Thursday, June 10, 2010

What can I do?
What should I do?
What will I do?

This last week Jeffrey Tucker posted a thread a the Musica Sacra Forum concerning an organization founded by a Jesuit priest some decades ago that offers parishes their evaluation and revitalization services. This post is not about that.
In the discussions that followed one of our colleagues typified what, only out of convenience and not literally, those folks who "dissent" from orthodoxy and orthopraxis in liturgy and other ecclesial concerns by this characterization: "aging hippies." That didn't settle well with me and I responded with my frustration over the issue of unnecessary stereotyping in this case, and in general. Of course, a major dustup followed. The thread went tangential and haywire. Other colleagues debated the merits of (as the original colleague named it) the "epithet" and its validity of use, and then aligned themselves in camps over the issue of what constitutes "true charity" in discourse. Though I remain steadfast in my objections to using course stereotypes to advance a point, I was saddened that I had a major hand in initiating diviseness among a body of people whom I so admire as faithful and dedicated Christian/Catholics. I apologized to my colleage for my part publicly on the thread, though neither of the two of us renounced our positions.
But of course, this happens to all of us daily. It is neither simple nor easy to avoid the sin of pride that orders us to castigate individuals and groups of people with convenient terms, names or phrases that ironically lowers our dignity, when in fact we falsely believe in dismissing the humanity of those we demean, we can feel superior or better that "I'm not like those people."
Another aspect of the dustup centered around generational issues. The "aging hippies" once were represented thematically by THE WHO, among other great bands of the sixties, specifically in the song "My Generation," inwhich the Daltry/Townsend lyric exclaims to the old fogies, "Why don't you all just....f-f-f-f-fade away?" (Of course we all knew then the "f" stutter was a ruse for another verb of the George Carlin variety. But it occured to me that this youthful hubris has always existed, see "Son, Prodigal." And ultimately, the frustration, resentment and conflict inherent is summed up by the great Pogo, "We have met the enemy, and the enemy is us!" Great truths in comic strips. But we are our own enemies because the real ENEMY knows that "free will" has been in our DNA since the Fall.

"Blessed is he who has become magnanimous and kindhearted and not enslaved himself to untamed vehemence or wicked wrath; he will be magnified by the Lord.
Blessed is he who has been exalted in love and stands like a city built on a mountaintop, from whom the enemy withdraws with terror when he sees him; for he fears a man who is firm in the Lord.
Blessed is he who has shone forth with faith in the Lord like a bright candle on a tall candlestick, and has illumined the souls of those in darkness who followeed the teaching of the faithless and the irreverent.
Blessed is he who ever loves truth and does not let his lips arm dishonor with lies, for he fears the commandment that forbids even idle talk.
Blessed is he who does not foolishly judge his neighbor, but rather, as befits a reasonable, spiritual man, tries first to cast our the beam from his own eye.
Blessed is he who has consciously exercised restraint, and who has never been seduced, neither in thought nor in his senses, by skin and flesh which soon pass and putrefy.
Blessed is he who keeps the day of his departure ever before his eyes, and has learned to hate arrogance before our inherent worthlessness is to be revealed by putrefaction in the grave.

St. Ephrem the Syrian (+373)

My wife offered that to me on our way down to meet CMAA friends in San Diego.
I will be ever grateful and in her debt, because these "beatitudes" speak to me most profoundly. I must memorize them, set them like a seal, and pray for St. Ephrem's intercession on my behalf, because he's talking to me! (You talkin' to me? YEAH, culbreth, I'M TALKIN' TO YOU!!!)

From this Sunday's Gospel-
"Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not annoint my head with oil, but she annointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little."

Amen. Is that not liturgy at its finest hour?

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