Monday, December 30, 2013


I figured, "Let's close 2013 with a bang and do something I haven't done in a long time" - that is, come up with a Top Ten List.  And reading little tidbits from OCP's infamous planning tool (and what a "tool" it is), Today's Liturgy.

For example, there is an article in the issue pictured (which includes planning pages from March 5 through June 14, 2014) by the new director of the editorial board, Rick Modlin.  This editorial board that he now leads (replacing the retiring Randy DeBruyn) is responsible for deciding what hymns, songs, and muzak will be included in your next missalette or music issue.  Considering that the bulk of Mr. Modlin's own compositions are material for OCP's teenybopper hymnal, Spirit and Song, I don't see much improvement.  But anyhoo, let's get back to this article...

Learning a New Song: Part 2, by the aforementioned Modlin, is on page 16 of the current Today's Liturgy.  It gives tips for guitarists, singers, cantors, soloists, choristers (I'm very surprised they even used the term "choristers" - that's a first in the 30+ years I've known of OCP's books), and ensembles.  NOT ONE IOTA OF ADVICE FOR ORGANISTS!!!  Yeah, you know, organists, those men and women who play the instrument that the Catholic Church bids us to hold "in high esteem" (per order the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy and Musicam Sacram)!  Par for the course, you see, as you hardly ever see an organ or a traditionally-based choir promoted in these periodicals, but plenty of pianos and guitars.  And their accompaniment book is not an "organ accompaniment" book, but a "keyboard accompaniment" book (just in case the church doesn't have an organ, but a piano or one of those digital synthesizers, or even an accordion).  Betcha ten-to-one their staff would be foaming at the mouth at me if I was to suggest they call their "guitar accompaniment" book a "stringboard accompaniment".  After all, what if it wasn't a guitar?  What if it was a ukelele or a sitar?

ANYHOO, this end-of-2013 edition of the iSNARK!/Christus Vincit Top Ten List is Top Ten Appropriate Subtitles for the Today's Liturgy Magazine.

10. Liturgy instructions according to OCP, as opposed to liturgy instructions according to the Church.
9. Save hundreds of dollars a year on kitty litter by lining your cat's box with our pages.
8. Please don't squeeze the Charmin!
7. Kumbaya for the campfire!
6. How to properly use our "greatest hits".
5. A quarterly guide to self-praise
4. Let me call my friend over.  RAAAAAAAAAAAAALPH!
3. N(a)P(al)M approved!
2. You too can become a liturgist in three easy steps!
And, the number one appropriate subtitle for Today's Liturgy:
1. The Sunday Comics!

Happy New Year from your friendly neighborhood iSNARK!

Sunday, October 27, 2013


OK, so I haven't blogged here in about six months (see what the Advent of Facebook can do to someone?  LOL).  No, this blog hasn't died, as you're about to see below.  Couple that with moving to a better city, as well as improving on my composing projects, and BAM!

Today's post is one that I couldn't resist, and was inspired by a conversation I had with a certain family after my last Mass last weekend. The matriarch of this family had mentioned that since the Roman Missal, Third Typical Edition (and translation thereof), that one would expect music at Mass would improve.  Instead, the contrary, in terms of most parishes and the major publishers of Catholic worship aids.

Since the latest translation of the Roman Missal, the publishers did get a couple of things right: terminology, for one ("Entrance Chant", "Penitential Act", etc.), plus the ICEL chants getting a prominent place amongst the Mass Ordinary settings (along with the "Order of Mass" in most worship aids), so that they appear to be the default setting (instead of, let's say, "Mass of Creation").

Just in time for the latest translation to take place, GIA Publications released their new additions to their "family of hymnals".  "Worship - Fourth Edition", "Gather - Third Edition", "Lead Me, Guide Me - Second Edition", and a new bi-lingual English/Spanish hymnal.  Now, I don't have a copy of the new "Gather" yet, and don't want one.  I'm really afraid to see it for two reasons: 1) the previous editions of "Gather" (comprehensive and otherwise) have been mostly hideous (it's GIA's competition to OCP's "Glory and Praise", on the most part, and 2) my disappointment in the new "Worship".

Previous posts to this blog have pinpointed the many shortcomings I found in "Worship IV".  "Worship" used to be a primarily traditional hymnal.  Yes, a few mistakes here and there ("I am the Bread of Life" and "Gather Us In" for example), the bulk of the previous "Worship" hymnals' repertoire have consisted of good solid hymns, with "Worship II" (1975) being the best, in my opinion.  While many of us were hoping that "Worship IV" (2011) would revert back to much of "Worship III" (1986/1998), we found ourselves discovering that the exact opposite happened.  "Worship IV" starting picking up much of the garbage that one would find in a "Gather" volume instead.  While still retaining a good amount of decent hymnody, what I have found (you can search this blog by using the search engine at the top of this page, just use "Worship IV" and/or "Follow-Up" as your search parameters, be sure to use quotation marks) was the addition of "Gather"-type melodies, or good solid tunes killed by really bad texts (theologically and/or poetically), or both.  Again, do the search, and you'll see what I mean.  As for my fear of the new "Gather" because of this, it's like my mother used to often say, "With friends like that, who needs enemies?"

Now, let's look at OCP.  I won't even get into "Glory and Praise".  The latest edition I had of that hideous "hymnal" is the maroon edition from the mid 1980's, right around the time the St. Louis Jesuits released their "Steadfast Love" double LP (yes, records were still around back then).  I won't get into "Journeysongs" (their second edition, mid 2000's, which I do have), which is probably the best of the bunch (it helps that GIA doesn't allow for their copyrighted material to appear on other publishers' hardbound hymnals, thus the Marty Haugen and David Haas tunes being MIA, a win for someone looking for some liturgical salvation here).  By the way, that's almost a pun - in Journeysongs, the muzak of GIA is MIA!  I will, however, look into the most popular of OCP's books, the "Music Issue", which I've often referred to as the "Muzak Issue" or the "Music Issue with Issues".  The "Music Issue", along with "Today's Missal", their missalette subscription, or the two in one bigger book, "Breaking Bread", has always had this knack of having a repertoire as balanced as, let's say, one of the "Gather Comprehensives", about 70/30 in favor of love ballads, hootenanny music, and sacro-pop.  Around 2005-2006, I was beginning to see some signs of improvement.  Hymns like "O God, Almighty Father", "God of Our Fathers", and "O Jesus, Joy of Loving Hearts" were surfacing for the first time, as well as solid hymn texts by Benedictines Harry Hagen and Genevieve Glen, wedded mainly to good solid hymn tunes.  But over the years, the repertoire of "Spirit and Song" (a book geared for the "Awesome God"/"Jesus Our Buddy" crowd) has been finding its way into the Music Issue.  The 70/30 contemporary mix seems to have gone to about 80/20.  One would think that with a more conservative Archbishop being installed in Portland, Oregon (OCP's home office), not all that long ago, that things would improve.  Instead, Randy DeBruyn is retiring as the head honcho of the editorial staff and is being replaced by Rick Modlin, one of "Sprit and Song"'s regular composers (source: "Today's Liturgy", XII-1-13 to III-4-14 edition).  This could be a very scary transition for those souls still frequenting mainstream parishes.

There are solutions to this problem.

- Of course, there is my own music (which isn't always perfect, either, I'll admit).  But that is only a miniscule part of the solution.
- Jeff Ostrowski has done tons of work towards the improvement of liturgical music today, including the introduction of two new hymnals, one of them primarily for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, the other for the Ordinary Form, though the Extraordinary Form shows up in the Ordinary as well.  Visit Jeff and his many excellent guest composers at Corpus Christi Watershed.
- Visit such places as the Adoremus Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy and the Church Music Association of America for a wealth of good music and good articles on music.
- The St. Michael Hymnal, Fourth Edition, is another excellent source of good liturgical music.
- Most important solution is to PRAY and PERSEVERE!  Prayer is always a powerful thing!

Right now, it looks as if things are getting worse (read: mainstream publishers), but people are catching on, little by little (or in Italian, the musical term "poco a poco"), to the solutions to the problem.


Saturday, April 20, 2013


1. The "Twi-Night" Doubleheader

Growing up, this would show up every now and then on the regular schedule - the "twi-night" doubleheader.  First game would start about 4 or 5 PM, second game shortly after, usually about 7 or 8 PM.  It was like going to the cinema and watching a double feature, except you would go to the ballpark and watch a doubleheader.  Now you never see a doubleheader in the regular schedule, and if a game has to be made up, it's part of a "day-night" doubleheader (exactly that - one game at 1 PM, another at 7 PM), and it's two separate admissions.  Plus, what the hell are you going to do for three hours between games?
2. The singing of the National Anthem
I'm sure that still happens before every professional game.  However, unless it's some diva pulling a Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey out of his/her butt, it doesn't get aired on TV or radio.  It just goes right to a commercial.  Often times there wasn't even a singer, except for a special occasion.  It was just the ballpark organist playing it, and the crowd in the stands would stand and sing it.  Truthfully, I'd rather listen to the crowd in the stands sing the anthem.  Even the tone-deaf section can sing it better than that diva that will change the time signature, add melisma after melisma, and even change to a lower key when she realizes that the next line is high (I've heard THAT, too!).  As an added bonus (for our Canadian readers), if the Blue Jays or the then-Expos were on, you'd hear both anthems - Canadian and American.
3. Letting the pitcher finish
It's great that most teams can rely on a decent closer.  But one pet peeve of mine is that managers just don't let their pitchers finish their games anymore.  I'm not talking about the bum that can't get out of the third without falling behind 10-0.  I'm talking about the guy that's gone through seven strong innings, is holding a 4-0 lead, but gets yanked from the game because he's already thrown a wholesome grand total of 100 pitches.  His seventh inning was stronger than his first four.  Are you kidding me?  Let him finish!  Complete games are a premium these days.  When I was a young lad, there was at least one complete game pitched a day in the major league.  Now the manager wimps out after 100 pitches.  WTF?  It would be different if he was in a jam (back then, known as "running out of gas"), then you have to throw in your fireman (saves leaders in my day were known as "leading firemen") to get out of the inning.  Otherwise, he's fine.  Let him get his 130-pitch complete game for cripes sakes!
4. Almost-balanced schedules
Growing up, a ball club would play maybe 15 games against teams in their own divisions, and maybe 10-12 games against teams in the other division.  Now it's 18-19 games against their own division, and 6-8 games against the other divisions.  I can see your own division getting more exposure, but playing a whole month against the same damn teams can be overkill.  Makes me happy that there's now interleague play, and a little more of it this year.  I like the idea of the Red Sox playing the Cubs, the Rockies, and the Phillies every now and then.  I most certainly like to watch the Yankees play the Cubs and the White Sox play the Mets.  Why?  Because they're oddball games you don't see often enough.  And I have no problem watching the Cubs play any American League team because, until interleague play began, the Cubs did not play against an American League team since 1945 --- the last time they played in a World Series!
In the words of Archie and Edith, Those were the days!!!

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Well, there may be no hope in the White House, but things are really looking hopeful for the 2013 Boston Red Sox.  I look at the Red Sox transitions between 2011 and 2013 like I do a parish changing hymnals.  It goes like this:
1) Under Terry Francona, the Red Sox had eight seasons, all winning seasons (that is, more wins than losses).  His Red Sox teams won two World Series crowns (2004 and 2007, both times on 4-0 sweeps).  That's two more than all the Red Sox teams from 1919 to 2003.  They made the playoffs three additional times as well under Francona.  Even in 2011, where the Sox pretty much gave up in September (7-20 record for the month), they still finished with a .556 win percentage.  Even Alfredo Aceves went 10-2 for 2011.
PARISH LIKENESS:  Your parish has been using Worship II (yes, the 1975 edition) for the past eight years.  You're singing the Gelineau Psalms along with the readings, and you're singing good solid non-altered hymn texts such as "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty", "In Heavenly Love Abiding", and "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken".  You manage to ignore the few goofy titles ("Said Judas to Mary", "No Use Knocking", and "I Danced in the Morning").  You're even singing some of the music of the late greats Alexander Peloquin and Richard Proulx.  All is going (overall) very well.
2) After 2011, Terry Francona is canned, and Bobby Valentine is the manager for the Red Sox.  Team posts the worst record since 1966.  Alfredo Aceves, who went 10-2 in 2011, went 2-10 in 2012 and blew more saves than you could shake a stick at.  While they might have had one small hump where they hit .500, they landed up finishing 69-93 (a .426 win percentage, good for last place).  During the season, the Sox lost big names Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis (now a Yankee - TRAITOR!), and Adrian Gonzalez via trades for low-budget names.
PARISH LIKENESS: Your parish has a new pastor who quickly tosses the Worship II hymnals into the dumpster, in favor of the latest version of Gather.  A few radical leftists start a band and replace the traditional choir that sang your principal Mass.  Your weekly Extraordinary Form Mass has also been scrapped, and your schola moved to some remote parish 25 miles away.  Congregational singing has been replaced by entertainment.  While more radical leftists move into the parish, the same number of reverent worshippers left - some for that remote parish 25 miles away, some to follow the pastor you worked for last year, and some to the parish down the street (just for spite).
3) Here we are in 2013.  Bobby Valentine is canned and replaced with the guy the Sox REALLY wanted to work with last year, but couldn't... John Farrell.  In 2011, Farrell took over as manager of the Toronto Blue Jays.  However, this year, the Red Sox made a deal with the Blue Jays to bring Farrell to the Sox.  So far, a much better start than the last two seasons (7-4 as of today, April 14, 2013).  John Lester and Clay Buchholz have been stellar so far, pitching like the aces they are capable of being.  Alfredo Aceves, while still sucking as a reliever, may have found his mark as a starter.  While he can't enter a ballgame in the ninth inning without blowing a save, he's been able to make some good starts.  He's had one start in the regular season, where he pitched five good innings, and some respectable starts in spring training.  Will Middlebrooks is back (YAY!)  We have a bunch of new and old faces back this season.  We started out by taking two out of three in New York against the Skankees.  None of our losses have been blowouts... yet.  I really think there is hope.  Will we make the playoffs?  Too early to tell.  Will we finish in the upper .500's?  I think so!
PARISH LIKENESS: Turns out that pastor that scrapped Worship for Gather has now been removed due to certain "credible allegations" (go to if you haven't figured out the definition of "credible allegations").  You get a new pastor once again who, like the pastor you worked with for eight years, gets it!  He gets rid of Gather, fires the rock band, and has you start a new schola for that principal Mass again.  To quote the great Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S., the few frustrated leftists "ask when they're going to get their parish back", while the many that stuck it out in hope have "thanked the new pastor for giving them their parish back".  The new boss rejects Worship IV, the latest edition of Worship, published in 2011.  "Too many goofy texts," he says.  He's so right!  Instead, he gets the Fourth Edition Saint Michael Hymnal.  Singing and prayer in your parish has been restored once again, and that Extraordinary Form Mass you lost last year is back, and its attendance is slowly flourishing to its original glory.
Keep your fingers crossed!

Friday, February 15, 2013


They're baaaaaack!

That "Freedom from Religion Foundation"!  Yeah, those clowns!  Now they're suing the Cranston, RI flower shop that denied the sale of flowers to - guess who - Mizz Jessica "I don't like your half-century-old prayer banner, so it has to come down" Ahlquist.  Why did said flower shop deny Miz Ahlquist?  Simple!  Because she (with the help of her daddy, and the ACLU, and the FFRF) successfully sued Cranston West High School to have a beautiful prayer banner removed, that was written by a CWHS student (or is it CHSW, Cranston High School West?  but nonetheless...) over fifty years ago.

Hint: Private businesses have the right to deny service to whoever they please.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation doesn't have a case.  Nor a prayer.  Literally!


Monday, February 11, 2013


...I have a WTF Award to give out!

It's amazing how when you're driving through the city of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, after a snowstorm, you can ALWAYS tell where the city limits are because Pawtucket has the worst snow removal system in the state of Rhode Island (Central Falls comes a close second.  Drove through it yesterday.)

Yesterday, I went to my church in West Warwick, Rhode Island, to play the 9:00 and 11:15 Masses, and once again this morning for a funeral Mass.  While there is not much difference between the population density on the busier streets of West Warwick (namely Providence Street, which is RI state Route 33) and the Broadway neighborhood in Pawtucket (Broadway is part of US Route 1, which runs from Madawaska, ME at the Canadian Border to Key West, FL).  Yet the streets I trekked in West Warwick are perfectly clear and unflooded (as was New London Avenue and Pontiac Avenue, both in Cranston).  Broadway in Pawtucket, along with other main roads in the area - Cottage Street and Central Avenue - was filled with frozen snow chunks from half-assed plowing, snow banks that went halfway out into the road (namely where you enter Broadway from the exit ramp from Interstate 95), and deep puddles.  Our minivan dang near bottomed out several times trekking the streets of Pawtucket.

And if that isn't enough, Pawtucket Avenue in Pawtucket (also part of US Route 1) was also full of chunks and layers.  But once you cross into Providence (where it is now North Main Street, also part of US-1), the road is perfectly clear.  Providence, a city whose population is more than double that of Pawtucket, had better roads this afternoon than Pawtucket did.  My wife, who was with me to witness this, has a nasty disk bulge in her back, and believe me, she was feeling every bump.

Granted we had about 25 inches of snow this weekend, but it's a shame when you can find the city limits just by the condition of its roads.  You know you're in better-kept roads when you leave Pawtucket to cross into Providence, East Providence or Lincoln, RI, or Attleboro or Seekonk, MA.

So, I hereby give the February 2013 WTF Award to the city of Pawtucket for, once again, poor planning and poor plowing.  They even fail in snow removal when there are only two inches on the ground, let alone two feet, while other cities and towns seem to get it!




...who has referred to the sitting President of the United States by his full name "Barack Saddam Hussein Obama Bin Laden".  I Yahooed (not "Googled", I used the Yahoo search instead) that six-fold name in quotes and there are 64 hits - some of which date back to 2008, at least a year before I started using it and pissed off an arrogant leftist (without even knowing that someone beat me to the punch).  Here are the results.

Unfortunately, we still have another 47 months of BSHOBL.  In the meantime, I will continue to exercise my First Amendment rights.  ;)



No, my blog hasn't died.  Facebook did it to me, I swear!  ;)

Anyhoo, I read some shocking news this morning, as did the rest of the world, I'm sure.

As of the end of this month, our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI will retire, the first to do so in over seven centuries.  The year 1294, to be exact, was the last year that a pope resigned on his own.

His departure is due to reasons of health.  After all, he is 85, and he did outlive his immediate predecessor Blessed Pope John Paul II by a year or so (thus far).

There is no doubt that I, your friendly neigborhood iSNARK!, will miss this great Pontiff.  After all, he wrote The Spirit of the Liturgy and other books and documents that teach of the proper implementations of Holy Mass, including its music.  He wrote the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, which makes the Traditional Latin Mass according to the Roman Missal of 1962 (which he dubbed "The Extraordinary Form of the Mass") more accessible.  While certain people in one music message board via Yahoo! Groups I once frequented were "heartsick" over the election of Jozef Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI, I rejoiced, shouting out "YES!" like the Red Sox had just smoked the Yankees.  During the conclave that followed the death of Blessed Pope John Paul II, I was rooting for (in my heart) and praying for the election of either Jozef Cardinal Ratzinger or Francis Cardinal Arinze, two prominent liturgists of the day who really "got it" when it came to liturgy and the Catholic faith.

Now Pope Benedict's departure will have me temporarily "heartsick".  However, I can understand why he is stepping down.  As my local bishop, Bishop Thomas Tobin, rightly put it, “Our Holy Father’s resignation is, I believe, an act of great humility for he understands that the needs of the Church are greater than his own; that ultimately the well-being of the Church is God’s hands, not the Pope’s.”  A sign that the Holy Father really cares for his Church enough where he feels a better Shepherd can care for it at this time.

Now, as I rooted on Cardinals Ratzinger and Arinze and prayed hard for the election of either/or, I will do the same in this conclave.  I've had these dreams (night and day) on and off that it is possible that our beloved Church could have its first American-born Shepherd.  I've been rooting on Raymond Cardinal Burke, who did wonderful work in the Diocese of LaCrosse and in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.  He is a prelate who really has (and uses well) the backbone needed to uphold Catholic teachings.  I think he would do very well as a pope.  It is not to me to decide.  That is to the College of Cardinals.  However, I can still root him on and pray, as I did in the last conclave.

In the meantime, I wish Pope Benedict XVI the very best.  I enjoyed his papacy of almost eight years.