The Liturgy Wars: An Analysis of Pope Francis’s Recent Address

The subject of Sacred Music has come up at least once during the reign of almost every pope in the last century.  Pope St. Pius X started with his motu proprio in 1903.  Pius XI, who doesn’t get as much attention as either his predecessor or his successor, addressed it in 1928 in Divini Cultus.  Pope St. Pius XII probably wrote the most words on the subject, with his Mystici Corporis Christi in 1943; Mediator Dei in 1947; again with Musicae Sacrae in 1955; and again with De Musica et Sacra Liturgica in 1958.

Contrary to popular Fluffy Horde belief, the Second Vatican Council also set down rules for Sacred Music in Chapter Six of Sacrosantcum Concilium in 1963.

Pope Paul VI did the same with Sacram Liturgiam in 1964, and again with Musicam Sacram in 1967.

Pope St. John Paul II wrote a Chirograph on Sacred Music in 2003, on the centenary of Pius X’s motu proprio.

Pope Benedict XVI didn’t write anything on it when he was pope, but he did as Cardinal Ratzinger in 1995.

So, of course, it was only a matter of time before Pope Francis also weighed in on the brouhaha that is Sacred Music in the Catholic Church in modern society.  I’ve already written extensively on the subject here on this blog, so you have a fairly good idea of what is going on with the above mentioned “Liturgy Wars.”  It’s the Fluffy Horde versus the Orthodox Warriors, so to speak, and the fight continues.

Now, though, our current sitting Pope has added his voice to the conflict.  He gave the following address to the participants of the International Conference on Sacred Music that was held just this March.

As a disclaimer: no, I am not going to fisk the pope.

I will repeat:  NO, I AM NOT FISKING THE POPE.

But I will, however, give you my opinion — I say again: my OPINION, which is worth only about two cents in the grand scheme — of his remarks.

So, I’d better not see any shouts of “HERETIC!” in the comments section.  You have been warned.

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Guest Post: Murphy’s Law of Vampires

The following is a guest post from Margot St. Aubin, who can be found on the other side of this shiny and well-crafted link. Her post today is a review of our own Declan Finn’s second vampire-based horror-romance novel, Murphy’s Law of Vampires.

Murphy's Law of VampiresJust when you think you are prepared for vampires— it’s not bleeping vampires but something else entirely.

Students at a San Francisco college are battling for their lives against denizens of the night. Marco arrives to give them an education in more than just snark and medicine. He’s a PA intern with an attitude problem and a strong aptitude for killing vampires. When a demon terror is sent to take him out, will separation from his beloved Amanda coupled with the foggy San Fran scene be more than he can handle?

So how to summarize this properly? If you know nothing about the series, it’s classic vampires done right, with a more action, a healthy dose of Catholicism, and a gasp-worthy subplot of sizzling romance. Reasonably chaste romance it is, but in this case less is definitely more. Declan paints more passion with intense chemistry, light petting, and a well placed email than too many writers manage with full frontal adultery. Continue reading

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Remembering Mother Angelica

A year ago today, Mother Angelica, founder of the Eternal Word Television Network and a powerful force for orthodoxy and the Church, passed away. She was an amazing figure who helped convert and revert untold thousands — one of them myself. It seems only natural to me that she passed away on Easter Sunday; and perhaps it’s worth pointing out that, according to tradition, last year’s Easter fell on the same day of the year as the first Easter.

Mother Angelica

Whether that tradition is accurate or not, I don’t think I could pick a better day to shuffle off this mortal coil than the celebration of Christ rising from the dead. And reportedly, she suffered from sudden and intense pain on Good Friday that only went away after 3pm; the pain returned in the early hours of Easter Sunday, and she finally passed that late afternoon.

Were it not for Mother Angelica, I would not be who I am. I would not be Catholic. I would not have gone to Christendom College. I would not have met most of the people I’m friends with today. I have absolutely no clue who I would be without her. Continue reading

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The Incarnation and the One Ring

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Kind of like remembering a messy divorce, only with more epic battles.

Happy Ring Destruction Day!

That’s right, Tolkien fans. Tomorrow, the 25th of March, is the anniversary of the day when, mumbleteen thousand years ago, Frodo, Sam, and Gollum entered Mount Doom to pitch the One Ring into the fire below. I’m posting a day early because we tend not to get as much traffic on a Saturday, and you’d hate to miss such a momentous occasion, right?

“Wait,” some of you are asking, “Why did Tolkien use modern dates in a fantasy world like Middle-earth? I mean, I get that it’s supposed to be our super-duper epic forgotten past, but really.”

Yeah, I get that. But you also have to remember that Tolkien was three things, in this order: a proud Catholic, an expert philologist, and a fascinated medievalist. What does all that have to do with March 25th, also known as the Feast of the Annunciation? I’m glad you asked!

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Netflix’s “Death Note”: A Trailer Analysis

Well. It has come to this. Netflix is finally producing a live-action USA-based adaptation of Death Note, the hit manga/anime where a teenager with a god complex gets a notebook that he can use to magically murder people. It’s better than it sounds, albeit not the greatest thing ever. The show is mostly famous for being a classic “gateway anime” that gets people started on the medium, filled with grandiose ideals, over-the-top battles of wits, and a modern crime drama setting with supernatural elements.

Mostly, the press and hype surrounding the upcoming series has been…pretty negative. But yesterday, the official trailer for the Netflix series dropped, so it’s time to find out: is it that bad, after all? Here goes nothing, my rapid-fire comments on a rapid-fire teaser. Continue reading

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Beauty and the Beast: A Review

Be our guest, be our guest, put our service to the test . . .

Ah, nostalgia.  Beauty and the Beast was my favorite Disney movie as a kid, and we watched a lot of them, back when Disney wasn’t as sick as it is now.  My sister loved The Little Mermaid.  My brother loved Aladdin.  But I was always firmly in the Beauty and the Beast camp.  I even had a bedspread/sheet/pillowcase set with those characters on it.  I still have it packed away somewhere.

I think The Little Mermaid won my mom’s “Please Don’t Ever Make Me Watch This Movie Again” award, but Beauty and the Beast still has a special place in my heart, especially now that I know what GK Chesterton said about it:

This is the great lesson of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ that a thing must be loved before it is lovable.

So, of course, even with all the drama surrounding the release of the remake, I went to see it on Saturday night; partially because I wanted to see who was right about the inclusion (or lack thereof) of the LGBT agenda, but also because I wanted to love this movie.

And I did.  With a gigantic caveat attached.

Here’s the promised review of the remake, but be warned: it’s more of an in-depth analysis than a review, so the spoiler alert is obvious.  Then again, who doesn’t know the story of Beauty and the Beast?

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Why Is St. Patrick’s Day a Big Deal?

There are a few days of the year based around Catholic holidays that have become heavily secularized. Christmas, of course, is the big offender in many eyes, and every year we have reports from the tinsel-choked and eggnog-spilled trenches of the “War on Christmas.” To a lesser extent, the same is true of Easter, while it seems like fewer and fewer people know who St. Valentine even is. With that, it’s probably no surprise that St. Patrick’s Day is has just become a day to celebrate being Irish.

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But why? Why do we make such a big deal out of this day in the United States, to the point that some bishops offer special Lenten dispensations, even when (as it does this year) it falls on a Friday? St. Patrick’s Day isn’t even a big deal in Ireland, not compared to how we celebrate it in the United States. And corned beef isn’t even an Irish dish!

The answer is both simple and complex, and somewhat contradictory. No, it’s not actually an Irish day; but it’s rooted in being Irish. It’s a day steeped in Catholicism, and yet not in worship. And it’s a day that’s both very American and not at all, at the same time.

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The Irish emigrated all over the world, but the greatest number of them ended up here in the United States. The reason for that is twofold. First, the majority of those emigrants left during an extended era of English Protestant persecutions in Ireland, where to be an Irish Catholic was to be the lowest of the low. Even coming to face further persecution in the United States was better; and the stories of signs saying “No Dogs or Irish Allowed” aren’t exaggerations. If anything, they’re tame. Catholics in Ireland couldn’t be formally educated beyond what we might call a third grade level today; they couldn’t be in government or own certain kinds of property; and for a long time it was even legal to shoot a Catholic priest on sight.

Have you heard of the Irish Potato Famine? The Irish simply call it the Hunger, and it hit poor Irish hard because potatoes were the main part of their diets precisely because the English didn’t care to take it from them the way they taxed grain.

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During the Hunger, Ireland was actually exporting food, because many English didn’t want to waste it on the Irish. Some Protestants would actually go so far as to set up big soup cauldrons in villages, offering free food to any Catholics who would renounce their faith. Many would rather die. Others gave in.

Irish Catholics who came to the United States were entering another heavily Protestant country; in fact, Ireland was and is the only English-speaking Catholic nation in the world. But they were entering a nation that gave them far more opportunity, dirt-poor as they were, to succeed and better themselves and their families. Because as bad as it might have been to be Irish in the United States at the time, the United States still respected hard work. Ultimately, it didn’t matter your origins, as long as you pulled your weight. Factories, docks, and early police forces — jobs few others wanted — were all heavily dominated by Irish immigrants, and that in turn shaped the United States as a whole.

And most importantly, the second reason. They left a country where a priest could be shot on sight to live in a place where they could worship openly. They could go so far as to have great parades in the street, and even if some would get upset, no one tried shooting them.

Can you imagine how different that must have felt?

And that, too, shaped the United States. Dioceses were rapidly created by the Vatican throughout the young nation, in order to keep up with the explosion of Catholicism here. We’ve never been close to a majority, but as in most other nations we were responsible for a similar expansion of schools and medicine; there’s a reason why one in six hospitals in the United States are either outright owned by the Church or are officially affiliated with the Holy See, and why so many of the oldest universities in the nation have a similar history. Both teaching and tending to the sick benefit greatly from a religious tradition of redemptive suffering!

And all of that started with Irish immigrants celebrating the feast day of the patron saint of Ireland. They had given up the land of their ancestors, but kept the faith of their fathers. They could stand tall and proud and proclaim themselves not only Irish, but Catholic, and no one could tell them otherwise.

That is why St. Patrick’s Day is so important in the United States. That is why so many bishops give special dispensations from Lenten observances, even on a Friday. It isn’t an excuse to eat meat; it’s a recognition that even though this isn’t a solemnity like St. Joseph’s Day (the 19th of March), it nonetheless has massive cultural importance for Catholics in this nation, regardless of their own ethnic origins.

And I hope the symbolism of it being the feast day of a man who shook off bondage to return to minister to those who mistreated him isn’t lost on anyone. St. Patrick converted Ireland without any persecutions on either side. We could all use some of that today.

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St. Patrick, pray for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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