Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘Liturgical Prancing with the Stars’

By the Book on Cardinal Dolan

November 22nd, 2012, Promulgated by Diane Harris

In Spring 2012 I bought two books by brothers about their famous siblings.  One is “My Brother, the Pope,” by Fr. Georg Ratzinger.  The second, which I read first, is the rather bulky title: “Life Lessons from my Life with my Brother, Timothy Cardinal Dolan,” by Bob Dolan.  By way of disclaimer, I should say that I haven’t read the Ratzinger book yet, so what I will say about the Dolan book is NOT by way of comparison.  

I had read about two-thirds of the Dolan book early in the summer, before I became totally disgusted with it, and put it aside.  Then the concerns broke about Cardinal Dolan’s invitation to Pres. Obama to take the podium at the Al Smith Dinner, and yet a new light was cast on the Dolan book.  I finished the book and still paused about whether or not to say anything, whether or not to document my disappointment and open the subject for discussion.  I know I’m not alone, although clearly in the minority.  On Amazon 12 of the 14 reviewers give the Dolan book “5 stars.”  I found that out after I’d read it.  But 1 reviewer gave it  a “one star” and one gave it a “two star.”  At this writing there are no three or four star ratings.  I will excerpt from those two writers what exactly reflects my own conclusions, as sometimes it is easier to use the words of others.

The “two-star” reviewer wrote:  “…By the second chapter, I was already terribly disappointed. At first I thought Bob was just a very inexperienced writer…  Bob sounded both petty and insecure as he emphasized, in almost every situation, his brothers love of alcohol and/or a good cigar. He often times made it more of the focus than whatever the topic of that particular chapter was. … he spent a considerable amount of time promoting himself … a shameless attempt at self promotion. Bob comes across as insincere and appears to be trapped in a love/hate type of regard for his brother’s success. From my perspective, Bob fell short in sharing any meaningful “Life Lessons” …. I finished the book but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.”

The “one-star” reviewer wrote:   “I’m so sorry. I really wanted to like this book.  But I’m afraid Bob Dolan didn’t do his brother any favors by writing it. Cardinal Dolan comes across as a really likable guy to spend a Saturday afternoon with, but not someone who is capable of leading the Church in a wider field than New York.  I hope he isn’t really the way his brother portrayed him. … we need something more than a guy who likes his whiskey and a good laugh.  And I have to say, the conversations Bob Dolan says he has with his brother about the faith are stilted and fake sounding. … Bob, please tell me that you made most of this up. In any case, your brother deserved better, or better yet, nothing at all.”

I agree with both these reviewers, and one can read the rest of their posts on the Amazon website (PS here — I’m trying to transition away from Amazon due to their founder/President giving $2.5 million to support so-called “gay marriage” on the Washington state ballot.) 

But there is more both reviewers left unsaid, or to be re-said.  I was very put off by the alcohol preoccupation.  If I could stomach re-reading I would have to count up the numerous references to alcohol, and the prominence in many of the pictures of drinks — whether it is Cardinal Dolan sitting with his mother with a dozen glasses in front of them, or Cardinal Dolan praying with a drink obviously on the table right beside him (and two strategic buttons unbuttoned in picture below.)  I was struck by how easily the pictures could have been cropped, unless that was part of the purpose — is it supposed to imply an alcohol problem?  (Don’t judge too quickly until you’ve read the book.)  And there’s the button issue again, in the last picture, from the Conclave.

Bob Dolan makes two prominent cases of his being bullied at the young Tim Dolan’s hands, one over a frightening ‘in the dark’ intrusion and one over wilting sarcasm as the younger Bob loses his childhood savings in a poker game.  Why even tell these tales unless there is some other agenda? 

The cover picture on the book evokes a “Tim laughing at Bob” discomfort as well.  It is a disturbing picture, to me, especially having read the book.  And what is the unshaven implication of disrespect in the pictures of Bob Dolan at the celebration after the ceremony elevating Abp. Dolan to Cardinal?  By the end of the book, I found myself simply asking “WHY?”  Why did brother Bob write this at all, and the “love/hate” of one reviewer seemed too credible.

But I think the worst damage Bob Dolan did was not so much in dwelling on irrelevant past episodes, or even stilted, pompous and unlikely dialogue of the present, but rather in entertaining and speculating on the likelihood of Cardinal Dolan’s becoming Pope.  Even the most rudimentary understanding of how things work in Rome would imply that the very speculation can well keep something from happening, and that becomes a real consideration.   Brother Bob knows full well he should not be speculating on such possibilities.  He also has a knack for alienating his brother’s peers.  Imagine!   He called the Consistory which elevated 22 men to Cardinals  “Tim’s consistory” and wrote:  “We apparently believed the other 21 men who would also receive the biretta were merely Tim’s opening act.”  Brother Bob also quotes other churchmen as lavishing extreme praise on Cardinal Dolan, but it is strange how none of those sources have names.  Are they real or are they and their quotes made up?  Yet, brother Bob is supposedly a news reporter, a “media professional” and he doesn’t quote sources?  Why not?  He cites “a visiting bishop” as saying  “I think [the Pope] is gently dropping a hint that, at least in his opinion, this man [Cardinal Dolan] is worth considering as his successor.”  This is not only highly inappropriate as “Vatican behavior” but it raises implications of Pope Benedict’s death, highly disrespectful.  Might it not be possible — if he really was given so many accolades of his brother with papal speculation — that it was Cardinal Dolan’s family that was under inspection and, if Bob Dolan’s writing is the result, the family likely failed the test.  What test?  Of  loyalty, of humility, of circumspection, of deportment, of judgment, of trust.  Thanks, Bob.

The author goes on to speculate that much as they’d hate to see less of the Cardinal, “if we considered what may be best for the worldwide Church, …he’d be an excellent choice.”  Now, can we believe any well-adjusted, politically sensitive sibling would write that, and the following regarding the consideration of Cardinal Dolan for Pope:  “I still believe the odds are against it but I’ve been persuaded to believe he will be considered and will probably receive a good number of votes from his brother cardinals.  Which brings me to the next conclave, whenever it is.  I’m on record that my wife and I will be in Rome watching for the white smoke….if my brother walked out on that balcony… I will still fall to the ground; but …not out of shock but because of joy and gratitude.” 

When the news broke about what many Catholics see as poor judgment on the part of Cardinal Dolan in inviting Pres. Obama to the podium of the Al Smith dinner, I began a post that I never completed, called “Has the red hat gone to his head?”  Now, perhaps, it would be fairer to say “Has the red hat gone to his brother’s head?”  Nevertheless, the threads laid out by brother Bob — bullying, alcohol, flippancy, arrogance, open all kinds of questions about seeking status, influence and political clout.  Cardinal Dolan ignored the urging of so many of his flock not to do what he did, that it is now fair to ask how many of the Catholic votes that went for Obama weighed as part of their decision making the photo ops and Catholic stage which Cardinal Dolan provided?  And, when Cardinal Dolan witnessed the liturgical prancing of half-dressed babes in the DoR Cathedral, as he did, or spoke from the pulpit during Mass ranking Bishop Clark behind a “garbage plate” as his idea of a joke, will he have the stomach or the clout or sensitivity to do what is needed in the Church today, let alone to see through the battle now engaged by the USCCB under his leadership?  I certainly hope so, but Brother Bob’s book has introduced an element of skepticism and deep concern. 

 

March 12, 2013:  Update from the Conclave with the Dolan Brothers:

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“Mass” at the Call to Action Conference

November 16th, 2012, Promulgated by Dr. K

One more time on the CTA conference that Fr. Spilly promotes and attends:

It’s absolutely disgraceful that any Catholic priest would be associated with Call to Action.

(Source)

A picture is worth a thousand words

October 17th, 2012, Promulgated by Dr. K

Below is a collage of photographs detailing the 33-year tenure of Bishop Matthew Clark, and the downward spiral of the Diocese of Rochester that took place during his reign. Have fun identifying the various events and personalities. To see the full size collage, click on the image below.

Click on the image to enlarge

Going Out With A Bang

October 15th, 2012, Promulgated by Dr. K

Is it any wonder why Pope Benedict XVI accepted Bishop Clark’s resignation with such haste?

Mass of Thanksgiving, Oct. 13th

 

Jubilee Mass, Sep. 16th

On “Lord of the Dance” and liturgical dance

September 29th, 2012, Promulgated by Mike

John B. Buescher has published a very interesting article on liturgical dance in the online edition of The Catholic World Report.

He begins with the disturbing back story behind a “hymn” popular in many local parishes.

Please take “Lord of the Dance” out of your hymnbooks, assuming you don’t attend a Gnostic church.

Sydney Carter wrote it in 1963, based on the apocryphal, second-century Gnostic Acts of John, where Jesus is supposed to have led his disciples in a round dance before his death. As the Lord of the Dance, he was simply an avatar of a cosmic principle.

In line with Gnostic thought, Jesus was not both true God and true man, but only a kind of pure spirit, who disguised himself in a cloak of matter. Because he wasn’t really a man, he couldn’t really be killed. So, for Gnostics, some kind of trick occurred at the crucifixion: some taught that a switch was made, so that a surrogate or disguised stand-in (some said Joseph of Arimathea) was crucified instead, while Jesus watched from far off.

Other Gnostics made Jesus’ body a kind of puppet that appeared to undergo torture and death, while in fact the “real” Jesus, residing in pure spirit, laughed at their foolishness, and eventually sprang away from the cross. (“I am the dance, and the dance lives on.”) This Jesus, a sort of cosmic trickster and shape-shifter, is captured in the Acts of John.

The round dance and its little song were supposed to be part of an initiation ceremony after the Last Supper, in which Jesus, standing in the middle of a circle, sang in order to achieve an ecstatic separation from his body in preparation for his Passion (thereby “supplementing” Matthew 26:30: “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives”). This is the Gnostics’ secret teaching on the Last Supper, assumed by them to have been kept out of the Gospel accounts because it was the true heart of the events described, and could not be told to the unworthy.

With this by way of introduction he moves on to his primary subject, liturgical dance. Some of the lead-in to his main argument follows.

In medieval times and later, there was folk dancing at festival celebrations outside churches, drama reenactments of miraculous scenes in the lives of the saints or of Bible stories, and mystery plays. And there were pilgrimage processions, such as the Corpus Christi procession or the touring of neighborhoods by decorated statues or relics brought from churches, sometimes done with participants coordinating their steps or other movements, with everyone having a joyful time.

This is all quite robustly Catholic. But none of this dancing actually intrudes into the sacred liturgy of the Mass itself, just as dancing was not part of Temple worship in ancient Israel. Until recently, Catholics had always saved their dancing for outside the church—or at least not during the liturgy itself.

However, since Vatican II, when the Church began seriously experimenting with “inculturation,” dancing has sometimes appeared within churches and even within the celebration of the Mass. Church documents touching on this have been drafted by committee, unfortunately, and have been interpreted by some as allowing bizarre liturgical experiments, under the guise of allowing for the cultures of what the documents call “primitive people.”

I live in a “primitive” culture based on hyper-individualism and the supremacy of “private judgment,” and this certainly manifests itself in the variety of “worship services” we perform. And one of the most controversial is “sacred dance.” Is this acceptable liturgical practice? It seems to me that the answer should turn on whether the true God—or a golden calf—is being praised, and whether the praise being offered aspires to be worthy of the perfect sacrifice made at the altar in the sanctuary.

There is much more here.

I am reminded of the perhaps apocryphal story involving Cardinal Krol of Philadelphia and the pastor of one of his more progressive parishes. It seems that the Cardinal was visiting the parish to celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation when, during the Offertory, an attractive young lady liturgically danced her way down the main aisle to present the gifts. As she neared the altar the Cardinal is reported to have leaned over and whispered to the priest, “If she asks for your head on a platter, she’s got it.”

Finally, as something of a bonus, if you were ever interested in the history behind all those “giant puppets” that seem to appear at the liturgy here and there, check out this article by the same author.

 

Passion Mime Cancelled, Due to Lack of Interest

March 30th, 2012, Promulgated by Gen

Many will remember the controversy in Lents past regarding the Passion Mime performed at St. Ambrose. Many will also recall the vehemence with which it was defended by certain individuals. While I don’t want to open old wounds, we simply can’t ignore this development, as announced in the Peace of Christ bulletin (see Romish Graffiti’s post here).

As Scott points out, the most interesting part of the announcement (lament?) in the bulletin is that “enough students didn’t sign up.” Now, doesn’t it seem strange to you that an event that some heralded as a great way to catechize our youth, a popular alternative to traditional methods, should wither away this year because, in an entire school, there were not enough kids willing to participate? Could it be, just maybe, that the kids realize how inappropriate it is to parade into a sanctuary to the rockin’ tunes of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” while wearing face-paint and performing Our Lord’s Passion via pantomime? To mime the Passion of Christ is like sculpting the Pieta out of “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!,” or performing Mozart’s Requiem with a kazoo ensemble. It’s tasteless and nauseating.

Children know when they’re being pandered to, when their superiors appeal to them through condescension rather than through rationality. Kids, as much as some may deny it, yearn to be treated like adults. Insinuating that they can only really grasp the significance of the Passion by putting on a performance which seems to reflect more of Red Skelton than St. John would fall into the “condescending” category. How can we expect our youth to embrace the Faith when they’re presented with triviality? Short answer: we can’t. It won’t happen, so long as they think that it’s okay to play around (maybe with good intentions) in the sanctuary. Granted, I’m sure the Passion Mime is more reverent than many Masses offered in our Diocese. It’s not done maliciously, either. That doesn’t mean it’s okay, though.

So, kudos to the kids of Siena, who have spoken with their feet . . . presumably because mimes don’t use words . . .

 

I Was Working in the Lab Late One Night . . .

October 27th, 2011, Promulgated by Gen

It seems sometimes that our only consolation is that “at least it’s not happening at Mass.” This is particularly true for an upcoming . . . concert . . . at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Let me preface everything I am about to say by expressing my respect and admiration of the capability of the musicians at Sacred Heart Cathedral. They are all quite gifted musicians whose goal is, ultimately, the glory of God. Of course, we could get into the whole mandolins-at-Mass-isn’t-giving-glory-to-God-debate, but that’s not what this post is about.

What this post is about, however, is this concert I mentioned. The cathedral will be host to the United States premier of Rachel Laurin’s Symphony No. 2, which in itself is pretty innocuous. Churches host concerts all the time, and so long as there’s nothing profane and the Blessed Sacrament is appropriately reposed elsewhere, they can prove to be quite beneficial for the community.

The premier of this symphony, though, is not the only aspect of this event. The concert is being held on Sunday, October 30th, the day before Halloween. So, naturally, the logical thing to do is post fliers around the Diocese advertising this concert as a great opportunity to show up at the Cathedral in costume. (I guess Sr. MaryAnn Binsack’s weekly “Casper” costume doesn’t sate the palate of these philistines.)

The Symphony contains themes from Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher,” a great work, to be sure. I am certain that Ms. Laurin’s work reflects the darkness of Poe’s writing, and I am in no way criticizing her music, the performance of it, or the quality of the performers. What I am criticizing, though, is the classless idea to dress up in (secular) costumes for a (secular) concert in a church, i.e. a sacred space. This extra little twist to an otherwise acceptable event is just like the Passion Mime, which crosses the line between what is in good taste and what is in bad taste. Concerts = wonderful. Costume parties in cathedral = not so wonderful.

Isn’t that a confusing equation? No, you say? Well, it must be confusing, seeing as how the people in charge of the music/social functions at Sacred Heart don’t seem to grasp this concept. The church is a place where people gather, ideally, to pray. Of course, well-built churches have good acoustics, and so concerts may serve to build up the reputation and financial stability of a church. Churches are not built to be used as settings for masquerade parties. They aren’t built to be suitable for good music. They aren’t even built to facilitate community interaction. They are built in order to gather the people of God together, not to talk, not to play dress-up, not to have pizza parties, but to worship.

But, of course, we can’t blame people if this concept, too, is confusing. When our churches look like social halls, and when the Mass turns into some sort of group self-help session with refreshments, how can we expect the people in charge to foster an environment of dignity and respect for the Blessed Sacrament?

So, while at the same time, there will be a Missa Cantata St. Stanislaus, you’re more inclined to see this at Sacred Heart:

Septuagenarian Bieber: Bishop Clark and his Backup Dancers

September 27th, 2011, Promulgated by Abaccio

Do you ever take time to check out the social media outlets of Diocesan affiliates?  The septuagenarians who run this Diocese have realized that young people are far more likely to notice something on Facebook than elsewhere.  You can find many interesting things on Facebook.  For instance, check out the Facebook Page of St Francis-St Stephen School in Geneva, NY.  You will encounter not one, not two, but TWELVE albums containing non-liturgical events and/or slews of children in the Sanctuary for non-liturgical purposes in one of the two churches.  Graduations, Concerts, para-liturgical events, you name it.  But of course, this is not about the school’s misuse of the Church when they have a parish center, gymnasium with a stage, and a cafeteria with a stage all at their disposal.  No, this is about something we’ve all seen before.  No, really, we’ve seen EXACTLY this before.  Welcome to this year’s reprise of the offertory sign language liturgical…performance?

As you can clearly see,  this is being done DURING the Mass, extending throughout the Offertory (notice the cruets appear partway through the dance), as a PERFORMANCE.  This is not Catholic.  This is not appropriate.  This is, once again, using children to push an agenda, yet another instance of an inappropriate performance in the Sanctuary.  Just like we saw here and here and here and here and here and here and here.  Oh yeah, and here and here and here and here.  Dare I say that I see a pattern?

Without further ado,


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People invent new rituals when they fail to understand the ones they already have.  If the adults who encourage this sort of behavior understood the Mass (at least, as far as we can understand it), this would not happen. EVER.  They are passing down to the children a grossly distorted understanding of the Mass;  “Thanks for coming today, folks, we’ve got a great show for you, and hopefully you are entertained enough to come back occasionally!”  The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not a talent show.  Full, conscious, active participation in the Mass means PRAYING the Mass.  This is full, conscious, active participation in something else entirely.

With every liturgical innovation, we must ask ourselves: Is this drawing me to Christ? To Calvary? More deeply into the Mass itself?  Am I aiding or taking away from what is about to happen on the Altar of Sacrifice?  Is this edifying?  Without fail, the answer is no.  It is infuriating and it is distracting.   When they are raised to think that Mass is about something other than sacrifice and eternal salvation, they realize they can get it, often times better, somewhere else: fellowship, a meal, ethics, pop music, dance, the list goes on and on.

Almost to a one, these Catholic children fall away from the Church once they reach High School or College. Just look at the history. In 32 years of Bishop Clark, we have closed 50 of our 72 Catholic Grammar Schools.  The average age of mothers at birth is approximately 30.  Grammar school children average about 10 years of age.  This means that their parents are around 40, give or take (and often younger).  This means that the average parent of the average Catholic School student was 8 years old when Bishop Clark took office. There are so many fewer Catholic School students today precisely because the generation that their parents comprise either 1) did not have children, 2) fell away, or 3) do not see value in a DoR education.  Seeing these shenanigans again and again and again, I am not surprised.  If the Church is turned into a performance hall and schools stress academic excellence instead of discipleship, why should we expect anything else?

Ordinary Time and Ugly Stoles

July 6th, 2011, Promulgated by Hopefull

What is it about Ordinary Time and the emergence of ugly stoles from the back of the sacristy closet?  There’s not much opportunity during Lent and Easter to be too “creative,” but all of a sudden when folks in the pews start showing up in shorts and message-blaring tee-shirts, some presiders (not to be outdone) pull out stoles of colors never specified for liturgical wear, ranging from Aunt Mabel’s knitted afghan scarf to collections of little faces suitable for singing “It’s a Small World After All.”  But the ones which seem to be showing up more this season are variations on the rainbow theme, aka gay pride stoles which can be claimed to be an apolitical view from Noah’s Ark, if we didn’t know better.  I have found my eyes so riveted on wild, almost psychedelic abstract shapes, that it was hard to concentrate on the homily with the stole screaming at me.  What would it take for Father to simply be obedient to liturgical norms, and wear a green, red or white stole as prescribed in Ordinary Time, instead of making a political or fashion statement like a highschooler trying to wear a different outfit each day?    Here are some of the more ghastly examples (from catalogues; not trying to embarrass any particular priest) which invite confusion with gay pride parades, but I’ve seen worse in DoR sanctuaries:

 

I think the last one (lower right) is a candidate for ugliest, since it is hard to distinguish it from the end stakes in a croquet game, but which one do you think is most obviously supporting the gay agenda?

In Support of True Diversity

June 1st, 2011, Promulgated by Gen

Oftentimes, people associate orthodoxy or faithfulness to the teachings of the Church (especially as pertaining to liturgy) with being hostile towards diversity. The claims are made that Jesus would want everyone to have a part at His Eucharistic Table, and that if we care too much about rules and regulations, we lose the spirit of what He intended us to have. Indeed, those who say or profess such things are surely doing so because they are being motivated by a love for the Church, albeit a flawed and underdeveloped love which focuses more on honey-sweet sentiment than lasting spiritual edification. I would like to devote this post to answering their claims that Catholics in support of dignified liturgy are cold, unfeeling, and closed-minded individuals who care only for keeping the status-quo.

Mass in Hong Kong

No one can possibly deny that the Church is truly diverse – just look at Her list of saints! We have some saints murdered in Nazi concentration camps, whereas others are holy nuns who never left their Medieval cloisters. We have missionaries from Vietnam alongside Tudor-era Englishwomen who sheltered young Jesuits from Elizabethan authorities. However, throughout all of these holy lives, there is a  common thread, something tethering each one to the others. That thread, and a golden thread at that, is the Holy Mass. For the greater part of two millenia, the Mass as prayed in Korea was the Mass as prayed in Rome, and the Mass as prayed in the trenches of Flanders in WWI was the Mass as prayed by African missionaries. A 13th Century Dutch cloth merchant could, without any hesitation or confusion, realize what the Mass was even if he were to see a 19th Century Mass offered in some backwater town in America. The Church celebrated its diversity through celebrating its singular unity.

However, since the 1970’s, the notion of celebrating our diversity became confused with celebrating our cultural identity. In the confusion which gripped (and grips) the Church in the post-Conciliar years, every group, every nationality, every ethnicity, every age-group, and every social-body felt the need . . . I’m sorry . . . felt “called by the Spirit” . . . to have their own Mass. The Mass became, not so much a unifying sacrifice of love, but a means to asserting cultural, social, and ethnic identity.

Sacrosanctum Concillium states the following regarding diversity through the Holy Mass:

D) Norms for adapting the Liturgy to the culture and traditions of peoples

37. Even in the liturgy, the Church has no wish to impose a rigid uniformity in matters which do not implicate the faith or the good of the whole community; rather does she respect and foster the genius and talents of the various races and peoples (note: “talents” are not “mediocrities.” Marty Haugen, this means you.). Anything in these peoples’ way of life which is not indissolubly bound up with superstition and error she studies with sympathy and, if possible, preserves intact (The important thing here is that SC recognizes the possibility of error in local liturgical celebrations. It does not say that the error should be tolerated or left in place, but rather, if possible, corrects it. If it is already correct, then, if possible, it may be introduced into or kept in that region’s liturgies.). Sometimes in fact she admits such things into the liturgy itself, so long as they harmonize with its true and authentic spirit. (For the “true and authentic spirit” of the liturgy, click here.)

38. Provisions shall also be made, when revising the liturgical books, for legitimate variations and adaptations to different groups, regions, and peoples, especially in mission lands (Sacred Heart Cathedral probably doesn’t count . . . ), provided that the substantial unity of the Roman rite is preserved; and this should be borne in mind when drawing up the rites and devising rubrics.

39. Within the limits set by the typical editions of the liturgical books, it shall be for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to specify adaptations, especially in the case of the administration of the sacraments, the sacramentals, processions, liturgical language, sacred music, and the arts, but according to the fundamental norms laid down in this Constitution. (Again, this section of SC is dealing with those few and extra-ordinary times when things may be changed with the liturgy. It is in no way stating that the norms it sets forth, i.e. Latin, Gregorian Chant, etc. are to become de facto second choices.)

40. In some places and circumstances, however, an even more radical adaptation of the liturgy is needed, and this entails greater difficulties. Wherefore:

1) The competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, must, in this matter, carefully and prudently consider which elements from the traditions and culture of individual peoples might appropriately be admitted into divine worship. Adaptations which are judged to be useful or necessary should when be submitted to the Apostolic See, by whose consent they may be introduced.

2) To ensure that adaptations may be made with all the circumspection which they demand, the Apostolic See will grant power to this same territorial ecclesiastical authority to permit and to direct, as the case requires, the necessary preliminary experiments over a determined period of time among certain groups suited for the purpose.

3) Because liturgical laws often involve special difficulties with respect to adaptation, particularly in mission lands, men who are experts in these matters must be employed to formulate them.

(This is not aimed at milk-toast SSJ’s or diversity-minded local ordinaries and their white-albed henchmen/henchwomen/henchpeople. Rather, it is written for those people who have limited understanding  of or access to the Church, such as those Pacific Islanders who until the past few decades were still head-hunters, or those Christians in Muslim-controlled areas whose worship situations are less than ideal.)

While this does leave room for cultural deviations, it does so under the assumption that these cultural deviations will occur organically, i.e. an “African Mass” ought to happen in Africa, not upstate New York. However, there are those who, blinded by zeal for their Church, read these documents and fail to apply the “spirit of the law” to the “letter of the law.” It’s rather amusing to see liturgical liberals will point at many of us and say “you’re too by-the-book” and yet they use this unbending “by-the-book” approach to liturgy to justify their antics at Mass. The spirit of the documents of Vatican II is one of loving acceptance for all the children of God, and recognizes that the Roman Rite has many different forms and manifestations. However, this open-endedness does not permit illicit acts to take the place of approved liturgical actions. A parent may very well hand his or her child the keys to the family car. The parent assumes that the child will drive wherever he wants, but will do his best to stay on the road . . . a noble, lofty goal, to be sure. However, when the son backs up into the lawn of a neighbor and destroys her prize-winning roses, you don’t justify it with any of those phrases some in our midst throw out with nauseating frequency. “I felt called to do it.” “It didn’t hurt anyone, so it’s okay.” “There’s no law saying you can’t do it . . . just that it’s not preferable.”

Latin Mass in Gabon

At Vatican II, the Church gave her children the keys to the family car, often to ruinous effect. While in the little analogy above, the only thing that was lost was a bed of roses, in real life we have lost entire parishes of souls. God does not desire our pursuit of diversity to alienate people – it must unify.

To that end, we should try to figure out what unifies and what segregates us as Catholics. When I go to Mass at Sacred Heart, and I am presented with a “Lamb of God” which incorporates every language known to man (except Latin – dear God, we mustn’t use that language!), I’m somewhat at a loss for words. Are we really going to sing a verse in Tagalog, for the one Philippino fellow in attendance, and who probably knows either Spanish or English already? If I were attending a Mass being offered for the Phillipino community, I would wholly expect to encounter Tagalog . . . but not when 90% of the congregation is well-acquainted with English. We must be sensitive to cultural demands, and to celebrate cultural identities. This doesn’t mean that we need to invent diversity just for the sake of having it. If it exists, wonderful. If it doesn’t, fine. Just recognize it either way and cater your liturgy to those demands.

But what about when you have a multi-cultural gathering, such as the annual Chrism Mass, or maybe a cluster’s only Easter Vigil or Holy Thursday Mass? If only there were one language that the Church used to bring together all of Her children, no matter what language may be their native one . . .

Oh, wait . . . Vatican II covered that bit, too:

36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

54. In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue. This is to apply in the first place to the readings and “the common prayer,” but also, as local conditions may warrant, to those parts which pertain to the people, according to tho norm laid down in Art. 36 of this Constitution.

Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.

 

101. 1. In accordance with the centuries-old tradition of the Latin rite, the Latin language is to be retained by clerics in the divine office. But in individual cases the ordinary has the power of granting the use of a vernacular translation to those clerics for whom the use of Latin constitutes a grave obstacle to their praying the office properly. The vernacular version, however, must be one that is drawn up according to the provision of Art. 36.

Isn’t it funny how the same documents used to strip churches of their altars, statues, tabernacles, chant, ceremony, and Latin are the same documents that instruct the faithful to keep all these same things?

 

Chrism Mass ’11

April 20th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

From the Catholic Courier:

tick tock… tick tock… 2012.

The Mahony/Clark/Hubbard era is quickly coming to an end.

Chrism Mass 2011 – a Sneak Preview

April 19th, 2011, Promulgated by Gen

Chrism Mass 2009 was marred by the flamboyant and bouncing Thomas Warfield. (See here)

Chrism Mass 2010 was marred by the slightly-less-flamboyant Julian Bell. (See here)

So what about the Diocese of Rochester Chrism Mass 2011? Evidently, the Diocese has decided to move away from homosexual African American men, and utilize modestly dressed young ladies. This is, of course, a wonderful improvement, as far as liturgical dance is concerned. However, the degree of improvement would be even more tremendous if the liturgical and musical coordinators at Sacred Heart realized that liturgical dance in such a setting is inapropriate, as per Cardinal Arinze and the documents of Vatican II. In his words, “dance is not a part of the Latin Rite liturgy.”

 

Of course, the Diocese finds ways to get around the rules. How pathetic is that, that the people in charge of a Diocese and its liturgy act like children disobeying a parent and getting away with it because, “mommy said ‘don’t dance during church’ . . . not before it!” The dance will occur, like last year, before Mass,  in order to “prepare the worship space.” You know what would prepare the worship space better than twirling young women? Putting Our Lord back on His throne, centered prominently for everyone in the cathedral to see, and not just those people graced with seats within view of that side chapel wherein Our Lord is “prominently enthroned” to the side of the sanctuary and in the shadow of the organ.

There’s Something in the Well Water

February 5th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

Women of the Well” is a group of local women who perform at a number of Rochester Catholic parishes and Protestant houses of worship various stories of female figures from the Bible and the early Church. Given that this group will be performing at a number of area churches in the coming months, perhaps it is time we stop and take a look at the orthodoxy of this troupe, and try to determine whether it is advisable for one to attend one of these performances.

A simple Google search reveals that seven of the thirteen performers (see  here and here for the performer lists) publicly support the ordination of women to the priesthood, despite the definitive teaching of the Catholic Church that men alone are ordained priests. Two of the performers (Ulterino and Mack) are listed on the Women’s Ordination Conference website, while five others (Stellpflug, Catherine, Bardques, Rice, and McAndrew) signed the infamous “Are we willing to sacrifice the Eucharist” petition. The fact that approximately half of the performers in the troupe have publicly affixed their names to the heretical women’s ordination movement should provide enough concern about the orthodoxy of these performances, and perhaps also call into question the motivation behind them (meaning: are they attempting to make the case that women should be priests through exaggerated and/or dishonest portrayals of women and their roles in the early Church).

Given this information, I would advise extreme caution before deciding to attend one of these performances, or promoting these events at your parish.

The Heart of an Immense Darkness…

January 31st, 2011, Promulgated by Ink

I, too, was present at this “Mass,” and I’m going to be giving my commentary on it.  Hurrah for Catholic Schools Week?

Today was the beginning of Catholic Schools Week, therefore Aquinas deemed it necessary to have a “mass” with the entire school, as well as all of Nazareth Elementary. As it can be imagined, this went about as well as the last one, if a bit worse.

Father Bob Werth said the mass. I didn’t realize how much this would change the entire mass until he opened his mouth. In the opening prayer it was mentioned somewhere about that we shall be solemn “for the next hour or hour and a half.” I thought they were joking, but the mass started at 9:30 and ended at eleven. Long masses are wonderful when they’re, say, Latin mass, but the Father Werth Long Mass is painful.

Father started the FWLM by encouraging us to do the “big sign of the cross,” whereupon he scooped his hands in various ways that vaguely resembled the sign of the cross but seemed more like he was warding off an impending attacker who stood five feet away from him, and somehow his feet were glued to the floor.

I thought it looked like he was slowly and dramatically swatting flies.  It looked really dumb.

The Opening Hymn was, “Shine, Jesus, Shine.” during this hymn, the Nazareth dancers (the same ones from last time, only there were more of them and their dresses contained less fabric.*)paraded around the congregation in the center of the gym, waving their arms in some sort of weird ritualistic dance. This time, they looked less like zombies and more like they were offering up the corn harvest.

*I don’t know why it’s so hard for the little Nazareth dancers to wear sleeves. I understand that ladies no longer wish to wear hats to church, and, as painful as it is, I think it’s not something that can really be controlled anymore. But please, ladies, cover your shoulders when you go to mass. If I could have, i would have given all those girls the Paper Sheets of Shame, like they do in Italian churches.

Nah, the dresses definitely had more fabric.  Lots of fluffy organza-esque stuff, and they were longer this time.  The colours were still awful, though, and they still didn’t fit the liturgical season (light ballerina pink, anyone?), and the dresses were still not appropriate for Mass.  Dance recital, yes.  Mass, not at ALL.  I am agreed on the Paper Sheets of Shame point though.  Those were funny. ^_^

Dear Nazareth teachers: Mass is not a performance.  I love your little children dearly and find them irresistably adorable, of course!  But the Sacrifice of the Mass–the LITURGY! is not a place for them to parade through the area which sould be designated as a “sanctuary” and do their little arm-waving gestures.  And the drum is just unnecessary.  If you have any problems with this, take it up with me.

Father then opened the mass and commented on the situation in Egypt, and somehow the phrase, “it’s not all about the money” sneaked into his speech about three times. It was hard for me to see how it was related because it was hard for me to listen to him at all.

The reading(first and only) and the responsorial psalm went passably, in that they weren’t mentally scarring. The Gospel was from Mark, and it was a good reading. The mass really sterted to go awry at the beginning of the homily.

Fr. Werth seems to be one of those types who likes to give bits of his homily at ALL times of the Mass, not just after the Gospel!  Isn’t this great.  By the way, today’s reading was the Gadarene demoniac, who was possessed by a legion of demons, but then Jesus chased the demons out of the man and into the pigs and then chased the pigs into the sea.  It was awesome. Talk about badass Bible!

Father began by discussing the importance of Catholic schools, which is a good thing, since it seems like our diocese doesn’t really seem to get that. He didn’t talk about the fact that they needed to stay open, though. He spent quite a lot of time praising Aquinas and nazareth for being such good schools and then began discussing his opinions on money. The phrase, “It’s not all about the money” was most of the next part as he said it, then muttered some point about how parents work hard to keep kids in school (which is true), uttered the phrase again, said something else that didn’t really seem related, then shouted the phrase a few more times.

Yeah, I have to say–telling us it’s not all about the money is like saying, “Don’t think of purple elephants.”  We’re students!  The better majority of us listen idly to our parents tell us just how expensive our school is and then move on with life.  (Sorry, Mom.)  The Gospel was about a guy who was POSSESSED.  He had a legion of demons inside him!  And then Jesus kicked all their butts!  How much cooler do you get??  That was the perfect opportunity to sell a totally amazing “Church Militant” homily which glorifies Jesus as a sort of superhero! (I mean, there were tons of little kids there and I think they’d find that story just really, really awesome.)

Somewhere in the homiliy Father Werth stopped talking about schools and started talking about weather. He was annoyed, he said, that people care so much about weather when it doesn’t really matter. At this point I was on the verge of hysterical laughter and had to struggle to maintain silence.

The rest of the homily was him again screaming, “It’s not all about the money” a few hundred times more for good measure and then saying some other stuff. One of these other things was him talking about how Jesus is such a crucial part of our life that he should be the answer to everything. He then began asking everyday questions and encouraging the congregation to respond with, ‘Jesus!’. It went as follows (With FW ans the priest and C as the congregation):

FW: What’s up?
C: Jesus!
FW: How’s it going?
C: Jesus!
FW: What’s the weather like?
C: Jesus!
FW: How are you?
C: Jesus!

…I’m not going to comment a lot on this.  I was trying to stay patient by this point in time.  Any sense of reverence had totally disappeared, and the homily turned the Sacrifice into a talk show. >.<

There were more casual questions that made no sense with the answer as Jesus, but I think the point is there.
He then went on to give five questions that people should be asking themselves daily. I don’t remember exactly what they were, but I can assure you that they were cheesy things such as, ‘How do I see the world differently?” and “Who is in heaven that I should be looking to?” [Both the answers were, of course, Jesus.]

Eventually, the homily ended and after some other, less significantly painful parts of mass, we arrived at the Eucharistic Prayer. During this prayer, the Father would change the words at will, both to change the meaning and to remind everyone of his homily. There were, in the end, maybe two or three sentences of the prayer that were completely unchanged, if that.

Which makes me wonder, was it a legitimate Mass?  He prolonged the words of the Consecration and did two elevations of each the Host and of the chalice–first at the Secret (and waved each the Host and the chalice all the way around the gym) and then at the words of consecration, where they are supposed to be.  The only difference was that at the first elevation, he held the host flat, and at the second, he held it up at the words of “this is my Body.”  If you make it up as you go along, you have destroyed the point of the Sacrifice!  I really, really don’t know if this Mass was legitimate.

The Communion song was, “Lean on Me, ” and I still have no idea how that is a church song. After that song was the song, “Seasons of Love,” which was apparently from the musical Rent. It made me ashamed of the Aquinas choir, because usually they’re pretty okay with at least singing fairly religious songs. Their voices were amazing, but, again, I failed to see how it was related to anything else.

After the usual dull “Post communion reflection” and prayers was the graduation of one of the Chinese exchange students, Joyce, and it went acceptably. Once that was over, however, the mass again became awful as the little dancers gathered again, dancing to the song, “I Send You Out,” which is one of those songs upon which dissertations could be written about how awful it is.

In short, the mass was terrible. None of the elements tied together, the homily made absolutely no sense, and the words were changed for all of it. I don’t feel “churched,” and I don’t think anyone else does either,

Oh yes.  Rent. Let’s do, as a song in MASS, a musical song from a musical about sleeping around.  Lovely. I have nothing against the song itself!  “Seasons of Love” is a fine song, for a Broadway show, and the choir sounds downright flat-out amazing.  But this isn’t a concert, it’s a solemn sacrifice.  Would anyone have known this?  Not at all.

Thank you for reading this, if you made it all the way to the bottom.  If you have any issues with me personally, email me: ink@cleansingfire.org.  Otherwise, comment.  And pray for Aquinas, and for Nazareth.  Pray for deliverance from the insanity, and pray that God gets the respect He is due.  Just once… please.

So Long As They’re Entertained

January 14th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

Another one of the bishop’s youth Masses…

…another Broadway musical.

Your Typical Bishop Clark Children’s Mass

January 4th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

A reader sends along the following video clip from a children’s Mass presided over by Bishop Clark.

Does there always need to be a song and/or dance routine during Bishop Clark’s Masses? Is the Holy Mass some kind of theatrical play where the objective is to keep everyone in the audience entertained in order to garner positive reviews?

The reader also sends an image of the children carrying in the altar linens before placing it upon the altar. How many times have we seen this goofy ritual in Bishop Clark Masses?

Enough with the theatrics. Just celebrate the Mass and cut out this unnecessary feel-good garbage. Most importantly, progressives, stop using children to carry out your liturgical abuses.

Maybe Rochester Should Rethink Liturgical Dance?

October 13th, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

From Zenit c/o Rorate Caeli:

“Sudanese Cardinal Survives Assassination Attempt

The Catholic Information Service for Africa (CISA) reported today that during a Mass held at the Comboni playground in Khartoum, marking the anniversary of the 1881 death of St. Daniele Comboni, a man with a dagger posed as liturgical dancer and managed to come within a few steps of Archbishop Gabriel Cardinal Zubeir Wako.”

Ray Grosswirth – Man, He’s Got Some Good Moves!

October 4th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

It’s been a while since I’ve made a light-hearted video for you all, so here’s something I think you’ll all like. It’s our favorite “married priest from Rochester, NY” in a dance remix video. Oh yes. Brace yourselves.

AQ/Naz Mass

September 29th, 2010, Promulgated by Ink

Mass today was… interesting, to say the least.  I think I need to be cleansed… heheh, guess I write for the right site then, hmm? =P

This post sums up what Mass was like… very, very well, in fact.  I’ll go through some of it and add my comments in purple.

After my homeroom finally discovered where we were supposed to sit, I started to look around. I glanced at a group of girls wearing sleeveless (but high-collared), short, sparkly peach dresses, and i got a sinking feeling that they would dance. And dance they did. During the opening hymn, the girls (and one boy who was wearing a blue t-shirt and black pants) they couldn’t even make him match the girls! started slowly walking through the isle of Nazareth students, their arms in front of them as if they were zombies. once they reached the front, they stood in a formation and moved oddly in something I would not consider a dance in any context. While they moved, a teacher, presumably the Nazareth music teacher, was standing at a microphone, rocking back and forth and bouncing up and down with a guitar, singing. It was acoustic–were it electric, I just might have walked out right then and there. There was also a teacher (whom I’d heard was a Spanish teacher) on drums. The entire thing looked terribly un-Catholic, and I found myself rather glad that the mass was in the gym – I didn’t want to have bad associations of the Auditorium and I would never wish that on a church. It was like Port-A-Sacred-Heart-Cathedral.

That’s just part of it.  This whole so-called “Mass” was enough for me to end up in tears shortly afterward.  I can call the experience nothing short of outright traumatizing.

Also, a note on the bishop’s homily on angels (which was really about how we should be like angels to others–not really about angels at all but about the community present): it felt weak and nonmotivational, and to be honest… after Fr. Bonsignore’s homily on angels at High Mass on Sunday, I don’t think anyone can top it.

Sage Advice From Fr. Z

September 26th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

“We should treat our sacred spaces with the respect they require,

for our own sake and that of children who learn about the sacred through our choices.”

– Fr. Z