Monday, November 5th, 2012
5 November 2012
Posted by catholicsensibility under Politics  Comments
It’s a good thing to do, even if you’re embittered about your election choices this year. Voting is a relatively recent human phenomenon, and it gives citizens a powerful voice, even if an indirect one, in the halls of government.
You may be fortunate to live in the state of Iowa. If so, you can vote tomorrow, even if you are not now registered. Simply e-search for your polling place and bring the stuff they tell you to bring: photo id plus proof of address. Check your state’s rules on same-day-registration/voting, if not Iowa, and come prepared. Your county auditor is the best place to start, and all you need to do is search for “(county name) + county auditor” and you should find all the info you need.
Avoid busy hours like lunch and dinner time. If you needed to take a lunch hour at 10:30 or 2 o’clock, it would be worth it.
Next time think about voting in advance.
And keep in mind, if your vote wasn’t important, political parties and action committees and all wouldn’t be flooding your swing state with ads and you wouldn’t be getting robo- and other calls. They are courting you. Make sure they pay for it. Make a choice or two tomorrow, and participate in a great American tradition. If you are living in Ames 3-3, I hope to see you at the polls tomorrow.
5 November 2012
I was reading in Tom Roberts’ book The Emerging Catholic Church and found an interesting anecdote about the retired archbishop of Los Angeles. Roberts was writing about research work done by sociologists Richard Schoenherr and Lawrence Young on the projected population of dicoesan clergy. They had troubling news for the US bishops, who, with the Lilly Endowment, commissioned a study on where clergy numbers were heading from 1966 to 2005. It was particularly troubling for the darling of the hate-Right, who was displeased about Dr Schoenherr’s history (as a person who had left active priesthood years before):
I reject that pessimistic assessment and feel that the Catholic Church in our country has been done a great disservice by the Schoenherr report.
(The report) presumes that the only factors at work are sociology and statistical research. That is nonsense. We are disciples of Jesus Christ. We live by God’s grace, and our future is shaped by God’s design for his church, not by sociologists.
The bishops halted their funding for this research in 1990. It’s a puzzler on a few fronts, but maybe not really surprising considering the overall quality of the American episcopate over the past generation.
First, disciples of the Lord are shaped by the truth, and by our commitment to it. Let’s say we have information that the entire world is made up of pagans. Maybe the apostles were dismayed in the first century at this news. Regardless, they did not find it daunting that they were rejected by members of their own faith, and they develed deep into the pagan empire of Rome to spread the Good News. It would have been easier for Peter to say, “Too darn many people. Let’s just stick with Judea, and Matthew’s Gospel up to 28:15.” And perhaps for some of our sister and brother Catholics: they dwell on the smaller, purer church–because the alternative is just to dang hard.
Second, no serious and thoughtful person would decline to receive important news, even if it were bad. I had a repair guy tell me I’m on the hook for a $193 component for my furnace. Maybe I can bundle up in sweaters during the day and tuck myself under a comforter at night, but the reality is that if I want an operating heating system, I’m going to have to face the truth: one important part of my home is broke, and I have to pay to fix it. The sociologists are not shaping the future. They are just telling the bishops that the temperature is going to drop in their mansion if they don’t attend to what’s broken.
This is part of the cult of leadership around many leaders in our society. People have allowed their intellects to dull to the point where they attack messengers of bad news. I’ve felt the sting of people who are infuriated at bad news I bring. Sorry, but I didn’t have forty million abortions. Like them, I just live in a country that has them.
Count me as not surprised, but disappointed in Cardinal Mahony. There’s nothing really wrong with being a conservative. Some of my best friends are. But what is more troubling is a passive and unresponsive mode of engaging the good world God has given us. If a meteorologist predicts cold and snow, maybe I’ll wear shoes instead of sandals. But I won’t blame the weather forecasters if my feet get cold and red if I take option #2.
A wise conservative, when confronted with sociological trends, would take them under serious advisement. A spiritual person, when confronted with sociological realities, might look to her or his interior life, and assess what part of vocation unawareness is due to her or his own fault. Then take steps to change the things that can be changed.
Cardinal Mahony’s response to clergy sociological trends strikes me as neither wise nor spiritual. And what has it got him? Dr Schoenherr’s piece of “pessimism” has largely been right on. If Cardinal Mahony has been praying and beating the bushes for native-born seminarians for twenty years, it got him nothing. Maybe he rubbed his toes before heading out into a snowstorm in sandaled feet. They still got red. They still got cold. The loss seems less that the number of clergy have declined largely as sociologists anticipated. The loss is that the archbishop and his friends seem largely clueless.
Back to Jesus, and his criticism of religious leadership:
Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, ‘Surely we are not also blind, are we” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.” (John 9:40-41)
No, I think liberal Catholics have a lot to criticize in Cardinal Mahony. I wouldn’t count him as a fellow tribesman. Not by a long shot.
5 November 2012
John Paul II’s Letter To Artists (we really need to spend time with that document) leads off with a thought that we are not surprised comes from an artist (a playwright) himself:
§ 147 § Quality art draws the beholder to the Creator, who stands behind the artist sharing his own creative power, for the “divine Artist passes on to the human artist a spark of his own surpassing wisdom.”(Letter To Artists 1) This is true of music, architecture, sculpture, painting, pottery making, textiles, and furniture making, as well as other art forms that serve the liturgical environment. The integrity and energy of a piece of art, produced individually by the labor of an artist, is always to be preferred above objects that are mass-produced. Similarly, in the construction of new church buildings, there is no standard pattern for church art nor should art and architectural styles from any particular time or culture be imposed arbitrarily upon another community. Nonetheless, the patrimony of sacred art and architecture provides a standard by which a parish can judge the worthiness of contemporary forms and styles.
Again, the bishops offer two sensible thoughts here. But are they absolute principles?
- Individual labor is preferred over mass-production.
- The history of art and architecture gives us an artistic standard, but not an arbitrary point of imposition.
One might find wide agreement among many Catholics in the first. But in the modern “recovery” of traditional architecture and its peripherals (reredos, etc.) are Catholics, especially traditional-leaning ones, so eager to lay aside the styles of history?
What do you think?
All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
5 November 2012
Posted by catholicsensibility under Music
, spirituality 1 Comment
Saint John Vianney has a marvelous quote appropriate for November, for thoughts of pilgrimage and the inevitable death that awaits each of us before we reach the final stage:
Our home is—Heaven. On earth we are like travelers staying in a hotel. When one is away, one is always thinking of going home.
Of course, there’s also the modern sensibility that the journey is the whole point of the experience–it is in the pilgrimage itself that we are tested, where we find fulfillment, and are prepared for the end of the trail.
Robert Lowry’s hymn comes to mind. I was introduced to the Charles Ives’ setting by my voice teacher almost thirty years ago. I have a version on cd sung by Dawn Upshaw with orchestral accompaniment. The original piano & vocal is here.
5 November 2012
This was a focus of the last pope: Catholic youth.
72. Circumstances invite us to make special mention of the young. Their increasing number and growing presence in society and likewise the problems assailing them should awaken in every one the desire to offer them with zeal and intelligence the Gospel ideal as something to be known and lived. And on the other hand, young people who are well trained in faith and prayer must become more and more the apostles of youth. The Church counts greatly on their contribution, and we ourself have often manifested our full confidence in them.
Every generation seems to find new ways to alienate young people. Whatever “confidence” a pope offers may well be undercut in parish or school life. And the formation element is tricky. One young friend of mine, in the guise of the “new” evangelization understood he was obliged to proselytize, an action as a young teen, he didn’t feel at all competent to undertake. Or really very willing.
I have found teens, college students, and young adults, as individual persons to be very competent in any number of spiritual gifts and tasks, including evangelization. But it does take special care to guide young people, to ward off burn-out, and keep them balanced.