Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Friday, 21 April 2017

A Little Corollary to the Point Below

It is dishonest to not concede your opponent's valid points, and unless you are up for state high school debate teams champions, in other words, IF  YOU  ACTUALLY  WANT  TO  CHANGE  HEARTS  AND  MINDS? it's also counter-productive.

God's Church and Climate Change

No, not what you think.
As a.... okay, I'm going to say it, as a self-identified liberal Catholic I believe that a Catholic can be a faithful Catholic and not believe in man-made climate change, or that there is anything we need do about it, or that there is anything we can do about it, (which is heresy to many if not most other liberal Catholics.)
I should add, this opinion is balanced by what I, as a self-identified conservative Catholic believe - that a Catholic can be a faithful Catholic and believe in BIG Big Government as the best way to bring about God's kingdom on earth, (and that of course is heresy to many other conservative Catholics.)
But neither of these are relevant - my Faith may influence my judgment on these matters, but it does not ordain them,
Unlike say, "it's okay under certain circumstances to faciliate a woman's murdering her own unorn child," these are matters on which people of good will may disagree.

But all that is beside my point, (it is, as Sheldon Cooper would say, its own point.)

No, my point is that I read a link pointing to an ultra-conservative and (less ultra- but still strongly Traditional,) Catholic site, and immediately thought to myself, "gee hope it's a piece by Miss X, but not by Fr. Y or Mr Z."

Why? you may ask. (And even if you wouldn't, I shall answer.)
Because while I am equally likely to agree with/be interested in/learn something from all the contributors to the site, some of them are MEAN.
They are rude, condescending, given to name calling, assuming malice where ignorance or dullness would suffice to motivate, and just plain nasty, MEAN  AS  A  SNAKE.
And these are people I feel are more on the side of the angels than not, (although there are, of course, some extremists who take things so far they become utterly wrong.)

And similarly, on certain aspects of civic discourse, and what I happened to be reading of most recently was ecological disasters in the offing, the people who I believe are more on the side of the angels than not, (although there are, of course, some extremists here who take things so far they become utterly wrong,) are also given to name calling, assuming malice where ignorance or dullness would suffice to motivate, and just plain nasty.
When did smart, well-meaning people stop knowing that saying,"If you think that you are stupid and crazy and evil, let me tell you what you should think," is, uhm... a damned poor way to win converts to ones point of view?
(Don't answer, it was rhetorical, I know - something to do with expulsion from a Garden.)

As another side note, I have often had recourse in conversations as to why people have left one religious denomination or another, (since it is truly shocking to me how many people will lay blame for their apostasy at the door of personalities and practices rather than dogma and discipline that derives from doctrine,) to asking if a "mean" chemistry teacher would have caused them to doubt the periodic table, or if a nasty physics teacher negates the law of gravity.
Truth is truth, even wearing an ugly dress.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

The Harrowing of Hell

A reminder that just because it is quiet and still, just because I can see nothing good coming of events, it does not follow that nothing is happening...

Friday, 14 April 2017

"Here might I stay and sing of Him my soul adores..."

My song is love unknown,
my Savior’s love to me.
Love to the loveless shown,
that they might lovely be.
Oh, who am I that for my sake,
my Lord should take frail flesh and die?
            He came from heaven’s throne
            salvation to bestow;
            but they refused, and none
            the longed-for Christ would know.
            This is my friend, my friend indeed,
            who at my need, His life did spend.
Sometimes they crowd His way
and His sweet praises sing,
resounding all the day
hosannas to their King.
Then, “Crucify!” is all their breath,
and for His death they thirst and cry.
            Why, what has my Lord done
            to cause this rage and spite?
            He made the lame to run
            and gave the blind their sight.
            What injuries, yet these are why,
            the Lord Most High so cruelly dies.
With angry shouts they have
my dear Lord done away;
a murderer they save,
the Prince of Life they slay.
Yet willingly, He bears the shame,
that through His name all might be free.
            Here might I stay and sing
            of Him my soul adores:
            never was love, dear King,
            never was grief like Yours.
            This is my friend in whose
                            sweet praise,
            I all my days would gladly spend.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

"Now the power, Now the vessel brimmed for pouring..."

In an eMail from Magnificat - I'm not sure that the artwork isn't the greatest benefit of the magazine.
No, that would be the reflections.
Though it might be the obscure saints on various themes. Oh, except it's probably....
(Sometime I feel as if I am advertising for Magnificat, but really, you should subscribe.)
Anyway, this reminded me of the heartbreaking statue of the Man of Sorrows at St John Cantius, the same kind of stillness and power.

"Now the power, Now the vessel brimmed for pouring; Now the body, Now the blood..."

(Hymn text, by the way, which has nothing, so far as I know, to do with Magnificat, by Jaroslav Vajda.)

"The Thursday of Mysteries"

Isn't that a beautiful way to describe today?
I've only just learned it.

I appreciate that word "mysteries" used synonymously with "sacraments," very much.
At Eastern Rite liturgies I've always thrilled a bit at the phrase, "I will not reveal Your Mysteries to your enemies," as if we were suddenly plunged by the universality and sacred timeliness/timelessness of the Sacrifice into penal times, or the first century and were willing to die rather than betray the goings-on in the catacombs to the authorities.
One doesn't see it much in the West, although the sheet music from which I first learned the Bruckner Locus Iste translated sacramentum that way, IIRC.
This is, I promise you, not about aesthetic snobbery, but the music that will happen tonight at any of the Roman Catholic churches within reach will be so jarringly bad or inappropriate that I was casting about for an alternative, and my default Byzantine parish seems not to be having any liturgy tonight, can that be possible?
(Here, I can prove, at least to my own satisfaction that it's not snootiness on my part - if it were not a thousand miles away I would attend an Extraordinary Form Mass I used to hear with some regularity, where the propers that are not sung recto tono or to a psalm tone would be unrecognizable they would be rendered so badly, by a choir that included on singer with a voice like an electric cheese grater. The appropriate done badly by worshipers giving their best is more fitting than the inappropriate done well by worshipers giving their favorites.)
Anyway, I found a church, (of a rite that I don't know well at all,) whose bulletin gives a time for Liturgy of  Thursday of Mysteries.
(And between Holy Orders and Eucharist, and washing of the feet - do Easterners do that? dont know -  our evening will be filled with Mystery.)
Was this Father Hardon?
"A mystery is not a truth about which we can know nothing. It is a truth about which we cannot know everything."

The Three Graces

Not, not those!

I think I shall always be bothered by the imprecision of Pope Francis' words, for as long as his pontificate persists. The sound bites often seem Hallmark-ish, ("Hallmawkish"?) and I think it behooves a spiritual leader to take note of common words more specific meaning within his particular "faith tradition."
(It's why I had such a visceral reaction to being asked to sing Ruth Duck's As a Fire Is Meant For Burning.... really??!?#?? NOT to "preach our creeds"?)
Yes, words mean different things in different contexts, but as a Catholic, in the context of catechesis, (which homiletics is,) you wouldn't, for instance, talk about a skanky ballet dancer as being "graceful."
So Francis' talk of the Gospels at the Chrism Mass...
"A single word - Gospel - that, even as it is spoken, becomes truth, brimming with joy and mercy. We should never attempt to separate these three graces of the Gospel: its truth, which is non-negotiable; its mercy, which is unconditional and offered to all sinners; and its joy, which is personal and open to everyone,"
...seems off to me.
Because yes, those three things are sharing in God's love, freely given (the simplest definition of Grace,) but, and pardon me for putting words in the Holy Father's mouth, but I wonder if what he really meant was a reference to the Theological Virtues, which do indeed seem to correlate with what he called "graces."
Because holding on to Truth is the essence of having Faith, our confident Hope cannot but fill us with Joy, and the granting of Mercy to others, (and ourselves!) is the highest good of Love in Action, (the way I describe Love/Charity/Christian Love to my religious education kiddos.)
And, of course, what sets the Theological Virtues apart is that they cannot be obtained by human effort, but are infused by God into a person freely given, (and in need of unwrapping, as I like to tell them.)

(Is it so wrong that on the cusp of Papa Ratz's birthday, at this, as at nearly every instance in which Francis says something that starts to make sense to me and cuae me to think in a new way, my wish is to know how his predecessor would have teased out the theme and crafted it into some all but perfect gem of theology for the blundering but trying, like me? Ah, well, if wishes were horses....)

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

"You don't believe any of this....?"

Himself started watching something last night that looked interesting to me, but as I've more or less given up tv, (though yeah, I check the weather, and whether or not our country had gone to war....,) for Lent, I left the room.
He turned it off shortly afterwards, I asked what gives? and he said, "Oh, you know, the kind of programming they put on this time of year, we're being utterly objective and scientific and historical about all this Jesus stuff, and they make a big deal about anything that contradicts the Bible or common understanding, but if any hard facts support Christian tradition they downplay them...."
"Oh,"... he added, "and you know how they get jackasses or crazies for all the talking-head parts."
Yep, yep, I do know...
But, Department of Silver Linings, we don't have an Established Church in the US.

Few things in life are more reliable than that the BBC will celebrate Holy Week by running a story which causes controversy about Christianity; the only thing more reliable is that it won’t do the same about Islam during Ramadan. The latest, to be found here reveals that nearly a quarter of ‘Christians’ do not believe in the Resurrection. However, 1 in to people with no religion said they sort of believed in some way int e Resurrection, prompting this: ‘The Church of England said it showed many people held religious beliefs.’ I fear what it really shows is the failure of the Established Church in this country to do much in the way of religious education. One of the more remarkable bit of the piece was a vicar saying that: ‘”I think [people answering the survey] are being asked to believe in the way they might have been asked to believe when they were at Sunday school.’ Quite apart from the fact that it is doubtful that many people even go to Sunday School, one wonders quite what she thought was being taught at Anglican Sunday Schools? Then, with all the confidence of a modernist who doesn’t know better, she pronounced: ‘”So to ask an adult to believe in the resurrection the way they did when they were at Sunday school simply won’t do and that’s true of much of the key elements of the Christian faith.” She tells us that” And an adult faith requires that it be constantly questioned, constantly re-interpreted, which incidentally is very much what modern church is actually about.’ Indeed, and in that apercu lies much of what has gone wrong with the Church of England.
One wonder, then - if asked in a survey, does the quoted vicar think the Anglicans of the UK would deny that they loved their Mums? Because, of course, they wouldn't love them in the same way they had when they were children....

"The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, According to Saint...."

Notice, the reader* never says, "according to our beloved music director, Gary 'Gonzo' Garryman," or even, "according to the greatest composer of sacred music who ever lived, and one heck of a producer of talented and multitudinous off-spring, Mr. J. S. Bach."

I had to write this for a friend whose parish musicians decided that an ominous, drum roll or cadence like that used for military funerals might be a swell thing to add to the reading of the Passion on Sunday.
He was hoping to persuade someone in charge to read it prior to this Friday's performance.
Maybe it will be of use to someone else.
In Chapter V of the General Instruction Of The Roman Missal, (GIRM, it will be in the front of the Missal in the sacristy, the big red book that used to be called the Sacramentary until the newer translation finally came out,) paragraph 313 is very explicit:
313. The organ and other lawfully approved musical instruments should be placed in a suitable place so that they can sustain the singing of both the choir and the people and be heard with ease by everybody if they are played alone. It is appropriate that before being put into liturgical use, the organ be blessed according to the rite described in the Roman Ritual.[123]In Advent the use of the organ and other musical instruments should be marked by a moderation suited to the character of this time of year, without expressing in anticipation the full joy of the Nativity of the Lord.In Lent the playing of the organ and musical instruments is allowed only in order to support the singing. [emphasis supplied] Exceptions, however, are Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent), Solemnities, and Feasts.
Using a drum during the reading of the Passion (this is me talking now,) not only violates that in letter and in spirit, it is tacky and cheesy in the extreme, it is the equivalent of adding sound effect, or dum-dum-DUM fanfares like for Youtube squirrels.
"Gee, maybe next year, every time Judas' name is mentioned, let's have Villain's-Entrance-Music, like from a silent movie!!!!!!!"
The Passion at Mass or at Good Friday liturgy is not a performance.It does not call for creativity.It calls for reverence and obedience.Anyone who would do anything that tacky would probably add water sound effects for the Washing of the Feet, in the Mandatum.
*I said "reader" instead of "deacon or priest," because for the Passion, it is uniquely possible that a lay reader will licitly do this.