Rampant consumerism fired by scarcely fettered capitalism is changing the face of Poland, where the old Catholic rhythms of the year, punctuated by feast days and holy days are being swept aside in pursuit of retail and an open all hours culture.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
The crucifix vs. the plastic shopping bag -- in Poland
Monday, September 17, 2007
Fr. Phan Phenomenon
9 year old says university too easy
HONG KONG (Reuters) - A nine-year-old mathematics prodigy has become Hong Kong's youngest undergraduate, waltzing through his first day at university saying classes were too easy.[Hat tip to E.F.]
March Boedihardjo, an Indonesian-Chinese boy resident in Hong Kong, was accepted by Hong Kong's Baptist University to study for a master's degree after gaining straight As in entrance A-level exams usually taken at 17 or 18.
"It was too easy," Boedihardjo told reporters after attending a convocation ceremony in a pint-sized black-gown and his first day of classes Tuesday, adding that he'd already learnt the subject matter a year or two ago.
Geriatric trendies in full retreat
On that note, Damian Thompson of the London Telegraph has written an article in his Holy Smoke column entitled “”Worrying times for ageing trendies”” (Telegraph.co.uk, September 13, 2007), which runs along the following lines:
The geriatric trendies who have controlled – and ruined – the music of the Catholic Church for 40 years must be feeling rather worried right now. Consider three recent developments:Thompson goes on to note that none of this means, alas, that the abysmal standards of Catholic music in England and Wales will automatically improve. "There’s a sickeningly cosy relationship between the Bishops’ Conference and the composers and publishers of 1960s-style dirges," he writes. Today’s cloth-eared prelates still think “Bind Us Together, Lord” is thrillingly 'hip'.
1. Pope Benedict XVI boycotted a performance of “Christian pop music” in Loreto last week. The organisers of his pilgrimage had planned to subject him to it, just as they made John Paul II listen to Bob Dylan a decade ago. But Benedict stayed secluded in prayer at the shrine, missing all the groovy worship.
2. The Pope celebrated Mass in Vienna last Sunday to the accompaniment of a complete performance of Haydn’s Mariazeller Mass. John Paul (who was uninterested in music) presided at only one full liturgical performance of a polyphonic or classical Mass setting during his entire pontificate. Benedict intends to make a habit of it. That’s great news. Byrd, Palestrina, Haydn, Mozart, Bruckner – welcome back. You can find the details here, courtesy of Sandro Magister.
3. At long last, John Paul II’s master of ceremonies, Archbishop Piero Marini, is retiring. Hallelujah! In addition to encouraging the performance of elevator music at papal ceremonies, Marini is the man responsible for decking out the pontiff in draylon tents instead of fiddleback chasubles.
At the moment, all Thompson says he can do is to recommend a "protective measure":
Just tear up a copy of the Tablet, roll up the pieces and stuff them in your ears. I find that the woolliness of the prose blocks out even the most strident “folk hymn.”[Hat tip to C.B.]
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Creighton Pres. vs. bloggers & the disinvitation of Anne Lamott
In a probing substantial post on the topic, Thomas Peters examines "Creighton U.'s Unfortunate History of Dissent" (American Papist, September 10, 2007), as well as the role of bloggers in the President's recent decision to disinvite Ms. Lamott. Interesting.
[Hat tip to T.P.]
How unfashionably gauche & refreshingly antediluvian!
"Few scholars in liturgy have made a deeper, fuller contribution to our knowledge in a given area than the late Msgr. Michel Andrieu, long dean of the Theological Faculty of Strasbourg, in his field of Ordines Romani."[Hat tip to A.S.]
-- Gerald Ellard, SJ 1959.According to Geoffrey Hull in The Banished Heart (1994), Dom Bernard Botte, OSB, was upset when Andrieu refused to attend one of their conferences in Strasbourg on liturgical reform. Andrieu insisted that the liturgy was for all time and irreformable.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Summorum Pontificum -- two responses
The first was his own initiative in starting a chapter of Una Voce in Mississippi, where there has so far been no organized advocacy for those who desire freedom to worship according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII as an alternative to the often slack-assed and liturgically irreverent Masses endured in too many suburban parishes. He also said that he has been successful in organizing and networking through both through the local diocesan newspaper and the Lumengentleman motu priprio contact website.
The second was the reaction Nathan received from a letter he sent to his pastor requesting the Traditional Latin Mass and referencing Summorum Pontificum. He relates that he went as usual to teach his CCD classes. He writes:
We covered some great material -- Mary, the saints, priestly celibacy, The Da Vinci Code, etc. After mass, they offered donuts and coffee. I saw the older priest (not the pastor) in the sacristy and went to say hi, since he had just returned from vacation in Ireland. I told him that my CCD classes were going well and that we were covering some important information. He said at one point, "Don't be too conservative." "WHAT???" I asked. "Father, I am simply teaching the tenets of the Catholic faith -- the Eucharist, Mary, saints, etc." He replied, "Father __________ (the pastor) showed me the letter you wrote him." I said, "Oh yes, the Latin Mass. I am excited about the Holy Father's recent motu proprio." He then went off on a very abrasive rant, declaring that the Mass is now in ENGLISH and will stay that way. I had better forget about Latin, he said, going on to relate how he used to say Latin Masses long ago and they were poorly attended and that he often did not know what he was saying.Nathan relates a good bit more detail than I will reproduce here. He said he was taken aback by the tone of this response, as well as by the uneasiness among those present in the sacristy, which included the priest and a deacon. Especially jarring was the response to Nathan's reference to the Holy Father's motu proprio. The priest retorted: "Never mind what the Holy Father said." Nathan says that they were interrupted at this point by the pastor who walked in unawares. Nathan let the matter drop, though he said he was extremely saddened by the response and attitude of the priest.
I expect we will see more of each of these types of responses in the weeks and months ahead -- constructive initiatives, as well as many instances of dismissive retrenchment.
Una Voce -- Southern Mississippi
A liturgical catechesis: Benedict instructs by example
ROMA, September 12, 2007 – Among the many things Benedict XVI said and did during his early September visits to Loreto and Austria, there are two that distinguish his pontificate in an unmistakable way.
Both have to do with the Church's visibility, with its ability to communicate: and not about itself, but about "the things that are above."
In Loreto, at the vigil on Saturday, September 1, the pope demonstrated how he intends to make himself visible and audible to the world, and in particular to the world of the young.
In Austria, with the Mass in the cathedral of Vienna on Sunday, September 9, Benedict XVI made it clear how he wants the Church to appear to men at the moment when it is most recognizable, the celebration of the Eucharist.
Abp. Raymond Burke vindicated on Canon 915
[Hat tip to Ed Peters]
Is this cool or what?
One of America's sharpest canon lawyer bishops (Abp. Raymond Burke of St. Louis), has just published a terrific article in perhaps the world's most prestigious canon law journal (Periodica de re Canonica in Rome), on a topic of vital interest to the Church in the world (the correct application of Canon 915 on denial of Holy Communion). Best of all, it's available on-line here.
Like I say, it's just too cool.
Back in 2004, Abp. Burke was one of handful of bishops who understood and enforced Canon 915 against certain pro-abortion Catholic politicians who were attempting to receive Holy Communion despite their patent non-compliance with Church discipline. He suffered more than his share of slings and arrows over the months that followed, including some tsk-tsks from certain folks who really should have thought twice before putting their canonical acumen up against Burke's. In any case his article, "Canon 915: The discipline regarding the denial of Holy Communion to those obstinately persisting in manifest grave sin" Periodica 96 (2007) 3-58, demonstrates just how much law and sound pastoral theology Burke had, and has, behind him.
Periodica does not publish articles for beginners and Burke assumes that his audience knows, e.g., what the Decree of Gratian and the Decretals of Gregory are, and why Eastern canon law and the Pio-Benedictine Code derscoring the fact the scandal of unworthy reception can be assessed objectively, not just subjectively.Oh, how I wish someone would give a prize for "Most Important Canonical Article Published in a Peer-Reviewed Journal". I know what I would nominate for 2007.
Inwagen on the advantage of skepticism
Philosophical Theology (Ithaca and London: Cornell
University Press, 1995), on p. 2, writes:
One advantage philosophers bring to theology is that they know too much about philosophy to be overly impressed by the fact that a particular philosopher has said this or that. Philosophers of the present day know what Thomas Aquinas and Professor Bultmann did not know: that no philosopher is an authority. Philosophers know that if you want to pronounce on, say, the project of natural theology, you cannot simply appeal to what Kant has established about natural theology. You cannot do this for the very good reason that Kant has established nothing about natural theology. Kant has only offered arguments, and the cogency of these arguments can be (and is daily) disputed.This is, of course, amusing in one way; and I think I agree with in in the sense in which I believe he intends it. Yet I would disagree with the notion that no philosopher can properly be an authority, as, for instance, Aristotle is for St. Thomas Aquinas. This, of course, is what Ingwagen's quote would entail, if it were taken in the literal sense. Authority, I would argue, is something a bit like honor. You can be honored by others and not deserve it; and you can be dishonored by others and not deserve it. But when you get it right, you're honored by others because you've earned it by becoming worthy of their honor; and that worthiness is the important thing -- far more important than the actual honor given you by others. Accordingly, I would argue that it's possible for a philosopher (like Aristotle) to earn the right to be considered an authority -- whatever lack of consensus may exist within the contemporary fraternity of postmodern professional lemmings who call themselves philosophers. And a philosopher earnes this right by being worthy of being so regarded -- by becoming, in fact, an authority on a subject.
[Hat tip to Prof. Edgar Foster for the Ingwagen quotation.]
Catholic Beer Review
Take a look at his recent review of his top ten favorite beers. He has a picture of each beer bottle with an accompanying review. If you think beer reviews can't be mouth-wateringly seductive, take a look at his review of Fuller's London Porter. You'll see what I mean. Palm knows how to turn a phrase, just as he obviously knows something about beers.
If you're interested, you can "subscribe" to the blog, or you can just check in on occasion. And while you're at it, take a look at his articles on Catholic faith and life over at his other blog, The Reluctant Traditionalist
Saturday, September 08, 2007
"The position was offered at the last minute, when the scheduled professor found a better-paying job delivering pizza."
David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day, p. 84.
After the Motu Proprio: What to do now
What should be done now? First, if you are among that marginal group of Catholics who understand the significance of the motu proprio and are grateful for it, write to thank our Holy Father for it. As the newsletter of the Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei suggests, send him a spiritual bouquet. Have a Mass offered for him. Pray for him and for all priests. The address is: "His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, Apostolic Palace 00120, Vatican City State, Europe" (postage 90 cents 1st ounce). You can also email benedictxvi[at]vatican.va (even if he doesn't read this email personally, somebody does; and periodic summaries are doubtless reported to him).
Second, if you live in a diocese or area with no Traditional Latin Mass, request one. Your first letter should be to your pastor, not your bishop. The usual advice applies: be polite; brief (no more than a short paragraph); request the "extraordinary form of the Mass" or the "Mass of Blessed John XXIII"; request the Mass for both Sundays and weekdays; state that you are requesting the Mass in accordance with the Pope's recent motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, articles 1, 5, and 7; and if you know of a priest willing and able to offer the Mass, mention that in your letter. If no reply is forthcoming after a month, repeat process. If you still hear nothing after another month, write your bishop. Keep copies of your letter(s). The Coalition Ecclesia Dei suggests that it is helpful to have one person in the parish with copies of everyone's letters.
Third, support apostolates promoting understanding of the Mass of Blessed Pope John XXIII, which to many priests as well as laity is a virtual novelty. A new website, Sancta Missa, launched on August 5, 2007, by the Canons Regular of Saint John Cantius in Chicago, offers a tutorial on the Latin Mass according to the 1962 Missale Romanum, with commentary, video and still photos. Features include: 1) an online tutorial for priests; 2) the rubrics of the 1962 Missale Romanum (the Altar Missal), in English and Latin; 3) the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum in Latin and English; and 4) the complete 1962 Missale Romanum for download in PDF format. Over the next few weeks and months there will be added to the site: 1) Fortescue's Ceremonies of the Roman Rite; 2) Learning to Serve at the Altar; 3) Liturgical Books and Resources, and 4) Sacred Music of the Liturgy.
Fourth -- and, in my opinion, most important -- support apostolates involved in promoting understanding of the significance of the Traditional Latin Mass. This involves more than an understanding of the Traditional Latin Mass itself. The broad cultural and historical context of the current crisis in the Church must be understood, and apostolates promoting resources facilitating such understanding must be supported. The magazine, Latin Mass: A Journal of Catholic Culture, Keep the Faith (with its extensive audio library of resources), Una Voce, and Coalition Ecclesia Dei for example, are worthy apostolates of this kind. Each of these has mounted initiatives for the re-education of the Catholic public worthy of your support. Coalition for the support of Ecclesia Dei, for instance, is reprinting one of the more notable commentaries on the motu proprio -- a two-part interview with Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J., editor of the Catholic monthly for priests, Homiletic & Pastoral Review (with a wide lay audience as well) -- an interview also picked up by The Wanderer. The Coalition is reprinting Fr. Baker's interview together with English translation of Summorum Pontificum and the Pope's letter introducing the motu proprio to the bishops of the world. It goes without saying that the numerous studies of the liturgical crisis engendered over the last several decades, such as those mentioned in my Academy Store under "Liturgy & Liturgical Tradition," should continue to be actively studied and promoted.
The task is before us. Let us arise and be on our way. Ora et labore.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Luciano Pavarotti dead at 71
Placido Domingo, stated after his singing partner's death: "I always admired the God-given glory of his voice — that unmistakable special timbre from the bottom up to the very top of the tenor range." Pavarotti died early Thursday morning after a yearlong battle with pancreatic cancer. He certainly helped me fall in love with opera. I will miss him. Let us pray for him.
Sunday, September 02, 2007
If you like Asian noodle dishes, or if you just like a hot bowl of noodle soup and would like to try something a bit more interesting than Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup, you owe it to yourself to try Pho.
If you live in or near Catawba County, NC, count your lucky stars: you will be pleased to know that right in your back yard you have what is probably the best Pho restaurant in North Carolina -- and possibly in the United States. It's called Pho 777 and is located in a strip of modest-looking stores on the North side of HWY 70 (Conover Blvd W.) between the intersections of Hwy 321 S. and Hwy 16 (not to be confused with Saigon Garden, just West of the 321 intersection).
Pho 777 has a clean, lovely interior, and is run by a wonderful, friendly Vietnamese family from New Jersey whose cullinary artistry deserves your support and will probably reduce you to delerious ecstasy. The staff speak English and will gladly help walk you through your menu options. Soups come in three sizes. Don't order the largest unless you plan to spend the next three hours trying to down a horse's portion. As far as varieties, my favorite is the chicken pho soup (without organ meats). Be sure to sample one or more of their appetizers (I recommend the spring rolls) and to try some of their Asian beers.
Tell them that Isserman and Blosser sent you.Pho 777 Vietnamese Cuisine
434 Conover Blvd W Conover NC 28613
Tel. (828) 466-2577
- Detroit: Woodward Avenue in Detroit, Michigan, carries the designation M-1, named so because it was the first paved road anywhere.
- Alaska: More than half of the coastline of the entire United States is in Alaska.
- Amazon: The Amazon River pushes so much water into the Atlantic Ocean that, more than one hundred miles at sea off the mouth of the river, one can dip fresh water out of the ocean. The volume of water in the Amazon river is greater than the next eight largest rivers in the world combined and three times the flow of all rivers in the United States.
- Brazil: Brazil got its name from the nut, not the other way around.
- Canada: Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world combined.
- Ohio: There are no natural lakes in the state of Ohio, every one is manmade.
- Sahara Desert: In the Sahara Desert, there is a town named Tidikelt, which did not receive a drop of rain for ten years. Technically though, the driest place on Earth is in the valleys of the Antarctic near Ross Island. There has been no rainfall there for two million years.
- Antarctica: Antarctica is the only land on our planet that is not owned by any country. Ninety percent of the world's ice covers Antarctica. This ice also represents seventy percent of all the fresh water in the world. However, Antarctica is essentially a desert. The average yearly total precipitation is about two inches. Although covered with ice, Antarctica is the driest place on the planet, with an absolute humidity lower than the Gobi desert.
- Damascus, Syria: Damascus was flourishing a couple of thousand years before Rome was founded in 753 BC, making it the oldest continuously inhabited city in existence.
- Rome, Italy: The first city to reach a population of 1 million people was Rome, in 133 B.C. There is a city called Rome on every continent.
- Los Angeles: Los Angeles's full name is El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angelesde Porciuncula -- and can be abbreviated to 3.63% of its size: L.A.
- Siberia: Siberia contains more than 25% of the world's forests.
- Spain: Spain literally means 'the land of rabbits.'
- United States: The Eisenhower interstate system requires that one-mile in every five must be straight. These straight sections are usable as airstrips in times of war or other emergencies.
On drinking: a public service report
There are more than enough verses in Scripture against drunkenness to miss the point. Some might even strike the casual reader as rather severe, as when St. Paul says not to associate or even to eat with anyone who is a drunkard, placing the drunkard in the same category as those guilty of immorality, idolatry or theft (1 Cor. 5:11). So, okay, we get it.
On the other hand, St. Paul advises Timothy, "No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach ..." (1 Tim. 5:23), and the Psalmist gives thanks for the gift of wine "to gladden the heart of man" (Ps. 104:15). Would anyone be so tiresome as to request the Hebrew meaning of "gladden" in order to see that we're talking about mild inebriation here?
But the text I would dearly love to see a teetotaling Fundamentalist preach a sermon on is Prov. 31:6-7, which reads: "Give [note the imperative mood of the verb] strong drink to him who is perishing and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty, and remember their misery no more." My hunch is that Fundamentalists preach on this passage about as frequently as Catholic AmChurch pastors preach on contraception.
To see what a hold this Prohibitionist-era tee-totaling Fundamentalist view has had on American Evangelicalism, all you need to do is note that back in the nineteen-fifties, Kenneth N. Taylor, author of the celebrated Living Bible paraphrase, authored an otherwise excellent book of children's Bible stories entitled The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes (Chicago: Moody Press, 1956), in which the guests at the wedding feast at Cana are described as running out of "grape juice" -- calling forth Jesus' miracle of turning water into Welch's. Or you may eximine the prodigious theological justifications produced by those American Evangelicals who have cautiously ventured into the pleasures of wine and beer (see, e.g., Bob Hayton, "'Wine to Gladden the Heart of Man': Thoughts on God’s Good Gift of Wine," Fundamentally Reformed, March 20, 2006). This is not at all atypical.
By contrast, how refreshingly uninhibited and like the Psalmist in outlook is Hilaire Belloc's little rhyme:
St. Thomas Aquinas is on record as even declaring: "Anyone who refrained from wine to such an extent that he severely tried nature would in some measure incur guilt" (ST II-II, 150, ad 1).Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There's always laughter and good red wine.
At least I've always found it so.
Although Ben Franklin was not a Catholic, there probably was never a soul so Catholic in outlook and temper as he when he declared: "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." Okay, so his hyperbole occasionally got the best of him:
Then, again, I just received word that Ben Franklin also reputedly said: "In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria." Relevant to this, I have also read that in a number of carefully controlled trials, scientists have demonstrated that if we drink 1 liter of water each day, at the end of the year we would have absorbed more than 1 kilo of Escherichia coli, (E. coli) -- bacteria found in feces. In other words, we are consuming 1 kilo of poop. However, we do NOT run that risk when drinking wine & beer (or tequila, rum, whiskey or other liquor) because alcohol has to go through a purification process of boiling, filtering and/or fermenting. Remember: Water = Poop, Wine = Health. Therefore, it's better to drink wine and talk stupid, than to drink water and be full of ... well, you know what. No need to thank me for this valuable information: consider it a public service. Have a happy Labor Day -- and remember: don't drink and drive.When we drink, we get drunk.
When we get drunk, we fall asleep.
When we fall asleep, we commit no sin.
When we commit no sin, we go to heaven.
Sooooo, let's all get drunk and go to heaven!