Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Motu Proprio

I haven't written much commentary on the Motu Proprio concerning the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite. I still remember the pre-Paul VI and Ray Repp days quite vividly and would like to see some of the ethos of that liturgy revived in the celebration of the ordinary form. On the other hand, the one celebration of the old form I've been to since the change left me cold. I guess I wasn't prepared for it, or something. I look forward to attending some celebrations of the extraordinary form in the near future and regret missing the pontifical Mass at St. Stan's in Milwaukee celebrated by Bishop Perry of Chicago (former priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee). We had illness in the family and our son who would have been singing in the schola was at his Order of the Arrow ordeal.

I had planned to write a comprehensive post about it, stating basically that what is missing in the current celebration of the ordinary form in most cases is a sense that we are mysteriously present at and participating in the sacrifice of Christ. We are with Mary at the foot of the Cross. We are in heaven at the right hand of the Father. I think the ordinary form can have that if celebrated properly. I think a couple of changes would help--new translation (in process), reorientation of the priest to face liturgical east, altar rail, some Latin and Greek (I've said all this before). Even without these changes, though, I am able to enter into the spirit of the liturgy quite well participating in the ordinary form.

I also would love to see restoration of some of the old biblical prayers, such as the one the priest says before reading the Gospel quoting Isaiah
Cleanse my heart and my lips, O Almighty God, Who didst cleanse the lips of the prophet Isaias with a burning coal; through Thy gracious mercy so purify me
that I may worthily proclaim Thy holy Gospel. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. (quoted here)
I also like the old lavabo prayer quoting from Psalm 26.

I will wash my hands among the innocent, and I will encompass Thine Altar, O Lord. That I may hear the voice of praise, and tell of all Thy wondrous works. I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of Thy house, and the place where Thy glory dwelleth. Take not away my soul, O God, with the wicked, nor my life with men of blood. In whose hands are iniquities, their right hand is filled with gifts.

But as for me, I have walked in my innocence; redeem me, and have mercy on me. My foot hath stood in the right way; in the churches I will bless Thee, O Lord. (quoted here)

And, finally, a revival of emphasis on the processional chants, such as the Introit, offertory and communion chants. I like vernacular hymns, but don't think they should replace the chants. I know. It is allowed in the rubrics. So, out of obedience I accept it. I still prefer the chants.

Speaking of obedience, what this post is really about is a statement made by another Paul VI Catholic, Jeff Mirus, on his blog.

The most important liturgical disposition is obedience, the very virtue by which Christ saved us in following the Father’s will, the very virtue which lies at the heart of what God the Son does at Mass. The precise form of the liturgy, the style of the music, the brilliance of the homilist, the exterior devotion of the faithful avail nothing without the willingness to be obedient to what the Church prescribes for Divine worship.

In a Church where things can sometimes seem somewhat screwy, this could be a heroic virtue.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

My favorite Jesuits

I'm among those who occasionally will bemoan the state of the Jesuit order, but in fact my experience of the Jesuits has been very good. I know, for instance, of at least two excellent novices in the Wisconsin Province. I also have a strong admiration for many living Jesuits, some whom I do know and some I don't. Here is the list in alphabetical order and a brief description:
  • Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society, Fordham University.
  • Fr. Raymond Gawronsi, S.J., who does spiritual direction and teaches at St. Jean Vianny Seminary in Denver.
  • Fr. Joseph Koterski, S.J., associate professor of philophy at Fordham, very active in University Faculty for Life, and a great teacher of the Ignatian examen.
  • Fr. Bill Kurz, S.J., scripture scholar, pro-life activist, leader in the charismatic renewal, professor at Marquette University.
  • Fr. Michael Maher, associate professor of history at Gonzaga University and a fixture at Milwaukee Irish Fest (he can really ceili dance!).
  • Fr. James Schall, S.J., professor of political theory at Georgetown, wise guide for Catholic liberal higher education.
  • Msgr. Robert Sokolowski, S.J., The Elizabeth Breckenridge Caldwell Professor of Philosophy at Catholic University of America.
  • Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., President of Gonzaga University and author of Healing the Culture, a systematic presentation of the Life Principles program he developed.

I have a feeling I've published this list before. And I'm sure I've missed many most excellent Jesuits. Still, I think these are the most influential in my own intellectual work and/or personal life. If I remember more, or someone reminds me of some, I'll add them later.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Discerning an avocation

A.G. Stertillanges, O.P., in The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods (Washingon D.C.: Catholic University Press, 1986), gives us a clue about how to discover one's avocation. This does not mean one's livelihood so much as that thing to which one wishes to commit one's heart, even if part time in the hours left after one fulfills one's obligation to make a living. In this case he is talking about the vocation to the intellectual life, but the principles he articulates apply to all avocations.

The intellectual vocation is like every other: it is written in our instincts, in our powers, in a sort of inner impulse of which reason must judge. Our dispositions are like the chemical properties which determine for every body, the combinations into which that body can enter. A vocation is not something that can be had for the asking. It comes from heaven and from our first nature. The whole point is to be docile to God and to oneself as soon as they have spoken.

Understood in this sense, Disraeli's saying that you may do what you please, provided it really pleases you, contains a great meaning. Our liking, if coordinated with our fundamental tendencies and to our aptitudes, is an excellent judge. If St. Thomas could say that pleasure characterizes functions and may serve to classify men, he must be led to conclude that pleasure can also reveal our vocation. Only we must search down into the depths where liking and the spontaneous impulse are linked up with the gifts of God and His providence. (pp. 4-5)

This is the way I discovered I was not to be a linguist. I had ( and continue to have) a deep love of languages, but not the aptitude for them. Specifically, I have no memory for vocabulary, so I will forever be reliant on the dictionary for words that I have looked up over and over again. A true linguist, such as my son, cannot have this defect. A linguist who had worked as much with Latin and German as I have would be fluent in the languages by now. I'm not. So, I get to be a theologian. I seem to be able to do that kind of work.

Oh, thanks to Jeff Vehige for directing me to this work.