View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Could this be "Anonymous"?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Church Rocks - Report

Overall, I thought the Church Rocks concert at St. Pius went very well.

The bands showed the variety of contemporary talent out there among us local Catholics. There was a good-sized crowd, and the people seemed to enjoy it. My father-in-law (we're trying to get him out since mom-in-law's death) liked it, and teared up saying she would have enjoyed it.

We had to cut our set short on the fly. We prepared far more than we needed. Naturally, on one song I lost my place and realized I was playing the wrong chords. And on one song I started out singing slightly off. Grrr.

The quality of music varied - but we're all just amateurs. I don't know if other groups play the same styles (and volume) in Church, or if they were just in concert mode. If what we saw is what they do at Mass, and were I with them, I'd tone some things down.

Definitely a great first time - and a success. I'm already looking forward to next year.

Church Rocks - Picture of my band performing

Rock of Faith in action. I'm trying to hide behind a music stand and a microphone - as usual!


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mass report: Good and bad.

The Good Looking One and I went to the Saturday evening Mass at St. Theodore's.

Our parish got out of the habit of kneeling during the Consecration back during the renovation of the church (Masses were in the gym, with no kneelers), even though we are supposed to. Weekdays, I kneel. On weekends when I am in the pews rather than playing and singing with the choir/Rock of Faith, and not wanting to cause a fuss, I've stood with the rest (feeling all the while uncomfortable).

Last night, though, a woman and her son knelt at the right time in the pew in front of me.

After Mass, I complimented her. She said she didn't used to kneel, but she realized it's the right thing to do, so she's started to do it. When I mentioned that to the Good Looking One, she said she'd be happy to kneel. Next weekend, the kneeler goes down.

During the Mass, though, there was a "bad" moment.

The women behind me were carrying on a conversation throughout Mass - every time there was a pause, music, or Father was praying.

While we were waiting to go up for Communion - and while I was trying to pray and focus on that miracle - they started up again.

Finally, I turned to the chatty ladies and asked in my teacher voice, "Could you please save the conversation for after Mass."

They stopped.

They also left right after receiving Communion.

Probably muttering about that rude guy.

Wonder what they'll do next weekend if I kneel in front of them. Or in the same pew!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The prochoice agenda: Dehumanize, then kill


Friday, August 20, 2010

Duggars for Huckabee!

Okay, there ARE limits when it comes to Church music

Don't expect this one at Church Rocks next Friday or as part of the Rock of Faith playlist!

A nod - or tomato - for Tom Peters at American Papist.)

Gregorian Chant was ... Contemporary Liturgical Music!

Curious about the history of Gregorian Chant, I dug out a few books I have about the house.

I found in numerous sources the same basic bits of information: Chant (Gregorian is the form of chant that came to dominate Catholic hymnody) developed out of a variety of sources and with various ethnic flavorings, and sometimes employed popular and secular tunes.

Music the people would have known, with which they were comfortable.

"... Christian chant appears, however, to have been drawn from the ritual music of the Jewish synagogue and from secular tunes of the time."

"... set their lyrics to popular tunes, rather than compose original melodies."

"But later sequence texts were metrical poetry, with a melody adapted from the Alleluia or from a popular tune ... St Thomas Aquinas, for example, set his sequence for the new feast of Corpus Christi to a popular tune by Adam de la Halle."

"St. Thomas Aquinas wrote not only Lauda Sion (adapting music from a popular song by Adam de la Halle) ... "

Interesting. So Gregorian Chant was in effect contemporary liturgical music! Employing some contemporary musical styles.

And there was debate even then over what style was more appropriate for use in liturgy.

As I'm sure there will be debate when our great-great-grandchildren are sitting in the pews singing the hymns of their day.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Liturgical music - with congregational participation

(From Steubenville East 2010)

Contemporary Music at Church

A follow-up on a contentious topic.

I have read various Church documents related to music at Mass and in Church. I have read and heard various interpretations and commentaries.

My interpretation (one that conforms with a number of other's interpretations in the Church) is that contemporary music - including many contemporary instruments - are permitted in Masses. (Guitar comes under the "stringed instrument" category cited as permitted in the documents, by the way.)

Yes, the documents are clear that the organ, traditional hymns, chant, the traditional choir are to be given prominence in the music as a whole, but other styles and forms of instrumentation are clearly and specifically permitted. All instruments - whether organ or bells or guitar - have to be played reasonably well, there has to be due reverence, the hymns must fit the liturgical context.

Does that mean all songs are permitted? Absolutely not. Secular songs are not allowed (as many a bride and groom have found out when planning their wedding). It is not permitted to play a religiously-oriented secular song like "Spirit in the Sky" (even if I do like to crank up my car radio when it comes on on the oldies station). Some of the early efforts to clone secular music and church music in the 60s/70s are not appropriate and are not played. (Even though some critics keep citing songs that I haven't heard played in 40 years!)

But there are many contemporary hymns composed for worship and praise that are permitted and appropriate. "God of Wonders," for example, is uptempo, but is fine.

Does that mean all extreme forms of a particular musical style would be allowed? No. But "rock" is a vague term that includes a wide range of music - from folk rock to alternativerock to punk rock to heavy metal. Some extreme forms would not be appropriate under the guidelines - but that's not what we are talking about here (despite some folks' attempts to use stereotypes and blanket labels).

Looking more specifically at Rock of Faith.

We are not a separate entity. We are part of the continuum that is music ministry at St. Theodore's. We have to report to staff. We are subject to the staff. Our music choices are subject to staff approval. The hymns we play are selected to fit with the readings of the Mass for which we are playing.

The band includes people with a certain level of proficiency. Some have been playing for years - including professionally. We include people who have played in community orchestras, in the pit for musicals, at festivals, in bands, and, yes, in church choirs and "folk groups."

We pray when we practice.

We try to dress appropriately for Mass (not in just U2 tee shirts and ripped jeans).

We don't jump, dance around, etc.

We play hymns put out by Catholic liturgical publishers. The parish pays the copyright fees.

At St. Theodore's, there are three Sunday Masses - 156 for the year. Rock of Faith plays for 8 - 10 youth-related Masses each year. Even taking the 10 figure, that means we play for only 6.4 percent of the Masses. The other 93.6 percent of the Masses feature organ (the preferred instrument) or piano and either choir (about 19 percent) or a cantor (about 75 percent) employing a variety of hymns, including many classics. Thus at St. Theodore's organ and the classic hymns are given places of prominence, in conformity with the guidelines.

Because we play so infrequently, because it's always announced in advance, and because there are other options, any person who does not like the style of music we play can easily go to a different Mass. It is not shoved down their ears.

In the Church, there is room for variety. There are people who wear scapulars, say the rosary, join Secular Orders. There are other people who have no need or desire for such things. There are people who are devotees of St. Padre Pio or the Apparition at Fatima or whose homes and yards are full of statues and shrines. There are others who don't care for all of that. There are people who love the old Latin Mass, and others who find it boring.

We are the Catholic Church, and a catholic church. Not everyone has to agree on particular styles of worship, or spirituality or music, but as long as what is being does fits under the rubrics, as long as what is does is pastorally prudent, then it is allowed.

So if contemporary liturgical music is not your style, and if you have a choice, then just don't come to that particular Mass.

But as long as it conforms to the rubrics (which I believe it does as we are doing it at St. Theodore's) it is permitted.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mother-in-law's Apartment

Busy cleaning out my mother-in-law's apartment today.

So sad.

Finding gifts we and others had given her - books, cookbooks, trinkets from trips, and so on. And lots of pictures.

It's tough on my wife.

We bagged lots of stuff to donate. I just threw a load of clthes in the washer that we're keeping, and am waiting for my wife to return so we can head back to the apartment.

We have to have it all cleared out by the 31st.

Say a prayer for us, Marge!

Patron Saints of Negativity?

Just wondering: Is there a patron saint of grumps, grousers and complainers?

Maybe it should be a team?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Contemporary Catholic Worship

There's room in the Church for Traditional and Contemporary. Praise the Lord.

Church Rock concert - August 27

The band I'm in - Rock of Faith - is one of the four bands playing. Lots of support from the parish staff - who tell us that they get plenty of people looking forward to when we play for Masses (far more than those who object to "rock music" in church).
It's free: Come hear us and the other fine bands.

Goodbye Marge

We buried Nancy's mom yesterday.

The funeral was beautiful and touching, and a goodly number of people were able to make it. Then we had a nice brunch at the old convent.

By last night, we were all shot. Nancy, who organized all of this and had to be the steady hand for the family, did a wonderful job - but she was exhausted. Frank (father-in-law) held up well, considering.

Now we have to clean out her apartment. That's going to be tough as we go through sorting all her personal things.

Say a prayer for us, Marge.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Marge Paris Goes Home August 12, 2008

My mother-in-law Marge Paris (above, with my wife, Nancy) passed away today after a battle with cancer and strokes. God be with her.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Patricia Neal Goes Home

Actress Patricia Neal - who won an Academy Award and starred in many films, including the original The Day the Earth Stood Still and the Walton's pilot, The Homecoming - died Sunday.

She had become a Catholic, and also had come to regret the abortion she had as a result of an affair with Gary Cooper. She later said that decision to abort was the one she most regretted in her life, and that she cried at nights decades later because of it. She spoke out fort life in her later years.

God be with her.

Killing animals for food (and abortion by any other name)

While out driving I was listening to a local talk show. The host had on a woman who was encouraging not eating animals - as a vegetarian I agree - and pointing out that raising animals for food as we do it now actually causes more pollution than industry and cars.

I've heard that argument before.

But that's not what struck me about what she was saying.

She noted that as part of the animal production industry they give the food different names - you are eating a hamburger, not a cow, for example. Renaming them makes it easier to stomach (sorry) because it creates some distance from the animals we are killing. To call the food by its real name makes it too familiar, and we are less likely to kill and eat them.

I couldn't help thinking about the abortion industry. We can't call it a baby, because that would make the little victim too close, too familiar. So the child becomes a fetus, or a product of conception. And abortion becomes choice.

I wondered if the guest had ever made that connection. Maybe she has, and she's pro-life. But I know so many vegetarians and animal lovers who would agree with her pro-animal arguments who are also pro-abortion.

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Friday, August 06, 2010

Bad Haiku Friday: Reality (?) shows

so-called "real housewives"
provide a good argument
for easy divorce

Bethenny chose to
entertain us with her lack
of shame and good taste

the next top model
wannabees reinforce those
old stereotypes

reality shows
help to distort perceptions
of what's really real


Thursday, August 05, 2010

Huckabee jams with Lynyrd Skynyrd!

"In Birmingham they love the Governor!"

Dos Equis: The most interesting wife ...

Stay thirsty.

Pelosi sidesteps question about Jesus' right to life

Monday, August 02, 2010

Rock of Faith August 27 concert: I can only imagine

One of the songs we're thinking of performing.


Man gets arrested for praying

I guess in the eyes of Planned Parenthood, quietly praying qualifies as disorderly conduct.

For more, go to

A Prayer Meme

My friend GrandmaK at A Bit of the Blarney (go to her site to enjoy the music!) tagged me for this Catholic Prayer Meme. (I was tagged at my Follower of Francis blog by another blogger, so this post is doing double duty!)

Here are some of the guidelines.

"Name your three most favorite prayers, and explain why they're your favorites. ... Finally, tell the person who tagged you that you've completed the meme... The Liturgy and the Sacraments are off limits here. I'm more interested in people's favorite devotional prayers."

I had to think about that one. I have a lot of favorite prayers. I have prayers i say for specific purposes. I have prayers that meant a great deal to me at one point, but then I moved on or had other needs.

Three that are especially important to me are:

"The Our Father." This prayer is a gift of Jesus; that alone makes it special. It it a prayer of praise, of longing, of supplication, of challenge. It was one of the first prayers that I learned. It's one I recite as part of the Rosary, but also one I often say just to say it!

"The Apostles Creed." I tend to be a bit of a legalist - I was tempted at one time to be a lawyer, and as my students will grouse, I'm a stickler for guidelines and enforce the rules. I like a clear set of beliefs, and this prayer spells out the basic beliefs of my Catholic faith.

"The Jesus Prayer." (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.) I discovered this prayer years ago. It appealed to me because of its shortness (I like short, as my haiku, clerihews and limericks reveal). It's a prayer I recite often when I need help. When my mind begins to wander along paths it shouldn't 't wander, I recite it to get my mind back in focus (or to break the focus on things I shouldn't be focusing on!). It's also a prayer I recite when I'm trying to deal with something troubling or painful (like when I'm sitting in the dentist's chair!).

There they are, the big three. I'm grateful for the tag, for it got me thinking about prayer, and why these particular ones appeal to me.

Part of this meme calls for me to tag five other bloggers. I prefer to let people decide for themselves if this is something they want to do. If you a reader of this blog, feel free to try it.