20 November 2012

Sing As We Go - To Communion?

I was taking part in a discussion on the aptness or otherwise of hymns being sung and mentioned that I had always thought that this was a very "spirit of Vatican 2" thing to do, and that along with the need to process (to receive Communion standing) and the notion of our "sharing" Communion, here were three things wrong with the way the distribution of the Eucharist at Mass was messing up things which had worked perfectly well unupmessed.

Looking at the GIRM, however, I find that the problem isn't due to a few unruly priests: this is the way Communion is supposed to happen!

"86. While the priest is receiving the Sacrament, the Communion chant is begun.  Its purpose is to express the communicants’ union in spirit by means of the unity of their voices,  to show joy of heart, and to highlight more clearly the ‘communitarian’ nature of the procession to receive Communion.  The singing is continued for as long as the Sacrament is being administered to the faithful.  If, however, there is to be a hymn after Communion, the Communion chant should be ended in a timely manner. 

Care should be taken that singers, too, can receive Communion with ease.

87. In the dioceses of the (sic) England and Wales the options for the Communion chant are as follows: (1) the antiphon from the Graduale Romanum either with or without the psalm; (2) the antiphon with the psalm from the Graduale Simplex; (3) a song from another collection of psalms and antiphons, approved by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.  It is sung either by the choir alone or by the choir or cantor with the people.

If there is no singing, however, the Communion antiphon found in the Misdsal may be recited either by the faithful, or by some of them, or by a lector.  Otherwise the priest himself says it after he has received Communion and before he distributes Communion to the faithful.

88. When the distribution of Communion is finished, as circumstances suggest, the priest and the faithful spend some time praying quietly.  If desired, a psalm or other canticle of praise or a hymn may also be sung by the entire congregation."

This really feels wrong to me: there shouldn't be a procession to receive Communion, precisely because the reception of Communion shouldn't be communitarian.  That, to me at least, gives off a strong whiff of the necessity of congregational participation in the action of the priest.  Our attitude, going to Communion, shouldn't be (or, at least, shouldn't solely be) one of "joy of heart": why Our Lord allowed himself to be the ultimate sacrifice, and what our individual responsibility for this, and our unworthy gratitude are surely as relevant as we approach the altar.  And silence, rather than some banal arrangement of the relevant proper (though "proper" scarcely seems the right word for something casually  disposable) feels to me a more adequate approach by a fallen human to the Transcendent.

But this is what the GIRM says, and, just in case you hoped it was some E&W spirit of Vatican II thing, its foornote refers to an Instruction of the Sacred Congregation of Rites of 1980.  This is the way we should be doing things.

I'm not very happy about this, but I can't see any easy way round it.  Help!

18 November 2012

Women "Bishops": Catholic Dissenters

It seems likely that the C of E will vote to allow women to be made ("ordained"? "consecrated"?) "bishops" shortly (and why not, since they have been ordainable as "deacons" and "priests" for some time).  I use quotation marks simply to mark the fact that they aren't deacons, priests and won't be bishops: Ben Trovato has been explaining why here.

You'd think, wouldn't you, that in the same way that the Ordinariate is the end of a process in which sincere Anglicans finally realised that unity between Canterbury and Rome had been made impossible by the ordination of women, that Catholic dissenters (here, the people who won't accept the Magisterium, particularly with regard to issues of gender and sexuality, and who seem to have a problem with Authority (the new translation, for example), especially when it derives from Rome) would be moving en bloc, or even en masse to join the C of E.  But they aren't.  I have come across a priest who moved to the C of E and am aware of the cases of a couple of laypeople, as well as a couple more who were baptised as Catholics, had no religion in their childhood, but who came to Christianity in the C of E, but i still have fingers left over to count.  There is no movement.

This feels like good and bad news.  Good news, because whatever their problems with the Magisterium (either as an objective corpus of truth or with some of the details it contains) they still believe that the Catholic Church is where God is, with valid sacraments, and through which we can approach God  who died to save us.  However much they might believe that salvation may be attainable by other people through other paths, however much they believe that the Church should "move with the times" - trim before the spirit of the age - it is their Church and while they want it to change, they want to stay part of it.  That, I suggest, is a cause for hope.

The bad news is that their fight will continue until they either win or they lose.  Those of us who are quite happy with the Reform of the Reform, with the idea of Continuity, cannot relax.  Deacon Nick's chronicle of dissent shows just how entrenched they are.  But as long as we keep on challenging them, as long as we continue to pray for holy bishops and priests to preach God's Truth, the Truth shall prevail.

Magna est veritas et prevalebit!

10 November 2012

Professor Beattie: Keep Digging!

Professor Beattie has returned to the fray, here.  I'll leave others better qualified to discuss her views on academic freedom and what she deems the "official magisterium" (as though it is but one among many) and talk instead about the worldview she hints at in this paragraph:

"It is clear from the fine investigative journalism journalism which supports her undertaken by Joshua J. McElwee of the National Catholic Reporter that there is a very murky world of Catholic politics and power underlying the decision to cancel my visit. It seems that the President of the University of San Diego may have been pressurised or supported (I'm not sure which) by influential conservative Catholic benefactors and watchdog groups with links to the local Catholic hierarchy and the Vatican imagine that Catholic groups have links to their Bishop and their Pope! Professor Beattie should be pleased that any excess or over-exuberance in their conservatism will be tempered by an appeal from their Bishop or Pope to Catholic social teaching, thanks to those links. Some students and faculty at the University are making connections between this and a wider attempt by conservative American media barons to virtually take control of civic life in San Diego not only have they bought the San Diego Union Tribune, but they are allowing it to pass comment on what is happening in San Diego, the city whose paper it is. Douglas Manchester and John Lynch, who recently bought the San Diego Union Tribune, have allied themselves to a highly conservative and militaristic agenda they are conservative and support the US military. Being supportive of the military - wearing a poppy, for example - and even supporting the government's deployment of military forces does not make me militaristic. In an interview with Associated Press, Lynch is reported to have said that they 'bought the newspaper in part to promote their views in editorials. He called those views pro-family, pro-military and pro-America, and said "anybody who isn't shouldn't be living here"'. Once again then, conservative Catholicism presumably means not the liberal Catholicsm Prof Beattie professes (Human Flourishing, as they call it in Roehampton) but her argument is with some Catholics who are conservative: I can't see that they are trying to force the City of San Diego to institute Corpus Christi processions, for example risks forming an unholy alliance (cliche) with a far-right (as in "not left") American (they're in America - would she prefer Paraguayan?) political agenda which flies in the face of so much that is enshrined in Catholic social teaching and the Christian ethos (she can't mean abortion or accelerated death as they are opposed to both of those). Barack Obama's victory might temporarily take the sting out of this situation and the lethal politics it engenders, but these are not people who give up easily." The greatest sin of all: they don't merely disagree with Pres Obama - they actively oppose him!

Elsewhere, she recounts events of the last fortnight as follows:

"For a lay theologian employed by a British university, it is unheard of to find oneself bullied and silenced by dark magisterial forces working invisibly through various masked intermediaries."

Really, Professor Beattie?  "Dark magisterial forces" (is magisterial here a reference to the Magisterium, or to some preeminently intellectual opponents?) and "masked intermediaries"?  Has she been reading Dan Brown?  Pray God there are no albino monks wandering around the Borough of Wandsworth!

There is no plot.  The tide has turned, and the haughty intellectualism which places the liberal academic's view on a level with the Magisterium is being challenged by Catholics - not by the Hierarchy, unfortunately - who, while not as intellectually gifted as the haughty intellectuals, at least know the difference between black and white and who can tell a wrong 'un even if they can't tell why.

They are fighting back because for the first time in more than thirty years they are under challenge: the two new Bishops (for whom please pray) are under unremitting attack and ordinary Catholics with a view are being denigrated for having the wrong view.  To steal a phrase from somebody who would hate our hijacking it and which will be widely understood in San Diego: ¡hasta la victoria siempre! - ever onwards to victory!

02 November 2012

Clifford Longley, Again

There's an odd thing happens when you're travelling: things that belong in one time of day happen in another.  So you might find yourself in an airport lounge one evening and have the radio playing through your laptop playing Thought For The Day. That might make it hard to believe your ears.

If that ever happens, come back to the Radio 4 website and download the piece, and you might find that your ears didn't deceive you, and that Clifford Longley appears to be saying that Jimmy Saville has gone to Hell http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/thought/thought_20121030-1310a.mp3.

Now, I have strong opinions on lots of things, but accusing others of having committed mortal sin feels to me like a step too far, not least because I have no Godlike insight into anybody else's mind.  Clifford, though, knows that JS committed mortal sin, and thinks nothing of telling the world what the sinner's penance will have consisted off (including, in this case, psychiatric counselling) and then telling us that JS wasn't penitent and that his Catholicsm was a charade.

Two things strike me: are the Tabletistas finally (if over-exuberantly) rediscovering Sin, and can we expect a similarly robust attitude to some of the Life issues some of us feel they are a bit, well, soft on?

And does "Judge not, that you may not be judged" (Mat 7:1) not count when a sinner has committed what seems to be the gravest sin of all, that of embarrassing the BBC? 

01 November 2012

Professor Beattie

I have to feel a certain feeling of guilt that I am not one of the Catholic bloggers Professor Beattie is railing against after the withdrawal of her invitation to San Diego*.  I salute those bloggers, clerical and lay, whom she blames.

She has constructed a wonderful structure in which she is a theologian who is catholic rather than a Catholic theologian, at a College with a catholic foundation in which she teaches theology, rather than a theology prof at a Catholic institution, and then points out (repeatedly? obsessively?) that as a teacher in an English University, nobody can get rid of her just because she is teaching tosh they disagree with her. 

Part of me feels desperately sorry for her: she has been feted and lauded, and has gradually begun to think of her magisterium as being the equivalent of anybody else's, and the intellectual-formationally challenged Hierarchy has encouraged her because she is challenging, and they have come to believe in a Guardianista view of the world in which "challenging" is an absolute virtue.  She makes me think of Tracey Emin, who has lost the power to shock, and whose efforts to shock induce pity rather than anger, and whose genuine talent was lost behind her status as enfant terrible

But then I wake up and remember that, irrespective of the adolescent enthusiasm for her of people who are responsible for knowing better, she is bright enough, ferociously clever enough indeed, to know exactly what she is doing and to understand exactly what the value is of her construction.  Read Deacon Nick to find out just what this "theologian who is a catholic" has been preaching.

I'm glad that she blames the bloggers, and complains that the Vatican is paying attention to them, though.  It shows that the Church in E&W as an Establishment is under threat from within through the power of the Internet, in the same way that it was taken over from within by the spirit-of-Vatican2istas - I note that she appeals directly to the "spirit of Vatican II" as though it is a positive - and that against the Truth they have no alternative but to whinge.  They are losing; they will lose.

* (O/T SD is where to go to experience nice CA if you want to miss PC SF, or (UGH!) LA, BTW.)