26 September 2011

Liturgiam Authenticam

I bought Peter Jeffery's book "Translating Tradition" over a year ago, but only gave it a cursory glance. Hyped up on caffeine last night (should have ordered decaf!), I worked through 3/4ths of the book.

I don't agree with everything he says--I agree with another reviewer who opined that Dr. Jeffery "over-interprets" the document in certain respects.

I think that the issues he has with the document are not actually with its directions for literal translation. He agrees, and I do too, that more literal translation of the liturgy into English is a good thing. The problem is with how LA talks about the history of liturgy and what that reveals about the thought processes of people who are in charge of our liturgical directives.

There is one other thing that I agree with Dr. Jeffery about. I am not going to deny that the Church has the right to change the liturgy. She absolutely does. But like Dr. Jeffery, I think that the reasons for doing so should be laid out openly and honestly. Those reasons clearly don't have much to do with actual history.

The problem isn't with the new translation. It's a good thing. But it's like putting a band-aid on a broken limb. And the brokenness of the current liturgy is really what Dr. Jeffery was getting at, although he didn't come out and say it. The idealogical problem began much earlier. Even the 1962 Missal is flawed from this perspective, though it's a lot better than the OF.

The more I read, the more extreme my views on this get. I am not a Lefebvrist, and I never will be. I will continue to attend Mass according to the Ordinary Form. The Ordinary Form is a valid liturgy. It's just very, very far from being the ideal for the Roman Rite. I would be happy if most of the 20th- and 21st-century alterations to the Mass and Divine Office were thrown out (although I do think the revision of the Holy Week liturgies was a good thing).

It gets harder, in some respects, to reconcile my scholarly life with what I see at Mass every week. Sometimes I'm good at focusing on the Lord and ignoring the deficiencies of our liturgical expression. Other times, I am angry that we are not giving our very best. I don't like to be angry at Mass. Maybe someday I won't have reason to be any more.

23 September 2011

Das ElevatorMusik or '80s Science Fiction Theme?

One of my friends pointed out the remarkable similarity between this unfortunate incident:

Opening of Berlin Papal Mass from Rocco Palmo on Vimeo.

And the theme of one of the awesomest scifi shows ever:

She's so right. And it's so wrong.

22 September 2011

Why Don't We Chant?

A dissertation that I'm currently reading for research gives a list of reasons cited by church musicians who are avoiding compliance with liturgical norms regarding music. Here are the basic points (some are paraphrased):

1. Composers believe in good faith that any musical form might be adopted in church.

2. It's easier to obtain impressive effects with small forces in "modern" styles.

3. The people like it.

4. Numbers in church would dwindle if theatrical music were suppressed.

5. Musicians think chant masses are not impressive enough.

6. Patriotism: liturgical music (both Gregorian and polyphonic) is foreign, in an "old, dead white male" way rather than an exotic way.

Do these reasons sound familiar?

Can you guess where these points originated?

William Whitehouse wrote the dissertation, and it's on the state of music leading up to the Second Vatican Council. The list he gives is a summary of points made by Pius X in his 1895 Pastoral Letter of Venice.

Pius X was a pastor. He understood. I'm sure he is disappointed in how his reform and the subsequent reforms turned out, but he's probably not surprised. 116 years later, nothing has changed.

20 September 2011

Waiting and Wondering

In the last two weeks, three of my friends have announced pregnancies. Two of them are expecting second children, and the third is expecting her fourth child. All of them married not more than eighteen months before my husband and I.

I am still waiting.

It is hard not to wonder why. It does not seem, on the surface, as though we are any less suited to parenthood than anyone else. God surely has some purpose in this. There is a reason He is making us wait. But what is the reason? What must I learn? Will my empty arms hold a child when I have learned the right lesson, or improved in some virtue? Or is this the way it will always be, just the two of us?

I wonder, and I wait.

19 September 2011

Art by Natalie Dee

I've had a cold since Thursday. Couldn't talk at all on Saturday and most of yesterday. My throat and lungs hurt so much from coughing that I half expect to start hacking up bits of lung tissue any time now.

I'm not very good at the whole "offer it up" thing. I whine a lot when I'm sick. That means I'm going to be doing a lot of whining in the next few months, because my husband's office is in an elementary school and he brings home all those kid-germs. We were sick almost every month from September to March last school year. Yay cold and flu season!

10 September 2011

We Should Have Known...

...that my husband would not get along with his boss when the man proudly showed us his Thomas Kinkade paintings. Actual painted ones, not prints. Plural.

What's so bad about that?
Simcha Fisher tells us.

And no, they aren't Kinkade's better work, they're the fantasy hack stuff.

07 September 2011


My bishop, Bishop Burbidge of Raleigh, has engaged James McCrery--yes, the one who designed the Carmelite Monastery in Wyoming--to design our new cathedral! I couldn't be more excited. This is really, really good news.

Also, Baby Thomas, mentioned in my previous post, has been released from the hospital and is doing fine.