Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Friday, 25 June 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, yeah... and

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

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

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

Novelty at Mass?

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

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

Overheard at the Colloquium...

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

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Enamored of Our Bridegroom

The Holy Father at yesterday's general audience:

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

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

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

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

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

We are Barbarians

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Oh, and happy birthday)

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Robert Batastini on the Grail Psalter Licensing

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

Lead, Kindly Light, and I Shall Follow

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

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

Embroider That On a Sampler

Plainchant for Plain Folks

Church of the Epiphany

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



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

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Simply Divine!

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

Friday, 18 June 2010

You Want Inculturation? I'll Give You Inculturation

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

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

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

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

Blow, Gabriel, blow....

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

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

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

Thursday, 17 June 2010

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

"Crisis and Response... Reflections and Suggestions"

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

Not really.

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

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

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

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


I will do anything to avoid work, so as I try to pack the detritus of a decade spent more or less in one place, I come across, and stop to examine... oh, all kinds of stuff.
Why would I buy a pair of jodhpurs?
When was I obsessed with bullicante?
Chestnuts in syrup? (I think that may have been a gift.)

And books, lots and lots of books. Often of or about Church music, scrounged, inherited, unearthed, picked up for a song (yeah, I had to go there.)

Many moments of deja vu, or more a recognition that those who cannot remember history, yada yada yada, (or should I stay in Frenglish mode, la plus ca change...)

How often, when one of my contemporaries, (or I myself, though that is rare,) comes up with what seems to me a brilliant insight or, (pace, Baldrick,) a cunning plan, do I almost immediately discover -- oh, for the luv o' pete, they knew that eight years ago!, or dang, someone cautioned against that very problem in 1961 and no one listened to Monsignor Cassandra then, either.

Right now, it seems that those with the most influence over what music appears in the pews of Catholic parishes in this country are set to party like it's 1969.
And those with a better grasp of what is needed, what is demanded, oh, okay, "asked" by the Church for her liturgies, but demanded by the Liturgy itself, seem far too often to be straying into emotional or tactical territory that will thwart their aims.

Charity. (Or as I would prefer to translate caritas, Active Love.)

That wasn't what I was thinking about.

I was thinking about this little tiny hymnal, 1911, that the Archbishop of Milwaukee was anxious to be introduced throughout his archdiocese, in hopes of eliciting the same sort of full-throated singing with which our protestant brethren and sistren worship the King.
And that is was a "modern unchristian innovation which deprived Catholics [of 1911] of the beauty of the primitive and medieval mode of church music."
And + Messmer asked, "Why should we not return to it?" (You know, that Golden Age, the one of 1454. Or do I mean 1954? or was it 154?)

Anyway, 2 things, all you SofV2 types who wax eloquent about the fact that NOW we can sing in our own language!!!!..?
How ahistorical.
And all you R2 types who decry the MODERN musical model of pretty pathetic, not pragmatically pertinent and Propers-ignoring pieces of "sacred song" sandwiched into the Mass?
How ahistorical.
The poor-in-taste you will always have with you, and you always have had.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

''He's on his way'' !

A rather striking image a British group, ChurchAds will use in a series of Christian Christmas advertising campaigns
Jesus ultrasound picture used in campaign: The ChurchAds.net image

The Stigmata of a Pedalist

I read some silly thing once about how the great divide among modern Catholics was not liturgy, not music, not the attitude toward Humanae Vitae -- no, the claim was made that all of Catholicism separates into two camps, pedalists and manualists, according to ones preferred method of lowering and raising kneelers.

I'm a devout pedalist, but cannot for the life of me recall getting the tremendous bruises I just noticed on my insteps...

The kneelers at one church where I prayed last week are awkwardly heavy, but I'm fairly certain this didn't appear until several days after the last time I worshipped there. St Clara's are very small indeed, and light, so I doubt they are to blame.
There are no kneelers at the one other place I stopped in... go figure.

Monday, 14 June 2010

“The Devil Made Me a Catholic”

The anniversary of GK Chesterton's death.
A little tribute on Universalis (the first, I think, I've ever seen on that for an individual who is not even beatified, though he is sometimes called the "apostle of common sense." Universalis is careful to say "pray FOR him.")
In youth, he went through a crisis of nihilistic pessimism and it was his recovery from this that led him to God and ultimately to conversion. “The Devil made me a Catholic,” he said – meaning that it was the experience of evil and nothingness that convinced him of the goodness and sanity of the world and his creator. His poem “The Ballade of a Suicide” celebrates the salvific value of ordinary things

...He took part in all the major controversies of his age, and was a lifelong adversary and friend of socialists and atheists such as George Bernard Shaw. These controversies were conducted with passion but with unfailing charity: he never sought to defeat his opponents, only to defeat their ideas. He would never cheat to score a point: and his love for the people he fought against is something that all controversialists should imitate, however hard it may be
[Emphasis supplied throughout.]
Wise, wise stance, and wise, wise words, no?
Lord, help me to grow in love in imitation of GKC.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

The Axiom Brass, and In Praise of Palstrina

Wonderful concert of sacred music at This Institute of Christ the King, courtesy of the Axiom Brass, perfectly wonderful.
Beautifully programmed, beautifully played ,(and prayerfully played, or at least heard,) but you know what I was most impressed with? (Other than my momentary, gee, it's lucky it's summertime, or that trombonist would probably have too much homework to be hanging out on a Sunday afternoon ... and a split second later, O Lord, I'm oooooooooooold ..... Forgive me, Mr. Johnson.)

The perfection of their "patter."

A lot of performers, just as priests, ( qv, the recent "in these or similar words" threads here and there about blogdom,) aren't very good at it, and not only cannot make their interspersed monologizing sound organic much less interesting, they just don't know when to shut up and play the ink, (or, in the priest's case, say the black, do the...)

The Axiom Brass's audible program notes were pitched and calibrated ideally -- this is not to denigrate their playing in the slightest, yeah, yeah, yeah, crystalline beauty and fullness of tone, but this other achievement... well, it may be even rarer -- kudos to them!

Oh, and Palestrina?
Probably old news to genuine church musicians, but I'm not that familiar with many of his quazillion Masses, and I have a vague impression of polyphony of that era being not all that in tune with the specific words rather than the all-over moment that any given section of the Ordinary constitutes, (and sometimes not even that.)

So in this type of concert, when the lines are taken by instruments, I had a sudden flashback to my second-grade concert-going self, Oh no! at classical music concerts you don't applaud in between movements, suppose I miscount and there's still one to go and I start clapping?
Or worse, suppose the whole audience miscounts and there's no more to go and nobody knows to start clapping?
And how will I know whether that's a Benedictus or the 2nd or 3rd iteration of Agnus, and I don't even know if the 2 Hosannas will be the same, and what if the Credo feels like several separate movements, how'm I ever gonna count.... what a disaster if I let my attention drift for even a moment?

Well Lord Above.

Palestrina the genius does not need a singer articulating the words for the listener to know with utter confidence, "that's 'Deum de Deo, Lumen de Lumine...'" or "Ah...'Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto'."

Dona nobis pacem.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

"The Mass of White People Clapping"

Discussion of proper (and "Ordinary" ;oP) terminology over at the CMAA boards yields this gem, (concerning one more wonderful thing about the not-particularly-imminent arrival of the new translations,) from Adam Wood:
[The new Missal chants] are free to use. That’s a whole lot better than having to buy 20 more choir editions (each) of the Mass of Creation, the Mass of Light, the Mass of Glory, the Mass of Endless Descants, the Mass of Faux multi-culturalism, the Mass of White People Clapping, and all the other Mass settings your parish has been mixing and matching acclamations out of for the last decade.

Pride Goeth Before the Fall, or Sometimes Before the Summer

Looking out my window yesterday I was filled to bursting with joy and pride, looking at our hydrangea bush, which was enormous, and healthy, and had, if anything, too many blooms.

(This is a first, we had several years of it not flowering, or looking sickly and scrawny all summer, not seeming to grow, or just generally failing to thrive, as those with care of children might say.)

It was so remarkable that, well.... I remarked on it, and summoned the could-care-less Himself to share the sight with me.

Now these abundant blossoms were tinged with blue, but only slightly.

And I like blue hydrangeae.

The past few years I have given it aluminum sulfate, but i am out and in light of the projected move to a place where the hydrangeas bloom not, wasn't about to spend ten dollars on a bag of chemicals to use a spoonful or two, so I read up on the internet, (the magisterial internet, the source of all wisdom and knowledge,) and had decided several days ago i could give it tiny amounts of vinegar to futher acidize the soil.

And as of yesterday I was very puffed up indeed about how it looked.

And this morning it is all but dead.

Friday, 11 June 2010

This Sunday

I have been remiss, in not posting of some of the wonderful opportunities of which people should avail themselves if they are in the area; the one, (in Chicago, Illinois,) I just mentioned:
    10:00am Solemn High Mass, Chant: Rex Gloriae schola, directed by Paul Wierzbowski
    Ordinary: Missa "O quam gloriosum" Tomas Luis de Victoria (1548-1611)
    Offertory: "Improperium expectavit" Giovanni Batistta Casali (1715-92)
    Communion: "O sacrum convivium" Lodovico Grossi da Viadana (1560-1627)
    Benediction Motet: "Ave verum" William Byrd (1540-1623)
    Choral Music: members of the William Ferris Chorale
    Free luncheon reception to follow.

    2:00pm Concert: "Sacred Brass of the Baroque" by Axiom Brass Quintet

Remarkable Story of Maternal Faith and Love

Tenor Andrea Bocelli
...interrupted a show to recount a 'little story' of how a pregnant woman was admitted to hospital with appendicitis.

After being treated, the doctors suggested the woman should consider an abortion, the Italian singer revealed to his audience.

They had told her it was the 'best solution'.

'But the young brave wife decided not to abort, and the child was born,' he said. 'That woman was my mother, and I was the child.'

He added: 'Maybe I'm partisan, but I can say that it was the right choice.'

Bocelli, 51, does not explain why doctors recommended an abortion at a time when it was still illegal in Italy. The present law dates from 1978. [I wondered the same thing at the beginning of the story, but also know that people have always and everywhere been able to procure abortions, from real doctors]
(I should note, I'm not much of a fan the man's singing - but what a wonderful testament of faith!)

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

An extraordinary (small "e",) sight, (for which I seem to be able to find no image to reproduce here): some fifteen thousand priests, from 94 different nations, concelebrating, with the Holy Father, the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, to mark the close of the Year for Priests.
A thrilling sight, so auspicious, filled with such hope!

I am fortunate to be attending the Mass for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart this weekend at the Institute of Christ the King, ( also, a concert of sacred music that I have no doubt will be splendid,) but for today, let me pray:
MOST sweet Jesus, whose overflowing charity for men is requited by so much forgetfulness, negligence and contempt, behold us prostrate before Thee, eager to repair by a special act of homage the cruel indifference and injuries to which Thy loving Heart is everywhere subject.

Mindful, alas! that we ourselves have had a share in such great indignities, which we now deplore from the depths of our hearts, we humbly ask Thy pardon and declare our readiness to atone by voluntary expiation, not only for our own personal offenses, but also for the sins of those, who, straying far from the path of salvation, refuse in their obstinate infidelity to follow Thee, their Shepherd and Leader, or, renouncing the promises of their baptism, have cast off the sweet yoke of Thy law.
We are now resolved to expiate each and every deplorable outrage committed against Thee; we are now determined to make amends for the manifold offenses against Christian modesty in unbecoming dress and behavior, for all the foul seductions laid to ensnare the feet of the innocent, for the frequent violations of Sundays and holydays, and the shocking blasphemies uttered against Thee and Thy Saints. We wish also to make amends for the insults to which Thy Vicar on earth and Thy priests are subjected, for the profanation, by conscious neglect or terrible acts of sacrilege, of the very crimes of nations who resist the rights and teaching authority of the Church which Thou hast founded.

Would that we were able to wash away such abominations with our blood. We now offer, in reparation for these violations of Thy divine honor, the satisfaction Thou once made to Thy Eternal Father on the cross and which Thou continuest to renew daily on our altars; we offer it in union with the acts of atonement of Thy Virgin Mother and all the Saints and of the pious faithful on earth; and we sincerely promise to make recompense, as far as we can with the help of Thy grace, for all neglect of Thy great love and for the sins we and others have committed in the past.

Henceforth, we will live a life of unswerving faith, of purity of conduct, of perfect observance of the precepts of the Gospel and especially that of charity. We promise to the best of our power to prevent others from offending Thee and to bring as many as possible to follow Thee.

O loving Jesus, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mother, our model in reparation, deign to receive the voluntary offering we make of this act of expiation; and by the crowning gift of perseverance keep us faithful unto death in our duty and the allegiance we owe to Thee, so that we may all one day come to that happy home, where with the Father and the Holy Spirit Thou livest and reignest, God, forever and ever. Amen.
-- from the Enchridion of Indulgences

Come, Bishops, Tarry Not!

Stuck on hold for an unconscionably long time, (ah, the oxymoronic "customer service!") I came across a scrap of paper and polished a hymn-text I'd begun some time ago.
To those still fighting their rearguard "what if we just said 'wait'" action, I dedicate, or at least address this:
1.Come, bishops, tarry not
New missals aim our way!
O why these years of waiting here,
These ages of decay?

2.Come, for we PIPs still wait;
Daily ascends our sigh;
The Spirit and the Bride said, “Come”;
ICEL ignored their cry.

3.But now their work is done.
We cry, Fish or cut bait!
You have all dithered far too long,
No longer will we wait.

4.Father, obstruct this not,
Stand not in progress's way,
Leave off your whinging and your ploys,
We'll brook no more delay.

5.Translations new, at last
Faithful, and good and true.
If you defy the Church, well then...
Who's wrong, the Church or you?

6.Come and make all things new,
Build up Your Body, Lord.
Our faded foretaste of Your Heav'n,
To splendor be restored!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The Cheeseburgers They Will Serve in Heaven?

In the midst of a frantic and not altogether pleasant week, I had almost perfect day.

What I expected to be a low Mass had fully (and beautifully and prayerfully,) sung Gregorian Ordinary and propers, and a really educational homily, (sometimes information is more inspiring than direct attempts inspiration.)
The day brought a Rosary procession, (a totally unexpected and totally new experience -- why aren't there more processions?); an unlooked-for gift certificate from one of my favorite stores, and actual proximity to a location so that I could use it, (is there a better caramel than the sea salt utterlycornandcornproductfree gems from World Market?); utterly gorgeous weather; brilliantly thoughtful gift from Himself, (Slings and Arrows nails the actual experience of preparing a stage performance as accurately and entertainingly as Topsy-Turvy, my previous benchmark); despite wicked traffic, somehow getting everywhere on time; and Bellinis at bedtime.

I love my life.

Oh, and I forgot -- the cheeseburger that I firmly believe will be served in Paradise.


The Hop Haus, Franklin in the Loop

Monday, 7 June 2010

I Supect the Piety Was There All Along

Dr Jerry expresses surprise that young people reject the trends the VCII generation pushed:
I have been playing at liturgies [connected with] a program for vocational discernment aimed at Catholic young adults...
I have been involved with this program for a number of years and it has been interesting to watch the subtle shift in piety with these young adults. A few years ago there was a request for a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament. This was not a request that we had anticipated. We celebrate Eucharist, Morning Prayer, and Evening Prayer regularly at these conferences. This year, I noticed one member of the conference praying the rosary during the various liturgies. I heard that one young adult confronted one of the vowed religious, asking her why she was not wearing a habit. One young woman wore a head-covering during the celebrations of Mass. I must admit that I haven't seen one of those since I was a teenager. ...

I guess I am softening up as I grow older. The kind of pious practice I have seen with these young adults would have made me cringe several years ago.
I suspect the piety was there all along but disparaged, denied its rightful outlets; and worst, when it was allowed, shoehorned into the Mass, (too often the context for every little individualistic and exclusive bit of parish life,) where its expression was out of place.

Softening? Quite the opposite, I should say: strengthening, thanks to the witness of these young people whose devotion would once have struck you as cringe- worthy.

"One Small Step for a Liturgical Musician, One Giant Step for Liturgical Music"

...or so one imagines Dom Neil Alden Armstrong saying, in his role as chantmaster.

Gary Penkala, (of CanticaNova, the first place you should check when you want to buy appropriate Catholic liturgical music,) offers not one, but TEN of those "small steps.":
  1. Jubilate Deo — Start with Jubilate Deo before [anything else]...
  2. Dialogues — Encourage (and help) your priests to sing the dialogues of the Mass, particularly when the new Mass translation is introduced. [emphasis supplied]
  3. Children — Teach chant to children... they have many fewer hang-ups about singing Latin than adults do — in fact, they enjoy the challenge tremendously!
  4. Teens — Teach teens chant. ...
  5. Adult choirs — These groups should have an ample repertoire of chants, from the In paradisum sung by the Funeral Choir to the Te Deum sung by the Festival Choir at the church dedication. ...
  6. Basic Mass — If your parish doesn't already know it, teach them the so-called Missa primitiva, introduced in this order over a period of several years:
    • Agnus Dei XVIII
    • Kyrie XVI
    • Sanctus XVIII
    • Pater noster
    • Gloria VIII
    • Credo III
  7. Seasonal chants — Sing some chants that will last a whole season. Some easy ones: Veni Emmanuel for Advent, Parce Domine for Lent, Alleluia for Eastertide.
  8. Repetition — Learn pieces that can be repeated often, not only within the liturgical season, but from year to year....
  9. Organ music — Play organ music based on chant....
  10. Patience & Praise — Perhaps the most inportant advice in this article is this: Be extremely patient with the choir, the congregation, the priest and deacon and Praise them abundantly....

With these small steps begin your journey toward the ideal of "principal place" of chant in the Mass. Once chant is comfortable and accepted, scholas can begin the work of actually singing the Mass, rather than singing at Mass. The Propers (Introit, Gradual, Alleluia/Tract, Offertory and Communion) can once again be recognized as the music that belongs to the Roman Rite and belongs in the Mass itself.

Go read the details and begin that ascent up the Holy Mountain.

And BUY something.

Terrific site, Canticanova, really a treasure.

"Should This Be the Last We Hear From Peter Singer?"

My suggestion for a new title for this.
I think the nihilism and joylessness and purposeless seeping as if from a wound from much of the commentary, not to mention the piece itself, is directly traceable to the absence of any mention of God, of Faith, of Christ, of salvation... I didn't bother to follow the comments past the first page, but I hope I can remember to keep these sad little souls in my prayers.
I won't say, as per usual, go and read the rest there -- DON'T read the rest.
Have you ever thought about whether to have a child? If so, what factors entered into your decision? Was it whether having children would be good for you, your partner and others close to the possible child, such as children you may already have, or perhaps your parents? For most people contemplating reproduction, those are the dominant questions. Some may also think about the desirability of adding to the strain that the nearly seven billion people already here are putting on our planet’s environment. But very few ask whether coming into existence is a good thing for the child itself. Most of those who consider that question probably do so because they have some reason to fear that the child’s life would be especially difficult — for example, if they have a family history of a devastating illness, physical or mental, that cannot yet be detected prenatally.

All this suggests that we think it is wrong to bring into the world a child whose prospects for a happy, healthy life are poor, but we don’t usually think the fact that a child is likely to have a happy, healthy life is a reason for bringing the child into existence. This has come to be known among philosophers as “the asymmetry” and it is not easy to justify. But rather than go into the explanations usually proffered — and why they fail — I want to raise a related problem. How good does life have to be, to make it reasonable to bring a child into the world? Is the standard of life experienced by most people in developed nations today good enough to make this decision unproblematic, in the absence of specific knowledge that the child will have a severe genetic disease or other problem?

The 19th-century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer held that even the best life possible for humans is one in which we strive for ends that, once achieved, bring only fleeting satisfaction. New desires then lead us on to further futile struggle and the cycle repeats itself.

Schopenhauer’s pessimism has had few defenders over the past two centuries, but one has recently emerged, in the South African philosopher David Benatar, author of a fine book with an arresting title: “Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence.” One of Benatar’s arguments trades on something like the asymmetry noted earlier. To bring into existence someone who will suffer is, Benatar argues, to harm that person, but to bring into existence someone who will have a good life is not to benefit him or her. Few of us would think it right to inflict severe suffering on an innocent child, even if that were the only way in which we could bring many other children into the world. Yet everyone will suffer to some extent, and if our species continues to reproduce, we can be sure that some future children will suffer severely. Hence continued reproduction will harm some children severely, and benefit none....

I do think it would be wrong to choose the non-sentient universe. In my judgment, for most people, life is worth living. Even if that is not yet the case, I am enough of an optimist to believe that, should humans survive for another century or two, we will learn from our past mistakes and bring about a world in which there is far less suffering than there is now. But justifying that choice forces us to reconsider the deep issues with which I began. Is life worth living? Are the interests of a future child a reason for bringing that child into existence? And is the continuance of our species justifiable in the face of our knowledge that it will certainly bring suffering to innocent future human beings?
No wonder we have lost our way in regard to the sanctity of life!
It is hard to value that for which we have paid nothing, and if we are blind to the price Another has paid on our behalf, well....

My song is love unknown, my Savior's love to me
Love to the loveless shown, that they might lovely be
Oh, who am I that for my sake,
Oh, who am I that for my sake,
My Lord should take frail flesh and die?

Sunday, 6 June 2010

After 40 years in the desert, I think I catch sight of....

A truly surprising, (to me,) and gratifying, (to me,) post from a member of the liturgical publishing establishment:
A few weeks ago, after a choir rehearsal for which I was filling in, a young twenty-something choir member approached me and said something like, "I'm not sure you're the appropriate person to talk to, but I have a question." I told him I would do what I could to answer his question. He said something like, "Why all the inclusive language at this parish?" I asked him what he meant exactly. He responded, "You know, like changing the word "his" to "God" in the refrain of the Gloria." I told him that this was something that had been a part of the parish's heritage for many years—at least as long as I had been attending Mass there. I then told him that the new translation of the Gloria would not include the phrase "and peace to his people on earth," so things would soon be changing. And, besides, the practice of changing the readings to inclusive wording had ceased in the parish a few years ago. So, I left the conversation with this young man at that. I was tired; it had been a long day and a long rehearsal. I didn't have the energy to engage in a long conversation about the whole issue of inclusive language. And, I honestly thought that he was overreacting just a bit to this change of one word.

Until Sunday. The choir has sung the traditional spiritual Come Let Us Worship the Lord in the Beauty of Holiness for a couple of years.... As the choir began singing it on Sunday, it started to dawn on me that the words had been changed. The references to God as "him" had all been changed to "God" or something like "the one." I was totally distracted by this. When I looked in the worship aid, I noticed that, following the name of the composer of this piece, there was an additional phrase added in parenthesis, which read "New lyrics by . . . ," with the name of a choir member inserted there. Granted, I am a firm believer in creating texts that do not refer to God exclusively in the masculine, nor refer to God's people as "brothers" or "men." But I wonder how far, when dealing with established texts, is too far?

Of course, this brought me back to my days in the 1980's. I am being honest here. In the parish where I was music and liturgy director, we had the "inclusive language committee" of the liturgy commission that painstakingly moved through the Lectionary, with Wite-Out® and black pen in hand, purging the readings of any masculine pronouns referring to God. This group added "and sisters" in places and changed "man" to "human," etc. Frankly, it all seemed perfectly acceptable at the time; "everyone was doing it." When I think of some of the awkward phrases in the readings that resulted from this activity, I now cringe. What were we thinking? Followers of this blog know that I am not an advocate for "adjusting" the Church's official texts. Hearing the same readings and prayers as my parents do, as my siblings do, as my friends in other parishes do, as Catholics all over the world do, is something that helps identify us as Catholic. I believe this is a treasure. I regret having entered the practice of "altering" texts in those early days of my ministry. And what happens to the collective lex orandi lex credendi when parishes all over the world are hearing and praying altered texts?

What will happen when we implement the new translation of the Roman Missal? I have heard some pastors say that they will painstakingly move through the Missal, altering the texts so that they make better sense for them and for their people. I certainly hope that this doesn't occur. The Church in the English-speaking world needs to work together to make this new translation our own. And we need to work together, if need be, to make concrete suggestions to improve this translation.
I truly think that over-reaching, and straining at gnats by people who thought they were working for gender equality has harmed the cause of women, of the gifts that women genuinely have to offer being fully recognized by many people in positions of power in the Church.
And I think the real promised land, (instead of the mirage of an oasis populated by the Middle East's equivalent of sirens,) may be coming in to sight.

Yet Another Brilliantly Reasoned Rebuttal

This at Inside Catholic struck me a wrong-headed in a few particulars, and condescending, as much in further replies to posts as to the original piece.
But a long and painstakingly gracious and irrefutably rational riposte bemoaning the general resistence to Faith in the supernatural powers of God's grace, (a hobby horse of mine just now, sorry....), upon my clicking on the "Submit" button, was inexplicably lost to the ether.
And so instead, I here, in my usual schoarly, sober-sided and unanswerable manner, provide a precis of my reasoned argument, saying:
And furthermore:

There, Mrs. Conclusion, I run rings a round ya, logically.




.... it's Still the Goats You Have to Watch Out For?

Much conversation at The New Liturgical Movement and on the CMAA discussion boards about a book by an Episcopal priest entitled "When Sheep Attack!" (I loves me a good, snarky title.)

In broad strokes, it is about the oft-times calamitous results when an entrenched cabal in a parish insures, or tries to insure that a new leader cannot lead.

The next higher up in the chain of command through inertia, spinelessness or genuine conviction fails to support the new leader who rapidly becomes the ex-leader, and the cabal awaits the next sacrificial victim.
It happens to pastors, (bishops don't stand behind them,) it happens to music directors, (pastors don't stand behind them,) ... some details of the "It happened to me!" stories that poured out had me on the verge of joining the threads and asking who'd been reading my diary, until I learned last night of an incident that is emblematic of something far sadder.

It happens to pastors, yes and music directors.... but it happens to parochial school principles, and since the window of opportunity to affect the lives of those in their charge is much smaller, the consequences may be even worse.

Pray for Catholic educators. (And pray for those who are subjected to Catholic education?;o))

A slightly OT anecdote: When I was very young I was involved in a family situation in which I was a selfish brute and a villainess and a liar.... no, really, you could ask anyone not immediately involved in the situation and they could have told you what a little $#?% I was being.
There was nothing I could do to convince anyone otherwise.
But a few years went by and I was "rehabilitated," or at least my reputation was -- nearly everyone else in the family experienced similar episodes with the person at the center of the problem, and realized where the truth lay.
It was nice to have reassurance that I was neither a scoundrel nor a madwoman, that what I had perceived was indeed what had happened, I had not made it up, and I could stop wondering if it had been my fault or if I could have done something to change it.

Something similar has happened to a friend in a parish near me -- the person, (and that person's minions,) responsible for the firing of the most competent and consciousness musician to ever darken the doors of their loft has now managed to run off two principles in as many years, as well as the 1st music director's pretty decent successor.

The musician told me that hearing the details of the latest firing from both sides (it's a small diocese,) didn't make him happy, but at least he felt vindicated, could now understand how his fall from grace had been orchestrated, and could stop thinking that his ouster had been his fault, although he had never been able to figure out exactly how.

Is none of this giving the parish administrator a clue as where his personnel problem really lies?

Anyway, back to the comments on the book at hand:
Parishes are complex social structures. They invite everyone to join and encourage everyone to contribute time and money. But it is inevitable that pockets of interest group pressure develop within them. There are always factions. These factions can be based in ideology and theological outlook, but they are more commonly based in issues of control and perceived ownership over some sector of parish life....
There is usually one ring leader. Most often it is someone on the staff of the parish, perhaps even having retired from some ministerial position. It could be a church secretary. It could be a former youth minister. It could be the person who organizes first communions. Regardless, it is the sort of person that the whole parish regards as a fixture, someone who is seemingly indispensible to parish life.

What is the motivation for this behavior? The person and his or her follows have high “control needs.” They must be in charge if not in name then at least in reality. They are accustomed to determining structures and outcomes of parish life. They resent anyone who would interfere with their power. I know that this sounds petty and ridiculous but it is a reality....They pass on unattributed complaints....They try to recruit other people to their cause, using in particular their status as indispensable fixtures of parish life.... New pastors should not fear replacing problem staff, even to the point of cleaning house completely. The seemingly indispensable person who is the source of the problem must be sent packing as soon as possible.
- I>o
I thought I was reading my autobiography -- exactly what happened in my last parish!

There is actually an epidemic of this behavior at present, so much so that in one large archdiocese there are currently seven parishes without a pastor -- because every priest has refused the assignment, for the very reasons noted in this piece.

The bishops have caused this mess by creating a Protestant parochial polity over a forty-year period. Now, the chickens are coming home to roost.
- A priest/commenter
On the other hand, I've witnessed new pastors who clearly lack the emotional intelligence to accomplish their goals well. It's sad to see, and it's sad to see them be so insecure as to shy away from people who try to help them, because they feel it undermines their authority.
- Another poster [wise words!]
I know that a small but vocal Neo-Cat group at a parish about 10 miles away from forced the ouster of a non-sympathetic pastor. Instead of a sympathetic pastor, though, they go a traditionalist-leaning ex-Jesuit who I am quite sure does not coddle the sometimes odd liturgical praxis favored in certain NC circles.... I think the chancery decided to have a sense of black humor about the ferocious sheep.
-- ibid
have a small group of singers in the church...often cantors who want things back the way it was before you got there...having done their best to discourage new singers who were interested in the group...solved their problem, the new director, the new music, the new people, by poisoning the pastor with their take on things?
- Another musician

There is also a sad case come to our attention recently of a MORE than competent, (and seemingly more conscientious and knowledgeable regarding Catholic praxis than many Catholic musicians,) Episcopalian MD at a Catholic parish who after years of good service was kicked to the curb for not being Catholic.

Oh, and I feel I should take the opportunity now, because I have whined about it in the past, to say that it is absolutely my own fault I had to offer a letter of resignation a few years ago.
I should have been savvy enough know that the power couple who didn't like me, (though that was unbeknownst to me at the time,) were too firmly ensconced in parish life and the parish power structure for anyone to fail to knuckle under to them and last, even if they should have had no say in matters that were technically my purview.
And I should not have added, even collaterally, in any way whatsoever to my priest's already over-filled plate of woes.

(Have you ever noticed, though, how people who have no respect whatever for others' years of experience or degreed expertise in a field other than their own, are often the most puffed up about their own credentials, their ten whole hours spent in diocesan training with a certificate to follow, or whatever? I digress....)

And I should have found a more felicitous way to describe the energy drain that is, all too frequently, the modern American teenager than "soul sucker." Sullen little darlings are made in the image and likeness of God, too....

One lives, one learns...

Am I going to regret writing this? I'll think about that while I pour another shandy.

You call it "sloth", I call it forbearance....

I am, (I confess to Almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters....,) the laziest person on God's green earth.
I went elsewhere than my parish for Mass this weekend, and intended to duck in to pick up a bulletin.
Time got away from me as I lazed away hours and now the church is certainly locked.


Saved from myself, I cannot now check out the hymn board, and I should acknowledge that descrying the inappropriate selections was a different, and perhaps primary reason for my intention to drop in, as I realized as I was looking for my keys and sunglasses.

It's an ignoble impulse.

And it isn't healthy, it's like picking at a scab, seeing that however much my efforts fell short, there now seems to be no concern at all for liturgical specificity, as we avail ourselves of the Frightful Fourth.
In the dioceses of the United States of America there are four options for the Entrance Chant: (1) the antiphon from the Roman Missal or the Psalm from the Roman Gradual as set to music there or in another musical setting; (2) the seasonal antiphon and Psalm of the Simple Gradual; (3) a song from another collection of psalms and antiphons, approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) a suitable liturgical song similarly approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop....The procession bringing the gifts is accompanied by the Offertory chant...The norms on the manner of singing are the same as for the Entrance chant...While the priest is receiving the Sacrament, the Communion chant is begun....In the dioceses of the United States of America there are four options for the Communion chant: (1) the antiphon from the Roman Missal or the Psalm from the Roman Gradual as set to music there or in another musical setting; (2) the seasonal antiphon and Psalm of the Simple Gradual; (3) a song from another collection of psalms and antiphons, approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) a suitable liturgical song
Umm, yeah....

In Praise of Lard

The more I know of Jeffrey Tucker, the more I like him, (this despite his kinda sorta Thom Browne sartorial aesthetic, though I love the bow ties.)

I have not had the opportunity to try every use he here prescribes for the glory that is rendered pig fat, (and a few I think are best entrusted to its cousin, the similarly disdained, and similarly sublime bacon grease,) but I like the way he thinks.
(And I am craving some real biscuits just blogging about this...)
The use of lard in cooking is slowly being rehabilitated but the cultural shock of the stuff hasn’t diminished in the slightest....
I use lard for making biscuits. Sometimes I fry those lard biscuits in lard, and these I call "hot puffs" and eat them with honey. Lard is essential for pie crusts. It makes great chocolate chip cookies. I can’t imagine frying potatoes in anything else. It is excellent for chicken. Pancakes and waffles are never better than when made with lard. Popcorn not fried in lard (air pop? please!) is noticeably inferior. Cakes are wonderful with lard. The refried beans you eat are not authentic if they do not include lard. All that amounts to nearly a bucket per week of lard use. I admit it.

... Look, I really don’t know if lard is unhealthy as compared with vegetable oil or butter or peanut oil or some other poor substitute. I do know that when I fry with lard as opposed to vegetable oil, there is more lard remaining in the fryer, from which I conclude that less is in the food...I also know that lard has a very high smoke point, so it is cleaner and makes less of a mess. Also, lard, which is nothing but rendered pig fat, has been a staple of the Western diet for many centuries. I see no reason why I must automatically adopt the widespread prejudice against it and regard it as a poor-person food


(Is that biscuit sticking its tongue out at me? Have I stumbled on an image of one of those "saint miraculously appears in foodstuff" moment? And which saint?)

Saturday, 5 June 2010

If Catholics Actually Believed What They Say They Believe....

... could you imagine it?
I think one problem is that we are so rational, so post-modern, so cynical and skeptical, that many of us use, or rather waste the scintilla of ability we have to wrap our minds around the supernatural, the implausible, the wondrous, on .... vampires. Or space aliens. Or the deadly power of mentos and diet soda.

Okay, I'm being snarky, but this is the case -- if you cannot believe in the supernatural, you cannot believe in God's Grace, and you cannot believe in the efficacy of the Sacraments as a conduit for that Grace.

Which is why people in positions of authority denigrate Confession, think the real point of the Anointing of the Sick is gathering your community to pray for you, and postpone infant Baptism until a convenient time for them, when they can gather a passel of infants, and get all the initiations over with at once, (acknowledging that the Sacrament of Baptism is not primarily about getting your membership card would be to acknowledge our need for Sanctifying Grace, which would require acknowledging the existence of Original Sin. How unpleasantly quaint.)

And Communion?
What are the effects of that Sacrament? what should they be? and how much more could they be if we didn't make God do all the work?
Provocative opening from Msgr. Charles Pope:
Some people put more faith in Tylenol than they do in Holy Communion. That’s because when they take Tylenol they expect something to happen. But many people don’t really expect anything to happen when they receive Holy Communion.

In fact this is a problem that is present for many in regard to all the Sacraments and to liturgy in general. Many seem these things as tedious rituals rather than transformative realities. How many people really reflect that, in the Sacred Liturgy, Jesus is ministering to them? It is a sad truth that for many the liturgies of the Church are rather mindlessly attended: Sit, stand, say Amen, recite the Creed but all rather absent-mindedly

But how many really expect to be changed by the Liturgy the attend? How many expect to hear a Word proclaimed and preached that will powerfully change the way they think and see the world? How many expect to actually encounter Jesus Christ and be changed forever by that encounter? How many expect to receive communion and to be marvellously helped by this reception in ways far beyond what Tylenol or any other medicine could ever do in the physical order?

Sadly, expectations are very low among the people of God. The blame can begin with the clergy who have not often taught the faithful to expect dramatic conversion of any kind let alone from receiving Holy Communion. But the blame does not end with the clergy. The fact is low expectations can sometimes be developed as a kind of strategy by many who fear change and see authentic conversion and true holiness as a fearful thing or as requiring just too much of what they would rather not surrender. And so expectations remain low, perhaps out of ignorance or perhaps out of fear and aversion.

On this Feast of Corpus Christi, What do you expect from receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in Communion?

I can only say that I expect to become Christ. I will say it has not happened in an instant. But rather, incrementally, organically. But, as I have been faithful to Holy Communion, to prayer, scripture, Confession and the liturgy, I have experienced dramatic change. I have seen sins be put to death. I have more joy in the Lord, I am more confident and serene, less anxious and resentful. I love more, am more compassionate and have more understanding. I do not fear most of the things that I used to fear. I am less greedy and more generous.

I do not boast here since it is not I who have done any of this. It’s just Jesus in me. I am not what I want to be but I am not what I used to be. I am becoming the One I receive in Holy Communion. And I promise you the same. If you are faithful to the Sacraments, God will heal you. You will become holier each day. It may seem imperceptible on a day to day basis, but it is underway. It is true there are some setbacks along the way, but even these can bless us if we let them give us humility. Holiness will grow if we but take our medicine.

What do you expect from Holy Communion? I promise you, in the Lord Jesus Christ that if you are faithful to Confession, Communion, prayer, and the Liturgy, I promise you vigorous progress and ultimate perfection: ….being confident in this that God who has begun a good work in you bring it to perfection (Phil 1:6)

Friday, 4 June 2010

Uh, please, NO.......

I may have blogged on this before.
I am cleaning up, (kinda....,) and came across a scrap torn from a bulletin from when I attended Mass while traveling.
One Minute Meditations

A warm hello: Mass is a community celebration. Try to arrive five to ten minutes before Mass is to begin and greet people around you.
Stay for the entire Mass and visit after it is over.
Making others who may be new to your parish feel welcome strengthens the entire Body of Christ.
I suspect this was concocted not by the parish, but by these people who "do" their bulletins.

Anywhere, if you are looking to place blame for the fact that you can't hear yourself think at your parish, I may have found your answer....

Taxes, the Gift That Keeps On Giving

Taxes..... argh. (By which I mean to indicate that pirates had the right idea.)

It's not enough that trying to gather the paperwork about, and to fill out the forms for, and crunch the numbers of, and execute the bank transaction necessitated by them ruins the time leading up to April 15.

Now they can ruin your month of June, as well.

And the Feds could take lessons from the states.

Apparently, if they only process half of what you send in, they half no trouble sending you an enormous erroneous bill based on that half.

And apparently if their computers aren't acknowledging schedules so that it seems as if not a single person in an entire part of the state had a single penny withheld from wages so they DofR must know it's wrong, they still find it expedient to send out heart attack-inducing bills to all those people before the glitch is addressed, (what? on the premise that some people will just pay them without checking the figures?)

And apparently the much bally-hooed and much encouraged e-filing, while nearly instantaneous, is somehow processed after the after the snail mail filing done even days later...

Anyway, I've practically made myself sick the past few days by thinking about and thus worrying about their little missives, instead of ignoring it all, as I should have.

Say "boo!", to you, pooh-pooh to you,
Say "bah!", to you, ha ha to you...

Thursday, 3 June 2010

What is the Church?

Brilliant description of what She is not, sprung from a discussion of the suitability of Lifeteen for Catholic worship:
a sort of religious banqueting and burial club like all our neighbors

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

How Does Anyone Know Whose Ticket to Punch?

Serious question, sincerely asked (prompted by various bits of Newman brouhaha)-- when a miracle is attributed to someone whose cause for sainthood is being investigated, how do they know the dead person in question is the one who ought to be credited?

Certainly, never did anyone in dire straits, in all of Christendom, in the history of of the world, say, "Please, whatever you do, don't' pray for the the intercession of ANYONE on my behalf, except this one person who is not yet a tried and true inhabitant of heaven."

(You know, 'cause I want to see if this guy's got the goods, and my curiosity on this point supersedes any piddling transitory desire to, oh, I dunno.... LIVE?!?#?$?!??)

And also...? aw, right back atcha, Father!

This is why you reply with [and with your Spirit] ….reminding yourselves by this reply that he who is here does nothing of his own power, nor are the offered gifts the work of human nature, but is it the grace of the Spirit present and hovering over all things which prepared that mystic sacrifice.

-- A Pentecost Homily of Saint John Chrysostom

I just need to cleanse my palate after this

Breathing Room

Strangest thing, so caught up FIRST in the scripture, and THEN IN the song of the angels, that at a Mass celebrating the great consolation that is OUR LORD DEIGNING TO BE RECEIVED BY US AS FOOD AND DRINK, my receipt of the Body and Blood, my actual communion passed almost unnoticed -- does that make sense? I wasn't distracted, exactly... or perhaps that is exactly what I was.

I was thinking about words, rather than the Word.

On the other hand, the communio and a Eucharistic motet gave me pause, and then leisure to recollect myself.

And it was very powerful.

Sometimes I think Himself is right, (although he is not as he is deliberately,) sometimes the best, deepest, and most meaningful experience of the Liturgy is allowing it to "wash over" you, in all its "sacramenty goodness."

I think my participation may have been utterly actuosa, if not activa...

(Incidentally the motet was .... a bicina, maybe? anyway, contrapuntal, 2 voice, began Ave Verum, and sent me off into spirals of contemplation. Quite, quite, quite wonderful. Sometimes the most surprising things lift your mind and heart and soul to where you wish they could always be.... the duo_organ_recital I attended this weekend was marvelous, and uplifting, and brilliant, and varied, and beautiful... but what floored me on Sunday, and stayed with me was the fanfare/intro/background music/improv, that one of the organists stayed to provide before the Tantum Ergo at the Vespers cum Exposition and Benediction that followed the concert So striking, and gave such focus to the proceeding -- WHICH IS THE WHOLE POINT OF LITURGICAL MUSIC, NO?)