Princes of This World
See Robert W. Komer, Bureaucracy Does Its Thing: Institutional Constraints on U.S.-GVN Performance in Vietnam.
And when the turmoil becomes too great and I am completely at my wits’ end, then I still have my folded hands and bended knee. A posture that is not handed down from generation to generation with us Jews. I have had to learn it the hard way. It is my most precious inheritence from the man whose name I have almost forgotten but whose best part has become a constituent of my own life. What a strange story it really is, my story: the girl who could not kneel. Or its variation: the girl who learned to pray. That is my most intimate gesture, more intimate even than being with a man. After all one can’t pour the whole of one’s love out over a single man, can one?
— Etty Hillesum
. . . since the earliest times, Mass has been celebrated with both the people and priest facing the same direction, ad orientem, toward the East. Even after Churches were built where it was not literally possible to face East, then at least symbolically the priest and people were turned toward the Lord. It had nothing to do with trying to obstruct people's view of what is happening, or of the priest turning his back on the people. Nor is it even primarily for the sake of facing the altar or tabernacle. Rather, when the priest and faithful together face the same way, it manifests our common act of worship; it symbolizes our common pilgrimage toward the returning Lord, the Sun of Justice and our hope in the resurrection and the world beyond the here-and-now, our pilgrimage to the Promised Land.
— Father Gary Coulter, Ad orientem Mass today? Celebrating the Mass facing with the people (ad orientem)
I regard Gill as simply lacking a normal human faculty which we call modesty if we like it and prudery if we don’t — the feeling that there is something squalid about sexual activity independent of a willingness to take responsibility for children. We live in a society which is desperately trying to rid itself of this long-established human instinct, and is making itself miserable in the process. How can we help hating the man who, through some defect in his mental formation, is what we are all trying so desperately to become?
— Peter Brooke, “The Pillar of Fire”
Sin-up for Liturgical Ministries will take place at all Masses this Sunday.
— Bulletin, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Albany, September 24, 2006
In the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council (Sacrosanctum Concilium), it is emphasized that the “combination of sacred music and words . . . forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy” (No. 112). This means that music and song are more than an embellishment (perhaps even unnecessary) of worship; they are themselves part of the liturgical action. Solemn sacred music, with choir, organ, orchestra and the singing of the people, is not therefore a kind of addition that frames the liturgy and makes it more pleasing, but an important means of active participation in worship. The organ has always been considered, and rightly so, the king of musical instruments, because it takes up all the sounds of creation — as was just said — and gives resonance to the fullness of human sentiments, from joy to sadness, from praise to lamentation. By transcending the merely human sphere, as all music of quality does, it evokes the divine. The organ’s great range of timbre, from piano through to a thundering fortissimo, makes it an instrument superior to all others. It is capable of echoing and expressing all the experiences of human life. The manifold possibilities of the organ in some way remind us of the immensity and the magnificence of God.
Psalm 150, which we have just heard and interiorly followed, speaks of trumpets and flutes, of harps and zithers, cymbals and drums; all these musical instruments are called to contribute to the praise of the triune God. In an organ, the many pipes and voices must form a unity. If here or there something becomes blocked, if one pipe is out of tune, this may at first be perceptible only to a trained ear. But if more pipes are out of tune, dissonance ensues and the result is unbearable. Also, the pipes of this organ are exposed to variations of temperature and subject to wear. Now, this is an image of our community in the Church. Just as in an organ an expert hand must constantly bring disharmony back to consonance, so we in the Church, in the variety of our gifts and charisms, always need to find anew, through our communion in faith, harmony in the praise of God and in fraternal love. The more we allow ourselves, through the liturgy, to be transformed in Christ, the more we will be capable of transforming the world, radiating Christ’s goodness, his mercy and his love for others.
— Pope Benedict XVI, Greeting during the Blessing of the new organ of Regensburg’s Alte Kapelle (September 13, 2006)
Pope offers mea culpa
— Headline in the Albany times Union, September 18, 2006.
I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
— John 14:28
La vie spirituelle est tout entière d’abord communion avec Dieu (puis communion avec les autres). Puisque c’est Dieu qui a choisi de nous parler, qu’il nous a même envoyé son Verbe, l’attitude de l’homme doit donc être en premier lieu une attitude d’écoute. C’est là tout le sens de la lectio divina. Aujourd’hui c’est devenu un peu la mode de parler de lectio divina. On la présente malheureusement souvent comme si c’était une sorte de pratique, et même une technique. Et bien des personnes écrivent des livres et des articles et même organisent des sessions pour montrer comment « faire » la lectio divina. Or, la lectio divina est tout d’abord une attitude — une attitude d’écoute. Il s’agit de se mettre à l’écoute de Dieu, lorsqu’on lit l’Écriture Sainte, bien entendu; mais aussi lorsqu’on étudie, ou encore lorsqu’on lit un ouvrage de théologie, ou simplement un journal qui nous informe sur les grands événements de l’humanité aujourd’hui, ou encore lorsqu’on écoute une personne qui nous parle. Si l’on n’arrive pas à développer en soi cette attitude d’écoute, toutes les techniques seront inutiles. Nous serons aussi alors incapables de parler vraiment ou correctement — de dire les choses qu’il convient de dire en chaque circonstance.
— Armand Veilleux, Savoir écouter afin de pouvoir parler
AB: Do you have contacts?
LW: Yes, I have contacts, but I don’t know anybody.
. . .
In my last installment (American Idolatry, August 29), I observed that America’s popular music descends from the whining complaint of American rural folk. Resentment causes Americans to listen to singers who sound like them and with whom they can identify, rather than singers who sound much better than them. Children prefer finger-painting to Diego Velazquez because they feel at home in the world of children and feel lost in the world of results. Americans who grew up in the 1950s and afterward remain in a perpetual childhood of peer identification, hostile to all authority.
That is not quite true, I concluded in the August 29 essay; most Americans acknowledge the Bible as a supreme authority. But that is not quite the case if the Bible is to be taken “literally”, that is, the way an ignorant man would read it on the surface. In that case, the authority is not the Bible at all, but rather the authority of the ignoramus who reads it. This writer accepts the authority of the Bible, but confesses his inability to understand most of it without the assistance of learned commentators. Paradoxically, biblical literalism is a resentment-driven revolt against authority.
. . .
There is a well-developed argument that Islam is “a monistic paganism”, and that Allah is “the old pagan pantheon rolled up into one”, as German Jewish theologian Franz Rosenzweig wrote some 85 years ago. I reported Rosenzweig’s views three years ago in this space. Pope Benedict offered a devastating judgment on Islam’s ability to reform, but it was intended only for the ears of his inner circle of students, not for public circulation. A scandal erupted last year over the pope’s remarks on Islam to a seminar at his summer residence, as reported by Father Joseph Fessio, SJ, on a Florida radio talk show. My report in this space contributed to the notoriety of the incident. Father Fessio ultimately apologized for making the popees views public.
That is the misery of the West. The evangelicals have no fear of offending Muslims and say what they think; the crafty old men of the Vatican understand the issues far better, but are afraid to speak them above a whisper.
. . .
The fact is that Americans are beholden to the Old World and will be until Americans can produce minds with the depth and scope of a Soren Kierkegaard, a Karl Barth or a Franz Rosenzweig. As I noted last year, the most important theologian working today in the United States might be an Orthodox Jew, Michael Wyschogrod. It is well and good to throw off the authority of the compromised and often corrupt state churches of Europe, but the threadbare homespun of evangelical thinking is very, very far from being a replacement.
It is not that Americans are inherently stupid. They make themselves stupid by resenting authorities that seem distant and alien to them. Until that changes, the evangelicals will be America’s non-commissioned officers, not its generals and statesmen.
— Spengler, Fundaresentalism, Asia Times Online, September. 12, 2006
Miss Manners . . . is all for music, speaking, and other decently appropriate forms of worship. But she is afraid the good people missed that part about [a joyful noise unto the Lord] being directed unto the Lord, and not unto themselves. Their pleasure may be great, but it is incidental to the purpose of worship, and they should not attempt to usurp the Lord’s power of passing judgment on those who are worshipping Him. If God wishes to applaud in church, He may, but it is inappropriate for anyone else to do so.
— Judith Martin, Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, Freshly Updated, 2005, 123.