The huge discussion of contemporary Catholic music that took place on ID earlier this month has spawned another discussion. Listen in on today's podcast of the Grapevine which features a round table discussion that covered questions like
the state of our community - is it too insular?
Is our vision broad enough?
The need for mentors
Why are there so many different factions within the Catholic artist community?
Demographics that are sorely overlooked
The need for infrastructure
The effectiveness of Catholic music organizations such as CAM and the UCMVA
June 18-22: M-F/ 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. This course will examine the history, theology, spirituality and tradition of icons as sacred Eastern Christian images, established on the doctrine of the Incarnation. It will demonstrate that iconography is a sacred craft and prayer form. This course is a prerequisite for “Introduction to Icon Painting.”
Introduction To Icon Painting (1.5 units) June 25-29: M-F/ 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
In his course each student (maximum 20) will be instructed and aided in the painting (writing) of an icon of the Holy Mandylion in the Byzantine tradition using acrylic paints, gold leaf, ancient and contemporary techniques. No previous artistic experience is necessary, only a desire to encounter the Creator God in the exercise of the sacred craft. This course requires 24 hours of painting, so it will meet 4.5 hours each of the five assigned days.
Fr. Brendan is the only Dominican in the country who is bi-ritual (Latin/Byzantine) and is a wonderful teacher and iconographer. If you are interested in icons, you'll really enjoy this. Think of it as a two week vacation devoted entirely to iconography!
These classes are part of the new summer intensive courses offered through the DSPT. Check 'em out!
As some of you know, I have not been participating on Intentional Disciples recently, too busy getting ready for, and then on, my trip to Rome for the audience with Pope Benedict for the 25th anniversary of the pontifical recognition of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation.
Well, some plane difficulties have me stuck in Paris rather than on my way to Chicago. (I'll save you the complaints. Despite being confined on a practical level to one of those hotel airports that frankly look the same, whether you are in Kansas City or Paris, I have a tough time complaining about missing another day's work and getting a chance to test how well I remember French. Of course, that assumes the kind people at this hotel bother to give me the chance. I'm thankful, but can't help being a little disappointed when they switch to English at the first sight of that blue cover of the passport.)
So, with that, I don't have access to the 800 pictures -- aren't digital cameras and gigs of memory great! -- or the audio of the audience, most of all I will spare Intentional Disciples readers by posting over at Integrity. But I thought some might be interested in the Pope's address, which Fred of Deep Furrows has posted here. And if you happened to see the EWTN coverage of the event, and somehow spotted a blue poncho in the sea of ponchos and umbrellas covering the thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square, about four or five rows back in the section just below the statue of St. Paul on the right-side of the steps to the Basilica, then you spotted me. I'll be amazed if that's true.
Recently, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I actually wasn't the last blogger to post about the movie 300. The fine folks over at Thursday Night Gumbo saw the movie last week and have posted their thoughts. I was particularly taken with Jeff Woodward's reflection upon his viewing.
Rather than just talk about the visuals, Woodward highlighted the movie's demonstration of the civic virtues in the life of the fictionalized spartans. Here's some of what Jeff had to say:
The qualities celebrated in 300 are what we once called the “civic virtues.” Love of country. Love of family. Love of civilization – although relatively few human beings in the history of the world have found themselves caught up, as Leonidas was, in a true contest of civilizations. We don't really think in those terms any more. All the virtues publicly celebrated in our own time are virtues linked to individual freedom – the virtues of personal expression, the supreme virtue of being ourselves. If we are exhorted to any “civic virtues” nowadays, they are virtues that would have seemed quite alien, and quite trivial, to the 300 Spartans: avoiding “offensive speech”; minimizing our “carbon footprint” (or paying someone to do it for us); voting higher taxes so that the government can “take care of” all those inconvenient people that we would rather not have to worry about as individual human beings.
I walked out of the theater last night feeling rather ashamed.
I think he has a point.
If Christianity is to be more than merely a place for those who want to exercise a private religious option, if it is to be what Fr. Neuhaus calls, "a very public proclamation of the nature of the world and our place in it," then we must do more to engage with the culture we find ourselves in. Christianity is, among many things, concerned with the good of society and of the individuals within that society--both temporally and eternally. Being salt and leaven means, in the words of John Paul II's Christifideles Laici, "ordering creation to the authentic well-being of humanity."
Thus, authentic Christian formation must provide support for responsible citizenship and the advancement of civic virtues--not in a way that entangles patriotism and religion in wrong relationship, but rather in a way that promotes the just (rightly-ordered) participation of men and women of faith in government and civic activity. Such civic activity should by no means exclusively proceed utilizing theological principles (though it should remain in harmony with the gospel). Rather, men and women of faith are called on to propose gospel-based solutions to particular issues utilizing a common language and common reason to engage in authentic dialogue with their fellow citizens.
In that way, we can fulfill the Great Commission and evangelize the culture and institutions of our time with the light of the gospel in a way that respects the dignity and the freedom of others. If we truly believe that Christ has shown us "a more excellent way," then we should not be afraid to advance that Way in a manner that is intelligible to non-Christians (1Cor 12:31).
It seems that Frank Miller's Spartans have much to teach us.
As many of you already know, Fr. is a married convert from Anglicanism who was recently ordained under the Pastoral Provision and is currently working at St. Mary's Church in Greenville, SC which is famous for its beautiful, traditional liturgy. (We will be offering a Called & Gifted at St. Mary's on April 20,21. Check it out)
Fr. Dwight has a lovely sense of humor and has been doing a funny series called the Gargoyle Code. The 11th installment in that series is particularly appropos to our discussions here. It reminds me very much of the passage in the Screwtape Letters when C. S. Lewis talks about the relationship between high church and low church Anglicans.
Here's an excerpt:
"It happened like this Hogwart: First my patient was playing the back nine with his priest, and the next thing I know they're in the clubhouse knocking back a couple of whiskeys. Knowing the priest's fondness for the nectar of Scotland, I admit I dozed off for a few moments. The enemy saw the gap and was through it in a flash. He used the booze to lower my patient's resistance. Imagine the sneakiness of it Hogwart! Next thing I know the priest has brought up the topic of this healing Mass, and my patient has signed up.
I am not making excuses Hogwart--just explaining so that you might learn from my mistakes. I'm sure there is nothing to be too worried about. I have been working on my conservative Catholic patient now for many years. I've groomed his taste for things old fashioned so that he now confuses his sentimental attachment to the Middle Ages with doctrinal orthodoxy and the heights of spirituality. The poor booby actually thinks that he is closer to God because he loves the Latin Mass, fiddleback chasubles, incense and lacy vestments. I agree with you Hogwart that such things are hideous, but I would rather have my patient attached to them and be truly uncharitable to everyone he disagrees with than to be open minded and patient. I once had him engage in an email debate for three weeks on whether a lay person was allowed to touch the monstrance without wearing white gloves. If only you could see my moments of triumph Hogwart!
I must get back to the point. The healing Mass is taking place in the neighboring parish where the church looks like a huge brick dunce cap. Because of all my work over the years, my patient hates the place. I'll try to get him to cancel, but if he gets through the door and takes one look at the priest's day-glo vestments and hears guitars and sees all the happy people in jeans and T-shirts hugging one another he is likely to gag and run for the door. He's a snob Hogwart! a snob of the most deliciously religious type! I doubt whether he'll even get past the holy water stoop, but it is still a dangerous proposition. I'll have to stick by him. You work and work for years, and then one little cancer scare and they become intractable and unpredictable.
Now about your situation: I understand your little chimpanzee has been to a Bible study group, and he has not just bought a Bible, but a Catholic study Bible. What is going on Hogwart? You've been boasting about your paltry little success in getting him to look at pornography, and now he's not only been to confession, but joined a Bible study group at college? Furthermore, Britwiggle tells me he went to the Bible study with a Christian girl who does 'pro-life' work. Where have you been you despicable worm? Where did he meet this nauseating little lipstick? I expect it all happened while you and Squirmtuggle were chortling over your squalid little success. You don't understand a thing do you Hogwart? This is a disaser of the greatest magnitude.
I've checked the files. Your patient is of the emotional and romantic sort. He's going to be a sucker for a skirt--especially one with high ideals like this one. Furthermore, he's looking for a 'personal experience of his faith.' You should have kept him far, far away from any form of Christian community and directed his emotional, romantic nature into safer areas like literature, drama, film and music. We have enough servants in those fields to have kept him entertained for a very long time."
Sorry I've been silent for the past few days, I've been in New Jersey standing up in my best friend's wedding. I'm back now, and on the much-delayed return flight to O'Hare airport, I had the chance to read through the April 2007 issue of First Things. This journal of "Religion, Culture, and Public Life" is always thought provoking, but the April Issue was particularly meaty. I'll have more than a few posts to share on various subjects after more reflection.
However, I was going to post this quote from Cardinal Kaspar, head of the Pontifical Council on Promoting Christian University, as soon as I returned home. Since it deals with a number of posts and comments that have cropped up here recently on ID, I'll take it as a sign. :)
Speaking at Duquesne University, Cardinal Kaspar (as reported by Fr. Richard Neuhaus) had this to say in regards to dealing with the growing rise of Pentecostalism--particularly in the Global South:
"the first pastoral response to Pentecostalism is for the Church to examine herself, asking why so many are finding in these new movements an intensity of discipleship that they apparently do not find in the Catholic Church."
That examination is certainly an undertaking that the Catherine of Siena Institute is interested in, and it is a central focus of this blog as well. I know that to many folks, the cardinal's thoughts and the posts that are uploaded here on ID may seem too critical of the Church, too enamored of protestantism, and motivated too much by discontent.
The reality is, I believe, that such criticism and such engagement with the question of why so many Catholics find discipleship and a relationship with Christ outside the Catholic Church is, in fact, motivated by a deep love of Christ and His Church. The methods and conclusions that we propose and explore must remain in harmony with Scripture, Tradition, and the Magiserium of the Church.
That is the goal of the conversation--to arrive at an authentically Catholic way of being Catholic--of embracing the whole of the Catholic experience and living fully from the riches of the Revelation of God in Jesus Christ--as a disciple and apostle of our Lord!
I want to take a moment to thank Sherry and Fr. Mike from the Institute, my fellow ID bloggers, and--most importantly--everyone who reads and participates in this blog for making this conversation and engagement with the questions of Intentional Discipleship possible!
This weekend some of our friars participated in a CFR-run youth retreat called Youth 2000. At one point the youth were gathered together in a circle, were read the Gospel account of the woman who was healed after touching the hem of Christ's garment, and prayed as a deacon approached each young person individually with a monstrance carrying the Blessed Sacrament. As he approached, the youth could reach out and touch the corner of the humeral veil. The brothers who assisted at this event said few if any of the three hundred or so youth went away unmoved- some who had been aloof and critical during other parts of the retreat were moved to tears as they encountered Christ in this way. As I said in my "What NOT to learn..." post, I don't think worship can be evaluated solely by emotional response. Nevertheless, I don't see how anybody could regard such an event, and the visceral response it occasioned in so many young people, as anything but a good thing.
In the second volume of his three-volume work on the Holy Spirit entitled I Believe in the Holy Spirit, Yves Congar, O.P., devotes an entire chapter to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. It is well worth a read. He has many positive things to say about the Renewal, as well as a few challenges. Here are a few paragraphs that seem pertinent to the discussion we've been having:
"I could hardly speak disparagingly about human reason and understanding, but there are clearly aspects of man, both psychical and physical, which go beyond reason. These are precisely the aspects of man and the values which have been neglected, excluded, or misunderstood in the Western Church. Even now, since the best of the aggiornamento of the Second Vatican Council, the Church has, as an institution, continued to share in the general and prevalent climate of rationalism and organization. Its liturgy is strictly regulated and it is still extremely inclined to indulge in didactic, if not cerebral, explanations. As a result of this, the members of the Renewal tend to say, when they are asked why they belong to the movement and what benefits they derive from it: In a world that is excessively organized and totally dedicated to efficient productivity, we find in the Renewal freedom, simplicity and a certain child-likeness of heart. We find even the liturgy, the preaching and pastoral care of our Church too external and rational. In the Renewal, we find an inner life and contact with the essence of things in its pure state....
A reassessment of these areas of human life that cannot be reduced to mere reason is, of course, to be welcomed. It is, however, impossible not to be to some extent apprehensive of the danger of a rather pietistic anti-intellectualism. Teaching without prophetism can easily degenerate into legalism, but prophetism without teaching can become illusory. There is a clear need for the movement and the institutional Church to question eachother continuously, like the hill and the field in Barres' novel." (pgs. 154-155)
John Allen posted a very interesting story Friday. It was about Oscar Osorio.
"Osorio, an articulate Honduran layman with a wife and four children, is a leader in the Catholic Charismatic movement in Central America. He’s also a star of Channel 48, the Catholic television network in Honduras, where his compelling Bible-based preaching opens each morning’s programming.
In a Catholic culture without much tradition of lay activism, Osorio is a rare bird – a full-time lay preacher with a wide regional following. . .Part of Osorio’s appeal is that he unabashedly speaks the same deeply personal, spiritual language which has driven the phenomenal growth of Pentecostal Christianity across the globe. He was, in effect, a Catholic version of what the Pentecostals do so well … offering personal testimony about the awesome power of God to change lives."
Amy Welborn posted a link to the piece and I found myself expecting a certain reaction from her readers because Osorio is charismatic. And it quickly happened. As one commenter put it:
"It is my perception that much of Pentecostal evangelization is based upon an emotional appeal. Emotions can be a dangerous and fleeting thing and emotion-based evangelization can be like planting seeds on rocky ground.
Does God speak in an earthquake or a whisper?"
When the commenter above asked that question - he or she had already made it clear what the answer was: God really speaks in whispers. The working assumption around St. Blog's seems to be that the evangelical/charismatic experience is simple shallow emotionalism. This is often accompanied by the insinuation that the charismatic renewal is not orthodox, not legitimately Catholic, and should be avoided like the plague. So we don't need to take Allen's implications about Osorio's impact on the Honduran church seriously - because his manner isn't really Catholic and therefore any evangelizing impact he could have will be shallow and ephemeral. The fact that the church has already rendered its judgement by officially recognizing the charismatic renewal (here is the the decree from the Pontifical Council for the Laity. ) doesn't seem to matter.
"There are, indeed, many signs throughout the world by which we can see the fruits of the Spirit. Currents, movements and testimonies of holiness renew the communion and the mission of the Church, built on hierarchical and charismatic gifts. Among them are the Catholic Charismatic Renewal or Renewal in the Spirit and the new forms of Community life arising from it. "The vigour and the fruits of the Renewal – said His Holiness John Paul II to the participants in the 6th International Assembly of Charismatic Renewal, on 15 May 1987 – certainly testify to the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church during these years following the Second Vatican Council. The Spirit has, of course, guided the Church in every age bringing forth a great variety of gifts among the faithful. Thanks to the Spirit, the Church constantly keeps her youth and vitality. And the Charismatic Renewal is an eloquent manifestation of this vitality today, a vigorous affirmation of what "the Spirit is saying to the Churches" (Rev. 2:7), as we draw near to the end of the second millennium".
As John Allen pointed out, Osorio's impact is based upon his personal testimony about the awesome power of God to change lives." In other words, the real issue isn't emotionalism or a particular kind of spiritual experience. The real issue is God's transformation and salvation of human beings which he accomplishes through a spectacularly wide variety of means and people.
My personal passion has always been this area which the church calls "subjective redemption". Subjective redemption is the whole historical drama whereby the grace of Christ's redeeming sacrifice reaches and is appropriated by individuals and communities, the power of sin, alienation, and death is broken; and we are transformed into the image of Christ. The whole historical drama that you and I are living right now. The drama in which Osorio has been used by God.
(Note: I have never have been part of the charismatic or Pentecostal movement either as a Protestant or a Catholic. I used to be a Quaker and so was used to charisms emerging out of silence.) The fact that Our Lord did a number of in-your-face, attention-getting things during his earthly ministry seems to slipped our minds. Walking on water, anyone? Healing crowds of the sick? Driving out demons? Multiplying loaves and fishes? Raising the dead on several notable occasions?
And then there's that low-key, subtle resurrection thing that we're going to be celebrating in a couple weeks. You know, the event the whole world has been talking about for the past 2,000 years. While the exact means by which the resurrection took place is subtle enough to have eluded us, one could hardly call the event itself "a whisper". Especially with those little added dramatic touches like the veil in the Temple in Jerusalem ripping in two. The answer seems to be God speaks and acts for our ultimate salvation in many different ways. He accomplishes our redemption through earthquakes and whispers; whatever is most appropriate and loving in a given situation or life. He may knock you off your horse or he may whisper. Sometimes he does both together. He'll use a Oscar Osorio and a Ronald Knox. It's up to Him. All we can do is be open, receptive, and grateful. The Church recognizes the legitimacy of both the earthquake and the whisper while reminding us that both must be discerned. How can a faithful Catholic do otherwise?
Just when you could get the impression that religous life is dying out in this country:
The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) has just issued a new directory of the 165 religious communities that have sprung up since 1965. "Emerging Communities of Consecrated Life in the United States, 2006,” was released in early March, 2007.
These communities have 1,300 full members and several hundred members in formation. A little more than half admit only women, 24% admit only men, and 25% of the communities have both male and female members. 32% report that they have a new spiritual vision or focus and are not following established religious traditions.
Next Saturday, the young Catholics of Denver are Takin’ it to the Streetsof downtown Denver.This day of evangelization will be on March 31st at Holy Ghost Church. Beginning at , the day will consist of talking to people on the streets about Christ, celebration of and Adoration of the Eucharist, worship music, and a night of prayer. Come and see, and, experience the awesomeness of takin’ it to the streets!
An occasional commentor at our little blog, Tom from Disputations, responding to a bizarro anti-convert screed in Mark Shea's comboxes, posted this wonderful qoute from the Dominican, Cardinal Cottier:
...As Georges Cardinal Cottier, O.P., former theologian of the Pontifical Household, pointed out a few years ago in an interview: "We are not born Christians. One is born a Jew, one is born a Moslem. One becomes Christian, with baptism and the faith."Cardinal Cottier went on: "Hence Christianity is unarmed.It is a divine helplessness. Because Christians are not manufactured, as those belonging to other religions can become so simply by being brought into the world. Every child must take its own step, nobody can do it in its place. Surroundings, catechesis, can help it. But no sociological condition can replace the attraction that is gift of the grace, that makes personal liberty assent."
I had the pleasure of meeting the cardinal on a trip to Rome last summer. It was at the Feast of the Translation of the Relics of St. Dominic, which is celebrated as the main feast of St. Dominic in Rome. Also there was the new theologian of the Pontifical Household, Fr. Wojciech Giertych OP. Both stuck me as prayerful and humble men. That feastday in Rome ranks as one of the best days of my life. Short of my first profession of vows, nothing before or since has done more to deepen my identity as a Dominican. Veritas!