Monday, August 26, 2002

On Rod Dreher's Artcle

I've read the article for myself. Two particular passages caught my attention:

Why has he allowed so many American bishops, nearly all of whom he has appointed, to eviscerate the liturgical, catechetical and pastoral life of the church to the point where we are now living in an undeclared schism?


In serious matters, such as priestly sexual misconduct, abuses in the liturgy, corruption in seminary life, and the rejection of church teaching by Catholic universities and hospitals, the pope has explicitly recognized the crisis, given clear directions for its correction--and done nothing when his orders were ignored or undercut by subordinates in this country. Over the last 30 years, faithful Catholics have found a variety of ways to make known to the Holy See their urgent concern, but most often to no avail.

Why indeed? I've often wondered why His Holiness hasn't yanked dissenting bishops out of their sees, why he hasn't swept through religious orders with a broom, why he hasn't put the squeeze on colleges and hospitals. My natural temperament likes the Attila-the-Hun approach to doing things. Clean house! Let heads roll!

But then I thought about a few things, involving the Pope and his brother bishops:

1) We have the most pervasive case of non serviam since the Reformation. In order to have effective authority, you need people who will obey. His Holiness could issue all the interdicts he wanted, depose bishops wholesale, dissolve entire religious orders, and impose other stringent measures. At the very most, we would have open rebellion and schism. At the very least, he would be ignored as much as he is now. I'm not sure which would be worse.

2) As it is, much of the power to do these things belong to the bishops, and they have neglected their authority for too long. Not many are out-and-out modernists, but many have been reluctant to oust the middle management apparatchiks in their dioceses, and the same dreary Catholic Lite continues. They're afraid that if they do act decisively, they will share the same fate as Wolfgang Haas in Switzerland. Those who have succeeded in turning their dioceses around (such as Denver) have required several years to do so, and endure flak from both right and left on the nature and speed of change.

3) As it is, what practical things can a bishop do? He could try to clean out the chancery offices, but I would bet that a fair number of the middle- management would so him for breach of contract, if for no other reason than to drain the diocese of funds. He could throw out dissenting religious orders from the parishes, but the priests would have to be replaced with his own diocesan clergy -- and he only has so many to go around. And if a religious order owns other property in the diocesan boundaries (especially a motherhouse), they will do all sorts of things to spite the bishop.

4) Speaking of religious-owned properties, there is the plague of colleges and universities which are Catholic in name only. Ever since the Land O' Lakes conference in the late 60's, most of these institutions have "declared their independence" from the bishops. Any serious effort to enforce Ex Corde Ecclesiae would result in rebellion and litigation (I believe Marquette's own Dan Maguire has threatened to sue if they ever try firing him), or, even worse, be ignored.

More later, along with reflections on the Pope and the Scandal.....

A Happy Week in Milwaukee

This Wedensday, Timothy Dolan will be installed as the tenth Archbishop of Milwaukee. I invite you to watch the Mass on EWTN, beginning at 3 PM EDT. Unfortunately, this means you'll see our rearranged cathedral. But His Excellency will brighten up the space considerably.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

I'm Getting Sick of Power Outages

Five times this past week and a half. Twice last week, and three days in a row. SHEESH!

Sunday, August 18, 2002

Solution to the "Low Mass" and "One Mass Fits All" Mindsets (Part One)

Like Fr. Jim Tucker, I have no problem with the Low Mass in and of itself. In fact, it is part of my solution to both of the aforementioned mindsets.

Here's what can be done in even a small parish for a healthy liturgical life. These ideas aren't original -- they've been better stated elsewhere (especially in Thomas Day's Why Catholics Can't Sing), and some parishes actually do this. But they bear repeating:

One Solemn Mass In many parishes, the only difference between the choir Mass and the others is....the choir. Maybe there might be a choral piece instead of an instrumental, but that's about it. Everything else is identical with the other Masses.

Even if a parish has only two or three weekend Masses, one of them should be celebrated with full solemnity. Have at least four servers (thurifer, crucifer, and 2 torchbearers), and, if possible, six (also a boatbearer to accompany the thurifer and a bookbearer/Master of Ceremonies). If a deacon serves the parish, he should always assist at this liturgy. Chant the prayers and responses; use copius amounts of Latin (or, better yet, have it almost entirely in Latin); vest all the ministers, or at least the lector in addition to the servers; have full processions which start in the sacristy, go down a side aisle and up the main aisle; and challenge the choir with polyphany and chant.

For especially solemn/festive occasions (Christmas Midnight Mass, Triduum, Pentecost, Corpus Christi), take it a level higher. Chant the entire Mass -- including the readings and the Creed. Have at least four servers with torches for processions and the Consecration. If you have two deacons, have them both assist. Even using a better grade of incense than usual can be an indicator of great solemnity.

Any Mass scheduled after this one should start at least 1 hour 45 minutes afterwards, to allow the "High" Mass to proceed without hurry. Also, on Holy Days of Obligation and other important feast days, the evening Mass or school Mass should be celebrated with as much solemnity as circumstances allow.

Lastly, if the parish has multiple ethnic groups, this Mass should be celebrated in Latin, since it is the common language of our Rite. Readings can be proclaimed in multiple languages, as well as the Prayer of the Faithful.

One Simple Mass. If a parish has at least four weekend Masses, the earliest one (between 6 & 7:30 am) should be no-frills: no music, simple procession from sacristy to sanctuary, and one or two servers. It should last no more than 40 minutes or so. This is a great way to begin the day, BTW -- or end it, since this also works for the late afternoon/evening.

Something "In Between" for the Other Liturgies. Just your standard Sunday Mass: another choir, or just a cantor and organist; priest, deacon (if there is one), reader, and 3 servers (crucifer and torchbearers); the usual procession beginning in back and up the main aisle; sung Kyrie, Gloria, Psalm, Gospel Acclamation and Eucharistic Acclamations; some chanting of prayers if the priest chooses; and hymns which can be sung in their entirety by the congregation.

Well-Chosen Music. For the most part, use hymns and Mass parts which can be sung easily by the entire congregation. If certain contemporary songs must be used, let the cantor or choir sing the verses (see below about cantors). Use chant (vernacular or Latin) as often as possible - it's easy to sing, and helps people pray.

Regarding the Cantor...... One thing which would add to the dignity of any liturgy with music would be the invisibility of the cantor. Having him/her in a lectern up front, waving arms and singing over the congregation throughout a hymn, is usually a distraction. Let the cantor sing from the loft, or from a lectern which is not a principal focus of attention. The only times he/she should be visible are for the Prayer of the Faithful (if the cantor is chanting the intentions); special items like the Christmas Proclamation, the Announcement of Feasts on Epiphany, the Exultset on Holy Saturday; and the Psalm (which can also be sung from the loft/schola). Also, if a hymn is known by a congregation, the cantor's only role is to get them started on it -- if even needed for that. Otherwise, the microphone should be shut off for that time.

NO GIMMICKRY. NO PERFORMANCES No cutesy postcommunion songs by little kids, complete with hand gestures. No ersatz ceremonies made up by liturgists who have nothing better to do. No dancers. No orchestral Masses or other difficult peices just so one can show off the choir's or cantor's abilities. No mini-homilies or other extemporaneous speeches by anyone. No essay contests, presentations, or other things which turn the Divine Sacrifice into a company meeting. (More on gimmickry in the next installment.)

What is accomplished by all this? At the very least, something for everyone -- those who want to worship with all their senses can go to the 10 am Mass, while those who prefer to start the day quietly won't have their senses jarred at 7 am by sensory overload. And those who attend the other Masses will be aided in their prayer by good music and a dignified environment.

Next post will deal with art and architecture.


Blogging Frustration

Tried to post, but kept hitting a wrong button or something. Hence the delay.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

More Fun Than Should Be Allowed at HMS Blog

Poor Emily. So many men, not enough time.......


I think I jinxed my department. It's back up again. Back to the salt mines. No more blogging til tonight.

A Rare Opportunity

Our database is down at work, so I now have the chance to blog from work. YEE-HAAA!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

On the "Low Mass" and the "One Mass Fits All" Mentalities

Fr. Jim Tucker says many excellent things about those who pay attention to the Good and True, but neglect the Beautiful, especially with liturgy. And we're not talking CPL-inspired madness, either. This is about Masses which might be rubrically correct, but indifferently treat as afterthoughts (or worse, as nuisances) music, incense, art, furnishings, vestments, and all the other things which bring out the splendor and awe of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Not that Gregorian chant, smoking thuribles, and gold brocade are needed at every Mass -- they're not. But the trouble is, they're not in any Mass.

The good Father calls this the Low Mass Mentality, after those Traditional Mass Catholics who consider the quietly recited Liturgy the souce and summit of Worship, and who consider High Mass to be a distraction and an ordeal. The same mindset has carried over into the Pauline Mass. In my experience, the source of this minimalism comes from a concern with the length of time. It seems more important to get in and out of church in 45 minutes than to devote all of one's senses to worshipping God. I remember one church in Milwaukee (since closed) that packed people in for their Masses because they were over and done with in 35 minutes or so. You sang one verse of a hymn to begin and end (the quality of music was horrible), listened to a two-minute homily (always preached by the pastor -- assisting priests were elderly immigrants who spoke heavily accented English), and did all else with minimum fuss. I didn't so much feel that I fulfilled my obligation by going there -- it was more like I got my obligation over and done with.

To be honest, I haven't seen that sort of thing lately, because most parishes are afflicted with a different but equally bad mentality -- One Mass Fits All. I admit there's a place for a simple, spoken Mass on a parish's Sunday schedule -- usually between 6 and 7:30 am. I'm not ready for the Minneapolis Musical Mafia's offerings or the latest gimmickery that early in the morning (or at any other time, for that matter). But at several parishes I know, the Mass celebrated at 7 am must exactly match the one at 11 am -- every note of music, every contrived ritual, everything. No room for diversity here.

I'll come up with my solution tomorrow. My bed is calling me......

More on The Cypress Land Grab

And even after the judge has slapped them down, they're still clueless.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Reading List Update

When I first began this blog, I asked readers for some good fiction to read. Got several good suggestions -- went through the short stories of Flannery O'Conner, some Wodehouse, and Many Dimensions by Charles Williams. Now I'm hooked on the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian. Great stuff. I'll be hunting high and low for all twenty books in the series.

On Football

The preseason has started. Packers lost first game, but hey -- it doesn't count.

But for those games which do count, I'm willing to entertain wagers of a nonmonetary nature -- say, a poem in praise of the winning team composed by the loser, and published on his blog. I've got one taker. Any others? Be ye willin', or be ye yeller?

Another Milwaukee Blogger!

Welcome, Robert Gotcher!

Prayer Request

Please remember Kairos' wife in your prayers. She is experiencing health problems.

Speaking of Malcontents.....

Several groups aren't happy with the 1962 Missal as is, either. Some, like the Congregation of Mary Immacualte Queen and the Rochester Franciscans (who are a scary bunch, BTW), use the 1958 Missal. Others, citing Archbishop Bugnini's role in the Holy Week revisions, use the 1948 or 1954 editions of the Missal (Society of St. Pius V, St. Gertrude's). Interesting how lone priests and putative bishops can overrule papal authority, even Pius XII's.

On Tridentine Missals

Much goings-on in Shawn Tribe's blog about the qualities of the 1962 Missal "as-is" and the 1965 revision. Personally, I believe that there would have been very few problems had we stopped with the 1965 Missal (although at least one group had gone "independent" by then). The changes were organic, especially readings directly proclaimed to the people in the Vernacular and the restoration of the Bidding Prayer. Even Msgr. Gamber admitted as much in his book The Reform of the Roman Rite.

However, considering the feelings of many who go to the Indult Mass, I don't think it's wise to deviate from Ordinary and rubrics of the 1962 Missal in any way right now. But I do favor some additions to the Calendar, and Masses and Offices composed for them if fitting. We now have enough capable people who would perform that task (the composition of the Propers) as a labor of love, and do so with the utmost prudence. Of course, changes of any sort will be looked upon with suspicion by the Lidless Eyes of Fr. Gruner, Michael Matt, the Cains, and other assorted reactionary malcontents -- but who cares?

Power Outage

I hoped to do some heavy duty blogging last night, but some severe storms came through the Milwaukee area and knocked out power. So not much got done......

Monday, August 12, 2002

On Worshipping Mammon

It gets me down when this sort of thing happens. And it's happening more and more. Municipalities, afraid of losing even a cent of property tax revenue, deny churches permission to purchase property, build on that property, or, as in the case of the town of Cypress, attempt to steal the land away. Are they that desperate for money? Pitiful. Very pitiful. Not even a generation ago churches and synagogues were considered assets to a community. They may not have added pennies to the municipal coffers, but they were valued for things much more priceless than mere money. No more, it seems.

Friday, August 09, 2002

St. Blog's Has a Catechumen!

Welcome Home, Sean Roberts! We'll all be praying for you as you make your journey to the Fullness of Faith.....

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Funny, I Always Pictured Him with More Hair.....

Dynamite Dave Alexander, blowing away at his harp.

On "Independent Catholic" Churches

A few years ago, a group of disgruntled people formed Spiritus Christi in Rochester, NY, after Bishop Clark was made to crack down on abuses at a certain parish. They later "ordained" the woman who is their pastoral administrator.

Other "Independent Catholic" churches have cropped up over the last 20 years or so. Some, like St. Matthew's in Orange, CA, are Old Catholic churches which have fallen further into the spirit of the age. Others, such as Spiritus Christi and Jesus Our Shepherd, have sprung up in recent years, led by priests who left to get married, or left for other reasons. Their sizes vary, from the 30 or so who regularly attend Jesus Our Shepherd, to the hundreds of members at Spiritus Christi. They are unabashedly modernist in orientation, wholeheartedly supporting the tired agenda Call to Action.

I'm of a mixed mind about these congregations. On one hand, schism hurts the Church, violating Our Lord's wish that all be in one flock, with one shepherd. OTOH, these groups do serve a purpose. People who want all the trappings of Catholicism without the bother of a hierarchy, absolute truths, solid moral teaching and an all-male priesthood will find a home with them.

I'm wondering, though......will these congregations stay small? Or will they grow?

They might remain small in size, since there would be no natural growth in a community largely comprised of aging hippies and childless couples (of either orientation). Also, people tend to drop in for doctrine-free weddings and baptisms offred by these churches, and then drop right back out again. They got what they wanted, so why stick around?

OTOH, I can see a possibility for growth, based on a number of factors. Some, like members of Voice of the Faithful, might consider the "Institutional Church" so irreparable that they might join or form independent communities. Divorced-and-remarrieds and couples who have "followed their consciences" on contraception are also likely to join, since they will feel no guilt there. A lot of former middle-management apparitchiks are active in these churches; I can see more fleeing to them if bishops get really serious about weeding them out of parishes and chanceries. And for all those disgruntled liturgists out there, there's always here.

What do you think? Will these "Independent Catholic" communities grow? Or will they be mostly tinyl little oases of fantasy, populated by grey boomers and other malcontents? Please let me know what you think, either by email or by your own blog.

Monday, August 05, 2002

Since I was last here.....

It's been over a week since I last blogged. Been kept very busy at work, ComedySportz, and other things. After 9+ hours at work (took Friday off to go to Wisconsin State Fair with my Dad), I really don't feel like staring at a computer screen again. It often takes maximum effort just to check email. But I'll try to get some evening postings in...