Friday, September 28, 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Catholic Faux Folk Music - Why won't it go away?

"Monks in Choir"
I'll bet this was prayerful

Sr. Joan L. Roccasalvo, C.S.J., who holds a doctorate in musicology, in addition to degrees in philosophy (Ph.L), theology (M.A.), and the dreaded liturgical studies (Ph.D), provides her highly educated views on the marked decline in quality of Catholic liturgical music here

Best part is this quotation from Franz Josef van Beeck, S.J.:

The single most dangerous threat to the new liturgy is prayerlessness (whether of the authorized or the experimental variety). This is not a theoretical observation but a practical one.  Prayerlessness in the liturgy, in fact, is so widespread as to be almost taken for granted.

True dat.

Hail, Vincent, Priest

St. Vincent de Paul

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Vincent de Paul (1580 AD - 1660 AD).   From a peasant family in Gascony, Vincent was an exceptionally intelligent youth who entered the seminary at Toulouse and was ordained in 1600.   Though he would spend his life in service to France's orphans, widows, and poor, found hospitals for the galley slaves of Paris and Marseilles, reform seminary training in France, and found two religious congregations, perhaps the most remarkable and telling episode in Vincent's life occurred shortly after he'd been ordained.  Travelling by sea from Toulouse to Marseilles, Vincent was captured by Turkish pirates and sold as a slave in Tunis.  Two years later, Vincent escaped from Tunis with his master, whom Vincent had converted.   The following account of these years comes from the life of St. Vincent compiled in 1748 by the Bishop of  Rodez:

By resignation to the divine will … .and ... meditation on the sufferings of Christ, [St. Vincent] learned to bear all his afflictions with comfort and joy, uniting himself in spirit with his Divine Redeemer, and ...copy[ing] in himself his lessons of perfect meekness, patience, silence and charity. [Vincent was sold] to a renegado Christian who came from Nice in Savoy. … This apostate had three wives, of which one, who was a Turkish woman, went often to the field where Vincent was digging, and out of curiosity would ask him to sing the praises of God. He used to sing to her with tears in his eyes, the psalm, Upon the rivers of Babylon, &c., the Salve Regina, and such like prayers. She was so much taken with our holy faith, and doubtless with the saintly deportment of the holy slave, that she never ceased repeating to her husband, that he had basely abandoned the only true religion, till, … without opening her own eyes to the faith, she made him enter into it himself. Sincerely repenting of his apostacy, he agreed with Vincent to make their escape together. They crossed the Mediterranean sea in a small light boat which the least squall of wind would overset; and they landed safe at Aigues-Mortes, near Marseilles, on the 28th of June, 1607, and thence proceeded to Avignon. The apostate made his abjuration in the hands of the [papal] vice-legate, and the year following went with Vincent to Rome, and there entered himself a penitent in the austere convent of the Fate-Ben-Fratelli, who served the hospitals according to the rule of St. John of God.

St. Vincent de Paul, pray for us.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fr. Hugh Thwaites on Confession

Fr. Hugh Thwaites

Fr. Hugh Thwaites, SJ died last month at the age of 95.  Fr. Thwaites converted to Catholicism from Anglicanism as a soldier during World War II, and subsequently spent three years as a prisoner of the Japanese.  All who knew him speak of his gentleness, humility and penetrating spiritual insight.  Here is part of a talk by Fr. Thwaites on the sacrament of confession in which those qualities shine forth clearly.   Unlike the miasma produced by some morbid German theologians we might name, Fr. Thwaites' talk, though never more complicated than a child's catechism, demonstrates the power and clarity of simple Catholic orthodoxy.  Too bad we hear it preached so rarely.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Liturgical Movement (Part 2)

Fr. Romano Guardini

Recently we discussed the "Liturgical Movement," which began in the 19th century seeking to reform liturgy by returning to a medieval model of worship.  In the 20th century this movement somehow lead to the Novus Ordo, which is about as medieval as spandex, though not nearly as elegant.  Perhaps the incongruity between modern civilization, which produces things like spandex, and medieval civilization, which produced things like the Cathedral at Chartres, is what doomed the Liturgical Movement from the start.

Fr. Romano Guardini, one of the leading figures in the Liturgical Movement, noted that "[r]eligion needs civilization" by which Guardini meant "works of art, science, social orders and the like."  Guardini goes on to say that:

"...generally speaking, a fairly high degree of genuine learning and culture is necessary . . . in order to keep spiritual life healthy.  By means of these two things spiritual life retains its energy, clearness, and catholicity.  Culture preserves spiritual life from the unhealthy, eccentric, and one-sided elements with which it tends to get involved only too easily.  Culture enables religion to express itself, and helps it to distinguish what is essential from what is nonessential, the means from the end, and the path from the goal.  The Church has always condemned every attempt at attacking science, art , property, and so on.  The same Church which so resolutely stress the "one thing necessary," and which upholds with the greatest impressiveness the teaching of the Evangelical counsels - that we must be ready to sacrifice everything for the sake of eternal salvation - nevertheless desires, as a rule, that spiritual life should be impregnated with the wholesome salt of genuine and lofty culture."

Part of our task, then, in restoring liturgy is to restore our civilization.  Seek beauty, knowledge, and truth, and thereby sow the seeds of liturgical revival.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hail, Robert, Catechist and Doctor of the Church

Tomb of St. Robert Bellarmine, Church of St. Ignatius, Rome

Today is the feast of St. Robert Bellarmine, Jesuit theologian, cardinal and preacher (1542 AD - 1621 AD).  The following is taken from St. Robert's "Ascent of the Mind to God:"

... [T]he commandments of God perfect the man who obeys them. They provide him with what he needs. They instruct and enlighten him and make him good and blessed. If you are wise, then, know that you have been created for the glory of God and your own eternal salvation. This is your goal; this is the center of your life; this is the treasure of your heart. If you reach this goal, you will find happiness. If you fail to reach it, you will find misery.

St. Robert Bellarmine, pray for us.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Our Lady of Sorrows

"Our Lady of Sorrows," El Greco

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.   You may read a post with the full history of the feast (and a rarely seen Van Gogh Pieta) here.

The following comes from the Office of Readings for the feast, and is taken from a sermon by St. Bernard:

Perhaps someone will say: “Had she not known before that he would not die?” Undoubtedly. “Did she not expect him to rise again at once?” Surely. “And still she grieved over her crucified Son?” Intensely. Who are you and what is the source of your wisdom that you are more surprised at the compassion of Mary than at the passion of Mary’s Son? For if he could die in body, could she not die with him in spirit? He died in body through a love greater than anyone had known. She died in spirit through a love unlike any other since his.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Happy Roodmas Day!

"The Finding of the True Cross"  Agnolo Gaddi

Today is the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, or Roodmas Day.  It commemorates the dedication of the Basilica of the Resurrection in Jerusalem, built by Constantine's mother, St. Helena, in 355 AD.  It also celebrates the finding of the True Cross, which happened during the Basilica's construction.  You may read my condensed but charming and highly edifying re-telling of the story of the Feast here.

If today is the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, then Michaelmas Embertide is very near!  Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross are known as “Michaelmas Embertide.”  They come near the beginning of Autumn (September 22nd) and were formerly set aside as days of fasting and abstinence.  It's still a fruitful spiritual practice.  You may read more about that here.

Why is John Allen a respected Catholic journalist?

John Allen
 Perhaps it's time for a new eyeglass prescription?

Surely not for mush-mouthed lead sentences like this one:

"Even before the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Libya on Tuesday, Pope Benedict XVI’s Sept. 14-16 trip to Lebanon shaped up as a high wire act."

The "deaths"?  Makes it sounds like they succumbed to the flu, whereas the Ambassador and other Americans were outrageously murdered in a premeditated manner, and the Ambassador's body was publicly defiled afterwards.   All the world knows this; why would Allen attempt to obscure facts, much less notorious ones?  Willful blindness like that displayed by John Allen never leads to wisdom or peace.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I thought Inigo Hicks was

Cardinal Ravasi strikes his "most interesting man in the Church" pose

Alas, according to John Allen, the most interesting man in the Church is not Inigo Hicks but Italian Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi.   Ravasi is for dialogue with non-believers, which strikes me as a lot of pointless blah-blah, but opinion makers tend to find entertainment of this type endlessly fascinating.

Monday, September 10, 2012

For Jesuits, abuse scandal is giant real estate opportunity

Home to Philadelphia's Archbishops since 1935; soon to be Jesuit owned

In 2007, when the Archdiocese of Boston was looking to raise cash to pay off its clerical abuse liabilities, the Jesuits of Boston College helpfully offered to buy the archbishop of Boston's residence and 65 surrounding acres for $400 million.  Recently, as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia looks to raise cash for the same purpose, the Jesuits of St. Joseph's University have offered $10 million for its archbishop's residence and 9 surrounding acres.   Another thing to note is that the price of an archbishop's residence is dropping like a rock.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Quietly Heroic Chinese Cardinal Dies

Cardinal Shan

Though the world is mostly indifferent, the Catholic Church in China suffers a great deal at the hands of the brutal Communist regime which rules that country.  One of the Church's leaders, Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-Hsi, recently died, but because Cardinal Shan did not entertain trendy views regarding morality or dogma, his death, unlike that of his fellow Jesuit Cardinal Martini of Milan, was not considered newsworthy.   Nor did Cardinal Shan receive any fawning elegies from media bigwigs the way Cardinal Martini did.  However, one senses that winning adulation from the news media  was not among Cardinal Shan's goals.   Chiesa has more here.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Liturgical Movement

Fr. Romano Guardini

The Liturgical Movement was a scholarly movement begun in the nineteenth century which intended to reform Catholic liturgy by returning to medieval modes of worship.  Medieval worship was considered by members of the Liturgical Movement to be liturgy's ideal form.  Somehow, in the course of the twentieth century, this movement became diverted to a very different purpose.  Remarkably, the Liturgical Movement, which began in admiration of medieval worship, eventually helped produce the Novus Ordo, which no more resembles medieval worship than the Port Authority Bus Terminal resembles Chartres Cathedral. 

Fr. Romano Guardini (1885 AD - 1968 AD), a German notwithstanding his name, was a leading figure in the Liturgical Movement during its wholesome phase.  The following is taken from his text "The Spirit of the Liturgy," published in 1918:

The liturgy as a whole is not favorable to exuberance of feeling.  Emotion glows in its depths, but it smolders merely, like the fiery heart of the volcano, whose summit stands out clear and serene against the quiet sky.  The liturgy is emotion, but it is emotion under the strictest control.  We are made particularly aware of this at Holy Mass, and it applies equally to the prayers of the Ordinary and of the Canon, and to those of the Canon, and to those of the Proper of the Time.   Among them are to be found masterpieces of spiritual restraint.

....And how necessary this discipline is!  At certain moments and on certain occasions it is permissible for emotion to have a vent.  But a prayer which is intended for the everyday use of a large body of people must be restrained.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Church was also a mess before Vatican II

Unfairly blamed ?

Though it's in a much worse mess now.   So says Francis Phillips.  Comments are worth a look, too.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012