USCCB In Liturgy Damage Control

The CARA priest survey on MR3 has hit the Catholic News Service, at least in a small news bit today. The executive director for liturgy at the USCCB was in damage control mode. Msgr Richard Hilgartner concedes “divided opinion” among his brother priests. But he also acknowledges the bishops have no plans to revisit the matter.

(H)e cautioned that the survey leaves many unanswered questions. For instance, he said, it’s impossible to tell from the data released whether respondents object to the more formal style of the translation overall or to specific words chosen. He also raised questions about whether the number of responses represent a meaningful sample of sentiment about the translation.

Let’s take those two points in turn. The problem isn’t “formal” style so much as a problem with intelligibility and a lack of artistry in the English texts, especially the collects. Vocabulary isn’t a serious issue, despite what one or two bishops have said. The Lord’s Prayer, for example, uses a formal style. And we all know what it means. Numerous liturgists, language scholars, and priests have raised specific problems with specific prayers. It’s time for the USCCB to listen.

MR3 apologists were also questioning the sample size at PrayTell the other day or two. Here’s  how statistics work with the sample size used. There is a 95% chance that the 52-42 disapproval is within 4.6 percent of the actual ratio among active Roman Catholic priests in the US. It might be 48-46, a slim majority. It could be 56-38, which in political terms is a landslide. Is it likely that a majority of priests favors MR3 and CARA got it wrong? That’s possible. But it’s about as likely as a two-to one or greater ratio of priests disliking it.

If I were a bishop, I might ask my diocesan clergy what they really, really thought of the translation. And what action I might take, if any.

What the CARA survey has exposed is a deep rift among priests. That might be a generation gap. That might be a liturgist/non-liturgist gap. That might mean an action/contemplation gap. But there’s a gap. What are the bishops going to do about it?

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Cosmos Episode 4: Telescope as Time Machine

I’m falling behind in regular viewing of the Cosmos reboot with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. My wife and I viewed the 4th episode earlier tonight. Telescope as time machine: very true and accurate premise, but not everybody thinks in this way.

Early in the episode Dr Tyson demolishes the Young Creation scenario. Of course, God, in all his power, could have given the speed of light a big push from what is apparently 13.4 billion years ago. But that would mean the Almighty is a teaser, and deceives our eyes with what is around us. Earth could have been made some thousands of years ago, but the rest of the universe is 13-point-some billion years old. That’s what our eyes and minds tell us.

Animation was minimal in this episode, but it was actually a good unfolding of the father-son relationship of the Herschels. Some have criticized the sentimentality of some aspects of this series. but I think putting a human face on these scientists, even if it is something of a dramatization, helps the viewer see them as real people.

Also I liked the focus on the greats of science of the past few centuries: Newton, Herschel, Faraday, Maxwell, and Einstein. The “chain” of images appearing on successive study walls was effective.

The depiction and description of the black hole was well done. I could have done without the speculative universes within universes. It would have been a dramatic touch to just disappear at the event horizon, and move from there. But it was pretty … eye catching.

So far, I though this was the best episode in the series. Any other viewers wishing to weigh in?

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Dies Domini 19: The Weekly Easter

If Sunday is the day of the Lord, it is also the day of Christ. Dies Christi, the topic of Chapter II, extends from this section to number 30. Subtitle: The Day of the Risen Lord and of the Gift of the Holy Spirit. So John Paul II draws Pentecost into his thinking.

Resurrection first, a very old tradition:

19. “We celebrate Sunday because of the venerable Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we do so not only at Easter but also at each turning of the week”: so wrote Pope Innocent I at the beginning of the fifth century,(Ep. ad Decentium XXV, 4, 7: PL 20, 555) testifying to an already well established practice which had evolved from the early years after the Lord’s Resurrection. Saint Basil speaks of “holy Sunday, honoured by the Lord’s Resurrection, the first fruits of all the other days”;(Homiliae in Hexaemeron II, 8: SC 26, 184) and Saint Augustine calls Sunday “a sacrament of Easter”.(Cf. In Io. Ev. Tractatus XX, 20, 2: CCL 36, 203; Epist. 55, 2: CSEL 34, 170-171)

Sunday is a tradition shared between East and West:

The intimate bond between Sunday and the Resurrection of the Lord is strongly emphasized by all the Churches of East and West. In the tradition of the Eastern Churches in particular, every Sunday is the anastàsimos hemèra, the day of Resurrection,(The reference to the Resurrection is especially clear in Russian, which calls Sunday simply “Resurrection” (Voskresenie).) and this is why it stands at the heart of all worship.

If Creation began the reflection on Sunday, then as Christian we must ponder the Resurrection to give it its full modern meaning, at least to Christians:

In the light of this constant and universal tradition, it is clear that, although the Lord’s Day is rooted in the very work of creation and even more in the mystery of the biblical “rest” of God, it is nonetheless to the Resurrection of Christ that we must look in order to understand fully the Lord’s Day. This is what the Christian Sunday does, leading the faithful each week to ponder and live the event of Easter, true source of the world’s salvation.

The Vatican site has Dies Domini in its entirety.

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Riot Aftermath

The university has cancelled the school’s festival. Some revelry continues. As our associate pastor was leaving the building shortly after this past midnight, an unconscious student was discovered in a closet. Unable to awaken the person, police were called and the person taken away.

The root of the problem is the abuse of alcohol. The event was cancelled, but the sale, consumption, and over-consumption of alcohol remains as it was.

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Move To The Right (of 1 Kings)

From two states south of us, a potential 2016 presidential campaigner was in my state last night, according to CNN:

Mike Huckabee told an Iowa crowd on Tuesday that he’s “not homophobic,” but believing marriage should be between one man and one woman is being “on the right side of the Bible.”

For the peons, sure. And anything after King Solomon. But if you’re a patriarch, the Old Testament is pretty cool with one man and n women, where n is an integer greater than 1.

I could overlook such a statement from your garden variety lawyer, plumber, or community activist. I’d still laugh, however. Mike Huckabee is an ordained Baptist minister. Do Baptists do Bible study or not? Or maybe Rev Huckabee refers to everything to the right of 1 Kings.

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EG 138: Giving Life Without Giving Entertainment

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdaleneEven in the introduction to his section on preaching, Pope Francis gets specific with his advice. And there’s a lot of good advice here.

138. The homily cannot be a form of entertainment like those presented by the media, yet it does need to give life and meaning to the celebration. It is a distinctive genre, since it is preaching which is situated within the framework of a liturgical celebration; hence it should be brief and avoid taking on the semblance of a speech or a lecture.

The Holy Father’s diagnosis of long homilies:

A preacher may be able to hold the attention of his listeners for a whole hour, but in this case his words become more important than the celebration of faith. If the homily goes on too long, it will affect two characteristic elements of the liturgical celebration: its balance and its rhythm.

What is liturgical preaching, anyway?

When preaching takes place within the context of the liturgy, it is part of the offering made to the Father and a mediation of the grace which Christ pours out during the celebration. This context demands that preaching should guide the assembly, and the preacher, to a life-changing communion with Christ in the Eucharist. This means that the words of the preacher must be measured, so that the Lord, more than his minister, will be the center of attention.

Hoping not to get too far off the topic of the homily, it occurs to me that much of what is said here about preaching applies also to music. Music should avoid the appearance of a concert within the liturgy. Music must attend to and support the balance and rhythm of the Mass. Music also involves the notion of offering as well as a mediation of the grace of Christ. Does God, rather than the music ministry, remain the center of attention?

Evangelii Gaudium is online here.

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My Neighborhood

After last night’s liturgy commission meeting, I walked with one of our students up the street toward her dorm. It was about 150 minutes before this unfortunate and senseless event began. She went south to the university, I pedaled north through what was going to be carnage just three hours later.

I can’t say that I agree with the HuffPo’s headline of a “Riot … For No Apparent Reason.” The reason seems very clear to me. A significant minority of my younger Iowan sisters and brothers simply cannot control their drinking.

It’s a failing I saw a generation ago in two parishes: the lure of forbidden alcohol and the search for cool. I don’t see much that’s different today. The culture of my city contributes to this. In between the churches, restaurants, and coffeehouses in the Campustown neighborhood are a number of bars. In a lot of places, a public business that vends C2H5OH is more or less an honorable one: people come together to socialize, and the drink might take a little edge off the gathering of strangers, acquaintances, or even friends.

Supposedly, about two-thirds of the students at the university are ineligible to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages. I suppose there are enough who can to maintain businesses that sell beer and other potables.

Some citizens feel relief that the week-long party known as VEISHEA has been cancelled this year. I don’t think it will be revived. I hope that doesn’t give some a cause to conduct another riot. I would only be confirmed in my belief that too many people in my neighborhood, my city, and my state, are just incapable of consuming certain beverages. It’s a place where everyone should know the name: addiction to booze.

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