Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

"Gay priests giving gay priests a bad name"

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

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

Saturday, 24 July 2010

The Value of Ritual Over Spontaneity

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Fly? Why?

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

The Mighty Hunter

Keeping the Sabbath

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

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

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

Friday, 16 July 2010

Prayers Requested

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

One of the jolliest saintly people I have ever known.

Speaking of false choices...

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

And another thing...

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

It's a false choice.

Pride of Place and Offering Options

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just Another Flavor...

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

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

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

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


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

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Tough Times, All Over

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

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

Um... yeah.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

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

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

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

Not this time.

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

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

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

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

But that's all water under the thingummy.

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

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

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

Monday, 12 July 2010

Three Rules to Live By

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

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

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Proudly Pro-Choice

Nah, don't worry...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 2 July 2010

A new round of Motu Mania?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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