Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Something good out of Canada

Canadian comic Steven Crowder braves the wrath of The Religion of Peace:

If God will just keep on using people like Crowder to make Islam look as ridiculous as it really is, everything should be just fine someday.

h/t Five Feet of Fury

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Try to be charming

Last Friday we attended a performance of Bach harpsichord toccatas by the young Iranian phenom Mahan Isfahani. In a break between pieces, he told us that Gustav Leonhardt had once said to him after a performance which hadn't gone just right, "When there are a lot of wrong notes, try to be charming."

This Sunday at St. Thomas

I'm afraid I can't give you the usual list of Renaissance motets the choir sang today, because I forgot to consult the motet booklet for titles before I left church. I'm pretty sure one of them was Pierre de la Rue's gorgeous little setting of Aquinas' O salutaris hostia, which I've praised in previous posts.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A brave kid speaks up

Twelve-year-old Lia sums it all up in five minutes.

After 403 comments, many of them quite vile, her parents closed the combox on this video with this note:

We apologize for turning off the commenting functionality. This was not to stop genuine discussion or debate on the issue but was, rather, a response to the cowardly who used it as an opportunity to throw insults and threats at a young girl that they hated without reason. Thank-you to everyone who, whether in agreement or not, has responded in a respectful manner.

Beautifully put.

Monday, February 16, 2009

This Sunday at St. Thomas

Sung by the St. Ann Choir yesterday at the noon Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas church in Palo Alto, CA:

Josquin des Prez, De Profundis
William Byrd, Siderum Rector

At least those were the pieces corresponding to the numbers on the old hymn board; sometimes, I think, there are last-minute changes, so this might not be correct. You can read the Latin and English texts by going here, then clicking on the "Motet texts and translations" link in the sidebar.

Terrific homily by Fr. Nahoe, too.

But actually the most interesting thing was a conversation I had with a couple of choir members afterwards. More about that next time, when I'm not in a hurry.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A little remodeling advice from NLM

Over at the New Liturgical Movement, Jeffrey Tucker has a great essay about the only real antidote to the horrible acoustic effects of a certain kind of floor covering that plagues many Catholic sanctuaries. Appropriately, it's called Rip Up Those Carpets!

'Tis a puzzlement

This post is going to be about Latin in the Mass. I promise.

Each year, my wife and I attend a few events in the Lively Arts concert series at nearby Stanford University. It's quite an eclectic mix, and once we've chosen the presentations we're pretty sure we'll like, we always pick one or two that could be kind of a stretch. And so we found ourselves last week at a concert by the Malian rock / folk singer Rokia Traoré.

It was a bit loud (OK, way too loud) for me, and way too repetitive, but for me that's true of most rock. What struck me is this: Ms. Traoré sang entirely in French and Bambara and other languages that, it's safe to say, the great majority of the nearly sold-out crowd did not understand. There were no lyrics printed in the lavish program, and although it said she would announce the program from the stage, she usually didn't. It's safe to say that the meaning of what she was singing was basically lost on almost everyone in the audience, except for the people who had memorized the songs on her CDs.

She was rewarded with a standing ovation.

So here's what bugs me. Fellow Catholics of a certain age (mine) often complain to me that they want nothing to do with Latin in the Mass or sacraments, because they can't understand what's being said. This, despite the constant presence of side-by-side English translations in the missalettes that are provided. It's the same complaint as forty years ago, when it was oh-so-important that we dump Latin. When for a few bucks you could buy a missal that would tell you, word for word, what every darned Latin prayer meant througout the entire year's Sunday liturgies.

So how come a rock singer from Mali, performing a program that couldn't be understood except by those ardent fans who had memorized her songs' lyrics, gets complete acceptance -- when millions of Catholics tell their Church they just can't abide going to Mass unless everything is translated for them? That it's just too hard to understand things if they're in some foreign language?

Monday, February 09, 2009

Feet of clay

The news has apparently been confirmed that the founder of the Legionairies of Christ, Fr. Marcial Maciel, led a double life -- he had a mistress, fathered a child, and may even have molested seminarians. I watched an interview on EWTN this morning on Raymond Arroyo's program with two young LC priests who were obviously taking the news very hard.

They correctly said that the only leader that any order should concentrate on is Christ. But they also said that Fr. Maciel's picture was being removed from many LC locations where it had been placed, and that the entire body of his writings was now under scrutiny.

I suppose that's a normal and healthy reaction: revulsion and suspicion. But it would be a shame if the final result was the wholesale tossing out of Fr. Maciel's work and writings.

Honestly, do we do this with other moral teachers? When it came out that Martin Luther King had an adulterous affair, did we take down all his pictures? Did we throw his "I have a dream" speech out of our schools? Did we stop publishing "Letter from a Birmingham Jail"?

No. We recognized that every human being, even the apparently most inspiring, have feet of clay, and we continue to value their good works even as we shake our heads at their bad works. And that's the same way Fr. Maciel, and his life's work, should be judged.

The Christian way.