Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Friday, 30 November 2012

"This is Sister Monica Joan.... it is our privilege to care for her."

Call the Midwife (TV show) Judy Parfitt as Sister Monica Joan
I am feeling over-privileged. Or -under?
But it is a terrible piece of good fortunate to be able to care for someone you love.
I shan't be around for a while, may I ask anyone who reads this not to comment, but to say a prayer for someone called Rose.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Action Item #13

Who do you suppose voted "nay" on the pastoral letter to the faithful, encouraging the Faithful to avail themselves of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, and reminded them that sometimes it is an obligation?

Baptized pagans?

According to George Weigel, led by Raymond Arroyo's "interview" questions, that is what all the putatively Christian who failed to vote for Romney are; they did not take a position "congruent" with the bisops' teachings, they "reject" what the bishops had to say, apparently.

 Baptized pagans.

To declare that that fifty percent of Catholics voted for Obama ipso facto support the president's position on ANY specific policy, whether mandated birth control coverage or progressive tax rates is of course absurd, and frankly, insulting.

If these people do not want to come off as GOP shills, they would do well to explain to someone like me what a committed Catholic, a Catholic who endorses everything taught by the Church, is to make of those wink-wink nudge-nudge ads with which we were inundated here in a bone fide "swing state," in the final weeks of the campaign, aw don't worry, Mitt ain't gonna actually DO anything about abortion, he's not some kinda EXTREMIST, followed by, I'm Mitt Romney and I approved this message.

Sins of the Fathers

For some reason, before beginning the meat of this post I feel full disclosure is required of me, to whit, that I am not capable of bearing a child. 
I mention this as, in the eyes of some polemicists, this may render me as ineligible to express an opinion on what is meretriciously labeled "reproductive rights" as any old white guy republican politician. 

I think that at least one loser in the recent elections was pilloried for calling out those who have latched on to the least defensible position in the abortion debate. Well, he doesn't seem to have "called anyone out," exactly, but simply to have given a sincere and badly-worded answer to a pundit's question, which answer was seen as an affront to said indefensible, but purportedly compassionate, position.

 I don't know much else about this would-be congressman, but my guess would be that I agree with him about virtually nothing else.
 But let's talk about the pro-life-unless-that-life-was-short-sighted-enough-to-have-been-the-result-of-rape-or-incest position.

Let us say that you are opposed to at least some abortions.

Why are you opposed to any abortion?

Is it not because you believe that abortion is the deliberate taking of innocent human life?

Or is it because you believe that pregnancy is the just punishment due a woman for engaging in illicit, or at least careless, sexual activity?

Surely the former, please say it is the former? (I'm not addressing you, Mr Aiken, you've made your reasoning abundantly, albeit mayhaps inadvertently, clear.)

If you believe an unborn child's right to life trumps the right of the woman or girl in whose womb he resides not to be burdened with him, IN MOST CIRCUMSTANCES - how are his rights somehow impinged on by, abrogated on account of, the evil and vile actions of the man who begat him? Is that child somehow less worthy of, less entitled to his already-begun life than, say, the one who is the product of a boozy but amicable one-night stand?

How can that be?

Are you perhaps less concerned with the child's right to life than with the mother's responsibility to lie in the bed she has made?

We must stop allowing the argument to be framed by the devil's useful idiots, must stop trying to answer the unanswerable "When did you stop beating you wife?" question that tripped up the Indiana candidate.

"Do you believe a victim of rape should be forced to bear a child? Really?"

No, no, NO!

Ask in retort, do you believe that a child who is a product of rape is an inferior being to, and less entitled to life than a child who is the product of love? Really?

Watched the USCCB Confab...

... a little prayer of thanks for Bishop Bruskewitz. Yeah, "challenging."

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Are We Aware That Liturgy is the Salvation of the World?

Magnificat really is a nifty little publication.
It proved NOT such a great gift for Mom, as its editors seem to generally try for a little variety and on weekdays in Ordinary Time, usually go for the readings, or at least Propers of optional memorials, and our weekday parish avoids such things, trouble with bookmarks, you know; so really not much help for those who, already struggling with hearing, are saddled with mumbling, ill-prepared readers.

But I, on the other hand, am really enjoying it, particularly the devotional readings from holy men and women of whom, oft as not, I have not heard.

Madeleine Delbrel, (+1964,) a French mystic, may well have been, judging from her date of death, immersed in the Liturgical Movement, and, again judging from the date of he death, surely had no reason yet to doubt the efficacy of the ongoing Vatican Council.
"Are we aware that liturgy is the salvation of the world? [emphasis added] If... it is once again necessary [to adapt the liturgy, it is not] a question of making the liturgy more human. It already is human, and tragically so; it is the Passion of the Son of God made man, made continually present among us."
Other Catholics with a grudge against Traddies, if not against Tradition itself, like to mock the phrase I coined, "Save the liturgy, save the world," as if it expressed some sort of simplistic belief that a return to the old forms is either necessary, or worse, sufficient for the salvation of mankind.

But the fact is, it had nothing to do with the Extraordinary Form, it is nothing more, nor less, than an expression of certainty of the utter importance of the Eucharistic Liturgy and its proper execution, an expression of a belief in the Eucharistic Liturgy's primacy in the economy of salvation, an expression of solidarity with the Vatican II dictum that the Eucharistic Liturgy is the very Source and absolute Summit of our Christian life.

Or Perhaps His Excellency is Planning to Whap the Confirmandi...

One of my CCD students is curious to know if we will be learning more about "Confrontation", the sacrament, one supposes, when the Holy Spirit comes down and smacks some sense into ya...

Cantorae S. Augustine, and the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed

I was fortunate enough to attend an evening of music of "Rest and Repose," presented by Cantorae S. Augustine last week. Quite lovely. I think I enjoyed the shape note music as much or more than anything because it was unexpected and unfamiliar. Mary Jane Ballou should be very proud indeed. I don't suppose I could drive 8 hours round trip and ask to sing with her? No, didn't think so....
Then, embarrassment of riches, SUNG Vespers. My mom, for whom All Souls is very special, was very pleased. Its evenings like that that keep me from tearing my hair out and screaming.
(In other news, in another diocese, at Mass on All Saints, Just a Song at 
Twilight struck someone as appropriate, and so was recited, for our edification 
and sanctification. So you see, it was a piece of great good luck that the PTB 
had decided to omit the Gloria and Credo leaving us plenty o'time for JaSaT.) 
Oh, after Vespers I complimented the altar servers. It was refreshing to see child servers who sang and spoke when they ought.
What does it say about a parish and its liturgical life when its expenditures for music for Mass are lumped in with Bingo expenses on the annual financial report? (Candles and altar flowers rate their own line.)

Thursday, 1 November 2012

I Apologize to Florida...

... for ever having complained about the lack of change-of-season.

This has been a gorgeous week, and going to early morning Mass, has been such a grace and such a joy, (not to mention the fact that "early morning" means 9:00 am -- does it get any better than this?)

I am going to try to stop whining about things, I really am. I am so blessed.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Anglican Nuns and the Little Flower?

Can someone explain to me why there seems to be a statue of Therese of Lisieux in the convent of the St Raymond Nonnatus of Call the Midwife?

(So far, the most "pro-life" television series I can imagine. Please, PLEASE don't  change...)

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Yeah, as a matter of fact it MAY be intended to emphasise the sacrificial aspect of the Mass

The only-to-be-expected whinging from one of the US Catholic columnists about the fact that, no, you can't sing, "Basket of Goodies, you take away the sins of the world..." in place of the Agnus Dei, nets an excellent, concise retort from Alan Hommerding, (emphasis added):
Though we are discussing an important ritual nexus, I think that it's also important to recall we're discussing less than 90 seconds of the total liturgy. There are still plenty of other places/opportunities to incorporate a rich diversity of images for Christ and the Eucharist. To me, it seems like an internal cohesiveness or logic in the rite is the goal of this directive; we offer a litany to the Lamb, we are invited to behold the Lamb, we are reminded of our joy in being called to the supper of the Lamb. Some have also criticized the bishops for spending their time and energy in addressing this when there are so many other important items on the agenda. This, I think, relegates the liturgy to a status of non-importance - certainly not a Vatican II view of the liturgy! And, speaking again for myself, before I expend my time and energy being critical of the bishops for their priorities, it's good for me to check first to make sure that my own priorities and spiritual household are in order.
I met Mr Hommerding at a seminar at Mundelien once, and he is a lovely gentleman. The columnist lauds Hommerding for his "generous and charitable reading" of what he seems to think is the American Bishops' decision.
I laud him for his "generous and charitable" rebuke to the sillysentiments expressed in the column.

Monday, 8 October 2012

"If you could only hear and see... how quickly you would mark the ruse: a woman's right to plan and choose...."

Brilliant effort, a pro-life poem  by Kathy Pluth.
"Breathe for me," they haunt my prayer
with infant dreams of drawing air.
I shrink from sharp and sudden fear.
I shrink because the knife is near.
I feel a light initial blow--
but to the death my dreams don't go.

If you could only hear and see
the interest group that lobbies me--
whose privacy is not a right,
whose lives will end before tonight--
how quickly you would mark the ruse:
a woman's right to plan and choose.

A century beyond our own
will marvel at the evil done:
the terror and the salt and blood
in clean suburban neighborhoods;
the killing of one child in five
while you and I were here, alive.

I am watching a fascinating period piece on television, "Call the Midwife," dreading a moment when it betrays the reality of the time and place in whihc it is set and takes a politically correct pro-"choice" stance. (Perhaps it never will?) There was a little behind-the-scenes blurb after last nights episode, where the director, i believe, spoke of how, while filming, even the most hardened techies were awe-struck and teary eyed in the presence of the babies, in the presence of new life. Choice? Is there any other?

Great Shoes from Payless.Yes, PAYLESS

These are terrific shoes, look gorgeous, feel comfortable, (even to stand in for relatively long periods of time,) and were extremely reasonable.
Men think women are obsessed with shoes, with some justification.
But it is often not a matter of choice, it is because it is impossible to find something that "works" with clothing and is not torturous.
Unlike men's clothing, women's, by it's varying lengths, more extensive color palette, and drastically different fits and purpose requires partnering with more than a single pair of loafers.
(One of my brothers assures me that  his "go" with everything from a tuxedo to painting clothes)
Anyway, these are wonderful.
Height, faux patent finish, fit, flexibility and thickness of sole, really useful neutral color -- all wonderful. (And, no joke, 19.99)

This is not an advertisement.

Okay, it IS an advertisement, (unsolicited and gaining me no profit,) but it is mostly an endorsement, going on the theory that if I can persuade other people to purchase what have purchased and wish to be able to continue to purchase, its purveyors will profit and what I have purchased will continue to be made available to me to.... well, purchase.

(Curse all you tea drinkers who spurned Lipton's Amaretto Tea! It must be a decade since the stopped making it, and 8 years since I ran through what I managed to hoard, and I miss it every rainy morning of my life....)
St. Hildegarde is now a Doctor of the Church.
I cannot think of S Hildegarde without being transported by memories of Emma Kirkby's singing.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Was Christ a "Creature"?

Taken aback before Mass this morning, reading a mediation in Magnificat from Francois Mauriac:
Like all creatures, Christ is transformed by the person who is attracted to him.
Idiomatically, I would infer from this that the writer means Christ is a creature.
Maybe the original french has no such implication?

Vocal inflection would help.

"Like ALL creatures, Christ..."


"Like all CREATURES, Christ...."


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Overheard in Church

Mass this morning was even chattier than is usual on a weekday, (more crowded, solidarity with 9-11 victims, I believe.)

A woman sitting perhaps five feet from me spoke, (I will assume in charity she thought she was whispering....,) for a good twenty minutes straight before Mass, about me .

Since she referred to me by name, critiqued what I was wearing, and got enough details about me and Himself right, I am possibly not mistaken that I was her target, although I don't know her.

She at first, (this was a year ago,) misled by my hat and towering height, (that's right, five feet four and change,) thought I was a "man with a pony tail."

She likes my voice okay.

She thinks I keep my mother prisoner in her house, that I'm "in charge," prevent her going out to lunch with her friends, etc.

Mom's hearing is bad enough that she did not notice any of this, thankfully.

But I feel quite like Tom Sawyer, or was it Huck Finn? at his own funeral.

This made me cry...

Someone sent me this article on where pianos go to die.
Pianos and their thousands of moving parts can be expensive to fix, requiring long hours of labor by skilled technicians, whose numbers are diminishing. The market is filled with ... digital pianos and portable keyboards that can cost as little as a few hundred dollars.
I know if my rich patron hadn't paid for moving her grand to me, I could not have accepted the gift.
(The little spinet we had at the old homestead, we offered free to any interested young person, and it took forever to find a taker, and he had to do some finagling to get a truck and several brawny friends of his father's to make it feasible.)

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

So much for "the Great"

At the parish where civic holidays always trump sacred ones, we naturally did not celebrate the feast of Pope St Gregory, much less hear any chant, other than the tunes that run in my head.(On the other hand, we were also not asked to join in God Bless America, despite the rather vocal entreaties of a woman seated near me, so all in all, it was a great Mass, musically speaking...

But in this year of all years, wouldn't it be nice to have prayed this:
Through the intercession of Pope Saint Gregory, endow, we pray, with a spirit of wisdom those to whom You have given authority to govern
as a community?

Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Real Issue

Finally, a well-expressed, humane point of view,, seemingly not calibrated simply to support or oppose some candidate.
Akin’s efforts to defend the prolife view had the opposite effect, by feeding the (entirely unfair) narrative that pro-lifers are ignorant of and callous toward women’s true needs. The abortion debate is one between decent people with honest disagreements on the moral status of the unborn, not of women.
Of course, speaking so ineptly as to seem to suggest that rape victims could block conception just by resisting, is dangerously close to implying that the victim is responsible when pregnancy does occur: hence a third source of outrage at Akin's words.
And this, finally, gives rise to another implication, which should especially trouble pro-lifers. Whatever one’s ultimate view of a rape exception to laws protecting the unborn, no remotely plausible case against such an exception could rest on assumptions about the mother (as Akin’s seems to do), rather than beliefs about the unborn child's rights. Some social conservatives, including Mitt Romney, would allow an exception; others would not. But what all pro-lifers seek, and what Akin's comments make harder to realize, is a world in which there is finally no zero-sum game between mothers' needs and those of their unborn children; in which the equal dignity of every human being — including the smallest and weakest — isn’t premised on blaming or punishing women, or indeed on anything else, but shines by its own light, as a self-evident truth.

Well, Did Ya Lift Up Your Heart?

Thought provoking post about the Propers, by Kathy Pluth, but what really struck me was a phrase in the Combox, by anzlyne.
I think participation is the key here.Sursum corde on purpose. It might be boring if you are not really into it. but if the participation is actual, nothing is boring.
The cliched answer to the cliched complaint, (I don't get anything out of it -- well, what did you put into it? ,) is too pat to provoke conversation, but I am looking forward, when I begin teaching CCD in a few weeks, to asking in response to the almost inevitable, well, did ya lift up your heart?

Sursum corde on purpose indeed.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

"Halfway Between Awe and Love"

Thanks to Kathy Pluth, (the new Ephrem?) for this from the"old" Ephrem

It captured my experience at Divine Liturgy last week. Most Sundays other obligations prevent my traveling so far, so a "silent" Latin Rite is my choice, and this was both refreshing and exciting. Even Himself, (who, don't tell him I said so, is a touch scared of the "spoon"...) offered unprompted that we should go back whenever we can.
And like most Byzantine parishes it is small, so one feels that ones offering will really make a difference.

Interesting thing, congregation seemed at least half Refuge Romans. I gather a priest sympathetic to both Tradition and tradition has recently been transferred, leaving both EF and R2 Catholics, (and serious musicians,) in the area bereft, and it is in the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom is where they have sought comfort.

Priest and parishioners were at great pains to make us and other non-Easterners welcome, to explain things, to help us find our place in the hand-outs.

I was reminded of the terrible job in this regard I recently discovered many Roman Catholic parishes and/or dioceses have done, so far as the new translation is concerned.

To whit - nearly half of the several dozen parishes at which I have attended Mass since the First Sunday in Advent used English language "worship aids" that contained neither the Our Father nor the Lamb of God.

That's right.

They didn't bother to include the "parts that didn't change that everyone knows."


So much for visitors, seekers, recent converts, etc.

I always used to joke that with the paucity and brevity of traffic and street signage in parts of New England, they might as well replace them all with the same sign: If it wuh any of yuh damn bus'ness, yuh'd ahl ready know.

Isn't that kinda what we told people in the pews?

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Um, did ya know you said that out loud?

Did you even think about what you were saying? Father David Cooper, the pastor at St. Matthias Parish in Milwaukee asks,
“Why is it that the Holy See is able to make exceptions that seem to benefit those who are on the right of theological issues, who are very orthodox and very conservative and very traditional in their outlook, but we can’t seem to get any understanding of the issues for the people on the other side of the spectrum?
According to your own words, it seems that these "people on the other side of the spectrum" are on the wrong side of theological issues and are heterodox. Don't know about anyone else, but I would prefer exceptions not be made to put persons who eschew orthodoxy in positions of authority.

US Catholic, always interesting....

Friday, 13 July 2012

Reason # 394,102,879 that I Love Himself

"Hey, honey, you know, this is two weeks in a row that we have attended Sunday Mass at a cathedral, the one in Salt lake was awe-inspiring, the one at ______ somewhat less so, to be charitable, but wouldn't it be cool to go to a THIRD cathedral on this Sunday, and didn't you say you knew the music director in one of the places we'll be near on the drive home, and....?"

And that is how we happened to find ourselves in Charleston last Sunday.

How I have missed this face!:

Oh, and upon returning home the lovely, but.... we'll say, efficient (to the point of brusqueness,) priest who usually has daily Mass is busy and the "subs" are suitably solemn and painstaking, (and one at least, is a very good confessor,)
So anywhooo,the near-euphoria occasioned by the liturgical riches of the Colloquium has just gone on and on and on....

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Elizabeth, Head of the Church of England

Fr Z likes to refer to Benedict XVI, (and quite rightly,) as "the Pope of Christian Unity." (The Westminster Abbey Choir joining the Sistine choir at St. Peter's Basilica for the Feast of Ss Peter and Paul, for instance, was brilliant.)

He has a religious leader from another faith giving him a run for his money:

Queen Elizabeth II leaves St Michaels Roman Catholic church in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, on Tuesday. The Queen’s visit here will include a historic meeting with deputy first minister Martin McGuinness, a former IRA leader.

Queen Elizabeth II leaves St Michaels Roman Catholic
church in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, on Tuesday.

That all may be one....

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Our liturgical music must be sacrificial?

Friday, 29 June 2012

Clay Trying To Be a Potter

Kathy Pluth, (whose contributions to Chant Cafe are among my favorites, useful, thought-provoking, charitable, and equally profound and accessible - surely a result of her having honed her hymnist's craft,) had a video of a Father Driscoll that is very good a while back.
I am struck by the quote from his presentation that she uses as her post title - [The Liturgy] forms us, and it is always bigger than any given community that celebrates it.

How hard that seems to be for us, us musicians and liturgists and priests grinding away at St Thewaywedoithere's, as if the Mass were ours to create.
Putting our stamp on things?
Sometimes we seem are little better than dogs when it comes to marking our territory.

I remember reading a movie critic once, who had written about how very differently he and his children looked at film.
He had a viewing room, with an almost theater-sized screen to put at their disposal, but his young'ns seemed to prefer looking at tiny stars on the tiny screen of a tiny hand-held device.
He marveled at how his love of film manifested itself in a desire to be overwhelmed by the experience, while their desire was to control the medium.
That's not a generational thing, either - some wish to possess, others to be possessed.
You see it in human love all the time.

Do we have a similar disconnect in the various approaches to the Liturgy... in fact, in our approach to trying to understand the ineffable, our approach to God?

Very often this week, it has seemed as if, not that I am doing something, but as if Something is doing me.
As is right, I think.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

"The Dignity of the Eucharistic Celebration"

St Peter's List, a (new to me,) group blog, has a good precis of some of the major points of what sounds like a terrific new book:

Divine Love Made Flesh

“Our observance of liturgical law is a fundamental expression of love of Christ and of the Church.”

isn't that lovely?

Reformation Sunday and Song Parodies

This is a really thought-provoking essay about Protestantism and the foolishness of celebrating of failure.
Reformation names the disunity in which we currently stand. We who remain in the Protestant tradition want to say that Reformation was a success. But when we make Reformation a success, it only ends up killing us. After all, the very name ‘Protestantism’ is meant to denote a reform movement of protest within the Church Catholic. When Protestantism becomes an end in itself, which it certainly has through the mainstream denominations in America, it becomes anathema. If we no longer have broken hearts at the church’s division, then we cannot help but unfaithfully celebrate Reformation Sunday.

And somewhat apropos, a genius I have the pleasure to know, has written a wonderful little lyric called, "Grace and Merit," to this tune.

Perhaps she'll post it?

Himself will be beside ...., well, beside Himself

Even back when he was a Methodist, he had a bit of a devotion to the good Archbishop, now Servant of God, Fulton Sheen,(what can I say, if it's on TV, he'll watch it, and apparently it was that way when he was a kid, and his folks never missed Life is Worth Living.)

"Peace be With You"

The CMAA Colloquium seems to reach new heights by the moment! So much that has been moving, exciting, illuminating....

(I am so very, very fortunate to be here.)
(If it weren't for the kind and gracious and generous Himself, I wouldn't be....)

Last night as I collapsed into my bed, (my wonderful bed.... Little America is a delight, and their staff outstandingly gracious,) I was startled to realize that it was only the second full day of the Colloquium, so much has been given us, and done for us. (My only quibble, I wish I could go St Joseph Cupertino one, or three better, to attend multiple break-out sessions - PLEASE presenters, if you can, get your hand-outs and summaries and outlines online for us poor souls who can only be in one place at a time!)

The Choristers of the Madeleine are a wondrous thing; Paul Ford, (I want a case of whatever vitamins he's taking....) gave  the most marvelous presentation, (seeing him and Mons Wadsworth together was truly a wonderful moment,)... oh, and I wouldn't be me if I didn't mention the outstanding output of Epic Brewing Company.
Memories of their Brainless Belgian would keep me warm through a Chicago winter.

And today's Mass offered such an excellent homily, erudite and scholarly but utterly accessible, (even to a scatter-brain like me,) NOT going over the same well-trod ground, as so many do, basically providing little but a rehash of the day's the Gospel story in other words.

Why do so many preachers think their only option for a text is the Gospel, or once in a rare while one of Paul's letters?

ANY text of the Mass is fit subject. Why not a collect once in a while? And Lord knows, we could pretty much all stand to have many parts of the Ordinary explained to us.

I had never thought about why a bishop's, or the Pope's greeting is different from a priests -- and to have it all tied in to the Saint whose memorial we observed, and the Introit and the Paschal mystery, and.... well, it was all just beyond what I could hope for.

Anyway, Fr Nicholls of the Birmingham oratory is a treasure, a treasure. (The fact that he has superb diction and a silky voice for the presidential chants ain't nothin' to sneeze at either.)

Oh, and speaking of chants, who sang the dismissal today? I don't think I recognized the voice of Fr Pasley who proclaimed the Gospel so stirringly, but whoever it was, his chanting was very fine.

And I haven't even mentioned the scholae, the polyphonic choirs, the brilliant directors, and the oft-times thrilling postludes. (We really have world-class organists at this thing.)

My knee is giving me trouble, (old football injury ;oD) and there are stairs a plenty at the Cathedral, and even sidewalks that seem relatively flat around here are a bit of an incline, so I've blown off the organ crawl last night, which I REALLY wanted to attend, and I'm on the verge of thinking I just can't bring myself to walk up to the tram, to get back to the Cathedral to hear what promises to be an awfully good recital.

Next year?

Oh, I almost forgot -- one of the finest things so far was a plenary address by Gregory Glenn, the Director of Music at the Cathedral of the Madeleine, and founder of their stupendous choir school really exhilarating. Besides the nuts and bolts of at least a little of how he managed the extraordinary feat he has accomplished, (really, you must hear this choir,) his emphasis on why we do this, what the end of all this is was.... well, it was heart-filling.

Is that a word?

Well, my heart is full.

The Liturgy will save us.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

"Product Identity"


I might have wished that his Eminence had used a different phrase, but I could not agree more. (Yeah, that's right, I am not a member of the Church of WhatDoesItMatterJustSoLongAsYou'reANicePerson.)

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Feet, Don't Fail me Now!

As the sort of musician (and I use the word loosely,) some blog commentator, (Gavin, IIRC,) is wont to refer to as "Left Footed Lucy", I am really tickled by the subtitle of this offering from WLP.

Words of Which I am Most Heartily Sick

"Prophetic" has overtaken "luminous" and "uplifting."

("Vibrant" has been granted a life-time achievement status, and is no longer eligible for competition.)

"Ideology needs protests, anger and revolution to keep it afloat. Truth has no need of any of these things, because truth is Christ. "

A nice reminder that getting your knickers in a twist is not only bad for your cortisol levels, it may not be godly.
(Neither, come to think of it, may the expression," to get ones knickers in a twist." )

Friday, 15 June 2012

Would the word "shpilkes" be out of place?

I feel like my 7 year old self on December 24...

Buttering Up Ones Confessor?

I think I may have stepped out of line this morning when I gabbled to the visiting priest, hurriedly post-confession, as he tried to turn to the next penitent, that I was glad to note that at least someone in the parish had an Ordo.
I believe that was the very first time we have ever proclaimed the Gloria on a weekday Solemnity since i have been here.
(No, it wasn't to earn a lighter penance, he's very lenient and pretty pro forma in his assignments anyway...)

"The Future of the Liturgy"

Someone was looking for a transcription of the video at Fr Ray Blake's blog of the presentation given by Monsignor Andrew Wadsworth, The Future of the Liturgy back in May.
What I thought I would do with your permission in our time together this evening is, first of all, offer you some rather personal thoughts about this rather provocative topic. And so I'm not speaking really in any official capacity, I'm only speaking for myself
And that would conclude really with a consideration of
two passages which I've taken from two books which have the same title,
The Spirit of the Liturgy, and I think copies of those passages are available to you.

From that point it is my hope that you indeed will have some thoughts to share, some observations and maybe some questions that we can consider together.
That may well be the most interesting and profitable part of our time together this evening

When I was trying to organize my thoughts in relation to the Future of the Liturgy in preparation for this talk I was reminded of an apocalyptic novel by Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson,
Lord of the World, written in 1907.

It is sometimes deemed one of the first modern dystopias.
Projecting forward a hundred years, Benson imagines an essentially socialist and humanist world, where religion has been either suppressed or ignored.
People have neither any sense of history nor any hope. As a consequence they often despair and turn to euthanasia which is legal.
There is a One World government, that uses Esperanto for its language, and ultimately becomes a servant of the Antichrist. In brief, the Catholic Church has been suppressed, and the world has turned to a form of self-religion.
Pope John the XXIV has made an agreement with the Italian government; the Catholic Church still has its seat in Rome, while all other churches in Italy are surrendered.
Ireland still remains staunchly Catholic with small enclaves all over the world.
Westminster Cathedral is the only church in London that is still Catholic, the rest have all become masonic temples.
The plot then follows the tale of a priest, Percy Franklin, who goes on to become Pope Sylvester III. and a rather enigmatic figure named Julian Felsenburgh, who is identical in looks to the priest, who as the Antichrist becomes the lord of the world.

The fictional world described in Benson's novel written before the first World War predicts certain innovations such a as high speed motorways, air travel using “volors”, an advanced form of the zeppelin.
England was ruled by a president whose wife was Catholic and the Church in this land was under the protection of a Benedictine cardinal
The novel also assumes the continuation of the British Empire, and that travel was predominantly by train.

Even this brief synopsis illustrates that Monsignor Benson was remarkably accurate in his prophecy of so many aspects of life as they would indeed be by the end of the year 2007.

I would imagine that we might not all agree as to just how much of what Benson foresaw did actually come to pass.

Apart from the wholesale destruction of Irish Catholicism, one further thing he could not foresee in any way, however, was the change... development... destruction, (and your choice of term will obviously indicate your particular view,) of the Sacred Liturgy.

He envisaged that while all else changed, that at least would remain the same.
He could not foresee of a small but influential movement that greatly predates the Second Vatican Council clamoring for liturgical change.

He could not foresee the wholesale revision of the liturgy in the wake of that Council.

But above all he could not foresee that the unifying experience of a Latin liturgy would become entirely alien to most Catholics born in the last third of the twentieth century.

This was a view largely shared by Blessed John Henry Newman, Monsignor Ronald Knox, and until the liturgical reform happened, also by Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

The factors which fed into the liturgical reforms of the council were complex, and in some ways not entirely contemporary.
I think we must admit that until relatively recently there has been very little scholarship that is able to accurately identify the sources of the liturgical reform.
I work in an office that houses one of the several archives of the Concilium, the documentation that relates to the meetings of the group responsible for the implementation of the liturgical reform after the Council.
It is increasingly clear to us now that the influence of Jungmann, Bugnini and Bouyer shaped the design of the new rites. In some cases, the scholarly opinions upon which some decisions were based do not stand well the test of time.
In the three years I've been at ICEL only one scholar has consulted that archive.
I hope that in the future we shall see much more scholarship that will give us the detailed study necessary to be able to understand the last fifty years.
Whether or not we have any scholarly insight, many of us have lived in the Church through this period and have thereby accumulated a vast reservoir of experiences which for good or ill shape our perceptions in relation to the liturgy and guide our expectations when we consider what we hope to find when we come to worship God.
While there is a sort of commonality to these observations across a wide spectrum of liturgical preference, it goes without saying that whether something is considered desirable or not will largely depend on your view of what the liturgy is meant to achieve.

I have come to the view that there is very little agreement in this important matter and many people proceed on what is essentially a privatized view of something which is by definition common property.

In the first doctrines to issue from the Second Vatican council the Fathers chose to attempt to define the sacred liturgy and its place in the life of the Church.

The Constitution on the sacred liturgy,
Sacrosanctum Concilium, states, "the liturgy is the summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed.
At the same time it is the fountain from which all Her powers flow. It is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit."

These seemingly uncontentious definitions immediately thrust us into the heart of the modern dilemma concerning liturgy.
This dilemma contains the ever-present danger of becoming spectators, such a frequent mode in modern life. It is entirely inimical to the spirit of the liturgy
In our catholic understanding of liturgy there can be no spectators, only participators.

For it is the....
leitourgia, the leit ergon, the work of the people in which we must all engage.

The rich signs and symbols of the liturgy, its solemn functions, the beauty of its music are all intended to engage our hearts and minds, and to draw us ever more deeply into experience of the saving mysteries, giving us an instrument with which we can express the drama of mankind and utter supremacy of God by offering Him the very best of our human endeavors

In God's providence, all that is necessary for our salvation is laid before us in the liturgy, and is there for the taking.

When asked about the liturgical reforms that followed the Council most Catholics would tend to say that the Liturgy went into English and the priest faced the people.
The fact that neither of these changes was mandated by the Council usually comes as something of a surprise.
Furthermore, I think it is addressing something of an elephant in the room to maybe say that a vernacular liturgy has not always led to a deeper understanding of the liturgy itself.
In proposing such an observation I would want to be very careful to qualify it - the fact is that the liturgical reform seem to have spawned both positive and negative developments resulting in a situation which is highly complex and beyond the remit of broad generalizations.

To illustrate my point I would like to try to identify some examples of both kinds of development.

Some positive developments of the liturgical reforms in the wake of Vatican Two would be that the liturgies of the Sacred Triduum, largely unknown to previous generations, have now become the liturgical heart of the year for most Catholics.

The Liturgy of the hours, previously largely limited to the clergy has become more genuinely the prayer of the whole Church in the experience of both religious and lay people.
A wider selection of readings in the Mass and all the sacramental rites has strengthened the idea that Scripture is part of the primitive liturgical kerygma.

In those places where the principles of the liturgical movement have been applied to music there is a greater appreciation of the various functions of music in the different elements of the liturgy.

The revised rites of Christian Initiation have led to a greater understanding of Baptism as the foundational fact of our ecclesial identity.

Where provision has been made for individual confession, there has generally been a return to the centrality of this sacrament in the personal journey of conversion.

The renewal of the Rites of the Worship of the Blessed Sacrament outside Mass has facilitated, if not quite inspired, the wide-spread adoption of Eucharistic Adoration as a standard element of parish life, and as an important means of engendering private prayer.

These positive developments are balanced however, I would suggest, by an equally significant list of negative observations.

When we consider that a sense of the communion of the Church has become limited to local communities that are in many ways self-selecting.
Many Catholics have a poor understanding of what it means to belong to the Universal Church, but a very highly developed understanding of what it means to belong to a parish of people like ourselves.

Any notion of the shape of the liturgical year has been greatly lessened by an ironing out of those features which characterize the distinctive seasons of the year.

The transference of solemnities which are Holy Days of Obligation to Sundays destroys the internal dynamics of the liturgical cycle, particularly with the great feasts of the Epiphany and the Ascension.

The frequent tendency to gloss or paraphrase the liturgical text, supplying continuous commentary, has contributed to an improvised or spontaneous character in much liturgical celebration.

The multiplication of liturgical ministries has led to considerable confusion and indeed error concerning the relationship between the ministerial priesthood and the common priesthood of all the baptized.

The liturgy in some places seems to have the quality of a performance with the priest and liturgical ministers cast in the roles of performers, and half of them behaving accordingly.

Consequently, congregations are often expecting to be entertained, rather as spectators might be at a theater.

The manner of the distribution and reception of Holy Communion, including the appropriateness of ones reception of Communion at any particular Mass, has led to a casual disregard for this great sacrament.

The proliferation of Communion Services presided over my lay people has resulted in a lessening of the sense of the importance of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

The appalling banality of much liturgical music and the lack of any true liturgical spirit in the use of music has been a primary generating force in an anti-liturgical culture.

With these, rather personal and precise, observations in mind, we can surmise when we try to identify the features of a future liturgy which would effectively express not only the here and now of the community but the whole of salvation history and the eternity which is God Himself.

Obviously I am aware of the fact that another commentator might well reverse all of the categories that I have identified, and see virtues that I cite as vices, and vice versa.

In an attempt to engender an ongoing improvement in the quality of our liturgy, and in the hope that all Catholics will be able to encounter a liturgy that is self-evidently expressive of our rich tradition
and conveys a sense of something larger than the purely local, in a highly personal view, I would identify the following as desirable characteristics of the Liturgy of the future:

Firstly, a sense of reverence for the text. The unity of the Roman Rite is now essentially a textual unity. The Church permits a certain latitude in the interpretations of liturgical norms that govern the celebration of the liturgy, and hence our unity is essentially textual. We use the same prayers, we meditate on the same scriptures. This is more clearly evident now with a single English text for universal use.

Secondly, a greater willingness to heed
Sacrosanctum Concilium rather than a continuous recourse to the rather nebulous concept of the Spirit of the Council which generally attempts to legitimize liturgical abuses, rather than correct them.
Currently, the teachings of
Sacrosanctam Concilium are rather more likely to be evidenced in a well-prepared presentation of the Extraordinary Form than in most ordinary Form celebrations.
That's a great irony.

A re-reading of the encyclical
Mediator Dei of Pope Pius XII, in conjunction with more recent magisterial documents. In this way, the light of tradition might be perceived to shine on all of our liturgical celebrations

The wide-spread cultivation of a dignified and reverent liturgy that evidences careful preparation and respect for its constituent elements in accordance with the liturgical norms.

The re-introduction of
ad orientem celebration, the kneeling for the reception of Holy Communion would be two things that would certainly assist in this regard.

An abandonment of the unofficial notion of the primacy of the ferial lectionary, which would result in Masses for the feast days of saints in which the readings harmonized with the texts of the proper of the mass.

A recovery of the Latin tradition of the Roman Rite that enables us to continue to present elements of our liturgical patrimony from the earliest centuries with understanding
This necessarily requires a far more enthusiastic and wide-spread commitment to the study and learning of Latin in order that the linguistic culture .... interpreting our texts and chants might be more widely experienced, and our patrimony enjoy a wider constituency.

(What would you expect from a former Latin teacher?)

But this point, on which I feel very, very strongly, is essential, regardless of the language of our liturgical celebration; it's still true even if we have vernacular celebrations, we will still continue to need insight into a tradition which is essentially coming to us in Latin texts and chants, even if they are being presented to us in vernacular languages.

I would hope to see the exclusion form the liturgy of music which only expresses secular culture and which is ill-suited to the demands of the liturgy.

A renaissance of interest in an use of chant in both Latin and English, as a recognition that this music should enjoy first place in our liturgy, and all other musical forms are suitable for liturgical use to the extent that they share the characteristics of chant.

A commitment to the celebration ad teaching of the
ars celebrandi, the art of celebration of both forms of the one Roman Rite, so that all our priests perceive more readily how the light of tradition shines on our liturgical life, and how this might be communicated more effectively to all our people.

Thusly, a clearer distinction between devotions and non-liturgical forms of prayer, and the sacred Liturgy.

A lack of any proper liturgical sense has led to a proliferation of devotions as an alternate vehicle for devotional fervor.

This was a wide-spread criticism of the liturgy before the Second Vatican Council, and we now have to ask ourselves why the same lacuna has been identified in the newer liturgical forms.
having traveled the English-speaking world very widely in preparation for the implementation of the new English translation of the Third Typical Edition of the Missale Romanum, and having experienced the Sacred Liturgy in a wide variety of circumstances and styles, I would conclude that I have genuinely encountered a very great desire for change, although i would also have to admit that this has not always been among those who are directly responsible for the liturgy.
I think we are currently well-placed to respond to this desire, and this is evidenced by the fact that many things which were indicated fifty years ago , such as the singing of the Mass, and more particularly, the singing of the proper texts rather than the endless substitution of songs and hymns are only now being seriously considered and implemented.
it is earnestly to be desired that such developments continue to flourish and that an improved liturgical culture is accessible to everyone in the Church.
Crucial to this peaceful revolution has been the leadership and example of the present Holy Father, who has consistently studied and written about the liturgy in a long life of scholarship which now informs his governance of the Church’s liturgical life.
Much that he commends was already evident in aspects of liturgical scholarship from the early twentieth century onwards.
In our own time, however, it is finally being received with the joy and enthusiasm that it merits.
A new generation of Catholics eagerly awaits a greater experience of the basic truth that the Liturgy is always a gift that we receive from the Church rather than make for ourselves.
In an attempt to show something of the powerful synthesis in this respect, and perhaps as something of a springboard for our discussion, I would like to conclude with two brief quotations which encapsulate much that I have attempted to say, and perhaps help us identify further strategies for the road which lies ahead. (22:46)
The juxtaposition of these two texts which share the same title, written some eighty years apart, does not really offer any definitive conclusions as to how one might resolve some of the challenges we have identified.
Perhaps we still have to find the courage to really face the questions they raise, and the understanding of the Liturgy they propose.
So I believe you have before you quotations from Romano Guardini's
Spirit of the Liturgy in an English translation by Ada Lane, and Joseph Ratzinger's Spirit of the Liturgy in a translation by Father John Sailor?
If you don’t have the texts in front of you, I'm going to read the excerpts to you, and perhaps we can consider them together.

First from Romano Guardini:
"The primary and exclusive aim of the liturgy is not the expression of the individual's reverence and worship for God. It is not even concerned with the awakening, formation, and sanctification of the individual soul as such. Nor does the onus of liturgical action and prayer rest with the individual. It does not even rest with the collective groups, composed of numerous individuals, who periodically achieve a limited and intermittent unity in their capacity as the congregation of a church. The liturgical entity consists rather of the united body of the faithful as such--the Church--a body which infinitely outnumbers the mere congregation. The liturgy is the Church's public and lawful act of worship, and it is performed and conducted by the officials whom the Church herself has designated for the post--her priests. In the liturgy God is to be honored by the body of the faithful, and the latter is in its turn to derive sanctification from this act of worship. It is important that this objective nature of the liturgy should be fully understood. Here the Catholic conception of worship in common sharply differs from the Protestant, which is predominately individualistic. The fact that the individual Catholic, by his absorption into the higher unity, finds liberty and discipline, originates in the twofold nature of man, who is both social and solitary."

It is perhaps easy to see that that that passage is a product of its time, in some of the concepts that it evokes.
But it does contain a very powerful definition the nature of the Liturgy which liberates it from the tyranny of personal taste and direction.
I'll just ask you to hold some of those ideas in your mind as we listen to the Spirit of the Liturgy as expressed by Joseph Ratzinger some eighty years later:

"We should be clearly aware that external actions are quite secondary here; doing really must stop when we come to the heart of the matter, the oratio, or prayer. It must be plainly evident that the oratio is the heart of the matter, but that it is important precisely because it provides a space for the actio or action of God.
Anyone who grasps this will easily see that it is not now a matter of looking at or toward the priest, but of looking together toward the Lord, and going out to meet him.
The almost theatrical entrance of different players into the liturgy, which is so common today, especially during the Preparation of the Gifts, quite simply misses the point. If the various external actions, (as a matter of fact, there are not in fact very many of them, though they are being artificially multiplied,) become the essential in the liturgy, if the liturgy degenerates into general activity, then we have radically misunderstood the "theo-drama" of the liturgy, and lapsed almost into parody.
True liturgical education cannot consist in learning and experimenting with external activities. Instead one must be lead toward the essential actio that makes the liturgy what it is, toward the transforming power of God, Who wants, through what happens in the Liturgy, to transform us and the world. In this respect, liturgical education, of both priests and laity is deficient to a deplorable extent. Much remains to be done here".
I wish more transcriptions of such things would find their way onto the Interwebs, they are drastically more useful for actual reflection that videos. Youtube Nation? Bah!!!!

(Oh, and kicking myself that I didn't think to find a text file of the two long quotes, THAT would have saved a bit of time...)
(And of course, someone else may have done this weeks ago, but I never look in the right place for anything...)

Monday, 28 May 2012

Mundelein Psalter at Vespers

Technidiot that I am, I rely on the kindness of others, most often Himself, to record stuff, (liturgies on EWTN, "Awake," [sigh...], "Mad Men",) on the tube when I am out or otherwise engaged.
Saw bits of two bishops' installations, (they are blurring in my memory, so I won't comment on moments I was tempted to play Gotcha on one of them,) and a good bit of Solemn Vespers in celebration of some anniversary of Mother Angelica's foundation.
That was the Mundelein Psalter they used, was it not?

Oh, and hey, the military really get ritual, don't they? Saw part of another Mass this afternoon whilst making the -- talk about ritual! -- deviled eggs and potato salad...

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Himself, the Clairvoyant

It has recently come to my attention that Himself accurately predicted the future.
As a larger than usual group of us attended She Who Must be Ob... er, attended my Mom, sweeping into Mass on May 13, he apparently whispered to my sister, "We'll probably sing Mother Machree" (sp?)
Okay, now WHO could have guessed that?
(And no, I am not making this up.)
After the homily, pretty much in place of the Creed, since we skipped that and had a precis of what could have been the Prayer of the Faithful.

Ooooh, wretched thought - suppose he does not PREDICT distasters and horrors so much as call them into being by mentioning them?
Now that's a super power.
(Mine is finding parking spots. Yeah, you scoff now, pretty lame super power, but wait till it's raining....)

One sister just got up and walked out, found a Mass elsewhere.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

We're all sinners....

From the department of stopped clocks....
Bryan Cones has some wise and humane words:
I've become progressively and obstinately angrier about clerical child sexual abuse as time has passed-...but [a friend] always reminds me that even an abuser is still a human being, a child of God. I'd like to think [he] spent what was left of his ministry trying to make amends

As a friend of mine likes to opine, aren't we all lucky that God has no zero tolerance policy?

Friday, 4 May 2012

"And with your spirit"

Don't forget that there's a new response this year, should anyone say, "May the Fourth be with you."

Saturday, 28 April 2012

CNS on the "Old Rite"

My only quibble with this story, (and I remain someone whose druthers are for a well celebrated NO,) is the oft-repeated falsehood that "most Catholics" "embraced or at least accepted" the liturgical changes in the wake of the Second Vatican Council.

No, "MOST" Catholics' reaction was to "embrace" their pillows or their golf clubs or their bloody marys and brunch forks of a Sunday morning.

"MOST" Catholics stopped attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

"MOST" no longer found what they saw and heard in Church compelling enough to bring them back on a regular basis.
It was, mind you, it was compelling. The central truths had not changed and they were and are more compelling than any other facts of existence -- but those truths were so often robed in trivialities and easiest options and outright contradictions that their beauty was obscured.

So let's stop pretending that "most Catholics" are okay with how things are.
Of all the Catholic Church's modernizing reforms that followed the Second Vatican Council, none was more evident to ordinary members of the faithful than changes to the liturgy. Latin gave way to local languages, women ceased to wear veils in church, and Gregorian chant, Renaissance polyphony and 19th-century hymns were replaced by devotional music in popular contemporary styles.

Most Catholics embraced these changes or at least accepted them without dissent. But a minority persisted in their devotion to the traditional Tridentine Mass, and eventually the church accommodated them.

In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI lifted practically all restrictions on celebration of what is now known as the extraordinary form of the Roman rite. In the near future, the Vatican is expected to announce results of reconciliation talks with the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, which broke from Rome almost 25 years ago in protest against several elements of the legacy of Vatican II, including the liturgical reform.

According to Father Joseph Kramer, pastor of Rome's Church of the Most Holy Trinity of the Pilgrims, the enduring appeal of traditional worship is in large part a matter of aesthetics.

Classical liturgical music has an "uplifting, energizing effect, it really moves people to prayer," he says. "Both Gregorian chant and polyphony highlight the texts of the liturgy. When you're listening to them, you meditate on the words and internalize their meaning."

"Disband Canonically and Regroup"


Speaking of writers with whom one might disagree, and to be filed under Even-A-Stopped-Clock-Is-Right-Twice-A-Day, Sr Joan Chittister, former prez of the LCWR thinks that "there is only one way to deal with [the attempts of the Church to reform religious women who dabble in heresy] : to disband canonically and regroup as an unofficial interest group."

Stop pretending to be that which you are not.

There's nothing wrong with choosing a vocation as a social worker.

Useful Words and Phrases...

... I have learned.

"mourning sickness."

"professional umbrage-taking"

"post-religious spirituality"


One of the great pleasures of reading good writing, even from those with whom one usually disagrees.

I love them interwebs...

Some blogs which because I am oblivious and self-centered have hitherto escaped my notice but which I intend to read from now on...




A Desire to Restore The Church's Liturgical Identity

When I have more leisure and more internet access, it is both comforting and heart-breaking to surf for news from hitherto unknown outposts in the great struggle in which I and other Catholic musicians find ourselves. This fellow seems to have shared some of my experiences in his previous post, (although there is more good news for him from the place he has left, and he seems to have landed someplace more ... amiable?)
[News from a former parish] is bittersweet, however. I struggled the entire time I was music director .... to raise the awareness of sacred music's important roll in the liturgy and was met with ridicule and sometimes outright uncharitable antagonism....

But, a word of caution: if this introduction of Latin polyphony and chant are nothing more than a novelty (what the writer called "balance" between contemporary and Latin), or an attempt to appease the more serious-minded musicians in the choir and select people in the pews, rather than being built on a foundational understanding that this particular music is, in the final analysis, the only music exclusively proper to the liturgy, it will eventually fail. It ceases being a function of the liturgy and what the Church calls for, and becomes an attempt to appeal to tastes or preferences.

The re-introduction of this music for me is not just a hat-tip to nostalgia or a way of pleasing the "traddies", but is at it's core driven by a desire and commitment to restore to the Catholic Church's unique identity what has been horribly lost over the last 40 years.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Characters Count

When I was young I acquired an (utterly undeserved,) reputation as a wit, by telling someone who inquired after what-I-wanted-to-be-when-I-grew-up, "a character."
Now THIS is a real "character":Italic
Alan was a society man, a gentlemanly figure who frequented affairs like the Petroushka Ball at the Waldorf and the Military Ball at the Plaza. He was an expert waltzer and a wearer of white ties who spoke with an accent — the Palm Beach Lock-Jaw — I had heard only in Preston Sturges films.
...He wore top hats....he was from a family of Austrian bluebloods transplanted to New York. There had been, he said, a family fortune once; but, he added wistfully, “Mother lived too long.”

But there remains so much more to the story. Give it a read.

Our Autistic Society

Yet another person has noticed what some of us have been saying for years, (although she doesn't use the word "autistic"):
We live in a technological universe in which we are always communicating. And yet we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection....

Over the past 15 years, I’ve studied technologies of mobile connection and talked to hundreds of people of all ages and circumstances about their plugged-in lives. I’ve learned that the little devices most of us carry around are so powerful that they change not only what we do, but also who we are.

We’ve become accustomed to a new way of being “alone together.” Technology-enabled, we are able to be with one another, and also elsewhere, connected to wherever we want to be. We want to customize our lives. We want to move in and out of where we are because the thing we value most is control over where we focus our attention. We have gotten used to the idea of being in a tribe of one, loyal to our own party...

we can end up hiding from one another, even as we are constantly connected to one another.
Yes, we are changing who we are, we are becoming a species without affect.
As a society we are not just losing our ability to read others emoticons, we are losing the facial wherewithal to express our own.
Over-indulgence in botox will cease to be a handicap to actors attempting to portray "real" people, as non-chemically-induced Face Freeze becomes universal.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Signs of hope and progress, and signs of SOSO

I had an interesting... peculiar? Triduum, well, actually, all of Holy Week.
Morning Mass at the beginning of the week saw a celebrant who twice announced his choice of EP to us, with a criticism of their "convoluted English," of which he would "try to make the best."

Holy Thursday, no mandatum, lots of back-ground instrumental music, fairly random song choices, (except for several different settings of Ubi Caritas,) and Christ born away for reposition in two stacks of ciboria that looked for all the world like a bento box.
Friday, efficiency was the name of the game, a celebrant who is already addressing the next communicant before the current one has possession of the host. (I was seated in a front row of chairs where either standing or kneeling would have put me very much in the way, so I couldn't help but notice the rhythm of the two processions.) Jam-packed church, less than an hour.
None of that "let us kneel, let us stand" nonsense for us at the intercessions, I think we say, IIRC; though there was a deacon, the priest just said everything straight through.
Were You There, a kind of random communion song, and an awful psalm, (which I could not "get" for the first three iterations.)

Glad you asked.
For the "Solemn" Vigil, fewer in attendance than for any weekday Mass in ordinary time.
No music ministers.
This is understandable, as they had already HAD a (presumably non-solemn,) "vigil" in broad daylight, for which I believe they used the Easter morning Mass.
No assigned young servers, an elderly gentleman, (the sacristan, i think,) took care of things, a non-singing deacon.
Three readings only, psalms spoken straight through by all, some confusion about order and the Gloria.
One supremely random hymn at cl0sing, (Now Thank We..., or Praise to the Lord, cant remember which.)

The celebrant sang the unfamiliar, (new translation, ya know?) Exultet very nobly indeed, led and sang the gospel acclamation, (rising in pitch for each Alleluia, I have NEVER heard that done properly before,) and chanted the dismissal beautifully...

And he gave a stirring sermon that had to do with the women "making the effort" going to the tomb, when everything 'was over'; and how we're all old, and try to pretend we're past all that mission stuff.... I'm not giving the right impression of it, it was wonderful.

I feel, somehow, (I've been watching too many period pieces...) like a doughboy laid up by an inconsequential injury, who is guilty about enjoying the fact that no one could possibly expect him to return to "work."

I mean really, I can't, can I?
And even if I could, there's no place to do it, right?
Except there is, there's always a way to contribute.
I have to find a way to get back into it, (trying to avoid saying, "get back into combat.")
And although I have no confidence that matters will improve locally, things are looking genuinely hopeful in the wide world, are they not?

On one liturgy forum, a music director who, judging from her terminology, would lean toward... what's the PC way we in the music and liturgy trenches have chosen to differentiate now that we know liberal/conservative, progressive/traditional, orthopractical/ephemeraphilic aren't helpful? I digress... anyway, a music director who talks about "ensembles", "gathering songs" and "contemporary arrangements" has this to say: "I moved the ensemble from singing a gathering song to a contemporary arrangement of the introit text [including] all the alleluias–even when matched with other texts that initially seemed reflective rather than triumphal. The result for us has been the frequent use of “alleluia” throughout the season (always in the entrance song, frequently in a communion or offertory song)"

But on another we find this snarky, thinly-veiled insult:
"Beautiful selections ... but as for me, I would not want all that Latin every week. I'm guessing your parishioners travel for this concert style and are not all locals. To each his/her own style of worship I guess."

Oh, and this programming condemned as
"concert style" , and adjudged to too much Latin"?

It consists of English congregational hymns in place the entrance and offertory antiphons, an English responsorial psalm, congregation-friendly Latin chant Gloria and memorial acclamation, an English, (and Hebrew, of course,) a Gospel/alleluia from Respond and Acclaim, and a rousing English-language congregational recessional/sendingforth hymn.