Newly published: Graduale Parvum: Introits

A new book of Mass propers in English and Latin has appeared from our friends in England: Fr. Guy Nicholls of the Birmingham Oratory has published Graduale Parvum: Introits.

The book contains entrance chants on simple melodies, much in the style of the Graduale Simplex and ICEL’s Roman Missal ordinary chants. Here’s an example:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The book has some attractive advantages. The melodies are freely adapted from the authentic Gregorian chants in the Graduale Romanum and often preserve their melodic outline, so they’re a step up for choirs that have used more formulaic English adaptations. In addition, the English texts are all from standard, well-known sources approved for liturgical use by the Holy See: the ICEL Roman Missal and the Revised Grail Psalter. They’re fully notated, including the psalm verses, in attractive, readable chant notation.

American readers can get the book from the CMAA Shop web site, a little easier and slightly cheaper than ordering it from the UK.

Incidentally, in 2002, Fr. Nicholls spoke at the CMAA Sacred Music Colloquium  about the propers and the task of promoting them; the talk has an introduction by Jeffrey Tucker, and included some examples from the book’s draft at the time, which the gathered participants sang.

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Only for your love alone

What a relief it is when pretense and romanticism are set aside and we come face to face with reality in its starkness and candor.

For those who work for the poor, not with soundbites or ideologies or doctrinal compromises but in reality, romanticism passes early and often. As St. Vincent de Paul wrote to his spiritual children:

You will find out that Charity is a heavy burden to carry, heavier than the kettle of soup and the full basket. But you will keep your gentleness and your smile. It is not enough to give soup and bread. This the rich can do. You are the servant of the poor, always smiling and good-humored. They are your masters, terribly sensitive and exacting masters, you will see. And the uglier and the dirtier they will be, the more unjust and insulting, the more love you must give them. It is only for your love alone that the poor will forgive you the bread you give to them.

If the corporal works of mercy, in which we give people that which we and they and all agree on the desirability of the gift given, can meet with anger, how much more are the spiritual works of mercy resisted–particularly the three in which we must communicate to one another his or her inadequacy:

  • Instruct the ignorant
  • Counsel the doubtful
  • Admonish the sinner

Rarely will the beneficiary of these merciful acts feel them as unmitigated love and mercy.

Certainly some of the hesitancy will be due to pride, hardness of heart, indolence, or attachment to sin. And yet is is incumbent upon those of us who are exercising this type of mercy to examine our ways.  As a sinner, anyone of us who acts to rouse the Christianity of others has inward access to the paradigmatic Instructor, Counselor, and Admonisher: the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit convicts us without condemnation.

Do we do likewise?

Resistance is necessary, because ultimately our enemy is not human, but the father of lies. There was a naive time when it may have seemed appropriate to participate in the pretended rapprochement of  “The Common Ground” movement. There may have been  time when it seemed appropriate to wonder whether we were instigating “liturgy wars” and “culture wars,” rather than simply upholding and teaching the truth. Were we “rigid?” Where we hypocrites? Were we Pharisees?

The McCarrick affair has thankfully put an end to the need for self-examination on points like this. It turns out that his rejection of truth, beauty, and goodness in other aspects of ecclesial life was perfectly consonant with a life of unrepentant, predatory sin. It made a terrible kind of sense. And so we must resist and admonish, with a new clarity and resolve. As St. Paul says, “Let your love be sincere.”

So what should our response be?

1.  Practice the works of mercy–all of them.

2. Confess and repent.

3. Practice the virtues that are opposites of the vices of ecclesial corruption.

4. Pursue and promote the good, the true, and the beautiful.

Comments?

Cantus sororum: medieval Brigittine chants

Some time ago we got a note from the makers of a recent book of chants published in Finland.

Cantus sororum is a collection of transcribed medieval chants sung by Brigittine nuns, edited by musicologist Hilkka-Liisa Vuori. If I understand right, the chants were associated with the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Some samples from an album by duo Vox Silentii are on the net:
Transplantatur ab Jericho
Benedicamus in laudem Patris

An article about the material is on-line at the site of Vox Silentii, and the book is available from the editor or from the Catholic Information Center in Helsinki.

You can read the book’s introduction here.

Comments?

Why do young people drift away, and why do they return?

A letter to the synod bishops by Italian blogger Sara Manzardo, a young married woman, has drawn quite a bit of interest over there. She writes:

[According to the newspapers] this synod on youth will be talking mostly about migrants, LGBT, and naturally about premarital sex, because chastity seems to be the main reason why youth drift away from the Church.

But we young people deserve much more. We aren’t satisfied any more to hear homilies full of politics, the common good, the news, the environment. […]

We drift away because we don’t find anything in the Church different from what they say to us outside: nothing more moving, nothing worth the trouble of living and dying.

Instead we come closer to the Church when someone explains to us why they have chosen chastity […]. We come closer when someone opens our eyes about our life, when someone says words to us that burn like salt in a wound, but they’re living, true, strong words.

Here’s an English translation of the whole letter.

Comments?

Pharisees

 

Among our age’s many false dichotomies, the one receiving most attention these days is the contrast proposed between supposedly “rigid” and supposedly “pastoral” approaches toward problems of ongoing sexual sin.

In a dramatic manner, the fallacious character of this dichotomy was torpedoed and exploded on the world scene, in the one tragic biographical narrative of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

Over the course of decades, McCarrick took the indulgent, supposedly “pastoral” approach towards his own pathetic sexual proclivities. Of course this was bad for him, for his soul. One of my most fervent prayers is for his sincere repentance and reconciliation with God as his earthly life diminishes. For all we know, this may have happened already, because God’s mercy endures forever. On the other hand, sin hardens the heart and can make repentance difficult. But we can pray, and hopefully he will be saved.

But let us take the wider view. McCarrick was a man who lived in community, and a leader, and he affected others. His sins affected others, and their souls also lie panting along the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. And herein lies the falsity of the dichotomy: indulging McCarrick meant devastation, not pastoral care to others. Indulging one man in a career of sexual sin hurt others. It always does. Indulging remarriage leaves abandoned families, the widows and orphans of the developed world in their millions. Indulging the consumption of pornography leads directly to the trafficking in fresh, photogenic human flesh to be degraded, and captured with a permanent record.

What about their souls? What about the preventably fatherless whose parish priests never aimed for the reconciliation of the family but went straight for the annulment? Where was the pastoral concern for the wife and child left behind and often impoverished, whose images of God the Father are compromised because of their own fathers’ actions?

What about the women? What about the millions of mothers who doggedly worked through their children’s upbringing and had insufficient time and energy to properly raise them or even pray for them?

And what about the even more desperate situations? What about the child prostitutes sacrificed at the altar of adult indulgence at truck stops and online? What about the prostitutes pimped in every city and brought in thousands to every major sporting event? Where is their pastoral care? Who is listening to them?

A falsely “pastoral” indulgence is never victimless, because we live in community. In the case of McCarrick, of course, the damage was multiplied exponentially, not because his appetites were necessarily outsized (see the famous Bell and Weinberg study for more on this), but because he was in a position of high ecclesial leadership.

How can a bishop attend to his threefold mission when he is constantly sinning in a serious way? Letting alone the time it takes from his duties to maintain this sort of sideline hobby, the problem with serious sin is that it takes us out of the connection with charity that is given to us in Baptism and meant to grow with the fruitful reception of the sacraments, including Holy Orders. Charity directs our efforts to go to God and for the sake of others’ journeys to Him. A bishop’s charity belongs in large part to those he serves. Again, what about them? What is to become of a people whose very shepherd commits apparently endless sacrileges against himself and other consecrated persons? Leaving aside the shepherd who lets his people fall prey to the wolves because he is grossly distracted and inattentive, what about the shepherd who is himself a wolf? Will he teach sound doctrine? Will he pray for his flock? Will he care much if they go astray?

And his influence: what will be its results? Will the universities and hospitals under his leadership be beacons of light to the world? Will their goals be religious goals?

And what about his legacy of junior leaders? Will the leaders he appoints–some of them quite young–teach the fullness of the faith? What about the souls of those influenced by them or by him? What about the eternal destiny of these souls?

What would Jesus do? When Jesus saw that the crowds were famished, having spent three days in the wilderness, he charged his apostles with feeding them. That is the job of an apostles: Feed my sheep. Tend my lambs.

What would Jesus do? When Jesus met the Samaritan woman, he made sure she knew that He knew that she had sinned.

What would Jesus do? He forbade not only the sin but the coveting that leads to sin. Looking at a woman is adultery in the heart. Don’t flirt with that married man in the office. Don’t go to lunch with him. Don’t make a pass at your married female colleague in the bar on the business trip. And for God’s sake leave the poor seminarians alone.

What would Jesus do? When Jesus rescued the Samaritan woman from stoning, He told her, “Go and sin no more.”

This is not scolding. It is not “rigid.” Jesus, Whose very name means “God saves,” gives us the hope of finally realizing that beautiful resolution of the Act of Contrition, “sin no more,” for nothing is impossible with God. It can be a long and bumpy road, the path to moral virtue. But what is the alternative? The long and bumpy descent into degradation and sorrow, with the souls and bodies of other people littering the ground around the hell we choose?

God told us to choose life that we and our children might live. That life is ultimately the endless Sabbath that calls us higher and higher. That Sabbath was so important to Jesus, and so trivial to the Pharisees, that whenever he celebrated it in a higher manner, they got mad.

The Sabbath was made for man–for us! The Sabbath: a time of healing, when the long years of weakness are gone and human beings are made whole. Human beings are not “pastored” by keeping them locked in a muddy ditch in the wilderness, mired and preyed upon by wild beasts. The Sabbath gives our lives a goal and a direction, and true pastors lead us there.

Let us run, dear shepherds. Lead us all to the Sabbath of endless light and joy and feasting and goodwill.

Comments?