Tuesday, January 31, 2012
"We ask the government to fix the problems we already have, not create new ones": the courage to stand against the tide
10:24 p.m. EST, January 30, 2012
More than 300 protesters filled a courtyard in front of the State House in Annapolis on Monday evening, listening to ministers and chanting slogans in opposition to a same-sex marriage bill introduced by Gov. Martin O'Malley.
"We ask the government to fix the problems we already have, not create new ones," said the Rev. Michael DeAscanis, a Roman Catholic priest in St. Agnes and St. William of York Parish in Baltimore.The crowd roared with approval and broke into a chant directed at state lawmakers: "Do your job! Do your job!"
At another point, protesters yelled "one man and one woman" over and over again, stressing their support for traditional marriage.The rally was intended to set a defiant tone before a Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing scheduled Tuesday on O'Malley's bill to legalize gay unions. The governor is scheduled to pitch the legislation in person, a rare appearance before a legislative committee.A same-sex marriage bill passed the Senate last year, but was pulled from the floor of the House of Delegates when Democratic leaders determined they were a few votes short of passage. That chamber never voted on the measure.
Over the summer, O'Malley pledged to include a similar bill in his legislative package for the 2012 session, and put the full force of his office behind passing it. If he succeeds, most expect that it will be petitioned to referendum and voters will decide on the November ballot.On Monday, protesters latched on to remarks made last week by Maryland first lady Catherine Curran O'Malley, who called some delegates "cowards" for preventing the measure from passing last year. She later said she regretted her choice of words.
One man, who declined to give his name, held up a sign that read "Katie O'Malley, Only 'Cowards' endorse the immorality of LIBERALS." Another held a handwritten sign that said "Mrs. O'Malley, I'm not a coward." Several Republican lawmakers wore yellow buttons with the phrase "Proud to be a coward. Defend marriage."Robin Robertson, 54, of Damascus said that he came to the evening rally because he feels "bullied" by "the gay agenda." A Catholic with five children, he said: "I feel like I'm having to accept something that I don't believe in."firstname.lastname@example.org://www.twitter.com/annielinskey
Monday, January 30, 2012
The music you hear in a family’s household says a great deal about that family. For instance, if all they ever play is the shallow, repetitive stuff that gets churned out of the modern pop music machine then they deprive themselves of the richness and depth that God intended when he gave us the gift of music. Or, if family members are forever splitting up and going into separate rooms to listen only to the music they individually prefer then the family suffers from disunity—by never sharing music or singing as one they never get to be drawn together in that way which, again, is such a powerful gift from our heavenly Father.
These are problems which affect our earthly, human families, yet to a greater degree they affect God’s family, as well. When we, the members of Christ’s body and of God’s family, gather together in God’s house at Mass, the music does not often serve the purposes of fully drawing us together in unity and deepening our relationship with the Almighty. It has the opposite effect, in some cases.
A New Kind of Hymnal
This is not another article about bad liturgical music. It is more of a clarion call to embrace a better way of performing and participating in the music of Mass. The recently released Vatican II Hymnal, published by the Texas-based non-profit organization Corpus Christi Watershed, is the pièce de résistance of this “better way.”
There are, of course, other hymnals available already from other publishers. Catholics use them at Mass every Sunday. The quality of the songs therein is debatable, and there is no dearth of opinions on the subject. Song preferences aside, the Vatican II Hymnal responds to a more pervasive problem that is rarely recognized at the parish level: every Sunday music directors “spin the dial,” as CCW President Jeffrey Ostrowski puts it. Songs for Mass are very often chosen, if not outright randomly, then with little regard for the liturgical season or for the themes of the Mass that day.
The Church put specific prayers and chants in place for every Mass many centuries ago, with the intention that we should sing them regularly and ritually: an Introit at the beginning, a Gradual and an Alleluia after the readings, an Offertory and a Communion.
Each is an exquisite gem that inspires everyone who hears. Each bears an aura of antiquity that is astounding: many of them would have been heard and sung by St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Albert the Great.
The Church prefers that we use these chants today, and yet most of us have never heard them before. The Catholic Church does allow for some latitude in the music planned for Mass, but what was intended as an extraordinary exception has become a universal rule. Sunday Mass is now dominated by songs which are quite often musically inferior, thematically inappropriate, and lyrically shallow. The result is a lack of unity in God’s family and a watering down of the Mass’s inherent beauty.
The Picture of Mass
Just as the Scripture readings are formally set and repeated in cycles throughout the ages, so also is the music we are meant to hear and share in. It is all for a reason, of course—it all works together to form a particular picture.
For example, at the Mass for the first Sunday after Easter last year Catholics heard specific readings from Acts of the Apostles, the 1st letter of Peter, and the Gospel of John. The homily expounded on those readings (one hopes) and in some way exhorted parishioners to imitate the first disciples spoken of in those readings. The Church thought all of this through a long time ago for the sake of the faithful—in general, everything at that specific Mass should celebrate these particular themes and subjects. That is the “picture” it forms.
The music should add even more color and texture to the overall picture. The best way to do this is what the Church has prescribed for centuries: chant. Gregorian chant is the best, most common way of singing what are called the “Propers” of Mass: the Introit, the Gradual, the Alleluia, etc.
Changing to Chant
This would amount to a revolution in parish music programs, and Ostrowski is sensitive to the seismic disturbances this would cause.
“I would suggest a two-step program,” he says. “Firstly, every secular, undignified, emotionally-driven song needs to be gradually banished from our churches. Secondly, we ought not to instantly take away hymns, because we have become so accustomed to them—and many are truly beautiful and they enhance worship. However, we should remember that chanting, especially the Mass Propers, is our ultimate goal.”
“Musicologists,” he goes on to say, “have pointed out that the very form of metrical hymns, with their predictable upbeat and downbeat, tend to remind us of the passage of time and (by extension) the world. Whereas Gregorian chant, which is completely free in its rhythm, takes you into another world: prayerful, reverent, eternal, holy.”
On top of this, it is the preferred music of the Church—not the hymns to which we have all become so accustomed. Gregorian chant “should be given pride of place in liturgical services,” wrote the Council Fathers in 1963’s Sacrosanctum Concilium (par. 116) and yet this mandate has largely been ignored for decades.
It seems, however, that chant’s time has come. Corpus Christi Watershed has achieved amazing success as the go-to place for any and all resources having to do with chant, and the Vatican II Hymnal is a crown jewel of that success. The hard work and persistence of the staff, board members, composers and performers associated with CCW is all an effort designed to meet a modern resurgence of interest in the ancient forms of liturgical music. New scholas, or liturgical musical groups, are springing up in dioceses across America and they are often comprised of young, enthusiastic folk with very little formal training—they only know that they love the music that Corpus Christi Watershed is making available.
At this point, the biggest obstacle for the average Catholic is simply a lack of confidence. They are unfamiliar with the traditional music and so they are not sure if they will be able to learn it or perform it correctly. Again, that is what Corpus Christi Watershed was created for: to assist Catholics everywhere in rediscovering and implementing ancient polyphony and chant in their parishes.
Imagine the glorious beauty of every Catholic Church on earth joining in harmony to hear the ancient Scripture readings assigned to a particular Sunday, to be pondering and fixating on the same themes and ideas, and to share in the one, holy sacrifice of the Mass all to the music of sacred chants that have been sung by Catholics on that day since the first centuries of Christianity? That is a more profound sharing in and realization of the unity of God’s family, and a foretaste of the heavenly reality that waits for all of us at the end of time.
The Vatican II Hymnal, like everything Corpus Christi Watershed produces, is done with no other purpose in mind than to bring us all into closer contact with God and with each other at Mass. It is high time that music directors stop thumbing through missalettes in search of mediocre songs that may or may not be prescribed by the Church. It is time to rediscover the ancient glory of the chants that the Church gives us.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Letter from Cardinal Donald Wuerl: "There can no longer be any doubt that religious liberty in our country is in jeopardy."
Dear Brother Priests,
On January 20, 2012, the United States Department of Health and Human Services with the approval of President Barack Obama issued a new federal mandate making coverage of abortifacient drugs, sterilization and all FDA-approved contraceptives obligatory for virtually all employers, including faith-based institutions. What is at the center of the concern of Catholic bishops and others about this action by the Obama administration? How can it affect the institutions of the Archdiocese of Washington?
The new mandate is the first federal regulation in our nation’s history to require all faith-based institutions to pay for coverage of abortifacient drugs, sterilization and contraceptives. People were already free to use such widely available products and procedures. Up until this mandate, employers could choose whether or not to cover them and individuals could choose whether or not to seek employers that pay for them. Now nearly all those who provide insurance must include abortifacients, sterilization and contraceptives. Virtually all Catholic institutions and individuals will have to pay for that coverage. Being forced to provide these services violates both our faith conviction and our freedom.
In upholding the HHS regulation, the administration has ignored the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and has denied Catholics the most fundamental freedom, religious liberty. Despite the Church’s appeal for a broader religious exemption, which was echoed by many other faiths, the administration refused to modify the regulation’s current exemption that is limited to religious groups that hire and serve people primarily of their own faith. Most churches and church-run institutions do not qualify for the exemptionbecause of their very openness to serving the common good of society and all people regardless of creed.
Even those who may disagree with the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of human life, such as the editorial boards of The Washington Post and the New York Daily News, have stated that the government has no business forcing religious institutions to sponsor and pay for procedures and drugs which violate their beliefs.
What will happen if this mandate stands? Our schools, hospitals and charitable organizations will be placed in the untenable position of choosing between violating civil law and abandoning our religious beliefs.
For example, the mandate will allow a Catholic school one of three options: 1) violate its beliefs by providing coverage for medications and procedures we believe are immoral, 2) cease providing insurance coverage for all of its employees and face ongoing and ultimately ruinous fines, or 3) attempt to qualify for the exemption by hiring and serving only Catholics.
A Catholic school simply cannot effectively teach Catholic doctrine while providing insurance to its teachers – and in the case of Catholic universities, to its students as well – that violates its own beliefs. Nor should it have to deny its employees access to affordable health care, a basic human right. Nor could it afford to pay crippling fines. Nor should it be forced to close its doors to non-Catholics.
There can no longer be any doubt that religious liberty in our country is in jeopardy. Only weeks ago, the Obama administration unsuccessfully argued to the Supreme Court that the government has the right to interfere in a church’s choice of its ministers. Thankfully, the Court unanimously rejected this radical position. Undeterred, the government has advanced on another front.
Catholics across America are already fighting this mandate. Catholic journalists of all backgrounds have widely criticized the HHS rules as unjust, and leaders of major Catholic organizations — such as the Catholic Health Association, Catholic Relief Services, andCatholic Charities USA — have also spoken out against them. In the meantime, the Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty is actively exploring options for litigation and legislative proposals to remedy this injustice.
I hope you will bring this information to the attention of your parishioners and encourage them to pray that justice will prevail and religious liberty may be restored. You may wish to include a bulletin announcement or information on your parish website recommending that parishioners visit http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience protection/index.cfm and http://capwiz.com/mdcath/home/ for details about the new federal mandate and how to contact Congress to support legislation that would reverse the administration’s decision. Please consider calling attention to this issue and all of these resources as soon as possible.
With gratitude for your collaboration in this very important matter and with every good wish, I am
Faithfully in Christ,
Donald Cardinal Wuerl
Archbishop of Washington
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
At the sedalia for the duration of the chanting of the Credo by the cantor.
Pro-lifers start young and March for Life faithfully every year on the anniversary of the Supreme Court death warrant Rove v. Wade which declared an entire class of human beings unworthy of protection, transforming the nation's capitol into a sea of joyful humanity ready to defend God's gift of human life for every person no matter how small.
Thank you, Maggie, and thanks to all of those persons both young and young-at-heart, who march every day for human life in prayer, fasting and untiring efforts for the day when all human life is loved, respected and protected outside and inside the womb.
Monday, January 23, 2012
They were among between 200,000 and 500,000 people who came to represent the millions of pro-life Americans who are calling for the overturning of the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 that imposed abortion on demand upon a Christian and pro-life nation.
These men are the pro-life leaders of tomorrow. Keep them in your prayers. Fast and offer your penances for them that they will remain faithful to the Lord and to His Gospel of Life.
Catholic News Agency reports that attendance at this year's March for Life may have topped last year's estimate of 400,000.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
January 20, 2012
Unconscionable to force citizens to buy contraceptives against their will
No change in limited exemption, only delay in enforcement
Matter of freedom of conscience, freedom of religion
WASHINGTON—The Catholic bishops of the United States called “literally unconscionable” a decision by the Obama Administration to continue to demand that sterilization, abortifacients and contraception be included in virtually all health plans. Today's announcement means that this mandate and its very narrow exemption will not change at all; instead there will only be a delay in enforcement against some employers.
“In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” said Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The cardinal-designate continued, “To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable.It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty."
The HHS rule requires that sterilization and contraception – including controversial abortifacients – be included among “preventive services” coverage in almost every healthcare plan available to Americans. “The government should not force Americans to act as if pregnancy is a disease to be prevented at all costs,” added Cardinal-designate Dolan.
At issue, the U.S. bishops and other religious leaders insist, is the survival of a cornerstone constitutionally protected freedom that ensures respect for the conscience of Catholics and all other Americans.
To read the entire article click here to visit the USCCB web site.
Friday, January 20, 2012
in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite
for the Feast of St. Francis de Sales
Tuesday, January 24, 2012, at 7 pm
St. Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church
7185 Benedict Avenue, Benedict, Maryland
Celebrant: Rev. Fr. Kevin Cusick
Deacon: Rev. Mr. Richard Walker
Subdeacon: Rev. Fr. John Reutemann
“What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and
great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely
forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to
preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith
and prayer, and to give them their proper place.”
-Pope Benedict XVI, Letter to Bishops, July 7, 2007
The Ordinary Chants of the Mass IV --
Thursday, January 19, 2012
BXVI: "it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the US come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness"
"Dear Brother Bishops,
"For her part, the Church in the United States is called, in season and out of season, to proclaim a Gospel which not only proposes unchanging moral truths but proposes them precisely as the key to human happiness and social prospering (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 10). To the extent that some current cultural trends contain elements that would curtail the proclamation of these truths, whether constricting it within the limits of a merely scientific rationality, or suppressing it in the name of political power or majority rule, they represent a threat not just to Christian faith, but also to humanity itself and to the deepest truth about our being and ultimate vocation, our relationship to God. When a culture attempts to suppress the dimension of ultimate mystery, and to close the doors to transcendent truth, it inevitably becomes impoverished and falls prey, as the late Pope John Paul II so clearly saw, to reductionist and totalitarian readings of the human person and the nature of society.
"With her long tradition of respect for the right relationship between faith and reason, the Church has a critical role to play in countering cultural currents which, on the basis of an extreme individualism, seek to promote notions of freedom detached from moral truth. Our tradition does not speak from blind faith, but from a rational perspective which links our commitment to building an authentically just, humane and prosperous society to our ultimate assurance that the cosmos is possessed of an inner logic accessible to human reasoning. The Church’s defense of a moral reasoning based on the natural law is grounded on her conviction that this law is not a threat to our freedom, but rather a “language” which enables us to understand ourselves and the truth of our being, and so to shape a more just and humane world. She thus proposes her moral teaching as a message not of constraint but of liberation, and as the basis for building a secure future.
"The Church’s witness, then, is of its nature public: she seeks to convince by proposing rational arguments in the public square. The legitimate separation of Church and State cannot be taken to mean that the Church must be silent on certain issues, nor that the State may choose not to engage, or be engaged by, the voices of committed believers in determining the values which will shape the future of the nation.
"In the light of these considerations, it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.
"Here once more we see the need for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society. The preparation of committed lay leaders and the presentation of a convincing articulation of the Christian vision of man and society remain a primary task of the Church in your country; as essential components of the new evangelization, these concerns must shape the vision and goals of catechetical programs at every level."
Read the entire address to the US Bishops at this link.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Friday, January 13, 2012
Philip studied French and spent some time studying in Paris so did a good job navigating the Metro as well as helping me learn how to make the nasal "tro" sound in "Metro". Takes a lot of practice but I think I've almost got it down. He had to put up with listening to me.
Our view of the roof and spire of La Sainte-Chapelle while we waited in the queue to enter. Louis IX built the masterpiece to house his relics of the Passion of Our Lord and, in particular the crown of thorns. I chatted with two Italian priests from Milano while we passed the time.
The exterior apse of the chapel is more beautiful than the facade. The chapel is the only remaining structure of Louis' palace.
The rose window. Nothing I could offer by way of description would do it justice. Just look and find out more about what the word "awe" can mean.
Come back soon for more of Paris and France.
Au revoir, mon amis!
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Agnostic Jew: "What is so terrifying and bizarre about the Catholic Church's teachings on the intrinsic beauty and sanctity of life, death and sex?
From The Daily Caller
Contrary to popular belief, Rick Santorum is not “coming for your birth control.” The senator has explained that, although state governments have the power to pass laws banning contraceptive use, he is not interested in seeing these laws get on the books.
“It’s been clarified about oh, 150,000 times, so I’ll clarify 150,001,” Santorum said on Sunday afternoon in Greenville, South Carolina. “I’ve never said I wanted to ban birth control. I wouldn’t vote for it.”
A President Rick Santorum, however, would undoubtedly use the bully pulpit to talk to Americans about what he sees as the dangers of contraceptive use, just as Michelle Obama has used it to talk about the dangers of childhood obesity. As Santorum put it in October:
One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country. … It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.
While I disagree with Santorum’s conclusion about birth control, is it really such an off-limits topic that the country couldn’t stand to have a little discussion about its pros and cons? Sure, 99% of sexually active American women either use or have used some form of birth control. But it is also undeniable that since the birth control pill’s invention a half-century ago, STDs have become more widespread and the number of unintended pregnancies has increased. Even a recent New York magazine cover story celebrating the anniversary of the pill acknowledged that it has helped create a group of women who, having put off pregnancy until their late thirties, spend thousands on various fertility treatments: “Inadvertently, indirectly, infertility has become the pill’s primary side effect.”
I’m not Catholic. In fact, I’m an agnostic Jew who loves a nice ham and Swiss sandwich. But what, exactly, is so terrifying and bizarre about the Catholic Church’s teachings on the intrinsic beauty and sanctity of life, death and sex? Rick Santorum is being derided for living his life in a way that respects his faith and its teachings, but his example is an admirable exception in a culture that routinely treats sexuality as a consumable product. Liberals are always paranoid about Christian right-wingers who want to take away their condom Christmas trees and heap disapproval — horror of horrors — on their licentious lifestyles, but it is liberals who do not want to let the Santorums, and their lifestyle choices, just be.
Inez Feltscher has a philosophy BA from UCSD, where she was chairwoman of the College Republicans and an editor of the conservative newspaper on campus.
Source: The Daily Caller.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
On the 600th anniversary of the birth of the "Maid" I had the privilege of visiting the site of her martyrdom at Rouen.
I recommend this book as especially worthy of your attention. Regine Pernoud, an eminent historian, began her task of researching this book as an unbelieving skeptic and, after exhaustive examination of the records of the French archives became a convinced and ardent advocate of the sterling integrity and authentic heroism of Sainte Jeanne d'Arc.
Beautifully written and an impeccable history. Purchasing information through Barnes and Noble available at this link.
Please check back at this blog in coming days for photos and information about St Joan and France.
Monday, January 9, 2012
Diane and Sophie receive their first holy Communion at the Mass.
Church news sources, priest blogs, sources on the priesthood
- American Papist
- Anna Arco's Diary
- Annus Sacerdotalis
- Apostles of Jesus Christ, Priest and Victim
- Archdiocese of Washington Blog
- Clerical Reform
- Damian Thompson
- Daughters of Mary, Spiritual Mothers of The Priesthood
- Father Jason Worthley
- Father Joe
- Father Joe: Blogger Priest
- Father Raymond DeSouza
- Forest Murmurs
- From the Inside: James Dean enters the Benedictine Order
- John L. Allen, Jr.
- Offerimus tibi Domine
- Opus Bono Sacerdotii: "Work for the Good of the Priesthood"
- Overheard in the Sacristy
- Priests' Secretary
- Roman Miscellany
- Rome Reports
- Rosary for the Bishop: Pray for our bishops
- Saint Mary Magdalene
- Sandro Magister in Rome: News, analysis, and documents on the Catholic Church
- The Heart of the Matter
- The Hermeneutic of Continuity
- Valle Adurni
- Voice in the Areopagus / Father Bill Stetson
- Vultus Christi
- Yorkshire Shepherd