Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Speaking of Words...

Thank you, Fr McDonald I now understand what is meant by "intimist" besides a genre of painting.

And I've actually experienced what the Holy Father meant applied to Marian spirituality, awful slavic folk hymns that, when translated, proved to be unsuitable for Christian use, (texts that basically described  how scary God is, and so urged asking Mary instead, you know, Mom'll be able to manage some kind of work-around.)

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

MoDo,a Little Pitchy?

It's nice to know that it is not just about matters ecclesiastic on which MoDo is wont to wax ignorant.

Right after pretty much admitting flat out that she knew literally nothing first hand about the presentations of the Metropolitan Opera before Peter Gelb's tenure, she proclaimed that they had been "musty" and "fusty".

Perhaps she just has an aversion to anything grand that is beyond her powers of understanding.

And has she become irony-impaired?
Peter Gelb still recalls the sting. “In second grade, my report card said I couldn't take criticism, and I remember being devastated by that.”
 Get it, Mo? 

He said that a teacher criticized him.... for not being able to take criticism..... and he couldn't take it.... you know, the criti--- oh, never mind.

(And yes, I know "pitchy" isn't a word, or rahter, didn't used to be, but there's nothing that we can do about it now.)

Funerals, the Dies Irae and Guilty Pleasures

I am, "behind the scenes," involved in the planning of several versions of Catholic funerary rites, in both cases the person with actual family authority knows nothing of the requirements and has enlisted my aid with the proviso that no one else knows I have been consulted.

In one case, to my great surprise, I learn that the decedent, a nun in the heady immediate post-VC II days would have wanted Gregorian chant, (I had always assumed she would have been a banjos and tambourine type,) indeed, the liturgical mess of the times may have played a part in her departure from the convent.
I had to explain to her godson that he might have a shot at getting the parish pastor and music director to agree to the propers in some form, but that the Dies Irae, which he was very keen on, was no longer an official part of the Mass, that some priests might allow it to be inserted as an Offertory chant.

In scouting hymn texts for one of the other liturgies I read through several older threads about funeral programming on the CMAA forum, and found a link to a wonderful "mediation on a lost treasure," that is, the Dies Irae, by a Mons. Pope.
Don't know how I missed it at the time, was that the year we actually moved? No matter.
Well worth the read.

I loved his point that yes, the poetry is about Judgment, but ultimately, even more so, it is about MERCY.

And then, apropos of nothing, except my local PBS station that broadcast a Live in HD From the Metropolitan Opera, or rather, broadcast all BUT THE LAST TEN MINUTES OF IT!!!!!!!! (Arghhh!) I was rooting around on Youtube and came across and listened to Jonas Kaufmann singing Ingemisco from the Verdi Requiem a time or two.

Or four.

A poster on another Kaufmann offering on Youtube refers to him as a "guilty pleasure," and I know what he means.
His technique seems so different from anything else I've ever heard or ever, really imagined as "good", his placement even within a single phrase so varied, the extravagance of his shifting of register to another -- can it be right?

But it is so effective. And his diction and the intensity and precision of his emotional expression is beyond compare.
Music aficionados often joke that the Manzoni Requiem was Verdi's "greatest opera."
Well, why not?  did he ever have a more superb libretto, or heartbreaking subject for any opera?

Maybe the most moving expression of penitence I've ever heard.
I groan as a guilty one,
and my face blushes with guilt;
spare the supplicant, O God.
You, who absolved Mary Magdalen,
and heard the prayer of the thief,
have given me hope, as well.
My prayers are not worthy,
but show mercy, O benevolent one,
lest I burn forever in fire.
Give me a place among the sheep,
and separate me from the goats,
placing me on your right hand. 
Is it illegal to use a prescription medicine that was given to someone else?

Not talking about a controlled substance here, and I know one is "not supposed to," but is it actually illegal?

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Kiss Day

I always find out about these things too late...

I'll be lying in bed drifting off to sleep and suddenly, I sit bolt upright, "Drat! I forgot to talk like a pirate today!"
Or last Sunday, "Wait, I didn't know there even WAS such a thing as national Ice Cream Day! Yeah, I had some, but... was it enough?"

Anyway, who know that the last day of the Colloquium this year was "World Kiss Day"?

I hereby apologize to everyone I failed to kiss.

Hmmmm... maybe that's only in the EF, or in the Anglican Use.

Wonder what the propers are....

"Not Our Children, Not Our Problem"

What an ugly thing to say, what an ugly way to feel.

But did anyone say it?

USCatholic has a piece about the anti-anti-immigrant backlash backlash..... I think I have that permutation  right.

And yes, there is some real hatred being expressed, some real denial of human dignity in the debate.

Anne Coulter's tweets in particular, as singled out in the USCatholic editorial... except, actually, the tweets retaliating against her tweets are uglier still.

But USCatholic references,
We've even seen protesters use the slogan "Not our children, not our problem."
and links to an opinion piece in the Miami Herald that says
When demonstrators in California recently turned around busloads of the kids being brought to a processing center, one woman was holding a sign that said “Not Our Children, Not Our Problem.”
Horrifying, such naked contempt for fellow human beings, and children, no less, huh?
I was looking for a photo, but the photo accompanying the Herald column was of something else.
So I did a Google Image search for such a sign and came up empty.
So I searched for the phrase in the news.

Dr Jane Aronson at HuffPo rightly finds such a sentiment, which she uses to title her post, chilling, but attributes it to a different source:
 a sign that was photographed outside a holding center in Texas ... The sign was held by an American citizen who is threatened and afraid of a community from afar.
So everyone agrees it's awful, and would be a real indictment of the people protesting the porousness of our borders -- if it is true.

But is it?
In a society that creates and publishes photographic records of every pimple and twitch, isn't it odd that this sign cited by multiple news outlets doesn't seem to have been captured in pixels?
So it's all just, someone said that someone said that someone... you get the idea.

Is it like the anonymous voice in the crowd threatening candidate Obama with violence or the anti-war protestors spitting on returning servicemen... something we want to claim is emblematic of a time and an atitude that just didn't happen to happen?
Why let facts get in the way of a good argument....

I have to be honest, a combox mentioned hearing someone chant "not our children, not our problem," (not a sign,) on the Rachel Maddow Show, but I'm having trouble with javascript, so there may be evidence on Youtube that I just can't see.

(And speaking of "phony, grandstanding, Bible-toting hypocrites", could Catholic news media please stop giving Anne Coulter publicity, and holding her up as some kind of model Catholic? I'm sure she's done some wonderful, Christian things, but her... liabilities should disqualify her.)

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/17/4241587/why-washington-wont-solve-the.html#storylink=cpy

Who was the Pope's audience? Does it matter?

I read in Zenit that the Holy Father was addressing diocesan priests when he said,
"Bishops must give an example of unity, "  reminding the priests that was what Jesus had asked of His Father for the Church.
“This cannot be done speaking badly about each other. The unity of bishops is important to the unity of the Church”, he said, adding that the devil revels in and profits from internal conflict.
“The bishops must be in agreement in unity, but not in uniformity. Each one has his charisma; each one has his way of thinking and his point of view.” Though he admitted at times this is the result of mistakes, often it is the result of the Spirit.
“A unity in diversity,” is what’s needed, “in which no-one loses his own personality.”
I read on Eponymous Flower, a self-described "polemical Catholic Royalist blog,"
Pope Francis asked the Evangelicals and Pentecostals for forgiveness for the "assault and slander" that were committed by Catholics.  Literally, the Catholic Church's leader said: "Among those who are members of the Pentecostals were prosecuted or convicted, as if they were madmen who would destroy mankind, were also Catholics." Next, the Pope said: "I am the shepherd of the Catholics, and therefore ask you for forgiveness for those Catholic brothers and sisters who were possessed by the devil and did not understand anything."....
It is "a temptation to say: I am the Church, you are the sect. Jesus prayed for unity. The Holy Spirit creates diversity in the Church. He makes the differences. But then Holy Spirit makes the same unity and the church is one in diversity. A diversity reconciled through the Holy Spirit," said Pope Francis according to Lettera43.
What is Lettera43? (An Italian newspaper, but i can't work out exactly what sort, reputable?)
Eponymous Flower uses more actually-enclosed-in-quotation-marks-phrases than other reports that I have read of what the Pope said.
I assume they are well informed and trustworthy?
(Although there is this continuing problem of diverse sources reporting on diverse matters of  diverse opinions of the Pope of diverse degrees of authority -- none of which can be corrected! My mind drifts back to Eye of the Tiber too, too often when reading about our Holy Father.)

I imagine he did use the same phrase in those two different contexts... do you suppose there are shades of meaning for him?
Does he see the fractioning of the Body of Christ as the ultimate scandal?
Or does he think the Holy Spirit is responsible for the  twenty to thirty-some THOUSAND different Christian denominations?
Do the differences just boil down to practices? not to competing claims of Truth?
I cannot wrap my mind around this.

I would be satisfied for now to know what "agnosticism that has entered into the Church in groups of intimist piety” refers to.

What is "intimist piety?

Unity in Diversity?

Not sure what any of this means.
"Among those who persecuted and denounced Pentecostals, almost as if they were crazy people trying to ruin the race, there were also Catholics," [Pope Francis said on a visit to a Pentecostalist Church,] "I am the pastor of Catholics, and I ask your forgiveness for those Catholic brothers and sisters who didn't know and were tempted by the devil."

Was this a specifically Italian thing? Haven't found much about it online so far.

I do think history demonstrates all too clearly that when one religion makes accommodations with an opressive state to protect itself, it almost invariably ends up joining in the oppression directed at others.
Speaking to some 350 Pentecostal faithful in the church, Francis ....stressed that there was unity in diversity within Christianity.
 Yes, but in what way? There is unity in diversity within the human race, but what does this mean in the context of the Faith? what does it mean FOR the Faith?
In a statement earlier this month ..., several Italian evangelical groups met in the same city and stressed the "incompatibility" of their beliefs with that of the Catholic Church and its pope.
So I would have thought.

How has Francis's approach to unity in diversity worked out?
The popular, charismatic movements have drained parishioners from the Catholic Church, particularly in Francis' own Latin America.
Exciting, exciting times in which to live.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Liturgical Ministers Training?

Honest, it may seem like it, but I am not picking on Praytell and its writers.
I wasn't reading them for a while, it seemed so boilerplate WeAreNoArticlesPleaseChurch, and their lionization of certain persons and unfair silencing of others was a bore.

But I am very grateful to them for the links to various occurrences at the NPM convention, and have been dropping in there a bit more often.

Anyway, this reference isn't even a criticism, it's more of a lament -- someone asked what kind of training people did for "liturgical ministers."

My parish?

Clearly -- NONE.

The lay readers, (who strangely, are full of advice,) are about 50% incompetent in one way or the other, (projection, diction, preparation, cursory knowledge of the order of Mass, careless and casual posture and liturgical gesture.)

The Extraordinary Ministers are a mixed bag. One once asked me to grab a paper towel and swab out the ciborium to "make sure there were no crumbs left."

They do have, as is usual, among the lost little children serving  as servers, two older gentlemen who approach and accomplish their office, I would almost say, perfectly.

Every parish I have ever known has one or two such.

I have never understood, why are they not asked to train the children? Why is it left to a harried priest or an ignorant DRE?


The Praytell blog  linked to Art in the Sanctuary, a site dedicated to Better Than Burlap Banners  the design and rigging of temporary liturgical art.

With pulp missals meant to be thrown away, and music in styles of the moment which will embarrass your children, why ever would you want art other than the ephemeral?

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Seeking a Decree of Nullity

There's some jawing back and forth, (I know on line it's not literally jawing, but it just seems the right word -- there's an old joke, or line from some writer about the Chicago alderman who would lie that he had a ham sandwich for lunch when he really had tuna, just to keep in practice -- I think comboxes attract people who love to say things like, I didn't imply, YOU INFERRED! or maybe, you should have said "some" if you didn't mean to imply "all"!!!!, so that even if only your fingers come into play on those comments, you're "jawing,")  on the subject of , (yeah, I know that's not what they are, really,) annulments over at Fr Z's.

The subject, improving my life as immensely as it has, is of great interest to me.

But THIS comment, after another poster had linked to a tribunal form gave me pause.
are you aware that if you have completed that form, by providing a link to it here you have violated the sworn oath not to reveal the questions?
The questions?
Winesses are generally sworn to secrecy about the questions? I followed the link, and it does indeed require secrecy regarding the questions.

I don't remember any such undertaking in Himself's case not to divulge details, in fact I am fairly certain that he was encouraged by his advocate to share with anyone who might help in recall of facts.

And since that time we have shared quite a bit of the process several times, in counseling other people to seek decrees, and in praising the process in general.

Perhaps different tribunals have different rules?


According to one online dictionary, the most queried after word over the past 24 hours is "intercalate."

Wonder why?

(I was on the page for my yearly reminder of what "ontology" and "teleology" mean, which I forget and confuse for no other reason than that I first learned them both at about the same time. Kind of the way everyone who had this ,or one like it, in her Latin book...

...has trouble remembering which word is for "arm" and which for "branch.")

The Ghost in the Machine?

No, not some dualistic view of soul and body, but an actual machine acting as if... what? it had a spiritual side?

Printing, or at least trying to print a largish, (in denomination, not size or number of pixels, if indeed pixels is how a pdf is measured, I haven't the foggiest,) coupon.

My computer begins singing, or rather shrieking, a high-pitched moan I had never heard before, and instead of the expected coupon, out comes something by Blessed Columba Marmion, which I had read or at least skimmed a few weeks or so online, which I was not now, (not sure I need to but I turn off wi-fi when I'm not using it,) but had not tried to print, or even save, so far as I know.

I guess the universe wants me to read it.

Or the blessed man himself?

(They hate us though, computers, doncha think? or at least remind us they think they are better than we are.....)

What does "botched" mean?

Headlines again today, "Another Botched Execution," this time in Arizona.



How can you call it botched when your intent was to kill a man and make him suffer because he killed people and made people suffer?

Didn't it happen just the way you... just the way we, since you insist in making your citizenry complicit in these state sanctioned killings -- just the way we wanted it to?


Lord, have mercy on us.

Lord, grant Joseph Rudolph Wood II peace.

Lord, grant his victims peace.

Lord, grant their families peace.

But again, Lord, have mercy on us.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Lying With the Truth

Selective, out-of-context quoting in order to make it seem as if someone said almost the exact opposite of what he actually said is a method espoused by the slantyest of slanty communicators, (a technique that will henceforth be known as the "'You Didn't Build That' Ploy," or alternatively the "'Women Are Helpless Without Their Sugar Uncle' Gambit.")

A Catholic Bishop, inexplicably said that he does not identify with those glum people praying the Rosary outside of abortion mills.

Or did he?

Rather than criticizing the pro-life activists, was he actually criticizing the secular media that, in the visual equivalent of selective out-of-context quoting, shows pro-life activists in an unattractive light deliberately so that viewers will not identify with them?

"On that occasion I said we should be careful, especially with television, in which only images are used that help to support personal theories. I gave as an example those that focus on the most inexpressive faces of [persons] praying the Rosary against abortion in front of clinics."

Grief and Numbers and Familiarity, and the Virtue of Hope

It is a truism that we are often more moved by one death than by many, that thousands of children dying half a world away somehow haven't the power touch us the way the story of a single child in the local paper.

There is a quote often attributed to Stalin, "One dead man is a tragedy, a million are just a statistic," (when, in consideration of the source,  it seems chillingly evil.)
But that is really an aphorism extracted from a more thoughtful, longer quote from Erich Maria Remarque’s The Black Obelisk that speaks to the human inability, sometimes, to grapple with too enormous realities.
It’s strange, I think, all of us have seen so many dead in the war and we know that over two million of us fell uselessly–why, then, are we so excited about a single man, when we have practically forgotten the two million already? But probably the reason is that one dead man is death–and two million are only a statistic.
And it almost goes without saying that that which is "closer to home," whether literally or figuratively, is more affecting --  as a rule.

But what of the heart and mind that begin to work in the opposite way?

What does it say when one is moved to tears, over and over and over and over, night after night, all throughout the day, by the tragedies piling up all around the world, the wars and threats of war, the sudden deaths and the inexorable dying, and not manage more than a perfunctory platitude and a prayer for someone one actually knows?

Is it that, having borne, having survived a grief one felt would nearly kill one, almost all deaths can be countenanced with equanimity, can be contemplated with the hope that is born of genuine faith in Christ?

Or is it really some kind of riff on Lear's outrage that "a dog, a horse, a rat [should] have life,. And thou no breath at all?" and a sort of cynical, (and sinful,) refusal to summon up any hope at all?

Oh, no, God, You're not going to trick me into asking for something again....

Is that it?

The Admonitions of St Francis

These are not something I had known of before,  the Irish Franciscans have a lovely page of the saint's spiritual writings.

How much lovelier and more eloquent is this than the prayer of more recent origin often inaccurately attributed to him.
Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.
Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor disturbance.
Where there is poverty with joy, there is neither covetousness nor avarice.
Where there is inner peace and meditation, there is neither anxiousness nor dissipation.
Where there is fear of the Lord to guard the house, there the enemy cannot gain entry.
Where there is mercy and discernment, there is neither excess nor hardness of heart.

“It was the first day of the Feast of Thin Bread”

Over at Corpus Christi Watershed, Fr. David Friel has a good article enumerating just is wrong with Children's Liturgy of the Word, and the Lectionary for Masses with Children, and their use (and as far as I am concerned, what is wrong with the Directory for Masses with Children all the hoopla that has proceeded from it .)

At my old parish, his first one, The corny send-off rituals & banal music that accompany the children’s exit,  was the only one I had any control over, and I did take care of it right away, replacing the circus-worthy ditty that nobody sang anyway, with  a hymn about gathering for the Word, which actually, (oh, horrors!!!!!!) referenced the Fear of the Lord.

But seriously, to make my point I have only ever needed to ask this:

Has ANYONE, in the entire history of our country ever been so stupid as to think thought that kindergartners, or even pre-schoolers needed to be taught to say,

"I promise, honest! to always be on the same side as my 
country's flag and to my county, which has a fair way of 
deciding things, one place that can't come apart, where 
everybody can pretty much do what they want within reason, 
and we all get a square deal,"



We teach them,

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of 
America and to the Republic for which it stands, one 
nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

(I left out "under God" since it was an addition, AFAIK, and so that you would know this is me being curmudgeonly, and hasn't really anything to do with religion )

Although they have no idea whatever of the meaning of "allegiance," for instance, we teach them the pledge as it is, and they learn the words by heart, (in every sense of the word, hopefully,) and eventually come to understand them, (also, now that I think of it, hopefully.)

Feast of Thin Bread.... sheesh. Could have been worse, could have been "Crispy Bread Holiday," I guess.

Does this "count"?

I'm not proud of this, but I've never been a real stickler about arriving to Mass on time  when I am a member of the congregation.

I suppose this might have something to do with growing up in an enormous household with multiple Church obligations, and multiple parishes attended, with seemingly infinite permutations of who needed to be at which church in which capacity for which Mass time and would ride in which car driven by which parent or maiden aunt (since we had only a single car when there were twelve of us.)

So yeah, except for servers, being late was not all that unusual an occurrence. And we, or at least I, acquired a little bit of the, "did we get here in time for this Mass to count?" sensibility.

(Now that I think of it, we kids, when we were old enough and near enough to walk to church on our own must have made this up ourselves, as my parents would NEVER.) (I mean NEVER.)

Such a mindset is alive and well, as we see we see in a letter to Zenit wondering, when it comes down to it, when blessings "count."

Catholics, ya gotta love'm.

(As if God cannot impart His graces wherever and whenever and however He will....)

(I realize that sounds heretical for someone who someone who adheres to a sacramental theology, but I don't think the two ideas are incompatible. Christ does assure us that with proper form, matter and intent  grace will be extended to us in certain ways, but that in no way prevents Him from thinking, or rather operating outside the box and doing so even, or maybe especially when we and our actions are wanting in some way.)

Politics and Principles and... Schadenfreude?

That's not quite the word I want, but cannot come up with another.
I suppose that's the reason schadenfreude has gained currency in English, we have no equivalent, can't even  think of a near equivalent phrase that requires fewer than five words.

In any case, I am thinking I may need to stop reading any political news for the next EVER.

A headline that greeted me in my inbox concerning a serious and seemingly very blatant ethics violation from a politician whose stances I share on many issues but whose position on one great matter I consider little short of diabolical.

I was glad...

Now, morally it is possible to feel relief that there is less chance of what one sees as a great evil befalling people, or that there is a greater chance of some great good coming to pass, but that wasn't what I felt.

I was glad.

This cannot be good.

Because I'm not sure if what I feel are principled attitudes -- does one side on an issue seem right and good to me because it logically follows from my take on other issues, is it consistent with fundamentals I've already embraced?
Or is it toeing the party line?

I mean that only figuratively, because I have no party, and therefore no party line, (full disclosure, I am nevertheless registered in one party.)

But you know what I mean, because I agreed with someone or group before, I'll agree with them on this matter, as well, EVEN IF IT CONTRADICTS THE PUTATIVE PRINCIPLES ON WHICH THE PREVIOUS POSITION WAS REACHED.

I see this much more often than I thought I would, I'm 100% for states rights (although I want the Feds to strike down any state's more liberal marijuana laws,) or from the other side, I'm 100% for states rights (although I want the Feds to strike down any state's more conservative marriage laws.)
People choose up sides the way they usually choose up sides, regardless of the merit of an individual argument.

One certainly sees this in the Church, even in cases where I would not have thought there was any "political" divide.

Seriously, don't you often hear something and think, Well yeah, who's gonna argue with THAT?

And  the answer turn out to be, Lots of people.

I was shocked, --  really, genuinely shocked that when a well-known reporter engaged in ugly commentary about a member of the, a bias against whom he had consistently displayed, and was suspended from his news organization for this clear lack of charity, (and, perhaps more important in a media outlet, lack of objectivity,) virtually the entire commentariat at a similarly minded magazine from another country thought the little weasel had been unfairly dealt with.


Now you see my bias.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

I don't think male transgender job seekers would need to fear prejudice aginst them by Human Resources departments...

.... if instead of being flamboyant caricatures of hyper- feminine dress and appearance, they all dressed like this:
 Maggie Gyllenhaal, "Very Good Girls" premiere

"Some have said...."

I believe I recall that "some have said," is considered the weaselyist of weasel words, the easy way to say what you want said without taking responsibility for your saying it.

The most read (to my knowledge,) presbyteral blogger,  with the use of selective boldening, emboldens his readers to believe, (because you couldn't put it on the interwebs if it weren't true,) that a qurater o all illegal aliens in the current surge have criminal records, by giving the impression that the Lt. Gov of Texas said that a quarter of all the illegal aliens flooding his states border are criminals, because the headline on Breitbart, IN SO MANY WORDS, says, "Dewhurst: One-Fourth of Illegals Apprehended at Border Have Criminal Records", despite the post itself actually reporting that what the state official quoted said was only, "We've seen estimates that at least a quarter of those apprehended have criminal records."

Got that?

We've. Seen. Estimates.

So, plenty of weaseling all around.

Heck, I could say anything, and then you could report that I'd said it as if it were, I dunno... some kind of news? Instead of presenting actual news, which would require actual, you know... facts.

Some have said....
francis urquhart has an eye on you -  ... but I couldn't possibly.

Personally, I think the Cavuto is the most weaselicious bit of phraseology, asking a question so you can put something out there as a fact.

As in,

What are ya gonna say to that other than "yes...."?

No, actually all tigers do NOT have stripes....

... and it can kill them.

A writer on a group blog, Women in Theology, responded to criticisms of her criticism of  Eve Tushnet's interview which apparently maintains that a lesbian can be a faithful, celibate Catholic without "repressing" her sexuality, (I haven't read the interview yet.)

The woman on WIT uses a witless (see what I did there?) syllogism containing the premise that "all tigers have stripes."

Unless this is urban legend, at least one Bengal tiger was famously deprived of his stripes, and it was the death of him.

And there are other reports of non-striped tigers.

This may or may not be relevant to her greater point about what it means to be "gay," but it at least points out that absolutes are too often absolutely wrong, and I thought it was funny that the author used it, shortly after I had heard an argument about Beastmaster. (My brothers can argue about anything.)

Amusingly, well, to me anyway, Marc Singer's fantastic pecs not withstanding, he is a fine, classically trained actor.
I did a show once with an actor of some Hollywood fame, and the night before we began rehearsals, or dress rehearsal, or something, a local station broadcast, (yes, children, in those days....) a re-run of an old made-for-tv movie in which he and Singer played struggling actors who made ends meet by becoming strippers, and then had to fight their way back to respectability.

I hope Marc Singer is as good a sport when he is teased about Beastmaster as Gregory Harrison was about this.
Gregory Harrison shirtless Fresno

Okay, that photo is Harrison in an entirely different role, but I couldn't resist.
 He really was a terrific sport, and a great guy.


(And though I haven't actually seen Magic Mike, and have no intention of ever doing so, I can't imagine either Tatum or McConaughey, whichever one plays Mike, being more magical that Harrison who was, and probably still is, breathtakingly handsome in person. And his stripper movie having been made in the early '80s for broadcast tv, it was probably mild enough to merit a G rating in today's market, so I have no qualms about posting pictures from it.)

Gay and Catholic

I think this piece at the slanty USCatholic is well worth your read.

I don't like the dichotomy that the author sets up between "creed" and "catechism," and I don't like that in the heirarchy of what he says he gains from his membership in the Body of Christ he seems to value , (with the wphrase, "most of all,") what amounts to fellowship over the Real Presence, but I do like that for once a gay Catholic leaves the issue of sinful activity out of it.

Is he active or not? don't know, don't care, in this context it is irrelevant.

He speaks of "deciding what are the battles you’re willing to fight with it and what are the battles you’re willing to fight with yourself," and in charity how can we assume other than that one of those battles with himself is for winning the prize of chastity?
You can present as gay without presenting as sinning.
Some people object to this analogy, but I would compare it to not hiding the fact that yes, I'm an alcoholic, and no, I'm sober.

Or in my case, yes, I'm bitchy, and I'm working hard to keep my mouth shut.

We don't have to get into the yes, important, but sometimes over-emphasized matter of scandal. (Flamboyance has it's price. I have learned that in matters that have nothing whatever to do with sexuality, see above.)

What IS relevant is that he is reminding the Church, that's all of us, of the loving inclusivity of PERSONS, not beliefs, not actions but persons, ALL persons, that is demanded of us.


Active Love.
I’m a sinner just like everyone else at my parish, but my sin isn’t my homosexuality. The sinfulness of my being gay is that it tempted me, allowed me—encouraged me, really—to think that I was somehow set off from the rest of society, that I wasn’t really part of the world. The sin of my homosexuality is that it led me to believe lies—deadly, soul-killing lies—a sin for which I am indeed heartily sorry. But by the grace of God I’ve forgiven the people who told me those lies, and I’ve forgiven myself for believing them.
Incidentally, I lived ofr a time in a socially ultra-conservative small  town, attending exactly the sort of parish you'd expect in such a place, where one of the daily Mass-goers was a charming man who wore very heavy eye-liner.
He was much beloved by the rest of the daily Mass community, (often a tighter, more close-knit "community," than the rest of a parish could ever dream of being,)  despite the fact, as he told it to me, that they tut-tutted a bit at one of his greatest joys -- zooming  around town on his Harley in "pony-skin a***less chaps."

I never saw it, must have been quite a sight with his waist-length blond hair.

Now that I think of it, he might have looked a bit elfin... elven?

Mentioning Travel in Ireland Reminded Me....

 Talking about the carrot that I dangle in front of Himself, of traveling back to the Celitsh Isles, has conjured up all sorts of  wonderful and wondrous memories.

I am a big fan of the, yeah it's just a bench outside a convenience store in a small blue collar town, but it's a bench outside a convenience store in a small blue collar town in [insert name of foreign place here] ! ! ! ! ! style of travel.

I've never enjoyed any other cheese sandwich one one hundredth as much as the chunk of stilton I jammed into a potato farl from a Safeway in Fort William, Scotland.

There was never a donut or brownie tasted one millionth as fine as the caramel square from the Bewley's I spied, purchased and ate while waiting at a bus stop near the Rock of Cashel.

A use book store in Carlisle, England? one of the top ten shopping expeditions of my life!

We didn't and won't do much in the way of organized tours or touristy things.

Cahir Castle is of much more interest than Bunratty.

BUT.... if you find yourself anywhere near the center of Ireland, you'd be a fool not to go to Clonmacnoise, if for no other reason than to learn yet another contradictory pronunciation of the the dang place, and the best way I can imagine is with Paddy as your guide. Lonely Planet suggests him, but we just lucked into him, (this is years ago, so delighted he's still active,) on advice from the most gracious of hosts at a B & B.

Off season, so it was just the two of us in Paddy's minivan, and it was a highlight of an already pretty elevated experience, he is fascinating and charming and passionately knowledgeable about his country's history.

Don't have plans, just go wherever and do whatever he suggests - you will not be sorry.

Millionaire Who Made a Difference in My Life

I didn't know his name, but Karl Albrecht, who has died made it possible for me to survive some very difficult economic times comfortably, (you think church musicians lead a financially perilous life? try acting....)

Odd, I had somewhere gotten the impression the Albrecht brothers were Swiss... perhaps like an American abroad on a sitcom I saw last week who allowed people to think he was Canadian, it was an impression encouraged at some point? (I watch too much TV.)

I am a great fan of Aldi stores.
I will freely admit, part, if not all, of my situational impecuniousness, (I'm sorry, I'm not begin pretentious, I learned the word in first year Latin and have loved it ever since,) stems from an extreme aversion to labor, and so, some minimum wage jobs here and there not withstanding, my first inclination has always been to lower expense, not raise exertion.

Thrift actually became a more vital endeavor after marriage, as Himself, despite having experienced far more dire episodes of genuine, where-am-I-going-to-sleep-tonight thespian poverty, had the sort of mind that not only is repelled by math, but has trouble remembering that if one buys an item for 69 cents instead of for a $1.19, one will have be left with two more quarters in ones pocket.

Is that a guy thing?

It took a long time for us to come to some sort of understanding on the difference between Wants and Needs.
But since one of our ambitions is to return to Ireland one day for another ramlbing, spontaneous journey, I could always try, usually with success, you could save ten bucks, is it really worth the cost of a shot of Kilbeggan in Cahir?

A gallon of milk for a dollar less, five pounds of flour at half the price, canned goods for far less than even the BOGO sales nearby.... it really adds up.
And as I said, there's no privation involved,  finding Aldi allowed us to live comfortably, dine luxuriously, to tell the truth, enjoy guilt-free treats - Swiss chocolates? authentic Irish sausage? chips that I think rival Terras?

I have a terrific Le Creuset style braiser that did NOT cost a month's health insurance paryment.

I've never understood why more people don't shop at Aldi, or Sav-a-lot, or even Trader Joe's, if Whole Paychecks is your alternative.

As for me and my house, we will save a buck.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Upending Custom... That Had Upended Custom and LAW

I know too many Catholic who suffered as members of the "Church of Rochester" not to be gladdened by this.
In an extensive interview, Bishop Salvatore Matano said he has been confronting the issue [of illicit preaching] on a case-by-case basis since his installation in January and is now drafting guidelines to clarify that homilies are reserved for ordained priests and deacons, as prescribed by canon law. 
"It is not a policy shift as regards to the universal law of the church," Matano said. "I am trying to help the faithful understand what is the universal law of the church and how important it is that in the celebration of Mass, we do what the church asks of us." 
The reversal is perhaps the starkest example yet of the contrasting stewardship of Matano with his predecessor, Bishop Matthew Clark, under whom the diocese earned a reputation as...
... as what exactly?
The secular newspaper says, "liberal," but you may have your own description.
I know I do...

Matano is diplomatic, to say the least, attributing to years of flouting Church law to a "misinterpretation."

Rogue Headline Writers?

An odd little piece in an Ohio Catholic publication about NPM and changing tastes, and a renewed interest in singing the actual texts of the Mass -- wherein, although the phrase does not appear in the article as written, nor does the word "clock," nor even "turn," for that matter,  someone has chosen to give one section the header, "Turning back the clock?"

These fossilized attitudes are what we have to work against.

Talk about "accretions that have crept into the liturgy," and need to be removed....

But we've always done it this way! Forever!!! For, like, at least 35 years, you guys!!!!!!

"Gone To Chicago"

I often, for some reason, don't know, done it my whole life, don't like to trying to explain where some obscure place is, so instead of making it part of the explanation, I just use the name of whatever is nearb and might be known.

Last month,  Himself and I told our cohorts in ministry, some staff, and the nursing home congregation that we'd see'em in a few weeks, we were heading for Chicago.

We did not know, when we told them this, that "going to Chicago" was the nursing home residents' euphemism for "dying."

It caused some unnecessary consternation.

When we returned from the Colloquium, etc., I found someone I had often cajoled into conversation, and visited with, had gone to Chicago.

She was a tiny, feisty woman,often  mean as a snake, who was constantly wishing her fate on EMTs who helped her, threatening and taking swings at people, and loudly complaining that the food was lousy and they never fed her anyway, (it isn't and they do.)

She was cranky, but never outright mean to me, the worst she did was yell, "Too much damn Jesus for me!" one day while I was reading the Epistle and storm, or rather, wheel out.

Understandable, since she was Jewish, (though she knew it was a Communion service when she had asked to come, whihc she did often -- anything to relieve the killing boredom, I imagine.)

But nature abhors a vacuum, and the universe has sent a replacement who is more than her equal -- and a biter besides.

We all have all of that in us.

And we'll all go to Chicago one day.

It is a great gift that I was asked to help out with this ministry. It has been a source of great healing for me.

What Is Happening With NPM

Note the lack of punctuation....... should there be a question mark?

There had been a long dormant thread on the CMAA boards about the possibility of a booth at the NPM.

I should say up front I have never belonged to the organization.
I don't know when it began to exist in any meaningful way, but it was not on my radar when I was first a liturgical associate  -- you see, I was a Cradle Church musician the way some are themselves Cradle Catholics.
I have since become intentional, (as a Church Musician, Catholicism I latched on to deliberately very early.)

I have never attended any national events, but have been to plenty of regional and local ones, as well as to events held by publishers who are, for all intents and purposes, wings of NPM, and I have profited from this attendance, and learned a great deal.

The first time I attended an overnight musicians' gathering, the type most likely to yield fellowship with real heart-to-heart talks, (like sleep-away camp ;oP) I made two good friends, one of whom, after NPM was mentioned in passing during some session was adamantly anti- them and felt compelled to take me aside privately and explain why - reasons with which I heartily concurred; and the other of whom was a regional mucky-muck of some sort in the NPM and felt compelled to take me aside and tell me, while actually affirming the complaints made by the other friend, why I ought to join, for reasons with which I heartily concurred.

The point being, IME all Right Thinking Catholic Musicians acknowledge the faults of problems with NPM and the wrong-headed nonsense they have both perpetrated and promulgated liturgical missteps they have made and the occasional contempt expressed toward those to whom they owe respect and obedience as well as heresies expounded unhelpful ideas impefectly stated  in their keynote addresses and break-out sessions -- but they differ on whether the good outweighs the bad.

And the contributors to the thread linked above, which revived about the time of the NPM national hoo-har are no exception to this, they are divided on the topic.

But is it same old same old?
(Many thanks to Praytell for making much of it available to those of us not in attendance)

What do we see?

Primary Sources!
A priest affirming actual Church teaching, in the face of... well, let me just quote:
Fr. John Foley, SJ.... talked about what sacrifice means. A woman piped up, saying that she thought we'd moved beyond all that, and that for years we've said "celebrate Eucharist," since all of that "sacrifice" stuff is pre-Vatican II. Fr. Foley softly replied, "No, I'm sorry. The Church has never changed its teaching. The mass is the unbloody sacrifice of calvary." Then he talked about why Christ's resurrection is necessary for salvation, in order to put him outside the realms of time, so that the sacrifice is "once and for all," yet happens each time we have mass. The same woman spoke up again: "What do you think about these new Eucharistic communities? They might or might not have a priest, but they just gather and HAVE Eucharist." Fr. Foley replied "Well, they certainly aren't licit, and without a priest, all you have there is a host, not the body of Jesus." She said "Well, it is becoming a big movement!" To which Fr. Foley replied "So is protestantism."

No question, things are changing for the better., this was all very welcome news to me, and very interesting, but then I came across some other news.

Now, it's no use, I've tried and tried, some times no matter how many times you hit the back arrow, or press control/shift/t, you cannot retrace your steps on the internet, you can't figure out why or how you ended up on a page, what link or thought you were following, (that's happened several times recetnly to me with shocking results, but I'll get back to that.)

Anyway, perhaps while looking to find out who the new president of NPM was, as mentioned on the CMAA forum thread, I found myself on a blog by a song-writer for whose output I can't say have much time, or respect.
And I think I've mentioned, I've been a bit disconnected over the past nearly two years, and I've missed a lot of what was going on.
So this is old news, but what he had to say, as well as his no-bones-about-it public take on it was actually kind of shocking to me:
[A newspsper article] tells the details of [NPM's previous president] firing from his post as a parish music director in the Diocese of Arlington (Va.), an event that preceded his departure from NPM, as a result of his having married [his same-sex partner.]. While one must be careful about jumping to conclusions in events that involve complex realities, relationships, and theological issues, I am certain that it is safe to say that there is a relationship, if not a causal one, between his marriage to his partner and his departure from the helm of NPM, an organization with a higher percentage of gay members, I'd go out on a limb to say, sans evidence, than, for instance, the AMA or ABA, if perhaps not of Catholic clergy. I may be wrong, but I think everybody in the organization knows that...
the gradual empowerment of the LGBT movement, especially since the 1969 Stonewall Riots, has been on a collision course with many mainstream religious denominations because of long-held beliefs about sexuality. [Despite the] experience of homosexual people as part of a diverse "norm" rather than as derogatively abnormal, the church, at least its Roman Catholic administrative body, continues to use arcane and unintelligible Thomistic language ("inherently disordered," for instance) to distance itself from gay persons and legitimize its sacramental proscription of persons who "act on their disordered impulses"...
I have a friend who....applied for a scholarship from a national association in his field, which he won. Though certainly in need of the money offered by the organization, he refused the scholarship money offered, in solidarity with the (perceived, at least) injustice to [the past NPM president] who was the subject of the article mentioned above. Others have left church jobs in anger over the incident, shaken the dust from their feet, and canceled their membership in the organization.

So what I'm wondering is, is this instance NPM's very public, (and probably heart-wrenching, to many members,) stance that open flouting of unchanging and unequivocal Church teaching,  
Is NPM's new, or at least newly trumpeted, orthodoxy, in any way connected with a new  lean in to orthopraxy ?

p.s. I cannot begin to fathom how a nominal Catholic, a person who has taken upon himself positions of liturgical, and consequently spiritual and catechetical leadership, could use Christ's command to His friend Lazarus as a rhetorical point writing about closeted gay men. I can see very clearly how he could have written "Jerusalem, My Density."

Getting Over Things

It is amazing how long it takes to get over some things. 
The Victorians with their years and half years and full- and half-, and crape and lavender and armbands -- they understood something about the human heart and the irrationality of mourning and the consequent need for decision-free ritual.

Every time I think I've "slighted my mourning" something knocks the wind out of me.C19th tintype image of baby in mourning and wearing black armband ribbons.

At daily Mass a community builds up and there are people whom one, in a sense, knows very well indeed, but whose names, certainly their surnames at least, remain a complete mystery.
A woman who sat next to me for, yes, years, now, and next to my Mother for many more years before that asked how she was doing. I was only able to get the words out to tell he because in the moment it obviously hurt her more to hear it, than it did for me to speak it, (the shock to her, to see.)
A name was announced by a visiting priest at weekday Mass, and I asked,  that isn't...? of the de facto sacristan, the keeper of lists of intentions for the  daily Rosaries, the scrounger-up of last minute readers, the one who understands the quirks of the thermostat, you know.....the guy who knows.
No, no, not her.
But at Mass yesterday morning, tucked into a hymnal by some mourner was the program for her funeral, and indeed it was she.
Sometimes it is fortunate that Himself can be a bit oblivious, especially early in the morning, because I could not have found, still can't find the words to explain why the news devastated me.
But it did.

I am so grateful for the Liturgy sometimes, its all-encompassing, inclusivity of the range of human emotions and needs and manners of prayer.

I get so angry at people who want to make it All-Peppy- All-Happy-All-the-Time.
It is not just the ceremonial embodiment of Both/And, but of Both/And/And/And/And.

Like the Victorian etiquette mavens, the Church knows the helplessness of the human heart sometimes, and the value of a ritual that frees of us the burden of making decisions.

The Mass knows what we need when we ourselves do not.

(Who knew they used to put babies in mourning armbands?)

Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Devil Has NOTHING

Interesting little insight in Magnificat's "Day by Day" for... well, today.

Father Simeon, a Cistercian, tells us, in commenting on the parable in today's Gospel about the enemy planting weeds in the field of the man who had sowed good seed, that "the Devil has no separate field of his own in which to grow his weeds."

This is Gospel, for certain! This Good News indeed!


Whatever title Robert Hugh Benson may have conferred on him, however John quotes the Christ in his Gospel, the Lucifer is  Lord of nothing, Prince of nothing  --- ALL is God's, all is the Lord's.

The devil is given too much power when we forget that, whatever might seem to be under his control, ultimately he has no possessions that we don't give him, no strength or influence that we don't cede to him ourselves.

Stay strong!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The 'Vicar of Baghdad'

From Archbishop "Cranmer":
Canon White suffers from MS. As a result of that debilitating affliction, he was told by the Church of England that they were unable to recommend him for a parish in London because it would be "too stressful".

So they sent him to Baghdad.

Where he has ministered now for 15 years.

He has lost a thousand of his parishioners over the past year alone - murdered by Muslim militants; many of them summarily shot or beheaded. He has recently been speaking to numerous fellowships in the UK to raise awareness of the situation in Iraq, and he received death threats last week from ISIS/ISIL (or IS [Islamic State], as they now wish to be called). Notwithstanding the danger, he has returned to St George's in Baghdad to continue his work. 
St Antonio Primaldi, pray for them.
Servant of God, Aura, who won the martyrs crown on this day, pray for them.

Is this really the plan? Can we doubt it?

No reason, it just makes me smile...

bishops levitating

"It is easy to become completely transfixed by the kind, clear, and thoughtful answers of an intellectual giant who sees himself as a humble servant of the Lord."

A delightful find, I stumbled across the blogging of one Todd Worner on Patheos.
He calls himself a Catholic thinker, and he is surely that.

Albeit only recently that, as he is a convert.

Of course, it is easy to admire  the writing of someone who is also right :oD

Yes, yes, I agree with him, or at least, what I have read so far, and there seems to be quite a bit -- I feel like I did when I "discovered" Barbara Pym, or Peter Ackroyd, or Frederick Buechner after they been well known for some long time, (in Pym's case, dead,) --- ooh, look all these books already written!

So lots to read with titles like, Loving Francis, Missing Benedict; or Pope Benedict XVI and Surprise.

I missed a whole lot of commentary late winter of last year.

You see, all that was happening, the loss of the "public Benedict," all that, which I would have perceived as the greatest heartache of my adult life, at the time of what was the greatest heartache of my adult life.
(It takes nothing away from my love for Himself to admit that my Mother, whom I teased and argued with for my entire life, my Mother whom I tried to cheat at Scrabble and enraged with my ocassinaol taste for rock and at whose seasoning choices in the kitchen I rolled my eyes and with whom I said the Rosary and shared opera enthusiasms including burly baritones ---she was the love of my life.)
And it's almost as if I lost a year or so of the World.

Anyway, here I am with a trove of little essays where I will, hopefully, have my mind opened a bit, and even more hopefully, I'll admit, have my deepest held beliefs and opinions affirmed.

(Some times in life you just NEED an Amen Corner.)

And regardless of his opinions, I do like his writing, I have not, so far, found any of the snark, or refusal to see other points of view or demonization or pomposity I see too often.
Oh, all right, and RESORT to too often.

And so now it is the last day of Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy. Now we prepare for another conclave and watch again for fumata blanca. And as I reflect on the Pope who was presented to me by the opinion-makers while comparing him to the Pope I met for myself, the questions can be raised, “Are you surprised? Are you surprised by the Pope you found, you learned from, you prayed for, and you converted under?” And my answer would be: Yes and No. Yes, I thought I could trust the opinion-makers to be somewhat correct on who Pope Benedict XVI was and who he would become. They were wrong and so I was surprised. But, more importantly, No, because surprise is what this Faith is all about. It is a Faith where disciples ask to walk on water and multiply loaves and fishes, where lepers are healed and the condemned are released, where you love even though it is unreasonable and you believe even when it is unbelievable. It is a Faith of confounding, maddening, brilliant, glorious surprises. And Pope Benedict XVI has been another one of them. Why shouldn’t he be? Thank you, Holy Father, and God go with you.
But also, this:
No, no, no…I am not placing [a polarizing politician] or [an equally polarizing novelist] on the level of prophets or apostles. Not at all. Rather (and quite simply), I am saying that sometimes a truth or piece of wisdom can come out of an unlikely or even unattractive source whether we like it or not. There is no doubt it is sage wisdom to “consider the source”. Indeed. But in order to avoid being blinded by our own bias, sometimes – perhaps only sometimes – it is good to stop and NOT consider the source. Yes. Perhaps.