The Armchair Liturgist: Blessing New Hymnals

How do new hymnals in a parish get introduced? Fund-raising campaign? Negotiation with the finance committee? Your people come to Mass one weekend, and surprise! New books.

Some of you may know the Book of Blessings provides for the blessing of a parish’s new resource for singing the Mass. After a brief introduction, the priest offers a prayer of blessing:

Lord God of glory,
your church on earth joins with the choirs of heaven
in giving you thanks and praise.

As we gather to worship you in wonder and awe
may the songs on our lips
echo the music that swells in our hearts.

Bless us as we use these hymnals
and grant that we may glorify and praise you,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
now and for ever.

hymnalsA few observations and questions here …

Note the specific blessing is on people (“Bless us”).

What of annual music books: should these be a means of blessing the singing assembly? (First Sunday of Advent, visualize: wreath, books … what else?)

What gesture seems appropriate for people holding their books? To raise them in the air? What about the books in empty pews?

And the question often asked for a parish with many weekend assemblies: bless at one Mass or all of them?

Sit in the purple chair and render judgment. How has your parish done it? What would you do, were you more than the armchair liturgist?

Posted in Liturgical Music, Scripture, The Armchair Liturgist | 1 Comment

Amoris Laetitia 143: The World of Emotions

amoris laetitia memeIs the reason-driven world, including the reason-driven elements within our own church, ready to trust the human affect? Let’s read:

143. Desires, feelings, emotions, what the ancients called “the passions”, all have an important place in married life. They are awakened whenever “another” becomes present and part of a person’s life. It is characteristic of all living beings to reach out to other things, and this tendency always has basic affective signs: pleasure or pain, joy or sadness, tenderness or fear. They ground the most elementary psychological activity. Human beings live on this earth, and all that they do and seek is fraught with passion.

My takeaway: the affect is important, but not necessarily all-important. Human beings are made to relate and communicate with “the passions.”

For reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 142: Passionate Love

amoris laetitia memePassionate love is the third subheading in chapter four, and will take us through the next three weeks (sections 142-162). A single paragraph to introduce the concept, so let’s begin with a citation from Vatican II:

142. The Second Vatican Council teaches that this conjugal love “embraces the good of the whole person; it can enrich the sentiments of the spirit and their physical expression with a unique dignity and ennoble them as the special features and manifestation of the friendship proper to marriage”.(Gaudium et Spes, 49)

The modern era especially distrusts matters outside human intellect and reason, but the truth is that God has created our physical bodies as well as our capacity for emotions and interpersonal connections.

For this reason, a love lacking either pleasure or passion is insufficient to symbolize the union of the human heart with God: “All the mystics have affirmed that supernatural love and heavenly love find the symbols which they seek in marital love, rather than in friendship, filial devotion or devotion to a cause. And the reason is to be found precisely in its totality”.(A. Sertillanges, L’Amour Chrétien, Paris, 1920, 174.) Why then should we not pause to speak of feelings and sexuality in marriage?

If anyone has reasons, comment on them now or forever hold your peace.

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Against Comfort

Msgr Charles Pope is getting some attention for his essay against “comfort Catholicism.”

There is a growing consternation among some Catholics that the Church, at least in her leadership, is living in the past. It seems there is no awareness that we are at war and that Catholics need to be summoned to sobriety, increasing separation from the wider culture, courageous witness and increasing martyrdom.

He tags the 70’s, but I have to wonder if he’s mis-aimed and might really be railing against the 50’s. What constitutes life in the past? Full parishes with active spiritual and social life? The so-called beige Catholicism of the 70’s? The heady days of St John Paul II when vibrant young priests were going to be ordained by the score? The targeting of children by sex predators, women religious by the CDF, blogging dissenters by the faithful remnant? It seems like everybody has a golden age in mind and dark days to lament. My own sense is that no generation is really so great that squalor can’t be found, nor so impoverished that gems can’t be uncovered.

My main problem with calling for the hounds of war is that too many Catholics are already girded for battle. Battle against other believers who choose not to march in lockstep with them.

My friend Charles has posted a link on this facebook. My second objection to the whole meme here is a bit of wisdom I hear in the Anima Christi. Whenever I pray the line, “Within your wounds hide me,” I silently add “not mine” between the third and fourth words.

The point of Church as field hospital is not as a place to retreat for us to lick our wounds. The point is to welcome those who are wounded, even those outside the flock. Our modern culture certainly has victims outside of organized Catholic conservadoxy. What if we thought about binding other people’s wounds rather than our own. For a change.

Msgr Pope is a well-intentioned priest, to be sure. He writes of being counter-cultural. But the anger and war imagery is exactly how so many levels of our culture operate today. The hate on the internet. Tattletales and gossips getting other Catholics fired. Building walls. The desire to imprison our demons: political candidates, gays, feminists, immigrants, CEOs. It’s all part of an angry vector when people feel powerless. But being without power is often a good thing when we have faith.

War? Why bother going to war when we can go to work?

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Amoris Laetitia 141: Dialogue With Substance

amoris laetitia memeToday, the sixth and last section under the heading of “dialogue.” I don’t think Pope Francis is calling for a conversation of theological stuff:

141. Finally, let us acknowledge that for a worthwhile dialogue we have to have something to say. This can only be the fruit of an interior richness nourished by reading, personal reflection, prayer and openness to the world around us. Otherwise, conversations become boring and trivial. When neither of the spouses works at this, and has little real contact with other people, family life becomes stifling and dialogue impoverished.

One example that comes to mind is a basic question: Where did you encounter God in your day today? The Marriage Encounter method is often good: have journals and penciles at hand to write out theresponse to this question (or another question). Then exchange journals and share. Then enter the dialogue.

Don’t forget to check Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 140: Love, Not Fear

amoris laetitia memeWhile we can be afraid of the people we love, I don’t think Pope Francis is talking about abusive partners:

140. Show affection and concern for the other person. Love surmounts even the worst barriers. When we love someone, or when we feel loved by them, we can better understand what they are trying to communicate. Fearing the other person as a kind of “rival” is a sign of weakness and needs to be overcome. It is very important to base one’s position on solid choices, beliefs or values, and not on the need to win an argument or to be proved right.

It is a lamentable epidemic that so many of us think our beloved is out to get us. In some way. The Holy Father suggests a certain vulnerability here: showing affection and concern. Far from being a kind of “beige” Catholicism, such things begin that dangerous act known as encounter.

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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On Edward W. Haskell

What happens when there are no more gay music directors or school teachers to get fired? You go after unsympathetic bloggers on “faithful” sites like NCReg, like this one. In a few other reports, I saw a few oldies from St Blogs surface–people I hadn’t seen in years. Foam still at the mouth.

I used to see these efforts as something of Karl Rove. Yet glg’s and glb’s* have been complaining to Father in parishes for decades, if not centuries. This misadventure is of the same species. Bosses think firing people is an expression of their responsibility or control. But the truth is that when Father listens to gossip, he paints himself as weak, and a rung under tattletales in the ecclesiastical hierarchy.

Eddie HaskellThe internet culture encourages Eddie Haskells among us. Church documents here and there too.

What’s the solution for a boss under pressure? Or in a situation in which, perhaps, termination could be on the line? They simply have to know the people who work for them. Know them better than the tattletales. If not, I don’t think a boss has the moral standing to make a decision on employment.

The last pastor I worked for had a useful policy for complaints. No signature, no desk space–only the circular file.

I certainly didn’t see eye to eye with Mr Shea on some things. I respected his decision to defect from the warmonger crowd in the middle of the last decade. As for Mrs Fisher, I recall she was in somebody’s good graces to get on the speaker list for the big World Family gig in Philadelphia a few years ago. They both were straight-shooters, and neither suffered fools lightly.

I lament when people get fired. Even for good reasons. But witch hunts are most distasteful.

  • good little g–oh heck, you know my lingo
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