Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bishop Emeritus

Gerald, over at The Cafeteria is Closed, brought to my attention an article about our former Bishop here in the Charlotte Diocese, when He posted about this article from the Charlotte Observer.

I can't say as I knew a whole lot about Bishop Curlin, though from all I have heard he seemed to be a kind and gentle soul. In fact, this article brings to mind that it is entirely possible to be sincere and good, and simply be wrong about things. So often, in this liturgical squabble that surrounds us, we tend to look at "the other side" and growl.

Bishop Curlin is a good man, he is just wrong. And in this article, his whole argument is that it would be wrong for the Church to go back to "stern ritualism, Latin Masses and personal piety instead of social action". My college logic classes are decades behind me, but isn't this a false dichotomy? Why the assumption that personal piety and social action are mutually exclusive? Did Catholic charity, and charities, suddenly spring into existence in 1965? It seems to me that the Church was running Hospitals, Orphanages, etc. for centuries. Does that not count? And quite frankly I am a bit weary of the idea that the only indicator of being "christian" is to be charitable anyway.

Loving your neighbor is important, yes, but there is no distinction in that alone! The world is full of charitable heathens! Do not the Romans do as much??? I am not advocating ignoring social action as such. Though I DO advocate having it make some sense. I don't see the moral equivalence between recycling drives and rosaries, I'm sorry. I thought the church was here to save souls, not save the whales! Our dioscean paper is chock-full of largely meaningless social action. Recyling drives global warming awareness, etc. GLOBAL WARMING!!! I believe that it's an issue, but what does that have to do with saving souls??? Did Jesus say that the angels in heaven rejoice every time someone reduces their carbon footprint??? Would He???


Okay, I'm back. Or at least closer to being my old blogself. As I said in my previous post, I enjoyed mass this weekend.


"WE ARE A PILGRIM PEOPLE" !!!!???!!!???!!!

What the hell kind of line is that? It's not only lame, it's bad grammar as well. And above all it reminds me of that incongruous "We be jammin'" line from that horrible 1980's remake of "Lean on Me".

How can anyone look at that and not cringe??? What the hell are they thinking? Isn't anyone paying attention? I presume not, simply because I don't doubt the sincerity of those who are involved. The people involved with the music at my parish are reverent and enthusiastic and level-headed. I just have the feeling that no one ever bothered to teach them that there is a better way. God knows they sure don't have any examples to go by or shoot for around here! In fact, they seem to be the top of the game in these parts. At least there is no dancing or clapping or tambourines involved. Given the environment, they have, in fact, done an amazing job in getting it mostly right.

Which as I think about it, brings me to the next point. What if there was some sort of traveling schola that gave concerts and seminars to the church musicians in each diocese?? The concerts would be open to the general public, of course, and the ticket sales might cover the cost and then some. The afternoon before the concert could be devoted to the very basics of chant and classical hymnody. Then the concert would show just how amazing and beautiful it can be. Follow up with a few more classes the next day to help get the "locals" started, and off to the next city!

Any comments??

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


I had an absolutely beautiful weekend. I didn't have to work, for once, got to spend lots of time with my wife and children. Had a relaxing Saturday. Sunday we took the girls to a museum in Durham, complete with butterfly house! A big hit, to say the least. Monday, we saved for house and yard work. Even that went off without a hitch. In fact, we took the great leap of going out to a restaurant with the girls, and a great time was had by all. That marks the first time we, as a family, have been to a real restaurant (fast food and barbecue don't count). Kilo is generally a bit, shall we say, enthusiastic (i.e. wide open, I don't call her "wild thing" for nothing). Yet even she was good as gold. Well, maybe bronze. Lima and Delta were both great, too. All in all about as close to perfect as you can get.

I went to mass Saturday evening, which is almost unheard of for me, and it was beautiful. Yes, it was, of course, Novus Ordo, and in english, and the hymns weren't my favorites, but it was very reverent, sincere, and satisfying. The choir, and accompaniment, while not completely traditional, was very good, and gets better all the time, it seems. It was just very very nice.

I have put a great deal of blogeffort into bitching about mass, music, etc. And I am quite sincere in my bitchiness. This time, for some reason, I am ignoring the few sick and misshapen trees, and just relish the beauty of the forest. I thank God for that blessing. I needed it.

And no, all of my fellow friendly trads out there, I am not jumping ship or anything. I still see many things that need changing, and I will continue blogging about them. But for once, with God's grace, I was not distracted from what was there, what was happening RIGHT THERE, on that altar. The whole absurdly preposterous idea that Jesus was there for ME! Giving Himself to me as if I deserved it! Me in all my weakness and unworthiness. How could anyone see that, believe that, and not be moved to tears?

Thursday, May 24, 2007


My wife wears pants. Even to Church. There, I said it. I never really gave it a second thought, at least beyond noting it to be the case, that is. You see, she hates skirts and dresses, and does not own any, period. She dislikes shorts as well, though she owns a few pair which she wears at the beach or pool.

I always thought that it was unusual, but kind of nice at the same time. You see, I generally dislike the things too. Skirts and dresses always seemed to me to be a bit impractical and awkward. I may be wrong, never having worn them, but it just seems that way to me. Now I will tell you that she always dresses modestly and neatly and is the most faithful, conservative Catholic I have ever known. She not only brought me back into the Church when I was lost and had drifted away, she brought in her best friend, as well. She is truly devoted to our faith.

I never put any other meaning to it at all - her attire, that is. But, apparently, there are a lot of people in the world of traditional minded Catholics who find it offensive. To all of you out there, I apologize in advance, because I just don't get it. I can see getting upset about sloth and slothful appearance (they go hand-in-hand IMHO). That bothers me even outside of church - it upsets me tremendously in Church. I find it offensive as hell to see people go to communion in ragged boat shoes, beat up shorts, and tee shirts with God knows what kind of things them (my personal favorite was "I was a pig at _____ Barbeque").

I have often said that in the pusuit of the truth-in-advertising that people so dressed should have t-shirts that say "I don't give a ____". In fact, maybe have them say it both front and rear, so that those of us who DO give a _____ know to avoid them at all costs. Kind of like the old testament rules about lepers having to say "unclean, unclean" whenver someone would approach. Man, now that I think about it, that's a great idea!!! But I digress...

I like to be casual, sure, as does my wife, but not inappropriately slovenly-looking. I don't think that nice, decent casual dress clothes - khaki pants, nice blouse, maybe a jacket on top of that, is inappropriate dress for church. So please don't confuse slack and casual, or criticize the latter because you are disgusted by the former.


I suppose anyone who has read my earlier post on the subject of Extraordinary (or Extra-ordinary) Ministers of Holy Communion would be aware of my thoughts on the matter.

Sunday past, though, beat all of my previous experiences hands down.

As communion time approached, the priest, having prepared the customary 4 chalicettes and 3 extra ciboria for the distribution of communion (to ± 250 people !!!!!) found himself in a bit of a situation. It seems that there were only three EMHC's who voluntarily went up to the altar to "serve". Well, the common sense options would seem to be 1) give the three ciboria to those three and they, plus the priest could distribute the sacred hosts, skipping the precious blood distribution entirely. or 2) give one ciborium and two chalicettes to the three busybodi... I mean, volunteers and run that way - four people-two species.

But nooooooo. The priest proceeds to call for any EMHC's to come forward to help. So the rest of the congregation sits patiently while three others have to get out of their pews, and amble slowly up to assume their roles. And actually, it was more interesting than that, because there were more than three potential volunteers, which lead to a kind of To Tell The Truth style halfway sitting-standing-alternatating for a bit before it actually settled out who the choice three would be!

This kind of madness will go on until some authority (Rome) says, simply, NO. If there is ANY kind of "except in _____ cases" wiggle room, it will never ever stop. I kind of have the idea that God got it right on Sinai. Being the smart God that he is, he stuck with "thou shalt not". Not "that shall not, except when". Maybe the Powers that Be in the Vatican should look to God in this case. He seems to be a good role model.

Slacking Off

I have been slack in my blogging lately, I know. Special thanks to the Cannonball for bringing this to my attention. I apologize to my loyal reader!

I tend to fall behind on many things in the summertime, because my teaching requires two nights plus all-day Saturdays. This in addition to my usual 7-6 regular job. Factor in the children and wife and I just don't get much time to do anything, including sleep.

That combined with the fact that the fatigue brings with it a certain lack of focus and energy means that I get slack.

But MAN does it feel good that I am missed!

Thursday, May 17, 2007


My new missal came yesterday! It is beautiful, and I can't wait to have the time to look through it and begin to read the prayers, readings, etc. I am amazed that it came so soon! I am hoping to get a few minutes to go by church, sit quietly, read and reflect this afternoon.

And this at the same time that Father Z (and others) is reporting this!

I only hope that our Bishop is following this. I pray that he is.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Music & Books

Ahhh, my first meme! Courtesy of my friend Carolina Cannonball

How many books do you own?
Enough to occupy the majority of four bookcases, plus maybe 8 boxes.

Book(s) I am reading now:

Somebody's Got to Say It! by Neal Boortz

Five Books That Mean a Lot to Me:
1- The Bible
2- Saint Joseph's Daily Missal
3- Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy
4- Robert Frost, The American Library Edition
5- Star Man's Son by Andre Norton

Now for the music...

Five favorite songs:
Rover - Jethro Tull
Hey Porter - Johnny Cash
Sing Sing Sing - Benny Goodman
Dark Night of the Soul - Loreena McKennitt
One More for the Road - Frank Sinatra

Three favorite music artists:
Johnny Cash
Frank Sinatra
Nanci Griffith
Loreena McKennitt
Ian Anderson

Three favorite composers:
Aaron Copland

Favorite song when you were a little kid:
I can't remember. I sang constantly so who knows?

Favorite song you wish you could sing:
Come Sail Away by Styx

Favorite type of music:
everything but Rap

Least favorite song:

Morning Has Broken

Least favorite type of music:

Favorite music instrument:
Tie between Violin/Fiddle and Banjo

Musical instrument you wish you could play:


Tagging two friends.

Man this is tough. To narrow down to just a few favorites on such short notice is very very hard. I could easily do an ipod playlist in response to a couple of these!
Or a card Catalog - for those of you who remember what they were.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Thousand Words

My New Missal

I just ordered my brand new 1962 Missal from Catholic Overstock. It is the Baronius Press version, and was on sale for 50% off. That's right, ladies and gentlemen HALF PRICE. Including taxes and shipping, that made my total a bit over thirty bucks! I have been wanting to buy one for six months or so, but the $60 price (both from Baronius Press and Angelus Press) was a bit too much to swallow, at least without a mass in which to use the missal in the first place! But at this price, I couldn't see waiting.

Now comes the anticipation! I have been using the remains of a hand-me-down Saint Joseph's Daily Missal to read and refer to. This is made quite difficult by the fact that the binding was about 80% destroyed 20-some years ago by my then puppy Border Collie (as was every book on the bottom two shelves of my bookcase). The semi loose-leaf format can be a bit difficult, so I am all the more excited about the new one. Not that I have use for it in an actual mass right now, as there are none in these here parts, but I am hoping and praying every day that, God willing, that will change soon.

I don't know how many will read this, or are wanting to buy a missal, but it's impossible to beat that price. You can't hardly buy an old one on ebay for that. Plus, unlike ebay, I have no worries about condition, or which version of the missal I am getting. I am no expert on these things but I know that many small changes to the mass and the calendar were made in the 1950's and I would be hard pressed to know which version is which. With a new one, I have the you betcha 10-4 roger official version. I have never dealt with them before, so I have no experience on which to base a recommendation, but if you are looking to buy a missal, they are worth a look.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Church Music

Irreconcilable. That's the only way to describe it - yesterdays Mass.

How can a service that starts out with what is possibly the most insipid song to ever be performed in or out of Church also include a breathtaking Ave Maria ( I cried ) and a chanted Salve Regina??? How so the decisions get made that leave you with that conundrum???

I could see if all of the music was glorious, or all of the music was lame. That would be understandable - the music director would be either a genius or a tasteless idiot. But how do you get half-and-half?

I am not trying to be a cranky old blogger, the mass was beautiful, plain and simple. I just don't get it. I would appreciate any input....

Mothers Day

My wife is perfect. Yes, I know, that only the Blessed Mother was perfect, and yes, I know what that means. My wife is perfect for me. If I could write a description of everything I needed or wanted in a wife, I'd still wind up with her, I have no doubt.

That having been said, she is also as perfect a Mom as she could possibly be and still be human. She is loving, patient - strong and soft at the same time. She is so focused on teaching and nurturing our three girls that I am constantly amazed. I mean, I try to be a good Daddy, and I think I do okay, but I am nowhere near her league. The funny thing is, that, prior to the birth of our first child some 5 years ago, she would not - literally would not - hold a baby. That fear/hesitance lasted about three days, and since then she has been on an uninterrupted climb to Mommy Stardom. I am so lucky. I am so blessed.

I guess I was in childhood, too. My own mother, who passed on 15 years ago this week, was amazing. She made me who and what I am (at least the good parts). I Loved her dearly. I still do, I suppose, and always will.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Music and Mass


I know this may be considered heresy by some in the traditionalist world, considering their (and my) love for sung high masses, etc. However, the fact is that the music in most Catholic churches is as weak as circus lemonade - and I'm not talking about insipid lyrics here. This is coming from someone who LOVES to sing, in church and otherwise, and does so pretty well, having been complimented on my voice many times. I much prefer the semi-silent, spoken "low" mass to the far more common four-hymn semi-sung variety. Not that I don't love chant and singing in mass. In fact, during lent, the other church I attend had the usual four hymns, plus chanted kyrie, sanctus, and agnus dei, and I loved it.

That may seem somewhat bi-polar, but I think it's the right way. If you are going to be silent, prayerful, reverent, then be so, if you are going to sing, then sing it all!! Don't try to compromise, because then all you get is a mess -- enough singing to intrude upon and prevent a reverent-silent atmosphere, but not enough to create a glorious uplifting one.


The other issue, apart from the format, is the quality of the hymns themselves. Some years ago, I noticed that, if a hymn was poorly written and bland, I could look down to the bottom of the page in the hymnal and see the name Schutte. I hear a lot of people on the blogs talk about Haugen & Hass, but I don't seem to hear a lot of their product (though what I do hear is bland).

I am no music theorist, but it seems to me that, if you begin to sing a hymn and it is pleasant, flows well, and is both easy and rewarding to sing, it was written proir to the last century. Those hymns sing like they were meant to be sung. On the other hand, the newer hymns seem to be stilted and lame. There are many odd, uncomfortable changes in tone and cadence, making them awkward and clumsy. It's as if the writers couldn't write a normal, good song, so they had to throw in a few "twists" to make it "interesting". My lack of musical "literacy" makes me a mere civilian in these matters, but I have common sense and a pretty good ear. I am also observant enough to notice that the older hymns tend to have people singing along joyflly - lots of participation. While the newer ones are almost left unsung save for the choir. With some hymns, it's as if the hymn itself almost makes you sing it in a balls-out from-the-heart fashion. Imaging, for instance, trying to sing Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee softly and with no emation - it's almost impossible. Or Amazing Grace in a cold, lifeless way - it can't be done.

Sing like you mean it, that's the idea. I understand that some people are uncomfortable singing in public, and that's okay, but even hymns sung softly, and with feeling, get to God's ears just fine. Not everybody was given the gift of a beautiful voice, but we were all given souls. A hymn should not be a hindrance to bearing your that soul to God in song.

Sermons and Readings

I had the good fortune to be able to attend mass on Sunday at my "home" Church. And what a treat it was. Father Duc preached one of the most moving, inspiring sermons (I don't like the term "homily", it just plain sounds goofy to me) I've heard in years. Generally he's very good, but this week he was just awesome.

Plus he tied the sermon with the readings of the mass in a real reinforcing positive way. That is something that so rarely happens nowadays. So often a sermon has a passing reference to the Gospel reading, and then rambles on from there. Father Duc is actually generally better than a lot of priests at making the whole package work together, and like I said, he nailed it on Sunday!

Plus... it being the early morning Mass, there was no singing at all. No hymns, no organ, no sung responsorial psalm. LOTS of silence, focus, praying, and reverence.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

RIP Jolly Wally

Wally Schirra, one of my boyhood (and adulthood) heroes died today.

What a Cool Guy.

May he Rest in Peace.

'tis all a checker board of Knights and days,
where destiny, with men for pieces plays
hither and thither moves and mates and slays
and one by one, back in the closet lays


Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English extraordinarie, from Latin extraordinarius, from extra ordinem out of course, from extra + ordinem, accusative of ordin-, ordo order
1 a : going beyond what is usual, regular, or customary b : exceptional to a very marked extent

Pretty straight forward, don't you think? Now how about this...

Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English ordinarie, from Latin ordinarius, from ordin-, ordo order
1 : of a kind to be expected in the normal order of events : ROUTINE, USUAL ordinary day>

Ref: Merriam-Webster for the above

Easy one there, too, huh???

These two terms having been established, I would love for someone to explain to me why, at every Sunday Mass at EVERY parish in my area, there are at least three, and often as many as seven EXTRAORDINARY ministers giving communion! If it is ROUTINE, then it, by definition cannot be EXTRAORDINARY!!

There is apparently no practical reason for this procedure. Though I am sure that the standard argument is that communion will take too long if there are not a priest and seven EMHC's to give communion, but that is patently wrong, at least as far as I have seen. For instance, Sunday last, at the Mass I attended there were about 300 communicants. It takes a bit under 3 seconds to deal with each one (I timed it, I'm anal that way). That means, with one priest, communion would have taken about 15 minutes. In fact it took about 8 minutes, start to finish. A savings of 7 minutes, or almost 50%. Looks pretty efficient, no??

Ahhhhh, but not so fast!!!! You see, the presence of these 7 "ministers" means that the priest now has 5 chalices, and 4 ciboria (instead of one of each, respectively) to handle, fill, distribute, collect, and purify. That process takes time. If you then add in the time it takes for these ministers to get up on the altar, communicate each other, form up, and peel off to their positions, it all adds up to about 5 minutes. Hence leaving a net "savings" of 2 minutes... TWO MINUTES!

Then there is the functional problem of having 8 lines of people at the front of the church, jostling for space, bumping into one another (albeit politely). It's a zoo. My 80 year old father can't even GO to communion, except at the 7:00 AM service, when there is a smaller crowd.

Then there is the more important part, to me. That is the "us and them" aspect of the whole thing. The priest does the consecration and his own communion, etc. Then what happens?? We, the poor souls in the pews, have to wait patiently while a half dozen "anointed ones" go up on the altar, where they don't belong to begin with, and go through an elaborate aren't-we-so-special ritual of their own oh-so-special communion, and then, only after they are done, do they "come down" to the level of the groundlings and pass out communion.

All in all, the whole thing is about the most decidedly irreverent and unnecessary procedure in the Mass today. To me, it is tantamount to having the congregation wash the feet of the priest and parish council every Easter - it is backwards and offensive.