Here is an exciting and innovative approach to financing original works of sacred art. It comes from the recently formed John Paul II Foundation for Sacred Arts.
It is a free market approach in which artists are motivated to create work of sufficient quality that it will fulfil its purpose fully, which means that it will connect with congregations in their worship. If he fulfils both of these criteria, then through this system, he will generate enough return that he will have more than a living wage.
Instead of a traditional endowment or commission model, the Foundation partners with artists in an entrepreneurial venture to fund a given project at cost. This format makes funding sacred art financially accessible to donors of all levels. Grants are crowd-funded and paid in installments throughout the creative process to pay the artist’s material costs and living expenses. Upon its completion, the artist retains primary ownership of the work, while the Foundation enjoys a share in the proceeds of any sale of the work, associated prints, or revenues from displaying the work.
The great strength of this, is that once the artist is selected for crowd-funding, he is still not guaranteed success. The funding will only come if the crowds are interested, so to speak. In other words, it must appeal to large numbers of ordinary, non-elites as well.
This is the ultimate test of beauty – it appeals to the cognoscienti and hoi polloi alike. As Benedict XVI said in A New Song to the Lord (p123): “It is precisely the test of true creativity that the artist steps out of the esoteric and knows how to form his or her intuition in such a way that the other – the many – may perceive what the artist has perceived.”
This is saying that while all that is popular is not beautiful; all that is beautiful will be popular (provided enough people are exposed to it). Therefore, the judges who consider its appropriateness for sacred art must consider also whether this is likely to connect with congregations. If they get it wrong and no one wants to fund it, they won’t make the same mistake twice! It is, in part at least, self-selecting.
Some artists may still argue that they won’t be able to access this funding unless they can first jump through the hoop of judges’ selection. This is true. But if that happens to you…start your (Read More)
Here is a fascinating paper by Dr Tom Larson of St Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire entitled Man, Music and Catholic Culture. He presented it at the Institute of St Anselm Studies, an annual symposium which takes place the college campus each summer. It has just been published in the proceedings and is now online.
Dr Larson examines first the place of music in Greek philosophical tradition and compares this with accounts of two modern commentators. The first, a non-Christian philosopher Allan Bloom, whose thoughts he presents as a foil to a modern Christian view, that of Pope Benedict XVI.
Larson’s discussion clearly applies to sacred music and reinforces all that has been said on the importance of music in the liturgy. But he extends this also to the profane and considers the place of music in the wider culture too.
Here is the abstract for the paper:
The topic of this paper is the place of music within the Catholic intellectual tradition. The paper discusses the dignity of music, its relationship to man, and its place in education. The paper begins with the pagan classical treatment of music. The classical account of music is bound up with certain claims about human psychology, education, and culture, as well as certain claims about the universe. Allan Bloom’s discussion of music in the Greek philosophic tradition is examined as a foil to the Catholic vision discussed in the second part of the paper. The second part presents Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI’s understanding of music’s place in Catholic culture. Music, along with laws of beauty and order, has its source in God; it contributes to the re-integration of Man and directs him toward union with God in prayer; it has an intimate relationship with the human longing for transcendence; as a universal language, it has a role in evangelization and facilitating inter-cultural dialogue; in its beauty we are enabled to experience the presence of Ultimate Beauty; and in its own and very powerful way, the beauty of the music that has grown out of Christian culture serves as a kind of verification of the Christian faith.
I have been frustrated by the fact that it is difficult to get hold of an English translation of the only extant part of Boethius’s influential book on music. It had been stored on my laptop, but it crashed last month and I lost all stored files. Finally I found an old email, from about 10 years ago in which somebody sent me a copy. So, to make sure this never happens again, I am going to publish it on my blog so that it is freely available. Here we have the 30 odd chapters of Book 1.
So here it is!
Five Books of Music (1)
We will be studying this in an upcoming class at www.Pontifex.University which will be on Sacred Geometry and Sacred Number – the Traditional Mathematics of Beauty and Cultural Transformation which I will be offering in the Fall. By the way, h/t to a fellow blogger Baroque Pearls for the snappy headline. I’d like to take credit but modesty forbids. Incidentally in his article, I am flattered that he took the diagram for the musical harmony from my blog – I know because I drew it. I guess what goes around comes around.
Below are some pictures of diagrams of musical harmony from medieval manuscripts of the book, form. Plus Raphael’s painting of Pythagoras with a chalk board with the musical harmony diagram on it!
From where does our worldview come ? If we are worried about the philosophical errors of modernity it would be helpful to be able to answer this question.
If all right philosophy is derived from the adoption of right premises, the question then reduces to: how do we choose the axioms, the foundational truths, upon which the whole edifice is built?
The simple answer, it seems to me, is that most people just choose what looks good to them. It is a somewhat arbitrary process, an act of faith of sorts. Discursive reason does have a part to play in this but in my experience it is used most commonly to validate the intuitive choices already made, rather than to investigate their validity with a truly open mind.
Consequently, however rational and well worked out we think we present the case for the Christian worldview, unless people are ready to listen we are unlikely to get anywhere.
If we wish to change people’s minds then there are two approaches. One is to examine their worldview rationally and point out any contradictions. As mentioned, this is least likely to convince, simply because on the whole people don’t want to listen. If people do want to listen it might be because they are facing a crisis by which, in some way, the contradictions or inadequacies of their current worldview are slapping them in the face.
But even then I suggest that most will still only be prepared to listen if the second approach is taken as well. That is, people must be presented with a set of premises that are better – more attractive – than the ones they already have.
How can we do this?
I would say that this is what the method of the New Evangelization, as described by Benedict XVI, is aiming to do. (I have written an article about this, here).
For Catholics, the strongest presentation of these premises is encountered in the person of Christ in the liturgy. Through this encounter, because we are in relation with Truth, we are more likely to respond with an acceptance of the basic assumptions of, for example, the nature of existence in regard to all that we perceive around us. We say: I am – You are – it is. If this were to happen, in one stroke, the radical skepticism of much of modern philosophy would be banished; and by this we can accept the (Read More)
Here’s a dispatch from Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia sent earlier this week by Msgr. John B. Brady from the national Scout jamboree, which closed today. A retired priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, he became a Scout in 1942 and has served in the Scouting movement as a youth and an adult for over 75 years.
He experienced the first U.S. national jamboree in 1937, when he was 8 years old and visited the encampment on the National Mall in Washington. He joined the Boy Scouts in seventh grade and went on to become an Eagle Scout.
Papal nuncio, Trump give Scouting high praise at Jamboree
By Msgr. John B. Brady
Catholic Chaplain for Subcamp Delta 1, 2, 3 and 4.
Msgr. John B. Brady. (Photo/ The Summit)
July 24, 2017 — I am sitting in the pavilion of Base Camp Delta, one of the six camps of the 2017 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va.
In the distance I can see about 27,000 Scouts sitting on the green grass slope of the arena plus about 6,000 staff, volunteer troop leaders, and visitors. They are filled with excitement, awaiting the arrival of President Donald Trump.
I am an 88-year-old-Scout, unable to walk the mile to the arena, go through security, and sit in the sun for hours to hear the president. This is the 19th jamboree held by the Boy Scouts of America — a national event scheduled every four years. I attended most of them beginning with the first jamboree in Washington in 1937, and this will most likely be my last.
A jamboree is a life-changing event for both youth and adults. The second jamboree — in 1950 at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania — led me to the seminary and 62 years of serving as a parish priest for the Archdiocese of Washington, for which I thank almighty God.
Phil Rowe, a freight transportation consultant for the past 20 years is here, serving as one of the 600 medical staff, to discern transitioning to a new profession such as becoming an Advance EMT, which will be more helpful to mankind and offer him new opportunities to serve others.
Phil’s son earned the Geology merit badge at age 11 and has just graduated from college with a degree in geology and is on the threshold of beginning his geology career.
Tomorrow I meet with a (Read More)
Discern Your Personal Vocation and Lead a Joyful Life
Here is an article that has appeared recently in both Catholic San Francisco and the Oakland Voice about a program being offered in the Bay Area, which we call the Vision for You. It is on page 5, here.
It is a series of spiritual exercises that I was offered over 25 years ago by a friend. Going through this process led to my conversion to the Catholic faith and to my becoming an artist. Both of these outcomes were against all odds – I was a cynical unhappy atheist when I met my mentor, David; and I couldn’t afford to go to art school. What convinced me to give it a go was seeing other people whom he had directed who demonstrated to me, as much in the way they were as anything else, that they had something in their lives that I didn’t have.
It was only once I came into the Church that I realised how lucky I had been to have met David. I always felt that this process of systematic discernment is something that should be offered more widely. Over the years I have passed it on to a number people, perhaps 50 or so, and have seen the same thing happen to them – nearly all who stuck with it developed a faith and a good proportion of those became Catholic.
One of the great postives about a Catholic education, such as that offered by Pontifex University, is that it forms to the person to transform the culture. You might say that it helps him to do whatever he does joyfully and gracefully.
The big question, which is often left unanswered, is: ‘But what am I meant to do? It’s all very well helping me to do something well, but surely it would help me to know what it is that God actually wants me to do, joyfully and gracefully?’
The Vision for You process, which is what I have called the program David gave me, answered these questions for me and so I see it as something that can be offered hand-in-hand with the formation that a genuinely Catholic education offers.
The article in San Francisco Catholic describes how a small group of us, including myself and colleague Pontifex University faculty member, Dr Michel Accad, are hoping to make this process more widely available.
Dr Accad is a medical (Read More)
Anyone who is interested in an overview of Catholic social teaching and the economic policies that are in harmony with it should read this book. It is published by the Institute of Economic Affairs and is available from Amazon or as a free download from the IEA website here – I read it on kindle on my phone from this. If you order a hard copy be sure to get the second edition which is much fuller presentation.
The contributors to this book clearly explain, in terms that people without prior knowledge could understand, the main ideas behind Catholic social teaching and consider how they might be realised practically. This is rooted in sound doctrine, and sound economics. This cannot be emphasized enough – so often discussions and public statements of what ought to be in society, even by member of the hierarchy of the Church, seems to be lacks.
The constributors to this book, which is edited by Philip Booth of the Institute of Economic Affairs, explain ideas such as solidarity, subsidiarity and the common good and in the light of these consider how they offer the chance for a society that will give greatest human flourishing. They show how a free society and in accord with this, a free economy, are necessary for such flourishing and how they support natural associations of people which are in harmony with this goal, such as the family.
They explain also why socialism – even the soft socialism of Western European democracies – is bound to undermine them.
This second edition, which takes into account of recent developments in both political economy such as the crash of 2008, examines how differing approaches to taxation, welfare, foreign aid, labour markets, finance and the environment often result in the opposite effect of that sought. If ever we need evidence that passing a law that attempts to enforces a desired economic result usually backfires, we have it here.
It is common for critics of the free market to claim that its proponents have a diminished sense of the human person, of freedom and ignore the importance of culture of beauty and responsibility. These are not accusations that can be levelled at the writers of this book.
Most of those who contributed to this book are connected also to the Acton Institute. This year’s annual conference – the Acton University – which took place in June was once again a (Read More)
“For your might is the source of justice; your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.” — Wisdom 12:16
July 23, Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle A. Readings:
1) Wisdom 12:13, 16-19
Psalm 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16
2) Romans 8:26-27
Gospel: Matthew 13:24-33
By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service
I had a conversation with a group of colleagues who also happened to be parents of young children, and we were sharing stories of various parenting techniques that we observed. A couple of techniques and characteristics stood out as both exemplary and very effective. “The Look” was high on our list.
Having just observed “the Look” used by a young mother of four during Mass, I could describe it well: Whenever one of her brood became disruptive, she simply fixed her eyes on him or her with an expression that could have meant anything from “You know that there will be severe consequences for your behavior when we get home” to “I’ve taught you how to behave appropriately in church, and I’m really disappointed in you right now” to “I know you’re hungry/tired/need to go to the potty, but I’m sure you’re capable of lasting a while longer!”
Sometimes “the Look” was accompanied by a raised eyebrow, a gentle touch on the shoulder or a whispered word, but there was never any question about who was in charge.
Whatever unspoken family “code” had been established, there was an obvious, underlying assumption of parental authority that was calmly communicated, justly applied and gently enforced. It also indicated that Mom was fully aware of each child’s unique limitations and capabilities and was prepared to respond accordingly to each one’s age-appropriate need.
Although she must have had her moments of fatigue and frustration (she was human, after all), there was no drama, no flare of temper, no demonstrated resentment. From my vantage point in the pew behind them, I was duly impressed.
Today’s readings convey these same unmistakable messages of God’s just, yet gentle, treatment of all his children, regardless of our individual capabilities and deficiencies. God’s lenience is also God’s strength. God compensates for our inadequacies in prayer. When the seeds of goodness in our lives are contaminated by sin or evil influences, God doesn’t petulantly overreact or intervene prematurely, but he patiently entrusts us with (Read More)
Celebrate one of the greatest gifts humankind has ever received through the Resurrection of Christ with this simple yet stunning Glass Cross With Bronze Corpus. Our imperfect selves are made pure and clean and beautiful once again as we step into the glory of Christ’s saving grace, and Creator Mundi is pleased to offer this richly symbolic piece as a part of its collection.
Give A Gift Of Faith
Timeless and appropriate for so many occasions, this exquisite glass cross depicts the Risen Christ in glory. Whether for yourself as a daily reminder to remember the truth of Christ’s passion and his promise, or for a loved one with a shared appreciation for meaningful faith-based art, this gift is one that will be a welcome addition to any home or office.
Grace Your Space With Beauty And Reverence
- Bronze Corpus affixed to a transparent glass cross
- 7 x 5 inches
- Limited Quantity Available
- Designed and cast in Germany
- Gift Box Included
The cross is an important sign to Christians and Catholics as a sign of both Christ and his sacrifice, and this beautifully crafted wall cross makes a lovely statement of faith. Religious decor such as this can be transformative in its own right, allowing us–even encouraging us–to draw Jesus and all he represents deeper into our lives.
By Rhina Guidos
WASHINGTON (CNS) – I’m convinced that around the country, and perhaps the world, there are many letters similar to the one I received in the mail some 18 years ago. It was written by hand and it ended with a heart and an arrow through it.
I was stunned by the sender: John C. Quinn. I was a cub reporter at a small newspaper then, tending to nighttime fires, crimes and local community meetings that no veteran reporters wanted to cover. I couldn’t believe I was getting letters from someone who was a legend in my field.
A couple of years before, I’d been the recipient of a scholarship Mr. Quinn and his wife, Loie, had established in memory of their oldest son John “Chips” Quinn Jr., who took after his father, one of the founding editors of USA Today, and, less importantly, the sender of my letters. Chips worked as a newspaper editor in Poughkeepsie, New York. He died in 1990 and in the wake of his death following an automobile accident, the family established, not just a scholarship, but a program called the Chips Quinn Scholars to help minority journalists like me work and stay in newsrooms so we could tell an accurate story of disadvantaged communities throughout the U.S. that often was left out.
Organizers told us at orientation that it marked the beginning, not just of a career in journalism, but the induction into a family. It should have been no surprise then that through the years, John Quinn, and those who ran the program, regularly kept tabs on us because they knew the road for minority journalists wasn’t — and still isn’t — an easy one.
They listened to our tales of isolation in newsrooms, lack of opportunities, struggles with editors, management, with other reporters, with family, but also of breakthroughs, breakups, promotions and personal celebrations. They didn’t just provide a friendly ear but also gave solutions, helping us with mentors, training, and continuing education so there wouldn’t be an excuse not to hire or promote us.
Mr. Quinn’s role was largely as a cheerleader. He celebrated our achievements as if they were his own or his children’s. To the Chips Quinn Scholars, he rarely mentioned his legendary role in journalism, which included president of Gannett News Service, vice president of news at Gannett, the largest newspaper chain the country, and the deputy chairman of the Freedom Forum, which later (Read More)
A sign posted outside the door of Pope Francis’ office in the Domus Sanctae Marthae that reads “No whining” (Photo courtesy Vatican Insider/La Stampa)
By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis left a not-so-subtle message outside his office in the Domus Sanctae Marthae residence: anyone who is thinking of making a fuss, leave your whining at the door.
Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli published a photo on Vatican Insider of a sign posted on the pope’s door with the words, “No whining.”
The sign warns potential complainers that “offenders are subject to a victim mentality” that decreases one’s sense of humor and ability to solve problems.
“The penalty is doubled if the violation takes place in the presence of children. To get the best out of yourself, concentrate on your potential and not on your limitations. Stop complaining and take steps to improve your life,” the sign reads.
While it may seem like a serious request, the pope found the sign hilarious when it was given to him by Italian life coach and motivational speaker, Dr. Salvo Noe.
Pope Francis laughs after receiving a sign that reads “No whining” from Dr. Salvo Noe after a June 14 general audience in St. Peter’s Square. (Photo courtesy of http://www.noecom.it)
On his official website, Noe posted pictures of his brief encounter with the pope after a June 14 general audience in St. Peter’s Square. One picture shows Pope Francis cracking up when presented with the sign.
“The expression (Pope Francis) made when presented with the ‘No whining’ sign was beautiful,” Noe wrote on his website.
The sign and a bracelet that reads “Stop complaining,” are part of promotional campaign for his new book of the same name.
According to Tornielli, the pope said he told Noe he “would put it outside my office door where I receive people.” True to his word, the pope reportedly showed an elderly priest who was visiting the sign’s humorous warning to bellyachers. The priest asked and received permission form the pope to share the picture.
The pope has on several occasions warned about the more serious repercussions of complaining which can blind people’s view of Jesus’ presence in tough situations.
Celebrating morning Mass April 3 with staff members from the Domus Romana Sacerdotalis, a nearby residence and guesthouse for clergy, the pope said that “many times when difficult things happen, including when we are visited by the cross, we run (Read More)
“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” — Romans 8:18
July 16, Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle A. Readings:
1) Isaiah 55:10-11
2) Romans 8:18-23
Gospel: Matthew 13:1-23
By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service
It seems as though every time I turn on the news another horrible event has occurred. One day it is war in Afghanistan or elsewhere, another day it is one more EF5 tornado tearing through one or more states, another day it is mighty rivers cresting from an overabundance of rain or wild fires because of too little.
These are the big stories that make the national news. But daily, in much less-noticed corners of the world, there is bullying and peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, hunger and neglect, and drug and human trafficking.
Just when I am about to be overwhelmed, I read St. Paul’s message for us this week: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” I find it hard to take comfort in these words because I am afraid they somehow lessen the circumstances of all those suffering in today’s world. Yet, I know Paul is speaking from a firsthand knowledge of suffering while still holding out hope in faith.
Paul himself had been shipwrecked and imprisoned, and he lived in a time of extreme persecution of the church by the Romans, yet even in the face of such hardship and fear he found a reason to hope.
He was living the message Jesus gives us in the Gospel: “The seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” He knew that the seed of faith had been planted in his willing heart and thus the fruit it was bearing and would continue to bear would outweigh his current sufferings.
The mystery of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus tells us that whatever suffering comes our way is not the end of the journey; it is but a pathway to the glory of God. This does not diminish the suffering experienced, and it does (Read More)
Here’s a new online course with Pontifex University for teachers, parish leaders, community leaders, households or just personal use. For just $90 you can take the course and earn continuing education units in the process. No prior experience necessary. If you sing in the shower, then you can do this!
Most of the materials for the course are available for free on the psalm tones page of the blog – thewayofbeauty.org. But if you need help in learning how to use them, this course will teach you sing them.
It is designed so that you can learn to sing the Office and then pass it on to your household, school, parish, community or just sing in your personal icon corner! All the melodies are taken from traditional plainchant. You will learn all eight modes and the tonus peregrinus.
I have a monthly pot luck and Vespers with my friends where I live and it is a wonderful social occasion enjoyed by all that builds community in a city setting – we use all the psalm tones and settings and new people learn this in no time as they go along.
With this course you will learn:
Traditional melodies and how to apply to them to any form of the Divine Office for example:
Paul VI Psalter,
the online versions from your smart phone, such as Universalis.com;
even the Magnificat magazine
How to teach others to do it too so that you can sing with your friends, family, parish, school or in community.
How to point any text so you sing these melodies to them. This is the great freedom.
How to sing the psalms, intone texts and prayers, how to sing the gospel canticles. You can have a 100% sung Vespers or Lauds!
You can even adapt them easily to any other language, for example Spanish. I even had a friend once who learnt the tones this way and then applied them to Latin psalm in the Extraordinary Form!
You will be able to download all the materials if you want to –
a full pointed psalter is available if you don’t feel like pointing your own;
gospel canticles with options for simple four-part harmonies;
a skeleton Office based upon the form of the Divine Office in the first centuries of the Church an into which you can insert the psalms of day. This is useful if you find yourself without your usual breviary.
Generic antiphon melodies
You will understand the basic architecture of the modes (Read More)
“Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. Your souls will find rest.” — Matthew 11:29
July 9, Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle A. Readings
1) Zechariah 9:9-10
Psalm 145:1-2, 8-11, 13-14
2) Romans 8:9, 11-13
Gospel: Matthew 11:25-30
By Bozena Cloutier
Catholic News Service
When in England, I went to visit my nephew Dominic. He lives in a group home with several other mentally challenged young adults. Dominic, with severe Down syndrome, has no speech. On this visit it was clear that Dominic recognized me and even reached out to touch me, something he never had done before. I was deeply moved. Walking back to the subway my memory took me back to the time when he was born.
My sister had had a difficult pregnancy. This was her second child, and the birth of a boy was greeted with joy. However, shortly thereafter the doctors came bearing somber news: The baby had Down syndrome.
I remember the letter that my sister wrote to our mother soon after the birth. In it she gravely appraises mother of the facts and then goes on to reflect on the implications of the event. Unquestioningly she accepts this child as a gift from God especially entrusted to her.
That was 30 years ago, and my sister has died. Her life was marked by a single-minded commitment to Dominic’s welfare. Her marriage broke up under the strain, but she persisted in finding and promoting the very best for her special son. In the end she found an ideal placement for Dominic. At that point she seemed to relax, and the disease she had battled so successfully for so many years finally claimed her.
Why these memories? Because the Scriptures this weekend contain a familiar, but difficult text. “Take my yoke upon you,” Jesus says. “For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” Which one of us when carrying that yoke has not protested, perhaps silently, about the truth of those words? Was my sister’s yoke easy to bear? Definitely not. Was her burden light? No again. It was heavy, onerous, exhausting. Was the yoke made specially for her, did it fit her well? Here I have to say yes. And in bearing that (Read More)
Now with online tutorial teaching you sing them, from Pontifex University
Every psalm tone can be applied to all psalms – so if you know even one melody, you can sing the whole psalter
I am so pleased to offer you a full version of the Coverdale psalter pointed for singing – all 150 psalms in a beautiful translation and as sung by the Anglican Ordinariate congregations.
I am grateful to Steve Cavanaugh for all the hard work he has put in to format and edit this (he was helped by a few other friends and past student of mine at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.
Download it here: Whole Coverdale psalter pointed pdf from the Psalm Tones page on this blog. If you want to know how to sing the psalms with the tones (also available from the psalm tones page), then those with a bit of experience will be able to work it out from the videos and free material available on the psalm tones page of this blog.
Online tutorial: For those who can’t work it out from this then I have created an online course at www.Pontifex.University. This cost $90 and is is designed not only to teach you how to sing it, but also to teach you how to teach others and to sing with others, so you can introduce into your family, social groups, parishes, schools. Furthermore it comes with 2o hours (2 units) of Continuing Education credit if you want to persuade your parish or school to help you with the cost.
So what’s so good about this?
First, because the text is pointed according to the natural emphases of speech (and not with any one psalm tone in mind) it means that if you can sing one psalm tone from the selection that I give you, then you can immediately sing the whole psalter. So, looking at the example of Psalm 1, above, the ‘points’ are the little marks above the the last two emphasized syllables in each clause in the text. This pointing does not change if you change the melody you sing. It is fixed by the pattern of speech not by the music you sing to it. So there is a selection of around 90 psalm tones available to you (again for free from the Psalm Tones page on this blog) and every one is designed to be sung to this pointing system. (Read More)
In his encyclicals Deus caritas est and Caritas in veritate, Pope Benedict XVI discusses the relationship between two different aspects of love, which he refers to using the Greek terms, agape and eros.
Prior to reading these encyclicals, I had always thought of agape as the higher love in which the person makes a gift of himself to the other. A loving or covanental relationship, therefore, is one of mutual self-gift. Eros, on the other hand, is a lower, self serving desire for the other. With eros, therefore, the best form of personal relationship one can have is a lower ‘contractual’ arrangement in which self-interests are aligned. In the Christian life, I thought, we are offered the possibility through grace of raising up our natural tendency to eros into one by which we are capable of self-gift – agape – in a new way.
Benedict offers us something different. He describes how Christianity does not eradicate eros at all. Rather, it raises it up into a desire for the other which is consummated in an ordered acceptance of the gift of the other. He makes the point that a gift cannot be given if it is not received by the one to whom it is given. Thus, in the loving interraction, both agape and eros are happening simultaneously in a dynamic process. Each is giving themselves to the other, while accepting the gift of the other in an ordered way.
Futhermore, and this being the case, the reception of the gift of love is our first act of love, for we cannot love others or love God without first accepting love from God. This is not passive, it occurs to me, but an action, an assent of the will; it is the spirit reaching out, so to speak, and grasping that hand of God that is offered to us every moment of the day.
Suddenly eros seems vitally important. If we reject God’s love then we are incapable of living the Christian life in any degree and the joy that is available to us all through the Church is shut out of our lives. The place where that acceptance of God’s love in our hearts might occur most profoundly, powerfully and effectively is, of course, in the sacred liturgy. Eros is the first act of an ‘active participation’ by which He abides in us. By this we participate in the transfigured Christ and become (Read More)
“And I promise you that whoever gives a cup of cold water to one of these lowly ones because he is a disciple will not want for his reward.” — Matthew 10:42
July 2, Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle A. Readings:
1) 2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16a
Psalm 89:2-3, 16-19
2) Romans 6:3-4, 8-11
Gospel: Matthew 10:37-42
By Beverly Corzine
Catholic News Service
One winter morning I awoke to the sound of wind rattling loose windows and making a sorrowful sound that can only be experienced on the windswept Colorado prairie. I was an only and often lonely child in a world of adults, watching the light, sifting snow accumulate in the interior corners of my windowsill. As this particular day progressed, I realized that the storm I was observing was unlike any I had witnessed in my young life.
My mother and grandfather carried in load after load of snow-covered firewood, coal and canned goods from the cellar. “God only knows when I’ll be able to get out to the barn to feed again,” said my grandfather, closing the kitchen door behind him. I remember scraping frost from the windowpane and trying to catch a glimpse of him fighting his way through swirling snow on his way to the barn and henhouse. After what seemed hours to me, he burst through the kitchen door, cursing all snowstorms present and past while at the same time thanking God for being able to find the house in the blizzard that now raged against every living thing in its path.
After supper that evening we sat close to the gigantic brown heating stove. My mother had just begun the next chapter of the book she was reading to us when above the shrieking storm we heard a muffled knocking. I watched my mother and grandfather exchange perplexed looks. My mother resumed her reading. Then the knocking started again, this time at our front door.
I peered around his long legs as my grandfather opened the door. “In the name of God,” he shouted over the wind, “come in here and get warm!” Outside our front door in the sea of snow huddled a clump of people that turned out to be two snowbound couples and their exhausted, hungry children and young baby. (Read More)
Here is an open letter from Venezuela. I have written before about how the erosion of a culture of faith, the introduction of socialist principles and rampant statism in which the corrupt government steadily consolidates power. It has done so by undermining of the rule of law and the principle of private property which has in turn led to a sharp decline in personal freedom and a decline in economic prosperity. This has only got worse in the past year and Venezuela is a failing totalitarian communist state along the lines of North Korea. All of this began with good intentions coupled with bad economics and inept governance.
Here is the letter. I have removed the top and tail of the letter to avoid revealing the name of the writers. Take the time to read this detailed analysis of what has gone wrong in this once thriving country in such a short time. The photographs come from the writers. One photograph below shows a malnourished man stripped bare – I hope people do not consider this to be in bad taste but for me it symblized both lack of respect for human dignity and the inablity of the infrastructure to provide basic necessities:
In general terms, the situation has grown much worse in the political, economic and social aspects. As you may know, in December 2015 there were parliamentary elections in which the opposition coalition won a landslide victory, gaining a crucial two-thirds majority of the seats. Since then, the government-controlled Supreme Court has overturned each and every piece of legislation passed, in practice stripping the new National Assembly of its assigned powers. For its part, the Electoral Council, also controlled by the government, has suspended a constitutional recall referendum against President Maduro and regional elections he would likely lose: according to recent polls more than 80% of Venezuelans reject Maduro’s regime. Just in case, the council has also banned key opposition leaders from participating in any future electoral process.
A boiling point was reached last March, when the Supreme Court sentenced that it would assume all legislative functions, in a coup d’état against the will of the people. Since then, our country has been immersed in a spiral of violence as the National Guard and irregular gangs (armed by the government) have been violently repressing and attacking massive and peaceful protests demanding a return to the constitutional order, free elections (Read More)
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” — Matthew 10:28
June 25, Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle A. Readings
1) Jeremiah 20:10-13
Psalm 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35
2) Romans 5:12-15
Gospel: Matthew 10:26-33
By Beverly Corzine
Catholic News Service
By mid-June, school vacation days have begun across most of the country. Breakneck schedules for families subside. During this blessed time, travel is usually on the agenda. Those of us who live where it is hot long to go to some place cool. On the other hand, those who have endured months of living in a deep freeze often plan trips to sunny realms.
No matter what direction the compass may lead us, the summer itinerary of most vacationers will include a visit to at least one historical site. Walking the same ground where our fellow human beings have been put to the test often mesmerizes us. Their past becomes part of our past, and their stories become part of our own.
I never will forget my first visit to the lush Pennsylvania farmland where fields rich with sweet corn create towering green roadside walls. My destination that day had once been simply part of the rolling landscape — an open field that stretches to a patch of trees in the distance. I was one of millions of people to have visited this quiet place where the echoes of birdsong and muffled voices fill the air. One of history’s great ironies lay before me. The green grass now covers ground that once was soaked with blood. In the peace of a summer day the thunder of war raged — men and animals alike were trapped in the great pandemonium of suffering.
As I walked around the field, I thought of Abraham Lincoln, tormented by loneliness and the anguish of leadership, waiting for the horrific battlefield reports telegraphed from Gettysburg in July. Biographers tell us he was a man of great prayer, a man chosen by history whose only constant was God.
The first reading for this Sunday comes from the prophet Jeremiah. When we hear this ancient voice, it is helpful to know something of the man. God (Read More)
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” — John 6:54
June 18, Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)
Cycle A. Readings:
1) Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16a
Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20
2) 1 Corinthians 10:16-17
Gospel: John 6:51-58
By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service
My grandfather had been away from the church for more than 50 years. I only saw him a handful of times in my life because we always lived on opposite sides of the country.
I have a few memories of him though. When I was 16, he came for a visit, and I shook his hand with a rather limp effort. He looked me in the eye and proceeded to teach me how to shake another man’s hand: with a firm but not too powerful grip. I have put that into practice ever since.
When he was nearing the end of his life, my father went to visit him. In an attempt to help his father come back to the Lord, my father wrote a prayer on a piece of paper and gave it to my grandfather, then my dad came back home.
A few weeks later my grandfather passed away. When my dad went to the funeral, he stopped by the nursing home where my grandfather spent his final days and the nurse gave my dad back the piece of paper that he had given to his dad. The nurse explained that every day my grandfather would read this paper and say, “Dave (my dad) really loved me.”
The nurse went on to explain that after a few weeks of reading this prayer my grandfather asked to see a priest. He gave his first confession in more than 50 years and received Communion. The next day he died. I have always imagined the Lord keeping my grandfather alive long enough for him to come back to him.
In this week’s Gospel, Jesus says, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” For me, this verse has never been so true as in the life of my grandfather. Jesus offers us his body and blood as a ransom for our body and blood so that we can have eternal live. Though I did not get to know my grandfather (Read More)