I saw this CNS piece on Benedictine sister Stella Matutina, victim of a nighttime raid by the Philippine military a few years ago:
Along with three companions, including one novice from her congregation, she had gone to (Taytayan) at the invitation of community leaders to lead a discussion about local environmental concerns. The four were sleeping in the municipal office when the soldiers, wearing ski masks and missing the nametags on their uniforms, burst into the building in the middle of the night.
The army picked up some backlash, but mewled its excuse that since she was not in a habit, they didn’t know she was a religious sister.
I don’t know any congregations where the sisters sleep in the habit and veil.
The local priest and the bishop claimed to be upset they didn’t know about the visit, but Sr Stella claimed that not only did she inform the priest about it, but …
(W)e have a pontifical right as Benedictine missionaries to go where we want. We are not under the bishop. We are free. Environmental issues know no boundaries. He should be happy that a sister traveled that far on a bad road to reach that isolated place.
Indeed. Isn’t this what the previous pope spoke of in casting our nets into the deep? In a not-so-faint echo of the Worthy Women series:
In the wake of the incident, Sister Stella said the bishop pressured her to not press charges against the military officials involved. She said she reluctantly agreed, afraid the bishop might expel the congregation from his diocese.
Recently, though, she went through legal channels to achieve redress for the slander (if not danger) of being “red-tagged” as a member of the New People’s Army. (For US Republicans, that’s worse than being a socialist. Those dudes are c********s.)
Sr Stella gets the penultimate word:
If people are dying by the thousands, it’s high time to go out from our chapels and do something. But my community is afraid I will be killed. The other sisters are proud of what I’ve been doing, but they’re afraid for me. They want me to live life happily. But why worry about my life if people are afraid, and ordinary people are killed every day?
Last word is yours.
Two weeks of John Paul II’s chirograph gets into a meaty, substantive matter with the necessity of having holiness as a reference point. Let’s explore what this means after reviewing the text of section 4:
4. In continuity with the teachings of St Pius X and the Second Vatican Council, it is necessary first of all to emphasize that music destined for sacred rites must have holiness as its reference point: indeed, “sacred music increases in holiness to the degree that it is intimately linked with liturgical action”[SC 112]. For this very reason, “not all without distinction that is outside the temple (profanum) is fit to cross its threshold”, my venerable Predecessor Paul VI wisely said, commenting on a Decree of the Council of Trent [Address to the Participants in the General Assembly of the Italian Association Santa Cecilia (18 September 1968): Insegnamenti VI (1968), 479]. And he explained that “if music – instrumental and vocal – does not possess at the same time the sense of prayer, dignity and beauty, it precludes the entry into the sphere of the sacred and the religious”[Ibid.]. Today, moreover, the meaning of the category “sacred music” has been broadened to include repertoires that cannot be part of the celebration without violating the spirit and norms of the Liturgy itself.
St Pius X’s reform aimed specifically at purifying Church music from the contamination of profane theatrical music that in many countries had polluted the repertoire and musical praxis of the Liturgy. In our day too, careful thought, as I emphasized in the Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, should be given to the fact that not all the expressions of figurative art or of music are able “to express adequately the mystery grasped in the fullness of the Church’s faith”[EdE 50]. Consequently, not all forms of music can be considered suitable for liturgical celebrations.
I would not disagree with a threefold sensibility of prayer, dignity, and beauty. Yet these elements are often within the experience of individuals and communities. People pray in all sorts of contexts and with all sorts of aids. Beauty has a fairly wide range of acceptance within the Church as well. Some individuals have more broad ranges in which they accept beauty, and some more narrow.
Dignity: this quality is where things often turn in today’s church music. Dignity if often interpreted as something of the physical body: and even, stately, even proud bearing. But music, by lingo and in practice, is very much play. And play is not accepted as dignified in m any quarters.
I was struck by this thread at PrayTell where I mused that children are expected to be mini-adults. Paul Inwood in turn commented that, “We forget that Jesus asked us to become like little children, not to make little children become like us.”
So sure: let’s keep dignity on the table. But let’s make sure we are talking about the dignity of the Lord Jesus, who welcomed children, and who, on the night before he died, set aside outer cloak and offended the dignity of Peter who protested that some things just do not belong.
John Paul II recognizes in 4a that liturgical music is a subset of sacred music. We should be mindful of that.
In 4b, he sets out a more helpful standard: that art should be able to stand with the Church’s faith and assist in communicating it. What would other sacred art accomplish? The glory of its performers. The awe of its composer. Such things can also be play, according to the thinking of a child. But that undergirding of bearing the weight of mystery: this is needful.
Part VI wraps up the introduction to the dedication of an altar. Start with a list:
27. For the celebration of the rite the following should be prepared:
- The Roman Missal;
- The Lectionary;
- The Roman Pontifical;
- the cross and the Book of the Gospels to be carried in the procession;
- container of water to be blessed and sprinkler;
- container with the holy chrism;
- towels for wiping the table of the altar;
- if needed, a waxen linen cloth or waterproof covering of the same size as the altar;
- basin and jug of water, towels, and all that is needed for washing the bishop’s hands;
- linen gremial; brazier for burning incense or aromatic spices;
- or grains of incense and small candles to burn on the altar;
- censer, incense boat and spoon;
- chalice, corporal, purificators, and hand towel;
- bread, wine, and water for the celebration of Mass;
- altar cross, unless there is already a cross in the sanctuary, or the cross that is carried in the entrance procession is to be placed near the altar;
- altar cloth, candles, and candlesticks;
- flowers, if opportune.
Then we move to vestments:
28. For the Mass of the dedication the vestments are white or of some festive color. The following should be prepared:
- for the bishop: alb, stole, chasuble, mitre, pastoral staff, and pallium, if the bishop has the right to wear one;
- for the concelebrating priests: the vestments for concelebrating Mass;
- for the deacons: albs, stoles, and dalmatics;
- for other ministers: albs or other lawfully approved dress.
If relics are part of the festivities:
29. If relics of the saints are to be placed beneath the altar, the following should be prepared:
a) In the place from which the procession begins:
- a reliquary containing the relics, placed between flowers and lights. But as circumstances dictate, the reliquary may be placed in a suitable part of the sanctuary before the rite begins;
- for the deacons who will carry the relics to be deposited: albs, red stoles, if the relics are those of a martyr, or white in other cases, and, if available, dalmatics.
If the relics are carried by priests, then, in place of dalmatics, chasubles should be prepared. Relics may also be carried by other ministers, vested in albs or other lawfully approved dress.
b) In the sanctuary:
- a small table on which the reliquary is placed during the first part of the dedication rite.
c) In the sacristy:
- a sealant or cement to close the cover of the aperture. In addition, a stonemason should be on hand to close the depository of the relics at the proper time.
One last important piece:
30. It is fitting to observe the custom of enclosing in the reliquary a parchment on which is recorded the day, month, and year of the dedication of the altar, the name of the bishop who celebrated the rite, the titular of the church, and the names of the martyrs or saints whose relics are deposited beneath the altar.
A record of the dedication of the church is to be drawn up in duplicate and signed by the bishop, the rector of the church, and representatives of the local community; one copy is to be kept in the diocesan archives, the other in the archives of the church.
That record-keeping is more important than one might think. How many pastors and liturgists out there have actually seen these records if you weren’t involved in the building project yourself? Other thoughts?