "participating," not as the participation of the Faithful was envisioned by the Father of VCII, but by being assigned, by being engaged "jobs." (This is a particular problem in "Children's Masses," with the danger of their near-guarantee to mis-catechize their participants as to their real obligations at Mass.)

Engaged in busy-ness.

Two psalmists trading off verses, tag team readings, ten different readers for ten different intercession at the Prayer of the Faithful, com'on, doncha wanna be a minister of hospitality? we need some more, some to greet, some to hand out hymnals, some to take up the collection, and some to play traffic cop for the Communion procession, at least one Extraordinary minister for each dozen communicants...

I have, more than once heard "I'm not doing anything at Mass this weekend," from adults and children.
Perhaps they have not thought through the implication of the wording, (well, you know what I MEAN!) but it does betray a certain mindset, doesn't it?
In fact, I have heard it as a justification for blowing off Mass.

I think the obsessing over visible, audible activity has mis-catechized a generation or two of Catholics as to of what their active participation primarily ought to consist.

I heard Mass recently and by the time of the priest's greeting I had annoyed myself, (and not for the first time,) by following along with a chanted introit, rather than really watching the procession.
And it had really been something to watch, (I append that because a reply to someone voicing a similar regret on MusicaSacra recently challenged, essentially, what in the world is there to watch? well, nothing, I grant you, if it's just your regular parish Sunday celebration with a string of EMs and others of the demi-clerical class shuffling along, a few acolytes who have trouble keeping their candlesticks perpendicular, and one celebrant who isn't sure whether he wants to emulate a pol arriving at a nominating convention or a prize-fighter entering the ring...)

And I didn't mind giving up my ability to just concentrate on worshiping as a music minister, I was glad to Martha, but I did resent others making it harder to work in moments of Marying, by ever-changing routines (and uselessly, meaninglessly so, the very anti-thesis of ritual,) , and also by urging the enlistment of evermore Auxiliary Marthas.
And mind you, when I am a pew-sitter, (or even a choir member,) I am very grateful for the necessary Marthaing done by others, that allows everyone else to Mary.

I was reminded of this bete noire of mine by a post having nothing whatever to do with it, (what can I say, that's the way my mind works....)

Fr. Ray Blake references this from Chiesa.
I am not prepared, heck, not competent to address the umbrage taken by those who will brick no criticism of St Thomas Aquinas' theology in the combox, but I am more than intrigued by this monkish endorsement of doing nothing.
In the West, action rules; they ask us how we can stay here for so many hours in church without doing anything. I reply: What does the embryo in the maternal womb do? Nothing, but since it is in its mother's womb it develops and grows. So it is with the monk. He preserves the holy space in which he finds himself and he is preserved, molded by this same space. The miracle is here: We are entering into paradise, here and now. We are in the heart of the communion of saints.
Unless ye become as little embryos... they are most emphatically not "busy about many things," are they?

Their existence, like that of the angels in the Beatific Presence is pure Marying.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

When is the English Version Coming?

Catholicism in Popular Entertainment

Apparently the finale of "Lost" (a show I never found engaging enough to watch,) was unsatisfying to many people, but did affirm for some the theory, (which many viewers had from the series' earliest days, Amy Welborn, for one, I believe,) that its island location was a riff on purgatory.

The internet has blurred for me the lines between professional writers and the rest of us -- I find myself unable to tell which web-pages are littered with the words of people like me, who like to shoot their mouths off simply because they suffer the delusion that other people might be interested in their thoughts, and which, even though abysmally written and poorly researched, have at least the credibility given to them by the fact that someone else was willing to pay for those words.

Anyway number of blogs, e-zine, whatever, that do indeed seem to be written by people who are actually paid to expound their opinions don't seem to have utilized even the most basic, simply-accomplished research -- purgatory is not the concept of Catholicism,that the dead receive a "second chance."

I guess this shouldn't be a surprise, as writing that is definitely done by "professionals," in actual, long-time print media, by people with titles like "Religion Writer" often display woeful ignorance and intellectual laziness in regards to Catholicism.

Since this is something I know at least a little about, I can only assume that such media is equally inaccurate and careless about faiths I don't know much about.

Back to "Los"t, it is intriguing to me that a major-pop-phenomenon-tv-show would have such an overtly Catholic aspect to its premise.

How often does anything specifically Catholic find its way onto television screens? (other than in reruns of "Raymond",, and in B horror movies -- because cataclysmic battles between the Forces of Good and the Forces of Evil are cooler with the Dies Irae playing in the background, and if creatures from the netherworld are going to wreak havoc on a place of worship, crashing statues and shattering stained glass are more picturesque than the alternatives, right?)

I thought that rather a shame, but in the category of being careful what ya wish for?

I am troubled by something Google has brought to my attention - apparently some of the aforementioned Housewives are self-proclaimed "devout Catholics." (Are the California ones WASPs, the New Yorkers Jews and the Atlanta women Baptists, I wonder?)

One episode featured a woman yelling at the priest to whom she went for confession/spiritual counseling, (filming it means it can't really have been the former, but in any case, what was the man thinking?); another has asked a Buddhist to stand up as godmother at her baby's Christening, and another puts equal stock in the intercessory power of the Blessed Mother and the power of smudging herbs.

But again, I guess this shouldn't be a surprise either, considering the loathsome "catechesis" to which many erstwhile Catholics have been subjected in my lifetime.

As long as you're a nice person, right...

"Twelve Angry Housewives"

I think the time is ripe for a new version, or parody, (parody circumvents copyright...) of "Twelve Angry Men" as a gift to snarky and cheap theater producers everywhere (one set! only one costume for each actor!)

The climax writes itself, when the Henry Fonda character, coiffed with some serious extensions, and filled to bursting with righteous anger, flips the table around which the Jersey jury is gathered.


Monday, 24 May 2010

Understanding the Beauty of What the New Translation Offers

The Liturgical Institute of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake at Mundelein has developed a program called Mystical Body, Mystical Voice to help dioceses prepare for the new English texts of the Mass.

They, or rather "It"? the Institute? well, the Institute's newsletter, reminds us that the powerful words from the Second Vatican Council calling for "full, conscious, active and fruitful participation in the sacred litrugy", the Mass, the Eucharistic celebration - the very font and ultimate fulfillment of our Christian faith - ask us to "know why words matter," that the Church is the guardina of the Liturgy, and that the very language is itself sacramental.

Wonder if either my current or soon to be diocese is availing themselves of this.

The Institute, and Fr. Martis, its director, are a great gift to the Church in this country.

Thank you, Cardinal George!

"A Certain Amount of Mirth"

"[A bishop's recorded] rendition [of the new translation of the Eucharistic Prayers] provoked a certain amount of mirth when listened to by a national committee in the UK, I regret to say."
-- The writer of this ditty
Strangely enough, that's the same reaction the tune of said ditty provokes in most musicians.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Voices of Light

I highly recommend that anyone who has never heard this masterwork by Richard Einhorn take advantage of the Ignatius Press sale.

And if you haven't seen the film, DO.
One of the greatest screen performances ever.


"Eleven O'Clock Always Comes"

A line of Himself's that he dusts off whenever he or someone else is in a turkey, or an underprepared piece, or part of a cast that just isn't meshing, or has a rotten director, or crazy producer, is in a run where the cast is being decimated by flu and understudies and stage managers with script in hand are scrambling to pretend something worth watching is on display, or what have you...

Meaning, yeah, the next three hours might seem like torture, (yes, to the performers as much as to the audience, civilians!) but it will all be over by the end of the evening.
You can count on it.

(He said it to me more than once last week, need I add...)

Anyway, I realized at Mass this morning that I often, well, not that often, but TOO often, think something similar -- the Consecration always comes, the Spotless Victim is always offered upon the altar, the Body and Blood of Christ is always administered to unworthy me, it's always Mass.

Even when the celebrant is saying the creed the way he thinks it should have been written, (I wonder at the whinging of those who don't like the new translation - the sorts doing the whinging, seem to me the ones most liable not to be saying the text of the Mass as given now, who expects them to say the new translation any more faithfully?), when the songs are absurdly ego-centric, when the psalmist is wailing his performance in a key too high for him, when the servers are visibly and distractingly gazing around themselves instead of, well... actively participating, even when I haven't prayed over the readings as much as I should have, even when the kid in the pew behind me is kicking the back of my seat, even when the homily makes no sense or is inappropriately agenda-driven, even when the musical setting of the Ordinary we're being asked to sing does not respect the integrity of the Missal, even when the Penitential Rite is truncated (not replaced, as would have been lovely and appropriate, with a Sprinkling Rite,) --

Jesus always comes.

And that's why I shall always be grateful for the Catholic Fiath.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Persons of the Adolescent Persuasion and Theatre

My interest in the anatomy of comedy just now springs from my just having been sprung.

I felt like a released prisoner last night when I doused all the lights, and secured all the theatre doors, and walked away from my last local commitment, an adaptation and staging of this.

(What a genius Wilde was, and how he must have loved his children.)

It appalls me how often this story is used and all the Christian symbolism stripped away, all notion of sacrifice gutted. (I think I might refine my work, and do something more with it, but that's neither here nor there.)

Every year it has gotten harder and harder to harness the energies of the thirteen-year-olds and reveal to them and marshal their not-yet-suspected skills.
Now, it is difficult, of course, for inexperienced actors to grasp what performing is; and what energy and focus are required of them until there is an actual performance, (which to these kids means in a nowhere-to-go-but-forward-because-there-is-an-audience run.
The concept of a dress rehearsal that no one but the directors or stage management is allowed to stop just could not be gotten through to them. Now that I think of it, in actual performance one child said, but we skipped some lines there! aloud. Oh, well...)

But that hasn't changed.

One difficulty is that our society is becoming autistic, incapable of relating face-to-face, of expressing emotions, of getting outside of the self, (who could deny a societal "impairment in social interaction; impairment in communication; and restricted interests and repetitive behaviors"?)

But what has really changed is the general discipline.

I see this almost across the board with young people, in language, in civility, in their treatment of property, in respect for others; so that impediment to success can come as no surprise.

But when the administration of the school is not supportive of what one is doing, and is not consistent and even-handed in the discipline they apply, there is not much one can do.

But I didn't mean this to be about that, what I am curious about is not the break-down of society, but the far more mundane and immediate question of Why Jokes Work.

In constructing the pieces I always have to balance water in the face, spit takes, prat-falls and Aflak ducks that the kindergartners will roar with laughter at with political and film references that the parents and teachers will get.

An extremely skilled and theatre-savvy parent gushed over the "wit" of the script, which she had read pre-curtain -- but not every gag received the hoped-for reactions, even when well delivered.

And yet other lines mumbled by barely audible adolescents furtively glancing into the wings or staring at the floor earned guffaws.

How does that work?

Can I analyze it so that I can reproduce the successes and eliminate the failures?
Probably not. But I want to try.

Oh, and lest my 2.3 readers think I am a complete ass, I know the story is not essentially a comic piece, (or even much of one,)despite the over-the-heads of children wit of many the author's original words, so it wasn't all spit takes, puns and slow burns.

And gratifyingly, the serious, touching, not to say heart-breaking moments played beautifully, even as presented by suddenly shy and inexpressive children.

As I said, Wilde was a genius.
Downstairs ran the Giant in great joy, and out into the garden. He hastened across the grass, and came near to the child. And when he came quite close his face grew red with anger, and he said, "Who hath dared to wound thee?" For on the palms of the child's hands were the prints of two nails, and the prints of two nails were on the little feet.

"Who hath dared to wound thee?" cried the Giant; "tell me, that I may take my big sword and slay him."

"Nay!" answered the child; "but these are the wounds of Love."

"Who art thou?" said the Giant, and a strange awe fell on him, and he knelt before the little child.

And the child smiled on the Giant, and said to him, "You let me play once in your garden, to-day you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise."

Why is that funny?

I have a friend, who, in rehearsal with a particularly uninventive and by-the book-director... no, traffic cop....when the latter screamed at another hapless and trangressing performer who had dared to "move on the punchline," WHAT IS THE FIRST RULE OF COMEDY?!?!?!?!?, brought the house down by muttering, "I dunno.... a red nose is a funny nose?"

For all the contempt we may have had for him, it must be admitted that the bad director had something right, there are "rules" of comedy.
But what are they?

Himslef, when a director delivers the "There are two speeds for comedy, fast and faster," cliche, is wont to request, "Somebody please inform Jack Benny."

A review of a movie I had, and still have no interest of seeing, (so why bother reading the review? hmmm....) has this gem of a put down:
[The] sketch ... has repeated itself enough times to have acquired a reputation for being humorous.

And in the scant attention I have paid to Saturday Night Life for the past decade or so, this seems to be their stock in trade, repetition, so that instant recognition of a character, phrase or situation brings on cheers and whoops by the studio audience, masking the fact that what then occurs is deeply unfunny.

Monty Python was, and David Letterman is beyond skilled in repeating the unhumorous until it become hysterically funny, (the latter, in some kind of meta-humor that mocks perseverance, obliviousness, a host of things...)

But why?
How do they do this? Since it must be admitted that most people can't, and that most things do NOT become funnier with repetition.

(Monty Python also used to do a send-up of academe that with a Ben Stein-level boring explanation of the mechanics of humor by dead-pan experts using custard pies, so perhaps this is something that defies analysis and on which I should not ponder...)

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD who made us!

Unless, of course, you're above that sort of thing...

Reminded during the Office of Readings, (Come, let us worship and bow down, bend the knee before the Lord who made us,) this morning, of a commentator at Praytell who believes, "And as far as kneeling, it’s a sign of slavery…we don’t kneel in the majority of cultures," and of others who pretty much affirm her in this belief.

The Douay was very abject: Come let us adore and fall down: and weep before the Lord that made us.

Thank God we're past all that, and can relate to God as equals, as peers, (which that poor pre-conciliar guy in Gethsemane couldn't...)

The same kneeling-averse commentator trotted out the tired old meme that "we don't believe the way we used to," and "Vatican Two changed that bad old theology," but as usual for those who make such claims, can't or won't provide specifics.

"Enforced Irresponsibility"

I do not know where the creator of Universalis obtains the mini-sermons on the "About Today" page, but they are often tiny masterpieces.

Today's optional memorial of Saint Bernardino of Siena affords the opportunity to praise a saint who, while still very young, manned up and took charge of a hospital in the time of a deadly epidemic that had taken the lives of most of the staff.
Bernardino’s achievements before he became a Franciscan show what the young can achieve if given the chance. Let us try not to confirm them [emphasis supplied] in a culture of enforced irresponsibility, but to encourage each of them to give to others whatever they have been called into this world to give.
No need for the third person, no need to leave ourselves out of that task -- in the perpetual adolescence that our society often seems to leave us in, who does not need to escape this enforced irresponsibility?

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Disappointing Headline

It's so disappointing to follow a link and discover that the page is not about what the headline encouraged you to believe.
For instance, Worshiping at the ‘Idol’ Church is NOT about the absurdly inappropriate style in which so many young cantors sing, (I am old enough that I used to facetiously blame all that was wrong in putatively "liturgical" cantilation [sp?]on Ed McMahon, and refer to it as "Star Search" Singing"...)
Someone, perhaps at the CMAA boards? mentioned that one difficulty with using the invaluable By Flowing Waters, (or probably most worthy English liturgical music,) is that singers are tempted to bring to it the styles they are used to hearing and producing.

Any voice teacher or choral director or coach knows that it is far easier to acheive results free of unfortuante habits of style, diction or intonation with a piece of music heretofore unknown by your charge than with an old favorite the singer or choir is happily accustomed to singing badly.

Although I had success with other hymns, I was never able to eliminate the hard "r"s from How Great Thou Art with one community chorale.
I could get a lovely, spinning, self-abnegating line fomr my best high school cantor, but not on the Celebration Series "psalms" she already knew, and simply could not sing without the little pop appogiaturas. (Yet another good reason not to use them!)

Friday, 14 May 2010

Chancery Official? Educating the Flock on the New Translations

My brother, (who apparently doesn't listen to a word I say to him, as I had certainly talked about this...,) told me that he was surprised to read in the bulletin, on a chance visit to his cathedral, that new translations were on the way. Anyway, it prompted him to seek out the other articles in the series:

small cross Series on The New Translation of the Mass

Introduction: (1)

None of us likes change! We are, however, nearing the end of a very long and careful process which will result in a new English translation of the Mass coming into effect at some point in 2010. In order to begin to familiarize ourselves with some of the changes, and to look at the reasoning behind them, I will be writing a short series of articles in the bulletin over the next few weeks. We may repeat them again in the new year when we have a more definite starting date for the changes.

As an introduction, it is important to remember that the official language of the Latin-rite Catholic Church is Latin. It is only by special permission that Masses are celebrated in the vernacular. The new English translation is meant to be a more faithful rendition in English of the Latin Mass. There are two great advantages to this: first, it means that we in the English-speaking world will be more in tune in our celebration of the Mass with those of other languages in their translation from the Latin; second, at present the English-speaking world is itself divided. For example, Mass in England or Australia or Canada uses different words or expressions to a Mass celebrated in the United States. The new translation brings a uniformity or harmony in English, wherever the Mass is being celebrated. “May this process of the implementation of the revised Roman Missal be a time of deepening, nurturing, and celebrating our faith through our worship and the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy.”

The Greeting: (2)
The first and most obvious change will be in response to the priest’s greeting: “The Lord be with you”. The people’s response will now be “And with your spirit” (rather than “And also with you”). Four times during Mass, at significant points, the priest (or at one place, possibly the deacon) will utter these words. At the beginning of Mass, immediately after “In the name of the Father....”; before introducing and proclaiming the Gospel; at the beginning of the Eucharistic prayer; and before imparting the final blessing. Contrary to popular belief, the Mass does not begin when the presiding priest may say “Good morning” or “Good evening”. That is a purely secular greeting which is not found in the Missal. Rather, when the priest uses the words: “The Lord be with you”, and the people respond, “And with your Spirit”, a spiritual space or framework for celebration is created by the Holy Spirit by means of an exchange of a promise and a bearing witness to his presence. The words, uttered at these significant points of the Mass are a sign of the reciprocity that constitutes the full truth of the relationship between the Christian community and the priest who is the president of that community at the celebration of the Sacred Mysteries.

The confiteor (I confess) (3)
There is one major addition and two minor changes to the confiteor. In our current English translation a whole phrase was left out from the original Latin text, a phrase in which we, the penitent, acknowledge that our sins, our failures, are our own responsibility. In today’s society we have fostered a mentality of either no blame, or no responsibility, for wrong-doing, or a responsibility that is somehow held collectively. How often have you heard the phrase, “I blame the government” or “I blame the parents”? Accepting a personal responsibility for sin is a vital step on the road to true repentance. At these restored words we are invited to make a physical gesture of repentance by striking our chests three times.
In Christ, Fr Andrew

“I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done
and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.”

In Christ Our Lord,
Fr [X]

The Gloria (4)
The great hymn sung by the angels to announce the birth of Christ, which is recited or sung at each Sunday Mass (except in Advent and Lent) and at Masses on Solemnities and feast days. The new translation is more faithful to the Latin text, restoring several phrases that were omitted in the current rendition.

In Christ, Fr [X]

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will. We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory,

Lord God, heavenly King,
O God, almighty Father.

Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
Son of the Father,
you take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us;
you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.”

The Creed (5)

The Creed (Part 1)

There are a number of differences to the present text, as the new translation makes a great effort not only to be a more faithful rendition of the original Latin text, but also to be more faithful to the teaching of the fathers of the Councils of Nicea, who in order to resolve disputes in the early Church promulgated the Creed in AD 325. The principal, and most notable change, is that all the statements of belief are made in the first person singular, so that, instead of saying “We believe...”, we shall say “I believe...”. This underlines that the profession of the catholic faith is to be owned by each individual and not just by the community as a whole.
The changes to the first part of the translation emphasize, as the council fathers meant to emphasize, the divinity of Christ, asserting his co-eternalness with God and confirming it by stating his role in Creation, i.e. that Jesus truly is God and God’s Son and not himself a creation of God. Similarly, Jesus is not ‘of one being’ with the Father. The First and Second Persons of the Blessed Trinity are distinct, but of the same substance (‘consubstantial’).
The change from ‘born of the Virgin Mary’ to ‘became incarnate’ underlines that it is from the moment of his conception, and not from his birth, that Our Lord took flesh and became a man like us in all things except sin.

In Christ, Fr Andrew

I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit
was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.

The Creed (II)

The alterations to this second part (my division) can be seen in bold type. There is really no further comment to make, other than this represents a far more faithful translation.

In Christ, Fr Andrew

“For our sake
he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven and is seated
at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord,
the giver of life, who proceeds
from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son
is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
And one, holy, catholic
and apostolic Church.
I confess one baptism
for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection
of the dead
and the life of the world to come.

The Eucharistic Prayers (I)

The Preface Dialogue

As has already been noted, in response to the priest’s, “The Lord be with you”, the response of the assembly will now be, “And with your Spirit.” There is no change to the invocation to lift up our hearts, but to the third part, in response to the “Let us give thanks....” the people will now reply, “It is right and just”. For it is not only right that we give God thanks and praise, as we currently declare, but more importantly it is just that we do so. Justice towards God is called the ‘virtue of religion’ (CCC) and denotes a constant and firm will to give God what is due to him and to our neighbor.
In Christ, Fr Andrew

“Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: And with your spirit.
Priest: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Priest: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right and just.”

The Eucharistic Prayers (II)
One of the criticisms of our current translation, particularly in the central prayers of the liturgy, is that the language used can seem ordinary or everyday and yet we are daring to address, praise and entreat God. Accordingly the new translation faithfully incorporates the distinctive style of the original Latin, in that the language used is more poetically resonant, employing a noble tone and rhythm and a heightened style of vocabulary and grammar. Perhaps even more importantly, the close link between our liturgy and scared scripture will be emphasized with the restoration to the prayers of the direct quotations from scripture which are employed in the original, but which we somehow lost in the translation. Just as one example, amongst so many, in the current Eucharistic Prayer III the priest employs the phrase, “from east to west a perfect offering may be made...” In the new rendition the passage, “from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered...”.

May we continue to look forward to the promulgation of the new translation next year with joyful anticipation. In Christ, Fr [X]

The Eucharistic Acclamations

A minor, but important change, again to link more closely the words we use in the liturgy with the words of Sacred Scripture.

“Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes
in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.”

The final text of the alternative responses to “the mystery of faith” has yet to be determined, but the following have been approved:

A – We proclaim your death, O Lord,
and profess your Resurrection
until you come again.

or B – When we eat this Bread
and drink this Cup,
we proclaim your death, O Lord,
until you come again.

or C – Save us, Savior of the world,
for by your Cross
and Resurrection,
you have set us free.

In Christ, Fr [X]

Even more resonantly are the invitation to communion and the people’s response linked with the words of Sacred Scripture. First, by the priest using the words of St John the Baptist and then by the faithful echoing the words of the centurion from St Luke’s Gospel:

Priest: Behold the Lamb of God,
behold him who takes away
the sins of the world.
Blessed are those called
to the supper of the Lamb.

All: Lord, I am not worthy
that you should enter under my roof,
but only say the word
and my soul shall be healed.

This concludes my short series of articles on the new translation which are meant to help us in our preparation for the changes, the final date for which we are still waiting. In the words of the prophet: “How long, O Lord?!” In Christ, Fr [X]
Well, nice that SOME dioceses are on the job.
Also, isn't it nice that this preist, (the cathdral rector, perhaps?) asks, How long, O Lord?
A much wiser question than What if we just said 'wait'?, in my opinion.

Music for the Holy Father's Visit to the Celtish Isles

A Dominican blogger at The New Liturgical Movement reports that James MacMillan, on of the finest liturgical composers working today, (and this is not to say that his oeuvre is limited to sacred music,) has been commissioned to write a new setting of the new translation of the Ordinary.

By the bishops of Scotland, England and Wales.

(When our bishops commission music, we get things like this.

MacMillan is a remarkable anomaly -- a real-deal serious composer who labors in the trenches, er, loft or a regular Catholic parish.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

The Wisdom of Reverend Timtom

I watch a lot of television.
(After a recent thread at Musica Sacra on how little television all of you in the Catholic blogosphere watch, I hope you'll all acknowledge that it takes extraordinary courage on my part to make such a declaration. But I'm heroic that way....;oP))


Anyway, a number of other recent threads there and elsewhere have discussed the nonsense that passes for contemporary liturgy, youth ministry, etc., and I think all concerned would get a huge kick out a character on "The Middle" last night, a fellowship-offerin', guitar-totin', theology-singin' youth minister, Rev. Timothy Thomas.
Jesus was a teenager, too
Beneath the long hair, awkwardness and pimples?
King of the Jews.
-- Rev. TimTom, the Rovin' Rev
In Rev. Timtom's songs, we see an illustration of CS Lewis' metaphor of things that are bigger on the inside than on the outside. Yeah, to all appearances, He's just like that annoying kid stocking the shelves at the local supermarket, but inside? God.

The dangers of an ecclesiology based on a cult of personality are also sent-up in this episode to great effect, (see what I did there? how I went all big-wordy on ya to mask or at least mitigate the whiff of low culture emanating from my post?)

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Sacred Time

A rather remarkable thread on the increasingly, well, on PrayTell, the topic ranging from Tolkein to Dr Who to Jaroslav Vajda to Ennio Morricone... what caught my eye was Adam Woods comments on the aptness of the chant to fulfill its objectives in regard to occurring in our time but placing us squarely, [yeah, that's a pun...,] in sacred time.
This is music’s role in the Liturgy. All music, but especially unmetered chant, drastically changes our perception of time: seconds feel like they have lengthened into minutes, hours collapse into moments.

This mirrors and evokes the collapse of time that takes place in the consecration, as we create in the present time both the offering of the Last Supper and the Offering on the Cross, collapsing them both, along with the countless other Eucharists of the last 200o years into a present moment ...

The “minimalist” school of composing in the mid 20th cent. was attempting to accomplish artificially what Chant had already achieved naturally- a slowing down of our perception of time to allow a single moment to linger and expand before us, replacing one sense of time (chronos) with a deeper one ....This is also the purpose of the Divine Office: “to sanctify the whole course of day and night.”


This just screams to be photo-shopped...

An indie chant group called "Smashing Punctums".

The stripes of the flag logo obviously translates to four line, huh?
(Would the cover model for Blind Melon be the "ti girl"?)

Monsignor Doherty to Lafayette

I have a friend, from various colloquia and retreats, who resides and makes music in this diocese.

She had very definite things to say about her outgoing shepherd, but for the life of me, I can't recall what they were... I think I recall that while firmly a Pauline Missal guy, he had softened and was becoming genuinely liberal, (i.e., in accomodating the rightful aspirations of those who were not.)

I wonder when the episcopal ordination will be -- I have never attended one in person, (were it not for EWTN, God bless them, I would never have experienced one in any way,) and now have the flexibility to travel, and may be in Indiana for some of the summer.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Sunday Obligations

Um, which reminds me...
This priest, (he of the, "I find the Extraordinary Form "offensive," brouhaha,) is asked, he says, "Why it seems that so many Catholics don’t come to the liturgy each Sunday, since the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that 'those who fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.'

Hmmm, I would suggest that one major reason might be that so many priests like him answer such questions so equivocally. "The Catechism does indeed make the obligation clear,... At the same time it is important that we don’t take a statement out of its context."

In other words, it's an obligation -- but not REALLY, (wink wink, nudge, nudge...)

Yes, there are good reasons to miss Mass, and further, I am certainly not advocating checking up on the validity of anyone others' reasons, I got plenty o' sins o' my own to worry about, -- but for virtually my entire life, "oh well, yes, but...", has been the standard answer to concerns or questions about the Sunday "obligation."

Pew View of Mothers' Day

Odd, no, sad phenomenon I've noticed more and more over the past few years, (or did it seem to grow exponentially this year from my new and different vantage point? )

Besides the multi-generational family groups, women of oldest generation in corsages, grandma and mom being taken out to brunch after Mass; on Mothers' Day you see more men with children at Mass.

Mom celebrates Mothers' Day by sleeping in and blowing off Mass.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

What was Moses thinking getting rid of that Golden Calf?

"It has been said that only a completely dysfunctional institution would seek to ban something which was actually bringing people back to church" -
A famous liturgist decrying the de facto ban on
the Rite for the Reconciliation of Several
Penitents with General Absolution

Should the Church be Marshall Fields? "Give the lady what she wants"?
Himself is constantly suggesting, since the Sister Act school of evangelization ("I'm talkin' about puttin' the fannies in the seats,") seems sometimes to be prevailing, that our parish get a barrista.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

I repeat, we should all be on our knees in gratitude that GOD does not have a Zero Tolerance policy

NCR belatedly discovers that there are bloody good reasons that accused priests are owed due process, however heinous that of which they may be accused; good reasons that the Church may not lightly relinquish responsibilty for Her priests; and good reasons for Bishops remembering their paternal obligations toward their priests.

We human beings are intellectually lazy and gullible, and we need rules in place to protect us from easy fixes, and simple assumptions.

The Bible gives us ample proof that God does not believe in zero tolerance.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Speaking as one of those "imperfect bodies"....

A piece in the NYTimes on a show of the art of high fashion at the Brooklyn Museum starts off frankly and sensibly, acknowledging the gulf between the sorts of garments that end up in such displays and the clothing of real life.
But then, seemingly without irony, (certainly without scare quotes,) the writer allows this toad to leap from her mouth (or rather, pen):
Here you’ll find .... the black silk twill gown that Queen Victoria wore in a famous 1896 family photograph, reproduced here. It shows her with her son, grandson and great-grandson, the future Kings Edward VII, George V and Edward (VIII) the Brief. Among the dresses once worn by sylphs like Ava Gardner, the art collector Dominique de Menil or the socialite and major Charles James patron Millicent Rogers, Victoria’s is a shock. The mannequin is so short, wide and top-heavy that you may first think that it is seated. Hers is the only imperfect body in [the] show.

Ah, yes, the rich, famous, beautiful and healthy are "perfect."
The rest of mankind, well....
And I may be envisioning the wrong golden age of Hollywood star, but I would have thought Miss Gardner excessively zaftig to earn the appellation "sylph."

(Incidentally, never heard of Charles James before, he may have been a genius, judging from the photos)

Meeting in Chapter

Worthy proposal, but the author seems not to know that this is not a "medieval practice," that it does not need to be "brought back" because it has never gone away. (But I don't think it has ever been a part of non-monastic religious life, though I will take correction on this.)

Jesuit College Thinking With the MInd of the Church

Disclaimer, or rather, admission -- I do not know this woman's work or writings, I am not passing judgment on whether they are compatible with teaching at a Catholic university.

But the mere fact that the administration of Marquette says that there are beliefs, lines of thought, and positions that are NOT, is very encouraging.
Marquette University on Thursday abruptly rescinded an offer to a sociologist to serve as dean of one of its colleges, angering some students and faculty members who said the university did so after learning she was a lesbian who wrote about sexuality.

Marquette, a Roman Catholic university run by Jesuits in Milwaukee, said the professor lacked “the ability to represent the Marquette mission and identity.”

The professor, Jodi O’Brien, who teaches sociology at Seattle University, is openly gay and writes frequently about sexuality in academic journals....
The Rev. Robert A. Wild, the Marquette president, denied in an interview that the decision to revoke the offer was based on the candidate’s sexual orientation. Instead, Father Wild said, the decision came after he and other university leaders read academic writings by the candidate.

“We found some strongly negative statements about marriage and family,” Father Wild said.

Dr. O’Brien’s 12-page curriculum vitae includes many articles and book chapters on topics like “Queer Christian Identities,” “Queer Christian Social Movements” and same-sex marriage.

In a joint letter on Wednesday to the faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences, Father Wild and John J. Pauly, the provost, said, “We did make an offer to one of the two finalists; in retrospect, that was done prematurely.”

In an e-mail message, Dr. O’Brien said she was stunned by Marquette’s about-face and disappointed that she would not be able to serve at the university.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Lies, Damned Lies and Polls

Zogby looks into what American Catholics think of their shepherds.
Overall, how would you rate (a) Pope Benedict XVI (b) the American Catholic Bishops' efforts to address the sexual abuse situation within the Catholic Church?
Pope Benedict XVI American Catholic Bishops
Excellent 15% 8%
Good 23% 12%
Positive 39% 20%
Fair 26% 29%
Poor 30% 43%
Negative 56% 72%
Not sure 6% 8%
Ummm.... since when is "fair" a "negative" descriptor?


1.free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice: a fair decision; a fair judge.
2.legitimately sought, pursued, done, given, etc.; proper under the rules: a fair fight.
3.moderately large; ample: a fair income.
4.neither excellent nor poor; moderately or tolerably good: fair health.
5.marked by favoring conditions; likely; promising: in a fair way to succeed.
And while I'm at it, whining about others' diction -- I know Zogby is a pollster and all, but isn't the word "plurality" pretty meaningless in this context? in a poll giving choices along a continuum?

"A plurality of respondents gave Pope Benedict XVI .... a "poor" rating on their efforts to address abuse within the church."

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

On what planet do the people who thought this was a good idea live?

And I take second place to no man in my love of both main ingredients.

What is Job One for the Priest?

Sanctifying people.
Bringing them into contact with God.

In today's general audience the Pope pares away all the rest of it, the running of the parish, the leadership, the catechizing, even, when you think of it, the administering of the sacraments, per se. For they are means to an end, salvation.
From what? from separation from the Father.
In today's general audience, which was celebrated in St. Peter's Square, the Pope focused his remarks on the priest's mission to sanctify humankind.

"Sanctifying a person means putting that person in contact with God", said the Pope, noting how "an essential part of a priest's grace is his gift, his task to establish such contact. This comes about through the announcement of the Word of God, ... and particularly intensely in the Sacraments".

"Over recent decades", he went on, "various schools of thought have tried to make the aspect of announcement prevail in the priest's mission and identity, separating it from sanctification. It has often been affirmed that there is a need to go beyond merely sacramental pastoral care".

"Ordained ministers", the Pope explained, "represent Christ, God's envoy, they ... continue His mission through the 'Word' and the 'Sacrament', which are the two main pillars of priestly service". In this context he identified the need "to reflect whether, in certain cases, having undervalued the faithful exercise of 'munus sanctificandi' has not perhaps led to a weakening of faith in the salvific effectiveness of the Sacraments and, in the final analysis, in the real action of Christ and His Spirit, through the Church, in the world".

"It is, therefore, important to promote appropriate catechesis in order to help the faithful understand the value of the Sacraments. But it is equally necessary, following the example of the saintly 'Cure of Ars', to be willing, generous and attentive in giving the faithful the treasures of grace that God has placed in our hands, treasures of which we are not masters but custodians and administrators. Especially in our own time - in which on the one hand, the faith seems to be weakening and, on the other, there is a profound need and widespread search for spirituality - it is necessary for each priest to remember that ... missionary announcement and worship are never separate, and that he must promote a healthy sacramental pastoral care in order to form the People of God and help them to fully experience the liturgy ... and the Sacraments as gratuitous gifts of God, free and effective aspects of His action of salvation".
Salvation as anything other than a fait accompli is hardly mentioned, hardly, I sometimes think, believed.
A weakening of faith in the saving power of the Sacraments is the natural consequence of ignorance of, or even outright denial, of our need to be saved.

Baptism is about joining a community, or worse, about parents' expression of their desire for their child to join that community.
Communion is signaling fellowship.
Anointing of the sick is about all of the rest of the community pullin' for ya in your time of trouble.
Confessi, er, reconciliation? apologies to the rest of the Body of Christ for having corporately (for sin is never personally committed, is it? it's all about espousing -isms...) wounded their corporate self.
Confirmation? that's just a lure to keep middle schoolers coming to Faith Formation class. It's all about Spirit. (No "Holy," please.)

Sacramental grace?
Sanctification, with an eye toward being saved?

Come, come, isn't belief in the supernatural a little superstitious?

And of course, denial of the priest's position as a mediator in these things, well that's just enlightened common sense, isn't it? I protest, it would be undemocratic to think otherwise.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Now THAT'S a "Box of Whistles!"

And the organist ain't too shabby.
Seriously, Brother Jonathan is fantastic, how fortunate for the people of Oakland.
And how fortunate for the people of Chicago.
And of Cromwell Connecticut.
Oh heck, how fortunate for the Church.
The entire People of God.
Br. Jonathan Ryan, SJC received an unexpected phone message on Thursday afternoon, April 8: a voicemail to immediately call the Director of Music of the newly dedicated Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, CA, just across the bay from San Francisco. The ... French concert organist the Cathedral had booked to play [a concert] had to cancel. He was thus asked to play a concert on the same date a week away so the event could still take place.

He flew to California the following Wednesday, and performed to an audience of over 500 in the breathtaking acoustics of the Cathedral on Friday evening, April 16. His program included the Prelude & Fugue in B Major, Op. 7, No. 1 by Marcel Dupré, The Legend of the Mountain from Seven Pastels on the Lake of Constance, Op. 96 by Sigfried Karg-Elert, the Rhapsody in C# Minor, Op. 17, No. 3 by Herbert Howells, Claude Balbastre’s Noel: Where are these happy shepherds going?, the Pastorale & Toccata by contemporary Bay-area composer David Conte, There is a Happy Land, I Love Thee My Lord, and Jerusalem My Happy Home by George Shearing, Fanfare to the Tongues of Fire by Larry King, Vater Unser im Himmelreich, BWV 682 by J.S. Bach, and The World Awaiting the Savior from the Passion Symphony, Op. 23 by Dupré.

Br. Jonathan has gained significant public notoriety as a concert organist, most recently with his First Place prize in the Jordan II International Organ Competition, one of the premier international organ competitions in the world, this past September. The Jordan Competition First Prize includes the largest monetary prize of any organ competition and a three-year management contract with Karen McFarlane Artists. Br. Jonathan currently divides his time between St. John Cantius Church, Chicago, where he regularly plays within a liturgical context during Holy Week, Advent, Christmas, and from May through August, and Holy Apostles College & Seminary in Cromwell, CT, where he plays for daily Chapel liturgies and assists in the musical formation of seminarians.

His next concert performance in the Chicago area will take place at St. John Cantius on Sunday, May 30 at 2:00 pm. This recital will be a duo program with young upcoming Chicago-native organist Nathan Laube featuring music by Pasquini, J.S. Bach, Holst, Hampton, and solo selections by Widor and Vierne. A free-will offering will benefit the parish sacred music program. A solo recital by Br. Jonathan at St. John Cantius is being planned for the late summer and will include the complete Passion Symphony, Op. 23 by Marcel Dupré.

Germs and the Sacred

There are people who speak with derision on the subject of germophobes who are loathe to sip from the common cup.
There are others who take issue with being told that receiving Holy Communion on the tongue during an epidemic is unwise.
(These two positions are seldom taken by the same people, oddly.... I will never understand how "the party line" works.)

Wonder how either fringe looks at this...
[A man baptized in the Jordan River] may have had a spiritual experience, but it wasn't a healthy one. Standing on the Israeli-controlled side of the site, Gidon Bromberg, of Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME), talks about the dangers.

"If you drink the water, you're likely to get diarrhea or stomach problems, and if you have a cut, you will probably get a rash," he told AOL News. "Israel bans people from being baptized here, and the Jordanians advise against it, but it's still hard to stop people."

Bromberg says that many people save the robes they are baptized in here and choose to be buried in them.

Those relics may become all the more poignant, for the Jordan River, important to all three monotheistic religions, is drying up. In the 1930s, there were 1.3 billion cubic meters of water flowing down the Jordan River each year. Now, according to FoEME, just 20 million to 30 million cubic meters complete the trip to the Dead Sea, because Israel, Syria and Jordan divert 98 percent of the river water for their own uses. And what little does flow is highly polluted.

About 65 miles north of Kasr al-Yahud is Yardenit, the official Israeli site for baptism, where the Jordan River exits from the Sea of Galilee. Here the water is relatively clean. But just a few miles downriver at the Alumot Dam, raw sewage spills into the river, and the stench is overpowering.

Nonetheless, it sounds like an interesting project....

Renee Fleming has a new album coming out.

Knowing much of anything about music is not a requirement for being a professional music critic.
[Her] favorite piece on the new album, features unusual, almost Gregorian chant-like harmonies.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Feast of St Joseph the Worker

From Universalis:
The feast of Saint Joseph the Worker is not a mere Catholic copying of the Communist First of May – any more than Christmas is a mere copy of the pagan feast of Saturnalia. The dates are taken over, for obvious reasons; but the content is radically different.

The Christian view of work is the opposite of the materialist view. A worker such as St Joseph is not a mere lump of labour – “1.00 human work units.” He is a person. He is created in God’s own image, and just as creation is an activity of God, so creation is an activity of the worker. The work we do echoes the glorious work that God has done. It may not be wasted; or abused; or improperly paid; or directed to wrong or pointless ends. To do any of these things is not oppression, it is sacrilege. The glory of the present economic system is when it gives so many, of whatever class, the chance to build and create something worthwhile, whether from their own resources, or in collaboration with others, or by attracting investment from others. But its shame is when that does not happen: when people are coerced, by greed or by poverty, into being “lumps of labour.” Whether the labour is arduous or not makes no difference; whether it is richly paid or not makes no difference.

Because [S]he must combat the anti-humanist Communist heresy the Church is sometimes thought to be on the side of capital. Reading the successive Papal encyclicals on labour and society, from Rerum Novarum (1891) onwards, will soon dispel that illusion. The enemies of the Church have no reason to read them; all too often we feel too comfortable in our present economic state and refrain from reading them also.
It's a day I love.

Whether With Words or Wheels...

... we, the Church, continue to be a "pilgrim people."

Mixology, with Spirits of Vatican Two, (what proof are they?)

Much, and not all of it kind, is being made of the kicking and screaming of American Catholicism's Ancien Régime.
(Ooops, I guess that using "kicking and screaming" as a descriptor of their tantrums is unkindness.)
But in all seriousness, as the name-tags that say "Reactionary" and "Progressive" are slid across the table at the Endless LitCom Meeting that the Catholic Church in the Anglophone world has morphed into, and traded, while I have read accusations of gloating, I really haven't noticed any from anyone of whom civil or mature behavior might have been expected.
But I have seen some startlingly whiny or vitriolic reactions from people of whom I had thought better.

This gentleman falls into none of these categories as I had never heard of him before, but I did feel bad for him, for the piling on that followed one of his posts, or rather, that followed a posting about one of his posts.

He had to have known that calling something that is beloved by zealous, energetic people, however great or small their actual numbers, explicilty "silly," "offensive," "undecorous," "unintelligible," "immune from the fundamental principles of good liturgy," and implicitly encumbered with needless ritual, incomprehensible, and fruity, (that is the subtext of the wide-spread mockery of vesting and vestments -- real men don't wear lace, ya know?) would be a red flag to bulls.

So you'd think he would have made a little more certain to get his facts straight, ya know?
"[The old] rite that virtually ignores the Hebrew Bible on Sundays and feasts"?
He really should take a look at a Gradual.
(And don't get me wrong, I am an ardent supporter of the expanded Lectionary, if not of the 3 year cycle, but sometimes the consecutive OT readings on weekdays leave us with a pericope that despites seeming endless, isn't all that edifying, never gets to a valuable point -- I'm gonna go out on a limb here and risk being raked over the coals for it, but every verse of the Bible is not equally valuable.)

"[The new rite] requires a homily on the scriptures"?
He really should steal a glance at the GIRM.

And it seems a bit of special pleading to hold up in comparison to the old rite which he despises, (I don't think that is too strong a word,) some idealized Ordinary rite with just is not available to too many of us on the ground.

"[The Pauline rite does] not require much explanation."
The why, why, why is it so hard to find a Mass where the celebrant does not give endless explanatory remarks by way of introduction to the various rites? (And now, we all join our voices to give glory to God..., Let's join in our family prayer, taught to us by the Lord Himself, such a beautiful prayer, Our Father... , Good morning, and isn't it a lovely morning, we're all here worship together, to be "Church," to remind ourselves that we are one in Christ as we start, in the name of the...)

But I'm still sorry for him.

In a more recent post answering his critics, he had this to say
Someone else mentioned the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. I think any rite that does not provide full, conscious and active participation is a candidate for overhauling, following the principles outlined by the bishops’ Vatican II magisterial teaching.
Well, at least he's upfront about it, and consistent -- but it still surprises me that so many putative lovers of ecumenism seem to have contempt for the rites of the Church's "other lung."

And I say all of this, as a member of Team Ordinary Form, (do I feel the need to remind my readers, or myself?) though one who yearns for what has been called a "mutual enrichment" of the two Latin Rites.

For that matter, I think the Latin and Eastern Rites could stand a bit of judicious intermixing...

But I doubt that is to be.

I don't get to write the rites.