Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Whoever is Responsible For This Pitiful Showing, Heads Should Role!

Too on point, h/t to Fr Z

Catholic Church Fails to Behead A Single Person in 2014

 pope francis 14

For the most intolerant and extreme religion in the world, this is a rather embarrassing statistic.
It appears that the Catholic Church, widely recognized as the most uncompromising and dogmatic among the world’s major religions, is about to close out the year without executing a single person.
As everyone knows, the Catholic Church is a religion of strict doctrine, ruling every aspect of each individual Catholic’s life from the Vatican with an iron fist, while at the same time relentlessly imposing its beliefs on the rest of society.
Yet for some reason the Catholic Church has had an abysmal year at the chopping block, failing to kill a single one of its billion-plus members for failing to live in strict adherence to her teachings.  On top of that, the Vatican has put to death exactly zero people from other religions for refusing to convert to Catholicism.


Fertility is Better Than Sterility...

... and to be fecund and productive is better than to be barren.

There, I said it.

And I say it as someone who is BARREN.

Who was unquestionably a SPINSTER, an OLD MAID by almost anybody's measure.

Someone named David Gibson, (a man? one presumes,) took it upon himself to claim, well, to be fair, it may have been a HuffPo or NCR headline writer that made the claim, that the Holy Father has said a few too many things that "make women wince."

I didn't wince reading any of them, or, not any more than I often do at Pope Francis' folksie and careless way of putting things, (not that I can claim to speak for womanhood, either, although I do at least have a complete set of chromosomes, instead of missing a section like those poor XY creatures we live with...)

I remember, while the class was considering, a teacher saying how perfectly, despite being a man, Chamisso, in Frauenliebe und -leben had captured the feminine soul, "just as Flaubert was able to do."
"How do you know," I asked.
"How do you know? You're a man." (I didn't add, "who has never had a relationship with a woman," but I could have.)
He acknowledged that that was true, laughed and we moved on to Schumann's phrasing.
And were this not thirty years ago, I would acknowledge to him that he was correct.
I digress.

Gibson does quote some women for support of this opinion, but the Notre Dame professor has such an ax to grind about her Church, in general, that she's a kind of Professional Umbrage Taker ("PUT"); and the Washington Post writer, as someone capable of the weasel words "right or wrong, there’s a widespread impression.....",  -- a mighty oily way of broadcasting a falsehood, of making a baseless claim that even the claimant knows is likely untrue, while mainting a plausible deniability -- is not someone whose middling dudgeon on behalf of nuns and sisters carries much weight.

But let's examine some of these offenses.
“I am wary of ‘masculinity in a skirt.’“
Masculinity in a skirt?
Clearly, Francis experiences the yeesh factor that many of us do in the presance of cross-dressers. Not PC by the standards of PUTs, (see above,) but surely no surprise to anyone. Whaddya expect, he's an old hispanic guy?
“Pastors often wind up under the authority of their housekeeper!”
Well, yeah. Does anyone dispute this? And the parish secretary, and the DRE, and his Mother....

Okay, okay, like the Pope, I kid.

The real problem, in some peoples' eyes, seems to be the man's use of the metaphors of fertility, and of motherhood.

Seriously? "Fertile" has long been used to mean creative, and if scripture uses motherhood to describe the care and nurturing not just of the Lord's people's leaders, but of Himself, who are we to deny a call to spiritual motherhood, to reject it as insulting, or insensitive?

Hear me, O house of Jacob,
all the remnant of the house of Israel,
My burden from the womb,
whom I have carried since birth -

Even to your old age I am He,
even when your hair is gray I will carry you;
I have done this, and I will lift you up,
I will carry you to safety.

I am God, there is no other;
I am God, there is none like Me.

No, there is none like You. But we can must try to be, whether our motherhood is literal or metaphorical.

(Guess what, "blindness" is a good metaphor, too. And when is PETA gonna join forces with the disabled to kvetch about the term "lame duck"? Don't get me started.)

Speaking of "Christmastide"....

I was, I am ashamed to say, an adult, when a friend asked me to sing in her parish's Christmas concert and I was stupidly surprised to find that it was to be on February 2.

So, no need to make it an annual rant - I'll just link to a previous rant about what's wrong with the current liturgical calendar and why don't we Catholics make more of Candlemas?

And while we're at it, let's cook veal....

Seriously, people are complaining about this:

but they gave this:

and this:

a pass?

"I'll retire to Bedlam"... after a "Christmas bowl of smoking bishop"?

Wonder if you can make it with marsala instead of port....

Yeah, it's still Christmastide, but....

... choir directors, organists, music directors, cantors, directors of liturgy, (and CCD teachers!) are already planning for Lent and Holy Week.

The Liturgical Institute, up in Mundelein, is offering a workshop on "The Chants of Lent."

You want to go.

But even more, if your parish hasn't yet quite gotten on board with the Reform of the Reform, you want your PRIEST to go, you want your pastor to learn what Mother Church really asks of us in terms of Singing The Mass, yeah, yeah, RTSATM....

And let's face it, he needs a break almost as much as you do, after Christmas. (And St Mary of the Lake is a way lovely place to take a break.)

So make it easy for him to go, take up some slack around the office, ask a wealthy parishioner to pay his way, ask a retired priest friend to make himself available for confessions and Mass and stuff.

And Vespers will be wonderful.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

BreakingNews from Eye of the Tiber

Sources in the Vatican are now confirming that Pope Francis has agreed to posthumously grant King Henry VIII an annulment from Catherine of Aragon. Numerous reports have come out in the past couple of days about the possibility of such a move, with aides close to Queen Elizabeth telling EOTT that such a decision on the Vatican’s part would essentially end the centuries old schism.
Media outlets in England are also reporting that once the annulment takes effect, that Queen Elizabeth will relinquish her claim as “Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England.”
(I kinda like the idea of ol' Lizzie being a member of the one, holy catholic and apostolic, ya know?) 

When asked to comment Thomas More and John Fisher did not return calls.

Pontifical Council for Culture's Video

Okay, I watched it Sunday night, IIRC, and yes, it's weird and off-putting.
And I'm not sure quite what the point is. And I think a non-English speaker may have made the call on casting someone whose English was considered sufficient.

But is attacking the spokesperson who appears in it in this way even "Christian adjacent" much less Christian?
I wonder what a parallel video about men for men would look like? Could it possible involve, I dunno, an unshaven guy in a wifebeater shouting “Stellllaaaaaa” at a second story window? I am straining here. Would it be some metrosexualized guy who does things with wax? What age would be be? Would he have “product” in his hair? Would he have a shaved head, which is popular in Italy now? What would be the male equivalent of false eyelashes and puffy lips?  
A really smart women to whom I spoke to about this, at first asked if the person in the video was really a woman or someone in drag. Then, after she saw it, she commented that she might have taken it more seriously had she had dark hair (the woman in the video, that is).
A really smart woman decides how seriously to take someone else on the basis of hair color?

(Incidentally, it is not unheard of for women to wear false eyelashes not only onstage but IRL, and not just  for dates, parties and other festive occasions.)

And a side note, should those of us who are unabashed admirers of those sporting man-lace really cast aspersions at metrosexuals and other males who take effort with their appearance? It's not just unkind and unChristian, it's illogical and impolitic.

"If only Anglican priests were permitted to marry, we wouldn't have...."

Never mind...

The Independent newspaper reported last August that “the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said he dealt with issues of child sex abuse on a daily basis (my emphasis) and he anticipated that more ‘bad stories’ would emerge. He said: ‘I would love to say there weren’t, but I expect there are.’ He told the BBC that it was ‘becoming clearer and clearer that for many, many years things were not dealt with as they should [have been]’.”
Well, he has one consolation: the issue will not be clouded and confused, as it has been in the Catholic Church for years, by the non-issue of the marital status of the clergy involved. Most of them are married. This particular story had homed in on the now former Bishop of Gloucester (married, with four daughters) who had resigned suddenly after he was “placed at the centre of” a police inquiry over allegations of indecent assault on a child more than 30 years ago. The bishop had stepped down after nearly a decade as bishop on Friday citing “personal reasons”; these turned out to be that in the parish in south London where he was a curate in 1976, he is alleged to have been involved in “indecent assault on a child said to have occurred between 1980 and 1981.”.....
[Halfway around the world] the Truth, Justice and Healing Council [says] “some Church institutions and their leaders turned a blind eye to what was going on for years.” Unlike the Church of England, however, the “Council” gave a possible reason for its clergy’s aberrant behavior: they weren’t simply doing something inherently bad and sinful (and for which there is NO CONCEIVABLE EXCUSE): they were under a particular pressure. Guess what?
“Obligatory celibacy may also have contributed to abuse in some circumstances,” ....
the trouble with scapegoats is that they are set apart as such to make society feel better about itself, and not to cope with the real problem thus shuffled off into the wilderness.

Monday, 29 December 2014

"How many people work in the Vatican?" "About half."

A friend, a cleric who died recently actually, and had worked in the Vatican for many years, told me that joke once, insisting that it was an actual conversation he had with Paul VI, (I've since learned that it's waaaaay older and told of everyone.)

In all the words spilled about the curia and the Pope recently, it's hard to know what's what.

But Fr Ray Blake has a pertinent post.

There are many people who work very hard, in mostly thankless situations, it would be surprising if there were not such people among those in the Curia.

already middle ranking clergy are leaving Rome, or begging their bishops to apply to the Holy Father for their release. Many have already left, to the point where some dicasteries are drastically undermanned, to the point of not working effectively. Things, like dispensation which took a couple of months to process, can now take well over a year.
Morale in Curia is at an all time low, it was never very high. There were certainly some priests, and bishops too, who would have given their eye-teeth for a job in the Curia, and seen it as way to promotion and power, or of pursuing and academic interest, of those I have known that is not the majority, certainly there is often a detachment from parish life, but that is the nature of the job, it happens with priests (and bishops) and especially laymen and women in diocesan Curias.....

A curial friend, who I think is quite saintly, once sent me his timetable, he lives in one of the clergy houses near St Peter's so unless there is Papal Mass or audience that day, that is where he says Mass. Like most of the younger clergy in the EF, 'it suits a contemplative life, and besides the boys prefer it, if one of them serves my Mass.' He means the Maltese minor seminarians who assist in the sacristy, and if you are fortunate will serve your Mass.

Rise 5am
Mass in St Peter's followed by thanksgiving 7am
Breakfast on the way to the office 8am
Start work 8.30am
Lunch 1pm but often that involves a meeting, often he works straight through, some (older) clergy take a siesta until 3.30
Return to Office at 4pm
Return home for Supper at 8pm
Read/study, very occasionally go out with friends
Prayer/spiritual reading 10pm
Bed 11pm

He does this 5 days a week, Saturday is the same except the office closes at 1pm

Sunday is day to catch up on sleep, and meet friends, occasionally pilgrims, if needed, he says Mass in Rome parish, he is not needed that often. He said once he had gone six months without saying Mass with a congregation. Apart from holy days he does this for 11 months of the year. Rome tends to close down for August and he returns to his home to stay with his family, and supply in his home diocese.
What struck me was the sheer boredom of his life, and the loneliness too. His salary I think is about 4500 euros a year, it is not enough to live well in Rome

I admit that there is a clerical blogger of whom I often think, when he's asking for hand-outs, hey! he seems to live a lot better than I do, he certainly eats, travels and indulges himself with technological gadgets at a level i can only dream of being able to afford.

But what do I really know of what he sacrifices to serve the Church?
Judge not, Scel...

"No, no, I think my first marriage WAS valid... I just want another one"

Just saw this from Damian Thompson - very grateful that he took note of the German Catholic bishops’conference's releasing the findings of a special working group concerning communion for the divorced and remarried.

I found this particularly alarming-
Only very few remarried divorcees see annulment as a solution, because they do not think that their first marriage simply never existed, the bishops said.

Let me say that again.


These people should be receiving the sacraments and not be considered as living in an adulterous situation because they DO believe their earlier relationships to have been VALID SACRAMENTAL MARRIAGES?

(In which case, hmmmm.... it would be licit to have relations with that earlier partner. But that's a' whole 'nother kettle of makrele.)

How does it make their current situation less than sinful if there is already a valid bond?

I am aghast at the illogic of the bishops' statement.
Is it available in translation anywhere on line I wonder?

The mind boggles, but I realize paraphrases my be obscuring the bishops' actual intent, and I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt.

The Treasures of Magnificat Magazine

I was browsing before Mass this morning, (lots of ;little articles I had not read in turn, essays that hadn't caught my eye at the time,) and not for the first time, noted how frequently I come across a relfection or even a sentence that strikes me as so perfectly lucid and lucent - and illuminating, and I will read to the end and see that the words were penned by someone named Ratzinger; or how often I happen upon a hymn text, (or translation,)  previously unknown to me that is verbally elegant and theologically rich, and paging to the index in the back of the little Magnificat, I see that it is the work of Kathy Pluth.

The lyric to the Theotokos, (sp?) is quite wonderful.

O Theotokos, Mary blest,
Our human nature’s shining crest,
Through you we have our liberty,
Free children of the light to be.

O Queen of all the virgin choir,
Though David was your kingly sire
Your royal dignity has come
Not from your fathers, but your Son....

Exemplar of virginity,
Give glory to the Trinity,
Whose endless treasure-stores of gifts
Through you our human nature lifts.

Magnificat has been a real blessing to me.

I gave my Mother a subscription, but the frequency with which the periodical chooses an optional memorial made it useless for her, (she wanted, no, needed the exact, no flipping-around-pages readings, proper antiphons and collects that the priest was saying as her hearing was going*,) so she gave it back, and then Himself gave me a four year subscription.

At first I was put out by their approach to what they call Morning and Eventing Prayer, but now that I understand their reasoning, I have nothing but praise for its creator and editors.

And the artwork!
Oh, the artwork....
(*And in retrospect, she didn't need to be constantly faced with the evidence of a beloved pastor's liturgical minimalism, not to say laziness. She knew it - even chided him on it slightly once - and forgave it. I wonder, how much time is saved by omitting a spoken Gloria during the Octave of Christmas?)

Mote Fishing

A catholic writer, (or perhaps just a headline writer,) stands up and prays:
O God, I give thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, power-hungry hypocrites, as also is that Curial official.
(And before you think it, I freely acknowledge it.  Being  phariseezy myself, I knows'em when I sees'em. In fact, that is why I am a student of human nature, I study others that I may see my own faults. Isn't the the entire raison d'etre of Those Interwebs? a royal road to self-awareness.)

Wesley to Inigo: Learn to Live With Disappointment

Yesterday, I neglected to mention - I wanted to register my disappointment...
"Not that anybody cares...."
...in December 29 falling on a Sunday and Holy Innocents being pushed off the calendar.

I think Catholics should put a little less effort into the Roe vs Wade anniversary and make that the day to commemorate inconvenient babies the lives lost to abortion.

Now THOSE are some saints whose intercession to seek.