Our dog passed away today. She was one of the best dogs: rarely barked, always protective, even of the cats. My wife and I had been monitoring her growths closely. She hasn’t been quite as enthusiastic about being outside the past six months. It could have been the 100-degree heat, but her back legs and elimination functions failed today. No more bounding into the snow or grass. It was time.
Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
27 June 2012
27 June 2012
I noted the discussion on PrayTell about funeral vestment colors in southern Wisconsin. That territory is well-traveled on this blog.
My own sense is that the monochromatic vestments seen in too many parishes do not do justice to the Mass.
In vestment design, I think the surroundings and the lighting of a nave must be taken into account. Shopping out of a catalogue is dicey.
I threw together a quick impression of what I would like to see in a parish’s funeral chasuble. I would use no more violet and black than this, but this communicates the maximum of those colors I would prefer to see at the Order of Christian Funerals.
Black is more swank these days than mourning. And violet is more Lent. A bad message to send would be to use the parish’s Lent and/or Advent vestments for funerals. White as a primary funeral color in the West makes sense if we’re serious about keeping the funeral centered on Christ.
In my parish, where we celebrate a half-dozen funerals a year, using the Easter vestment makes much more sense for us.
27 June 2012
Reform2 archbishop Gus De Noia gets a position with the Ecclesia Dei commission. Word comes the same day the SSPX middle finger is leaked from the schismatic group. According to the SSPX secretary general, the pope was prepared to accept Bishop Fellay’s rewrite, but the CDF messed things up.
The Holy Father must be pleased to be heading off to his month at Castel Gandolfo (left). Were I in his shoes, I’d be concerned about the surrounding bad news, if not betrayals: butler, cardinals, schismatics, sex abusers, complicit bishops.
27 June 2012
Paralleling the USCCB Fortnight for Freedom, today’s worthy woman alternative is the doctor-to-be, Hildegard of Bingen. Her apostolate as a musician and composer is the most interesting aspect of her life … to me anyway. Others admire her as a mystic, a feminist symbol, or a Benedictine. Given her criticism of corrupt bishops, I’m a bit surprised she wasn’t more deeply persecuted in her day. Perhaps it helped to have friends and patrons in powerful places.
She is probably the most well-known of the worthy women so far in this series. Because of that I will refrain from rehashing old information about the woman. I recommend the film (reviewed here) and any number of books about her. And recordings, especially by Sequentia.
As an elderly abbess, Hildegard did have a run-in with the hierarchy, and though we don’t have the complete details, it seems like something of a wrong note.
She permitted a nobleman knight to be buried in her community’s cemetery, but the local bishop objected. He insisted that the body be dug up; the person had been excommunicated. Hildegard assured that the man had reconciled with the Church before his death and had received the sacraments. The bishop insisted on disinterring the body. The abbess resisted. The convent was placed on interdict: no sacraments for the entire community. And more, the sisters were to refrain from singing.
Hildegard complied with the interdict, but still refused to surrender the body. She appealed to higher authority, namely the Archbishop of Mainz, and eventually, the punishment was lifted. However, the archbishop chided Hildegard for an action for which his brother bishop had, he felt, legitimate questions. The abbess in turn objected to the punishment as a means of coercion:
Before you close the mouth of a community, … (you) have to consider to be led by the eagerness of justice and not by indignation, unjust emotions or feelings of vengeance.
It is illustrative that eagerness is put in opposition to emotions. It seems that both sides in the burial dispute were stubborn and insistent. It is difficult when people in the church come to such an impasse. We do not tend to behave well in such instances. The urge to insist on our way is perhaps more eager than the discernment of justice. Would that we had more worthy women, and men, too, to lead the way.
27 June 2012
Not only is the altar a sign of Christ and a locus for the Paschal meal, but the altar is, in a very real way, a memorial for martyrs to the faith. Read this section:
5. All the dignity of the altar rests on its being the Lord’s table. Thus the martyr’s body does not bring honor to the altar; rather the altar does honor to the martyr’s tomb. For it is altogether proper to erect altars over the burial place of martyrs and other saints or to deposit their relics beneath altars as a mark of respect and as a symbol of the truth that the sacrifice of the members has its source in the sacrifice of the Head.(cf. Common of Martyrs 8, prayer over the gifts) Thus ‘the triumphant victims come to their rest in the place where Christ is victim: he, however, who suffered for all, is on the altar; they who have been redeemed by his sufferings are beneath the altar.’(Ambrose, Epistula 22, 13: PL 16, 1023. See Ps. Maximus of Turin, Sermo 78: PL 57, 689-690.) This arrangement would seem to recall in a certain manner the spiritual vision of the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation: ‘I saw underneath the altar the souls of all the people who have been killed on account of the word of God, for witnessing to it.’(Rev 6:9) His meaning is that although all the saints are rightly called Christ’s witnesses, the witness of blood has a special significance that only the relics of the martyrs beneath the altar express in its entirety.
Probably a good homiletic point for the dedicaiton Mass, if relics are to be housed in or under the altar. This is perhaps a bit more graphic than the churchy sensibilities of some might want to encounter. but it is a very real part of the faith, and need not be minimized.