Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Sancta Cecilia, ora pro nobis

Monday, November 20, 2017

Want a Youthful Church? Sponsor Children's Choirs!

One of the Christian denominations is struggling with rapidly decreasing attendance and involvement in parish life. What is the answer?

Some think--as I do--that the "silver bullet" for this and for many other problems in Church life is the widespread establishment of Children's Choirs.

This is not difficult to do but there always seems to be a more important program. Like youth ministries that cater to young people but never ask them to share their gifts. Or like some catechetical programs that only scratch the surface of Catholicism, and from which young people "graduate" and leave the Church behind as well.

In a classical choir, young people are immersed in beauty and liturgy in a way that will not easily be forgotten. They come in contact with treasures of Scripture, set to music, deeply informing their young souls to be accustomed to the things of God.

A recent article argues the facts of the case:
Choirs represent a “massive opportunity” for churches, he argues. “If you want to have a vibrant church ministry, then music is a really easy win. Children are keen to be part of it, and there is still a lot of talent out there in terms of leadership; it just needs a little bit of money thrown at it.” Through its outreach programme, Cathedral Sing, the cathedral is working with thousands of children every year.
 Most of the choristers at the cathedral come from unchurched families. The mother of one chorister baptised and confirmed last Easter is now exploring ordination; the parents of another were confirmed at the same time as their son’s baptism. “People come to the choir because they want music, but then subsequently find faith through that music,” he observes.
... He regrets the low expectations of children’s abilities. “Standards were so high, and people believed that children could achieve great things as musicians at an early age,” he explains. “Now, too many people dumb down music for kids. . . One school spent a whole term learning to sing “Amazing grace”, which is diabolical. You should be able to teach that in two minutes, and have them singing it from memory, frankly.”
... I get lots of requests saying: ‘We have an ancient choir: is there anything you can suggest?’ and I say, ‘Yes, create a children’s choir. “You need to find the money to pay someone to do it, and have enough money to resource it. If you don’t resource music in your parish, and have bad music, what do you expect is going to happen?”
Much, much more here. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Bishops' November Meeting

I've been following the USCCB's November meeting, and found much that was truly edifying: the order, the reverence with which the prayers were read, the Apostolic Nuncio's exhortation to show the culture "the good, the true, and the beautiful," and the priorities of the bishops all seem so strong. It's really an exciting time, or as the nuncio said, potentially "a Kairos moment."

One very interesting thing happened outside the meeting, at the press conference after the morning sessions. A press representative from America Magazine asked whether divisive, renegade, misrepresentations of Catholicism, especially in social media, were being adequately addressed by the bishops.

Currently America Magazine's social media is running a headline quoting USCCB President Cardinal DiNardo, who laudably spoke about resisting division caused by hot-button issues.

It strikes me that America Magazine as a promotor of irenicism on hot button issues is an unusual role, and also that their call for more stringent episcopal oversight of independent uses of media is perhaps unintentionally ironic.

It is indeed an interesting time!

Monday, November 6, 2017

CDW Clarifies: Reports of Ecumenical Missal Unfounded

The Vatican has strongly denied reports that a commission has been established examining the possibility of a setting up an “ecumenical Mass” which would allow Catholics and Protestants to celebrate a shared Eucharist. 
Archbishop Arthur Roche, the number two official at the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, told The Tablet that reports of a joint Mass were “utterly false” while Greg Burke, Director of the Holy See Press Office, described them as “simply untrue.”

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Solemn Requiem - Minneapolis

For those in or near Minneapolis/St. Paul, there will be a beautiful Requiem for All Souls featuring Victoria’s a 6.

Church of All Saints
435 4th St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Twin Cities Catholic Chorale - All Souls

Now in its 44th season at the Church of Saint Agnes in Saint Paul, MN, the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale will continue its tradition of performing the Mozart Requiem, K 626 with orchestra, at a Solemn Latin Mass at 7:30 p.m.on November 2, 2017.

The Chorale is under the direction of Dr. Robert L. Peterson.

Make plans to join them tomorrow evening to celebrate All Souls' Day!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Grace and Merit: Cooperators in Charity

As we celebrate the beautiful Catholic Reformation, I thought I'd just reprise an old favorite parody song, which can be sung to the tune of the old Sinatra standard, Love and Marriage.

Grace and merit, grace and merit,
God's so great He just can't wait to share it,
'Specially with His mother; you can't have one without the other.

Grace and merit, grace and merit,
The cross is heavy but you'll have to bear it.
Let me tell you, brother: you can't have one without the other.

Try, try, try to separate them. It's an illusion.
Try, try, try, and you will only add to the confusion.

Grace and merit, grace and merit:
It's a legacy we may inherit,
With the blessed mother. You can't have one. It's just not done. You can't have one without the other.

Speaking of the Catholic Reformation on this All Hallows' Eve, here is a great book on the subject, with special attention to the great reforms and foundings of Religious communities of the period. I highly recommend it. Each chapter follows outstanding heroes of the faith, who gave their lives to God in the Church. "Show me your faith without works," they seem to say, "and I will show you the faith that underlies my works."

St. Charles Borromeo makes an appearance in nearly every chapter.

Two other reading recommendations: the sober, careful, and balanced canons of the Council of Trent, and The Foundations by St. Teresa of Avila. The Foundations are too often neglected; they begin where The Autobiography left off, and recount her life's adventures.

Gaudeamus omnes in Domino diem festum celebrantes
sub honore Sanctorum omnium:
de quorum solemnitate gaudent angeli, et collaudant Filium Dei.

Exsultate iusti in Domino: rectos decet collaudatio.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Phoenix Cathedral Mass Broadcast

Over the last decade or two, a number of US Catholic Cathedral music programs have set an exquisitely high liturgical standard, both in ceremony and music. One of these is the Cathedral of Saints Simon and Jude in Phoenix, Arizona, which celebrates its transferred patronal feast tomorrow, October 29, 2017. The worship aid may be viewed here.

The Cathedral's recent renovation included the installation of a new Peragallo organ. Each Sunday's live local video broadcast (9 am MST) is archived online at the diocesan website, and can be heard live on local radio channels coast to coast. A list of local stations follows the page break below.

Some say the Novus Ordo cannot be done well. Others say it has been tried and failed--or, not yet been tried. Those interested in an excellent example of a consistently beautiful and reverent Mass may simply tune in.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Upside-down times

I was walking along one January day at the March for Life with a couple of families I know, singing the Salve Regina in Gregorian chant with the nine year olds. We passed a group of young people with the banner of a Catholic college; they were singing Renaissance polyphony. Then our paths crossed with a sister, perhaps in her sixties or seventies. She was strumming a guitar and singing a nearly 50-year old song written by a former priest.

Things are awfully upside-down.

Sometimes it seems that the closer a person is to old age, the more they like what at first glance seems to be a "contemporary" style of liturgy--but with closer inspection the ideals are from a generation or two ago. Currently banners seem to be making a comeback, and "creative" phrasing of the prayers of the Mass. 

What is troubling about this is it is people in their late middle age who tend to be in positions of responsibility, and, often without sufficient consultation, have the authority to make decisions about art and Church programming that will purportedly "appeal to young people." 

When lay persons of a certain age advocate for these positions, their opinions tend to carry the weight of their pocketbooks.

For myself, I was taught to love the sacred primarily by people younger than myself. Very frequently I have been challenged to reverence in prayer and liturgy by young people, whose heads were bowed lower, attentions more focused, lives quieter and more honest, than my own. By virtue of being older and having some skills, I've been privileged to bring them forward sometimes in their capacities to serve the liturgy. But it is they who have instructed me in its reverence.

There have been movements over the last decades to "meet the kids where they're at." 

I hope we oldtimers can rise to that challenge.

Monday, September 25, 2017

California Missions Music Presentations - Santa Clara, CA

Friday, October 6th - Recital and Presentation, 6pm
    Works by Sancho, Sumaya, and Gozos to St. Joseph and the Blessed Sacrament. 
    "Choral Repertoire of Colonial Latin America and California Missions:
       an examination of style, repertoire, and "Gozos", the hymn of praise." - Dr. Craig Russell

Saturday, October 7th - Feast of the Holy Rosary
  Mass for the Feast of the Holy Rosary with music by Zipoli, 8am
  Sung Rosary with Children, 9:30am and 11:45am

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sanctificavit Moyses

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Showing Love for God, in the Liturgy

Some may object that I am paying too much attention to the small details, to the minutiae, of the Sacred Liturgy. But as every husband and wife knows, in any loving relationship the smallest details are highly important, for it is in and through them that love is expressed and lived day after day. The ‘little things’ in a marriage express and protect the greater realities. So too in the liturgy: when its small rituals become routine and are no longer acts of worship which give expression to the realities of my heart and soul, when I no longer care to attend to its details, when I could do more to prepare and to celebrate the liturgy more worthily, more beautifully, but no longer want to, there is a grave danger that my love of Almighty God is growing cold. We must beware of this. Our small acts of love for God in carefully attending to the liturgy’s demands are very important. If we discount them, if we dismiss them as mere fussy details, we may well find, as sometimes very tragically happens in a marriage, that we have ‘grown apart’ from Christ—almost without noticing.
--Robert Cardinal Sarah, today.