Thursday, July 31, 2008

Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola

Briefly resurfacing here to wish my Jesuit friends a happy feast day of the great saint, Ignatius of Loyola. Here are pictures from my pilgrimage last year to the mother church of the Society of Jesus, Chiesa del Sacro Nome di Gesù, or Gesù for short.

Triumph of the Name of Jesus by Giovanni Battista Gaulli

Apse and High Altar

Cappella Sant'Ignazio with St. Ignatius' tomb

Cappella della Passione

Please visit Jesuit blogging friend John Brown's site, Companion of Jesus.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Light Blogging

A few days ago, I spent time with my Spiritual Director discussing a whole range of personal topics and eventually, the subject of blogging came up. He asked me if I would consider entering into a blogging desert of sorts. Ever since that day, I have been thinking a great deal about blogging and the motivations for persisting in this pastime. I have also thought about the discipline of the desert fathers who fasted from the world's amusements to contemplate the greatness of detach themselves from the reliance on feeding the appetite for self, to deny the impulses of vain occupation.

So, with the heat of the summer bearing down upon us, I will extend this metaphor to the spiritual sense of going into the desert. To refrain from the busy and oftentimes noxious world of blogging where one's responses border on the braggadocio because of the anonymity that the cyberworld offers. There is a momentary thrill in rattling one's sabre against the perceived enemy. And surfing from one site to another and gathering confreres who think alike may create this sense of a crusade. There is the vain sense of having this online persona that people talk about. Oh, did you read what So-and-So wrote today at (fill in the blank) 'blog?

Meanwhile, the words of St. Jerome's prayer haunt me daily:
O Lord Jesus Christ, as I rise in the morning, be attentive unto me and govern mine actions and my words and my thoughts, that I may pass the whole day within Thy will. Grant me Thy fear, O Lord, compunction of heart, lowliness of mind, a pure conscience, that I may scorn the world, ponder heaven, hate sins, and love righteousness. Take from my heart the cares of the world...Guard my mouth, Lord, that I may not speak vanities, nor tell worldly tales nor detract others in their absence...that I may not answer cursing with cursing, but rather with blessing. O Lord, let Thy praise be continually in my mouth...
I have been asked to pray for so many things and so many people which I have found 'blogging to be a stumbling block in being a friend in crisis. Those of you who know me can contact me through Facebook. For now, Argent is going to take the cue of all proper Romans and leave the heat behind and head for the hills. May you have a safe summer and may God richly bless and make holy your chronos time. Encounter Him in kairos.

Making and Doing

~from Jacques Maritain's Art and Scholasticism. 
Doing, in the restricted sense in which the Schoolmen understood this word, consists in the free use, precisely as free, of our faculties, or in the exercise of our free will considered not with regard to the things themselves or to the works which we produce, but merely with regard to the use which we make of our freedom.

This use depends on our specifically human appetite, on our Will, which of itself does not tend to the true, but solely and jealously to the good of man...This use is good if it is in conformity with the law of human acts, and with the true end of the whole of human life; and if it is good, the man acting is himself good -- purely and simply good.

Thus Doing is ordered to the common end of the whole of human life, and it concerns the proper perfection of the human being. The sphere of Doing is the sphere of Morality, or of the human good as such...

...In contradistinction to Doing, the Schoolmen defined Making as productive action, considered not with regard to the uses which we therein make of our freedom, but merely with regard to the thing produced or with regard to the work taken in itself.

...The sphere of Making is the sphere of Art, in the most universal sense of this word.

Art, which rules Making and not Doing, stands therefore outside the human sphere; it has an end, rules, values, which are not those of man, but those of the work to be produced. This work is everything for Art; there is for Art but one law -- the exigencies and the good of the work.

Hence the tyrannical and absorbing power of Art, and also its astonishing power of soothing; it delivers one from the human; it establishes the artifex -- artist or artisan -- in a world apart, closed, limited, absolute, in which he puts the energy and intelligence of his manhood at the service of a thing which he makes. This is true of all art; the ennui of living and willing, ceases at the door of every workshop.

But if art is not human in the end that it pursues, it is human, essentially human, in its mode of operating. It's a work of man that has to be made; it must have on it the mark of man: animal rationale.

The work of art has been thought before being made, it has been kneaded and prepared, formed, brooded over, ripened in a mind before passing into matter. And in matter it will always retain the color and savor of the spirit. Its formal element, what constitutes it in its species and makes it what it is, is its being ruled by the intellect. If this formal element diminishes ever so little, to the same extent the reality of art vanishes. The work to be made is only the matter of art, its form is undeviating reason. Recta ratio factibilium: let us say, in order to try to translate this Aristotelian and Scholastic definition, that art is the undeviating determination of works to be made.

Please help spread the word

...from 'blogging friend, Cathy of Alex at The Recovering Dissident Catholic. Here are the items that were stolen from Abp. Nienstedt's residence.
Here are photos of the 2 crosses. If you have any information, call St. Paul Police at 651-266-5632

Spread the word!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Encountering Beauty

~by fra Lawrence from an excised portion of an address via TNLM
The theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar has noted that beauty has an “intrinsic authority” and it is “self-evident” in the way that it points to truth, goodness and indeed, to God. Thus, Timothy Radcliffe OP says that “you cannot argue with beauty’s summons or dismiss it”. If this is true, then beauty is a powerful form of preaching, especially for preachers of truth such as we are called to be, and we must not ignore it. Our Holy Father, who we know is not anti-intellectual, once wrote something about this that has haunted me since I first read it. I would like to spend some time now considering his words. He begins by saying the following:

“True knowledge is being struck by the arrow of beauty that wounds man… being overcome by the beauty of Christ is a more real, more profound knowledge than mere rational deduction. Of course we must not underestimate the importance of theological reflection, of exact and careful theological thought; it is still absolutely necessary. But to despise, on that account, the impact produced by the heart’s encounter with beauty, or to reject it as a true form of knowledge, would impoverish us and dry up both faith and theology. We must rediscover this form of knowledge – it is an urgent demand of the present hour.” This is an important realization and it points out to us Benedict XVI's many attempts as Pope to restore beauty to the Liturgy, and that includes a re-discovery of the beauty and riches of the pre-Vatican II form of Mass.

He then says: “Arguments so often have no effect, because too many arguments compete with one another in our world, so that one cannot help thinking of the remark of the medieval theologians that reason has a wax nose: in other words, it can be turned around in any direction, if one is clever enough. It is all so clever, so evident – whom should we trust?” Again, these words offer a challenge to us as preachers who rely on argument, persuasion, words. This multiplication of words is sometimes unnecessary and indeed, futile. The Church has long recognized this and we see this in the example of Christ. Jesus showed us how much God loves us through the beauty of his life and the saints reflect something of that beauty in their holy lives. Note that the pope is not saying that arguments are unimportant, but beauty must corroborate what we say; people must experience the beauty of the Church as well as hear her persuasions, but both together form part of our holy preaching. Thus Ratzinger continues: “The encounter with beauty can become the wound of the arrow that strikes the soul and thus makes it see clearly, so that henceforth it has criteria, based on what it has experienced, and can now weigh the arguments correctly.”

...The appreciation of beauty is something that our noisy world has to re-learn and this education begins with us in the Church. Timothy Radcliffe OP suggests that we have lost sight of beauty because we “fall into the trap of seeing beauty in utilitarian terms, useful for entertaining people, instead of seeing that what is truly beautiful reveals the good.” I believe that Gregorian chant and polyphony challenges us to really listen, to transcend merely entertaining music and to glimpse the mystery and beauty of God.
As a musician, there is always the awareness of the intellectual part of approaching music, the apprehension of the piece of music one wants to incarnate via an instrument. Then in the learning of the piece, being struck by the beauty of passages, the turns of notes and the dynamics that they call for. Especially in fugal passages, where one seems to be wandering in the labyrinth, then suddenly there is is that moment of wounding for be in communion with the composer and his intent, to understand the responsibility to communicate the composer's vision, and to simply just enjoy the music. Sometimes, when I am in the choir loft, alone in the darkened church, and at the organ there is a deep sense of satisfaction in making the notes come alive. I may not be the most stellar of musicians, but for the people whom I serve at the moment, I can become part of that arrow that wounds and make for the hearer, a moment of transcendence. Then I realize, that there are times that God delights in my using this gift he entrusted to me...poor as I am.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Obedience and authority

~from Cahiers Péguy
Can you guess where Fr. Giussani first begins to speak about authority? Not until we are a good three quarters of the way into Why the Church? do we find a discussion of the subject. Authority, Fr. Giussani stresses, is a function of the life of the community: "The supreme authority of the magisterium is an explication of the conscience of the entire community as guided by Christ. It is not some magical, despotic substitution for it" (page 172). Then he goes on to discuss the Church's teaching authority, pointing out that even in the case of the dogmas that seem to have come down from "on high," in fact, in every case (The Assumption, The Immaculate Conception, papal infallibility), they are the fruit of the whole community; debated, voted upon, and tested, these dogmas were not proclaimed until the popes had come to the firm conclusion that the entire community's conscience had been sounded. Fr. Giussani observes, "Clearly, then, the vast majority of people have no idea of the Church's procedure leading to the proclamation of a dogma, never mind comprehending the meaning of the expression. But, as we have seen, it defines a value when that value has become a sure and living part of the conscience of the Christian community" (page 174). In other words, the Church's teaching authority derives from its unity (and consistency). This is a very different picture from the one conjured by the term, "authoritarian." Then, in the final chapter of Why the Church? Fr Giussani returns to the question of authority. If the Church's catholicity, that is its universality and unity, is a sign of its authority within space, then her apostolicity "is the characteristic of the Church which signified its capacity to address time in a unitary, structured way" (page 230). Then he says something that is really worth pausing over: "...Just as Christ's will was to bind his work and his presence in the world to the apostles and in doing so he indicated one of them as the authoritative point of reference, so, too, is the Church bound to Peter's and the apostles' successors -- the pope and his bishops" (230). Jesus stooped to bind his work and presence to particular persons (colorful, even sometimes idiotic persons!), and the Body of Christ makes the same gesture, in obedience to its own nature. There is a beautiful and audacious symmetry in this thought! For the Body of Christ to fill time and space, in order to be truly "all in all," then it teaches what is true for all (preserving its catholicity/universality) and it remains faithful to Christ's original method, to bind itself to a particular succession of persons, who become its authoritative point of reference (preserving its definitive presence in time).

Confess your sins at the acceptable time

~by St. Cyril of Jerusalem

If anyone here is a slave to sin then let him make himself ready through faith for the new birth into the freedom of God’s adopted children. Let him put aside his wretched servitude of sin and take on the blessed service of the Lord; so that he may be counted as a worthy sharer in the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven. Through confession, strip yourself naked of your old human nature, which is being torn apart by deceitful desires, and clothe yourself in the new nature, which is being mended and made whole by knowledge of the One who created you. By faith receive the guarantee of the Holy Spirit, so that you will be received into your eternal home. Come before the mystical Seal of God’s kingdom so that you may be easily recognised by the Master.
Be counted as part of the holy and spiritual flock of Christ, to be set apart on his right hand and receive the inheritance that has been prepared for you. Those who still wear the rough garment of their sins are on his left hand because they have not come to the grace of God which is given through Christ in the baptism of rebirth. It is not a new physical birth I mean, but a spiritual second birth of the soul. Bodies are born of visible parents but souls are reborn through faith, for the Spirit blows where it wills.

If you are found worthy, you will hear the words Well done, good and faithful servant – when your conscience has been examined and found to be free of all taint of hypocrisy.

If anyone here thinks of putting God’s grace to the test, he is deceiving himself and ignorant of the power of things. Keep your soul sincere and free of hypocrisy because God searches the mind and the heart.

The present time is the time for confession. Confess what you have done, whether by words or by actions, whether by day or by night. If you confess at the acceptable time, you will receive the heavenly treasure on the Day of salvation.

Make yourself pure so that you may be a vessel of more abundant grace. Remission of sins is given equally to everyone but the sharing of the Holy Spirit is given differently to each man, according to the faith of each. If you have expended little labour, you will receive little in the way of reward; if, on the other hand, you have laboured greatly, great will be the reward you receive. It is for your own benefit that you are running this race: run hard, in your own interest.

If you are holding anything against anyone, forget it, let it go. You have come here to receive forgiveness of sins, so you must first forgive whoever has sinned against you.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Tie One On

Called to Holy Orders

*image via Fr Z*

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

~from Lay Dominicans
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati is a saint for the modern world, and especially for the young people of our time. Born in 1901 in Turin, Italy, his time on earth was short-only 24 years-but he filled it passionately with holy living. Pier Giorgio was a model of virtue, a "man of the beatitudes," as Pope John Paul II called him at the saint's beatification ceremony in Rome on May 20, 1990. He was described by friends as "an explosion of joy." As Pier Giorgio's sister, Luciana, says of her brother in her biography of him, "He represented the finest in Christian youth: pure, happy, enthusiastic about everything that is good and beautiful."

To our modern world which is often burdened by cynicism and angst, Pier Giorgio's life offers a brilliant contrast, a life rich in meaning, purpose, and peace derived from faith in God. From the earliest age, and despite two unreligious parents who misunderstood and disapproved of his piety and intense interest in Catholicism, Pier Giorgio placed Christ first in all that he did. These parental misunderstandings, which were very painful to him, persisted until the day of his sudden death of polio. However, he bore this treatment patiently, silently, and with great love.

Pier Giorgio prayed daily, offering, among other prayers, a daily rosary on his knees by his bedside. Often his agnostic father would find him asleep in this position. "He gave his whole self, both in prayer and in action, in service to Christ," Luciana Frassati writes. After Pier Giorgio began to attend Jesuit school as a boy, he received a rare permission in those days to take communion daily. "Sometimes he passed whole nights in Eucharistic adoration." For Pier Giorgio, Christ was the answer. Therefore, all of his action was oriented toward Christ and began first in contemplation of Him. With this interest in the balance of contemplation and action, it is no wonder why Pier Giorgio was drawn in 1922 at the age of 21 to the Fraternities of St. Dominic. In becoming a tertiary, Pier Giorgio chose the name "Girolamo" (Jerome) after his personal hero, Girolamo Savonarola, the fiery Dominican preacher and reformer during the Renaissance in Florence. Pier Giorgio once wrote to a friend, "I am a fervent admirer of this friar (Savonarola), who died as a saint at the stake."

I Love Dominicans

~Please visit the new website: Dominicans Minnesota.

If you're interested in learning about the Dominican charism, please read The Pillars of Dominican Life
The main characteristic of Dominican spirituality is the preaching or proclamation of Divine Truth to the world. This true for all branches of the Order, laity as well as religious. This sounds so basic that we may overlook its unique quality that sets it apart from every other type of spirituality. Yet the need to proclaim Divine Truth to the world is perhaps the greatest of our time.
Click on the related links. We're happy to see our favorite Dominican Studentate site, Godzdogz included.

Independence Day

Happy Independence Day!

Jesus Christ, son of David according to the flesh

~by St. Augustine

The shining example of predestination and grace is the Saviour himself, the mediator between God and mankind, himself a man, Christ Jesus. What merits, of good deeds or faith, did his human nature have beforehand, to make this happen? Please, let me have an answer: how did that man earn the privilege of being taken up into unity of person by the Word co-eternal with the Father and of being the only-begotten Son of God? What good quality of his can have made him deserve this? What had he done, what had he believed, what had he prayed for, to come to this indescribable excellence? Surely it was no action of his, but the action of the Word lifting him up, that caused this man, at the moment that he was coming into being, to come into being as the only Son of God!

Let us see, in our own bodies, how the head is the source of grace that flows through the members, filling each according to its capacity. The grace by which every man, from the moment when he comes to believe, becomes a Christian is the same grace by which that man, from the moment when he came to be, became Christ. The Spirit through whom we are reborn is the same Spirit through whom he was born. The Spirit that brings us remission of our sins is the same Spirit that gave him freedom from sin.

God certainly knew beforehand that he was going to make these things happen. This is exactly the predestination of the saints and it shines out most clearly in the predestination of the Saint of saints. How can anyone deny this who properly understands the utterances of the Truth? For we see that even the Lord of glory is the subject of God’s predestination, in so far as at his incarnation a man became the Son of God.

So Jesus was predestined, so that he who was to be, according to the flesh, a son of David should nevertheless be the Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of holiness – because he was born of the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin Mary. Thus in a unique and indescribable way a man was taken up into God the Word so that he could be at once a son of man and the Son of God – a son of man according to the nature that was taken up, the Son of God because of the only-begotten God who took him up. If it were not like this, we would have to believe not in a Trinity but in a Quaternity.

This predestined elevation of human nature is so great, so high, so exalted that there is no greater height left to which it could be raised. On the other side, the very godhead could not throw itself down lower than it did, to the taking on of human nature with all its weaknesses and a final death on a cross. As he, the one, was predestined to be our head, so we, the many, were predestined to be his members.

Let any merits that men may have be silent here – they died through Adam. Let God’s grace reign, as it does reign: the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord, the one Son of God, the one Lord. If anyone can find in that man, our Head, pre-existing merits that led to his unique birth, let him look in us, his members, for pre-existing merits that might lead to the rebirth of us all.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


We are a parody unto ourselves. The Hallmarking of a societal failure. Divorce cards. But then again, it's the same hell-in-a-handbasket mentality as post-abortion e-cards that were unveiled last year. Let's see what some of the sentiments are:

Time to go our separate ways: "We tried to talk it out, we tried to patch things up, but separation is in our destiny, it's time to go our separate ways."

Oh, yes, and when do you send this card? Right before you enter the court room armed with documentation to destroy each other?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Cool your tongue

...or not....patristic sibilant tongue twister at The Way of the Fathers.

Hail the Hissing Ladies

~In response to a reader's question about when it is appropriate to join in the servers' responses at an EF Mass, Fr. Z says
Ah, yes. The Hissing Lady. All too common in some places where the TLM is celebrated I’m afraid.

There is no hard and fast rule about vocal responses. I think you have to go with the flow.

That said, various Popes before the Council encouraged congregational responses, the so-called "dialogue Mass".

On 3 Sept 1958 (anniversary is coming!) an extremely important document, De musica sacra, was issued by the Sacred Congregation of Rites. This document established rules for the outward participation of the congregation in three different levels for the Missa cantata and the Missa solemnis.

In the first, the people would also sing the liturgical responses. In the second, they would also sing the Ordinary. In the third, they would also sing the Proper.
De musica sacra also established rules for Low Mass in four levels of outward participation. First, answering aloud the short responses. Second, also saying all the responses the server would say as well as the Domine non sum dignus. Third, also reciting with the priest celebrant his parts of the Ordinary, the Gloria, Creed, Sanctus, Our Father, etc. Fourth, also saying the Propers, the Introit, Gradual, Offertory, Communion antiphon.

In my travels, I have seen various levels of participation. In some places the congregation is pretty silent, leaving everything to the servers or choir. In others, the Hissing Ladies are vigilant. In yet others, people speak and sing without censorship. Much will depend on what the priest wants and promotes.

But yes, congregational responses are permitted and, in many cases, a good idea.

Personally, I prefer responses from the congregation and have no problem at all with them saying the parts pertaining to the server, and even prayers like the Gloria and Creed.

What I do not like are the Hissing Ladies of both sexes.

But I think you have to go with the flow.
I've not run into any hissing gents or ladies at E.F. Mass, though I have had a priest embarrass me at an N.O. Mass for kneeling after Agnus Dei and after receiving Communion...something about breaking the unity of the Church and my thinking I was more Catholic than the Church. It was quite memorable as I was a new Catholic.

Orthodox Verve

~by Matthew of the Shrine: From the "Random Things the Orthodox Do So Much Better Than Us" File
They have a real knack for naming holy stuff. Witness St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco (known in life with the plain old name of John Maximovitch), John of Moscow the Fool-For-Christ, the Holy and Bodiless Powers (so much nicer than the plain-vanilla "angels"), the Astoria, Queens institution called the Sacred Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery of St. Irene Chrysovalantou, and my new favorite miracle of all time, the Miracle of the Moose, ascribed to the equally baroquely-named Venerable Macarius of the Yellow Water Lake and the Unzha*, the Miracle Worker. The long and short of it is apparently it is possible to catch a moose by prayer, and then enjoy a nice venison dinner afterwards. This is my kind of miracle. Practical and yummy.

The death of the Venerable Macarius of the Miraculous Moose post-dates the final 1439 schism by a few years, unfortunately, making him unsuitable for western veneration, but considering Russian Orthodoxy sort of drifted away from Rome rather than formally breaking with it (at least if you accept Solovyov's line of reasoning--though I understand when the news of the union of the Council of Florence reached Moscow in 1441-ish, people were not amused), maybe we can squeeze him in under the wire. I will see about endowing a chantry dedicated to the Invention of the Miraculous Moose in the Upper Basilica of the National Shrine of St. Flutius in Brooklyn. I think we have a spot between the broom closet and the fax machine. (It's a very small basilica.)
And lest any Orthodox brethren take offense, Matthew makes this qualifier:
[NOTE TO HORRIFIED ORTHODOX READERS: These are supposed to be compliments. Well, pretty much. I would say exactly the same things if this were a western saint. If anything, the Russian aspect ups the P.O.D. factor in some indefinable way. Seriously, we're deficient in moose miracles here in the west; about the best we can do is the time St. Anthony of Egypt is alleged to have run into a centaur.]
Note, if you have no sense of humor, got eat a tub of pistacchio ice cream...I guarantee you'll be smiling at the end.

*Argent on very little sleep and is making hardly a lick of sense*

Anglican mud fight

Speaking of tennis and about the Anglicans. Painful to watch this disintegration. There are friends who remain within this dis-unity because swimming the Tiber is just incredibly unimaginable. From The Telegraph
The Anglican church is in "chaos" with the "moral authority" of the Archbishop of Canterbury lying in tatters amid growing splits over homosexuality and women bishops, rebel leaders claim.

In a direct challenge to the leadership of Dr Rowan Williams, three leading Archbishops said they had decided to "take things in hand".

Leaders of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (Foca), a newly formed network for millions of Anglicans angered by the rise of liberal theology, denied that they planned to "seize power" within the church.

But Most Rev Henry Orombi, the Archbishop of Uganda, Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney, Australia, and Archbishop Greg Venables, Primate of South America's Southern Cone, said they planned to "reassert the authority of the Bible".

+ + +

The water is fine...come on and swim across. I'll have a heated towel and a spot of tea waiting for you.


...I have completely forgotten about Wimbledon happening right now. Who cares about tennis when things of this import are happening and here, too. Please know that I'm not being facetious. Reconciliation is to be earnestly prayed for.

How to get a stupid song out of your head

Late Monday night, or was it early Tuesday morn, I was reading through the Propers for this Sunday. The Communion Verse is this:
Gustáte et vidéte quóniam suávis est Dóminus: beátus vir qui sperat in eo.

Taste and see that the Lord is sweet: blessed is the man that hopeth in Him.
I chuckled that this would have triggered the default "Taste and See" by Moore, in my former parish. But then, I found myself trying to fit the Latin text to the setting and soon, the ditty was stuck in my head.

By the morning, the song was in an endless loop in my head. So a Facebook friend wrote on my wall the words to "It's a Small World". It only took several months for that song to be displaced after our NYC visit to FAO Schwarz. Thanks, John. I'll raise the stakes with:
Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King...soon and very soon....

Thy kingdom come

~by St. Teresa of Avila

What person, however careless, who had to address someone of importance, would not spend time in thinking how to approach him so as to please him and not be considered tedious? He would also think what he was going to ask for and what use he would make of it, especially if his petition were for some particular thing, as our good Jesus tells us our petitions must be. This point seems to me very important. Could you not, my Lord, have ended this prayer in a single sentence, by saying: “Give us, Father, whatever is good for us”? For, in addressing One Who knows everything, there would seem to be no need to say any more.

Eternal Wisdom! Between you and your Father this was quite sufficient. This is how you made your request of him in the garden of Gethsemane. You showed him what you wished for and what you feared, but left it all in his hands. But you know us, my Lord, and you know that we have not given ourselves up to the will of your Father as completely as you did. For us, it is best to pray for specific things, so that as each of them comes to mind we can pause to consider whether it is something good that we are asking for; so that if it is not, we should refrain from asking for it. Otherwise (being what we are, free will and all) we will not accept what God chooses to give us even if it is far better than what we asked for, simply because it is not exactly what we asked for. We are the sort of people who cannot feel rich unless we feel the weight of the actual coins in our hand.

Now the good Jesus bids us say these words, in which we pray that the Kingdom may come in us: Hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come. See how great our Master’s wisdom is! I am thinking of what it is we are asking for when we ask for the Kingdom: it is important that we should understand this. His Majesty saw that because of our weakness we could not hallow or praise or magnify or glorify the holy name of the Eternal Father in a way adequate to its greatness. We could not, that is, do it by ourselves, if His Majesty did not help us by giving us his kingdom here on earth. And so the good Jesus places these two petitions – Hallowed be thy name and Thy kingdom come next to each other, so that we can understand what we are asking for and why it is important to beg for it and to do all we can to please the one who is able to give it to us. Let me explain how I understand it.

Now, then. The greatest joy in the kingdom of heaven (the greatest among many) seems to me to be that we will no longer be tied up with earthly concerns but will have rest and glory within us – rejoicing that gives joy to everyone, peace that lasts for ever – satisfaction in ourselves, a satisfaction that comes from seeing how everyone is praising the Lord and blessing and hallowing his name, while no-one offends him. Everyone loves him. Each soul has no wish other than to love him: it cannot stop loving him because it knows him truly.

If only we knew him like that even here on earth, we would love him in the same way – not with that degree of perfection, of course, but in a very different way from the way we love him now.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Transalpine Redemptorists

Last year, I posted a video of the Transalpine Redemptorists of Papa Stronsay in Scotland. They petitioned the Holy Father to be regularized after Summorum Pontificum and today's news is one for rejoicing. Via Fr. Z.
My dear friends,

I am happy to inform you that last June 18th, before Cardinal Castrillon and the members of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei in Rome, I humbly petitioned the Holy See on my own behalf and on behalf of the monastery council for our priestly suspensions to be lifted.

On June 26th I received word that the Holy See had granted our petition. All canonical censures have been lifted.

Our community now truly rejoices in undisputed and peaceful possession of Communion with the Holy See because our priests are now in canonical good standing.

We are very grateful to our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI for issuing, last July, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum which called us to come into undisputed and peaceful Communion with him.


...for being scarce here today and the past few days. There are some projects that I am helping with, such as this, and have needed to focus to get them finished.

One project that I've mulled about for awhile is a Music for Low Mass planning site that I've finally put into place at Facebook. I've invited some musician friends to help with it. High Mass is really so much easier to plan for than Low Mass. Rubrics for Low Mass are spelled out here. So within this framework, the weekly planning can become overwhelming if you're new to this.

I have been grateful for the Cantica Nova site that I used extensively when I was planning music for a Novus Ordo Parish. The site made me react in an antipathetic way. But unfortunately, the parish where I was helping with music planning, was an exclusively OCP/GIA church. Occasionally, my music choices escaped the censorship. It was always fascinating how many compliments we got from the congregation when those traditional hymns were sung.

Anyway, I don't know if this project will get off the ground or not. I have to try, and at least, it will help focus my practice time.

US Release of Chant CD

~from TNLM about today's US release of the CD of Cistercian monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz
Today Chant: Music for the Soul by Stift Heiligenkreuz is released in the U.S.; Amazon starting shipping last week. We can hope that it does as well in US charts as in UK charts, for that would mean several hundred thousand people, or perhaps millions, will be introduced to the holy sound of this great music, perhaps for the first time. Listeners will also be impressed at the sheer quality of the singing and the style. I think I can confidently say that I've never heard chant this well done, ever. It really sets a new standard in my own mind.

Now, I've raised this topic one or twice here and not really seen it addressed, and I'll put this more in the form of a question because I really am not sure that I know the answer. By way of background, the monastery was founded in 1133. Recall that this is not the Roman Graduale they are singing but the Cisterian Graduale which is just slightly different, so there are charming surprises along the way for anyone who knows the Liber Usualis, for example.

What is striking to me is that the style is not exotic or artsy or experimental or edgy or randomized, or eschewing the musical line to place sole focus on the textual line, according to some far-flung rhythmic theory, as sometimes people imagine the chant might have been sung in the 10th century, such as you hear on some early-music CDs. Rather, what we have hear is peace and stability, a regular pulse behind the music that the monks stretch this way and that to better shape both the musical and textual phrase. To my ear this conforms precisely to what I read in Mocquereau's rhythmic treatise.