To some Catholics, the fruits of Vatican II are in doubt. More Catholics receiving Communion, reading the Bible, RCIA, deacons, lay ministers–probably good fruits. Fewer priests and sisters, more uncertainty about who believes what, and liturgies with the Easter Bunny and clowns–probably bad fruits.
(T)he fear was expressed in discussions about the awaited Motu Proprio, that the possibility of a wider use of the 1962 Missal would lead to disarray or even divisions within parish communities. This fear also strikes me as quite unfounded.
Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have rent the Body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity.
In one model of the Church, forty percent of the flock is lost over a period of two years. In another, the loss is spread out over a few decades. Do you suppose there’s another way, one in which pews fill to overflowing?
I don’t have the answer to this. Clearly one can do great damage to the spiritual health of a community, and be totally within the bounds of civil and canon law. Those who suffer are seemingly without recourse.
Iowa State Commencement today marks the end of an academic year. I’ve already had to say goodbye to a number of students. And with last month’s Holy Week, Triduum, Confirmation, and First Communion squarely behind us at the parish, we enter our long summer.
I’ve begun devoting some serious attention to my next production. Three songs for scene two are done, only awaiting instrumentation. The are based on this section in the biblical book:
But Ruth said,
‘Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
Where you die, I will die—
there will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me,
and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!’
When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.
So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them; and the women said, ‘Is this Naomi?’
She said to them,
‘Call me no longer Naomi,
call me Mara,
for the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me.
I went away full,
but the Lord has brought me back empty;
why call me Naomi
when the Lord has dealt harshly with me,
and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?’ (Ruth 1:16-21)
How do I get three songs out of this? Ruth’s insistent companionship of her mother-in-law is an obvious one. It’s the anchor of the story in the consciousness of Christians who might know little else about the book. That song has to be good. It’s been set so often, and people will notice it as the initiation of the whole story. I had a good theme, I thought. I set it aside in February and, while it might still get reworked a bit, it seemed to fit the other night.
My choice for drawing out Naomi’s bitterness was to contrast two songs. The women of Bethlehem sing a light tune in a jazz waltz, “Is this Naomi, the sweet girl, who left so long ago?”
Naomi’s response is to sing the blues. Literally. My choice was to start in the Phyrgian mode, adding A-flat and even D-flat to a minor scale based on G. In my mind, cello and clarinet, too.
How to handle the author’s introduction of the characters in 1:1-5? I don’t believe in using a narrator. While I haven’t set the text to music yet, I’m leaning to staging it as a prologue–Naomi telling her grandson her sad backstory. The main production will get bracketed in that perspective. Naomi doesn’t move much in the book. She’s kind of a static anchor of lament. Around her, Ruth is quite busy, the townspeople work and play.
I wasn’t satisfied with the final amount of spoken dialogue in Tobit, which admittedly, wasn’t much. My wife’s suggestion was not to write Tobit as an opera. But for Ruth, I’m nearly certain it will be all singing. Call it an opera, operetta, or whatever. More dancing and choreography, too.
When I wrote the music for Tobit, it was scattered across eleven years. The later songs pick up bits and pieces of the earlier ones, and it seemed to hold together well enough. With Ruth, I’m leaning to writing whole scenes with their stretches of songs as much as I can. We’ll see how this approach improves on the earlier work. And also, I want to study a bit more how different composers, from Hildegard to Gershwin, construct a longer narrative and get it to exemplify a unity. Looks like I have a good summer ahead of me.
Two hymns deep in Catholic devotion. Only one will advance to the Spiritual Sixteen.
I suspect the Soul Of My Savior/How Great Thou Art was not an inspiring pairing for some of you. I split up each bracket into a similar number of NPM songs, chant, seasonal music, hymnody, and non-Catholic sources. Four hymns in one sub-bracket: that’s just how it panned out.
Just so you know that genre is a function less of the composer and more the performance, listen to a contemporary (but way too slow) rendering of “Holy Holy Holy” here.
After the homily (I, 22) and the signing of documents and their placement in the foundation stone (I, 23) the bishop “takes off the miter, rises, and blesses the site of the new church.” The following prayer is given:
you fill the entire world with your presence
that your name may be hallowed through all the earth.
Bless all those
who have worked or contributed to provide this site (property, land)
on which a church will be built.
Today may they rejoice in a work just begun,
soon may they celebrate the sacraments in your temple,
and in time to come may they praise you for ever in heaven.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
The bishop puts on the miter and sprinkles in one of two ways: from the middle of the site, or along the perimeter of the foundation. The rubric here instructs that he perform the second options woith the ministers–the assembly is not mentioned. Music “may be sung” for the procession. Psalm 48 is suggested with the following anitphon:
The walls of Jerusalem will be made of precious stones, and its towers built with gems (alleluia).
Note that the prayer itself does not “bless” the site. The bishop prays for people. The site is blessed by the ritual action. Sometimes this distinction is lost, I’ve noticed, in the English MR3. And while it might be my own egalitarian sensibility getting poked, I do think there’s an important principle in prayers that petition God’s grace to work in people. (Do we bless people getting married, for example, or are we focused on the ritual act? Does marriage need God’s grace? Or are we flawed human being more in need of intervention? You understand my point, right?) Perhaps those more familiar with the Latin MR3 might testify as to the focus of these presidential prayers. Did last century’s ICEL emphasize the blessing of people over objects? My own assessment of the current sprinkling rite at Mass is that these prayers are an impoverishment on that score.
Psalm 48 suggests the invincible city of God. History tells us invincibility was not a physical or political reality for Jerusalem. The psalmist admires the external beauty, but the building is at root a metaphor for the eternal God:
Go about Zion, walk all around it, note the number of its towers. Consider the ramparts, examine its citadels, that you may tell future generations: That this is God, our God for ever and ever. He will lead us until death. (48:13-15)
The physical aspects of worship are vital, but not as an end to themselves. They lead us to higher, deeper matters.
Catechetical expertise for priests and lay people should be cultivated at a unioversity level:
251. A higher level of catechetical formation to which priests, religious and laity might have access is of vital importance for catechesis. In this regard it is hoped that “higher institutes for training in pastoral catechetics should be promoted or founded, so that catechists capable of directing catechesis at the diocesan level, or within the area of activities to which religious congregations are dedicated, may be prepared. These higher institutes can be national or even international. They ought to function as a university so far as curriculum, length of course and requisites for admission are concerned”. (General Catechetical Directory 109a) In addition to the formation of those who must assume responsibility for catechesis, these institutes will also form those who teach catechesis in seminaries, houses of formation and in the catechetical schools. These institutes should devote themselves to a congruent level of research in catechesis.
252. At this level of formation there is much opportunity for fruitful co-operation between the Churches: “Here also the material aid provided by the richer Churches to their poorer sisters can show the greatest effectiveness, for what better assistance can one Church give to another than to help it to grow as a Church with its own strength?” (Catechesi Tradendae 71a) Obviously such collaboration has due respect for the particular circumstances of poorer Churches and their responsibilities. At diocesan and inter-diocesan levels it is most useful when there is an awareness of the need to form people at a higher level, just as there is a similar need for such in other ecclesiastical activities as well as in the teaching of other disciplines.
In large dioceses, one will find the highest levels of expertise in chanceries and in a few priests. But in other sees, it is more common for diocesan catechetical directors to have the same academic background as DRE’s in parishes, but perhaps with more average experience. The dividing line between catechetical experts with advanced degrees, and those with certification is usually between parishes that will pay a professional salary and those who won’t or can’t. And in small parishes, many fine people serve very ably with certification or less.
I do think unviersity training is a big plus, but I have my own bias in favor of it because that experience is included in my own background. Would you say every diocese should have a catechetical director who is qualified to train clergy? Who possesses an advanced degree in education, or in catechetics, or both? If not, at what level would you propose that expertise? And how would you suggest dioceses pool resources to ensure maximum effectiveness?
about Todd Flowerday
A Roman Catholic lay person, married (since 1996), with one adopted child (since 2001). I serve in worship and spiritual life in a midwestern university parish.
Neil has been a blogging collaborator for the past several years on Catholic Sensibility. He brings his unique experiences from theology, spirituality, and the ecumenical sphere. Pay special attention to each one of his posts.