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Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children.

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Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem

He is a very shallow critic who cannot see an eternal rebel in the heart of a conservative.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

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Irish Elk
Thursday, February 27, 2003  
Churches of Quebec

Statue, Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church, Quebec City

The above image from Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church in Quebec City is included in a striking gallery on the religious heritage of Quebec. Would post more links, but would be here all day: One church is more beautiful and historic than the next in Quebec City and in Montreal. A magnificent collection.


What you find when you do a Google search on the phrase "hootenanny Mass"

“I still get boiling mad when some timid, narrow-minded adult tries to rebuke young Catholics’ enthusiasm and scoffs at their so called “Hootenanny Mass”—I’ve stood around the altar with them in their close-knit gatherings, listening to their songs, observing a joy in their faith and a single-minded reverence in their attention that put me to shame!” Brian Keith, star of Family Affair, addressing a communion breakfast in 1967.

I'm pretty sure Mr. French would have blanched at the mere mention of the term "hootenanny Mass." (Then again, maybe not.)

Not Elvis, though. From an essay by Credo founder Rev. Jerry Pokorsky:

Several weeks ago, I had an Elvis Presley sighting in my home parish. Perhaps I should clarify: There was an Elvis movie on the American Movie Classics TV network. I happened to catch the very end of the movie. I don’t know the name of the movie. I don’t think it was comedy. [The movie to which Father Pokorsky refers is apparently Change of Habit (1969) – Ed.] All I know is that Mary Tyler Moore was very young, and Elvis Presley had not yet gained his Las Vegas weight. In any case, the movie helps illustrate how far we have come in liturgical reform and where we, please God, must go.

Here is what I saw: Mary Tyler Moore appears in the pews of a church as a nun in full habit. The church has many statues and a beautiful crucifix. A Mass is being celebrated. The priest is wearing traditional Roman vestments. The sanctuary has a spectacular Gothic design. There are no “altar servers,” there are only “altar boys” in cassock and surplice. The Mass is being celebrated ad orientem—that is, facing east—and the tabernacle is on the altar in the middle.

And Elvis Presley is banging on his guitar just outside of the sanctuary, singing, “Let us sing together to the Lord.”

You either had to laugh or cry. Elvis and his hootenanny combo are not facing the sanctuary in worship; they are facing the people, with their backs to the altar and tabernacle. The people are being entertained, while the Mass takes place in the distant sanctuary. The priest and his altar boys seem oblivious to the vulgar behavior taking place just outside the sanctuary.

Of course the producers of the movie probably didn’t have any kind of agenda. They were only representing what was taking place in many Catholic churches at the time. I’m personally grateful to Elvis for the contribution he has made in preserving our liturgical heritage.


The Question of Liturgical 'Presidency'

An extract from an essay by the Rev. Bruce Harbert (shown here with JPII), executive secretary of the International Comission for English in the Liturgy, and a member of the council of the Association for Latin Liturgy:

One of the most startling paradoxes of the re-ordering of sanctuaries spawned by the universal promulgation of the idea of the priest's presidency at Mass (taking the literal meaning of praesideo 'I sit in front') has been the control over the execution and tone of the liturgy that it has given to the clergy. This after a Council which sought to reduce clerical domination and to bring the laity into a more complementary and pro-active rôle.

What is crucial is that nowhere in any Christian writer can anyone point to the word praesidere describing what the priest does at Mass - until 1970, that is.


My Mother's Things: A touching piece by Amy Welborn, who elsewhere weighs in on the war.


Could you imagine a pope blessing US troops?


When Pope Pius XII blessed American troops following their liberation of Rome, an infantryman in the audience captured the photo above.

A British soldier who was there recalled the event in his diary:

My driver was a devout Roman Catholic whilst I was a practising Wesleyan Methodist. We joined the American soldiers hurrying into the Papal Palace, and we soon packed into a large room. A short time later the Papal guard sprang to attention, and through a large door emerged the Pope, carried in a 'carriage' high on the shoulders of six strong bearers. He was dressed all in white and made a truly impressive sight.

He alighted from his 'carriage' and the stood in front of what was an audience of several hundred American Servicemen - and two English soldiers. The Pope then addressed us in quite good English. He thanked us for our past in liberating Rome and then said he would give a general blessing following which he would pass amongst the giant crowd and give a personal blessing to six people.

Slowly he passed amongst the throng and as he neared us I could sense the excitement of my colleague. Here he was, a Roman Catholic, hoping and no doubt praying that he would be a chosen one. Suddenly, His Holiness stopped right in front of us. He stretched out his arm and his hand then gently rested upon
my head! What a fantastic moment as the Pontiff gave me his personal blessing (in Latin), and handed me a Crucifix.

For the rest of my war years I continued to wear that Crucifix around my neck on the string which always carried my two identity discs.

This without doubt was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life and one that I will treasure for ever.
Arthur Cope

On the other hand, if the Ian Paisley school is to be believed, a papal blessing outstrips the Curse of Tutankhamen among Things to be Avoided at All Costs. Not only vampires recoil at holy water. So do Orangemen.


Praying for the enemy: Innkeeper John at the End of the World dips into the old missal for some eminently suitable collects for use in reference to Saddam & Co.


Catholics work to keep US soldiers supplied with rosaries


Church probe concludes statue tears are vegetable oil


Congratulations to Heather and Dale Price on the birth of their son!


Above and Beyond: The Wall Street Journal's Dorothy Rabinowitz recounts a tale of valor in the streets of Mogadishu.

The Medal of Honor Citations for both men tell roughly the same story. They pulled the crew from the aircraft, and they saved the pilot. They established a protective perimeter, putting themselves in the most vulnerable position. Each used his long-range rifle and side arm to kill an undetermined number of attackers while protecting the downed crew. "First Class Sergeant Shughart continued his protective fire until he depleted his ammunition and was fatally wounded." His own ammunition nearly depleted, Gordon found a rifle with the last five rounds of ammunition. This he handed to the dazed copter pilot with the words, "Good luck." Then, armed only with his pistol, "Master Sergeant Gordon continued to fight until he was fatally wounded."

She feared at first, Randall Shughart's mother recalled, that her son would be forgotten. He had not been, of course; but there were all the others who had also fought and been killed that day, she reflected--what of them? In one regard, she said, "my son was lucky."

He had, she explained, at least known happiness. "He was married for just two years. A good marriage."

The Medal of Honor ceremonies and everything connected with them now seem a long way off, but certain memories remain vivid. There had been one event when she had to face Les Aspin. She thought she would not be able to shake his hand. "I finally did. I just couldn't do that." Her husband had been less inhibited, and had refused to shake President Clinton's hand at the Medal of Honor ceremony in 1994. "You are not fit to be president," Mr. Shughart told Mr. Clinton. The president did not reply, Mrs. Shughart reports.


Tuesday, February 25, 2003  
Our Lady of Victory

Mary, Refuge of Sinners, 1836, Basilica of Our Lady of Victories, Paris

Inspired, or should I say provoked, by the latest from the Vatican, a sampling of churches dedicated to Our Lady of Victory:

The Basilica and National Shrine in Lackawanna, N.Y., won't be appearing anytime soon on Modern Liturgy magazine's list of top 10 tourist attractions. What a remarkable-looking place! Take a 360-degree panoramic view. Compare the altar at the OLV National Shrine to its equivalent at Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. I know which one I prefer, but expect 250 words from Todd by the end of the day.

A page of photos of Notre Dame des Victoires in Paris includes this striking image of the candle-lit shrine to Our Lady.

In the Canadian Arctic is the Igloo Church, Our Lady of Victory in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. This is the inside.


Those who like their liturgy interactive…

Will want to see Modern Liturgy magazine's latest Visual Arts Awards (PDF).

Showcased on the second page is a Jubilee 2000 Mass celebrated outdoors at a tennis stadium in Queens. According to the caption: After the assembly of the Brooklyn Diocese had gathered for the Mass, a team of dancers/builders carried stones from a pile to form the altar.

You might call it a Bull Gang Mass.


John Betts cuts to the chase, putting the case for war succinctly and well. See also his item on a college Republican stunt at UCLA that had the diversity claque howling.



The Complete Military History of France: Fast becoming an Internet chestnut. Image via Propaganda Postcards of the Great War.


After – and beyond – the tide of pacifism: L'Espresso Online carries an essay by Pietro De Marco on the Church and Iraq: The Catholic Church, to which I culturally and personally belong, and which I love, could also be weakened by declaring illegitimate the disciplinary function of the United States. It would be weakened at least in its power to guide the faithful. This power, in fact, as shown by its history under the totalitarian autocracies of the twentieth century, can be exercised only where the Church itself is exempt from constraints and systematic blackmail, constraints that are fully present in all the non-democratic areas of the world.


Monday, February 24, 2003  
Perhaps they'll pause for a peace rosary between Molotov cocktails

"Only peace must be an absolute value"

From the indispensable Sandro Magister of L'Espresso Online, a report on Jerusalem's Latin-rite patriarch, wholly in the pocket of Palestinian extremists: The Patriarch’s Peace March, with an al-Fatah Escort.

Patriarch Michel Sabbah is isolated even within the Palestinian Catholic community, Magister writes, because he is partisan; excessively aligned with the extremist currents that throw their weight around in Bethlehem and the territories, and that conditioned and distorted the Dec. 31 peace march.

Sabbah is the churchman who last September, after the announcement of the arrival in Jerusalem of Cardinal Martini – who is judged to be pro-Israeli – said that the Milanese cardinal was a “persona non grata.”

Sabbah is the man who gave this justification of Palestinian suicide terrorism; his words were transcribed from a videotape of a February 2002 discourse to the faithful:

“The situation is simply military occupation, from 1967 until today. Ours is an occupied country, which explains why people are tired and blow themselves up. The Israelis tell Palestinians: Stop the violence and you will have what you want without violence. But one has seen in the history of the last ten years that the Israelis have moved only forced by violence. Unfortunately, nothing but violence makes people march. And not only here. Every country has been born in blood.”

And it is he who in a homily for Easter 2002 Mass said that “injustice and oppression have been imposed on only one of the two peoples,” the Palestinians. And “the [Israeli] leaders must stop talking about terrorism to hide the root evil [committed by them] and to justify and feed the permanence of death and hatred.”

And what do they think about Patriarch Sabbah in the Vatican? In its April 4, 2002 issue, “L’Osservatore Romano” carried large sections of that Easter homily, as if in support of its theses.

Meantime, the equally indispensable John Allen offers a dispatch on the visit of Tariq Aziz to Assisi, with revealing background on the clerics in his retinue, among them a French former UN functionary-turned-priest who shills for Iraq, and this remarkable Melkite patriarch :

[O]ne of the more striking sidebars to the Assisi visit [was] the conspicuous presence alongside Aziz of Archbishop Hilarion Capucci, an auxiliary bishop of the Greek Melkite church in communion with Rome. Capucci, who led a tiny Melkite community in Jerusalem in the 1960s and 1970s, carries the personal title of “patriarch.”

To call Capucci’s past “checkered” would be an under-statement. He first came to public attention when he was arrested on August 18, 1974, by Israeli security forces in after returning to Jerusalem from a trip to Lebanon. His car was found stuffed with TNT and guns headed for the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

At the time, Israeli interrogators said Capucci had blamed “blackmail” by Al Fatah guerillas, claiming that they had threatened him with physical force and “disclosure of actions that might threaten his position in the church.” In August 2002, Franciscan Fr. David Maria Jeager, spokesperson for the Franciscan custodians of the holy sites in Jerusalem, supported this hypothesis in an interview with the Italian publication Libero. Jeager said Capucci in the 1960s had developed “personal interests, not at all compatible with the dignity of the priestly or episocopal office” that had left him vulnerable to Palestinian blackmail.

Reports suggest that prior to the 1967 war, Capucci had worked easily with Israeli authorities, so much so that some regarded him as a “collaborator.” After his arrest, however, he became an ardent champion of the Palestinian cause.

Capucci was sentenced to 12 years in prison and began organizing an international campaign to secure his release. At one point he declared a hunger strike. Pope Paul VI intervened with a personal letter to then-President of Israel Ephraim Katziv. Capucci was released in 1977, with, Israeli sources insist, an understanding that he would stay out of politics.

If so, the deal has been honored largely in the breach. Capucci served as a member of the Palestine National Council, the PLO’s parliament-in-exile, and in 1980 was dispatched by Yassir Arafat to negotiate the return of the bodies of American soldiers lost in the attempt to rescue the embassy hostages in Iran.

Capucci, now 81, has lived in a private apartment in Rome since his release, and according to sources, has maintained a low profile within Melkite circles in town. Yet he is quite visible on the political scene, often taking part in demonstrations or appearing on TV. Italian author Oriana Fallaci, whose recent anti-Islamic polemic La Rabbia e L’Orgoglio was a publishing sensation in Italy, has called Capucci “that saintly man with a Mercedes full of bombs who lives in the Vatican.”

In December 2000, Capucci made a visit to Lebanon to visit Sheikh Nabil Qaouq, a Hezbollah leader. In front of reporters, when he reached the Lebanese-Israeli border, Capucci picked up a stone and hurled it in the direction of the Israeli territory.

“I wish I had been with the heroes of the intifada to take part in their battle for the independence of Palestine,” Capucci said.

In March 2002, Capucci participated in a march in Rome which had been billed as an apolitical appeal for peace in the Middle East, but which some believe turned into a pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli exercise, with slogans and banners that even members of Italy’s secular left described as “anti-Semitic.” A group of young Palestinians dressed as suicide bombers led the procession.


He must have seen last week's cover.


Where Happiness Lives

St. Joseph Catholic Church provides a place of Christian worship that enhances the participation of parishioners in the Mass. Passing by a natural boulder from which water flows into baptismal pools, worshipers enter to see the faces of those who are already gathered. Soaring interior spaces flooded with light streaming through stained glass complete the open, friendly feeling of the worship space…Entry into the sanctuary was designed so that visitors would enter facing the congregation and see all of the member's "smiling faces." Description of St. Joseph Catholic Community, Arlington, Tex., by the Dallas architectural firm of Selzer Associates.



A more classical approach is taken at the firm of Notre Dame architecture chairman Thomas Gordon Smith.

See also the impressive church portfolio of CCBG Architects of Phoenix and San Diego.

Imagine if more firms approached religious projects as CCBG did its commission at St. Joseph, Husband of Mary Church in Las Vegas:

The design of this church sought to reunite Catholics with a building that looks like a church and connects the tradition of Catholicism with today’s world. Highly articulated, the interior is richly adorned with sculpture and liturgical art from Italy, Mexico and the Americas, and celebrates the mystery of faith and the ritual of mass.

St. Joseph, Husband of Mary Church, Las Vegas

Or as CCBG did the renovation of Sacred Heart Church in San Diego:

A chance to renovate a 1920’s mission-style Catholic church two blocks from the ocean created a need to honor the history and beautifully adorned simplicity of this worship space. The image of entering God’s house was reinforced in the original design, and respected in the renovation. The interior refurbishing focused on a series of small aesthetic and technical improvements that collectively rejuvenated the church, but did not reveal a date, thereby creating a sense of timelessness.

Altar, Sacred Heart Church, San Diego

Kudos to project architect Brian Cassidy.


Friday, February 21, 2003  
Cardinal Newman's Birthday


And E. L. Core has it covered.

In the Diocese of Kalamazoo – where Fr. Robert Johansen reportedly has again been silenced -- priests of Newman's order have transformed a house into a fine little Oratory.

How one wishes the Oratorians or the Anglican-Use Congregation of St. Athanasius were invited to adopt St. Aidan's, the landmark Brookline, Mass., church where John F. Kennedy was baptized, but which now faces redevelopment as a church-themed housing complex or office space.


Jesuit Family Album

The Inn at the End of the World recalls St. Robert Southwell, SJ, one of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales, who died for the Faith on this day in 1595.

Rev. Joseph MacDonnell, SJ, whose web site at Fairfield is a cyberspace font of Jesuitica, has reproduced online a fascinating resource volume, Jesuit Portraits: Some Sketches of Chivalry from the Early Society, with 202 capsule portraits of Jesuit scholars, scientists, artists, explorers and saints who impacted history during the first two and a half centuries of Jesuit history.

See also a 1609 pictorial biography of St. Ignatius Loyola illustrated by Peter Paul Rubens, from which the wonderful plates below are drawn.

33 He was beaten by savage blows in an undignified manner by impure men because of his attempt to restore abused women to a secure life.

35 Absorbed in prayer and four cubits off the floor, his face shining in a marvelous way, he was heard to cry frequently: "O Lord if they only knew you."

40 An assassin attacking him with a drawn sword was stopped by a voice: "What are you doing, you scoundrel?" Terrified, he abandoned his crime.

41 In a suburban chapel of the Blessed Virgin he and his nine companions took their vows, especially to go to Jerusalem and seek the palm of martyrdom. Each year they repeated this vow.

42 In an effort to dissuade a man from an impure life he stood in freezing water in the middle of winter and thus converted the man who was frightened by this sound and the sight.

From Company Magazine come several more interesting features on Jesuit history:

FEW JESUIT MISSIONS IN THE WORLD are as remote and difficult to reach as the 17th and 18th century reductions of Chiquitos, Bolivia. The proportions of their construction were related to musical harmonies, and they remain astonishing for the splendor of their carved altars, pulpits, and confessionals.

IN CHINA, THE TOMBSTONES of Matteo Ricci and other Jesuits of the 17th and 18th centuries are tucked away on the grounds of Beijing's Communist Party School.

WITH A HERITAGE OF SCHOLARSHIP that dates back to 1603, the Society of Bollandists have been determining fact and fiction in the lives of the saints for centuries.

The first volume of the Acta Sanctorum, containing the saints remembered in January, was published in 1643.


Thursday, February 20, 2003  
Now brought to you commercial-free

Many thanks to the anonymous benefactor who bought the ad off the top of the page. Kind of nice without the flashing banner, isn't it? Your generosity is much appreciated.



Music in the Ruins, c. 1918


By comparison, the anti-war nudists are exemplars of clear and persuasive argument.

Disarmingly mild-mannered Evan Coyne Maloney took video camera and microphone to the peace rally in New York this past weekend and did a street-corner Q&A with protesters.

The result? Oh, man.

Don't miss the picketer dressed as the Grim Reaper mulling the responsibilities of the international community to police Iraq. Who knew a death mask could look so flummoxed?


'My address book is the first casualty of war'

Stephen Pollard writes in The Times:

I am a warmonger. I am bloodthirsty. I am rabid. My friends want only peace and harmony, but I want to wreak destruction and killing. I want to see British soldiers doing the Texan moron’s dirty work for him.

Almost alone among my friends, I did not go on The March. My absence was not due to ambivalence, but because I considered the march to be contemptible. I think the marchers are not only wrong but dangerously, wilfully, shamefully wrong.

Since this is, literally, a matter of life and death, I have been prepared to tell them precisely why I think that they are so in error. Their response has been to tell me what they think of me.

In all my 38 years, I have never before felt such a sense of personal shock. I am shocked that so many of my friends would rather a brutal dictator remained in power — for that would be the direct consequence if their views won out — than support military action by the United States. I am ashamed that they would rather believe the words of President Saddam Hussein than those of their own Prime Minister. I am nauseated that they would rather give succour to evil than think through the implications of their gut feelings.

It is a shocking experience to realise that your friends are either mindless, deluded or malevolent...


The quiet Americans…for war

It's become a habit now. Weekend peace marchers fill the streets. The organizers tell us the "new" peace movement is growing across the land. Reporters go out of their way to tell us (assure us?) that this winter's demonstrators are not just your organic-garden-variety peaceniks or antiwar fringe. No, they're freshly galvanized everyday middle-class Americans, businessmen and women, suburbanites, soccer moms and lawn-mowing dads -- Republicans even.

I have my doubts about some of this...

Just go to PollingReport.com. There, you'll find a rundown of U.S. opinion polls on Iraq. The most recent CBS News/New York Times poll showed that 66 percent approved military action and 29 percent disapproved. FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll (Feb. 11-12) had 69 percent supporting a war and 23 percent opposing. A Newsweek Poll by Princeton Survey Research Associates found 70 percent favored military action and 25 percent did not. The CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll found that 63 percent supported invading Iraq and 34 percent opposed -- the highest level of support and lowest level of opposition this one poll has reported.

Somebody must not be telling the public about the growing peace movement.

More from David Reinhard at The Oregonian.



SOLD: Convent altar

Antique Church Furnishings sold here.


Detroit cathedral renovation: Here's a video the Detroit Archdiocese has made to promote a $15-million refurbishment of Most Blessed Sacrament Cathedral. The church does look rather dingy. NASA appears to have drawn up these plans for new reconciliation chambers, new electro-pneumatic organ, and a cathedra that looks ready for liftoff.


A tour de force by Dale Price

I think the neopagan and New Ager instinctively understands what the Western Church used to, but has largely forgotten: the power of transcendent symbols in worship, and their ability to point to God. Items like Chant, the high altar, baldacchino, altar rails, iconography, smells and bells, etc. The Eastern Church understands this perfectly, as can be seen with the iconostasis, complete with gates, which, far from proclaiming "exclusion," proclaims instead mystery and holiness. Not coincidentally, Vosko doesn't seem to get calls from either the Byzantines or the Orthodox.

Indeed, far from separating us from God, these artifacts remind us of Him.

The early Church understood the longings of pagans. It did not deny them, but rather the Church baptized and redirected these longings to the true worship of God Become Man. Think St. Paul on the Areopagus. Frankly, these spiritual cravings are not so much pagan as universally human. As part of this process, the Church pointed the newly-converted to more universal elements in the liturgy, such as the use of altars, images and incense, and adopted church design, art and even Roman civil organization (the "diocese") from the surrounding Empire.

In addition, the Church developed other art forms which it incorporated in the liturgy, like the aforementioned Chant, high altars, etc. These items stayed on because they pointed to the transcendent.

And, lo, it worked. The Catholic Church became a Church Universal indeed, converting and retaining the descendants of such diverse cultures as the Chinese, Aztecs, Slavs, Africans and even barbarian Saxons and Celts on two largish islands off the northwest coast of Europe.

No more. The vertical is largely lost, and what remains is obscured…

Go read the whole essay, posted Feb. 19.


William Luse's letters to his children

The author of the Apologia blog came across a number of poems, limericks and notes he had written years ago to his daughters, and reprinted several at his site. Witty – and very touching. No links, so visit his site and see entries for Saturday, Feb. 1; Sunday, Feb. 9; Tuesday, Feb. 11, and Thursday, Feb. 13.


The Wayfarer

Posted at the Inn at the End of the World, this sublime poem by Padraic Pearse, his last, written the night before he was shot for his role in the Easter Rising.

The beauty of the world hath made me sad,
This beauty that will pass;
Sometimes my heart hath shaken with great joy
To see a leaping squirrel in a tree,
Or a red lady-bird upon a stalk,
Or little rabbits in a field at evening,
Lit by a slanting sun,
Or some green hill where shadows drifted by
Some quiet hill where mountainy man hath sown
And soon would reap near to the gate of Heaven;
Or children with bare feet upon the sands
Of some ebbed sea or playing on the streets
Of little towns in Connacht,
Things young and happy.
And then my heart hath told me:
These will pass,
Will pass and change, will die and be no more,
Things bright and green, things young and happy;
And I have gone upon my way


Wednesday, February 19, 2003  
Saddam's apologists in Communion & Liberation

A platitudinous statement defending the pope's anti-war position that recently was issued by one of JPII's favored ecclesial movements appears all the more disingenuous when viewed in light of the movement's prior support for Saddam Hussein.

From the San Francisco Chronicle, May 15, 1991:

A San Francisco priest who edits an ultraconservative religious magazine has parted ways with Italian Catholic rightists who founded the publication over issues including their support for Saddam Hussein during the Persian Gulf war.

The Rev. Joseph Fessio, who oversaw the English language edition of the 60,000-circulation magazine 30 Days, said he plans to quit and put out his own publication on Catholic affairs.

Fessio said he broke with the Italian Catholic group Communion and Liberation after the organization, which runs the magazine, sided with the Iraqi government in the gulf war. ""I came back from Rome convinced there was no way to keep the relationship going with the Italians," Fessio said. ""We're starting something new to replace the magazine."

30 Days began by stressing a highly orthodox line in religious affairs and militantly supported anti-abortion and other conservative Catholic groups. It fit well with Fessio's own educational program, run out of the St. Ignatius Institute at the University of San Francisco, which emphasizes classical education and the traditional family.

However, in the past six months, the journal has taken an increasingly ""flaky" position, said Tony Ryan, Fessio's main assistant. Ryan said that there were allegations of an international Masonic conspiracy secretly controlling world events and that intimations of anti-Semitic sympathies gave way to a thinly disguised support for Iraq during the gulf war, with prominent statements by Christian supporters of Saddam and his regime.

""I felt they had come to pursue an ideological campaign in place of a journalistic service," said Fessio. ""I didn't object to criticism of the war, but there's such a thing as bad criticism."

From Reuters, Feb. 26, 1991

ROME, Feb 26, Reuter - An Italian Catholic magazine said on Tuesday that U.S. President George Bush should receive the "Nobel War Prize" for ordering a ground offensive instead of accepting a Soviet peace plan to end the Gulf War.

The editorial in the weekly Il Sabato, one of the most widely-read religious publications in Italy, came one day after the Vatican's own newspaper criticised the United States and its allies for choosing a ground offensive over the peace plan.

"George Bush is a gloomy master of the world. He had the very concrete possibility for a just peace and he chose war," the editorial said.

"He did not give a damn about anybody, about Mikhail Gorbachev's plan which had been approved by Iraq, about U.N. meetings and about the support the Soviet plan had won from around the world."

Il Sabato is the organ of the controversial "Communion and Liberation" Italian Catholic movement, which has more than 100,000 mostly young members. It has a powerful political wing associated with the Christian Democratic party.

On Monday, the editor-in-chief of the Vatican newspaper, Osservatore Romano, blasted the U.S. and its anti-Iraq allies for starting the ground offensive, saying "plans for war have prevailed over projects for peace".

The Vatican last week gave its full backing to the Soviet peace plan, which Washington dismissed as falling short of its terms for Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait.

Plus ca change…

More on the Communion and Liberation statement, from Domenico Bettinelli.



From Assisi to Baghdad

L'Espresso Online's Sandro Magister comments on the Saddam-Etchegaray meeting:

In Cardinal Etchegaray’s, given exclusively to “Avvenire,” the daily newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, after his meeting with Saddam Hussein, there is not a single word that calls to mind – even cautiously – the one realistic solution that can avoid war: Hussein’s departure from the stage and a free, internationally-guaranteed Iraq.

One could suppose that the cardinal is sticking to traditional diplomatic reserve. But in his interview there is also deafening silence on another issue, and this one is incomprehensible: The cardinal does not devote a single word to the horrible sufferings endured for decades by the Iraqi people, not at the hands of external agents, but at those of its tyrant and those who surround him.

And he runs an interview with the Franciscan who showed Tareq Aziz around Assisi:

“[...] They asked me: would you welcome Saddam Hussein’s right-hand man?”

What did you say?

“I answered as Francis would have answered. We extend our hand to everyone. Should I perhaps tell the story of the wolf of Gubbio?”

No, but Aziz is the kind of wolf who, when Saddam Hussein was eliminating the opponents of his regime by hanging them on the lampposts of Baghdad, said ‘The city couldn’t have better decorations.’

“I didn’t know that.”

And, Father, what about the attack on Iran? And the invasion of Kuwait?

“I know. But the point is that we follow the teachings of Francis and don’t make it our business to ask the pilgrim: Who are you?”

[...] So, what’s the schedule?

“The first stop is at the Portiuncula, the church dedicated to St. Mary of the Angels. Aziz, they tell me, is a fervent Chaldean Catholic, and thus has a profound Marian spirituality.”

Father, are you so sure about this profound Marian spirituality?

“Sure, no, but who can be sure of anything? The truth is that there is an intolerably hostile climate growing against this man. And what about Arafat?”

Arafat? What are you talking about?

“Arafat, the Palestinian leader. Didn’t he paint the town red before redeeming himself?”

Let’s get back to the schedule.

“The first stop is at the Portiuncula. Then we’ll go to the lower Basilica. There will be two strongly symbolic moments. We will give Aziz a copy of the lamp that John Paul II left there, to remain lit forever, when we had here the historic moment of prayer with the leaders of all the religions of the world.”

And then?

“And then we will show Aziz the horn that Kamil, the sultan of Egypt, gave to Brother Francis in 1219, while a useless and bloody crusade was going on.”

But aren’t you going to talk about Saddam Hussein at all with the Iraqi minister?

“No, this will be a religious meditation, not politics.”



Catholic church altar, Victoria, Minn., early 1900s postcard

Lileks on Catholic church architecture:

It was built in 1962, and it shows. The floors were paved with salt-and-pepper terrazzo; the bricks were light red, the railing around the altar was the black-and-white marble you’d find in the lobby of Perry Mason’s office building. The altar space was immense, and empty - a blank screen against the wall, a canopy floating in the middle of the space (its eyebrow shape seemed designed to capture prayers and deflect them back down) and a tiny crucifixion scene hanging in the air, a potent jot of symbolism in this empty Empyrean expanse. Very 1962. Oh so 1962. You could imagine the congregation back then - narrow lapels, thin ties, shaved necks, a faint ghost of Vitalis and Winstons hanging over the men. The women had nylons that skrred when they walked; sensible Republican cloth coats, Patsy Cline hair that had been aqua-netted to the brittle consistency of frozen cotton candy. This place must have seemed extraordinary to their eyes, at least compared to the old church - no more the suffocating jumble of Gothic iconography, the cold wind shooting in through ancient windows, the creaky pews, the heavy timbered roof. This was the future. You might as well have carved LATIN NOT SPOKEN HERE over the door.

I kept expecting the gigantic screen to slide up and reveal a bank of Univac computers, busily computing the ideal homily to keep the people believing in Landru.

I understand the concept - rather than stuff every corner with some sad-eyed disapproving saint, rather than have every square inch radiate HISTORY and OBEDIENCE and MAJESTY, the architects pared it down to the essential details: the stained-glass window with its triumphal expression of Mariology put the church firmly in Catholic territory, and the lone small Christ hanging in mid-air concentrated the worshipper’s mind on the essentials. I grew up around modern churches, so these places don’t leave me cold. But there’s something forlorn about the churches whose modernism now feels dated and failed. In the old churches your faith was reflected in the splendor around the altar - the faces, the symbols, the details of stone and wood that tied this place to centuries past. Here the great void over the altar swamps and swallows the tiny little Christ. The architects, in effect, made people pray to something hanging off a charm bracelet…

Oh, to write as well as he. (Link courtesy of the Rev. Jeff Gill)


The artistic relevance of high altars

Altarpiece of Coronation of the Virgin, 1499, Basilica, Szepeskáptalan, Hungary

A faithful correspondent of progressive liturgical bent has commented to the effect that high altars are irrelevant.

I, of course, could not disagree more. Just look at the masterpieces of devotional art at this site on Hungarian winged altarpieces. Or browse the results of a search there for altar images, any of which may be sent as a postcard.

Or see this image from the Catholic Encyclopedia and this and this from a UC-Santa Cruz archive of the Certosa di Pavia in Italy.

Compare to the showpiece sanctuary highlighted at this church-furnishing site. Or to Archbishop Rembert Weakland's un-sanctuary with hovering barbed-wire. Or anything by Vosko.

High altars irrelevant? Never.


Great site for those who love churches:

The Ecclesiological Society

And for those who love churchyards:

The Association for Gravestone Studies


St. Blog's at War

Karen Hall does not suffer the appeasement lobby gladly. Neither does America's Small-Town Weblog. Neither does Pdawwg. And neither does Bill Cork, who notes the liberation theologians of the Catholic Left were relatively silent on Just War theory when the Sandinistas were doing the fighting.


When radical politics = theology

Be glad for sacraments. The pastor in this article points up the inherent weightlessness of the Unitarian marriage rite.


Snow with our Washington Pie.

Presidents Day and the following morning were spent shoveling out from two feet of snow. Then, snow forts and hot chocolate. It's beautiful today, with the snow coating the pines and piled in great drifts in the yard, and the titmice and chickadees swooping at the feeder. Of course, if it snows again, we won't have any place to put it.


Monday, February 17, 2003  

Quick, somebody send the Vatican this week's edition of Weekly World News.

Christopher Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal weighs in on the Holy See's latest conciliatory outreach to the Butcher of Baghdad. Respecting the Vatican's opposition on just-war grounds to US action "would be infinitely easier," he writes, "were I not confronted with the image of a papal envoy listening politely while a mass-murderer declared what the Vicar of Christ's responsibilities before God ought to be.

More on the Vatican-Iraq niceties at Disordered Affections.

And this from Andrew Sullivan:

THE VATICAN AND THE THUGS: The Roman Catholic hierarchy is now in full spin behind Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. It was truly sickening to see Tariq Aziz, the instrument of one of the most murderous regimes on earth, using the shrine of St Francis for a photo-op. It's even more sickening to read the comments of Cardinal Etchegaray, informing the world that Saddam Hussein had been relieved by Friday's report to the United Nations by the chief weapons inspectors. "He [Saddam Hussein] is doing everything to avoid war," the Cardinal told Italian television, according to French news agency AFP.

I know these aren't matters of faith and doctrine to which all Catholics are supposed to assent. But after the child-abuse scandals, we now have to deal with a Catholic hierarchy that is actively supporting genocidal dictators and their malevolent agendas. When the world needs moral clarity, the Vatican gives us the spin from Baghdad. It really is 1933 again, isn't it?


As the saying goes, those who don't learn from history…

The Neville Chamberlain spirit of the recent anti-war rallies was not lost on Little Green Footballs.

Andrew Sullivan commented on the selection of slogans from which anti-war protesters were choosing for tee-shirts and banners (second item):

Notice that only one addresses anything to do with the threat from Saddam. Notice also the constant harping on the tired old notion that Bush is an idiot - "Brains Not Bombs," "Bush Is a Moron," "Smart Bombs Don't Justify Dumb Leaders." Notice the personal attacks - "Draft the Bush Twins," "Sorry, Dubya, Have a Pretzel Instead." Notice the idiotic moral equivalence: "Who's The Unelected Tyrant With The Bomb?" It's hard not to feel demoralized by a culture that can throw up such things as genuine pieces of protest. It's as if an entire generation or more has forgotten what an argument is.


What Iraq's exiles made of the anti-war marches:

As hundreds of exiles, many of them with first-hand experience of Saddam Hussein's brutality, prepared to stage their own counter-demonstration in London today, many spoke with anger as they watched the peace protesters pour through the streets of London.

Some of the strongest feelings were expressed at a house in Shepherd's Bush, west London, where a group of exiles from Basra in southern Iraq gathered to view television coverage of the anti-war demonstration.

As his sister Nibal, 43, prepared the chicken and rice, Ali al-Ezzawi, 51, insisted that there had to be "a war against Saddam to help the Iraqi people" as he struggled to make sense of protesters' slogans, shaking his head with disbelief as he spotted one saying: "A scud against Bush is worth two against Saddam."

"Why do they say these silly things? No one inside Iraq will agree with what they are doing now. They are waiting day by day for Saddam Hussein to be deposed, for the unfinished business of 1991 to be completed," said Mr al-Ezzawi.

On the other hand, Saddam loved the rallies.


Hoya, Saxa: Georgetown students took part in a pro-US picket of the French embassy. Sign of the day: 1918, 1944: You're Welcome.


Fr. Bryce Sibley writes at his blog on Feb. 15:


This evening for my homily, although I guess it really was a sermon, I gave the congregation the three points about the anti-war protests I posted today on my blog: 1. The protests had a potential for violence, 2. They are communist driven, 3. The hippies are back. I thought it would just be a simple homily stating the facts, not too exciting really. When I finished, the congregation broke out into spontaneous applause. As crazy as the media might make it out to be and as obnoxious as these communists can be, the good faithful people in the pew know what is right and who is crazy. Don't forget it.


John McCain on Iraq containment, via E. L. Core: Placing faith in containment today recalls Churchill’s admonition in the 1930s about placing faith in a collective defense that lacked the teeth or the will to confront a common enemy. As Churchill said of the League of Nation’s failure to respond to Italian aggression in Abyssinia, there is not much collective security in a flock of sheep on the way to the butcher.


Friday, February 14, 2003  
He outlasted Cromwell

Medieval tomb effigy, St. Canice's Cathedral, Kilkenny.

Historic churches in which Cromwell's troops stabled horses include:

In Scotland, St. Nicholas Buccleuch in Dalkeith, Sinclair Chapel at Rosslyn Castle, Whitekirk church, the crypt of Glasgow Cathedral, the only pre-Reformation cathedral in mainland Scotland left standing by Cromwell's army, and St. Magnus Cathedral in the Orkney Islands.

In Ireland, St. Nicholas of Myra Church in Galway, St. Canice's in Kilkenny, St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, and the Augustinian Abbey in Co. Tipperary.

In Wales, Llandaff Cathedral, used by Cromwell's armies as a beer hall. In England, medieval tomb-effigies somehow survived the ransacking of the priory chapel at Cartmel; at Willingham, Cromwell's forces kept records of the church decorations destroyed.

The historian Macaulay on the puritan zeal of the Roundheads:

But that which chiefly distinguished the army of Cromwell from other armies was the austere morality and the fear of God which pervaded all ranks. It is acknowledged by the most zealous royalists that, in that singular camp, no oath was heard, no drunkenness or gambling was seen, and that, during the long dominion of the soldiery, the property of the peaceable citizen and the honor of woman were held sacred. If outrages were committed, they were outrages of a very different kind from those of which a victorious army is generally guilty. No servant girl complained of the rough gallantry of the redcoats. Not an ounce of plate was taken from the shops of the goldsmiths. But a Pelagian sermon, or a window on which the Virgin and Child were painted, produced in the Puritan ranks an excitement which it required the utmost exertions of the officers to quell. One of Cromwell's chief difficulties was to restrain he pikemen and dragoons from invading by main force the pulpits of ministers whose discourses, to use the language of that time, were not savory; and too many of our cathedrals still bear the marks of the hatred with which those stern spirits regarded every vestige of Popery.

And this:

There was scarcely a rural grandee who could not tell a story of wrongs and insults suffered by himself, or by his father, at the hands of the parliamentary soldiers. One old Cavalier had seen half his manor house blown up. The hereditary elms of another had been hewn down. A third could never go into his parish church without being reminded by the defaced scutcheons and headless statues of his ancestry, that Oliver's redcoats had once stabled their horses there.


weapons of Mass destruction
weapons of Mass deconstruction
weapons of Mass distraction

What's your term for the liturgists' armory of choice? (A tip o' th' biretta to Dylan.)

Meantime, over at Dyspeptic Mutterings, Dale Price is mounting a vigorous counterattack against what he calls, with WWF panache, "the Full Vosko."


The Fading Orthodoxy of Modernism and the remaking of Catholic Church architecture

James Hitchcock wields a rapier in this review of a new book by a modern liturgist:

One of the fallacies of older styles, as liturgists endlessly argue, is the sense of separation they fostered between the priest and the congregation, and the new architecture breaks down this "clericalism." Yet, as DeSanctis never tires of repeating, there can be no real architectural "renewal" in a parish unless the pastor wants it and is willing to use every ounce of his authority to achieve it, over the objections of many of the laity. Church renovation is a subject on which father still knows best.

One of the consecrated words of liberal Catholicism is "dialogue" but it scarcely appears in this book, and, for good reason -- experience has shown that allowing lay people to express their opinions about church remodeling leads to the "wrong" results. Parishioners must rather be confronted by experts who inform them of what must be done and explain why any reservations they have are ignorant and wrong-headed. (Full disclosure: the author of this essay and the editor of this journal are among those so dismissed in the book.)

Thus, according to DeSanctis, we must "educate! educate! educate!"; but it is not education as liberals ordinarily conceive it. While liberal Catholics insist that popes cannot simply issue decrees, liturgists insist with equal fervor that this is precisely what priests and bishops must do to overcome lay resistance to change. Church dogma requires the consent of the faithful, but church renovators are apparently infallible, their educational program a process of repetitive proselytizing, until resisters finally give up.

A revealing example is one of DeSanctis's success stories, a pastor who overrode lay resistance to renovation and now says, "I just like being in [the building].... I'll just go into the church and sit there looking at the light, the forms, the colors" At one time a priest would have said that he slipped into church to pray in the presence of Our Lord. Now the significance of the structure is a merely aesthetic experience that could be gained anywhere, its validity derived from the personal feelings of the priest.

In the same edition of Adoremus Bulletin, Deacon Roger Marks offers a heartfelt tribute to bells at church: Let freedom RING!


Latin Phrase of the Week: A useful new service from Fr. Jim Tucker, whose whole blog is a useful service, if you ask me.


Stained Glass Quarterly: The journal of the Stained Glass Association of America has some striking visuals accompanying its feature articles on historic churches.


Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington, Ky.

See a story and a graphic from December 2001 on the renovation of the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in Covington, KY. The project had been criticized by Michael Rose, but appears to have turned out rather well. The architects' perspective is here.


Thursday, February 13, 2003  

Purging history

Part of an altar removed from St. John the Baptist Church lies in a dumpster, Northern Cambria, Pa., 2000.

In a powerful essay on the conservative vision of Edmund Burke, Roger Scruton writes:

Burke was of additional interest to me on account of the intellectual path that he had trod. His first work, like mine, was in aesthetics. And although I didn’t find much of philosophical significance in his Essay on the Sublime and the Beautiful, I could see that, in the right cultural climate, it would convey a powerful sense of the meaning of aesthetic judgment and of its indispensable place in our lives. I suppose that, in so far as I had received any intimations of my future career as an intellectual pariah, it was through my early reactions to modern architecture, and to the desecration of my childhood landscape by the faceless boxes of suburbia. I learned as a teenager that aesthetic judgment matters, that it is not merely a subjective opinion, unargued because unarguable, and of no significance to anyone besides oneself. I saw—though I did not have the philosophy to justify this—that aesthetic judgment lays a claim upon the world, that it issues from a deep social imperative, and that it matters to us in just the way that other people matter to us, when we strive to live with them in a community. And, so it seemed to me, the aesthetics of modernism, with its denial of the past, its vandalization of the landscape and townscape, and its attempt to purge the world of history, was also a denial of community, home, and settlement. Modernism in architecture was an attempt to remake the world as though it contained nothing save atomic individuals, disinfected of the past, and living like ants within their metallic and functional shells.

Scruton later describes, from experience, the political and social result of the revolutionary drive to remake the world in accord with the ideology of the moment:

It was not until much later, after my first visit to communist Europe, that I came to understand and sympathize with the negative energy in Burke. I had grasped the positive thesis—the defense of prejudice, tradition, and heredity, and of a politics of trusteeship in which the past and the future had equal weight to the present—but I had not grasped the deep negative thesis, the glimpse into Hell, contained in his vision of the Revolution. As I said, I shared the liberal humanist view of the French Revolution, and knew nothing of the facts that decisively refuted that view and which vindicated the argument of Burke’s astonishingly prescient essay. My encounter with Communism entirely rectified this.

Perhaps the most fascinating and terrifying aspect of Communism was its ability to banish truth from human affairs, and to force whole populations to “live within the lie,” as President Havel put it. George Orwell wrote a prophetic and penetrating novel about this; but few Western readers of that novel knew the extent to which its prophecies had come true in Central Europe. To me it was the greatest revelation, when first I travelled to Czechoslovakia in 1979, to come face to face with a situation in which people could, at any moment, be removed from the book of history, in which truth could not be uttered, and in which the Party could decide from day to day not only what would happen tomorrow, but also what had happened today, what had happened yesterday, and what had happened before its leaders had been born. This, I realized, was the situation that Burke was describing, to a largely incredulous readership, in 1790. And two hundred years later the situation still existed, and the incredulity along with it.


Save Sacred Heart Cathedral

In Rochester, the Sacred Heart Preservation Committee is campaigning to save the cathedral once home to Archbishop Fulton Sheen from a dismantling by liturgical-design consultant Richard Vosko.

The committee claims more than 6,000 people have signed a petition against the project, which the group says is to cost upwards of $8 million.

In 2003, the majestic High Altar will be needlessly destroyed. The elegant marble sanctuary will be jack hammered, and the giant Sacred Heart statue will also be removed, along with the 30 foot high brass canopy and the Blessed Sacrament. The High Altar will be replaced with a pipe organ, and a new altar table will be installed in the middle of the congregation, similar to a theater-in-the-round. The beautiful hanging light fixtures will be eliminated and the stained glass windows are presently in question.

An opening will be cut through the Cathedral's beautiful Indiana limestone exterior wall, for access to a new glass atrium addition on the East side of Sacred Heart. Such an addition will obviously obscure the Gothic architectural design of the exterior. The new Sacred Heart Cathedral may look more like a community center or auditorium.

For an example of Vosko's past work, see St. James Cathedral in Seattle before and after. Critics in San Antonio have compiled a more detailed Vosko dossier.

See what's in store for the Rochester cathedral here.

(Via De Fidei Oboedientia)


Quashing traditional devotions: A liturgist's how-to

Rev. James Field is the former director of the Boston Archdiocese's Office of Worship. As such he once explained to me how sanctus bells were an anachronism not needed by an assembly actively participating in the liturgy. And his authority was cited by a chapel prefect in summarily nixing a request for a Tridentine Mass on campus. ("Not letting that camel get its nose under the tent," the prefect declared.)

Fr. Field is a member of the board of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions. And he is author of a series of parish-bulletin inserts published by Oregon Catholic Press titled -- ready? -- "Full, Conscious and Active Participation."

A report he once issued on perpetual adoration was a marvel of obstructionism. Note the undisguised glee in confounding the aspirations of the pious:

"These requests are referred to the Office for Worship directly by Cardinal Law. In most cases, when the requirements for Perpetual Adoration are explored, the request is withdrawn by the pastor. In one case, the parish moved ahead with the request.

"In order for them to begin on an experimental basis, they had to tend to the primary form of Eucharistic activity. They were required to celebrate Sunday liturgy with attention to ministry, to engagement of the assembly, and to music at every Mass. They had to institute communion from the cup, and have a full corps of [communion] ministers to serve in the hospitals, nursing homes, and in the homes of the sick. They also had to build a secure place for adoration apart from the main body of the church and provide a sufficient number of volunteers to fulfill the requirements of the devotion. After these matters were attended to, the parish returned to the Archdiocese for permission, which Cardinal Law granted.

"Occasionally a parish moves ahead with a request for Perpetual Adoration. I usually begin by sending them to St. Patrick's in Natick to see the scope of liturgical change required before a request can be heard. You can imagine what the promoters do when they realize that a request for Perpetual Adoration activates Archdiocesan policies on communion under both species, not to mention singing at Mass."

A post on this topic a few months prompted a sharp response from a priest decrying the "sheer effrontery of the self-appointed liturgical elite."

I post Fr. Field's primer again as an example of a certain mindset common to the liturgy-clericalists – and as an explanation of why I see red flags when discretionary rules on sung responsorial psalms or the chaperoning of singing lessons are suddenly imposed on an orthodox schola cantorum.


The liturgical-industrial complex

More on Fr. Field's Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, from the Adoremus Bulletin a year ago: New Partnership - FDLC and OCP: Oregon Catholic Press…will be the exclusive publisher for all current and future FDLC publications...The press, an agency of the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, is one of country's largest publishers of Church music, "missalettes", and many other "worship aids". The only other diocesan-owned publisher of its scope is Liturgy Training Publications of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

And from this past November's Adoremus Bulletin: The Liturgy and "Unbridled Capitalism"

The liturgy in this country is influenced far more by the "liturgical-industrial complex" -- by publishing companies and bureaucracies like the FDLC -- than by the bishops or the Holy See. Authoritative documents, such as the Instruction on sacred music, Musicam Sacram, are scarcely known and widely ignored, while two-thirds of the Catholics in America have their ideas of liturgical music formed by the Oregon Catholic Press. Parish liturgy planners are far more likely to get their notion of proper liturgical practice from one of the 400 OCP workshops and LTP's "Sourcebooks" and lectors' workbooks than from a careful reading of the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Liturgy or the Roman Missal's rules for the celebration of Mass.

What has liturgy to do with the pursuit of profit? Should the market govern Catholic worship?

As Father Michel predicted nearly 65 years ago, the virtual monopolies in the liturgical publishing industry, and its "unbridled capitalism", has
bridled, not promoted, the true reform of the liturgy and Catholic music for worship. And "in growing numbers [the masses] feel the futility of initiative and effort to improve their lot".


"Club-wielding restorationists"

That's what the orthodox-minded founders of the Association of Students at Catholic Colleges have been called on campus, so how could I not post a link to their new blog?


Wednesday, February 12, 2003  
On Lincoln's Birthday

Lincoln borne aloft by angels in an 1865 lithograph by D.T. Wiest. *

It's worth recalling the president now generally acknowledged to have been the greatest in American history was derided by many in the smart set of his day as a backwoods idiot, a usurper, a warmonger and an ape.

Partisan newspapers abused the President as "a slangwhanging stump speaker," a "half-witted usurper," a "mole-eyed" monster with "soul ... of leather,""the present turtle at the head of the government." Men of his own party openly charged that he was "unfit," a "political coward," a "dictator,""timid and ignorant,""shattered, dazed, utterly foolish." Grolier Online

"His mind works in the right directions but seldom works clearly and cleanly. His bread is of unbolted flour, and much straw, too, mixes in the bran, and sometimes gravel stones." Henry Ward Beecher on Abraham Lincoln

"The President is nothing more than a well-meaning baboon…I went to the White House directly after tea where I found “the original Gorilla” about as intelligent as ever. What a specimen to be at the head of our affairs now!" General George McClellan on Abraham Lincoln

"Filthy Story-Teller, Despot, Liar, Thief, Braggart, Buffoon, Usurper, Monster, Ignoramus Abe, Old Scoundrel, Perjurer, Robber, Swindler, Tyrant, Field-Butcher, Land Pirate." Harper’s Weekly on Abraham Lincoln

"Mr. Lincoln evidently knows nothing of…the higher elements of human nature…His soul seems made of leather, and incapable of any grand or noble emotion. Compared with the mass of men, he is a line of flat prose in a beautiful and spirited lyric. He lowers, he never elevates you…When he hits upon a policy, substantially good in itself, he contrives to belittle it, besmear it in some way to render it mean, contemptible and useless. Even wisdom from him seems but folly." The New York Post

"…We did not conceive it possible that even Mr. Lincoln would produce a paper so slipshod, so loose-joined, so puerile, not alone in literary construction, but in its ideas, its sentiments, its grasp. He has outdone himself. He has literally come out of the little end of his own horn. By the side of it, mediocrity is superb." The Chicago Times on the Gettysburg Address (Via Betsy Newmark)

"Our country owes all its troubles to him, and God simply made me an instrument of his punishment." John Wilkes Booth on Abraham Lincoln

This extraordinary interest in the details of Lincoln's life seems the more astonishing in light of his low contemporary standing. His associates were sure there were greater figures in their era; usually they had at least one such person in mind--and close at home at that. Lincoln they thought a simple Susan, a baboon, an aimless punster, a smutty joker. He left the highway of principle to pursue the devious paths of expediency. A "huckster in politics," sneered Wendell Phillips, "a first-rate second-rate man." A Springfield neighbor called him "The craftiest and most dishonest politician that ever disgraced an office in America." "If I wanted to paint a despot, a man perfectly regardless of every constitutional right of the people," cried Saulsbury of Delaware in the Senate, "I would paint the hideous form of Abraham Lincoln...."

Not even assassination at once translated Lincoln into sainthood. "The decease of Mr. Lincoln is a great national bereavement," conceded Representative J. M. Ashley of Ohio, "but I am not so sure it is so much of a national loss." Within eight hours of his murder Republican Congressmen in secret caucus agreed that "his death is a godsend to our cause." Andrew Johnson, they believed, would carry through the proposed social revolution in the South which the conciliatory Lincoln had blocked. Now, crowed Ben Wade, "there will be no trouble running the government."

But politicians of all parties were apparently startled by the extent of the national grief over Lincoln, and, politician-like, they decided to capitalize upon it. Democrats were, of course, under a handicap, but a surprising number of them now discovered that they had really heartily endorsed the Lincoln program. That vicious Copperhead sheet the Chicago *Times* discerned "indications of the last few days of [Lincoln's] life that he might command [Democratic] support on the close of the war," and Clement L. Vallandigham reported that even the peace men had begun "to turn toward Lincoln for deliverance."
David Donald, "Getting Right With Lincoln," The Atlantic Monthly, 1956

Lincoln is caricatured as "The Great American 'What Is It?' Chased by Copperheads" in this anti-Lincoln cartoon, which is included in a remarkable online gallery of historic prints from Harper's Weekly.

Another fine online repository of historic images is Picture History, which offers this Lincoln archive.

E. L. Core prints an eloquently-worded correspondence between President Lincoln and a Quaker friend.

For commentary on Lincoln, an excellent place to start is The Atlantic Monthly, a great magazine of Lincoln's day, still outstanding today. (Full search results on Lincoln at the Atlantic here)

The song most widely associated with President Lincoln and his cause made its debut in the pages of The Atlantic Monthly 141 years ago this month, in February 1862.

The Battle Hymn of the Republic
By Julia Ward Howe

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on."

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me:
As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

President Lincoln and son Tad.


Preaching for the choir

In the matter of Cantores in Ecclesia and its departure from St. Patrick's Church in Portland, Ore., after a row between the music director and the new pastor, a correspondent writes in the choir's defense:

It is astounding that so many of you are so quick to assume and believe the "whole story" as to why Cantores in Ecclesia left St. Patrick's in Portland, Oregon. Those of you who suspect there is more to what was stated/reflected in the article in the Oregonian are indeed correct. The increasing problems at the parish have and continue to run much deeper than one could imagine. It would obviously be inappropriate to go into detail in such a forum as this. In any case, just to clarify, the choir NEVER excluded the congregation from singing parts of the mass and thereby actively taking part (even if "active participation" is to be defined so narrowly). The Credo, the Pater Noster, numerous responses throughout the liturgy, and closing hymns were always sung by the people, and rather full voiced if I may add. The plainsong ordinaries of the mass were also often sung with or antiphonally with the congregation.

In addition, the pastor actually singlehandedly cancelled the "Latin mass" the last day the choir sang, much to the shock and dismay of the many parishioners who had been attending the Latin mass on Sat. night for years. THIS ANNOUNCEMENT WAS COMPLETELY UNEXPECTED. He then reinstated it about a month later, again an unforeseen action, this time with a cantor from OCP up in front to "lead". It's all very strange - the mish-mash of it all, and the inconsistency of the pastor's decisions, comments and actions.

To conclude, I would just like to say that as far as I have lived, never have I EVER encountered a person with more integrity, faith, selflessness, and love for the Catholic Liturgy as Dean Applegate. Everything he does in the name of the choir, even all the touring the choir has done, has always been to expose as many people to the beauty and treasury we as Catholics have in Gregorian Chant. This, as he is quoted in the Oregonian article, is and has been the "raison d'etre" of Cantores. For this, he has dedicated his life, his work. Believe it or not, HE has never been paid a single cent for all his years at St. Patrick's, directing the choir. He had a vision 18 yrs ago, and was able to build up a community that flourished and centered around worshipping through the Latin Mass on Saturday nights. To say that he did not care for the parish is preposterous. He has been an inspiration to me, and I know has impacted the spirituality of hundreds of people both through his music and his person. I highly suggest to you all to think twice before making ANY judgements on him or his decision to leave St. Patrick..



Pro-Life Democrats: An Oxymoron? John D. Hagen writes in Commonweal.


Tuesday, February 11, 2003  
The Cantores in Ecclesia post drew a response from St. Patrick's pastor.

Father James Mayo comments:

On the Entrance Hymn and Responsorial Psalm: "An Entrance Hymn and Responsorial Psalm -- in any language, chosen by the choir director and sung by people and choir -- were not excessive requests. To facilitate participation by all worshippers -- presider, assembly, choir and musicians, I would still ask the same things. Ultimately, it is the pastor who bears responsibility for the liturgy, not a choir director."

On the Latin Mass: 'The Latin Mass has resumed and the congregation and collection are growing."

On the hymnal used at other Masses: "We use the Adoremus hymnal."

Fr. Mayo said music lessons were discontinued after an arrangement could not be reached on the supervision of minors in the classes.


Charles of Arabia: Is the future titular head of the Church of England a Muslim?


A fitting venue: Here's the itinerary for a confab that will draw Richard Vosko and fellow liturgists to Massachusetts this summer. Note they're meeting in a hotel conference center just off the interstate: Inspiration for future worship spaces?


Monday, February 10, 2003  
Missalette Middle Earth: Realm of the Liturgical Clip-Art Gnome

The Lord as "cool cat beatnik" at OCP.

Inspired by Sal Ravilla at Catholic Light, I set out to find the answer to a longstanding question: What is the provenance of that vaguely Mayan-appearing clip-art that illustrates church bulletins, not only wherever the earthenware chalice is raised and the folk guitar strummed, but in seemingly every other parish in the land?

A trip to Oregon Catholic Press readily provided the answer.

Turns out Brother Steve Erspamer, SM, is to church-bulletin art what Marty Haugen is to modern hymnody. The Marianist from St. Louis is the illustrator of several widely-used clip-art books published by Liturgy Training Publications of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and also is featured in OCP's Liturgy Notes.

Not all of Brother Erspamer's oeuvre is that bad, but much is the liturgical equivalent of the big-eyed-urchin paintings you see in movie theater lobbies – and it is ubiquitous.

No doubt once regarded a progressive alternative to pre-Vatican II pious art, the block-print-troll style of Brother Erspamer might be called Kumbaya Kitsch.

What's with the gnarled and stumpy and Hobbit-like features, the hands the size of baseball mitts, and those eyes?


Not all old holy cards were kitschy

Many were quite beautiful, to judge from this online gallery.


Storks, Salmagundis &c

Cuban cigars all around (they're legal in Canada) chez Mark Cameron, who reports:

Mark and Lesley are pleased to announce the birth of Joseph Donald
Eugene Cameron at 3:21 am Sunday, February 9 (mom's birthday), weighing 9 lbs., 3 oz. For those of you keeping score, that makes three Cameron bairns, along with Andrew (now 3 1/2) and Mary Ellen (now 2).


A hearty welcome back to Fr. Bryce Sibley on his return from Coventry. Let us slay the fatted bag of Chumpies.

Condolences to Jeff Miller.

And see the St. Blog's links at left, which have been updated, in no particular order, but rather, in a way reflective of organic growth. Think of them as Burkean bookmarks.


Friday, February 07, 2003  
The day the music died

Gregorian chant: Not participatory enough for the new pastor of St. Patrick's Church, Portland, Ore.

From the archdiocese that gave us the banal and ubiquitous Oregon Catholic Press hymnal, an account of a renowned Gregorian chant choir forced from its longtime parish home in the name of liturgical renewal:

David Kubiak e-mails:

Do you read "Sacred Music"? There was a note at the end of the most recent number about "Cantores in Ecclesia", a really splendid polyphonic choir that had been based at a church in Portland, Oregon, since 1985. They have now been forced out because they refused to stop singing the Gregorian Introit and Gradual at the weekly Latin Mass...

They were on tour a couple of years ago and sang Victoria at an old rite pontifical Mass in Chicago at St. John Cantius. I had several students in tow, and two of them eventually converted, partly, they told me, because of the splendor of that liturgy. I see no sign whatever that the descent of the American Church into complete philistinism is being retarded.

Use of the Gregorian Propers is of course one of the options in the newest Missal, but it is clear that if a pastor with the support of a local bishop chooses to impose the "Gathering Song/Responsorial Psalm" option, there is nothing that can be done about it.

Here's how The Oregonian described the choir's final performance at St. Patrick's Church on Oct. 19:

The day the music died. With tears in their eyes, worshippers stood and applauded Cantores in Ecclesia's final singing of Gregorian chant at St. Patrick's Church. A liturgical dispute between a reform-minded priest and a tradition-bound choir director led to the choir's withdrawal after 17 years. The choir is still seeking another home.

A member of the Oregon Guild of Organists commented on the choir's finale: "My heart is very sad. It is a sad day indeed for the status of Roman Catholic church music and lack of appreciation of historical musical modes."

Here, in its entirety, is a feature that ran in The Sunday Oregonian on Oct. 27:

By DAVID STABLER, The Oregonian

A dispute between the priest and music director has stopped the church's popular Latin service -- and raised questions about the role of music in worship

On Saturday nights, as cars roar past on a freeway yards away, the choir of St. Patrick's Church draws a single breath.

"Alleluia," they sing. "Confitemini Domino et invocate nomen eius."

Silver-haired men and mothers with babies kneel and bow their heads. The melody, created about 1,200 years ago by an illiterate monk, echoes through the 113-year-old church, the unison lines restrained and contemplative. Light from stained-glass windows blushes the walls rose while the sharp, woody smell of incense fills the air. The ancient song, the Latin, the humble surroundings and the devout parishioners create a sense of timelessness. This is worship as it might have been in any Catholic church since the seventh century.

But on Oct. 19, after 17 years of service, Cantores in Ecclesia chanted for the last time at St. Patrick's, a perennially poor parish in the heart of industrial Northwest Portland.

Some of the choir members didn't know that this was the group's last performance, but many parishioners did, and they packed the small church.

When the final notes faded, worshippers stood, turned their faces to the choir loft and, breaking a tradition at St. Patrick's, applauded the choir for several minutes. Many were crying, according to those who were there.

"It's a huge loss to the city," said Susan Koe, who attended the emotional service.

Koe converted to Catholicism two years ago precisely because of the choir. "I love that type of music. It's soothing and soaring. It kind of takes me away, like it's God, like it's being part of that."

Although St. Patrick's offers other Mass services, Saturday's Latin Mass drew a particular kind of worshipper. They came from 64 different Zip codes that included Olympia and Government Camp.

On the face of it, the dispute that led to the choir's departure was simply a clash of wills between a choir director, Dean Applegate, dedicated to the old music of the Catholic tradition and a new priest, the Reverend James Mayo, eager to embrace a new congregation and new traditions. Both men are almost the same age and converted to Catholicism as young men.

But their argument gets to central issues in the celebration of the Catholic Mass in a post-Vatican II world. And it raises significant questions about how religion and culture intersect.

Mayo versus Applegate Gregorian chant and the internationally acclaimed choir that sang it distinguished St. Patrick's from other American Catholic churches, where the majority celebrates Mass in English and with more contemporary music. When Cantores in Ecclesia began singing there in 1985, attendance at the church had dipped to alarmingly low levels. Many parishioners, drawn to the old style of Mass, credit the group with saving the church.

Chant is sung prayer, Scripture sung in Latin, and creates a powerful atmosphere of worship when sung in its original liturgical context. It has been a fixture in Roman Catholic worship at least since the seventh century. As a reservoir of about 3,000 melodies, it influenced Western music for centuries, forming the contours of vocal melody through composers ranging from the 16th-century's Giovanni Palestrina to today's Arvo Part.

Applegate, 56, a converted Catholic, has made his life's calling the study and performance of chant and the majestic Renaissance Masses of Palestrina, Victoria and William Byrd, music written specifically for the Latin Mass.

"It's the precious heritage of the Catholic Church," he said. "It is what this choir does."

And does very well. Besides a small but loyal following on Saturdays, attended by 100 worshippers, the choir, 30 adults and 30 children, regularly tours outside the country, to Mexico, England, France and Italy. Choir members scrape together funds from garage and bake sales, but once abroad they sing in glorious cathedrals, twice for the pope, and, in 1997, in a choir competition in which they won gold medals in all categories in the International Palestrina Competition in Rome. The group recorded a CD of music sung during that tour, and, every August, Applegate and the choir present a festival of Byrd's music, the renowned English Renaissance composer. Conductors and lecturers from the United States and England participate.

But Mayo favors a more modern approach to the worship service, or liturgy, calling for more participation by the congregation, including additional singing by worshippers. His disagreement with Applegate surfaced during the summer in memos to the choir director.

Specifically, Mayo requested two things: an entrance hymn that the entire assembly -- not just the choir -- could sing, and a psalm to which the congregation responds that comes between readings from the Old Testament and New Testament. The psalm would replace a section that the choir sang by itself. Mayo permitted the language of the hymn and the psalm to be in any language, even Latin, he said.

But Applegate viewed the changes as striking at the heart of his choir's mission, and rather than agree to them, ended his run at St. Patrick's.

"I've never compromised about that, ever," he said. "Not ever. And it probably isn't time for me to start.

"My struggle over the years has been to protect the heritage of Catholic sacred music," he said. "This was our raison d'etre. But I was powerless. My only power was to say 'No, I won't do what you're telling me to do.' "

The Latin Mass was no threat to the church culture, he said. "Other churches are free to pursue their music. Our music and liturgy sustained the church for years. It gave me an opportunity to fulfill a unique task. It just seemed to be my vocation in life."

Mayo, 55, is drawn to the Latin Mass himself, he said. "I love Latin, chant, incense," he said.

Raised a Southern Baptist, he converted to Catholicism at the age of 18, just before Vatican II, "just as everything I loved ended," he said. As a seminary student at Mount Angel Abbey, he sang chant regularly. He arrived at St. Patrick's 15 months ago.

But the liturgy requires the "full, active, conscious participation by everyone involved," he said, quoting church documents. "I think something happens when people participate. We become a common body. Our endorphins get engaged. I can participate in silence, but from my perspective, it can happen in a better way by participating, and I think that's my reading of church documents."

Mayo's requested changes came with the Archbishop John G. Vlazny's "full support," according to Mayo in a memo to Applegate.

Liturgy and culture Oxford-trained, Applegate is fastidious in dress and on the podium. He converted at the age of 26, but today, almost exactly 40 years to the week after Vatican II, he is a man out of fashion.

For the past 40 years, Gregorian chant and Latin Mass have fallen from favor in the church. Vatican II reforms, begun in the early 1960s, prompted priests to modernize church practices.

One of the most important changes adopted was to celebrate Mass in the vernacular and replace chant with more contemporary music. After centuries of the celebration of Mass in Latin, those two changes alone were considered enormous and controversial, but as the years passed, a majority of Catholics accepted them.

Still, Vatican II did not prohibit singing Gregorian chant or celebrating Mass in Latin, even though most Catholic churches adopted the reforms.

Many religions wrestle with making worship relevant, but after centuries of prescribed tradition, Vatican II's reforms felt cataclysmic to many Catholics. Mayo and Applegate symbolize the Catholic Church's continuing struggle.

"A lot of changes happened quickly without a lot of explanation," said Linda Weigel, a canon lawyer and director of canonical services for the Portland Archdiocese. "Things that were very important to people, like statues, candles, were suddenly removed. Symbols are important in our everyday life. If somebody came into your house and just announced you can't light your fireplace anymore, it leaves you bewildered. A lot of people are still adrift. Now, we're seeing that we need to do much better education."

Since 1963, the Catholic Church has moved toward a more inclusive liturgy.

Before that, priest and choir communicated in Latin, and the choir sang most of the music while the congregation passively listened. Since Vatican II, reform-minded priests celebrate Mass in the language of their parish and encourage more participation by worshippers. They now face the congregation from the altar, instead of keeping their backs to worshippers.

In addition to wanting to adjust the music of the Mass, Mayo made other controversial changes at St. Patrick's, in line with Vatican II. Women may now read portions of Scripture during Mass, for example, and girls may be altar servers.

"The Latin Mass can tend to be a time of private prayer rather than the priest and assembly worshiping together," said Weigel, who has extensive experience in church canon law. "I don't know if you can worship and pray to God if you don't know the language."

A contrarian view comes from Richard Proulx, former director of music for Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, the largest archdiocese outside of Los Angeles. In its highest form, everything in the liturgy is sung, Proulx said. A founder of the Conference of Roman Catholic Cathedral Musicians in 1982, he is no fan of contemporary Catholic music.

"Now, you'll find music done just for entertainment value, a very informal approach to the whole thing. A lot of the music is prerecorded. A priest flips a remote control, and when he's had enough, he turns it off. One of the defects of the Roman Catholic Church is its propensity to allow only one way to do things, and surely there has to be some leeway."

At the same time that Cantores in Ecclesia has proven popular among the parishioners at St. Patrick's, it has also attained a high level of respect in Portland's secular music community. The choir rarely performs outside the liturgy, but it still attracts fans of magnificent choral music to St. Patrick's.

It is one of only two churches in the Portland area that still performs the Latin service (that choir, at Holy Rosary in Northeast Portland, also is led by Applegate).

Keeping the old music alive in the context of the liturgy -- for which it was composed -- has an undeniable appeal, and not just for musicologists.

In an e-mail, one of the parishioners asked the key questions. "The rather simplistic way in which the local church has apparently interpreted the mandates of Vatican II has meant the disappearance of this great music tradition," she wrote. "Is this music worth saving? What does it mean to save it only as museum pieces that are recordings or performances done outside of its religious context?"

Cantores in Ecclesia has recorded two excellent CDs, "In Rome" and "Faure Requiem," but they don't compare to the choir's singing at St. Patrick's, where the music is part of something larger.

Who wins? Most of the parishioners at St. Patrick's who agreed to talk about the dispute between Father Mayo and Applegate insisted, like the e-mailer, on anonymity. They were sharply divided -- some blamed Applegate, others Mayo.

Some wondered why Applegate couldn't accommodate Mayo's changes, if the alternative meant silencing the choir.

"Who is he serving?" one asked. "Dean, in his rigidity, makes it look like it's Dean's show. Now, there's no music and who does that serve? Is he so pure that he can't exist in today's culture? Father Mayo is operating in 2002, which means more participation by the congregation."

Another parishioner put it this way: "Do we worship communally or do we worship silently while others sing for us? For Catholics, the Eucharist is the heart of our faith. What happens at Mass is extremely important to us. Changes in liturgy can affect our ideas about God and our relationship to God, and that can be upsetting or enriching."

On the other side, one parishioner blamed Mayo and the archdiocese for the "extreme crisis." He said, "There's been no discussion. How is it that the Archdiocese has allowed this to happen? It's not clear why Father Mayo has decided his vision for the church is to have a more active Mass."

Another parishioner called it "an incredible tragedy for the city and the region and the church and for all religious music."

Some choir members were equally bewildered.

"It's very disappointing," said Kellogg Thorsell, who started singing with the group in the mid-1980s. Singing in the reverberant church was a memorable experience, he said.

"Acoustically, it's one of the easiest and friendliest buildings that I have sung in -- the presence to the sound, an immediacy, a warmth. As a singer, you're constantly trying to evaluate the sound quality that comes back at you. If the room makes that easier for you, it's more rewarding."

Financially, Cantores always has skated on the edge. The choir's income came from half the collection from Saturday services, individual donations and choir members. Ten singers received wages, Applegate said. He himself put in about 30 hours a week, preparing and conducting the choir. He did not receive a salary.

The choir's future is uncertain. Prompted by Mayo before the breakup, Cantores in Ecclesia recently became an independent organization, with its own nonprofit status. Applegate has moved his office out of the church, and the choir continues to rehearse Thursday evenings, at St. Mark's Anglican Church in Northwest Portland.

Its next public appearance will be Dec. 8 at Mount Angel Abbey, where the choir will sing music it has specialized in all these years: the three musical giants Claudio Monteverdi, Tomas Luis de Victoria and Palestrina. The boys and girls of Cantores will sing at Ascension Chapel in Portland on Nov. 10.

A group of parishioners hopes to meet with the archdiocese to resolve the dispute, but for now, the choir loft at St. Patrick's remains empty.

"I take no joy in any of this," Mayo said. "It is sad on every level. At St. Patrick's, the music is the finest I've heard in my life, and the finest choir I've ever heard in the context of Roman Catholic worship. Differences do not mean disrespect. My admiration for what Dean and the choir do is immense. They're extraordinary."

Sure, he admires the choir so much he is going to force it to change, for the good of the assembly, of course, which may have loved the choir the way it was, but will be brought around soon enough to a more enlightened understanding of their own liturgical needs. Because he says so: Nothing like the pastoral warble of the Passive-Aggressive Clericalist Wreckovator.

This is spiritual and cultural vandalism, Praise & Glory fascism. As one correspondent writes in the Cantores in Ecclesia guestbook:

I will never understand the totalitarian mindset of those on the Left who cannot tolerate one small Mass in one small parish that does not use the awful music from Oregon Catholic Press. Where is the threat to their hegemony of the liturgy?


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