Ad Te Levávi Ánimam Meam

To Thee have I lifted up my soul (Introit – 1st Sunday of Advent)

Archive for February, 2008

The Patron Saint Of Leap Day

Posted by james0235 on February 29, 2008


Bosco Peters has a very interesting post on St. John Cassian whose Feast day is February 29th in the Eastern Orthodox Churches (and maybe the Eastern Catholic Churches as well?)

The Leap Year Saint

(And notice how St. John Cassian is mentioned in one of the quotes from the Catechism that I posted the other day)


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The 7 Deadly Sins

Posted by james0235 on February 26, 2008

Sin creates a proclivity to sin; it engenders vice by repetition of the same acts. This results in perverse inclinations which cloud conscience and corrupt the concrete judgment of good and evil. Thus sin tends to reproduce itself and reinforce itself, but it cannot destroy the moral sense at its root.

(Catechism of the Catholic Church 1865)

Vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose, or also be linked to the capital sins which Christian experience has distinguished, following St. John Cassian and St. Gregory the Great. They are called “capital” because they engender other sins, other vices. They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia.

(Catechism of the Catholic Church 1866)

Image taken from Jessica Hagy’s Indexed

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Catholic Liturgical Music

Posted by james0235 on February 23, 2008

Last Saturday evening I attended Mass at a parish that I do not typically go to. In fact I think that I had only been there once before for a Holy Day of Obligation. My experience on both occasions was nearly identical – an ugly Church, no obvious Liturgical abuses, a pretty good homily given by the pastor, and bad music performed badly.

The “Gathering Together Song” last weekend (as opposed to the “Sending Forth Song”) was Be Not Afraid. It has been my experience that most people do not like this song – or folk music in general during Mass. The few people who like Folk Music are the same people who liked it in the 90s and the 80s and the 70s.

This got me thinking about what the Church has said about Catholic Liturgical Music during and since the 2nd Vatican Council. I remember reading a lot of quotes in a lot of places. Tonight I decided to begin compiling them. This is by no means an exhaustive collection of quotes. And, it is not too difficult to find quotes supporting other styles of music. But, at the very least I think this shows that the all too typical situation of a parish never using Gregorian Chant or Sacred Polyphony in the Mass is very much contrary to the wishes of the Fathers of the 2nd Vatican Council and our current Pope.

The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.

But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action

(Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium 116)

All other things being equal, Gregorian chant holds pride of place because it is proper to the Roman Liturgy. Other types of sacred music, in particular polyphony, are in no way excluded, provided that they correspond to the spirit of the liturgical action and that they foster the participation of all the faithful.

Since faithful from different countries come together ever more frequently, it is fitting that they know how to sing together at least some parts of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin, especially the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, set to the simpler melodies.

(General Instruction of the Roman Missal 41)

On the one hand, there is pop music, which is certainly no longer supported by the people in the ancient sense (populus). It is aimed at the phenomenon of the masses, is industrially produced, and ultimately has to be described as a cult of the banal. “Rock”, on the other hand, is the expression of elemental passions, and at rock festivals it assumes a cultic character, a form of worship, in fact, in opposition to Christian worship. People are, so to speak, released from themselves by the experience of being part of a crowd and by the emotional shock of rhythm, noise, and special lighting effects. However, in the ecstasy of having all their defenses torn down, the participants sink, as it were, beneath the elemental force of the universe. The music of the Holy Spirit’s sober ine­briation seems to have little chance when self has become a prison, the mind is a shackle, and breaking out from both appears as a true promise of redemption that can be tasted at least for a few moments.

(Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 148 )

Similarly, the better-known prayers of the Church’s tradition should be recited in Latin and, if possible, selections of Gregorian chant should be sung. Speaking more generally, I ask that future priests, from their time in the seminary, receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant; nor should we forget that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant.

(Pope Benedict XVI, Saramentum Caritatis 62)

“The Church recognizes Gregorian chant as being specially suited to the Roman Liturgy. Therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.” Gregorian chant is uniquely the Church’s own music. Chant is a living connection with our forebears in the faith, the traditional music of the Roman rite, a sign of communion with the universal Church, a bond of unity across cultures, a means for diverse communities to participate together in song, and a summons to contemplative participation in the Liturgy.

(United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Sing to the Lord 72)

The Second Vatican Council directed that the faithful be able to sing parts of the Ordinary of the Mass together in Latin. In many worshiping communities in the United States, fulfilling this directive will mean introducing Latin chant to worshipers who perhaps have not sung it before. While prudence, pastoral sensitivity, and reasonable time for progress are encouraged to achieve this end, every effort in this regard is laudable and highly encouraged.

(United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Sing to the Lord 74)

Each worshiping community in the United States, including all age groups and all ethnic groups, should, at a minimum, learn Kyrie XVI, Sanctus XVIII, and Agnus Dei XVIII, all of which are typically included in congregational worship aids. More difficult chants, such as Gloria VIII and settings of the Credo and Pater Noster, might be learned after the easier chants have been mastered.

(United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Sing to the Lord 75)

Some articles on Liturgical Music:

“From “Tantum Ergo“to “They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love”

The Hidden Hand Behind Bad Catholic Music

The Sad State of Liturgical Music in the Catholic Church

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I Hate Politics

Posted by james0235 on February 20, 2008

I hate, hate, hate, hate politics! I hate talking politics. And, in general, I don’t follow any candidates until fairly close to election time when I educate myself enough to vote.

But, this is hard to ignore.

I believe the protesters are students from Franciscan University. It really takes courage to do what they did.


Bill and Hillary are probably perfect for each other.

LORD, through the Holy Spirit Mary brought forth the Baby Jesus. We bring forth your creation of human life that we may live in Your image. Protect the innocent babies so mercilessly being murdered by abortion. Give us courage to oppose those who peddle death for profit and convenience. In Your Name. Amen.

Prayers For Life

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Successes And Mistakes

Posted by james0235 on February 16, 2008

I have spent the past week getting reacquainted with the Liturgy of the Hours. I have prayed both Vespers and Compline nightly with the exception of one night where I fell asleep early. One thing I learned a few years back is that if you ever miss an hour then just let it go. Do not try to make it up. I have found that to be good advice.

Things have been going well. But, that is not to say that they have been going perfectly. I have made a few mistakes along the way. After the Psalm I was praying the Antiphon and then the Glory Be and then the Psalm Prayer. A few days ago I realized that it should be Psalm, Glory Be, Psalm Prayer, and then the Antiphon. On that same day I also realized that I had been skipping the Magnificat. I was praying the Antiphon but somehow I completely forgot about the Magnificat itself.

I have found it very helpful to use an Ordo. I am aware of two sites which each provide one for the U.S. version of the Liturgy of the Hours as contained in Christian Prayer:

A few minor mistakes. But, I am learning. And overall I think I am doing well. Hopefully, by the time Lent is over, this will have become second nature and I won’t even be able to think of stopping.

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From Your Valentine

Posted by james0235 on February 14, 2008

There were many men who lived in different times and in different places who held the name Valentinus, or Valentine. It was a very common name in the Roman Empire. The root of the name (“Valens”) means “worthy”. We know of at least one bishop, one priest, and one layman who held the name who were martyred for the faith.valentine.gif

According to some sources the Valentine from whom we get St. Valentine’s Day was a Catholic priest who lived in Rome in the 3rd century. Emperor Claudius the Goth believed that men made better soldiers when they did not have a family to worry about. So, he outlawed the Sacrament of Marriage. Valentine refused to obey the law and continued to perform marriages. For this the Prefect of Rome ordered him put to death unless he agreed to renounce his faith and to cease marrying young couples. Valentine refused and was martyred on February 14 in the year 269 or 270 A.D. He was beaten with clubs, then stoned, and finally beheaded.

It is said that while awaiting execution Valentine healed the daughter of his jailer of her blindness. On the eve of his death he wrote her a letter and signed it “From your Valentine”.

In England, around the time of Geoffrey Chaucer (author of the Canterbury Tales), it became common for young couples to become engaged on or within 1 week of St. Valentine’s Day. The betrothed would refer to each other as their Valentine in honor of the man martyred for his defense of the Sacrament of Marriage.

St. Valentine is honored in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite on February 14th, the date of his martyrdom for his defense of the Sacrament of Marriage. St. Valentine’s Day would therefore seem to be much better suited as a time for the celebration of Marriage and for the renewal of wedding vows than merely for the exchange of flowers and candy.

Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that we, who celebrate the heavenly birthday of blessed Valentine, Thy Martyr, may by his intercession be delivered from all the evils that threaten us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

(Collect, Commemoration of St. Valentine, 1962 Roman Missal)

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Lenten Plans

Posted by james0235 on February 11, 2008

Lent isn’t going exactly as I had planned. I was sick and so I got off to a late start. But, I have finally started a few things:

1. Mass

In addition to Sundays I am often able to get to Mass at least once throughout the week. I keep a stack of parish bulletins in my car so I always have Mass time information at hand. There are several parishes which offer Masses around noon and even a couple with evening Masses.

During Lent I would typically attend a Wednesday evening Mass that was added just for Lent. My thought was that I would make sure to attend this Mass and then in addition to that I would attend another weekday Mass on another day. And then I learned that this Mass was not going to be offered this year. And a few days later I learned that it was going to be offered after all. So, assuming that it is still on, I should be attending at least 2 daily Masses for Lent. I missed Ash Wednesday but I am looking forward to this week.

2. Liturgy of the Hours

christianprayer.jpgThis is something which I used to do quite regularly. I started years ago praying Compline (Night Prayer) on Then I moved on to the one volume Christian Prayer.

And then I moved from Christian Prayer to a book called the Anglican Breviary. The Anglican Breviary is essentially the Roman Breviary (pre-Vatican II version of the Liturgy of the Hours) translated into “Elizebethan” English. Despite its name it is really a Catholic prayer book. For over a year I prayed Compline nightly and Vespers on Sundays. I tried to use English for the Psalms and Latin for some of the prayers – Our Father, Hail Mary, Creed, Confiteor, etc. During this time I would also occasionally use Christian Prayer or The Monastic Diurnal (pre-Vatican II Benedictine Divine Office).

Somewhere along the way I stopped. And I intend to use Lent as an excuse to start again. I am beginning again with Christian Prayer. My plan was to begin on Ash Wednesday and pray Compline nightly and Vespers on Sundays. I actually didn’t start until last night. I prayed Vespers and Compline and it went so quickly that I am considering praying Vespers every night in addition to Compline.

After I get back into the swing of things I may go back to the pre-Vatican II version. But, before I do, I want to try out a book called Prayer of Christians. This was the American Interim Breviary – the version of the Divine Office that was used in the U.S. from 1971 until the Liturgy of the Hours was released in Latin (1972 – 1973) and translated into English by ICEL (1975). This one shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out. According to the late Fr. John Hardon “the revised Liturgy of the Hours is in every respect more detailed than the simplified Prayer of Christians…”.

3. Stations of the Cross

This one should be easy. Just about every parish seems to offer this on Friday evenings. I have also noticed a couple of parishes offering it on Mondays and even one parish offering it on Thursday afternoon.

4. Spiritual Readinglifeofchrist.jpg

I was considering following the Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan. It looks to be excellent and I may use it next year. But, I have decided on my own, less structured, plan. I am beginning with Life of Christ by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (Chapter 1 available online).

After I finish that I am going to move on to Volume 1 of Faith of the Early Fathers and see how far I get.

5. Fasting

I have decided to do a 24 hour fast at least once a week during Lent. I may end up doing this on both Wednesdays and Fridays.

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Ash Wednesday

Posted by james0235 on February 6, 2008


Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Penitential Purple

Posted by james0235 on February 5, 2008

stole3.jpgWhen considering a color scheme for this blog I originally chose purple as it was the 1st Sunday of Advent. My original thought was that maybe I would change the color throughout the Liturgical Year. Most of the year this would leave the color green – the color of Ordinary Time or the Time after Epiphany and the Time after Pentecost. Green just happens to be my favorite color. So, I thought I had everything figured out.stole2.jpg

But as Advent was coming to a close and and an early Lent was fast approaching (Lent begins of February 6th this year and February 4th is the earliest date possible for it) I began to think more and more about these penitential Seasons as well as the Season of Septuagesima in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (the 3 Sundays before Lent) which also shares the color purple with Advent and Lent.

I have decided to keep “penitential purple” year-round as a reminder to myself that it penance is not something to think about only during Advent and Lent. Rather, the whole of Christian life “ought to be a continual penance” (Council of Trent, Session XIV).

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