Friday, February 29, 2008


The Catholic Caveman made a really good point... If one should endure a Clinton campaign ad, the ad should at least be believable. Here was his result:

So, I figured, if he can get away with posting that, then I can tell you about the conversation I had with my wife yesterday afternoon on the way home from the doctor's office. You see, we too got talking about the Clintons, and how Hillary is looking more and more masculine. My wife said, "Gee, I wonder who's wearing the pants in that family?" I replied, "Well, it sure as hell ain't Bill. He's always DROPPING his!"

The extent of my political humor for February.


You Belong in the USA


People either love you or hate you

And you really don't care what anyone thinks

Big and bold, you do things your way

What English Speaking Country Are You?

AMP (Mrs. BMP):
You Belong in Australia


Sunny, upbeat, and cute

You make the perfect surf bum

Now stop hogging the vegemite!

What English Speaking Country Are You?

RSCT to Puff the Magic Dragon, our Canadian friend who was told that she belongs in the UK.



...albeit when he's 22.

In my earlier post about my "getting back in shape, the BMP way", I briefly mentioned my son, Chris, who bowls pretty much at a PBA caliber. The only reason he hasn't joined yet is that he's working on finishing college first. Definitely the best reason one can come up with in this dad's eyes.

Anyhoo, Chris called me earlier this morning to tell me he's bowled yet ANOTHER 300 game! Woohoo! That's the THIRD 300 game he's bowled this month, and second this week!

Once he finishes school, I have this gut feeling I'll be seeing him more on ESPN than at home. :)

BMP (the proud papa)

PS: Twelve strikes - these days, is that four turkeys, or three hambones?


Yup - In the Musica Sacra message boards, we now have a thread where the "music" of Marty Haugen is compared with the "music" of David Haas. Here's my favorite comment, so far...

When I hear Haugen's "Gather Us In" or "Sing Out, Earth and Skies," I feel like I should don a toga and join a band of Druids dancing around a big rock. The music sounds laughably primitive, pagan and cold. In fact, I even played the accompaniments sometimes for entertainment. When I hear Haas, I imagine Bing or Frank singing dramatic glissandos from the G to the D on the first verse of "We Will Rise Again." Amusements at best.

What I've noticed in the "melodies" of both of these guys is the frequent use of the following line-ending cadences:
suspended 2 to 3
suspended 4 to 5
suspended 4 to 3

I agree with Dave's comment above - "Amusements at best." (Amusingly funny, that is!)


In Muro Scriptumst

As I was reading my March 2008 issue of The American Organist, my eyes fell across the short blurb in the "Pipings" column recounding an article reported by the Catholic News Service. On September 3 of last year there was an ecumentical evening prayer service at the church of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome to mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of Charles Wesley. Cardinal Walter Kaspar presided at the vespers service, saying, "...through these hymns...Roman Catholics have come to know and apprecite him." Methodist minister Rev. John Barrett also took part in the service. Here's a direct quote from the TAO article, which incorporates quotes from Rev. Barrett:

But unfortunately today, even in Methodist congregations, his (Charels Wesley's) hymns are increasingly replaced by "praise hymns long on emotion but short on theology." The Rev. Barrett, commenting in an interview following the service, said he believes too many Chrsitians of all denominations are turning to "easy, undemanding worship songs."

So, I'm confused. It seems that if one is in Rome, one sees what the problems are and speaks openly about them. However, the farther one gets from the Eternal City, the thicker the scabs on the eyes become, and the cozier it feels for the head to be buried in the sand -- I'm not talking necessarily about music directors here, who so frequently see the writing on the wall, read it off to their pastors and find themselves scraping together uneaten pizza rinds behind Deano's the next day. More and more being a pastoral musician means being a pastoral yes-man: "Yes Father, let us embark on a new campaign of liturigcal abuse and scorn the Church's music tradition." It makes no sense to me how a clerical spine can regress in such resplent Darwinian fashion into amorphous jelly as soon as its black-cassocked owner skims the Papal comments and edicts. We see here the common notion that we have a Pope in Rome who mumbles instructions from the throne of Peter into a paper bag. He's great to watch on TV, and pro forma, we publically support him, but really what he has to say is nothing more than suggestion. We choose to take it or leave it -- and since the old fart sits beneath his gilt murals thousands of miles away, we can just leave it.


The Reverend Scooby Doo and the Paschal Mystery Machine

The self-ordained "Reverend" Scooby Doo and his "conversion van".

The van in question. I've seen so many like this. Usually if they go to any Mass, it's the folk Mass. You'd expect people who stereotypically sport that "John and Yoko" look. Don't forget the peace signs, man.

One can just imagine what's really in that thurible.

OK - all that joking aside: the real scoop is here. If this intelligence stays out of Holy Mass, then that's good. God only knows we don't need another 60's/70's accident. That eventually left us stuck with the musical ditties we're stuck with today (that many of us are STILL trying to cleanse the church from).

RSCT to The Crescat.

Oh, and back to the original mood in my post, Gerald's latest hit song is playing on the radio right now:

Imagine there's no lib'rals,
it's something you should try
No Gather and no drumsticks
That make you wanna cry
Imagine all the lib'rals
Put the guitars down

Imagine there's no Haugen
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to gag or sneer at
And no Dick Vosko too
Imagine all the Catholics
Living life with taste

You may say that I'm a meanie
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the crap will all be gone

MM mmm MM MM mmm

Imagine no zen gardens
I wonder if you dare
No need for maze or Gaia
And churches aren't bare
Imagine all the churches
Sparing us this pain

You may say that I'm a meanie
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the crap will all be gone

Peace (not that "hippie peace")

Thursday, February 28, 2008


I'd be taking a hit financially to start, but if this develops right, it could get better. Here's the situation...

Small church in a hick town in the Fall River Diocese, will soon merge with the other Catholic parish in the opposite side of town. All operations will (as far as I can gather) move to the parish I'm looking into as a result.

The parish has no choir, but they will eventually want one developed - probably after summer break at this point. It seems to me they want someone who 1) can develop a music program from scratch (this would NOT be a first for me, and to me it's often better than walking into something already established), 2) can play the organ like an organ (immediate need), and 3) appreciates the Roman Catholic tradition. As for #3, if they're looking to build from scratch, one can HOPE that their definition of appreciation of the Roman Catholic tradition means make full use of it.

The position for now would be part time, paying about half of what I was getting at the ghosthouse, but could become full time, so I'm told. At this point, being out of work for over three freakin' months now, I'm fixing to send this resume and see what happens. If I do get the job, I feel I should take it at least until something full time comes along. It would keep me in practice and get some income into the house other than substitute work.

With the Mass schedule, I'd still be at liberty to keep my extraordinary form duties at St. Leo's.

Finally, the pew book, I just learned, is Heritage Missal, which, believe me, I can work around. If I can work around a Music Issue, I can do Heritage Missal.

Wish me luck. :)


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Our Lady's Crown And Other Things Perched Perky

I absolutely adore watching people -- especially when they are forced to maintain good Southern decorum in socially adverse situations. As I have observed over the years, there’s a good dose of Jonathan Edwards threaded into the DNA of almost every American, even the staunchest and proudest Roman Catholic (although he may never admit it publicly). A bit of religious repression goes a long way to make an ordinary scrape with the bizarre an extraordinarily delectable dish for a hungry cynic. These sorts of occurrences seem to follow me, and I love it when I am awarded the treat of being accompanied into them by others, and more so if those others suffer under the subconscious influence of the “beaning preacher”. Life is so rich and wonderful and brings us such marvelous opportunities for humor. The following happened last fall when I was still at Fatima Church, Lafayette:

The parish secretary, and I had to make a quick trip to the UPS store one morning. She had been charged with returning to the workshop the metal crown that had sat atop a religious statue. The crown had been crushed in the shipping crate on its way from Portugal to South Louisiana. Actually, it had been flattened,. I needed to return an unused psalter to St. John's Abbey, since it was not the sort of thing I could use. When we entered the store, we filled out our shipping labels and stood in line. A curious object in the packaging area caught my eye. It was some sort of African artwork: a pair of narrow, life-sized legs stained jet black standing on miniature feet, attached to calves at precise right angles. Around the waist was hung a grass skirt to ensure modesty. The secretary didn't see the legs standing sans torso, as she was preoccupied with her little box.
We stood in line for at least 30 minutes waiting as the slowest UPS workers in Christendom worked at a snail's pace to fetch boxes, take measurements, muddle up the packing tape from the dispenser, search for mailing labels and forms. This store must have had a valium automat in the back for the employees' use: everyone donning a UPS uniform behind the counter moved in slow motion. Three clerks were partially operational: ours, Mr. Henri, Miss Charlene in line 2 opposite us and an assistant whose name tag was hanging reversed around her neck from a brown UPS lanyard. Our line grew and stretched ultimately from counter to door. All the while a man maybe 5 feet tall was negotiating with Charlene. To pass the time, bored as we were, we curiously watched the diminutive customer standing directly opposite us, as he dealt with his intriguing postage dilemma. He wore a black straw fedora, form-fitting t-shirt, jeans, and industrial strength shit kickers. He explained to the clerk, "I just need to know how much it would cost to send the sculpture, say, to Alaska. I'm selling it for my girlfriend on eBay." It was delightfully edifying how this generous and thoughtful fellow was spending his morning in a UPS store on behalf of an obviously too-busy girlfriend to check the postage on a life-sized wooded carving of African origin.
The rest of the item was out of sight, over among packing boxes and Styrofoam peanuts. The legs had been weighed before our arrival. They had caught our attention, but only briefly. Valium-toxic Charlene instructed the art dealer-boyfriend that he had the choice of packaging the legs and arms in their own box, suggesting the torso, massive as it was, could easily fit into its own container. "Torso," I thought, “in its own box.” Without a context, this conversation was deliciously macabre. Indeed we weren't prepared for what happened next. "Let me weight the torso and give you a price," instructed dozy Charlene. Reversed nametag girl had been assisting her in the figuring of prices for legs, arms and torso, manipulating the wooden African body parts as if to say, "I think I should respect this more than I do". Charlene inhaled deeply and heaved the torso from the packing table and lunged with it toward the scales. She plopped the wooden half-human onto the weighing platform. Like studied dancers in a chorus line, the queued up customers in front of us turned to face the wall away from Charlene’s business. At this moment, scanning the display area for what they didn’t really need in the line of envelopes and mailers was a safer option than continuing to observe the sculpture autopsy across the room. I wasn’t faint of heart. I looked on with impassioned glee. Encouraged by my heroism, Renella too kept her eyes fixed on the scales.
The head of the thing had been covered with a thick, clear plastic bag, positioned there by the assistant, as Charlene later would inform her customer, "to protect it." The torso was approximately 4 feet in length. The face was dramatic but rather demonic, its wild coconut hair visible through the plastic bag. On the bottom of the torso there was a wide wooden peg extending about 6 inches. The peg would fit into the figure's waist to connect it firmly to the pair of boney legs. I turned to look at Renella. She was trying so much to conceal her natural laughter, that her face was as rigid as the carving on the scales. Tears flowed down her cheeks. Her shoulders trembled. Henri was slow as ever, meticulously untangling his tape, which he always seemed to make fold over onto itself. Waiting was torture. The torso, you see, with its contorted, frightful expression and twisted Tony-perm-gone-utterly-wrong, boasted a set of enormous breasts protruding like cantaloupe halves from the ribcage, or thus reclined, like the two great humps of a dromedary (but without a perky saddle in between fashioned for a stoic desert-cruising Arab). Each hemisphere was adorned by a hard, wooden nipple the circumference of a ping-pong ball, yet sharpened into a crude cone, like the cupola atop the great dome of St. Peter's or a dollop of cream atop June Cleaver’s molded ribbon salad. The fact that both the secretary and I were returning religious objects didn't help matters. The man received his price: only a little over $100.00. Not bad to ship a corpse, dismembered as it was, in two crates. When we were out in the open I had regretted not having interrupted the packaging proceedings to inquire whether the breasts could be detached like the other extruding parts. Perhaps that could have made the torso crate a few pounds lighter.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


OK - most women that I've known over the years love to watch soap operas (or as the ladies called them way back when, "my stories"). My wife, on the other hand, is an exception. She's more of the movie buff.

Me - well, I'm a guy, but...
For most of my 40-some years, I've always loved and still love game shows. Amongst my favorites were Family Feud, Celebrity Sweepstakes (how many remember that one?), Password (one of my all time favorites in the 70's), Match Game, Jeopardy (remember the old NBC version with Art Fleming?), and (how many remember this one?) the Who, What, and Where Game.

I especially love the game shows that bring out the true dips**t in people. I've recently subscribed to a channel on YouTube which features some of the stupidest answers and funniest bloopers that you'll ever see on a game show. Many of these include Family Feud, Newleywed Game, Match Game, Wheel of Fortune (one can only imagine how many people I've called a dips**t on that show), and the many species of Pyramid ($10,000, $25,000, $100,000, etc.). Here's one video clip just to show you what I'm talking about. I'm speculating (and Jason will probably agree) that some of these people eventually grew up to be liturgeists.



Paula at As We Wait in Joyful Hope, a parishioner at Jason's old stomping grounds, wrote a very flattering review of...

What was so fun was listening to Brian talk! He accent is so different from I normally hear around here and he has such a nice singing voice. He has a wonderful tone to his voice (just call me Paula Abdul!). Not only that, but it was fun listening to some of the different chants that can be used at Mass. Thanks for giving me something nice and informative to listen to while doing that darn ole exercise! I use any excuse to get out of it, but with the podcast, I just kept walking the track till it was over...30 minutes and done!

WOW! A wonderful tone to my voice??? Not bad considering it's the SAME voice that supposedly pissed off a lot of people in my last parish. HA! (just kidding)

Thanks much for your kind words.

"Reverend Father, make our intellects less than yours"

Susan Jacoby wrote an excellent article entitled The Dumbing of America. The piece appeared in the February 17th edition of The Washington Post. Here is the article with my own comments in italics. If you would like the read the entire article, it is available at the website of the Washington Post. Kudos to Susan Jacoby for hitting the nail on the head, and especially for fearlessly stating the truth. I provide my comments in regard to the Church. Indeed the dumbing-down can be witnessed not only in everyday life, but especially with the Church. Note the context of my comments. I commend and applaud those who do much for education and who foster knowledge, but sadly, as Ms. Jacoby points out, these are in the minority. Why does the call to excellence go ignored in so many places?

The mind of this country, taught to aim at low objects, eats upon itself." Ralph Waldo Emerson offered that observation in 1837, but his words echo with painful prescience in today's very different United States. Americans are in serious intellectual trouble -- in danger of losing our hard-won cultural capital to a virulent mixture of anti-intellectualism, anti-rationalism and low expectations.
Let’s cite some examples: cantors who are forced to sing not only the items assigned to them by the GIRM, but also everything else generally assigned to the choir or the congregation; The notion that the choir is present only to “lead” congregational singing; The discarding of traditional choral repertoire and Gregorian chant in favor of “congregational song” (known in most places as cantor song); The failure to use the Latin language in the Latin rite, because “the people don’t understand it”.

This is the last subject that any candidate would dare raise on the long and winding road to the White House. It is almost impossible to talk about the manner in which public ignorance contributes to grave national problems without being labeled an "elitist," one of the most powerful pejoratives that can be applied to anyone aspiring to high office. Instead, our politicians repeatedly assure Americans that they are just "folks," a patronizing term that you will search for in vain in important presidential speeches before 1980. (Just imagine: "We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain . . . and that government of the folks, by the folks, for the folks, shall not perish from the earth.") Such exaltations of ordinariness are among the distinguishing traits of anti-intellectualism in any era.
Here we have the idea that the “song leader” needs to be from “people”. Trained professionals have oftentimes no place in the church and are indeed seen as arrogant or “elitists”, because the music they have studied and teach is considered “high brow” or “out of reach” of the congregation’s intellect – a successful dumbing-down campaign headed by priests and liturgists alike. In many cases, it’s easier to ditch the professionals and hire a drone because 1) it’s cheaper (minimum skills, minimum pay) and 2) it saves time in having to re-educate the faithful who have been brainwashed for 40 years that what is traditional is moribund and of no use in the “modern” Church, despite the instruction which comes almost daily from Rome and which has been written in the documents of the Second Vatican Council. Knowledge is power, as they say, and an empowered laity in the eyes of a self-conscious, low-esteemed Roman clergy is an intimidating threat to a self-serving sense of authority. Crowd control is easier if the “Big Kahuna” is the only one allowed to think (or to be perceived as a thinker). Read George Orwell’s Animal Farm for an expanded explanation of this topic. My musing: with this line of thinking, why haven’t the Roman Catholic icon writers embraced Stalinist Social Realism in their iconography? Wouldn’t that more accurately express the spirit of the pervasive ecclesial world view?

The classic work on this subject by Columbia University historian Richard Hofstadter, "Anti-Intellectualism in American Life," was published in early 1963, between the anti-communist crusades of the McCarthy era and the social convulsions of the late 1960s. Hofstadter saw American anti-intellectualism as a basically cyclical phenomenon that often manifested itself as the dark side of the country's democratic impulses in religion and education. But today's brand of anti-intellectualism is less a cycle than a flood. If Hofstadter (who died of leukemia in 1970 at age 54) had lived long enough to write a modern-day sequel, he would have found that our era of 24/7 infotainment has outstripped his most apocalyptic predictions about the future of American culture.
When did the Second Vatican Council close? And what was that buzz word? Antiestablishment? The catty commentator said, “The hippie bus has left the Church parking lot” But has it really?

Dumbness, to paraphrase the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, has been steadily defined downward for several decades, by a combination of heretofore irresistible forces. These include the triumph of video culture over print culture (and by video, I mean every form of digital media, as well as older electronic ones); a disjunction between Americans' rising level of formal education and their shaky grasp of basic geography, science and history; and the fusion of anti-rationalism with anti-intellectualism.
How easy it is to dismiss Church tradition in such an atmosphere: “I think on your behalf, since you don’t know and are not allowed to know.” Re-define what history is, what tradition is, what the documents say (since the faithful shouldn’t really read them – woe on him who does and speaks up!), and the result is indeed a new Church, twisted and contorted to the whims of low-rung clergy and to the detriment of the faithful who blindly follow their shepherds like good Romans: all we like sheep have gone astray! Have we not learned that if the man dons a black cassock, this doesn’t necessarily mean he has the good of the faithful at heart de facto (my apologies for that elitist use of Latin). The priesthood is no handy and convenient refuge for the asocial, an instant character sanitizer which can transform even the basest letch into model of piety. One doesn’t measure piety by how loud he clacks his Rosary beads or from how long he can gaze upon a monstrance luna.

First and foremost among the vectors of the new anti-intellectualism is video. The decline of book, newspaper and magazine reading is by now an old story. The drop-off is most pronounced among the young, but it continues to accelerate and afflict Americans of all ages and education levels.
Who needs hymnals and missals? Let’s erect video screens in church! Bishops letters read aloud? No more. Let’s have a CD and to show us our good bishop.

Reading has declined not only among the poorly educated, according to a report last year by the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1982, 82 percent of college graduates read novels or poems for pleasure; two decades later, only 67 percent did. And more than 40 percent of Americans under 44 did not read a single book -- fiction or nonfiction -- over the course of a year. The proportion of 17-year-olds who read nothing (unless required to do so for school) more than doubled between 1984 and 2004. This time period, of course, encompasses the rise of personal computers, Web surfing and video games.
Church documents must be read. As far as I know, the materials of the Second Vatican Council (and the writings from other councils for that matter) haven’t been made into movies yet. If no one reads, no one learns. Again: knowledge is power.

Does all this matter? Technophiles pooh-pooh jeremiads about the end of print culture as the navel-gazing of (what else?) elitists. In his book "Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter," the science writer Steven Johnson assures us that we have nothing to worry about. Sure, parents may see their "vibrant and active children gazing silently, mouths agape, at the screen." But these zombie-like characteristics "are not signs of mental atrophy. They're signs of focus." Balderdash. The real question is what toddlers are screening out, not what they are focusing on, while they sit mesmerized by videos they have seen dozens of times.
Navel-gazing is a good description. To those who have been told that polyphony and chant, and choral repertoire organically and historically linked to both have no use in the Church, fossils from the past, the study of the same is indeed nothing more than navel-gazing. It’s something like visiting the bones of dinosaurs in a museum. It’s too difficult for the “people” to sing, it’s old and doesn’t sound like Hannah Montana, so it has no spiritual use. What we need today is a church that’s more like the world. The next step: remove God from the Church as well so we can achieve a complete secularization of the Church and make everyone feel welcome! And the Church dares speak out against Philip Pullman’s Golden Compass? It’s a mirror! Take a good hard look! Somehow today the concept of “killing God” doesn’t seem so odd.

…I cannot prove that reading for hours in a treehouse (which is what I was doing when I was 13) creates more informed citizens than hammering away at a Microsoft Xbox or obsessing about Facebook profiles. But the inability to concentrate for long periods of time -- as distinct from brief reading hits for information on the Web -- seems to me intimately related to the inability of the public to remember even recent news events. It is not surprising, for example, that less has been heard from the presidential candidates about the Iraq war in the later stages of the primary campaign than in the earlier ones, simply because there have been fewer video reports of violence in Iraq. Candidates, like voters, emphasize the latest news, not necessarily the most important news.
Let’s omit the Credo, speak the Gradual, shorten the procession, keep the chalice from the faithful, silence the chant scholas, scorn the orchestral Masses. All that makes Mass last longer than an hour. And how long was the Super Bowl broadcast?

…The shrinking public attention span fostered by video is closely tied to the second important anti-intellectual force in American culture: the erosion of general knowledge.
Religious education departments: this means you! Why haven’t you been teaching? I always have said I learned more about Roman Catholicism as a Lutheran child in Sunday School than I’ve ever learned sitting and waiting for Holy Spirit discernment in a Roman Ed class. Learn from the Protestants here: you have to teach the people what they need to know. Stop sending them on retreat after retreat, expecting them to sit and channel the Holy Spirit. If that approach really had any merit, the channeling of knowledge through prayer, I would have been a wizard in chemistry back in high school – if only I had known, that all I had to do was to meditate upon the textbook and pray!

…That leads us to the third and final factor behind the new American dumbness: not lack of knowledge per se but arrogance about that lack of knowledge. The problem is not just the things we do not know (consider the one in five American adults who, according to the National Science Foundation, thinks the sun revolves around the Earth); it's the alarming number of Americans who have smugly concluded that they do not need to know such things in the first place. Call this anti-rationalism -- a syndrome that is particularly dangerous to our public institutions and discourse. Not knowing a foreign language or the location of an important country is a manifestation of ignorance; denying that such knowledge matters is pure anti-rationalism. The toxic brew of anti-rationalism and ignorance hurts discussions of U.S. public policy on topics from health care to taxation.
Why use Latin in the Latin Rite? Why be forced to listen to a sermon lasting longer than 3 minutes? Why listen to choral motets? Why learn about the Church ourselves when the priest tells us what we need to know? If the King James Bible was good enough for St. Paul, why, it’s good enough for me! Drink the fruit punch! Wake up, folks: knowledge is power. And people actually believe it when they get emails from Nigeria informing them they’ve won some African lottery? Why, of course they must be winners, naturally.

There is no quick cure for this epidemic of arrogant anti-rationalism and anti-intellectualism; rote efforts to raise standardized test scores by stuffing students with specific answers to specific questions on specific tests will not do the job. Moreover, the people who exemplify the problem are usually oblivious to it. ("Hardly anyone believes himself to be against thought and culture," Hofstadter noted.) It is past time for a serious national discussion about whether, as a nation, we truly value intellect and rationality. If this indeed turns out to be a "change election," the low level of discourse in a country with a mind taught to aim at low objects ought to be the first item on the change agenda.
Of course it’s all no one’s fault. Five witnesses stand around a murdered corpse. No one saw a thing...


The new church of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in LaCrosse, WI, is almost done. This is Duncan Stoik at his best. I mean - the Dunc does marvelous work anyways (he's the exact opposite of Dick Vosko when it comes to church architecture), but this tops all!

RSCT to Matthew at NLM.

Baldacchino detail - gorgeous!

View of the sanctuary - so far.

And quite the nice pipe organ - in a loft and not on a stage! Perfect! Anyone have info on the builder? Specs?

I like it! I like it!

Old Fashioned Catholic Boys' School, baby!

You paid attention during 97% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz


RSCT to Fr. Erik.

Report: Elmo Doll Threatens to Kill Toddler

Friday, February 22, 2008 - AP - Elmo has a dark side, one Florida family says.It sounds like something the talking doll Chucky from the movies might say: "Kill James!" Instead, a Florida family says the threat to their toddler is coming from a talking Elmo doll.

The Bowman family, of Lithia, Fla., said an Elmo doll belonging to their 2-year-old son, James, began to spout death threats towards him after they changed its batteries, reports.

The Elmo Knows Your Name Doll started saying "Kill James!" in a sing-song voice, the site reports."It's not something that really you would think would ever come out of a toy," James' mother, Melissa, told the site. "But once I heard, I was just kind of distraught.

"The toy's manufacturer, Fisher-Price, said it will issue the Bowmans a voucher for a replacement doll, reports.

WOW! BTW, if you scroll down far enough on the sidebar, you can find more dirt on Elmo. Look for the "Terror Alert" with a picture of Ernie and Bert. When you click on it, you get to this site which explains Ernie and Bert alerts...

Ernie (orange alert): all commercial flights
Bert (yellow or "amber" alert): everything else

Ironically, the "safest muppet" in these alerts is Oscar (green), followed by the Cookie Monster (blue), Bert (yellow), Ernie (orange), and finally the muppet devil himself, Elmo (red).

Fr. Erik parts from his post with this:
Forget Teletubbies, this is the face of pre-school evil.

To me, Barney was the one that pissed me off. Him and his touchy-feely motif and "Aw, that's okayyyyyyyyyyyy". At least the Teletubbies told it like it is - "Uh ohhhhhhhh!" Yeah, I know - the whole Tinky Winky thing, him wearing the ballet skirt and carrying a handbag in a few scenes, I know. Dipsy and Po were my favorites.

Ma Beck clarifies in Father's combox:
"I was kind of distraught."
What an idiot.
Like I wrote on my blog, this doll DOES NOT sound EVEN REMOTELY like it's saying "Kill Kevin."
It sounds like it's trying to say "Hello, Kevin" (the doll is hooked up to a computer to learn your child's name, etc.) and the "o" part is missing.
This woman should be embarrassed to be such a doofus.
And she should be embarrassed that she bought her kid so many Elmo dolls.
The video from CNN showed her living room and there were no less than 15 Elmo dolls.
For. her. son.

OK, I must admit, I really thought at first that someone pulled a prank on the assembly line and it somehow got past quality control.



Got this from Matthew at Holy Whapping.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Let's see...

You paid attention during 69% of high school!

68-84% Pretty good, you know that there are libraries and newspapers, and you remember what you've read. You were a child that wasn't left behind!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

RSCT to Domini Sumus, who scored 97%. WOW!

Well, at least I got to remember some stuff. Of course, in many high schools, 69 is a D. At the high school I grad-ji-ated from, a 69 was an F (70 was D, then 71-73 a C-). I guess I haven't totally suffered CRAFT (Can't Remember A Freakin' Thing).



Tuesday, February 25, 2008 / 7 PM
St. Pius V Church, Providence, RI

Tomorrow night I'm filling in for another good friend of mine, Reuel Gifford. Some may remember Reuel from posts around the Christmas seasons of 2005-06 and 2006-07, as he was my accompanist for a couple of concerts we did at the ghosthouse.

Anyhoo, tomorrow is day three of a parish mission going on at St. Pius V Church, a parish staffed by the Dominican Fathers just blocks from Providence College (also chocked full of Dominicans). This is the "reconciliation" portion of the mission.

Here's the music list:

Attende, Domine...Mode V (Latin antiphon; English verses)
Remember your mercies, O Lord...Joncas/Gelineau
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ...Schoen
Instrumental music during confessions (I haven't "prepared" any yet. Usually, since you never know how many people are going to come, I tend to do a lot of improvs and ad libs and just milk the daylights out of them. Talk about penance! snark snark!)
There's a wideness in God's mercy...In Babilone


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Of dirty cars, evil Christians, and bulldogs

This Saturday afternoon, I decided is was high time to wash the car. The rear bumper of my automobile had escaped those unseen vandalizing fingers who revel in scribbling little reminders to car owners what they should do the next time there’s a spare minute: “wash me”. I opened the garage door, backed the car out onto the driveway, uncurled the hose, and prepared my car soap in the green plastic mop bucket. As I finished scrubbing the fourth wheel rim, I found myself singing the tune KIRKEN DEN ER (remember, I’m a musician hypergeek, so I’m prone to random acts of singing). My singing attracted a little boy who was practicing his bike-riding in the alley between the houses, into which lead the my driveway and those of my neighbors on either side of my house and of those behind. The little chap was being followed by a miniature blond bulldog name Ellie. By then, I was drying off my car to avoid water spots. Ellie and I had been acquainted last weekend as she wandered through my open courtyard gate while I was pruning my rose bushes. She announced herself with a soprano bark, and I answered her with a baritone “go home!” Today, she just walked up and sniffed. The boy was right behind and began to talk, explaining what he was doing, riding back and forth up and down the alleyway. He revealed his usual route when things got a bit boring: he would strike a looping path through the alley, or curve up onto the driveways one by one until he reached the end of his course. He confessed that he sometimes fell off his bicycle. I was interested in what he had to say, and I shared that I too had, as have done all of us, fallen off a bicycle when I was a kid – for me, into an ant hill in Florida, where my father taught me how to ride. My family vacationed there each summer, and that was where I received my first bicycle. The boy was pleasant and his dog enjoyed the visit too. Soon, I told him that I was finished with my work and that I would now pull my car back into the garage. He understood that this meant that I was going in and would be leaving him to his practice. When the garage door closed, I thought of my singing and how naturally the little boy had come over and started talking. He had undoubtedly seen me in the neighborhood before, but we had never officially met. Outgoing little guy, I thought. Then I remembered a saying that I had learned probably about when I was his age, maybe 6 or 7: “Wo man singt, da liegt man ruhig nieder. Böse Menschen haben keine Lieder.” It has no rhyme in English: “Wherever there’s someone singing, one can rest safely there. Evil people have no songs.” I like that saying, and I believe it to be true. Lately, as one might imagine, I’ve come across a few people who have no songs – in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever really heard them sing. The saying does hold true. On the other hand, very recently I’ve also found a majority of persons who love music and who love to sing. In their cases, the saying also holds true. Regarding the former, we can only rely upon Holy Scripture which reminds us that someday, the “tongue of the dumb will sing!” (That is, unless they through their lifetime decisions have dedicated their souls eternally to wailing and gnashing of teeth). Let me share with you the hymn I was singing this afternoon. It also provides an image about the past month and half in Lafayette. The hymn paints bleak images of Christendom, however, there is a distinct message of hope in the constancy of the Almighty and in our assurance of His Grace and of our salvation. The old saying came up frequently at home when I was a kid, and this hymn found its way onto the hymn board at church just as frequently. Here are verses 1 and 7:

Built on the Rock the Church doth stand,
Even when steeples are falling;
Crumbled have spires in ev’ry land,
Bells still are chiming and calling,
Calling the young and old to rest,
But above all the soul distrest,
Longing for rest everlasting.

Grant, then, O God, where’er men roam,
That, when the church bells are ringing,
Many in saving faith may come
Where Christ His message is bringing:
“I know Mine own, Mine own know Me;
Ye, not the world, My face shall see,
My peace I leave with you.” Amen.


Top Ten Euphamisms for Liturgical Dance

...from the home office in Quahog, Rhode Island, where even Peter Griffin is smarter than the average liturgeist...


The rest of CVA #121 should be up and running late Sunday or sometime on Monday.



St. Mark's Church in Boise, ID has begin the implementation of (keep your barf bag handy) Liturgical Dance, where one needs not be experienced to go up looking like an idiot prancing around the sanctuary.

Like a chain letter circulates, I got this from Adrienne, who got it from Mark.

Like Adrienne, I won't comment. I'll just refer you to the clip I posted last week of an FAQ session with Francis Cardinal Arinze.


Friday, February 22, 2008


This one's from the Boston Globe. (emphasis and snarky remarks mine)

The 2008 calendar presents a rare clash between St. Patrick's Day and Holy Week, with parade organizers across the country and in some Massachusetts communities yielding to the Catholic Church. (Simply being obedient to the Church's calendar. I wouldn't call it "yielding", or "kow-tow"-ing.)

But the fiercely independent South Boston organizers of one of the nation's largest St. Patrick's Day parades say the parade will roll on during the afternoon of March 16, Palm Sunday. (Must be those VOTF types. They're always trying to change the Church.)

Chicago and Philadelphia have pushed their parades up to March 9, a week ahead of the start of Holy Week, which begins on Palm Sunday and ends a week later with Easter celebrations.

Organizers in Worcester and Holyoke also preferred not to hand Catholics a conflict, scheduling their parades for March 9 and March 29, respectively.

(The Diocese of Providence and the Archdiocese of Hartford have moved the feast to March 14, and are fixing to give dispensation from the no-meat requirement for those who celebrate St. Patrick's Day on March 14.)

But not so in Boston.

"We aren't scared to do things that aren't fitting to, say, 'peace on earth' and all that," said John "Wacko" Hurley, who organizes the parade for the Allied War Veterans of South Boston. "We all want peace, but our obligation is supporting the armed forces. So, nope, we don't have any problems with that." (So, what the hell does the armed forces have to do with creating discord with the Church? It's not like the Church killed any of our men!)

State Representative Brian Wallace, who represents South Boston, said the parade should not interfere with any church services.

The parade is set to start at 1 p.m. at the Broadway T station. By the time it passes St. Brigid Church on East Broadway, the noon Sunday Mass should be over, Wallace said. (Remember, however, we're Palm Sunday. They'll be reading the Passion, longer than any other Gospel reading during the Church year. There is also the Liturgy of the Palms at the beginning. Even if St. Brigid Church used the simple entrance option, it will STILL be longer than usual. Personally, if I was pastor of St. Brigid's, I'd use the procession option and go with a Solemn High Mass.)

Worcester parade organizers decided last year that they did not want the parade bumping into Easter or Palm Sunday, said organizer Leo Quinn.

"A good part of us are Irish Catholics, so that had some bearing on it," said Quinn, who has been involved with parade planning for about 25 years. (Smart man, that Mr. Quinn.)

This is the first year since 1940 that St. Patrick's Day will fall during Holy Week, and it won't happen again until 2160. (So just move the date this one time and be done with. Your great grandkids will probably be the next to have to deal with this. Sheesh!)

Because of Holy Week observances, no Mass in honor of St. Patrick can be held on Monday, March 17, according to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. But Roman Catholic leaders in Savannah, Ga., and Columbus, Ohio, have urged their cities to keep parades and festivals out of Holy Week altogether. (Kudos for Savannah and Columbus!)

Savannah moved its festival to Friday, March 14. Columbus parade organizers are sticking with their celebration on Monday, March 17.

Asked about the timing, the Archdiocese of Boston released a statement that kept the focus on the religious observances, avoiding the nettlesome issue.

"The archdiocese invites all of the faithful to participate in the liturgical celebrations of Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday on Sunday, March 16, and leading up to and including the Easter Sunday celebration," said Terrence C. Donilon, the archdiocesan spokesman. (Kudos to Mr. Donilon for at least pointing out the priorities.)

Boston's parade has been surrounded by controversy before. Parade organizers won a unanimous US Supreme Court ruling in 1995 that allowed it to exclude an Irish-American gay and lesbian group from marching. Mayor Thomas M. Menino refuses to march in the parade because of the organizers' exclusion of the gay group. (That's ok, Mr. Mayor. You don't have to march if you don't want to.)

Through a spokeswoman, Menino, who is (supposedly) Catholic, declined to comment on the parade's timing.

Wallace said that since the parade is the centerpiece of what has become a monthlong celebration, it is too late to consider changing the date. (Bull$&!+)

"It would just throw everything completely off," Wallace said.

Not that Hurley would have given it any thought.

"We won't be dictated to," Hurley said.

No wonder they call him "Wacko"!



OK, how do I caption this: my arse on a platter, or a new way of saying "you're fired?"
RSCT to Sir Monacle.



Lately, this blog's been booming like never before. We've already beaten January's post count, plus we're on a pace to beat February 07's post count. Our combox has been a lot busier than normal too. At one point, every fifth post would get anywhere from five to eleven comments. Now we're averaging about five per post. Thanks to all our readers, and the snark team. Keep up the awesome work! I've also found more bloggers linking us. Thanks folks!

Some of you have asked me "What happened to Nick?" Nick had to leave for reasons beyond his control. Nick did absolutely nothing wrong here. In fact, we're all still very good friends. Fear not - Nick did not leave in a hostile manner (e.g., screw ya's all, I quit!), nor did we bounce him. In fact, NONE of his posts were the type that would piss anyone off in any way. He's a great guy who does great work at his cathedral. Unless he says otherwise, I prefer to leave it at that.

Thanks again for all your support. The snark blog is here to stay!
Your Christus Vincit Snark Team

Gone With The Wind

On her blog, As We Wait In Joyful Hope, Paula she mentioned watching Gone With Wind recently, and I had commented that my favorite spoof of that movie is the one presented on the Carol Burnett Show. The best scene: scarlet in the curtain dress. Here's the video of Part II of GWTW as spoofed by Carol et al. Dinah "Mmmmmmwah" Shore plays Mellie. Great stuff:


Getting back in shape the BMP way

Went tenpin bowling last night. Yeah, the big balls, normal bowling to most of you (in many states, the ONLY bowling there is). I say that because here there are still a few duckpin houses left (not as many as in my youth). I am a big fan of candlepin bowling, which I've posted a couple of videos of in the past. However, the nearest candlepin house is a good 30-40 minute drive into Franklin, MA.

So, last night we (son Brian, daughter Brittany, wife Ann, yours truly) went to one of the tenpin houses that my son Chris works at. First time bowling with the big balls in about three years (with the exception of one tourney I bowled with Chris). My last average (as of 2004-2005) wasn't all that hot by a real bowler's standards - it was 142 (Chris, like I mentioned before, is near-PBA; he averages over a deuce in all his leagues but one). So, the first game, I was rusty to the point where I made a total jackass of myself - 89. Second game, I got better. Fifth box I finally threw my first strike (actually a double in the fifth/sixth). Finished with a 126. Finally, I got hot (by my own standards, tee hee) - a 160. So, I managed a 375 series, a score that can win you some games... well, in candlepins. But I'll take it.

Now, one must remember my duckpin/candlepin roots here when watching me bowl. I don't do those fancy "hooks" when I bowl tenpins like the pros do. I just fire a straightball like a candlepin pro would. When I do get strikes, they are LOUD. It's like opening the "sforzando" or "tutti" piston/toe stud on an organ of fifty or more ranks. They're so loud that Chris could be at the other end of the lanes saying "uh oh, my dad's here!"

Also, when I do get a double strike, I start taking bets whether or not I'm going to get a "turkey" or a "chicken". (Refer here for the definitions of both, plus that new term for a four-bagger that some ESPN scholar invented, the "hambone".) Well, I couldn't hunt down a turkey; did get three chickens, and it's been a few years since my last "hambone".

I may be doing this more often to get myself back in shape. Since Ann and I quit smoking two years ago, I've put on a good fifty pounds (that's nearly four stone for you UK readers out there). So, I think I've finally put on an exercise plan for myself.


Thursday, February 21, 2008


Sequel to this post!

Now that you've read all those bad metaphors, similies, and what not, here's one that actually comes from ESPN. Listen at about the 1:15 mark. Rhino Page at the perfect time is starting to heat up like a piece of beef at a Mongolian barbecue. I think this is the same commentator who introduced the term "hambone" when referring to four strikes in a row. (I use the term "chicken", incidentally, to refer to that "turkey", or third strike in a row, that doesn't happen - yeah, you get two in a row, then when trying for the third, you get that single pin that's like a weeble - it wobbles, but it doesn't fall down!)

BTW, Rhino Page and I are NOT related. However, my son Chris, who's dang close to being in the PBA himself (he wants to finish college first, good move), has met him.



Previous Parts:
Pars prima / Pars secunda / Pars tertia / Pars quarta / Pars quinta
Pars sexta / Pars septua / Pars octa / Pars nona / Pars decima

OK - I know it's been a while since I've blogged on Sing to the Lord, the last dirty deed of the BCL as headed by a certain Bishop Trautman. Here is, finally, the 11th installment of this series.

B. Instruments

The Human Voice

86. Of all the sounds of which human beings, created in the image and likeness of God, are capable, voice is the most privileged and fundamental. Musical instruments in the Liturgy are best understood as an extension of and support to the primary liturgical instrument, which is the human voice.

That is correct. And you'll notice, btw, nowhere in this document will you see any mention of the microphone as an aid for projection, or, in many cases, the fast track to divahood.

87. Among all other instruments which are suitable for divine worship, the organ is “accorded pride of place” because of its capacity to sustain the singing of a large gathered assembly, due to both its size and its ability to give “resonance to the fullness of human sentiments, from joy to sadness, from praise to lamentation.” Likewise, “the manifold possibilities of the organ in some way remind us of the immensity and the magnificence of God.”

But yet, you see the piano and/or guitar in use far more often to give in to the secular-minded "pop culture", instead of "separating church and state" (as I like to call it) for that one hour a week. And, for people like me looking for work, ever notice how many ads call for people proficient in "organ and piano" or "keyboard and organ". Some now even have "guitar abilities a plus". WTF? A predecessor of mine at one parish once told me the pastor who had hired him was told to "think piano" (the organ was a Hammond, probably powered by Kenmore, but they also had a piano). Some parishes have no organ (many of those probably with no intention of getting one till by some miracle the right pastor finally gets assigned), just a piano or a keyboard or synthesizer. Where is the pride of place there?

On a positive note: it is very true that the organ IS the best support of the human voice, whether it be a small group (typical parish choir in a small country church) or a very large one (choir and congregation combined in a cathedral or basilica).

88. In addition to its ability to lead and sustain congregational singing, the sound of the pipe organ is most suited for solo playing of sacred music in the Liturgy at appropriate moments. Pipe organs also play an important evangelical role in the Church’s outreach to the wider community in sacred concerts, music series, and other musical and cultural programs. For all of these reasons, the place of the organ should be taken into account from the outset in the planning process for the building or renovation of churches.

Excellent paragraph above. Not to mention Vatican II's pointing out that the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem.

89. However, from the days when the Ark of the Covenant was accompanied in procession by cymbals, harps, lyres, and trumpets, God’s people have, in various periods, used a variety of musical instruments to sing his praise. Each of these instruments, born of the culture and the traditions of a particular people, has given voice to a wide variety of forms and styles through which Christ’s faithful continue to join their voices to his perfect song of praise upon the Cross.

I don't recall a guitar being mentioned here, humstrumming folk ballads that sound like beer songs, and such. I'm not condemning ALL guitar music. I do concede that Cardinal Arinze even once said "I will not now pronounce and say never guitar; that would be rather severe." But he also mentions not the use of guitar in itself, but HOW it is used: "But much of guitar music may not be suitable at all for the Mass. Yet, it is possible to think of some guitar music that would be suitable, not as the ordinary one we get every time, [but with] the visit of a special group, etc." So, what is that "ordinary one we get every time"? Skim through a Gather hymnal, a Glory and Praise book, or a Music Issue. About 70% of the contents in each of these will give you the picture.

90. Many other instruments also enrich the celebration of the Liturgy, such as wind, stringed, or percussion instruments “according to longstanding local usage, provided they are truly apt for sacred use or can be rendered apt.”

That rules out the kazoo, your typical everyday humstrum, and the rock drum kit.

Instrumental Music

91. Although instruments are used in Christian worship primarily to lead and sustain the singing of assembly, choir, psalmist, and cantor, they may also, when appropriate, be played by themselves. Such instrumental music can assist the gathering assembly in preparing for worship in the form of a prelude. It may give voice to the sentiments of the human heart through pieces played during the Liturgy and postludes after the Liturgy. Instrumentalists are to remember that the Liturgy calls for significant periods of silent reflection. Silence need not always be filled.

Good. Also, one must remember that instrumental music should not must not be played over the spoken word, e.g., the Eucharistic Prayer, the Word of God, etc.

92. Instrumentalists are encouraged to play pieces from the treasury of sacred music by composers of various eras and cultures. In addition, those with the requisite talent and training are encouraged to improvise, as described in no. 43.

Notice they said sacred music.

Recorded Music
93. Recorded music lacks the authenticity provided by a living liturgical assembly gathered for the Sacred Liturgy. While recorded music might be used advantageously outside the Liturgy as an aid in the teaching of new music, it should not, as a general norm, be used within the Liturgy.

I feel that I can safely quote my good friend Fr. Fisette: Liturgy must always be natural. No recorded music at Mass, period. No tape recorder. No CD's. No records. No pre-recorded MIDI files generated via desktop, laptop, or the "parish synthesizer". Plain and simple. Play an instrument (preferably organ), or go a cappella.

94. Some exceptions to this principle should be noted. Recorded music may be used to
accompany the community’s song during a procession outside and, when used carefully, in
Masses with children. Occasionally, it might be used as an aid to prayer, for example, during long periods of silence in a communal celebration of reconciliation. However, recorded music
should never become a substitute for the community’s singing.

I see an excuse for abuse happening here. OK - though I've seen guitars in outdoor processions, basically because they're most portable, the most effective outdoor processions, through my experience anyways, utilize a cappella singing. As for Masses with Children, no - use an instrument. However, when children are brought to remote location (e.g., hall, conference room) for "Children's Liturgy of the Word", perhaps recordings may be appropriate, but not at Mass.

Our next installment will cover logistics.

A bit of Lafayette History

Back in 2003, great effort was expended in order to obtain relics of the Fatima visionaries Blessed Jacinta and Blessed Fransciso. The Bishop of our diocese wrote a letter in English which was then translated into Protugese to honor the local vernacular and into Latin as the official Church document in order to obtain these rarely translated relics. The petition was successful, and the relics can now be seen and venerated in Fatima Church, Lafayette. Below is the text of the offical Latin petition for the tranlsation of the relics (slivers of wood from the caskets of both children, and a splinter from the tree of aparition -- at the time, we did now know exactly what the relics would be. Although the text begs for primary relics, the rector of the shrine agreed to secondary relics). Yours truly composed the Latin text. The priest mentioned in the second half was a former associate priest at Fatima Church who was acting as the Bishop's legate. Other than clergymen, few have seen this petition or even know of its existence, but I think it is a bit of Lafayette history and is therefore of interest, as such protocols are very ancient, yet still very much current. Other than the original copy sent to Portugal, which was subsequently copied and sent to Rome, I doubt that any record or memory of the relics' history still exists at the Lafayette site where the relics are housed. I have a copy of the document, however, and am pleased to share it with you here:

Episcopo me ipso Diœcesis Lafayettiensis Louisianae Populo Dei ministrante, humiliter a te peto, ut me primi gradus reliquias potiri Beatae Iacintae et Beati Francisci adiuvares, duorum quibus imagine sui Virgo Beatissima Maria apparuerat. Has potiri et in Diœcesen Lafayettiensem reliquias transferre vellim ut eaedem in Ecclesia Dominae Nostrae Fatimae in Diœcese nostra posita ad publicum venerandum proponerentur proprio modo ut opus est secundum Codices Legum Canonicarum. Quia haec Parœcia apud primas Civitatibus in Unitis esset Nostrae Dominae sub Fatimae titulo dedicatae, quaedam reliquiae Beatae Iacintae Beatique Francisci mandatum et preces offerre et paenitentiam agere a Matre Beatissima Fatimae ad urbem relictum valdissime certissimeque dilatarent.
Reverendum Patrem Paulum Broussardum mandavi officialem meum legatum, qui reliquias percipiat easque in Diœcesen nostram transferrat. Me agente gratias, tibi alicui beneficio caritatis, quaecumque videatur optima, donum his cum litteris inclusum propter adiuvationem tuam praebeo.
Pro tuis intentionibus et quibusdam eorum, qui tua in cura congregati sunt, preces offero. Remaneo in Christo


The Sundays of Lent: Learn 'em, Live 'em, Love 'em!

When I was a kid, I learned an easy way to remember the names of the Sundays of Lent. There is a little German phrase that runs like this: In rechter Ordnung lerne Jesu Passion. "In right order learn Jesus’ passion." If you take the first letter of each word in that phrase, you get the first letter of the first word in the introit for each Lenten Sunday:

In: Invocabit

Right: Reminiscere

Order: Oculi

Learn: Laetare

Jesus’: Judica

Passion: Palmarum

You’ll notice that the last one doesn’t stand for a word in the introit, but rather describes the feast day: Dominica Palmarum, “The Sunday of Palms”. The Roman Gradual uses the description, “Dominica in Palmis”. I grew up using the term Palmarum to describe Palm Sunday. Of course these introits are the traditional ones for Lent. You’ll notice that Brian correctly informs us in the header that this week is that of Tibi dixit. In the new Roman Gradual there are now more options (compared to the Liber Usualis) regarding which texts can be used on many Sundays. For Lent II, Tibi dixit is the first choice. One may also use the traditional introit for the second Sunday, Reminiscere. This little word play has undoubtedly helped out countless students pass their Confirmation exams.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I just received an e-mail from the family of Jay Ricketts, founder of the Yahoo group Contemporary Catholic Music, as well as member of a Yahoo group I once founded, Lit-Mus-Comp, as well as author of the blog St. Cecilia Was Here, announcing Jay's death as of early this morning. My prayers and condolensces to Jay's family and friends, as well as for the repose of Jay's soul. The cause of his death was unknown at this time. He was 52.



From two sources...

First, from John, the Methodist blogger at Locusts and Honey:

Liturgical poledancing (Please don't give those Religious Mis-edumacation Congress people any more ideas!)
Communion buffet (What the hell? With all of those liturgeists who portray the Mass as merely a meal...)
Gym rope-climb to Heaven
Grand Theft Auto III: Jerusalem Stories

(Those two make for nifty new LifeTeen activities.)
Blessing of the Sharks service (from a dock above water, where it's safe, or right in the water, like live bait?)
Rant stations

Then, from the Ironic Catholic:

the Baptismal Super Soaker for kids (read her post to learn about the reality involved with this one)

I often wonder - do the liturgeists fill THOSE with rocks, twigs, and cat litter during Lent, too?


So what is sacred music?

I was browsing through the lists of old posts, and I came across this little article taken from my Fatima Church Annual Report of 2006. For those of you who wonder why I am now a substitute organist, the points I make in this article are the reasons: chiefly, my adherence to the Papal instructions regarding music in the liturgy and my ability to articulate those instructions and to put them into action. I wasn't willing to consider the Pope to be a hood ornament.

The Roman Catholic church musician is charged with the duty to present sacred texts through music which underscore lessons from Holy Scripture both to instruct the faithful and to re-orient their souls for worship of the Almighty. He also must select appropriate instrumental repertoire which fosters the same. The music of the house of God is not the music of the secular world. We allow ourselves so easily to be duped by modern culture, that in our churches there is a place for secular music and for music which imitates it. Our society teaches us that the sonorities and style of popular music should attract us all the more to worship, even worship within a Catholic liturgical context. This false logic produces a house of God imbued with the secular, a temple much like that which Christ himself cleansed, according to the Gospel of St. Mark 11:15ff. The true music of the house of God is concerned solely with the worship of the Most High and must be suitable to accompany the Latin Rite, whose participation in the one sacrifice of Calvary enables the faithful to partake in a foretaste of the Beatific Vision. The secular idiom inherently falls short here, and by its very nature can only deemphasize the Eucharistic Mystery, interfering with the mystic participation in the timeless and thus shifting the attention of the soul from the Holy Sacrifice to the self and to the emotional euphoria its music brings, both of which the indisputable icons of secularism: the self and self-gratification.Sacred music has indeed changed and developed through its 2000 year history, however, care must be taken that all music used for liturgical purposes is organically and historically linked to the Church’s 2000 year music tradition, as the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, has stated time and again, and most recently on June 25, 2006: “Genuine renewal in Catholic music cannot be achieved except by following the great traditions of the past, of Gregorian chants and sacred polyphony.” The repertoire of chant and polyphony is vast indeed; so too is the treasury of contemporary compositions which have sprung from this tradition and which are still being composed today in the 21st century. We have wasted much time in experimentation with secular idioms in an attempt to homogenize the secular and the sacred, and that in an age when recordings of monks singing the daily office in Latin reach the “top 10” pop chart list. As Catholics we are called to evangelization, to sanctify the secular, not to secularize the sacred. The Church musician offers to God a sacrifice of music and offers to the faithful words and melodies to take along into their workaday world. Sacred music helps to establish a connection between us, the people of God, and our Creator, not only during Holy Mass, but afterwards and throughout the week. Sacred music brings us back to the house of God, if not only for a moment in the day, as we recall our visit to His house and the heavenly banquet to which He continually invites us. “I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness” Psalm 84:10.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Please tell me they didn't bring the Kurzweil synth back to my most recent former parish.

I won't comment here. I'll let you read this from Rob at The Keys Are Mightier.

RSCT to Domini Sumus who e-mailed me the story.

UPDATE 2/20/08: Here's a new post from Rob. OK - it was more of the Holy Hour musical setup - Sr. Joan on the Rodgers organ (using the MIDI setup instead of the organ setup) and the pastor on guitar (which he DOES use for Holy Hour, but NEVER for Mass). And I knew it couldn't be Fran Garrepy, my replacement. She's very traditional-minded, like I, and so is her family. Her sons have been singing at the Extraordinary Form Mass at Holy Name since I've been there (and still do).


What does the typical Hypergeek download?

Recently I learned that I was a hypergeek. I like that word. A friend of mine called recently and related that among various magazines that regular people read, she also hides professional journals that she really finds more interesting. I thought that was funny, since shuffled among my Southern Livings and Tastes of Home, there are The Diapason, The American Organist, and the Phi Beta Kappa Reporter. After checking out the write-up’s on Florida’s grooviest vacation beaches in SL and tasty new recipes in ToH when company’s comin’, I become easily and willingly engrossed in a multi-part article on Helmut Walcha, repertoire discussions, registration suggestions, stylistic interpretation discussions and the like, not to mention updates on fellow Phi Beta Kappans and excellent book reviews. Meat and potatoes to the hypergeek, that. Lately, I’ve been enjoying walking the track at the local city park. Instead of watching re-runs of Crossing Jordan and sending out resumes, I set aside a bit of time for walking before I go off to play voice lessons. Recently I discovered a whole world of podcasts – yes indeed, Christus Vincit offers such programming hosted by my colleague Brian, but I never actually realized what a wide variety of podcasts existed. As a hypergeek, I prefer to hunt down interesting lecture podcasts. Nothing like a bit of continuing education while shedding the pounds. I have discovered a whole world of German-language podcasts that last about as long as half of my walking time. Perfect! Two lectures, and it’s time to drive home (and catch up on Crossing Jordan). Yesterday I listened to part two of a very interesting lecture broadcast on the German Southwest Radio (SWR2) delivered by Professor Hubert Wolf on “Archeology in the Vatican: Catholic Book Censorship”. Fascinating! The famous “Index of banned books” was finally made public by John Paul II who allowed researchers a first-time look into what actually was on this list and gave a pretty good idea regarding how books and authors came to be included in it, since the transcripts of the cases were also opened to researchers. The reason there was a list, so Prof. Wolf, was because, with the invention of the printing press, a machine considered by the Church to be able both to do God’s work and the Devil’s work, there no longer was a controllable monopoly on knowledge. Previously, books were very costly and had to be copied by hand, usually by religious, who then meticulously shelved their copies in monastery libraries. The printing press made books available to everyone, or at least to a broader audience of people at relatively low cost. With knowledge now a commodity, the Church was spooked. Enter book censorship and enter Inquisition. Also, enter Martin Luther and big problems for Mater Ecclesia. You see, 1517 wasn’t such a good year for Rome, poor Leo X. Wolf indicates that the Pope and his advisors were hoping that Chuck V, a nasty Hapsburg, wouldn’t become the Holy Roman Emperor. He would be distracted by goings on elsewhere, and even worse, this would mean that the eternal city would be surrounded by rude German-speaking Hapsburgs, who controlled just about everything, or at least almost everything. At any rate, Charles assumed the throne and all hell broke loose. The German nobles all made their own rules whether to reform or not, and Rome fumbled the ball. Oops. So much part one of Wolf’s lecture. Part two was even groovier. Why did certain books make the hit parade, yet others didn’t? Why did Galileo’s writings not make it, yet Copernicus’ did? Why wasn’t Darwin on the list, but Uncle Tom’s Cabin was? Why didn’t Hitler’s Mein Kampf make the list? Fascinating politics. We learn that Galileo found himself in hot water because he claimed that through empirical means, he had determined that planet Earth rotated around the sun. That wasn’t kosher to the red hats on the peninsula. So, he was called in to recant. We would have thought that such a heresy was a shoe-in for the list. Not so. A bit of quick talking got big G. out of a crispy end. It was explained to him that if he would claim his writings were an actual thesis, that is, fact, he’d be dipped in tar and set ablaze to light a Papal cocktail party. But, mincing words and saving the third degree burns, if he’d claim his writings were just hypothesis, that is, conjecture, then he’d be safe and could use the flames just to roast smores. So, Galileo’s writings were just hypothesis, not actual fact. Good thing. Copernicus on the other hand, presented thesis, and ergo, the black list. There was also that passage in the Old Testament about the sun standing still in the sky that left the red hats baffled how some upstart astronomer could be so bold as to postulate the earth had an orbit. Galileo’s findings would upset the Catholic world construct, but since they were merely deemed hypothesis, the scientist was safe. One of my personal favorites is the case of author Heinrich Heine, a German-speaking writer from the 19th century. He commented in one of his books that he found Catholicism to be a good summertime religion, since one can rest and cool off really well in large Catholic cathedrals. Good enough. But then, he went on to notice the confession box over in the corner and called it the “outhouse of the conscience”. A fabulously humorous observation, and a very earthy one at that. I personally don’t have a problem with that name, it is, actually, where Romans dump their sins. Then, on the other hand, neo-traditionalists call confession “giving your sins to Jesus”, so in that sense, I suppose the term could be seen as questionable, since by association in Heine’s metaphor, Jesus could be considered either the toilet seat or the honey bucket underneath it. Heine got listed, poor sot. BUT, he was listed not because he called the confession box the soul’s shit house, but because the text in question had been translated into French, and all good Catholics speak Romance languages and not the barbarian languages like German and English. You see, other German-language writers (all of whom were turned in by Metternich) were tattled on at the same time, none of whom were listed, since their work was never translated into a Romance language. So, learn a lesson: say what you will about the Papa and the Ecclesia, as long as you use a barbaric tongue! So what about Darwin? Darwin’s work was hypothesis and as a scientific hypothesis could be seen to coexist with Creationism. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was on the list for a while. Then it was taken off. The first red hat to read to the book and to list it found it to be socially revolutionary, and he feared that it carried a latent message to Europeans that it would be groovy and swell to overthrow the authority of the Church and the Pope. Slaves in the American South storming Rome to steal the triple tiara. Sheesh! That’s what some fellow red hats also said: “Sheesh!” (Or a good Latin “Eheu!” or its Italian equivalent). A few of the inquisitors stood up and announced they had also read the book and substantiated that it indeed was about the abolition of slavery in the U.S., and that was ok, since slavery isn’t a good thing. Ok, fine. So what of Hitler and Mein Kampf? Not on the list. There was great crying and gnashing of teeth in the Vatican when it came to Hitler’s magnum opus. A whole lot of arguing and postulating and talking and more discussion and more argument. Wolf reports that there is a large file on the book, but that the book never was listed. Why? Get this: because, since all civil authority comes from God, and Hitler was then the German civil authority, it was really beyond the purview of the Church really to say anything against the book as a whole. Nifty syllogism, there, fellas: Power comes from God. Hitler has power. Hitler comes from God. That opens up a big can of worms. At any rate, the Papal encyclical of 1937 “Mit brennender Sorge” (“with burning concern”) dealt with the issue of Hitler and his mess. So indirectly, the Church tried to ban the ideas, but, according the Epistle to the Romans, she (the Church) couldn’t actually ban the book. My thought: way to go, Hitler. Convince the red hats the final solution was just a hypothesis. Neat how we learn from history! Prof Wolf indicated that more research of course would be necessary regarding the Hitler question, since the Vatican opened its censorship files only up to 1939. This means the Pius XII documents are still secret. Wolf hopes that the actions between 1939 and 1958 might be revealed soon so that researchers and historians might soon be able to find out what the outcome of the whole Hitler mess really was, as far as the Church is concerned. John Paul II did much to try to reveal secrets and work for reconciliation. Opening up the Vatican archives on book censorship has given historians a glimpse into composition of the Index and has helped shed light on issues whose facts could heretofore only be guessed. So there you have it: loose weight and learn about esoteric things. Download groovy podcasts and they can make an hour’s walk seem like only 5 minutes. By the way, the program is on SWR2 and is called “Aula”, new each Sunday. It’s worth a download, even if you’re not a hypergeek.


General Instruction of the Roman Missal, #79h:
Final doxology: By which the glorification of God is expressed and is confirmed and concluded by the people's acclamation, Amen.

Jeffrey Tucker at NLM:
"The Amen need not be "great" but rather just two notes."

To this day, you'll be surprised how many people still call the Amen that concludes the Eucharistic Prayer the "Great Amen". Even in Jubilate Deo, there is only ONE Amen (tone as pictured here). Yet, the Amen you hear at Mass is usually a threefold to sixfold Amen, depending on which Mass setting you're using. Some even have unnecessary additional words, like "forever and ever" and that "a-word" that is forbidden right now.

Now, let's go back to the GIRM citation at the top of this post. Notice they only mention one word that concludes the Eucharistic Prayer - Amen. It doesn't even mention repetition here. Just Amen.

Here's another really good take - this one comes from Gavin, a former blogger who now posts at the Musica Sacra message boards:

Nothing in the GIRM, rubrics, or tradition (that I know of) requires the congregation to sing "Amen" more than once at any point in the Mass. Yet today every Catholic pewsitter knows that the IMPORTANT part of the Mass ISN'T the words "This is My Body" but when you have four chords and sing "A-A-MEN, A-A-MEN, A-A-A-MENNNN" and then repeat it. I've even heard catechists say that THAT is the point where the bread becomes the Body. Oh, and the scores for these "Great Amens" always have FFF as the closing dynamic. This HORRIBLY imbalances the Mass!
So when your priest sings "Through him, with him, in him" to the simple tone, just respond on the same note he used as the reciting tone: "Amen." If he uses the solemn tone (with the slurs on some syllables), respond according to the pitch he ends on "A-me-" and then move up a whole tone "-en." It's all so simple, no one can object to it if it's done routinely, and it makes SUCH a difference in how the Mass is perceived by the congregation.

Through this vision from Gavin, now you'll see the climax quickly shift (in the eyes of the average Joe/Jane in the pew) from the so-called "Great Amen" to the consecration and elevations.

Great posts, Jeffrey and Gavin!

PS: And the people say: AMEN!

My middle name is Alexander...with an X

1. You have to post the rules before you give your answers.2. You must list one fact about yourself beginning with each letter of your middle name. (If you don't have a middle name, use your maiden name or your mother's maiden name).3. At the end of your blog post, you need to tag one person for each letter of your middle name.

Ok folks. Here’s my middle name outline. My middle name, as you can see is Alexander. I’m named for the Greek leader guy. My first name is Greek as well, as you might have puzzled out. I picked random nouns and adjectives that are vaguely associated with me or which remind of interesting stories from my life and from my family history. I did edit the final E entry, though. Originally I had selected the word “eviscerate” and told the story of the abortionist Catholic monk in the 1930’s in Celle, Germany (not a family member, but someone who had something to do with a family member), but I decided it was a bit too graphic. It’s interesting, though. Maybe I’ll tell it later. At any rate, here’re the goods (or the bads, depending on what side of the fence you sit on, and no, I did not justify my margains!):

A – Allegorical. Much can be taught by simple comparison. In writing and in speaking I very much enjoy good use of rhetorical devices. Cicero and Virgil, in my opinion, are masters of the rhetorical device. I’ve consumed copious amounts of coffee since 11th grade reading the Latin prose of Cicero and the glorious verse of Virgil. Arma virumque cano! Of course Cicero was always a seeker and revealer of truth in his orations. I like to say that I also enjoy a good truth revelation from time to time. Only problem with that is that the truth is sometimes hard to swallow. Cicero found that out when he was slaughtered, head and hands cut off and nailed to the rostrum in Rome. But I won’t dare to mention that when someone tells the truth, one’s primary reptilian response is usually to shoot the messenger.

L – Landstuhl. The town in Rheinlandpfalz, Germany where I came into the world. I was a fat blond kid who spoke only German but who could understand English, although he didn’t care much to speak it. Casette recordings made of my voice when I was a toddler reciting Mother Goose in English reveal that I spoke with a very distinct, clipped German accent: “Check bee nimbll, Check bee Kvikk. Check chumped offah zih Kendl Sstik.” I was also baptized in Landstuhl, and I wore hand-made Belgian lace booties. I have since lost my German accent in English for the most part, and have since learned to speak English quite well. Speaking English, but thinking like a German can be intimidating to people who are insecure or paranoid.

E – Excommunication. When a Catholic parish kicks you out, but still persists in sending you offering envelopes in the mail, as is the case with me. That reminds me of Louis XV’s famous quote: “After me, the deluge”.

X – Xi. One of the only letters in the Greek alphabet that can not be reversed. The letter is also drawn by students on their Latin and Greek texts to remind them while re-reading for exams of the presence of a chiasmus in the text. The chiasmus is an exciting rhetorical device that involves interlocking verbal parallelism.

A – Andes. The name of an after-dinner chocolate and mint confection. I hate mints, and therefore I hate Andes. Pardon the syllogistic argument, but in this case, it happens to be true. Now, this question: who really believes that the burning flesh of St. Polycarp as he was roasted at the stake really did issue forth the odor of bread baking? And if it did, was old cousin Poly a loaf of white or whole wheat? One thing remains certain, he was most absolutely not gluten-free, by golly! And further, this question: are the primary relics of Polycarp actually bread crumbs?

N – Necromancy. The pseudoscience of conjuring the spirits of the dead in order to reveal events in the future. In the middle ages, it might have been possible for a good Catholic boy to double major in Necromancy and Alchemy in order to ask dead aunt Harriet how to make gold – such knowledge would enable him to free generations of sinners locked in Purgatory until their bail could be met. Too bad Mr. Teztel didn’t do that. His work would have been so much easier. My favorite run-in with necromancy was during a performance of Le Roi David back when I was an undergraduate. I was asked to play the celesta, so I had a load of time on my hands…until the witch of Endor was requested to engage in necromancy. The narrator changed her voice to sound witchlike, summoning the spirit to appear. Only thing, this: her accent was so contorted, it sounded like she said “up here”. I turned around slightly to hide my smirk, when I spotted the lead tenor mouthing the text of the narrator. The rest was history. I fought the good fight for the remainder of the concert trying as best I could to banish the witch of Endor from my mind, lest I wet my tuxedo pants. Necromancy can be fun when musicians are excessively bored.

D – DDR. The letters which in German stood for Deutsche Demokratische Repulik, otherwise know as East Germany. This is where my family is from and from whose borders my family was caused to flee in the 1950’s. My mom made it out in the late 40’s, as youth were being deported to the Soviet Union to join the Russian work force. She was guided to the West by a border runner with nothing more than a backpack. My grandparents were persecuted in the East after my mom escaped. My grandfather was arrested and interrogated communist-style. My grandmother was beaten by the Stasi woman (secret police) who lived in the neighboring apartment.

E – Esurientes. This word begins verse 8 of the Magnificat: esurientes implevit bonis: et divites demisit inanes. He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. (That’s the English translation from the Book of Common Prayer, folks. The only translation of the Latin texts into English that’s really worth a flip. Don’t get me started on ICEL). The verse reminds me of the Bach setting of the Magnificat, a cassette recording of which I had in my pack back in November of 1990 when I visited Vienna. I remember listening to the work over and again traveling by bus to Austria. My class stayed in a hotel run by Italians near the Prater (not so good a neighborhood). There was exactly 1 tablespoon of hot water for the hotel guests each morning. I remember buying a paper cone filled with chestnuts at the Prater. There was a worm inside and I puked in the bushes. While in Vienna that November, I saw Fledermaus at the Volksoper, moving from my standing spot during the intermission to front balcony to occupy the seat of someone who had tickets but didn’t show. I also saw a wonderful art deco staging of Anatol at the Theater in der Josefstadt – box seat, folks. Attended Mass at St. Augustine’s with my class. They had some strange corn flour hosts there. They were yellow. At any rate, the choir sang the Schubert German Mass. I also danced in a disco somewhere in Vienna late at night to Susanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner”. Deliciously random factoid: there was a horse butcher across from the hotel where we stayed, and I walked into a dive bar down the street from the hotel with a handful of 10 Groschen coins to make change for the vending machine in the hotel lobby.

R – Regensburg. I studied there in 1990/1991. I went to the University of Regensburg to study Latin, Roman History and Old Testament. I read Cicero in class for two hours each day and spend about twice that long each night preparing the readings for the next day (we had to analyze the text grammatically and stylistically). I took organ lessons in ancient and baroque technique at the Papal Church Music School there as well, which allowed me also to become an adjunct organist at the Lutheran cathedral as well as a smaller suburban parish connected to the cathedral. I was actually one organist on a staff of organists. The first semester, I racked up enough hours to max out on my yearly quota, so that gave me an entire semester to dedicate to my research of Roman Regensburg. The research that semester turned into a major paper for Classics back home and lead to the preparation of my thesis work: the first English translation of the life of St. Emmeram and the annotated edition of the Latin text.