Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Friday, 31 July 2015

A Once Thought Endangered[?] Species, Rising Like the Phoenix

No, nothing to do with poor Cecil.... though it is Cecilian, after a fashion.

I am not a subscriber, but Church Times, (British and Anglican church, that is,) has a piece on the resurgence of plainchant, (the "oldest continuously sung repertoire in Western Europe." Was the qualifier of "Europe" necessary?)  that others may wish to, and have the means to, read.
It is in reference to Christopher Hodkinson reflecting on the publication by the RSCM of a guide to plainchant, and a revision of a work by Dr Mary Berry, .(all bow.. eh, Scott? :oD) whose current successor Mr Hodkinson is (not sure how many others in the years intervening...).
He also had this to say, about a Mass in Barking, (a place name I admit to having always loved) -
There are rare moments in life when we are privileged to see the world not merely as it is, but as it could be.
One such was a rainy Sunday morning a few months ago, when I was able to attend Mass in a parish I hadn’t visited before. By the time Mass began the church was packed full, with close to three hundred people present, including many families with children (fifty of the younger ones went out to the Sunday School during the Liturgy of the Word). A team of about eight boys processed with the priest to the altar, carrying candles and incense.
During the Introit, as at the Offertory and Communion, the small choir chanted the Proper texts of the day in English using Adam Bartlett’s Simple English Propers with light organ accompaniment. The music for the antiphon was provided to the congregation so that they could join in, but there was also time at each of these points to sing good, time-honoured hymns. As Mass continued, the priest sang his words to the tunes in the Roman Missal, and the congregation responded confidently. The Ordinary of the Mass was sung in Latin chant: Mass XI (Orbis factor) rather than the more widely-known Missa de Angelis. The strength of the congregational singing suggested deep familiarity with the Gregorian melodies, and this was demonstrated in stunning fashion at the Alleluia, where the whole congregation joined the choir in singing one of the authentic Gregorian Alleluia tones, complete with its melismatic jubilus.
Considered from an artistic point of view, the Mass demonstrated a pleasing aesthetic unity: a happy marriage of English and Latin chants and with some familiar hymns interspersed. In other words, the music served the liturgy, and was for the most part an integral part of it, so that the aesthetic experience was also a liturgical experience. The essential key to achieving this was the priest singing of his parts: the sung dialogue between priest and congregation impressing silently upon us that music was the medium by which the words of the liturgy became the praise of Almighty God.
Where, you might wonder, was this remarkable parish, this model of good liturgical praxis? This was a typical Sunday at St Mary and St Ethelburga, Barking.
At first sight Barking might seem like an unlikely venue for the scene I have described. The church is a modest brick building constructed in the 1970’s, with pews on three sides of the altar and a leaky roof. The congregation I saw was as diverse as any in the country; people who might be described as ‘White, British’ were certainly a minority, and the parish could hardly be described as wealthy. The choir consisted of a handful of faithful volunteers, led by an organist who helps out playing sacred music on Sunday mornings even though his real métier is jazz piano on Saturday nights. Perhaps the only indisputably excellent feature of the church is its small pipe organ, a chamber instrument with a lovely tone which was donated to the church some years ago.
If you are familiar with English parish life you will already realise—it could hardly be otherwise—that the liturgical achievements of the parish are largely due to the tireless work over many years of the parish priest, Fr William Young. Possessed of few resources and largely self-taught, he has nevertheless achieved a genuine realisation of the spirit of the liturgy in his parish; a celebration that is at once genuinely inclusive, culturally rooted and faithful to the practice of the Church.
If this can be achieved in Barking, it is hard to see why it cannot be achieved everywhere.
Also, word of a workshop
Ealing workshop advertisement

Thursday, 30 July 2015


Did you know the root of that word is the Latin for "itch"?

Suffering  from pruritus because apparently I am illiterate.
Or just careless... how did I not know that some pre-grated cheeses are coated with corn starch to prevent caking? (I thought they all used cellulose.)
It's not as if I didn't know that the particular allergen behind my problems is ubiquitous.


“Thailand is a heaven for the transgender community. I believe America has much to learn from this beautiful culture”

'Cause it's all about "education”.

And what is it that we can learn from the Thai approach to human sexuality? their appreciation of human dignity?










Technically, prostitution in the Kingdom has been illegal since the 1960’s but the Thai Government has encouraged it due to the vast amount of revenue it brings to the country’s economy. Truth be told Thailand has gained an international reputation for the mass availability of girls for sale and the nation has been referred to as “the brothel of the world. "

Godfather.... erm, Godmother... Godparent?

The selection by parents of godparents has become a very debased procedure in the Church in this country, as far as I can observe.
In what I take, (from movies and tv,) to be the Anglican/British understanding, godparents are chosen as a way to honor ones friend or relative, and insure the receipt of sterling baby mugs, so really, the more the merrier, let's get some swag!
And that is the way far too many Catholics look on the proceedings in this country.
Is the father who seeks to rope his baptised Catholic but now vaguely agnostic drinking buddy into the role, or the Mom who asks her best friend, oh, really, you're Jewish? at much remove from the poor souls in this story, when it gets right down to it?
Alex Salinas is 21 years old. [S]He was assigned [observed to be] female at birth, but is now living as his authentic self as a man. [S]He is a "firm believer" and wants to be a godparent at his her nephew's baptism but the diocese of Cadiz and Ceuta is standing in his her way. According to them, [s]he is not a "suitable" person because of the life [s]he leads, a life not "congruent with faith.”
However, they do not find their argument to be discriminatory.The diocese says that. in responding to the petition they received from Salinas to be a godparent at the baptism, the priest maintained a "cordial conversation" with him [her], indicating that [s]he must fulfill the requisites stated in the Code of Canon Law which requires that any godfather or godmother at a baptism "be Catholic, be confirmed, have received the holy sacrament of the Eucharist and, at the same time, live a life congruent with faith and the mission they are assuming."
The statement insists that in the "long chat that protected the feelings of the applicant, the priest encouraged him [her] to live congruently with faith" and that, despite not being a godparent at the baptism, [s] he could participate in some way as a "spiritual godparent," and able to encourage and help his her nephew in his life of faith....
"To the church, I am still a woman, even though my documents of identification have changed," explained Alex Salinas, who wants the diocese to reconsider their decision, which [s]he took "as a kick in the stomach" because he is a "firm believer."
Salinas, who since February of last year has had the I.D. of a man and is on a waiting list for a gender confirmation surgery, [well, there's some Newspeak, for you, "gender CONFIRMATION surgery"?] does not understand the Church's refusal ...
The young man, who identifies as Catholic, said at first the parish of San Fernando de Cadiz did not object to him being a godparent in the religious ceremony.
However, upon asking the diocese for documentation for the baptism, the parish told him he could not carry out the role.
The young [wo]man then appealed to other parishes in the town, but found all of them greeted him [her] with the same response.
"Identifies as" is rapidly becoming the most over-used and finally, meaningless phrase in the language.
Is a person who does not believe what the Church says, or do as the Church asks, or follow what the Church teaches, really "Catholic" in any meaningful sense, regardless of how he "identifies"?

I now identify as someone in want of another cup of coffee, so I shall make an end to this....

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

"Who Should Be Allowed to Compete as a Female Athlete?"

Well, apparently, anyone who claims to be female.

Image result for lithgow drag garp
Yes, it seems that there was an unrealistic and unreasonable physiological standard created, and the solution to that unfair practice, instead of, oh, I dunno, common sense? chromosomes and genitalia? no, it ought to be whatever the athlete "felt," himself to be at a youngish age.
So now, you see, there really IS a reason, (at least among those skilled in athletics,) for children being pressed into a decision, into taking life-altering stands, while still, well, children, an acceptance, of... what?

My Life as Sitcom

So, asked to do some voice-over work.
First actual work in, well, forever, it seems.
On my way to studio.
Stop for a quick cup o' joe.
Now suffering, (only very slightly,) from two ills, horrific and highly visible urticaria, and coffee-breath.
Have a remedy for each, diphenhydramine for the hives, spearmint gum for the halitosis.
I keep gum tablets in an old pill bottle, because I can't stand the way those foil packs fall apart in my purse.
The bottle happens to be an old one from the antihistimine I use.
I shake out one electric blue gelcap and one piece of gum into their respective bottle caps.
Related image        
(You can see where this is going, can't you?)
So yeah, I pop the gum in my mouth, swallow it with a bit of water and chomp down on the medicine, contents of gelcap gushes out.
Worst taste I have ever had, EVER had, in my mouth.
No biggie, right?

Except it turns out that this liquid form of diphenhydramine numbs my tongue and gums and cheek, so I now can't feel one whole side of my mouth.
Kramer knows what I'm talking about.
Image result for kramer novocaine
Claire Dunphy know what I'm talking about.
 Image result for modern family claire loses tooth
Soldier on, head to studio and try to record copy in my altered state.
Hilarity ensues.
Honest, I wouldn't let me out without a keeper.....

"It Should Be Admitted That Love Can Indeed End"

Or so says a German moral theologian.
“If two persons make the definitive decision of a common project of life, this does not mean they cannot review their choice.”
Okay, great, a performance review, maybe every six months or so, even quarterly at the beginning.

You know, because being a spouse is like being a priest, it is, first and foremost, a job. A "project."
Well, of course! Sometimes, on a big project, your team needs to bring in outside help.

Perhaps a second or third marriage should be understood in that light, outside help, to keep the project going on budget and on schedule.
Hell, mistresses and lovers could be looked at that way, couldn't they?
Thanks, Professor Schokenhoff! 

You know, I used to love crunchy peanut butter. 
So when I went to the supermarket, since that's what I preferred, that's what I bought.
It was a "definitive decision," unquestionably.
But upon review, this year I decided I'd rather have creamy.
More to the point, love had indeed ended.
I don't love any kind of peanut butter anymore.

I can't help it.

Snarking aside -what in blazes does this theologian think "love" is, to what adolescent definition does he hold?
An emotion? coupled with a stirring of the loins?
Not just "no," but  HELL, NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
To the Christian, love, and especially marital love is an act of the will, a resolution to persevere in self-donation, an echo, however faint, of God's unconditional and unending love.

It is not the lightly considered acceptance of a responsibility, a burden that one is later free to cast aside.
It is not some temporary preference, which alters when it alteration finds.

A "love" which cost nothing, a "love" that doe not call us to sacrifice, a "love" for which we are willing to lay out nothing - this is not Love.
God's passionate love for his people—for humanity—is at the same time a forgiving love. It is so great that it turns God against himself, his love against his justice.... His death on the Cross is the culmination of that turning of God against himself in which he gives himself in order to raise man up and save him. This is love in its most radical form. By contemplating the pierced side of Christ we can understand the starting-point of this Encyclical Letter: “God is love”.  It is there that this truth can be contemplated. It is from there that our definition of love must begin. 
There has been a bit of a buzz in the nation of Catholicistan here on those Interwebs, about the way instead of our acknowledging that God is love, we make love into our God.
I say that if we know that Love is the highest good, we cannot claim that we have given our love to another unless we have also tried to give God to him.

And how could such a love ever end?

Can America " Respect the Legitimate Values and World View of Other Peoples"?

Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Oyo, who is Nigerian, responded to Obama's advocacy [of homosexual rights] saying, “Most Africans care about religious values, about the family, about the complementary nature of man and woman and the culture that makes us Africans. Why can we not choose what 'benevolence' to accept from the West? Why can we not just be helped to fight corruption, terrorism, unemployment disease and illiteracy?”
“Nobody should be killed for private wayward or immoral behaviors that do not compromise other people's lives,” the bishop affirmed, “but that does not mean all kinds of exotic sexual adventure must be foisted on other nationalities in the name of rights.”
“America claims to be a great democracy and the proof of that fact will be found in her capacity for sincere dialogue and readiness to respect the legitimate values and world view of other peoples,” Bishop Badejo concluded.
Before Obama’s visit, 700 evangelical pastors in Africa had written asking him not to use his trip gender ideology and the homosexual agenda.
Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila has noted that foreign aid given to the Philippines is oftentimes is linked to some measures that the receiving country is somehow forced to accept … some of the conditions for the aid seem to be an acceptance or a welcoming of some views regarding marriage, or sexuality, or what, which could be alien to the vision of the receiving country or culture.”
And Bishop Badejo, the Nigerian who chairs communications for the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), said in a February interview with Aleteia that the U.S. has made its help in fighting the radical Islamist group Boko Haram contingent on the Nigeria's support of homosexual acts.
“The United States actually said it would help Nigeria with Boko Haram only if we modify our laws concerning homosexuality, family planning and birth control,” he said.
“It’s very clear that a cultural imperialism exists. In fact, I think that Africa is suffering greatly from a cultural imperialism that threatens to erode our cultural values.”
Let me get this straight.
In offering to lift economic sanctions against a foreign power that unquestionably means us harm, it was not expedient to tie the deal to the release of Americans being held hostage there, (and I'm willing to believe that that was indeed the best deal that could be brokered at this time,) but we have no qualms about withholding support to friendly nations in their conflict against a terrorist oganization that is part of a global network which would wipe us off the face of the earth without hesitation because those nations and their peoples do not subscribe to the views currently in vogue in our country regarding sex?
Do I have that right?
Image result for girls boko haram
Thanks anyway, America....

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Want to Help Middle East Christians?

Heres how.
As Christians continue to face unprecedented persecution – especially in the Middle East – the Knights of Columbus have announced a new campaign to send humanitarian aid and raise awareness about their plight.
...the Knights of Columbus is responding by asking our own members, and the public at large, to help us save the lives of people who are being persecuted simply because of their Christian faith,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said...

The Knights launched their Christian Refugee Relief Fund last August with a $1 million matching fund, but the need for support still remains great today. To date, the organization and its members have given over $3 million in support of the cause.
In her July 22 article for The New York Times Magazine, “Is This The End of Christianity in the Middle East?” Eliza Oswold cited a Pew study which said that Christians are now facing more persecution “than at any time since their early history.”
Mr. Anderson voiced his concern over the lack of attention given to the issue saying, “Christians in the Middle East are facing a dire situation – and even extinction – while the response from the international community has been woefully inadequate.”
Those who wish to help the Knights of Columbus in providing assistance to persecuted Christians can make a donation on their website, christiansatrisk.org or send a check or money order payable to Knights of Columbus Charities at P.O. Box 1966, New Haven, CT 06509-1966. The memo portion should indicate that the check is for Christian Refugee Relief.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Show me the way to go home....

...I'm tired and I want to go to bed.
No, that's not true.
Or actually, it is true, but it's not my theme.
On a thread over at the CMAA messageboard wherein the oft vaunted virtues of vernacular are invoked, and by some, vented upon, the merits of Latin as the Roman Church's sacred language was neatly put like this, by the musician blogger Adam Wood:
The most important reason to retain Latin is that language carries culture.

Every immigrant group has realized this, and every native tribe after colonization --- when the children stop learning the old language, they abandon the old culture. When hegemonic political regimes want to control and subdue a culture, they forcibly remove the language --- think of Ireland, Native Americans, Native Australians, and Cantonese speakers in China....

Latin is the language of Catholic culture. If we lose it, we lose who we are as a people. Or perhaps we already have. 
I do not share his pessimism, or at least his doubt. We, the Church, the Faith, the faithful have not and we shall not lose it.
Not to say that  their aren't plenty of poor little lambs who have gone astray out there, just that the Shepherd will supply ... you know the rest.
There will always be that remnant, even when the glories of the Israel's forest, 
and of his fruitful land the Lord will destroy, both soul and body, and it will be as when a sick man wastes away. The remnant of the trees of his forest will be so few that a child can write them down.
In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean upon him that smote them, but will lean upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God.
I firmly believe that so long as a single child remembers the way home, the family can never be truly lost.

The Evangelical Power of Beauty

This is just far too lovely a story not to share every way possible.
It's titled "What it's all about", (and I'll give you a clue, it ain't the bass,) and it comes from a musician on the CMAA forum called Hugh:
We said farewell today to a wonderful young man who is about to return to France after a year's study here in Melbourne (Australia). As I said goodbye, he reminded me of another French student he had brought along in Holy Week to listen to our choir at Tenebrae (Victoria Responses, Allegri Miserere, chant).

That young man, already back in Paris, rang my friend recently to say he was now receiving instruction and will be baptized in a couple of weeks!

My friend put it beautifully: "He came for the music. He left with the Faith." 

"Of course I accepted the brains. It really wasn't my concern where they came from and how they were brought to me.”

So said one scientist, some years ago.
A modern day doctor has pretty much the same take on procuring human organs, because the donation is a “compassionate gesture...that is very generous and very altruistic.”

Thank goodness we have journalists to inform us, “fetal tissue extraction is for medical purposes and in some ways, is the silver lining of a very difficult process.”

If only Oskar Groening had had the compassion and generosity and altruism to keep track of body parts instead of cash - he could have received acclaim from the media, and grants from grateful governments, instead of, oh... standing trial  for war crimes.

He could have been the silver lining in the Holocaust.
And before anyone goes calling the Godwin's Law Corallary on me...
Image result for stalin LAUGHING
You compared my actions to the Nazis', therefore...
In some situations what would otherwise be hyperbolic comparisons are apt.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Moral Theologian Fay Vincent On the Year Of Mercy

“We are a terrifically forgiving country, in part because we have such a low standard of morality."
Okay, the former commissioner  of Major League Baseball was actually talking about Barry Bonds' steroid use, but it's a pretty hard truth there, huh?

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Choosing Your Words

I have, more than once lately, bemoaned to myself that the Holy Father is not more careful in parsing his sentences, more wary of expressions that may be correct but are so loosely phrased that they help bolster positions which are not correct.

But today, in looking for some clue as to the actual beliefs of some public figure, I realized how artfully some manage to phrase their opinions and ideologies; how well they manage to protect themselves from being called out on their opinions thereby making themselves and their organization palatable to those who should be fighting them tooth and nail; how glibly the obfuscate such that they can support real evil and still be welcomed in circles that would be horrified if they succeeded in their goals.

So yeah, Pope Francis's off-the-cuff remarks in many ways are a tonic after the disingenuous cant coming from so many quarters. (Even if when he's wrong.)

Anyway, down the rabbit hole I found myself, and I came across a very pro-abortion page on Save the Children. (A charity to which I have happily given in the past.)
At least in the UK, they have a motto - NO CHILD BORN TO DIE.

Which sounds nice, right? Who could argue?
Except that ALL of us are born to die, all of us, every single member of the human race, (putting aside Catholic Mariology.)

We all know that, right? Save the Children certainly knows it, they are not pretending that their ministrations, their efforts, confer immortality, right?

So what does it mean?
I know it is difficult to whip up a punchy, sound-byte and letterhead accommodating slogan that no one could find objectionable.
None of us want a child to die.

But the fact is, they will. They do.

So it's hard not to think, (especially when one reads it at the top of a page such as i was on,) that what they really mean is, some children shouldn't be born, that unless he has a shot at a longer, more comfortable life, HE SHOULD NOT BE BORN.

Am I reading this wrong? Tell me.

The Most Beautiful Idea in the History of Civilization

Himself is a Knight, and receives the KofC magazine, "Columbia" by snail mail.
I don't think he ever reads it, but when he gives it to me I scan through, usually find one or two things I want to read, and usually also a number of images to tear out for use in collages, etc. with CCD.

This,  an address given at the Vatican last year at a conference on “The Complementarity of Man and Woman,” by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, is well worth your time.

Rabbi Sacks biog profile.jpg
I want to begin our conversation by telling the story of the most beautiful idea in the history of civilization: the idea of the love that brings new life into the world....
When we consider, even in the animal kingdom, how much effort and energy the coming together of male and female takes, in terms of displays, courtship rituals, rivalries and violence, it is astonishing that sexual reproduction ever happened at all. Biologists are still not quite sure why it did....
Since [homo sapiens] stood upright, which constricted the female pelvis, and we had bigger brains, which meant larger heads, human babies had to be born more prematurely, and so needed parental protection for much longer. This made parenting more demanding, the work of two people rather than one. Among most primates, fathers don’t even recognize their children, let alone care for them. Elsewhere in the animal kingdom motherhood is almost universal but fatherhood is rare.
So what emerged along with the human person was the union of the biological mother and father to care for their child...
The most obvious expression of power among alpha males, whether human or primate, is to dominate access to fertile women and thus maximize the passing on of your genes to the next generation. Hence polygamy, which exists in 95 percent of mammal species and 75 percent of cultures known to anthropology.[???!?!??? did not know that]
That is what makes the first chapter of Genesis so revolutionary with its statement that every human being, regardless of race, culture, creed or class is created in the image and likeness of God. We know that in the ancient world it was kings, emperors and pharaohs who were held to be in the image of God. So Genesis is saying that we are all royalty. We each have equal dignity in the kingdom of faith under the sovereignty of God....
there is a deep connection between monotheism and monogamy, just as there is, in the opposite direction, between idolatry and adultery. ...
it is normally the case that the values of a society are those imposed on it by the ruling class. And the ruling class in any hierarchical society stands to gain from promiscuity and polygamy, both of which multiply the chances of one’s genes being handed on to the next generation. So monogamy goes against the normal grain of social change and was a real triumph for the equal dignity of all....
What was new and remarkable in the Hebrew Bible was the idea that love, not just fairness, is the driving principle of the moral life. Three loves. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your might.” “Love your neighbor as yourself.” And, repeated no less than 36 times in the Mosaic books, “Love the stranger because you know what it feels like to be a stranger.” [emphasis supplied] Or to put it another way: just as God created the natural world in love and forgiveness, so we are charged with creating the social world in love and forgiveness. And that love is a flame lit in marriage and the family. Morality is the love between husband and wife, parent and child, extended outward to the world.
Powerful, powerful stuff.

Corn? Curses!

A woman with an allergy to corn learns that there are two differnt formulations of a promising second generation antihistimine, (antihistimines being one of the major ways one treis to deal with allergies.)

The most common version of the OTC drug lists, as its first inactive ingredient, corn starch.
The other does not! (Oh, frabjous day, etc......)
She contacts the pharmeceuitcal company to make usre of the details.
A conversation ensues.
When I asked about the differing formulations, it was explained they now make a "corn-free formulation for those who are allergic". I was then asked if I was allergic to corn and explained that I yes, I am allergic to corn.
Here's the rest of the conversation:
Me: That's great you provide a corn-free formula. I'd like to ask about the source of some of the ingredients of the formula without corn starch.
Rep: Okay.
Me: What is the source ingredient of the Magnesium Stearate?
Rep: It says here it is from a vegetable or plant source, NOT animal.
Me: Okay, what vegetable?
Rep: It doesn't say.
Me: So it could be corn.
Rep: This formula is corn free, you know that because there is no corn starch.
Me: Will the package state "corn-free"?
Rep: No, we cannot guarantee it is corn free, as we do not test for the presence of, nor absence of corn. But since there is no corn starch, you know it is corn free!
Me: Thank you for your time.
Again, that statement was, “We do not test for the presence of, nor absence of corn.” So I have to ask, what was the purpose of creating a secondary formulation just for their corn-allergic customers, if they do not know if it contains corn? Is an allergy to corn simply a marketing gimmick to them?

"No, that has nothing to do with ecology and you're sure as shootin' not gonna get ME to say anything that might be seen as not 110% in favor of getting poor people to stop breeding like rabbits"

On EWTN News Nightly, Brian Patrick interviewing a UN functionary, (or fellow traveler, not sure,) put it to her,
"The UN sees Pope Francis as an ally on the issue of climate change; is anyone hearing his efforts to tie in population control and human trafficking with the climate change issue?"
The sound wasn't working on the TV, so I had to rely on the closed captioning and her body language and a little bit of lip reading, but I'm pretty sure that what she said was,  
"That would be a big fat 'no!', Brian, because you're not going to trick me into flouting the party line, those other matters have nothing whatever to do with ecology and you're sure as shootin' not gonna get ME to say anything that could by any stretch be interpreted as not being 110% in favor of getting poor people to stop breeding like rabbits, and killing children in the womb, if need be, because what the Pope says is that 'carbonizing' is one of the seven deadly sin, maybe the worst one, so he, rightly, is MUCH more concerned with 'de-carbonization' that with any silly old stuff about 'human digntiy' which no one is much interested in anyway, at least none of the people I hang with are...."
As I said, I didn't have the sound on, but I'm pretty good at lip reading, and that is the gist of what she said.

"Does God Want Everyone to Be Catholic?"

Excellent piece by John Martignoni.
The title says it all.
I'm only a little surprised, and maybe disappointed, that he does not go into the matter of God's Chosen People, and whether God wants them to come to know the fullness of truth.
(I have know, and known of, many, many Catholic who hold that since VC II, the Church understands that the Jewish people are not called to conversion to the Faith, moreover, that it is wrong of Catholics to try to bring them to it.)
I have a question that I quite often ask Catholics, and judging by the responses I get when I ask, the vast majority of Catholics have never before thought about this question, or their answer to it.  That question is: Does God want everyone to be Catholic?  I am willing to bet, for many of you reading this, that question has never entered your mind. But it needs to, because it is such an important question. The answer to that question will determine a lot in regard to how you respond to the calls of the recent popes, including Pope Francis, for evangelization....
The truth matters, and we need to respond accordingly.... 
Whether your answer is, “Yes,” or “No,” it requires something of you.[emphasis added]

A Need for Integrity in Spiritual Warfare

The devil gets to fight dirty, we don't.
This post is serious, this one was facetious.
The Planned Parenthood sting videos and the story behind them are in heavy rotation on TV and in internet and print media.
The second one released, the one with the Lamborghini "joke" was playing and some talking head or pol seemed to think the remark was a smoking gun.
And I, turning into everyones crazy aunt Edna talked back to the tv, nonsense.

Himself, being slightly more left-leaning than I, is rather fed up with how often at least one of the anchors on EWTN lapses into pure partisan politics on some matter that, in Catholic teaching, is prudential. And on matters that are not prudential, I also think he's grown weary of the way I grow all Socratic on him in an effort to explain why something we've just heard is simply correct, when properly understood in context.

So he was surprised when I was giving the PP official the benefit of the doubt, since the "joke," (the scare quotes are because - NOT FUNNY,) because funny or not, the sub-text was obviously that they were NOT seeking to get rich in this scheme.
(Compare it, if you will, to the average parish musician saying, yeah, I got into this racket to make money, or the organ donor I know who said, "'altruistic'? nah, I only did it for the hospital food...")

Aside from all that, the money is completely beside the point. Pro-lifers don't, or at least shouldn't really care about the legal niceties, other than as a wedge issue to bring attention to this.
We don't care about the money, or who was or was not profiting monetarily.
Let me repeat.
This commerce would not be any less heinous if no money changed hands.
Planned Parenthood and its policy makers and the government that supports them would be equally liable to judgement, (judgemnet of the kind that human courts have no power whatever to deal out,) if Planned Parenthood were giving money rather than accepting it for the transactions.

Is the 19th century American who left human beings as property in his will, or gave them as gifts, exonerated because no money changed hands?

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Anti-Abortion Advocates May* Have Misspoken....

.... Planned Parenthood may* not have "sold" body parts.
They may* only have been "fiscally rewarded."

By, you know, partners, who urged them to,
Join the StemExpress partner program that fiscally rewards clinics for contributing to the advancement of life-saving research – with a solution that is easy to incorporate into your clinic practices.
Who is StemExpress, you ask?
StemExpress is a multi-million dollar company that supplies human blood, tissue products, primary cells and other clinical specimens to biomedical researchers around the world to fuel regenerative medicine and translational research. Founded in 2010, we offer the largest variety of raw material in the industry, as well as fresh, fixed and cryopreserved human primary cells.
Our Products and Services StemExpress is the only company of its kind to both procure tissues and isolate cells for researchers’ individual needs in its own labs. Our human tissue products range from fetal to adult and healthy to diseased, and we also collect bone marrow and leukapheresis for isolation. In our state-of-the-art laboratory, we isolate and culture primary human somatic, progenitor and stem cells. Using the most up-to-date technology, we guarantee every sample delivers the purity, viability and quality your investigators need. StemExpress is also a Contract Research Organization (CRO) and provides biopharmaceutical development, biologic assay development, commercialization, preclinical research, clinical research, and clinical trials management.
*Why do I say "may"?
Because this little mom-and-pop group has standards.
Our Promise Protecting the privacy of our researchers and donors is always the highest priority at StemExpress.

Fr Barron to LA?

I am of two minds about this.
My first reaction was a kind of, oh, no, they NEED people like him forming our new priests, and then there was a couldahaddaV-8 head slap moment.
After all, the seminary at Mundelein, like the Archdiocese of Chicago will no doubt remain in good hands, (I think I believe this despite the animus the newest Abp provokes in some quarters,) and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is still in desperate need after decades of... well, let's just say His Eminence Abp Gomez had his work cut out for him when he was assigned.
And let's be honest.


All the News That's Fit[s] toOur Printurpose

I was thinking while perusing the paper of record this morning how easily purported journalism shades into opinion.
    Planned Parenthood on Monday claimed to congressional investigators that abortion opponents had harassed and unlawfully infiltrated its clinics for years, and most likely possessed thousands of hours of surreptitious video recordings that revealed actual events and actual statements by Planned Parenthood officials that their opponents might “deceptively edit” and spread for months to come.
    The admission came in a five-page letter from a Planned Parenthood lawyer that was the group’s initial response to an investigation by Republicans on a House committee. Last week, the committee opened the inquiry after anti-abortion activists circulated a video showing one of the organization’s doctors describing how casually some affiliates alter gruesome procedures to provide donated fetal tissue to researchers* while struggling not to give the impression that that is what they are doing.
Oh, wait... except that's not what the paper printed.

That would be this:
    Planned Parenthood on Monday told congressional investigators that abortion opponents had harassed and unlawfully infiltrated its clinics for years and most likely possessed thousands of hours of surreptitious video recordings that they could “deceptively edit” and spread for months to come.
The charge came in a five-page letter from a Planned Parenthood lawyer that was the group’s initial response to an investigation by Republicans on a House committee. Last week, the committee opened the inquiry after anti-abortion activists circulated a video showing one of the organization’s doctors describing how some affiliates provide donated fetal tissue to researchers.
Parts is parts, as the chicken commercials used to say.
“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”
Yes, the failure of the tone to display you compassion is what is amiss here.

*For profit researchers? this is unclear, but I do wonder.

Monday, 20 July 2015

We Are Not Barbarians, People

All right, I'm only going to say this once.
Stop putting fried eggs on top of cheeseburgers, just stop it!

Advice from the Experts

There have been a number of parting of the ways, ("partings of the way"? "partings of the ways"?) between Catholic liturgical musicians and their mortal bosses come of late, some of high profile musicians, others of unsung, (and no doubt underpaid,) toilers in the vineyard.

Pilgrim musicians for a pilgrim Church, huh? always be prepared for change in this line of endeavor, the only certainty is uncertainty, right?
Someone mentioned that part of the reason is that making music, singing, and passing judgement on whether one "likes" a particular piece of music and it is therefore "good" are not seen as requiring any particular skill  - by those who have no skills.
Anyone could manage a sort of religious karaoke, you get accompaniment tracks and just sing along to them, right? It's not like there are rules about music for Mass, huh? isn't it all a matter of taste when you get down to it?

And everyone has a voice, so singing certainly doesn't require any expertise. So forget your degree and experience and work keeping up with relevant liturgical documents and experience with this particular acoustical environment and knowledge of what vocal demands should be made septuagenarians of an early wintry morning, I want it faster/slower/lower/higher/louder/stronger/peppy/not so scary/more majory!
(The last three are real incidents, IM own, personal, actual E.)

Any road, it reminded me of an old thread at the forum.
my husband (who is an organist,) had his pastor come up to him and tell him to "add more sharps" to a song, so it would be more "energetic."
'Nuff said.

(By the way, I am well aware that this predicament is not peculiar to church musicians, virtually everyone in every line of endeavor serves at the pleasure of someone else. Two very good parish priests I know have been more or less cashiered recently for... let us just say, for less than "cause".)

Confessing MY Sins..

... even if the subject of the post does not.
I kicked myself for a long time once, over my thoughts and words, what I had done, and what I had failed to do.
I working out of town, and an evening Mass was offered near the theater, very close at hand, timing perfect to even pop in between matinee and evening shows, and I made it a habit to attend pretty much daily.

The daily Mass chapel was in the round, one could pretty much see every other person in attendance.
There was another member of the cast, stupid, selfish, slovenly and pretty nearly incompetent, whom I looked up from my pew one day to spot  heading up to the sanctuary in the communion procession, and my first thought was, "Oh no, HE'S Catholic? How awfu --" and before the thought even finished forming itself in my mind I was deeply ashamed.

I had the germ of the same thought recently while watching the news - a millionaire professional buffoon, displaying his much celebrated intelligence and refinement, mouthed off on several subjects, disgracefully in regard to another famous person for one, and for another, as regards his relationship to God.
Asked if he ever seeks forgiveness for sins, he was all, meh, not so much.
Image result for ugly donald trump
"I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture. I don't. When I drink my little wine -- which is about the only wine I drink -- and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness, and I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed."
Your "little cracker", your "little wine..."
So yes, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, my first thought was, "Oh no, don't tell me HE'S Catholic? How awfu --"
As it turns out, he's not, but that doesn't mitigate the sin of my reaction - which, when you think about it, is also a sin by contemporary secular society's standards, where only intolerance is not to be tolerated, and the highest value is acceptance, and the greatest sin disapproving of other sin.

I guess I'm not as "welcoming" as I claim to be.

Obeying the Words of the Book

Did you wonder, as I did, about the content of II Kings 22 - why is it matter for the keynote address at a music conference?
Wonder no more.

“Go, consult the Lord for me, for the people, and for all Judah, about the words of this book that has been found, for the rage of the Lord has been set furiously ablaze against us, because our ancestors did not obey the words of this book, nor do what is written for us.”

Sacred Music Workshop in Georgia

A Summer Sacred Music Workshop, a collaborative effort between parishes in response to the pastoral plan of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, will be held at Our Lady of the Mountains Roman Catholic Church in Jasper, Georgia, on August 15, the Assumption.
Go to this page to register, sound excellent, wish I could attend.
Workshop Highlights:
  • Training in Gregorian Chant under professional church musicians, with choices of a chant class for beginners, and courses for advanced men or women.
  • Keynote lecture by Rev. David Carter, JCL, entitled: Re-discovery of the Church’s Sacred Tradition: II Kings 22
  • A panel discussion on the Liturgy and Sacred Music
  • Choral experience with one of the two choirs; a beginning polyphony choir or a choir for more experienced singers.
  • A Sung Mass in the Novus Ordo where you can apply what you learn.
  • A music packet including all the chants, motets and other helpful resources.

(A plea to the organizers, one that I always make at the CMAA Colloquium - any materials that are not copyrighted, hand-outs, texts of talks, etc - make them available on you web-site, please? Brick by brick, as they say, in this way you can nurture sacred music via persons in parishes that are not able to have someone in attendance.)
p.s. I'd go if possible just to gaze upon this, well done, Beyer Studio!!!!!!-

Sunday, 19 July 2015

That's What I Am!

I often haven't the faintest idea what Eccles is talking about, what with my ignorance of British politics and my confusion about the various forms of Catholic and Catholish Christians over there, but even when I don't know the players, the scorecard amuses.
I learned a new word:
(He's talking about a pol who isn't "the right sort of Christian. [the right sort] doesn't let his religious beliefs affect his actions in the slightest. You wouldn't catch [said right sort] letting his conscience get in the way of what was politically expedient.")

I am a God botherer.  :oD

Whenever the Word "Shepherds" Comes Up...

... or "Shepherd", singular, comes up in the propers, as it did today, I am set to wondering.

Starting, oh, I dunno... maybe 15 years ago? at least... and continuing to the most recent December and January, the boilerplate Christmas and Christmas-adjacent homily became about the fact that the angels first appeared to, and Christ's first human non-family member adorers were - THOSE NASTY SHEPHERDS.

That in the day shepherds were despised, discriminated against, considered the lowest of the low, and so, see? that proves that God With Us came to be with "us", in the person of the lowliest, most marginalized of humanity, thus beginning, and demonstrating from the git-go the Church's, and really, God's Preferential Option for the Poor.

Now, obviously, my personal experience of Christmas and Christmas-adjacent homilies is a pretty small sampling, but not as small as you might think.
I have never in the past coupla decades heard fewer than 6 Christmas and Christmas-adjacent homilies, and most years my Christmas and Christmas-adjacent homily intake was in the double digits. One year I heard,  in the time from vigil on the 24th to noon Christmas day alone, seven. SEVEN different sermons from seven different priests and deacons.
So what with playing, singing, or chanting commitments some years; and just attending, as a PIP, Xmases, Mother of Gods, Holy Familys, the "feasts of Stephen", Holy Innocents, and just your average weekday in the octave ofs; not to mention Lessons and Carolses or vesperses where someone in a roman collar said a few words, I've heard a powerful number of Christmas and Christmas-adjacent homilies.
And I don't recall it being  like this when I was younger, but in the recent past not many sermons or homilies failed to mention the dreadful status of shepherds in 1st century Palestine and the lessons we can take from that, at least in passing.

It's like all the Catholic preachers in America got a memo in the late '90s, and went with the herd as docilely as any 7th grade girl. (What are you gonna preach on wear to school today? I dunno,what are you thinkin' of wearing?)
My question is this -
If all the residents of Bethlehem and its environs, including observant Jews, have such contempt for shepherds, how in the world do they read their scriptures?
Do people who have contempt for the profession and those who fill it, sing joyfully and trustingly that the Lord is their shepherd? look forward to the Lord appointing shepherds for them who will shepherd them
so that they need no longer fear and tremble? 
What did they think of Jacob worshipping a God who he said had been his shepherd from his birth to his death?
Who was "the Mighty One of Jacob... the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel"?
How could David and his people ask God to shepherd them and carry them forever if shepherds were something contemptible?

I'm not saying the homilists conclusions were wrong, just maybe their premises.

Anyway, that's the sort of thing days like today leave me wondering...

Mold? Whisky? Artificial Sweetener? Sunscreen? Vegetable Broth in Canned Tuna?

There's just not enough steroids or diphenhydramine in the world.
Or at least, in my medicine cabinet.

These are turtles:
Image result for "turtle face"Image result for "tortoise eye" Image result for "tortoise eye"
This is me:
I'm just sayin'....

Disappointing Homily

Taking a cue from today's Gospel, the deacon preached on the need for sabbatical, for private time, for daily, private, personal prayer, in addition to attendance at Mass.

But he couldn't let it go without his usual dig at the Bad Ol' Days when "most of what the priest did was silent," and ignorant pew dwellers eschewed EffCap for their "rosaries and novenas" - and a dig at those today who try to privatize the Liturgy and who complain that they can't pray.

I'm sure it's just me, but I "feel" more a part of something greater in the silences.
And I am far more aware of being actually present at both Calvary and at the Wedding Banquet of the Lamb when I am not asked to open my yap.
I can drink in the glory of celebrating with the entirety of God's people, not just those who by accidents of time and space share the pews, far more deeply when I am not constantly yanked into the here and now.

The Church! Not just "here comes everybody," but "here IS everybody"!

"Missionary" Identity?

Catholic World Report discusses the foundering of  Catholic print media in Italy.
A Catholic-inspired magazine that was once a leader in publishing opinions in Church discussions will quit publication by the end of the year, evidence of a crisis that have been plaguing Catholic magazines during the last decade.
“Il Regno,” a bi-monthly magazine which began publications in 1956, before the Second Vatican Council, will cease publication following a decision by the Northern Italian Province of Dehonian Fathers, who are the publishers of the magazine....

A lack of missionary identity today could be one reason why Catholic magazines are now facing difficulty.
Having trouble understanding how this can be looked at apart from the crisis print media in general is undergoing.
At least in the US... is it not the same in Italy? How is the main stream print media doing in Italy?

But perhaps more to the point, who cares about "missionary identity," in a time of fading Catholic identity? Don't you think that is part, perhaps the greatest part of the problem? How is the Faith to be spread by those who have it not?
The failure of genuine oecumenism, (as opposed to a can't-we-all-be-friends-let's-just-agree-to-disagree ethos, which is going gangbusters, thank you very much,) in the wake of the Second Vatican Council highlights this all too well.
Nemo dat quod non habet

Please understand, I am not criticizing the good men and women who work for the propagation of the faith, nor questioning their faith, but I do question their focus - the nominal Christian, Catholic, perhaps even the man or woman in religious life sitting right next to them needs to be evangelized, converted.

Any party or sect or group of any sort that puts more emphasis on gaining adherents than emphasis on that, or rather on Him and Her to which they adhere? Doomed.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

When they say a parish isn't "warm" do they mean not "welcoming"?

Maybe not.
Fascinating post!
"The Russian workers at the South Pole expect, like every other believer, spiritual support and a Church very devoted to God." With these words  Russian Orthodox priest Sophrony Kirilov describes his task. He's a "special envoy" of the Moscow Patriarch on King George Island, as the British call them, or Isla 25 de Mayo, as the Argentines say. The island belongs to the sub-Antarctic archipelago of the South Shetlands. Here Father Kirilov cares for the southernmost church in the world.
The Russian priest is one of a hundred people who spend even the winter in this latitude, although the temperatures can reach minus 25 degrees centigrade. In the summer the average temperature rises only slightly above the zero-degree mark. The island is 95 kilometers long and at its widest point 25 kilometers wide. Overall, it accounts for an area of ​​1150 square kilometers, in which, after all, 500 people stay there in the summer. The majority lives in the Incorporated in a Chilean settlement Villa Las Estrellas (Star Village). In winter  there are all of  the 50 people. They have the Catholic Chapel of Mary Queen of Peace in the settlement....

"In the world there is no peace and quiet. Here, however, it is still "

...In addition to the Orthodox Church and the Chilean chapel in the King George Island in Antarctica, there is since 1976 a Catholic chapel, which is dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi. It is located at the Argentine research station Esperanza (Hope) on the Antarctic Peninsula.....
Life in Antarctica is not easy, says Father Kirilov. Moscow  is 16.000 kilometers away. That makes itself felt. "Nevertheless, I know that I have the day I leave when another priest replaces me, I will have nostalgia for this terribly inhospitable land." Why it is so?  "Here you can pray to God in peace."
Does reading this shame me when I think of nearly allowing, say, my allergies... or the heat, keep me from Church?

Yes it does.

"Dignity, Majesty and Prodigious Richness”

A parish in Colorado honored their patroness with  newly composed polyphonic music.
(Perhaps a full set of propers for Our Lady of Mount Carmel, not sure from the article, or how precise the author is with her terms.)
This sort of grass roots re-enchantment of our liturgies is what, ultimately, will succeed.
Th two composers,
decided to draw on the Church’s sacred music tradition to celebrate its feast day.
They drew on the polyphony sounds of the Renaissance, known in the musical world as the height of perfection for liturgical music. The sound adds a “dignity, majesty and prodigious richness” to the Mass, Venerable Pope Pius XII wrote in his 1955 encyclical Sacred Music....
“We can write music in the 21th century that’s just as beautiful,”

Friday, 17 July 2015

"And by everyone, I mean ME"

A sitcom a while back contained this dialogue, between a married couple, supporting characters, (I think I've pretty well approximated it):
Man: Oh, Kitty, no one cares.
Woman: By "no one" I suppose you mean YOU? Well let me tell you, Edward,  EVERYONE cares. And by "everyone" I mean ME.
(Like many television shows, this one was built around a charming, easy on the eyes performer,, an actor with minimal skills at, erm.... acting. But the rest of the cast, particularly the older character actors, were sharp, even, at least in the case of the woman in the exchange I have reproduced to the best of my recollection above, sublime.)
(And I want to be fair, the ingenue did eventually acquire skills, and timing to go with the quirk.)

I often remember this when someone speaks or writes in sweeping generalizaions, presuming to speak for his entire race, religion, sex, whatever.

This blogger has rather strong opinions on what ALL guys want in a woman, or find attractive; and what NO guys want.
And by "all guys" he means himself?

Such a lack of imagination. No "IMHO"s for this blogger, he simply cannot conceive of the fact that some men are aroused/charmed/attracted by women who do not so for him, that all men are not alike in their tastes and desires.

Sad, really.
I understand that the whole warrior babes genre is a sort of unspoken agreement between young men and feminists, in which men get to watch revealingly dressed pretty girls but must pretend to be impressed with them as warriors.  But for this show, the masks were off.  Just calling it “Sexiest sci fi girls” is admitting that we’re judging them as objects of lust.  Why bother reintroducing bits of the pretense?
Even obvious truths deserve to be stated.  Physical toughness is not attractive in women.  No guy was ever aroused at the thought of a girl who could beat the crap out of him.  Of the ladies on that show, only Xena Warrior Princess looked like she might be able to beat me up, and I was not remotely attracted to her.  She looked too manly, as would any woman who was really “strong” and “tough” in the way these guys claimed to like.  The rest of the girls were soft, slender, and curvy in the ways normal men like.  For example, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is supposed to be able to clobber preternatural demons, but the actress who plays her doesn’t look like she could overpower ordinary men.
Men are attracted to vulnerability and cuteness, not warrior toughness.  This is true for personality as well as looks.  To be sure, an attractively sensitive and feminine personality is compatible with great courage and sacrifice, but even in such cases its style is very different from manly toughness.

"Fasting, sexual continence and silence are all much easier than real prayer but they are necessary adjuncts to prayer."

A disturbing, but fascinating post from Fr Ray Blake.
A couple of years ago a rather distraught Italian lady came to see me, she was upset, she didn't come to Mass here or anywhere else in England, [really, Senora? you think your own devotion may be somewhat reflected in how warmly your sons' embrace their Catholic Faith?] though, "I go the time in Napoli", "... but I sent my boys to Catholic school, they went to Mass and Confession there, now they have both becoming Muslims and they are telling me I should become Muslim and Maria my daughter should become a Muslim and cover her hair!"....
The Italian lady told me about how her boys became Muslims. They had been teasing a Muslim friend about his Ramadam fasting, so he challenged them to fast with him, they did and after a few days they had started breaking the daily fast with a group Muslim men and discussing the Koran with them, and a little later they were praying with them and going to the mosque with them.
The mother was convinced it was the fasting that did it!
One of our great post-Concilliar lacks, is fasting and abstinence. One of the things we in England and Wales should be grateful to Bishop Kieran Conry for, was his pressing the restoration Friday abstinence amongst their Lordships. Amongst the teaching of the Fathers prayer is always accompanied by fasting and abstinence. A friend staying here for a few days respite from Greece, told me of Greek monks sermon which contained the memorable line, 'For a life of prayer, three things are necessary, control of the tongue, control of the genitals, control of the stomach'.
How hard it must be to learn to value that which requires no, forget sacrifice, requires no effort!

Idiots and Animals

I'm not a "pet" person, so my opinions of the subject should be taken with a dose grain of salts.
But inescapably, as a member of an enormous family, both immediate and extended, I am often surrounded by them. Besides your ordinary B flat dog and cat owners, we also have those who rescue and foster, and those who've made the humane society their careers.
You know, now that I think of it, it is not so much that I am not a "pet" person, as that I am not a "pet owner," person.

It is not unlike my attitudes towards unpleasant children and their parents, (I can't believe I'm saying this, after scolding idiots for holding up their animal companions as the equal in value and rights to children.)

Very seldom does one encounter a truly unpleasant child whose parents are not enabling, even actively encouraging the unpleasantness.
Irresponsible parents are going to have children it is horrid to be around, and the same goes for pet owners.

Anyway, thanks to the grand guignol television that is Game of Thrones, too many idiots want to have dogs that resemble wolves, are acquiring animals they can neither feed, house, nor exercise properly.
But I'm not sure Simon Barnes has put his finger on the root of the problem.
That is just the extreme manifestation of something that lies deep in all humans and it is the idea that all non-human animals are ours to treat as we will: without any need for rights, consideration or common sense. They don’t matter. They can be cuddly toys, they can be jokes, they can be anything we want.
Because surely it is a far greater problem, a far greater evil, that the same lack of consideration, and projection of fantasies is directed at human children, who are seen as merely property, accessories, fulfillers of ambitions - and yes, as a source for spare parts.
Image result for cecile richards smiling
"Sorry about the tone, you guys! Trust me, we are NOT casual
about making money from the babies we dismember, it's serious business for us."