Hands Off Hands Together

handsMy facebook feed included a link to Deacon Greg’s mild takedown on holding hands at Mass. Another link was cited, with some limp-wristed reasoning:

The practice of holding hands while praying the Our Father comes from the Protestant world. The reason is that Protestants do not have the Real Presence of Christ; that is to say, they do not have real and valid sacramental Communion that joins them among themselves and with God. Therefore, they turn to the gesture of holding hands as a moment of communion in community prayer.

Actually, I thought it originated in the charismatic movement. Like Roman Catholics, I don’t think any non-Catholic missal includes a rubrical directive to hold hands. My sense would be that a lot of Christians find hand-to-hand communion a positive worship expression. Including many Catholics.

I also think the cited priest would have a hard time demonstrating that non-sacramental Churches do not experience a real presence of Christ in any number of ways. I doubt they need to join hands for that moment. Though doubtless, some experience it then. Including some Catholics.

Greg’s conclusion:

Is it really necessary? No. Is it disruptive and distracting? Sometimes. It also puts you in the uncomfortable position of feeling compelled to engage in a kind of social intimacy, holding hands, even if you don’t want to. Is the Mass better off without it? Yeah, I think so. It might be helpful if Rome said as much.

Um, no. Hands off hands together would be my motto. People I know who feel strongly about the practice will not be compelled to link fingers and palms. Neither will they be dissuaded from doing it by a word from on high, be it a pastor, bishop, pope, or the CDWDS.

I think I’ve blogged on this more than once. It’s not a practice I would implement in a parish I served that didn’t do it. I wouldn’t bother with naysaying it in a community that did. Better to focus on other issues. Hospitality. Preaching. Music. Leave the hands alone, I say.

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2 Capos

2-caposLots of guitar players have more capos than instruments. Unlike most rock gods, I have only one guitar. So I don’t have multiple instruments in alternate tunings ready to go from the roadie’s hand.

Here’s my solution for drop-G tuning when the tune is in B-flat. And I don’t want to twang-twang during the liturgy. Came in useful last night for the last song at the Spanish-language Mass.

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Amoris Laetitia 175: Parents Support a Child’s Growth

amoris laetitia memeGood parenting equips a child for a life of self-esteem:

175. A mother who watches over her child with tenderness and compassion helps him or her to grow in confidence and to experience that the world is a good and welcoming place. This helps the child to grow in self-esteem and, in turn, to develop a capacity for intimacy and empathy. A father, for his part, helps the child to perceive the limits of life, to be open to the challenges of the wider world, and to see the need for hard work and strenuous effort. A father possessed of a clear and serene masculine identity who demonstrates affection and concern for his wife is just as necessary as a caring mother.

The roles of mother and father are not segregated, but complementary:

There can be a certain flexibility of roles and responsibilities, depending on the concrete circumstances of each particular family. But the clear and well-defined presence of both figures, female and male, creates the environment best suited to the growth of the child.

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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A Typical Sunday

Without a full-time pastor, nobody’s really present for all five weekend Masses in my parish. But me. Three sacristans share duties, and two of them switch off every other weekend at the four English-language liturgies. So they come close twice a month. We have four semi-retired priests and a deacon. But their limit is usually two.

I found my Sunday energy levels sagging when I began serving here last summer. I realized a few changes–changes within me–were necessary.

First, pray more. Not just pray for myself, but for the people I was called to serve here. I suppose I could have offered up a thought that they could bump the Spanish-language Mass earlier than 4pm. Counting my wake-up before 6am and scrolling ahead to my homing about twelve hours later, maybe there was a notion that the day could be compressed a bit more in the afternoon. But I’ve come to enjoy the rhythm of three morning liturgies back-to-back, then ninety minutes for lunch and a break before the last rehearsal.

It also helps that I’m not the boss of music ministry at the last Mass. My Spanish is pretty limited. As is my familiarity with the repertoire. It’s good for me to just be a player, and get to know the Latino community. Still, by the end of Mass, my natural introverted preference is screaming for retreat to a cave.

Two, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed it is easy for my sleep rhythm to go out of whack. It’s not just about the impaired ability to function on a half-night’s sleep. (That seemed so easy in high school, university, and in grad school.) Last night I was in bed before ten, and what a marvelous feeling it is to wake refreshed ten minutes before my alarm went off at 5:55.

Three, eating and drinking is important on Sundays. I’ve gotten into a good habit of cereal or a shake/smoothie/iced cap before I shower, and a mid-morning snack (a handful of nuts or a granola bar) while I warm up the 9:45 singers before Mass. (The donuts in the social hall are too much of a danger, though a small juice seems about right.)

I never paid as much attention to my body’s signals for better health when I started in full-time parish ministry around age thirty. It’s probably never been more important as it is now, especially if I want to continue to serve, and serve with a healthy body and attitude into my seventies.

Except for Charles, I don’t think any six- to ten-hour-a-day church ministers tune in here. But if you wish to comment, what are your strategies for managing long days when you have to be at your best for God and community?

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Amoris Laetitia 174: More On Motherhood

amoris laetitia memePope Francis asserts that mothers work against the spread of individualism. More on the topic of motherhood:

174. “Mothers are the strongest antidote to the spread of self-centered individualism… It is they who testify to the beauty of life”.(Catechesis (7 January 2015): L’Osservatore Romano, 7-8 January 2015, p. 8) Certainly, “a society without mothers would be dehumanized, for mothers are always, even in the worst of times, witnesses to tenderness, dedication and moral strength. Mothers often communicate the deepest meaning of religious practice in the first prayers and acts of devotion that their children learn… Without mothers, not only would there be no new faithful, but the faith itself would lose a good part of its simple and profound warmth… Dear mothers: thank you! Thank you for what you are in your family and for what you give to the Church and the world”.(Ibid)

Thoughts on this? For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 173: A Sense of Being Orphaned

amoris laetitia memeToday, continuing with the topic of parental love. The sense of being orphaned is not limited to those whose parents have die, but also those who have separated themselves from their children’s lives:

173. The sense of being orphaned that affects many children and young people today is much deeper than we think. Nowadays we acknowledge as legitimate and indeed desirable that women wish to study, work, develop their skills and have personal goals. At the same time, we cannot ignore the need that children have for a mother’s presence, especially in the first months of life. Indeed, “the woman stands before the man as a mother, the subject of the new human life that is conceived and develops in her, and from her is born into the world”.(John Paul II, Catechesis (12 March 1980), 2) The weakening of this maternal presence with its feminine qualities poses a grave risk to our world. I certainly value feminism, but one that does not demand uniformity or negate motherhood. For the grandeur of women includes all the rights derived from their inalienable human dignity but also from their feminine genius, which is essential to society. Their specifically feminine abilities – motherhood in particular – also grant duties, because womanhood also entails a specific mission in this world, a mission that society needs to protect and preserve for the good of all.(John Paul II, Catechesis (12 March 1980), 2; Mulieris Dignitatem 30-31)

A sexist take or a balanced one? What do you think? For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Misadventures in Roman Documents

I noticed an effort at CMAA’s forum to duplicate a discussion we had here almost five years ago. Looking at GIRM 30 through 41, the author intends to …

(highlight) some issues that would at times vary from what I and possibly others new to this have believed to the intent of the GIRM…and possibly why there has been confusion.

I am not sure that every experienced church musician always serves with the mind of the Church when it comes to liturgical ministry. I confess that over the years I’ve had misunderstandings that led to errors, ones that others have considered serious, or worse, heretical.

It can help to read a whole document rather than treat it as an adventure in gotcha! with one’s particular perceptions of what is right or wrong with the Church. That’s one reason why I thought it useful here to take documents in whole. When I was in school, we read documents in whole. We didn’t pick out favorite passages like SC 116. We had to wrestle with citations to inculturation, and the Roman proclivity for setting the bar low when and where low is needed.

The thread is titled “USCCB notes about the Mass,” which led another commenter to ask, “More ambiguity from the USCCB?”

I thought it was bishop’s note on the GIRM…don’t recall it being so ambiguous! Wasn’t attacking either document, but remarking on issues that had, in the way that they were presented, could have caused situations – such as priest’s welcoming the people before Mass and singing happy birthday and having strangers stand up during Mass to be welcomed – to come about.

I don’t remember the GIRM as being so – Sing to the Lord-ish, but possibly I have just been away from it so long. My sincere apologies for posting.

I think it’s more a matter of Sing To The Lord being GIRM-ish.

I think most of my musical colleagues at CMAA are earnest, honest, and have the best intentions for the scope of their service in the Church. I don’t think reform2 promoters always serve, think, or act with the intent of the Roman Catholic Church in their efforts. I am sure most of these folks want to. Wanting and doing are two different things. I suggest the same skepticism there as one might bring here: don’t take everything you read on the internet as gospel.

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