Thursday, February 27, 2014

O Radiant Light

So, we were going to sing "O Radiant Light" (#184 in Christian Prayer). I chanced to ask "What mode is this in?"

I don't know modes, but it starts and ends on A and has no sharps and flats, so I figured it was in the key of A-minor.  (That would be Aeolian, fyi, according to Thaddeus).

But Thaddeus pipes at as easy as you please and says "D - Dorian."  Which, in fact, is the case. If you play the background chord (drone), it is definitly D-min., which, would ordinarily have a B-flat. But the tune actually has a B. When you raise the sixth in a standard minor key, it becomes Dorian!

The other chants that I looked at all begin and end on the tonic.  Admittedly, I took a very small sampling (3 or 4). Still, it is odd that ORL starts and ends on the fifth and only touches the tonic at the end of the first line.

I have always thought that ORL ended without really ending. Now I know why.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Lewis vs. Tolkien

I thought that headline might grab some of you!

It occurred to me when reading "The Scouring of the Shire" to the kids the other day, that "The Scouring" could be seen as Tolkien's answer to That Hideous Strength. The Lord of the Rings was written after THS.  In fact, wasn't there something about Lewis and Tolkien challenging each other to write stories--Lewis's was going to be a space story and Tolkien's a time story? The Space Trilogy vs. LOTR, which is set in the far reaches of the past?

Compare and contrast Frodo (wounded, tempered by his personal failure) to Ransom (wounded, but having been successful on Perelandra). Gandalf (absent because they don't need him any more and his mission is done) to Merlin (who had to be invoked deus ex machina). You could even compare and contrast the Studdocks with Sam and Rosie. Then there is the almost vengeful violence of the end of THS vs. Frodo's admonition to avoid violence if at all possible. No hobbit should be killed even if he really went over to the other side vs. Wither and Frost.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Archdiocese of Milwaukee Synod Prayer

When I pray this prayer, I enhance it a little in my mind.  My additions are in red.

Prayer in Preparation for the Synod

O Lord, we accept your invitation to enter into the great mystery of your love the death of Jesus on the Cross and presence within your Church, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the renewal and propagation of the fruits of the Cross.
Through word and sacrament, you lead us into communion with you.
Relying on this spiritual intimacy, help open our hearts to the work of the Holy Spirit as we fashion our response to the cries of the poor who struggle to know Jesus.
(Pause and silently mention your personal intentions)
We give you thanks O Lord for the men and women who have offered their lives as gifts to build His [Your]  Church.
Renew within us the “fire” [I take the quotation marks out.  I don't know why they are there.] that burns with the [Your] love, the "love of the Lord" for our brothers and sisters.
As we seek to fulfill our responsibilities through the Archdiocesan Synod, we stand at the foot of the Cross with St. John the Evangelist, patron of the archdiocese, who was charged to care for Mary, Mother of the Church.  Asking their intercession, we offer this prayer through Christ our Lord.

If you want to be a good poet,.... the psalms. For instance, you can't beat how the Psalmist in Ps. 55 expresses his agony and distress when he says in v. 3, "I rock with grief."

Also, this is heart-wrenching:

For it is not an enemy that reviled me –
that I could bear –
Not a foe who viewed me with contempt,
from that I could hide.'
But it was you, my other self,
my comrade and friend,
You, whose company I enjoyed,
at whose side I walked
in the house of God.
Even the line break between "at whose side I walked/in the house of God" lends weight to the sense of agony.

Monday, August 19, 2013

On the Sacraments of Initiation

It is common to think that the idea of the Sacraments of Initiation was lost to the Western Church for hundreds of years. I suppose that was true in a way, but not completely. This is from the Treatise on the Admirable Heart of Jesus by St. John Eudes, whose optional memorial is today:
Finally you are one with Jesus as the body is one with the head. You must then have one breath with him, one soul, one life, one will, one mind, one heart, And he must be your breath, heart, love, life, your all. These great gifts in the follower of Christ originate from baptism. They are increased and strengthened through confirmation and making good use of other graces that are given by God. Through the holy eucharist they are brought to perfection.
Sounds a lot like the CCC:
1212 The sacraments of Christian initiation—Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist—lay the foundations of every Christian life. “The sharing in the divine nature given to men through the grace of Christ bears a certain likeness to the origin, development, and nourishing of natural life. The faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. By means of these sacraments of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity.” [Paul VI, apostolic constitution, Divinae consortium naturae: AAS 63 (1971) 657; cf. RCIA Introduction 1-2.]

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The polemics of the liturgical wars

I know it is difficult to avoid bias in writing, but sometimes I'm amazed at the subtle rhetorical "stabs" taken by people who present themselves as "magisterial," yet are really presenting a polemic for an often quite speculative ore even dubious position.

I was browsing through From Age to Age: How Christians Have Celebrated the Eucharist, by Edward Foley (2nd ed., Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2008). Ostensibly a textbook on liturgical history, complete with lots of quotations, illustrations, floor plans, and music, it is really a 405 page salvo in the liturgical wars.

Foley clearly thinks the altar should be a wooden table in the nave so that the people can gather around it, because that was the norm until the Franks messed things up with their Germanic-Gallican "magical" thinking.

For example, when talking about 20th century liturgical reform he opposes the old way and the glorious, more authentic new "symbolic" sensitivity that came about because of Suzanne Langer, Paul Ricouer, and Edward Schillebeeckx.

Note the rhetorical stab in this passage:
Vatican II affirmed such [symbolic] thinking in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy...., which has also become part of the ecumenical consensus on worship since the council.... This symbolic movement has not been without its critics, however. In some ways the movement away from more symbolic or "dynamic" translations to a more literal approach by symptomatic of this critique.[the ellipses are citation]. 
Where does one begin? What I want to focus on, though, is the use of the word "symptomatic."  What is the connotation of the word?  Illness. So, the return to a more literal translation indicates an illness on the part of "Rome."

Also, note this hilarious passage:
The move toward more authentic symbols also effected a change in the materials for the eucharistic vessels during the late twentieth century. Although gold and silver continued to be employed, precious metals were often replaced by glass, pottery, and wood.  Even wicker baskets, reminiscent of primitive Christian worship, were used again in some places to hold the eucharistic bread.
The rest of the paragraph notes that Bad Old Rome quashed this new "symbolic" use of wicker in 2004 by decreeing "that earthenware, glass, and clay as well as any vessels that break easily were now 'reprobated.'"

Like, gold and precious metals aren't symbolic?

I'm not even going to mention the use of the phrase "eucharistic bread."

This post is magisterial.

Friday, August 09, 2013

"Silly Religion"

This is a follow-up of my 2007 post about Fr. Benedict Groeschel's Stumbling Blocks, Stepphing Stones. In it he talks about two types of what he calls "silly religion" the manifestation of which in Christians discourages others from believing.
I an ego-centered religiosity which is filled with its own self-righteousness. This may be seen in either the abrasive attitude of the so-called ultra-orthdox, who are so reminiscent of the scribes and pharisees, or the cool, detached position of those who consider themselves intellectually superior. Both groups are involved with religion more as a psychological expression of their own needs or as a social force than as a living faith. Such attitudes represent immature forms of faith. Their faith has been truncated by self-seeking, a lack of trust, and a fear of making a real commitment to God. (p. 35)
We intellectuals are often tempted by the second version. The result is an inability to engage in simple, direct devotion to God or the saints--for fear of seeming childish or fundamentalist. Think of de Montfort's "critical devotees."

We tend to believe that the intellect alone is the locus of salvation--and forget that holiness is as much a matter of the will as the intellect. It really is the actions we take and the choices we make that manifest our reception of the grace of salvation. And we really need to be able to approach the living God as a little child, totally dependent, on our knees--in trusting devotion.

Thursday, August 08, 2013


I've come to the conclusion that I waste a lot of time. I'm going to presume that I'm not the only one. There are so may little things that can eat up our time. Watching that cute video on fb is just a waste of time. Watching tv, except very intentionally. Listening to stupid talk radio shows (even NPR most of the time, but there can be some really interesting things on NPR). Football. Why have I wasted so much of my life watching football? Or listening to baseball?  Uecker is entertaining, but come on!

If I want to live the life I want to live--praying, spending time with my kids, reading, writing, gardening, playing my guitar, keeping the house up, making things. I've got to cut almost all of that other stuff out. It is all a monumental waste of time. No wonder Americans are so unproductive. We spend all our time on fb.