Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Thought experiment

Here is a picture of my precious little baby, Sarah:

Take a look at her. She is about six pounds, and sleeps all day, but eats all night. She already has some of her daddy's facial expressions, and has a sweet personality, crying when she needs something, but almost instantly calming down when her needs are met. She makes cute little squeaking noises. I love her very much.

Sarah was born prematurely, by about 3 weeks. She is going to be baptized on May 11, four days before her due date. She will be baptized, confirmed, and given first communion before she should even be here!

Now, here is the thought experiment: look at my little baby. Imagine that she were still in the womb. Now, imagine that a doctor forcibly extracted her from the womb, jammed scissors into her skull while leaving her head inside, just so it wouldn't be legally murder. Shocking? I hope so. Abortion laws in this country allow exactly that: abortion on demand, for any reason, at any point in pregnancy.

Are you still pro-choice?

Monday, April 28, 2003

Byzantine Catholic daily prayers

Christ is Risen!

Some of you may know that I am in the middle of a rite switch to the Ruthenian Catholic church. I am doing this because I have found my spiritual home in Eastern Catholic churches for the past 7 years, and also because I want my children to brought up in that liturgical tradition. My little girl will be baptized, chrismated, and given first communion in two weeks, which means that she will receive all three sacraments of initiation before her scheduled due date.

In any case, although I dearly love the Eastern churches, there is not a parallel to the Liturgy of the Hours. Rather, there is a daily divine office, but it is tailored for monastic usage, and would take all day to complete. It wouldn't be a bad way to spend the day, but it would be difficult to pray it daily and keep a 9-5 job. There are theological reasons for this: Liturgy is a forestaste of heaven, and so it is appropriate that our liturgical lives on this earth always fall short of the ideal.

So, what is a prospective Byzantine to do? There is a website that provides daily readings and links to lots of prayers according to the Byzantine usage. Go check it out. Perhaps you may adopt some of the prayers even if you are Roman Catholic, or not even Catholic at all--the Eastern Christian liturgical tradition is both rich and deep, and it is well worth diving into.

Friday, April 25, 2003

Operational Hiccup

Due to my precious new baby, and also due to some minor but frustrating complications for my wife, I will be blogging only in fits and starts for the near future. It isn't a hiatus, or even a pause, but is just a blog hiccup.

Thanks for all your kind comments and emails. If any of you know prayers for raising hemoglobin counts, could you spare a moment to say them?

Monday, April 21, 2003

New Arrival in the Athanasius household!

Go here to check the new arrival to our family, Sarah Theresa. We named her Sarah because we've liked every Sarah we ever met. We named her Theresa because I owe Therese of Lisieux big-time, since I got Melissa to marry me by praying a novena to the Little Flower. I even got a rose--I was out of town, and Melissa was using my apartment, since she didn't like her roommates. When I got back, she had drawn a rose in crayon and had stuck it to my refrigerator. In return, I promised Therese to name my first daughter after her.

Needless to say, blogging may be a little light. I plan something on the causes of and cures to atheism, but I can't promise a date. I'm going to sign off and play with my new best girl.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Comments on Ecclesia De Eucharistia

"The Church draws her life from the Eucharist." Those are the first words, and should be taken as the keystone of the whole encyclical. These sorts of letters are known by their first words, and John Paul knows this. Thus, he gives the key thought in the first sentence. The Church exists from the Eucharist. It is the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ that makes there be a Church in the first place. All else in this work explains this relationship and shows its consequences.

This encyclical, like the previous one on the Rosary, is quite personal in tone. As the pope gets older, he is putting more of his personality into it.

What is the encyclical for? We know the chief thought already, that the Church comes to be from or out of the Eucharist. But why write it? John Paul tells us that he wants to "rekindle this Eucharistic `amazement'." (6) The pope is a philosopher, and is doubtless familiar with the beginning of Aristotle's Metaphysics, where he says that "All philosophy begins in wonder." The attitude of the philosopher is like that of the four-year-old child who walks around with eyes wide, seeing the world for the first time, and asking "Why?" Philosophers, in a sense, never grow up. The Church should also never grow up, but should remain as little children in the presence of the Eucharist, constantly amazed that Christ himself is present on the altar, body, blood, soul, and divinity, and that he gives himself to us for our eternal life. If you have become accustomed to the mystery of our faith, then you ought to wake up and see it for the miracle that it is. There was a Protestant minister who said once "If I believed what Catholics say they believe about the Eucharist, I would crawl on my knees up to communion." Perhaps we need not crawl physically, but our minds ought to crawl before such a grand mystery.

I am struck by an image in paragraph 8. The pope is reminiscing about all the altars upon which he has celebrated Mass, and he says the following about the cosmic nature of the Eucharist: [E]ven when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world. It unites heaven and earth. It embraces and permeates all creation. The Son of God became man in order to restore all creation, in one supreme act of praise, to the One who made it from nothing. In Thomistic terms, there is an exitus-redditus: God creates us from nothing, and the purpose of all of creation is re-unification with God. We are created for God--"Our heart is restless, until it rests in thee," as Augustine says. We rest in God by means of the Eucharistic, when we are taken up into the Son's sacrifice to the Father.

In paragraph 10, JP talks about the liturgical reform of Vatican II, saying that it "has greatly contributed to a more conscious, active and fruitful participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar on the part of the faithful." This is a quote sure to upset the SSPX crowd. However, he notes that there have been problems in the way the reform was put into effect. Many parishes have no sense of the sacred, no understanding of the miraculous nature of the Eucharist, and "it is celebrated as if it were simply a fraternal banquet." Think of it this way: Why did God create the world? So that there would be creatures who would love him and whom God could love in return. But the Eucharist is the concrete act of that communion. It is the sacrament where we take part in the nature of God, and where he shares himself with us in return. So, if the whole world is for the sake of the love of God, and the Eucharist is the sacrament of that love, then All of creation was created for the sake of the Eucharist!

There follow some points about what exactly the Eucharist is, which are nothing new, but are worth mentioning briefly:

1) In celebrating the Eucharist, we take part in the death and resurrection of Christ as if we were physically there. At Mass, you are standing at the foot of the cross, and then in the tomb when Christ rises. (11)

2) The Eucharist is a sacrifice, an offering of self for us. But it is not just for us, "it is first and foremost a gift to the Father: a sacrifice that the Father accepted, giving, in return for this total self-giving by his Son, who 'became obedient unto death' (Phil 2:8), his own paternal gift, that is to say the grant of new immortal life in the resurrection." In the Mass, Christ offers himself freely to the Father, and the Father gives eternal life in return. We share in that sacrifice and in the gift of the Father by uniting ourselves to Christ. As one of the Eucharistic prayers says (I forget which) "Look not upon our sins, but on the one who sacrificed himself for our sake." It is by Jesus' merits that we gain the grace of eternal life. (13)

3) Of course, the Eucharist really is the body and blood of Christ. Nothing new there.

4) The Eucharist is a foretaste of heaven. JP points out that the description of heaven in Revelation tells of a Liturgy. What we do on earth at Sunday Mass is what we will be doing for all eternity. (19) (All the more reason to make the Liturgy a reverent and beautiful experience. Who could endure an eternity of guitar Masses?)

5) This sacrament which unites us to Christ unites us to each other. Therefore, the Eucharist ought to increase our concern for the poor. This is why, after all, Jesus washes the feet of the Apostles at the Last Supper where he gives them the Eucharist. (20)

Chapter two talks about unity. The Eucharist doesn't just express unity, contrary to the writings of American liturgists, but it makes it happen. The union of the Church doesn't come about because we all gather in a nice building and sing songs together. It comes about because we share in the Body and Blood of Christ. JP puts it this way: "The gift of Christ and his Spirit which we receive in Eucharistic communion superabundantly fulfils the yearning for fraternal unity deeply rooted in the human heart; at the same time it elevates the experience of fraternity already present in our common sharing at the same Eucharistic table to a degree which far surpasses that of the simple human experience of sharing a meal." (24) As Mark Shea puts it, unity doesn't come about from all of us sitting and staring at each other. Rather, it comes from all of us looking at the same thing, from focusing on Jesus Christ.

Now we get to the fun stuff, the stuff that you would get in an Associated Press report about the document: the rules! I will cover them briefly, since nothing has changed.

1. Eucharistic Adoration should be promoted. (25) In America, at least, adoration has been minimized or eliminated, as a cult of "bread-worship." The pope wants it to come back.

2. The Eucharist requires a priest or bishop. Ordinary laity, or even vowed religious can't make bread and wine become Jesus. See, the gift of the Eucharist was given to the twelve apostles on Holy Thursday, so that they could bring it to the Church. The apostles ordained bishops, who ordained priests, for the purpose of celebrating the Eucharist. They are men who are given a special capacity to act in the person of Christ in the Eucharist. We need them because "the Eucharist which they celebrate is a gift which radically transcends the power of the assembly. . . ." (29) We can't make Christ come to us, body, blood, soul, and divinity, no matter how much we try. But those who received that gift from bishops who received from bishops who got it from the apostles, who received it from Christ, can.

3. Priests must celebrate the Mass regularly, even daily, since Christian charity grows out of this sacrifice. (31) Those who don't risk turning their vocation into a mere job.

4. One must be Catholic to receive the Eucharist. The Eucharist strengthens and expresses union, but it doesn't create it from scratch. "It presupposes that communion already exists, a communion which it seeks to consolidate and bring to perfection." (35) Only those who are in visible and invisible communion with the Church can receive communion. That means that one must be Catholic, and one mustn't be in a state of mortal sin, or in an objective public state of mortal sin. (Divorced and remarried Catholics cannot receive.) None of this is new. Why are the rules such? Because the Eucharist makes unity, but it must make it out of unity: grace builds on nature. If we are at odds with Christ's Church, we are not in unity, and to receive the Eucharist would be a lie: "The path towards full unity can only be undertaken in truth." (44)

5. Given the transcendant nature of the Eucharistic miracle, it is appropriate that the Mass be celebrated with dignity and solemnity. The pope points out the example of the woman who annointed Jesus with perfume. Judas complained that the money could have been spent on the poor (John notes he wanted to steal it), but Christ says "The poor you will always have with you." So, "Like the woman who anointed Jesus in Bethany, the Church has feared no extravagance, devoting the best of her resources to expressing her wonder and adoration before the unsurpassable gift of the Eucharist." (48) It's good to give our best to God and the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, and we follow Christ's example to do so.

6. John Paul emphasizes the need to careful when we build churches, that they are appropriate to the nature of what happens inside.

7. Finally, lots of liturgies stink. Many priests have been making it up as they go, changing the rules and introducing clowns, balloons, popular music, etc. The Pope says not to do that, and says that there will be a disciplinary document coming soon. (52) Praise the Lord!

The conclusion on the relation of Mary to the Eucharist is interesting, and you should read it. I give a sample: "There is a profound analogy between the Fiat which Mary said in reply to the angel, and the Amen which every believer says when receiving the body of the Lord." (55)

One last point. The Holy Father refers to the Eucharist as the mysterium fidei, the Mystery of Faith. In liturgies in English, we say "Let us proclaim the mystery of faith" immediately after the consecration, and then respond something like "Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ has come again." This may lead you to think that the response is the mystery of faith. But the translation is misleading. In Latin, the priest says, after the consecration, "Mysterium fidei," simply "The Mystery of Faith." In Latin, if you don't put the verb in, it means "This is the Mystery of Faith." It refers, as the Pope says, to the Eucharist itself, to the body and blood of Christ on the altar, which John Paul says "is the Church's treasure, the heart of the world, the pledge of the fulfilment for which each man and woman, even unconsciously, yearns.(59)

Go read it for yourself: Click here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Wonderful blog on Marty Haugen

Or, as one of our dormant bloggers used to call him, Marty F-ing Haugen, as in "You're going to throw aside the treasures of chant, Palestrina, and Mozart for Marty F-ing Haugen?" Go read here. Thanks to Victor for the link.

Waiting for the Easter Vigil

In my church, we chant everything in the Liturgy, without musical instruments. Generally the chanting is melodious, in major keys, with lots of easy harmony. But as Lent goes on, it becomes less major and more modal. Matins and Vespers take on the character of shadows. On Good Friday we listen to all four passion accounts, twelve readings in whole, in a very long, very penitential service. We celebrate the Royal Hours at noon in order to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus. Finally, Friday evening we commemorate the burial, and venerate the burial shroud. All is quiet.

Then, on Saturday evening, we begin Vespers. All is as before, with the same sombre tones, as we chant the psalms from side to side. Then, finally, the lights are turned up, and we sing the great Easter hymn, in glorious harmony: "Christ has risen from the dead and by death has conquered death. And to those in the grave he has granted life."

I don't usually have emotional reactions to liturgy, but after forty days of Lent and the services of Holy Week, I usually get a bit teary-eyed on Easter. I am eagerly awaiting it this year.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Meet the King of Engand

At least, according to Jacobite Website. See, England deposed King James II because he was Catholic. So their kings and queens up to the present day are illegitimate. The real king is the aforementioned King Francis II.

Not that this matters a hill of beans. But it makes it easier to take Prince Charles.

The Job of a Priest according to St. Edmund Campion

Today is Chrism Mass day. If you ever get a chance to go to a Chrism Mass, take the opportunity. It is the one day of the year where the vocation of the priesthood is especially celebrated. On this day, I thought it appropriate to give a short description of the job of a priest, of St. Edmund Campion. Campion was an English Jesuit who was martyred under Queen Elizabeth in 1581 for the crime of celebrating Mass and hearing confessions. Here is what he had to say about the job of a priest:

My charge is, of free cost to preach the Gospel, to minister the Sacraments, to instruct the simple, to reforme sinners, to confute errors--in brief, to crie alarme spiritual against foul vice and proud ignorance, wherewith many my dear Countrymen are abused..

I am no priest, but I hope that my own work may in some way "crie alarme spiritual against foul vice and proud ignorance."

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Mea culpa

I can't believe I've gone all this time without linking to Disputations, a blog that I read at least twice a day.

Athanasius' Simple Test for Proving the Existence of Free Will

1. Wait until you are hungry.

2. Cook your favorite meal.

3. Don't eat it.

Palm Sunday Thoughts

Remember how you celebrated today? Waving palms and singing "Hosanna in the highest?" This is an appropriate reaction at the good news of Christ coming into the world. We have salvation, resurrection from the dead, and the forgiveness of sins proclaimed to us. Indeed, hosanna!

But remember what happens at the end of the week: those same people who cheered Jesus call for Pilate to crucify him. How could this happen? It is not so unusual. I know from my own experience that I can walk out of confession having received absolution, and with my soul shiny and new, I feel like singing hosannas. But it usually doesn't take long before I fall into my own habits, and by my sins, I too say "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!"

Friday, April 11, 2003

Laetare Medals and Walker Percy

I am a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, which each year awards a medal (the Laetare Medal) to "a Catholic `whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.'" Whatever you think of previous Laetare Medal winners (who include Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Tip O'Neill), the University struck gold with Walker Percy, author of The Moviegoer, The Last Gentleman, Lost in the Cosmos, The Second Coming, Lancelot, Love in the Ruins, and The Thanatos Syndrome. (Look on Amazon to find the books. The Moviegoer is a good place to start.)

When he came to receive the award in 1989,I was still an idiot college kid, a borderline atheist. I didn't know who he was, and paid no attention to his speech, which was among the last public appearances he would ever make. A few years later, I found myself voraciously reading all his books and novels, and they were instrumental in leading me back to my faith. In gratitude, I thought that I needed to get a copy of his speech. So, when I happened to be in North Carolina, I stopped at the Walker Percy Archives and looked up the text. I wish I had paid attention.

Here is the text:

Laetare Medal Speech of Walker Percy

You know. In the part of the south I come from, there are not many Catholics. My wife didn't see a Catholic until she was nineteen. I knew a few more. My cousins in Atlanta, the Spaldings, were Catholic and we visited back and forth. By happy chance, their father, Jack Spalding, received this same award in 1928.

You might be interested in my first encounter with Notre Dame. It is one of my earliest recollections. I must have been five or six. My father was a great football fan. Every fall he would receive a batch of tickets to football games, like Alabama vs. Georgia, Ole Miss Tenessee, Georgia Augurn, Southern Cal--and then came that strange name unlike all the others--Notre Dame. What is that? I asked. I don't recall any satisfactory explanation of what it meant.

Then came that movie, let me see, was it Pat O'Brien and Notre Dame? Something like that.

Later, in medical school in New York, two of my best friends were graduates of Notre Dame. One of them is here today, Dr. Frank Hardart. His wife and daughter Tracy, who is a member of this graduating class. My two friends had the peculiar custom--at least it seemed peculiar in that medical school at that time--of going to church. Attending Mass they called it, every Sunday. I accepted it as yet another Yankee eccentricity and thought no more about it. Yet it stuck in my mind.

To make a long story quite short, years later I found myself a Catholic and a writer, writing novels and articles about science, philosophy, religion and such, and had long since discovered in my readings that this peculiar name referred to a community of scholars, a great university. Perhaps there are advantages to being an outsider. One gets too accustomed to names. At any rate I found it extremely touching that a university, a community of scholars, a great football team, should call itself quite simply and by the two lovely words, Our Lady. I still find it so, and it is one of the many reasons I am so pleased to be here.

The motto of the Laetare Medal is, I understand, Magna est veritas et prevalebit. I like to think it applies even to the humble vocation of the novelist. In my last novel, The Thanatos Syndrome, I tried to show how, while truth should prevail, it is a disaster when only one kind of truth prevails at the expense of others. If only one kind of truth prevails, the technical and abstract truth of science, then nothing stands in the way of the demeaning of and destruction of human life for what appear to some to be reasonable short term goals. It is no accident, I think, that German science, great as it was, ended in the Holocaust. The novelist likes to irritate people by pointing this out. It is his pleasure and vocation to reveal, in his own allusive and indirect way, man's need of and his openings to truths other than scientific propositions. He is one of the lowliest handmaidens to the truth of the Good News, but if he, or any of us, succeeds even a bit in this task, then I say laetare indeed, let us rejoice.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Birthday Gift, 2004

My wife and I are building a house, and I have already decided what I want for my birthday in May of 2004:

It is the Robomower, an electric, automatic lawnmower. Growing up in the suburbs, my life was generally idyllic, except for mowing lawns. I hated it. Smelly gasoline, sneezy grass clippings, and loud noises. If I ever go deaf, I am blaming it on lawnmowing. So I hereby give notice: if anyone who loves me wants to give me a present in 2004, which is when we should have a lawn to mow, this would be much appreciated. Look for details here.

P.S. Hey, Victor, would you write a song for my Robomower? What should we name him?

The Masters starts today

but I forgot to make a Masters exception to my Lenten TV fast. I'll have to wait till Sunday to watch Tiger win. If I were watching, I would have to thank Martha Burke for getting rid of the commercials.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Soldiers, Socrates, and Vocations

Have any of you noticed the conduct of US soldiers in this war? Whatever you think of the justice of this war, can you help admiring the virtue of the soldiers fighting it? Even embedded reporters have been awed, one of them saying, as his report closed, "Where do they find such fine young men?" Where indeed? I think I know.

Such excellence is to be found in Platonic ideas. Yes, I know that sounds strange, but bear with me. What I mean is that the reason people are able to do such acts because they believe in the existence of Truth. Soldiers do noble acts, in other words, because they believe in Nobility. Now, it is a common Platonic trick to capitalize a noun form of an action and call that an idea: for example, Truth, Beauty, Good, etc. But what do I mean by "Truth" and "Nobility"? The soldiers believe that there are realities beyond what one can see and touch. They know, for example, that it is true that Saddam Hussein must be stopped, and the Iraqis liberated. Freedom is real and good, even though one cannot touch it or taste it or even feel it. Even though Truth, Freedom, and even Goodness are not able to be sensed, the soldiers and all who sacrifice self for these ideas know that they are real, more real, in fact, than any of those shadowy things we feel, taste, and sense.

The soldiers are unusual in this age, in that they do not calculate the rightness or wrongness of action based on what one can sense. The dominant way of thinking about right and wrong in the world is utilitarianism, a system whereby good acts are those that promote the most pleasure for the most people. Utilitarianism is for cowards. Such thought will never produce heroes, since the highest good is pleasure: why would one sacrifice oneself if there was no pleasure to be had? It is a system of flabby casuistry, where moral decisions are made in the same way that excrement flows in the sewer: Which way downhill? But heroism requires water to go uphill, against what self-interest tells us. Do you think Horatio at the bridge or Leonidas at Thermopylae, or those brave men and women in the desert, made a calculation of whether action A or action B would lead to more pleasure? No! They saw their Duty (another Platonic idea) and did it. It is on the basis of such thinking that Socrates chose to drink hemlock rather than quit urging Athenians to value virtue more than mere living. It is certainly the sort of thinking that caused Christ to submit to the Cross.

In our parish this past Sunday, the pastor informed us that our small eparchy had lost a priest at the age of 37. My pastor is 49, and is considered a "young gun" in the eparchy. Where are the priests to take up the task of preaching Christ Crucified? Too many of us in the past generations have succumbed to the logic of utilitarianism, seeking what's in it for us. Become a priest? But then I can't have sex (or money, or freedom, or family)! God forbid I do without a pleasure. If you are a parent, ask yourself if you would welcome every child of yours entering a monastery; if not, you are acting to preserve the pleasure of grandchildren. That is not heroism, much less sanctity. Saints do not count the cost.

Socrates says that those who know what Virtue is are like Odysseus alive in Hades, a real man walking among shadows. It is my hope that those who serve in this war realize that it is in sacrifice that we flourish, that it is in giving that we receive. Pray that these fine young people come home and serve God in the Church.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

If you are looking for prayer intentions

could you spare a prayer for my future employer? The mid-sized Catholic college is looking for a new president. Please pray that we get a good one.

The truth about the "morning after" pill

I had students in my ethics class make presentations tonight, and one of the topics was the morality of abortion. One of the young women said that she was prolife, even in the case of rape (good for her), because one could take the morning after pill at the hospital and avoid the pregnancy (not so good). I had to make the clarification that RU-486 is not contraception, but is in fact abortion, since it does nothing to prevent conception, but makes the uterus a very nasty place for the embryo.

You might want to make sure that any young folks in your care know exactly what this pill does, since no-one in my class of average community college students knew. Here are some quotes on what it does. The RU 486 procedure requires at least three trips to the abortion facility.[19] In the first visit, the woman is given a physical exam, and if she has no obvious contra-indications ("red flags" such as smoking, asthma, high blood pressure, obesity, etc., that could make the drug deadly to her[20] ), she swallows the RU 486 pills. RU 486 blocks the action of progesterone, the natural hormone vital to maintaining the rich nutrient lining of the uterus. The developing baby starves as the nutrient lining disintegrates.[21]

At a second visit 36 to 48 hours later, the woman is given a dose of artificial prostaglandins, usually misoprostol, which initiates uterine contractions and usually causes the embryonic baby to be expelled from the uterus. [22] Most women abort during the 4-hour waiting period at the clinic, but about 30% abort later at home, work, etc., [23] as many as 5 days later.[24] A third visit about 2 weeks later determines whether the abortion has occurred or a surgical abortion is necessary to complete the procedure (5 to 10% of all cases).[25]

(Information taken from here.)

Two new blogs on my list

I've added De Fidei Oboedientia and WhysGuys to my blog list, since I have been reading them lately. Go take a look.

Monday, April 07, 2003

Cool music site of the day

The Classical Music Archives seem to be very neat. They have midi files of lots of composers, plus gobs of WMA and MP3 files to download. The MP3's are only for subscribers, but one can stream the WMA's. I am currently listening to Romance, opus 5, no 1 by Rachmaninov. You can find it on this page--just scroll down to the Rachmaninov. It is very beautiful to my ears. I think I might have to subscribe.

I've almost been blogging for a year!

Now that I've got my archives fixed, you can go back and read all my posts since 4/26/2002. Have fun!

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Free Concert of Byzantine and Roman Hymns!

My wonderful church choir is giving a free concert on Tuesday, April 8, at 7:30 P.M. at Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Parish, 14610 Will-Cook Road, Homer Glen, IL. The choir of the parish will be performing with the Lewis University Choir, and the program will include music of the Roman Mass, Byzantine Divine Liturgy, and English Anthems. If you live in the Chicago area, you should come!

Our choir is quite good, and our hymns are breathtaking. Also, the church itself is very beautiful, decorated with icons from top to bottom. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend, since I teach ethics on Tuesday nights. But if you are a Chicago area blog-reader, and want to see the church, our Liturgy is at 10:00 AM on Sundays, and does count for your Sunday obligation, since it is a Catholic church. Let me know via email if you are coming, and I'll stick around and give you a tour.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Creepy things at the public library

I stopped at the library this morning to do some work--it is more free of distractions than home. I was sitting at a table next to the glass wall of the computer room. When I got up to leave, I noticed that an elderly "gentleman" was busily chatting away in a chat room. I looked closer, and discovered that it was a Hustler chat room! Eeeeew! There are little kids running around the library at the same time that an old pervert is reading pornography in the computer room.

I have said before that I am in favor of censorship of pornography. I still am. The old man should not be allowed to do that sort of thing on the public dime. Or on the private dime, for that matter. Yuck!

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

The danger of being right

Robert Gotcher over at HMS Pinafore, er Blog, writes about the discussion here on ICEL texts. He says lots of worthy things. Here is an excerpt: These translations, whatever their shortcomings (and all liturgies and translations have shortcomings: if you think somehow that a certain liturgy is “perfect” or something, once again, say “hi” to Archbishop Lefevre for me), they are approved and therefore they are adequate. To not say them in protest is to imply, at least, a lack of confidence in the providence of God and also to cause an unnecessary disruption in the liturgy.

I agree completely. I absolutely detest the horrible job at translation that ICEL did, and that derelict bishops approved. But, and it is a very big but, it the translations were approved by the bishops and confirmed by the pope. Bishops get their authority from Christ. To reject a genuine exercise of their episcopal office is to reject Jesus Christ, the source of that office. So, although I know that et cum spiritu tuo means "and with your spirit," I say "and also with you." It is my duty as a good son of the Church. I pray that there will be improvement in translations, and I am confident that they are coming; if you doubt, look at the new GIRM and see how good the translation is. Just be patient. Be obedient and patient.

The danger of being right about liturgical matters is that there is a tendency to place our faith in being right rather than in Christ. In other words, we liturgogeeks march up to pastors and choir directors, armed with our documents and our knowledge of Latin, and say "You, sir, are a miscreant, a cretin, a philistinish desecrator of all things holy. Now do things my way!" This is not the right way. We are correct about the way liturgy should be celebrated, but we must persuade people to adopt correct worship practice. Do you remember Christ's advice on correcting the brethren/sistren? Look at Matthew 18:15-17: we must take aside those who are mistaken, and gently correct them, in private--perhaps they don't know any better. Only when the quiet approach fails are we allowed to go higher up the ladder, and I would say we are never able to brandish liturgical instructions like hammers. It is a tragedy that the Mass is celebrated so poorly; it would be a far greater tragedy if people continued to celebrate it poorly because they were mad at us.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Big News for Liturgy Geeks!

The USCCB has finally published the English translation of the General Instruction on the Roman Missal. It is a pdf file, so you need Acrobat. Clicke, lege!