Archive for July 2008

In the meantime…

July 21, 2008

While I’m away, I thought I would point you, kind reader, to two TLM blogs. One I have had in my sidebar for sometime – TLM in Maryland. Recently (well, it’s getting so it’s not so recent) there was a great post on that site pointing out resources on the Jubilate Deo chants (the ones every Catholic should know) – if I only I had known about these resources when I was struggling to teach myself how to chant! Pay particular attention to the Adoremus hymnal links – here you can see and listen to many of the chants included in Jubilate Deo – here’s the post. 

And I’ve recently found the TLM in Michiana blog. Michiana is of course that intersection of northern Indiana and southwestern Michigan that includes St. Joseph, Niles, South Bend(!), and maybe Ft. Wayne. For those interested in the Latin Mass in this area, this is the blog to check out. This weekend, my wife and I actually went to mass in the extraordinary form at St. Patrick’s in South Bend. It was her first EF mass, and my third (the other two were part of the Colloquium). While we normally attend another parish (ordinary form) in South Bend, we wanted to see the Gregorian mass in beautiful St. Pat’s, an old Irish parish that retains its high altar. I prefer St. Hedwig’s, being Polish, which is all of a block away, but they tragically removed their high altar some time ago. Needless to say, it was a beautiful mass. A question though – in a missa cantata, isn’t it allowed and expected for the congregation to sing the ordinary? I came prepared with our Parish Book of Chant and identified the Orbis Factor Mass XI, but I think we were the only ones singing outside the choir, and in very hushed voices. Should we not have sung?

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Work is…

July 21, 2008

getting in the way of blogging. Hope to resume more frequent posting soon. Don’t give up on me please! 🙂

Ritual for a feeling

July 14, 2008

Have any of you been following the Sally Quinn affair? I had not heard about it before – but I found my way to the Washington Post’s religion section “On Faith.” Almost all the panelists there are describing, defending, or otherwise commenting on fellow panelist and non-Catholic Sally Quinn and her reception of Holy Communion at Tim Russert’s funeral. Since I have not really followed it, nor do I want to make any snap judgements, I only want to focus on the piece “Rituals and the Modern Search for Meaning” by Rabbi Irwin Kula. (It’s the most interesting of the articles – the others are particularly disappointing, and I do feel entirely comfortable making that judgement.)

Rabbi Kula suggests the following:

For people like Sally Quinn, religious rituals and practices are, with the best of intention, resources that can be used to create personal meaning and connection independent of their metaphysical contexts and belief structures. They are personal tools of meaning that one can choose to use as one feels appropriate to deepen one’s own self awareness and one’s own capacity for compassion and empathy. Obviously, from a traditional perspective this transformation of ritual and practice into a personal resource disconnected from any specific religious authority and any particular historic community is offensive and threatening.

In essence, the Rabbi has identified a growing tendency outside of mainline religious beliefs whereby people ‘shop’ around for the rituals they like, regardless of their proper context, and take them for their own use because it makes them ‘feel better.’ There is perhaps more bitterness in that last sentence than I quite intend, but the main point is that the ritual or practice is divorced entirely of its intended meaning for the sole purpose of making the ‘celebrant’ feel better about his or herself. In the end, one is left with an empty ritual or a meaningless mantra to the cult of the individual.

I think this is a dangerous trend not just outside mainstream tradition, but even within Christianity. Oftentimes when the liturgy is debated, one hears arguments such as “it makes people feel more at home and in community” or “Joe and Mary Catholic couldn’t possibly understand the meaning of this or that phrase because it’s not in their everday speech.” Obviously in these instances, we’re not dealing with a usurped ritual, but we are talking about an emphasis on personal feeling. As humans, we do long for happiness, but as Christians we know that happiness is found only in God. The rituals we practice are intended to elevate our thoughts and lead us to God. And yes, in finding God we find happiness, but the ritual itself shouldn’t be centred on making one feel a transitory good feeling inside. 

If the ritual, or the liturgy in this case becomes focused on providing a fun musical concert, or an entertaining sermon, then we are left with an empty shell, devoid of its proper context and focus. Once the good feeling subsides, people are left trying new mantras or casting new spells. Simply put, it’s spiritual consumerism.

Another panelist, Susan K. Smith, who is a protestant pastor offers these absolute nuggets of wisdom in defending Sally Quinn (and attacking the Catholic Church):

A ritual that makes anyone feel ashamed or frightened or worried cannot be pleasing to God.

On the other hand, a ritual that invites anyone who wants to get close to God has to make God smile.

That’s cute, isn’t? Given these guidelines, there better not be any preaching against sin – cause that could be scary and give one a stomach ache. Here too we see this emphasis on feeling good at all costs. I’m certainly not saying that one shouldn’t be, as Jesus was, welcoming to the tax collector and the prostitute. But the purpose in welcoming them is, as Jesus said, for them to go and sin no more. We can’t offer a transitory good feeling; we need to point the penitent to the true happiness found in God. Any ritual that does not point to God, or one that is divorced from that context, is a meaningless mouthing of words aimed at the worship of self.

The Travel Channel for Catholics!

July 10, 2008

From the inbox – despite my predilection for a revival of more traditional Catholic art forms, one of my interests is seeing how Catholics can use media, new and otherwise, to spread the faith. I received an interesting e-mail maybe about a week ago; I apologise for my delay in posting this, but in general, I’m slouching a bit on my blog posts. Work has been taking up much of my time lately. The following is from the press release:

Diana von Glahn uncovers the treasures of Catholic shrines, places of pilgrimage, and historic sites throughout the United States in The Faithful Traveler, a unique travel series. Each show explores a new location, discovering its history, architecture, art, tradition, and theological background. 

The Faithful Traveler strikes the perfect balance between entertainment, education, and inspiration. The show’s high production values and vibrant, entertaining presentation will appeal to viewers of all ages. It will provide travelers with the motivation and information necessary to assist them in their own travels, and will enable armchair travelers to see these magnificent locations from the comfort of their homes. 

You can visit the web site here and take a preview of the show: www.thefaithfultraveler.com. In the couple’s first episode, they visit the Miraculous Medal Shrine in Philadelphia. Also at the site, there is a map of all the holy places about which they want to do episodes. It’s pretty ambitious! However, for what it’s worth, they need to add the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Indiana, St. John Cantius in Illinois, and the Basilica of St. Josaphat in Wisconsin. That being said – this is definitely worth a look, so please visit their site.

Pope Benedict on freedom

July 4, 2008

From His Holiness’ homily at Yankee Stadium, 20 April 2008.

“Authority” … “obedience”. To be frank, these are not easy words to speak nowadays. Words like these represent a “stumbling stone” for many of our contemporaries, especially in a society which rightly places a high value on personal freedom. Yet, in the light of our faith in Jesus Christ – “the way and the truth and the life” – we come to see the fullest meaning, value, and indeed beauty, of those words. The Gospel teaches us that true freedom, the freedom of the children of God, is found only in the self-surrender which is part of the mystery of love. Only by losing ourselves, the Lord tells us, do we truly find ourselves (cf. Lk 17:33). True freedom blossoms when we turn away from the burden of sin, which clouds our perceptions and weakens our resolve, and find the source of our ultimate happiness in him who is infinite love, infinite freedom, infinite life. “In his will is our peace”.

Real freedom, then, is God’s gracious gift, the fruit of conversion to his truth, the truth which makes us free (cf. Jn 8:32). And this freedom in truth brings in its wake a new and liberating way of seeing reality. When we put on “the mind of Christ” (cf. Phil 2:5), new horizons open before us! In the light of faith, within the communion of the Church, we also find the inspiration and strength to become a leaven of the Gospel in the world. We become the light of the world, the salt of the earth (cf. Mt 5:13-14), entrusted with the “apostolate” of making our own lives, and the world in which we live, conform ever more fully to God’s saving plan.

This magnificent vision of a world being transformed by the liberating truth of the Gospel is reflected in the description of the Church found in today’s second reading. The Apostle tells us that Christ, risen from the dead, is the keystone of a great temple which is even now rising in the Spirit. And we, the members of his body, through Baptism have become “living stones” in that temple, sharing in the life of God by grace, blessed with the freedom of the sons of God, and empowered to offer spiritual sacrifices pleasing to him (cf. 1 Pet 2:5). And what is this offering which we are called to make, if not to direct our every thought, word and action to the truth of the Gospel and to harness all our energies in the service of God’s Kingdom? Only in this way can we build with God, on the one foundation which is Christ (cf. 1 Cor 3:11). Only in this way can we build something that will truly endure. Only in this way can our lives find ultimate meaning and bear lasting fruit.

Just outside St. Blog’s

July 3, 2008

I was doing some internet surfing, and I am now giving thanks to God for the invention of the staff (four or five lined!).

This is Byzantine Chant notation, and those be neumes!

I hate to say – but it’s Greek to me!

Interesting blog on sacred music…

July 1, 2008

I just found this blog recently. The author doesn’t seem to post a ton – but when she does, the entries are interesting and very well written. And she’s a fellow domer, so please give her site a visit.

Musings on Music and other such mysteries