Friday, May 31, 2002

On My Former Ordinary's Apology

He said what he had to say. I wish him well, and he will be in my prayers. If he is wise, this will be his last public appearance for a long time to come.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

Reading List Update

Realized that I left P. G. Wodehouse off of my list. Got one of his anthologies today. I'm going to need it after finishing Flannery O'Connor.

And Thor, the Norwegian Elkhound belonging to the owner of the used bookstore near my workplace, asked for a belly rub. I felt honored......

On Light Blogging

Didn't get to the site yesterday -- wasn't feeling well. And I'm not about to risk it at work -- they're getting very touchy about non-work-related Internet usage (never mind that my manager regularly checks his Fantasy Leagues and prints out the results. Double standard, anyone?). It looks like I'll blog when I can during the week and save the meaty stuff for the weekend....

On my Former Ordinary

J.P. Zmirak says it better than I can.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

On a Great Show

Just got back from my improv workshop show. It was a blast!

Monday, May 27, 2002

Another Milwaukee Blogger!

Terrence Berres, from the suburb of Franklin has his own blog, with lots of stuff on the Milwaukee situation. Check him out!

On Improv

Tomorrow will be a one-blog day -- if any. Full day of work tomorrow, followed by my workshop show.

For those of you who don't know what that is, it's a kind of short-form improv with two teams of 3-4 people (called actletes),and a referee who directs the show. Supporting cast includes an MC, a sound-effects person, and a musician. If you've ever seen the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway?, you get the idea. However, CSz is a family show, and any player or audience member who goes off -color is made to wear a paper bag over his head for the remainder of that particular game.

Naturally, one can't just go up there and play. Improv is a learned skill. So CSz has high achool and college leagues, and workshops as well. In all of them, the students are taught the basics and building blocks of improv by an experienced player. In the case of workshops, the session ends with a show in which the students show off their skills.

Me, I'm in Improv 104. I'm a step away from the possibility of performing as a regular. In order to advance to Level One, I must pass an audition. From there, I would contimue to take classes (at a greatly reduced rate) and have the opportunity to perform in "Minor League" shows against college teams. If I would prove successful in that, I would then be asked to be available for regular shows.

Needless to say, that step is a BIIIIIIIIIG one. I'm good with verbal games, middling on scenework, and atrocious at guessing games.
So (if it is an appropriate thing to pray for) please pray for a successful and fun-filled show tomorrow night. I probably will report on it when I get home.

On Tridentine and Pauline Masses and the Experiences Thereof (Part Two)

Last night (before the Sandman came to take me away) I asked why younger Catholics who never grew up with the Tridentine Mass are attracted to it. Here is the first of several answers, based on my own and others' experiences:

Personal Space for Recollection -- or just plain Personal Space. It is an essential thing to participate in whatever Mass you attend, be it Tridentine or Pauline. But it doesn't necessarily mean having to sing and respond all the time. You need time for recollection, for the time when Heart speaks to heart.

The way the Liturgy is done in some places, you're always doing something, and there is no meaningful time for recollection (except perhaps the Penitential Rite). You go into the church, and there are people socializing and talking -- very hard to pray when a lot of that is going on. Then the cantor's or lector's voice comes booming over the PA: "Hello, and welcome to St. John's Faith Community. In order to build a sense of community, please stand and greet the person next to you." This becomes a parody in a lot of places. Then the opening hymn, and then the celebrant might begin with long comments about one thing or another, announcements of birthdays, guests, etc. If you're really unlucky, he'll do this throughout the entire Mass. Then it's non-stop action until the Offertory. Maybe the music at this point is instrumental or choral, but performed in such a style that it is a performance, and not really conducive for reflection. After that, the Heart of the Mass, the Eucharistic Prayer, but done in a cursory matter. Then everybody is made to hold hands for the Our Father (if it is sung, the usual selection is the Malotte setting), then a protracted Sign of Peace, then the Communion Rite. Songs are sung during Communion -- there must be no "dead time". Afterwards, there is the Prayer after Communion, then announcements -- lots of announcements, on every little thing, sometimes taking up to ten minutes (I've timed it). Sometimes a presentation is done at this time as well, or the winners from the School Essay Contest. Finally comes the Blessing and Dismissal, and the closing song, and everybody's back to talking and socializing. No time or space to make thanksgiving for the Gifts received.

I'm not saying that every parish is like that, of course. There are churches which allow for that Sacred Silence, but they are getting fewer and further between. We've fallen victim to that worldly fear of silence, whether inward or outward.

The Tridentine Mass makes room for the heart to be recollected, whether you are at a Low Mass, a Dialogue Mass, or a High Mass. The atmosphere is conducive for participating inwardly, to let God speak to you, to adore . You don't have to sing along to the chant (altho' highly recommended), and you don't have to understand the language (altho' every Roman Catholic should know some Latin). You can still pray along.

To give an example: my first Byzantine Divine Liturgy was at a Ukrainian Catholic church. The languages were Ukrainian, Slavonic, and Greek -- three languages I don't understand. But the music and the atmosphere helped me to pray without words -- to adore.

One caveat on this, however: there is a mentality among some Traditional Catholics that a silent Low Mass is the summit of worship, and that any kind of outward participation, be it a dialogue Mass or a High Mass in which the faithful chant the Ordinary, is somehow liberal and a millimeter away from putting on tights and dancing around the worship space. This is wrong. Without denigrating the silent Low Mass (which has its advantages), outward participation is perfectly fine as well. What is needed is actual participation, which includes the inward and outward.

How can this be attained with the current ritual? This is what I suggest (and how it's done already):

Silence in Church. Save the chatting for the narthex and the social hall. Let the church be a place conducive to private preparation for Mass, and for thanksgiving afterwards.

A minimum of extraneous things Any necessary introductions at the beginning of Mass should be done as briefly and succinctly as possible. The same with announcements. Anything other than the most important things should be left to the bulletin. Leave the presentations and essay contests for after Mass, for those who are interested.

Suitable music for contemplation Tastes will vary on this. But before Mass, and during the Preparation of the Gifts and/or Communion, perform the sort of sacred music --either choral or instrumental-- which helps silent prayer. This would preclude "special music" or soloing in the Protestant tradition. One good way of accomplishing this is to use appropriate instrumental or choral music during Communion, then sing a hymn afterwards.

More reasons later.......stay tuned

On the Feast of St. Augustine of Canterbury

Today we also remember the Apostle to the English. In his honor, and for all the Anglican Use Catholics out there, here is a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer:

Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

On Memorial Day

Today is especially poignant, considering what happened on a perfect September morning last year. I wonder how many people will think about that as they go to the beach, barbeque, catch up on housework, or do a lot of nothing. If you haven't already, go to Mass or whatever service your denomination provides. If you can't, at least take a little time out to remember those who have fallen in our wars, especially the current conflict.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they, and all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Sunday, May 26, 2002

On Tridentine and Pauline Masses and the Experiences Thereof (Part One)

Mike Shirley has some things to say about the Tridentine Mass, its adherents, and the most profoundly holy and sacred Mass he ever attended.

Mike doesn't feel attracted to the Tridentine Mass, but is glad some people find spiritual nourishment from it. He's not the only one who feels that way. My dear mother (who is by no means a liberal Catholic) will take the current Mass over the old one any day, and probably for the same reasons as Mike.

Why are young people who grew up with the Pauline Mass attracted to the Tridentine Mass? Tune in tomorrow.....

For Trinity Sunday

One of my favorite prayers, the Breastplate of St. Patrick, as translated by Mrs. C. F. Alexander:

I bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever,
by power of faith, Christ's Incarnation;
his baptism in the Jordan river;
his death on cross for my salvation;
his bursting from the spiced tomb;
his riding up the heavenly way;
his coming at the day of doom:
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
of the great love of cherubim;
the sweet "Well done" in judgement hour;
the service of the seraphim;
confessors' faith, apostles' word,
the patriarchs' prayers, the prophets' scrolls;
all good deeds done unto the Lord,
and purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
the virtues of the starlit heaven,
the glorious sun's life-giving ray,
the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free,
the whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea,
around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
the power of God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch, his might to stay,
his ear to hearken to my need;
the wisdom of my God to teach,
his hand to guide, his shield to ward;
the word of God to give me speech,
his heavenly host to be my guard.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation,
eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord!

Saturday, May 25, 2002

On Confession

Went to confession today. It's always a wonderful feeling when I hear the words "I absolve you from your sins...", for I can literally feel a great burden being taken off my shoulders -- all those sins, taken away, cast behind God's back, never to be remembered by Him again.

It is an especially wonderful feeling when I knew I'd fallen into mortal sin (naturally, I'm not going to tell you the last time.....).

It's horrible when you realize that you've done something worthy of damnation, and yet you're unwilling to do anything about the situation. You might act like a young St. Augustine: "O God, make me holy, but not yet....." , half-wanting to get into a state of grace, but too addicted to your vices. Or you might decide you're not worth saving, and fall into despair. "What's the use? ", you ask yourself. "I've gone to confession for this many times, and I keep falling back into it. Let's face it -- none of this matters. I'm damned, and I might as well resign myself to it." Very often, it is a combination of both.

And you feel like a hypocrite as well. Here you are, a "Good Catholic", a "respected pillar of the community", "such a nice boy", etc., and you know you're not. Maybe, in order to keep up appearances, you go to Communion and compound your dismal state by eating and drinking your condemnation. Or you stay in your pew, and someone might ask you why you didn't go up.

Your eyes keep wandering to the confessional. You keep thinking about it, but you never act on it. Pride gets in the way, as does despair. Or you put it off, also realizing that you may never get the chance, that you might be called to judgement without that quick act of contrition you were planning on making should you find yourself in danger of death.

But one day, you realize that you can't go on like this anymore. Perhaps it is from fear of Hell. Perhaps it's because you realize that God indeed loves you, and wants you back in His fold. Either way, you find yourself going to a church for confession. You think about what you've done, and how you can keep from doing those things again. Sometimes you want to flee. "I'll never be able to shake this," you think. "I won't be truly forgiven." But something -- Someone-- keeps you anchored there.

Then you're in the confessional. You might prefer face-to-face, or the anonymity of the screen. The priest gives you his full attention. Here goes nothing, you think.......

You confess your sins. You dwellthe sin which is your particular demon. The priest listens, and when you're done, he might start with a few questions, or he might choose to get to the heart of the matter. You listen, because it's for the good of your immortal soul. He assigns a penance. You accept it, however light or heavy. Then you are asked for your Act of Contrition. You pray it with all sincerity. You are heartily sorry, and you will avoid occasions of sin.

And then the Words:

God, the Father of mercies,
through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins;
through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name + of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

At that moment, you are assured forgiveness. Your sins are gone, never to return. The temporal consequences still remain, but these now become even more opportunities to grow in grace.

Best of all, you may now receive Our Lord again. If you were honest about not receiving, you looked upon Him at Mass and hungered. You felt starved, because you were truly starving yourself. Now, however, you are ready to partake of the Fruit of the Tree of Life. You will be refreshed and renewed by Him.

You thank Father, leave the confessional, and spend time before the Blessed Sacrament in thanksgiving and praise before you begin your penance.......

Somehow, this doesn't surprise me

You are Kermit!
Though you're technically the star, you're pretty mellow and don't mind letting others share the spotlight. You are also something of a dreamer.

On "Orthodox" Rhetoric and Liturgy

Michael Shirley writes about those who use the word "orthodox" to describe their Catholicism. I think we agree, but I do have some (probably pompous and ponderous) commentary on his post.

Mike's comments are preceded by "MS", and mine by "DP". So here goes.....

MS:Forgive me for saying so, but it seems to me that the phrase "orthodox Catholic" is too often wielded like a club rather than used as a description. It appears as rhetorical code for "I'm a real Catholic and those who have doubts or whose natural inclination is to say 'on the other hand' are not real Catholics." What does it mean, really? Does it mean "the Pope said it, I believe it, and that settles it"? Or does it leave room for "I accept that this is what the Church teaches, although I don't agree with it, and I will stay a Catholic"?

DP: It is true that some people do act like they're the Orthodoxy Police. Many of them are basically good Catholics who are very anal-retentive. Others are radical traditionalists who don't like anything postdating 1963. Both need to take a chill pill.

OTOH, a line has to be drawn. If someone openly advocates killing preborn babies, they're not Catholic. Period. If they use honey cake for Eucharistic bread, that's invalid matter. Period. If a bishop dresses a woman up in vestments, that does not make her a priest. Period. If a professor teaches heresy, he does not belong in a Catholic University. Period. And it is an obligation to point these things out. Besides which, you haven't got just the Pope to deal with when it comes to his declarations. You've also got 2000 years of dogma and doctrine. He can change it no more than he could transform the moon into cheese, or make Cher act her age and wear sensible clothes.

OTOH (I'm starting to sound like Teyve here), people do struggle, and follow their conscience as best they can. Besides which, the wheat and the tares grow together. Someone who looks 100% Catholic may not be in truth. Only God knows. And matters of discipline are open to debate. We can talk about whether it is wise to retain priestly celibacy, or if it is practical to restore the practice of meatless Fridays year-round, or the matter of adding and subtracting Holy Days of Obligation. Reasonable people can disagree on these things.

OTOH, you have to be careful as to where your conscience leads you. And until a discipline is changed, it must be followed.

MS: I'm not talking here about substance, really. I'm talking about communicating what we want to communicate. I remember a new priest changing the way things were done because they were not "orthodox." Whether he was correct was almost beside the point (he wasn't, by the way). What mattered was the way he came across. By holding up the "new" way as orthodox, and by denigrating the "old" way as somehow "wrong," he seemed to be invalidating the spiritual and religious experiences of those who had come to the Church under his predecessor.

DP: I'm curious to know what the spiritual and religious experiences were. For example, having a music group with guitars and woodwinds isn't bad in and of itself. If Father came barging in and said, "No, can't have that, not liturgically correct, must have plainchant and Palestrina and Episcopalian-style hymns at every Mass", then I would disagree with Father. But if the spiritual and religious experiences included paens to self and songs off The Big Chill soundtrack, then those things must stop. They are simply not appropriate for Mass, and not just a matter of taste or aesthetics. Whether performed on a pipe organ or an acoustic guitar, the music should be directed to God. A Taize piece performed on guitar and flute fulfills that purpose. "Sing a New Church" performed with organ and brass does not.

As far as the Liturgy goes, the standard is the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, and the documents of the Sacred Congregation of Rites (or whatever it's called now). That simple. If the religious and spiritual experience of a parish involves pudgy fiftysomething women dancing around the altar in leotards, that must be changed immediately, for it is against the regulations, and unspeakably tacky as well. The same goes for using invalid matter for the Eucharist ("but we've always used Sr. Floozie's 8-grain honey bread for our celebrations!"), forcing people to stand through the Consecration, and rewording the Mass to suit one's own ideological purposes.

OTOH, a new pastor should not do things like insisting on reciting the First Eucharistic Prayer in Latin at every Mass, trading in the parish's current vestment collection for brocaded fiddlebacks, and making everyone kneel for Communion to receive on the tongue. That's what we call "pastorally insensitive". If you want to make changes like that, you have to persuade your parishoners as to why this is better than the current legal and acceptable practice. Educate people on why Latin should be used. Talk about the different styles of vestments (personally, I prefer ones like these). And some practices should be left up to the individual. By all means, distribute Communion at the rail. But unless the support is overwhelming, leave someone at the gate for those who prefer to receive standing. Whether they receive standing or kneeling is not a matter of faith and morals.

And there are also some things which a new pastor may not like, but has to put up with. Altar girls, for example. I'm not thrilled about them for a variety of reasons. But if I were to come into a parish which had them (the bishop permitting it, of course), I would have to accomodate, because getting rid of them would be more trouble than it was worth.

MS:"Orthodox." in my experience, is a word too frequently used by those whose tastes are essentially conservative to describe what they like liturgically. (I'm sure there's a "liberal" analog, but I can't think of it at the moment.) It's only sometimes useful, and is too frequently hurtful. Use it with care.

DP: A Mass as celebrated at Franciscan University in Steubenville is "orthodox", even though the music is decidedly contemporary in style and performance. A Mass as celebrated at St. John Cantius in Chicago with plainchant and polyphany is "orthodox" as well. It would be a mistake to plop Franciscan University's praise group behind the rails at St. John Cantius, and it would be wrong to make it "all Gregorian all the time" for Steubenville (although they do have a schola and a regularly scheduled Mass in Latin). What matters is that both places follow the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, and both places put the emphasis on vertical, not horizontal, worship.

Just to let you know where I come from: I would be what Mike considers a liturgical conservative. I like Latin Masses, whether Tridentine or Pauline (that is, the current usage of the Mass). I love incense and Gregorian chant. I'm most at home at a Byzantine Divine Liturgy. If I lived in San Antonio, I'd join Our Lady of the Atonement in a heartbeat. I like my churches to look like churches, not "worship spaces" or rec rooms. I can't stand much of the stuff in the Gather and OCP songbooks, musically or lyrically.

OTOH, I like "noble simplicity". If I designed a church, it would end up looking very monastic. I like ample, flowing vestments and simply designed vessels and furnishings. I have no problem with good modern ecclesial art. There is some contemporary liturgical music which helps me pray.

And there are some so-called "traditional" things for which I don't have much use. Overpastelled art which makes Our Lord look effeminate and sickly. Saccharine music which is as impossible to sing as some of the modern stuff. The insistence that "Thou" is the only way to properly address God (I had a long email discussion with someone on that topic). Churches filled with the aforementioned bad art and more cheap gemstones than a deranged magpie's nest.

I guess I prefer Cardinal George's term: "Simple Catholicism".

Friday, May 24, 2002

They Say It Better than I Can

The folks at Catholic Light excerpt from Rod Dreher's article in National Review, then add a passage from Micah. Devastatingly good stuff


Just added a whole bunch of links.

The Catholic links are personal favorites -- if you haven't seen any of them before, please take the time to explore them.

News and Opinion shows that I am a conservative by nature. However, I'm more of a cultural conservative than a Milton Friedman free market type.

And then there's Secular Pursuits and Interests. Improv is a favorite hobby of mine. I enjoy the folk-rock of Fairport Convention and the fiction of Terry Pratchett. I like to accompany these activities (or, in the case of improv, after the activity) with good beer. And, since I live in Wisconsin, I am a Packer fan.

(BTW, if there are any of you in St. Blog's who are Lions, Vikings, or --urgh-- Bears fans, I'm willing to make nonmonetary wagers during the regular season. Email me for details and exchange of ideas.)

These links will likely be expanded over the coming weekend. Enjoy!

On my Reading List

Got a few suggestions. Emily Stimpson recommends that I read some Trollope. Mr. Joseph Montoya chips in with Brideshead Revisited. And there are others I omitted from my first list, such as:

Charles Williams
George MacDonald
Dorothy Sayers (read her radio plays, and would love to perform them if given the chance)
Evelyn Waugh (Brideshead and any other fiction I can find)

Any other suggestions? As always, please let me know. And thanks much!

Comment on Flannery O'Connor

She's good at creating some really twisted characters.

Prayer Request

Please pray for a friend's father, who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Not My Ordinary Anymore

Rome has accepted Archbishop Weakland's resignation.

I thought I would feel overjoyed when I finally heard the long-awaited news. Granted, I feel relieved and glad that Rembert is gone, and in such a way that should guarantee that he will not be a thorn in the side of his successor. But that doesn't take away from the fact that Paul Marcoux is a disreputable character whose story doesn't quite ring true. If Rembert tried to force unwanted advances on him, why did Marcoux go on trips with him? If he signed an agreement not to talk about the affair or the settlement, why did he blab?
Even though good came of it, Paul Marcoux and the man who released Rembert's letter (I was wrong in saying that it was Marcoux who did that) are still wrong for doing what they did.

Thursday, May 23, 2002


Paul Macoux is a slimeball for releasing that letter.

On my Outgoing Ordinary

Well, the fecal matter has made contact with the rotating oscillator. Rembert Weakland had a relationship with a man, and paid off $450,000 to keep things quiet. And it came to light today.

Strangely enough, this doesn't shock me. This doesn't surprise me. After 25 years of de-Catholicizing the archdiocese, this is somehow an appropriate way for Rembert to end things. He has been shown, once and for all, to be a humbug. And this latest twist to the Situation will likely have a salutary benefit for the suffering Catholics of Milwaukee, in that Rembert will be outta here sooner than anticipated.

I doubt that His Excellency is reading my site right now. He has a *lot* of things on his mind right now. But, Your Excellency, if you are, take my advice:

Don't take up residence in the Cousins Center like you originally planned to do. Don't plan on speaking at any conferences or commencements or ribbon-cuttings. While you might have the ability to pull a Clinton on this, I wouldn't push your luck, if I was you.

Here's what you should do: go back to your Order. Find the most remote monastery available to you. Move into a hermitage. Do lots of penance. We'll pray for you, and hope to meet you merrily in heaven.

Reading List

Just finished up rereading "Sourcery" by Terry Pratchett. Pratchett's not just an excellent fantasy writer; he's an excellent writer, period.

Starting on a Flannery O'Connor short story collection. I read a few of her pieces in college, but haven't since then. So I'm getting to it now, and maybe after that, I'll get to "Love Among the Ruins" by Walker Percy.

Good thing I'm near a well-stocked used bookstore........

I was an English major in college, but I don't consider myself well-read. Aside from a few favorite authors (Pratchett, C.S. Lewis, Chesterton, and a few fantasy writers), I haven't read much fiction & literature in the last 8-10 years -- it's been mostly philosophy and theology. But I feel....incomplete. Not well-rounded. Ignorant. So now I'm trying to remedy that.

Here are some of the authors on my Future Projects list:

Walker Percy -- all major works,

Samuel Johnson & James Boswell,

Fyodor Dostoevsky (got halfway thru "Brothers Karamazov" before I laid it down and didn't pick it up again),

Jane Austen,

Willa Cather,

Dumas pere and fils,

Walter Scott.

Got any more recommendations (either authors or works)? Please email me. I'd greatly appreciate any suggestions.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Just noticed that last night's post is a bit odd-looking. Wonder why that happened....?

Tuesday, May 21, 2002


Well, I finally got this thing going.......

Welcome to my weblog! My name's Dave. I'm a 32 year old bachelor Catholic male living in Cheesehead Country. Here I will be pontificating on all matters under the sun, whether I know anything about them or not, whether it be my Faith, my favorite hobby (improv).
, my Packers, the state of baseball, pop culture, the Issues of the Day, or some plain silliness. I won't be as direct as Amy Welborn.
, as articulate as Mark Shea.
, as profound as Gerard Serafin.
, or as whimsical as Eve Tushnet.
. But I'll be me --- warts and all.

Monday, May 20, 2002