Monday, November 16, 2009

From Fr. Anthony de Mello, SJ-"The Heart of the Enlightened"
"A former inmate of a Nazi concentration camp was visiting a friend who had shared an ordeal with him.
'Have you forgiven the Nazis' he asked his friend.
'Well, I haven't. I'm still consumed with hatred for them.'
'In that case,' said his friend gently, 'they still have you in prison.'"

...(our enemies are not those who hate us but those whom we hate)...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

"We will not negotiate with terrorists"
This quote is so ubiquitous that to ascribe an original source is not worth the time to research, in my opinion. But it has been so oft misappropriated and uttered by blustery pols and demigogues that it is cliche in Hollywood scripts.
Try thinking about the quote if it were uttered by St. Francis of Assissi. What if by living the prayer we realized the truth of the impotence of terrorism?

It is posited the original publication of the prayer of St. Francis was submitted anonymously to the French publication La Clochette in 1912.

Seigneur, faites de moi un instrument de votre paix.
Là où il y a de la haine, que je mette l'amour.
Là où il y a l'offense, que je mette le pardon.
Là où il y a la discorde, que je mette l'union.
Là où il y a l'erreur, que je mette la vérité.
Là où il y a le doute, que je mette la foi.
Là où il y a le désespoir, que je mette l'espérance.
Là où il y a les ténèbres, que je mette votre lumière.
Là où il y a la tristesse, que je mette la joie.
Ô Maître, que je ne cherche pas tant à être consolé qu'à consoler,
à être compris qu'à comprendre,
à être aimé qu'à aimer,
car c'est en donnant qu'on reçoit,
c'est en s'oubliant qu'on trouve, c'est en pardonnant qu'on est pardonné,
c'est en mourant qu'on ressuscite à l'éternelle vie.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Monday, November 09, 2009

I did not come to bury OCP...

After the last post, it occured to me that I might be counted among those that are fully encamped in the "OCP is THE LITURGICAL/INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX" wing of musical directors. That's not the case.
So, in a possibly insufficient, but earnest effort at "restorative justice" I'd like to mention that in the same issue of TODAY'S LITURGY, Angela Westhoff-Johnson, OCP's octavo reviewer and editorial staffer (as well as Portland Cathedral's DM) reviews one composition by a very talented, under the radar, composer. The piece is an "O Magnum Mysterium" by Douglas Kingsley. I completely agree with the compact praise for this work by Mrs. Westhoff-Johnson, and likely would have added more.
(She also offers a larger review of Michael Joncas' "Rorate caeli" that directors with solid choirs should audition, absolutely!)
I briefly met Mr. Kingsley in the Spring of this year. He happened to have attended our Schola Mass inwhich we generally sing the Rice Choral Propers, a couple of chant ordinary movements, chant at Communion and a motet. He introduced himself after the Mass as a chorister from the DC/Baltimore area, we chatted, I think I gave him a copy of a Gloria that is based upon Proulx's "Misa Oecumenica." He was so gentlemanly, kind and unpretentious. He never once mentioned he was a composer with many pieces published by Trinitas, OCP's more challenging choral series. Then I received in the Summer a post with about three of his pieces, including the reviewed work. Sublime stuff. Check Mr. Kingsley's work out by all means. Mrs. Westhoff-Johnson thought his piece was a humble gem to keep in folders for quick access, if needed. I think there's more depth to his noble simplicity than that, but she was very positive. So am I about Mr. Doug Kingsley.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Saturday meandering. That means I'm wandering aimlessly. Which means I'm kind of going sideways to sideways.

This post is likely to take some time to process, both for myself as I lay it out, and for anyone who takes up the task of reading and following a possible tenuous thread.
In the latest volume of the OCP periodical, TODAY'S LITURGY (Advent-Epiphany 09-10) Dr. Elaine Renler-McQueeny offers the following commentary for the Fourth Sunday of Advent Music Selections (the word emphases are mine, without explanation):

"Our liturgy overflows with the news that our God loves us, and that he has prepared a human body for his Son. Almost everyone is familiar with the scriptural text of the Magnificat. Kudos to musicians for teaching it in song. For a change of pace, here's a contemporary poetic rendering of Mary's Canticle for your Advent reflection. Sometimes we use this version...before meals during this graced season. Teachers often have enjoyed using it with youth at retreats and non-liturgical gatherings. May you and your musicians (and even your liturgy committees) enjoy Mary's Song from The Message.

I'm bursting with God-news;
I'm dancing the song of my Savior God.>

God took one good look at me, and look what happened-
I'm the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
The God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
On those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
Scattered the bluffing braggarts,
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
Pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
The callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
He remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It's exactly what he promised,
Beginning with Abraham and right up to now.

Luke 1:46-55, The Message. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004

When I first read this yesterday I was struck dumb by a number of reactions. What would prompt a reasonably respected Liturgist/Musician to proffer such an impoverished and pretentiously modest translation of a perfect singularity among all of scriptural and liturgical hymntexts ever transcribed and uttered for human edification? Even though Dr. Rendler qualifies its usage as devotional or inspirational, for personal not liturgical assignment, that she would determine that this mixture of pre-adolescent prose in a soup that also contains bodice-ripper images of God's arms that would make Michelangelo blush, and which is a blatantly pale surrogate for the metaphors in the Song of Solomon, as well as a hubris on Mary's part that contradicts (in my estimation) the overall ethos of supreme humility and trust in God explcitly evident in the scripture passage, (pause for breath) confounds me. And I was literally surprised that her source was Zondervan. No more to say on that.

Where I'm going with this is that it might be reasonable to conclude that Dr. Rendler and Archbishop Trautman are philosophical pals if the issue of literacy and understanding of our ritual texts was on their table. Maybe that's a stretch of an assumption, and I know what "assume" can lead to, but....
Abp. Trautman has fired his official salvo across the bow regarding the "intelligibility" with this recent quote: "“The vast majority of God’s people in the assembly are not familiar with words of the new missal like ‘ineffable,’ ‘consubstantial,’ ‘incarnate,’ ‘inviolate,’ ‘oblation,’ ‘ignominy,’ ‘precursor,’ ‘suffused’ and ‘unvanquished.’ The vocabulary is not readily understandable by the average Catholic,”

The standard rendition of the Magnificat:

My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm:
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever.

Returning to Dr. Rendler's endorsed version, is Mary bursting after receiving "God-news" literally (like Mr. Creasote in "The Meaning of Life") or is she acting like she just received a full-access pass backstage at a Josh Groban concert?
She dances. Is that magnifying God, and rejoicing? You make the call.
And his mercy "flows wave after wave." I get the generation analogy, but I'm a bit distracted more by an ironic image from the film "From here to eternity." My bad.
I need to wind this down. Obviously I realize that "bluffing braggarts" might be more accessible a term than "ignominy" and that teenagers may get it that "callous" might mean something other than hardened crusty fingertip tissue after a 48 hour "Guitar Hero" marathon.
But the thing that so msytifies me (and truthfully, offends me as a teacher) is that such efforts to make all vocabularies relevant and user-friendly literally insults the noble philosophical goal for all humans to savor the subtleties and treasures gifted to us by God with language. Is there no deeper meaning to transformative power when St. John writes "In the beginning was the Word."? And to think that those nuances become even more precious when they are transformed into many languages other than Latin to English!
When I think of mercies bestowed, I rather tend to think of a helping hand, a fresh breath and a new start and a rising attitude. Heck, I might even break out into singing with Josh- "You raise me UPPPPPPPP..."
But being piled upon, hmmmmmm. And piled on again? You don't want to know what that image could evoke.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Home at All Souls

As I mentioned in the last entry, my schedule has been erratic, my attention span more than erratic. So much so that this morning I'd not only forgotten that the school's second grade "All Saints Pageant" was TODAY, but I looked at watches that I'd not set back an hour on Saturday, called the school in a panic only to realize the time frame was still good! The kids were precious.
But somewhere in all the mix I didn't learn until verbal announcements yesterday that for the first time an ALL SOUL'S Mass would be held at our civic cemetery. So, I emailed the pastor and asked if he would like music ministry. Some of you might say, "Well, that's expected, C., why would you have to ask?" We have a lot of Masses among four parishes now, Christmas (and the school play doth approach as does the choral seasonal concert) and I'm bushed! How's that?
Anyway, the pastor was kind enough to reply in the affirmative. And he indicated one of our resident associates would be presiding at the cemetery.
So this morning, after the second grade, I hop to putting together THE ORDER OF MUSIC! I figured that a reasonable crowd of 50 folks would show; they're used to some Latin- heck, we're going for the whole enchilada!
So I use MS Pub and master up "Requiem aeternam" (Introit), provide the translation for the Offertorio, the Sanctus and Agnus Dei from "Jubilate Deo" (which conveniently are from the Requiem, the "Lux aeterna" for the Communio and "In paradisum" for the dismissal. We run off 100 copies and I figure we're locked and loaded. Then Father Dan comes in as we're running the second page of the back to back, and mentioned he'd envisioned a Spanish/English bi-lingual service with some "familiar" songs, title's unspecified.
The really cool thing is that we COLLABORATED; he got my thrust, I got his.
When Mass time began in the midst of the mausoleum at 12:15pm there were at least 150 people. The sun was brutal on the north half of the atrium, but the 40-50 seats somehow shifted to the shade and everyone found their, ahem, comfortable niche.
One of the speakers of the PA provided was in the corner of the mausoleum where my grandparents are interred, so I set up my stand there next to them. I can't describe the feeling I had throughout the Mass singing the chants and hymns with my namesake's remains within touching distance. And my crypt is a diagonal stone's throw across from their little cremation niches. The karma, the karma!
My Franciscan schola buddy, Ralph, joined me for a duo schola.
And off we go! The Mass has joined the ranks of those where purpose, intent, participation, spirituality, mystery and liturgy have locus together. Father Dan even went tri-lingual. His collects, prayers, homily and blessings flowed flawlessly from English to Spanish and, gasp, LATIN! It only reaffirmed to me a maxim that I posted here some time ago: when people mean to be there for the right reasons, they are engaged. And that doesn't just mean vocally.
We've been concluding funeral Masses with "In paradisum" consistently for a number of years now, but we've always had just a cantor or a small schola render the chant. What a moment to have the folk make their best attempts at joining in that beautiful commendation.
And as Father Dan said, this "new" tradition for us in this town simply is a natural grafting upon those primitive gatherings in the burial catacombs of our forebears millenia ago.
God bless the souls in Purgatory. Pray for them as the Saints pray for us. If we forbear, our reservation to finally see our Heavenly Host and His hosts will always be honored.