Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Private Businesses, Public Policy

Should it be illegal for a baker whose religion teaches that same sex activity, (including the "activity" of marriage) is sinful to refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay wedding?

Should it be illegal for a tee-shirt maker be allowed to refuse to manufacture shirts promoting a white supremacist group's ideaology?

Should a hindu convention hall owner be forced to allow devil worshippers to rent his facility?

Can a vegan B & B proprietor tell meat eaters who rent a room that they cannot eat McNuggets on the premises?

Are any of these hypotheticals analogous to any others?

Setting an Example Through Funerals

I cannot recommend highly enough this article by Andrew Motyka, on programming a funeral liturgy in a way that is ACTUALLY appropriate and ACTUALLY likely to not raise the hackles of those who jerk their arthritic knees at the suggestion that campfire songs are not an acceptable accompaniment to the Unbloody Re-Presentation of the Sacrifice of Calvary.

(No, the fact that his efforts are very similar to the tack that I took in trying to reform funeral praxis at my former parish has nothing whatever to do with the approval with which  I speak of his methods.)
(Albeit with a LOT less cooperation from TPTB at my parish.)
(Not that I feel sorry for myself or anything.)
(Oh, and not just TPTB but the funeral choir, on whose good will I depended utterly if there was to be any chance at all of reform. The biggest battle may have been trying to replace "May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind...." with an English In Paradisum.)
(And this was not even an Irish-American parish.)
(Never was able to use Requiem aeternam instead of the Taize "Jesus Remember Me.")
(Okay, enough with the parenthetical statements.)

The Life of the Church?

Benedict made a surprise cameo at this weekend's ceremony ... and immediately raised questions about whether Benedict might occasionally be reintegrated back into the life of the church.
Does anyone at AP actually read what they write?

As if he, and indeed, everyone of us is not already and always part of the "life of the Church"?
Do they understand the concept of universality? or more important, prayer?

Of what do they think "the life of the Church" consists?
And do they think if they aren't reporting on something it isn't happening?

It's like those sad little people who complain that others aren't engaged in their own fetishized notion of "Effcap" because "if I can't see or hear you, you must not be engaged."

At least AP didn't add to the ludicrous conspiracy theories in which people who should know better are indulging.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

I just watched a few minutes of Secrets of the Vatican, and I am sick to my stomach.

Giving God His due, with minimum exertion

"Elements of the rite tend to be neglected and, in the end, disappear altogether, in direct proportion to the number of options by virtue of which they may be replaced or modified."

I shall call this Dom Mark's Law and I see evidence of the law's validity in realities in all spheres of life.

Although what he is discussing has become most familiar, to those of us with an interest in Liturgy and Liturgical music, as the Fearsome Fourth, the Anthrax in the Envelope,the alius cantus aptus, the GIRM's 4th option for accompanying the entrance, offertory and communion "processions."

I might insert, after "number of options," "which require less effort or thought" by the persons with responsibility for choosing among the options, but that's a minor quibble.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Humilty, and Me-mility

Yesterday in Sunday School, while discussing I can't remember what, I was moved to confess to my fifth-graders that I have an enormous head, and am full of myself and always think I'm the smartest person in the room... or at least I did.

So I disagreed with a lot of people, about a lot of things.
And there was a thing, or two, about which I simply disagreed with the Church. (I'm not talking about prudential matters.)

Well, about 20 years ago, and I don't know what occasioned this brain storm, but I somehow finally realized that over many decades, many centuries there were and had been many men and women, a whole lot wiser, and a whole lot more learned and a whole lot holier who thought differently from me, who thought with the mind of the Church.

And I realized that it was possible that they were right. Maybe probable that they were right.

Okay, they were right.

Which meant I was wrong.

And I decided that I could accept something without understanding it, I would accept it. I would simply surrender.
And I learned so much, and so many things became so much better for me, and easier for me, and more meaningful for me, and things in my life came together, and... but that's really not the point.

The point is, I need to listen to people who are wiser and more erudite and holier than I am.
And I try to.

What am I to make of this?

After having devoted nearly forty years to a worthy “reform of the reform”; after having taught and defended the Novus Ordo Missae to the best of my ability; after having composed — to a certain acclaim, even from a dean of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Liturgy — an entire monastic antiphonal in modal plainchant for the French liturgical texts; after having composed hundreds of plainchant settings for the Proper of the Mass in the vernacular; after having fought mightily for the restoration of the Proper Chants of the Mass; after having argued to the point of exhaustion for an intelligent obedience to the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani; after having poured myself out in lectures and in preaching to priests, seminarians, and religious, I am obliged to conclude that I could have better spent my time and my energy humbly carrying out the traditional liturgy such as I discovered it — and such as I so loved it — in the joy of my youth. I say this not with bitterness but with the seasoned resignation of a weary veteran lately come home from an honourable defeat in the liturgical Thirty Years War.

 (And this?)

Dom Mark made a powerful impression on me a few years ago.
I have to  think about all this.
No, I have to pray about it.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Overheard at Mass

Apparently, God forgives you for being so dang nosy.

"He pardons all your inquiries."

Saturday, 22 February 2014

A Last Glimpse...

Wasn't that somehow touching, when Benedict removed his ... is that called a zucchetto? ... when speaking to the Holy Father?

Missing Her, 2

Tomorrow is her birthday. Tomorrow was her birthday. Would have been. No, tomorrow is her birthday.
Chronos is an artificial construct, or rather, an indulgence of the Almighty Father so we don't get crazy confused.
Kairos is the reality.
I wish I could be alone all day tomorrow, not pained by the heedless nor pestered by the sympathetic.

But I can't.
Yet again, thanks You, Lord, for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
I don't remember where I found this, years ago, so I can't give credit, but it refers to Teresa of the Andes, the first Chilean saint, or rather, the first to be canonized.
From the cloister, Santa Teresa de Los Andes, writes to her grieving mother, "How I would have loved, mother dear, to be by your side to console and weep with you. But our souls met by the tabernacle" (LT 113).
More than simply being a pious thought to comfort her mother, the little Carmelite offers a deep insight into the mystery of the Eucharist. True, it is primarily Jesus Christ whom we encounter in the Most Holy Eucharist. But when we commune with the perfect Body of Christ in the Eucharist, we also have a communion with the entire Mystical Body of Christ, the Holy Church, with all of her  members, all Christians, in all places, in all times, who ever were or ever will be; not just with those members who, through accident of geography or chronology, happen to be physically present.


So here I am, paraphrasing Irving Belin as I drag my sorry carcass out of bed this morning, ("Someday, I'm going to murder my cell....phone...." doesn't have quite the ring to it though, does it?), and what is the first sight on the news?

Okay, my third, first was Sochi, second a Marina fire....

The Pope Emeritus at the Mass installing the new Cardinals.
This makes me almost as happy:
the crowd inside the basilica had been asked to refrain from applause during the ceremony

 I miss him.

(Please put down that cane and pick up that pen.)
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is greeted by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (R) as he arrives to attend a consistory ceremony in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican February 22, 2014. REUTERS/Max Rossi

Friday, 21 February 2014

"For 38 days, nothing mattered more than our love for...."

 ...their child. Their severely disabled, child.
Their severely disabled, dying, newborn child.

 But "in the midst of an ordinary life" where is that love?

This is a stunning, beautiful testament to the preciousness of a human life, whatever its "imperfections", and a wonderful reminder that the "easy" times can be the most difficult times to be our best selves.
For 38 days, nothing mattered more than our love for Silvan. Like any parents love-struck with their newborn, we stroked his skin, sniffed his loamy head and marveled at his starfish hands.

But unlike ordinary parents who hold hope for a future adult within their love for a child, Silvan as a newborn was all we had. Knowing our time was brief, we loved him fully in the present. He taught us how to do that. For all our rage and grief, joy overwhelmed us in his presence. For 38 days, Silvan was our life, and then, once he was gone, the habit of new love continued.

On a reverse sort of honeymoon, grief united us. Stripped of petty complaints, we felt grateful for everything, for waking to sunlight on the bed, for each other’s hands beneath the sheets. With the dark humor of comrades in suffering, we called any kind of parenthood other than what we had endured “parenting lite.” We had held our child until the end.
That kind of love can feel...  heroic, in a way the daily grind seldom does, and Monica Wesolowska, a lovely writer, captures both ends of that spectum.

Idle Curiosity About Someone's True Colors

Heard about the re-release of a movie, (in whose initial release I had no interest,) this morning and "What's Up Tiger Lily?" was referenced, and I recalled that I had always wondered, did the same Woody Allen who said colorizing Black and White movies without the explicit sanction of the original director was "sinful" and "immoral," receive permission from Senkichi Taniguchi to lay down the new soundtrack for that director's work?

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Man Whose Every Word Is Misrepresented Thinks 12,000 Word Interview A Good Idea

Eye of the Tiber is a new site to me, I'll be making it a regular stop, it's a "Catholish" Onion.

This parody from a few months ago may be a little too close to reality.
It was reported earlier this week that an outgoing Argentinian born man, whose every single word is misconstrued and misrepresented by friends in the media, has for some reason, resolved to give them an additional 12,000 more words to have fun with. “If you think about it, what’s the worst that could happen?”... At press time, the man has agreed upon an upcoming Mad Libs type interview with MSNBC, in which he would send the media outlet a dozen thousand word statement about Catholic moral teaching, with select words and sentences removed to allow easier room to misrepresent.
Well, the Holy Father does have bigger concerns than the MSM's misapprehension of, admittedly. virtually every statement he makes.

Oh, and you MUST read Unimaginative Priest Celebrates Themeless Mass, a headline I first misread as "Timeless Mass," thought it was a specific reference to what I have heard Trads call the "Mass of the Ages."

Eugene Kennedy is either shockingly ignorant, or deliberately misrepresenting the truth

Over at NCR  the ex-priest is spouting nonsense.
Even if his thesis were accurate, how can such foolish inaccuracy as this not cast doubt on the rest of what he says?:
That is why, for example, there [have] been ... new regulations to prevent laypeople from handling the sacred vessels while mandating them to bow to the priest [emphasis supplied] before receiving the Eucharist.

Seriously, which is it, is he meretricious or simply ignorant?

(And where is he attending Mass, that the average communicant isn't bowing to the Blessed Sacrament proffered by a middle-aged laywoman?)

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Camels, Shmamels...

The New York Times informs us that the Old Testament isn't reliable as a historic record.

 No! Say it ain't so!

Anyway, it is unlikely that there were domesticated camels in, say, Abraham's time.

Dr. [Noam Mizrahi, an Israeli biblical scholar] likened the practice to a historical account of medieval events that veers off to a description of “how people in the Middle Ages used semitrailers in order to transport goods from one European kingdom to another.
really tickled me.
Put me in mind of Drunk History's reenactment of the Aaron Burr-Alexander Hamilton duel.

The inebriate chronicler waxed mournful while describing Hamilton's tragic realization of his impending doom, and told us how the Founding Father had "called his wife, he called his family" to say good by.

True Confessions

I can never remember the rules for apostrophes and possessive pronouns.


Who's Your Grandaddy?

I think I have read this other places as well:
Pope Francis has meanwhile likened Benedict's presence to "having grandad in the house."
It seems odd that the Holy Father would so opine.
In what world does ones grandfather have only 11 years on one?

"No musicians, just singers...."

This is an interesting thread (no nastiness for a change, or smug sectarianism,) but in a comment the thrust of which I agree with, came this line
every parish should have under its belt a setting of the ordinary that it can sing without need of assistance from musicians.

No, no, no.
Please say,  "sing without need of assistance from instrumentalists." Or "without need of musical leadership," if that's what is meant.
Those who sing, be they choirs, pew-sitters, priests, cantors. whatever  - those who sing are musicians.
They are making music.
Priests, even tone-deaf ones must understand that they are obliged to produce music, they must be taught to understand that their singing THEIR parts, (dialogues, EP, etc.) recto tono if need be, is the sine qua non of a well-celebrated Mass With Music.

Terrifying Idea

As a liturgical musician and a catechist for children, my blood ran cold when I came across this idea for a "Catholic Elementary Religion Activity":
Following a lesson on the Mass, ask your students to plan the music for one of the parish's Sunday services. Arrange for the parish's liturgy coordinator to visit your class and give students tips on how to choose music appropriate for the season and type of celebration. Pass out hymnals and instruct students to choose hymns for the processional, presentation of gifts, communion, communion meditation and recessional. If you are teaching older elementary students who are sufficiently knowledgeable of the liturgy, have them select which versions of the Gloria, Alleluia, Lamb of God and Amen to use in the Mass. Invite parents to attend the service their children have prepared.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Missing Her...

It has not been a good week, or rather, it has been a good week, a great week for remembering R, and not just for the anniversaries that fall at this time of year, (retrospectives that mention the Holy Fathe- um.... the Pope Emeritus, have me welling up, too.)
(I almost bought three books of his on Abebooks the other night that I already have.)

The pleasure I take in something R. and I would have enjoyed together is like a dagger in the heart.

(Though, as I said, it is pleasure. I want to remember, I like remembering, even if it wracks me with sobs.)

How she would have thrilled to Piotr Bezcala's voice!
I don't think she ever had the opportunity to hear him. (And he a Pole!)
And an embarrassment of riches,  not just Rusalka in the theater, but Onegin on tv. I'd forgotten how glorious that full-throated opera sound can be, too much going for baroque in the past few years. :oP

And R was as much of a tenor groupie as I.
(Speaking of Rusalka, shouldn't she be played/directed as more of... well, say a zombie? instead of a Little Mermaid [in the Disney version] gushily romantic heroine? it made the Prince seem like not just a cad, but an idiot to complain of her lack of passion and strangeness. I digress.)

"The Met Live in HD" experience came far too close to the end of life, she should have been able to immerse herself in years of it.
I imagined last week she would have sat up and taken notice when that picture of Jonas Kaufmann advertising the new Werther appeared on the big screen, (she admired his Siegmund on television, although her contempt at the teeter-tottering Valkyries in the staging almost put an end to our viewing that afternoon.)

Isn't this a phrase? from a NYTimes article, Kaufmann's vocal effort:
comes across as rivetingly muscled rather than irritatingly strained.

"Rivetingly muscled."

Isn't that kinda what you want sometimes? Especially from a tenor.
Jonas Kaufmann should have played Valjean in the movie.

Instead of raising a glass to her memory, I think I'll go watch some Youtube of Bezcala in R.'s honor.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

I thought I was the only one....

... who couldn't remember the difference between "c and "ce." Photo: Only because I am never sure exactly what the difference is between C and CE.

But I believe "one" should use "his" when referring to his or her own possession, not "their," and I cannot risk the wrath of the Grammar Nazi today.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

News polls show a majority of American Roman Catholics believe Ice Cream Should Have No Calories... oh, and that...

...women should be allowed to become priests.

I'm not sure why a ceremony conducted in a United Church of Christ, by an Episcopalian minister is covered by a purported news organization as if it had anything to do with the Catholic Church, but they're kinda funny in Sarasota.

Do they bother to report on other individuals who leave one faith for another?
Or who otherwise ignore the tenets of their putative faith?
"It is widely reported that Jenna Q pewsitter slept in on Sunday."
"Local Baptist Man Fudges on Tax Return"

I'm tired of the "openness to divorced Catholics, openness to gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual people," meme.

The Church is open to all of them.
Also to drug addicts, cranky old ladies, felons, TV meteorlogists, serial twerkers,...

Oh, did I misunderstand?

You aren't interested in Her being "open," you don't care about being welcomed -- you want endorsement.

You want Mom's approval, not of yourself, but of your transgressions, whatever they may be.
You want Dad to say, not "Bring my finest robes, kill the fatted calf!" but, "No, son, you were right, what a fool I've been, I wish I had had the smarts to squander my money on dissolute living and gone through my property with loose women.
"Hey, I got an idea, grab your older brother and the three of us will hit the whorehouse."

Monday, 10 February 2014

Chate...Katachee.. Cateces....Oh, heck, education about God

Ah, yes, catechesis. God bless spellcheck.
When I was young we variously referred to it as Ratty-chasm, "chatty"-chism, catty-keester...

Did a lot of web-crawling today to find out if there isn't a better way. Adopt home-schooler's programs? Make one up as we go along?

When I joined this group of volunteers, I learned that the head of the program felt the textbooks, (fully compliant,) just existed as a CYA with the diocese, and that we teachers were really free to do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted.

Which is how you get teachers who make statements like, "the Bible readings are the real heart of the Mass."
(Oversight has improved.)

I have learned that my team teaching partner thinks I am teaching way over their heads.
But I remember throughout (almost,) my entire tenure as a faith formation student feeling bored, and worse insulted - and I was one of the few actually interested in the subject.
So I try to mix it up - if you teach only to the least prepared, most disinterested member of a class, those who might actually be able to get more out of the class end up wanting to shoot themselves.

But that's another matter, I'm sure I haven't found the right tone to reach everyone.

No, my real concern is...
Well, an example:
Yesterday, we were going to talk about Mary's role in salvation history and Valentines Day. (I will not say which of the two topics was my choice, and which the other fellow's....)

Teaching the Rosary was how the text chose to structure my portion of the day's festivities, (it was silent on the other.)

Fair enough.

But I learned it was pretty much impossible to talk about the events we refer to as the mysteries when half of the kids don't know the "stories."

I don't mean Mary visiting Elizabeth, or the proclamation of the Kingdom, or Mary receiving her crown... I mean, to take an actual example, an incident more basic to our Faith - Jesus dying on the cross.
Of course,  95% of them did not know the story of the Prodigal Son, (and I don't mean pretended not to know because they were bored, or disengaged - they were interested as I told it during our class about confession. They literally did not know it.)
Or that Moses had been given the Commandments by God.
(Or - and I'm sure you will fell I am making this up, Reader - how many of those pesky commandments there were.)

This is not a class of converts.
There are no ESL matters to be dealt with.
These are all children who made their First Communion three years ago, and some of them don't remember if they have received Communion since, much less if they have ever heard anyone read Gospel, (or Old Testament,) stories.
They don't seem to know anything.
I think this is connected with the (in my mind, troublesome,) three year lectionary cycle, but that's another matter, too.
(And since many of them virtually NEVER attend Mass, I must admit, the same Gospel being proclaimed every week would not make it any more familiar to them....)

I think it is to their great detriment that we neglect the extraordinary ability of children's minds to grab hold of and preserve knowledge, even without immediate.

Tell'em stuff!
Tell it to'em again!
And then repeat it!
They don't understand it?
That's no reason not to learn it.

They don't understand the Immaculate Conception? the Blessed Trinity? how grace "works"?
Guess what?
NEITHER DO I! Neither do the other teachers, or the pastor.
Neither does the Pope.
The great Truths of the Faith are also great mysteries, and we do grow in understanding of them, but understanding them fully is beyond human ken.

But for the love of God, (literally!) use the gifts children have, use the areas in which they far exceed us geezers, utilize their capacity to absorb information.

This doesn't all make much sense, does it...

I'm tired....

Saturday, 8 February 2014

"Mercy killing is such an ugly phrase...."

And so is "assisted suicide," apparently.
It's all about rebranding, huh?
Advocates of the practice, who shun the term “assisted suicide,” say they believe that as the generation that wants what it wants when it wants it and feels entitled to never be inconvenienced baby boomers watch frail parents make spoken or unspoken demands on their money emotions and time suffer, support for their movement will grow further.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Monday, 3 February 2014

Feast of the Presentation, "One of the Principal Feasts of the Church?"

Not everyone is on board with that sentiment.
I once told a visiting priest, in a confession after Mass, that I was glad SOMEBODY had bothered to look at the Ordo.
(Which was an unnecessary snark, but I've done penance for it since.)
(In fact, some of the penance actually involves the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which I am often uncertain as to my reception thereof, because I'm not actually given absolution in any form I recognize. Is it valid if the priest just "thinks" the words?)
Green vestments, penitential rite, sermon about everything other than the feast at hand, a number of jokes and asides...

On the other hand, the little boy in Sunday school assigned the role of Simeon projected, actually dropped to his knees as he proclaimed the nunc dimittis, and prayed and acted the stuffing out of it.

So all in all, a good day.

Now, Lord, You let Your servant take down her Christmas tree in peace....