27 March 2006

Cardinal News

Check out Zadok's post on Cardinal Levada taking posession of his new titular church, S.Maria in Dominica. I find it exciting for two reasons: one, because the new cardinal was (albeit only for a year or so) the administrator of the diocese in which I resided*, and also because the Hassler Missa Dixit Maria was performed. Our Gregorian Schola used the Kyrie and Gloria from that Mass, and the Sanctus and Agnus Dei from Hassler's Missa Secunda as part of the concert repertoire we performed when we toured France in 2004 (in other words, Lizzy and I sang it so many times that we know it even better than we know each other, and could not have prevented ourselves from singing along, had we been fortunate enough to be present).

*There was a scandal during which our bishop resigned, and since then-Archbishop Levada was head of the neighboring diocese (of which my own diocese was a part until 30 years ago), he was asked to take over until they could find someone new.

25 March 2006

The Annunciation

"Ecce Ancilla Domini" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti 

23 March 2006

(lifted from Zadok)
Instructions: Go to your music player of choice and put it on shuffle. Say the following questions aloud, and press play. Use the song title as the answer to the question. NO CHEATING.

How does the world see you? The Extra-Ordinary Beast/Road to Boston (Cathy Barton and Dave Para) [The song is about Lewis and Clark's attempt to catch a prarie dog, so this means I'm unusual, fascinating, cute, and hard to pin down.]

Will I have a happy life? Makin' Whoopee (Ella Fitzgerald)

What do my friends really think of me? She Loves You (The Beatles)

What do people secretly think of me? Cortege et Litanie for Organ and Orchestra (Marcel Dupre)

How can I be happy? Dream a Little Dream of Me (Mamas and the Papas)

What should I do with my life? All the Things You Are (Swingle Singers)

Will I ever have children? Mama Don't Allow (Asylum Street Spankers) [uh oh]

What is some good advice for me? Galliard pour luth (Ensemble Clement Janequin)

How will I be remembered? Never on Sunday (Pink Martini) [Does this mean I'm so hopeless no one will have Masses said for me after I die, or that I'll be a saint and my feast will be moved when it falls on Sunday?]

What is my signature dancing song? L-O-V-E (Nat King Cole)

What do I think my current theme song is? Ladies' Pantalettes/Belles of Blackville/First House in Connaught (Reels, played by Bela Fleck and the Chieftains) [Can I switch these last two, please?]

What does everyone else think my current theme song is? Molly Ban (Allison Kraus and the Chieftains) [No way am I that depressed.]

What song will play at my funeral? Rumania (Dave Tarras and the Musiker Brothers)

What type of men/women do you like? Tanto son da groriosa (Ensemble Unicorn, from the album Songs of the Black Madonna: pilgrim songs from the Monastery of Montserrat)

What is my day going to be like? Psalm 108: 'My Heart is Ready' (Anglican chant by J.A. Stevenson and R.P. Stewart)

22 March 2006

Things I love about being at a Catholic school, #457:

Receving an email the subject line of which reads, "Repent!" (It was an ad for an upcoming retreat.)

18 March 2006

Gavin: Mmm, capybarae.
Me: Can we start a band and call it "Capybara on Friday"?

17 March 2006

Helpful Phrases

Should you ever find yourself stranded in the Irish-speaking part of Ireland (ok, they speak English there too, but pretend for a minute that they don't), here are some phrases you might find handy:

Phrase: Ta se ag cur baisti
Pronounced: taw shay egg curr bosh-tee
Meaning: It is raining.

Phrase: Nil moran Gaeilge agam.
Pronounced: kneel more/on gale/geh ah/gum
Meaning: I don't have much Irish.

Phrase: Cá bhfuil an teach pobail?
Pronounced: caw will on chock pub/ill?
Meaning: Where is the pub?

Phrase: Go raibh míle maith agat!
Pronounced: Guh ruh meal/ah mawt ag/gut
Meaning: Many thanks! (literal: may you have a thousand good things!)

Phrase: An dtogann tu caratai credit?
Pronounced: on duggan two car-tee credit
Meaning: Do you take credit cards?

Phrase: Ba mhaith liom tae/bainne/uisce beatha/beoir
Pronounced: buh watt lum tay/bonn-ye/ishka ba-ha/bee-yore
Meaning: I would like tea/milk/whiskey/beer

Phrase: aon, do, tri, ceithir, cuig, se, seacht, ocht, naoi, deich
Pronounced: ain, dough, tree, kerr/ih, koo/igg, shay, shocht, uck/th, knee, deh
Meaning: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10

Phrase: Ta me are meisce
Pronounced: taw/may/air/mesh-keh
Meaning: I am very drunk.

Phrase: Beannachtai na Feile Padraig
Pronounced: bann/ockt/tee nih fail/eh pawd/rig
Meaning: Happy Saint Patrick's Day!
Erin's Green Shore

One evening of late as I rambled
On the banks of a clear purling stream,
I sat down on a bed of primroses
And I gently fell into a dream.
I dreamed I beheld a fair female,
Her equal I had ne'er seen before,
And she sighed for the wrongs of her country
As she strayed along Erin's Green Shore.

I went to her and I quickly addressed her:
Fair maid, will you tell me your name
And why through this wild wooded country
In the midst of these dangers you came?
I'm a daughter of Daniel O'Connell
And from England I have lately come o'er,
I have come to awaken my brethren
Who slumber on Erin's Green Shore.

Her eyes were like two sparkling diamonds
Or the stars of a bright frosty night,
Her cheeks were like two blooming roses,
And her teeth of the ivory so white.
She resembled the Goddess of Freedom
And green was the mantle she wore
Bound 'round with the shamrock and roses
As she strayed along Erin's Green Shore.

In transports of joy I awoke then,
And found I had been in a dream,
For this beautiful damsel had fled me,
And I longed for to slumber again.
May the heavens above be her guardian,
For I know I shall see her no more,
May the sunbeams of glory shine o'er he
As she strays along Erin's Green Shore.

The book from which I obtained this version of the lyrics to this song notes that this poem belongs to the aisling (vision) genre, in which Ireland is personified as an oppressed woman who appears in a dream seeking help from her sons or brothers who "slumber" in slavery.

16 March 2006

Libellus IV

Here is what H.C. Chery, O.P., has to say on the matter of "What sins to confess" in his book, Frequent Confession (the items in bold are a point which I find particularly pertinent):

"A choice is necessary
In church, bu the confessional, I begin my examination of conscience. Of what sins shall I accuse myself?
The question is obviously relevant. For I could not possibly aspire to confessing all my sins. Scripture says that the just man sins seven times a day, and I, who am not a just man, sin in all sorts of ways every day. A complete confession, with an as accurate a total of my sins as possible, is an unattainable dream--and useless as well. A choice must be made. What must I choose?
[We all know mortal sins must be confessed, so I'll skip this part.]

In case of doubt
For some the difficulty is to know when a certain sin is mortal. In theory everyone knows: grave matter, full consent, and full knowledge. In practice, the question often arises, was the matter really grace? And still more commonly, did I really consent? The answer to the first question can easily be found by asking the confessor. As regards the second, by the very fact that I ask myself the question in good faith, sincerly, by the very fact that I am not sure, it is answered; there was not full consent. Does that mean that this 'doubtful' sin, or rahter this 'doubtfully committed' sin, should not be confessed? Not at all. The existence of such a doubt may legitimately allow reception of the sacrament of the Eucharist; strictly speaking there is no obligation to confess such a sin, but it would be wrong to shelter behind this absensce of obligation in order to retain posession of such a doubtful conscience....
[I have skipped also a couple paragraphs on the formation of conscience.]

Venial sins
But I desire particularly to insist here on the examination and confession of venial sins. Isn't it precisely in this respect that those who regularly confess are most deficient? What is the complaint most often on the lips of those who confess frequently? 'Confession is a bore because I always have the same thing to say.' Or else this remark which refers to the confessor: 'He says nothing to me,' meaning nothing out of the ordinary which would force me to bestir myself.
Now these two defects which make confession psychologically tedious are due to the same cause: you do not know how to confess.
How do most penitents confess?

Acts not stated to be confessed
Some (a few it is true), forget that sin is an act, not a state, and they manifest (or think they manifest) the condition of their soul by saying: 'I am a liar, I am impatient,' etc. This way of confessing is not the right one. You show thus the inclinations of your soul; but confession is not an account of your inclinations; it is the statement of precise actions, the consequence no doubt of your propensities, but differing from them as the fruit does from the tree. An individual may well have a propensity to lying (being a liar) without in fact having committed sins of lying during the fortnight following the last confession. If such sins have been committed the accusation should be 'I have lied, I have failed in charity, I have been lazy, I have been vain'. This formula is more correct, but as an accusation it is scarcely better, that is, is scarcely more profitable to your soul, scarcely more likely to draw useful advice from your confessor. Why? Because it is colourless. It has not required special thought on your part, nor any attempt at precision. It furnished the confessor with no special distinguishing signs enabling him to see in what way your soul differs from the one that he had to judge and advise before yours. Of the ten penitents who follow you, nine at least may well present the same list--and unfortunately in fact do so. Why (unless he has other knowledge of you) should you expect your confessor to give you exactly the advice you need, you personally and not another? Your personal case has not been shown to him by this confession; it gives him nothing to go on. He would have to possess wonderful psychological insight to be able to divine from this rapid list of 'standard' sins uttered through a grille in which he cannot even see your face, the words he should say to suit your case and incite you to make the effort that you, personally, ought to undertake yourself. All confessors cannot be expected to be like the Cure d'Ars. Usually he will only give back to you what you yourself have provided him with."

"Ha! Meditate on that," Chery seems to say. And he has a point: How many times have I said myself or overheard my friends say, "All he said to me was to make sure I'm saying my prayers every night and say ten Hail Mary's as a penance!" Sometimes it might be the priest, but in my case, at least 5 out of 6 times, I'm sure this has been my own fault. And what advice does Fr. Chery give to help us confess better? You'll have to come back at a later date to find out.

13 March 2006

Fire on Campus

A fire started around midnight last night on the Gonzaga campus, destroying a not-yet-completed apartment complex. The $10.4 million complex was expected to open in July, and is likely a total loss, but thankfully no one was injured. The building with the light on the left of this picture is St. Gregory Choral Hall. No damage to surrounding buildings has been reported. See the Spokesman-Review article for more details. 

12 March 2006

Libellus III

Continuing the series of posts from Frequent Confession by H.C. Chery, O.P., the little book next examines why one should confess to a priest. This could be useful if you're like me, and have friends or relatives who just don't understand why confession is important.

"This is the place to mention why I sould confess my sins to a priest instead of merely acknowledging them directly to God in the inmost recesses of my heart. It is because I am a member of the Church.
My sin has offended God and has injured me: it is a violation of the love that I owe to my Creator, of the proper love that I owe to my Creator and of the proper love that I should bear towards myself as a child of God. But it has also aimed a blow at the Church, the mystical Body. 'Every soul which raises itself, raises the world.' Every Christian who falls impedes the perfection of the Christian community. The most hidden of sins causes an injury to the tree of which I am a branch. When I cut myself off from the tree completely by mortal sin or merely separate myself from it a little, the whole tree suffers. My spiritual vitality is entirely dependent on the Church for God, for my benefit, has entrusted his graces to the Church, the Body of Christ. I must therefore also depend on her to be delivered from my sin. In the first centuries this responsibility towards the Church appeared more clearly when confession was public and made before the assembled congregation. Nowadays this discipline has been mitigated, but I must still accuse myself before the Church in the person of the priest who hears me and it is from the Church that I receive reconciliation by the ministry of the priest who absolves me."

I will skip the next section, "Confess to the same confessor as far as possible," because I think the reasons for this are easily and commonly understood, as well as the section on how to choose a confessor. Next time, I will begin posting the section on "What sins to confess."

Hopefully this is helpful to some of you out there, since many people take advantage of Lent to go to confession, or to resume a practice of regular confession which has fallen by the wayside, or just to meditate on what we are doing when we confess.

10 March 2006

That's a really interesting-looking crab. Crab is yummy, but I don't think I'd want to eat that one.
Libellus II

As a small child, the instruction I received on how to go to confession was pretty minimal. It covered what you were supposed to say in the confessional, and what the priest would say to you, and what would happen as a result of saying these things. I made my first confession before my first Eucharist, and was not thereafter encouraged to go frequently until I was in junior high--by which time I had to basically re-learn everything from the preveious inadequate instruction, plus gain some understanding about what it was really about, and why frequent confession is important.

But I have always felt a lack of knowledge about how to go to confession. I make my examination of conscience, am contrite, go in and tell the priest my sins, come out and do my penance. Sometimes, the priest gave me really helpful advice and a penance designed to help me keep from sinning again. Other times, I got a very general sort of admonition and exhortation, and 10 Hail Mary's. I very much disliked having the latter experience (which happened far more often than the former), and assumed that the priests I went to just weren't very good confessors, and that I should strive always to find priests from whom I'd get good advice and a really "useful" penance. This little book has, I think, provided me with much useful advice on that subject, as well as some others (preview of things to come: the general exhortation/"boring" penance phenomenon may sometimes be because of me, not the priest). Again, the booklet is Frequent Confession by H.C. Chery, O.P. The following is from the section, "To whom should I confess?"

In the first place, to a priest
"I have purposely used this general term to emphasize the importance, the primary importance, in the use of the sacrament of penance that should be given not to the qualitites of the man who hears the confession, but to his capacity as Christ's minister. Because we lack faith, we are apt to pay exaggerated attention to the human value of the confessor--real or objective value or one that our instinctive liking or trust attributes to him. Obviously it has to be taken into consideration, but from a point of view that, so to say, is marginal to the sacrament. It functions in connextion with the advice which follows the accusation of sins and precedes the absolution. But the sacrament is not made up of this advice; it can even do without it entirely. What is important is to be in touch with Christ who holds our pardon in his hand, with Christ living and acting in his Church. Every priest who has received from the Church the power of absolving you validly acts in persona Christi, in the name of Christ. For your soul he opens the living springs of pardon, the Blood of Christ our Redeemer, and washes it in this Blood.

To a priest who represents the Church
Consequently, it is an erroneous attitude, due to lack of faith, which causes some penitents to postpone freeing themselves from a serious sin or to put off indefinitely a confession which would deliver them from a growing spiritual sickness (by purifying the gradually spreading centres of infection) because 'their confessor' is absent. If they understood what the sacrament is, and how it is superlatively efficacious in its work of purification, independently of the priest who administers it, if they understood that the confessor is primarily the minister of Christ, that is, the ear of Christ to hear the accusation, the wisdom of Christ to judge, the mouth of Christ to pronounce the absolution, they would cling less to human appearances and not postpone their confession."

The next part goes on to say why it is important to confess sins to a priest instead of merely acknowledging them directly to God. I will post that tomorrow, if I have time.

09 March 2006

Top U.S. bishop accused of sex abuse

SPOKANE, Washington (AP) -- A woman has filed a claim that she was sexually abused more than 40 years ago by Bishop William Skylstad, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and leader of the Spokane Diocese.

This claim seems fishy to me, especially considering everything the bishop has done to prove that we are taking the scandal seriously. It also seems suspicious to me that her claim was only just filed, with Friday being the deadline for claims.

Either way, Bishop Skylstad, the diocese of Spokane and the woman who filed this claim are all in need of your prayers!

08 March 2006

That's "little book" for you non-Latin scholars.

Since it is particularly appropriate to this penitential season, I'm going to post some things from a little book--hardly a book, but more than a pamphlet--I found in our school library. I won't post the whole book, but the parts I found most useful (about half the book). It's called Frequent Confession: A Guide for those who confess weekly, fortnightly, or monthly. The French version, L'Art de Confesser, was written by Henri Charles Chery, O.P. The translation, published in 1954, is by Lancelot Sheppard (isn't that a great name?).

The little blurb on the inside flap of the cover (one of those rare cover-flaps on a softcover book) reads as follows:

"Frequent and regular confession can be a great means to holiness. Unfortunately, many penitents who go often to the confessional are distressed by the common-place nature of their confessions, and the small benefit they derive from them. They will find this book, written by a distinguished French Dominican, author of What is the Mass?, most helpful. Writing especially with young people--Catholic Actionists, for example, or young married couples--in mind, he tries to show how the merely formal and routine confession can be replaced by one which will be a genuine aid in the development of their spiritual life."

Anyone know what Catholic Actionists are? I've never heard of them. Continuing on, here is a section from the introduction which is helpful to understand before we get to the content of the book:

"Contrition and absolution more important than confession
In the first place, since we are about to consider confession, and nothing but confession, it should be carefully noted that it does not form the whole of the sacrament of penance, and is not even its principal part. The sacrament comprises sorrow, confession, absolution, and satisfaction. Essentially the sacrament is constituted by the absolution blotting out sin from a repentant heart. Should a penitent--on his deathbed, for example--be unable to confess, the sacrament can dispense with this confession, but it cannot dispense with sorrow. God, for his part, can dispense with the sacrament (in the absence of a priest qualified to impart it); he cannot save a soul in spite of itself and forgive a sin for which it obstinately refuses to be sorry.
Those persons for whom the essential seems to be the confession of their sins would do well to remember this. As the priest exhorts them to sorrow and speaks of the steps to be taken to avoid such sins in future they appear not to follow what he is saying because their attention is elsewhere and once they have accused themselves they are worried about mentioning this or that sin which did not occur to them at once. If a serious sin is in question it is normal to desire to mention it before leaving the confessional, but usually it is a matter of venial sins. There is great anxiety to be complete at all costs; there should be great anxiety to be contrite at all costs.
From the foregoing it should be clear that during the few minutes usually given to the immediate preparation for confession it would be well not to devote them all to examination of conscience, but better still to ask God's grace to obtain sincere sorrow for sin and to give expression in advance to contrition and a firm purpose of not falling again."

More--advice on who to confess to, what to confess, the manner in which to confess, and firm purpose of amendment--will follow in the next few days.

06 March 2006

Lack of the A-word

Alleluia, that is. I was just reading a post over at Summa Contra Mundum in which Athanasius wondered why us Roman-types don't sing Alleluia's during Lent, in contrast to our Eastern brethren, who wouldn't dream of not singing Alleluia, since God is always good, and even a time of fasting and repentance is a joyful time.

I took this opportunity to show off what I know about the history of the chant before the Gospel (which is the Alleluia in all times but Lent). The following is what I posted in the comments there:

In terms of the chant we sing before the Gospel (the most prominent appearance of "Alleluia" in the Roman liturgy), it isn't a matter of the Alleluia being omitted during Lent, though many people think of it that way. Historically (as in, 7th Century) there was a Tract (long, melismatic, multi-verse chant with mostly psalm verses as the text) before the Gospel. Eventually, the Tract was replaced by the Alleluia on Easter Sunday, then for the whole Easter season, and then all the time...except for Lent, which retained the Tract. The Tracts we sing in Lent are some of the oldest chants in the Gregorian repertoire, along with the chants for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil.

I don't know why the Alleluia never made it into Lent. Perhaps the reason generally given, that Lent is a time of solemnity and penitence, is the reason. At any rate, not singing the Alleluia during Lent is one of our oldest remaining liturgical practices, so please don't knock it: we Romans need to cling hard and fast to the few ancient traditions we have left!

We'll be happy to join you in many choruses of "Alleluia" on Easter, since from Easter until Pentecost, all 5 of the Proper chants for every Sunday contain the word "Alleluia" (decidedly not the norm for the rest of the year).

If anyone has any more information on the subject, I'd welcome it.

03 March 2006

POD Pope

iPod, that is! See American Papist for details.