Thursday, May 29, 2008

Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at Mater Ecclesiae

My wife is going to Fordham University tomorrow evening for the first day of their Medieval Conference. I was planning on seeing Prince Caspian (meh) since she did not express interest in seeing it, but instead, I will head down to Mater Ecclesiae parish in Berlin, NJ for their Mass (in the Extraordinary Form) of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Skribit (on the right)

Fr. Gregory visited my blog and left a comment on the previous post. As I usually do, if a poster has a blog, I check it out. He has a neat widget on his blog called Skribit, and I think I'll give it a try. Posts have been a bit wanting here lately, so I'll let all five (?) of my readers exercise a bit of democracy.

Here's how it works: Click the "What should I write about" link at the top of the widget to supply me with a topic to write about. When there's three (or more) options in the box, feel free to vote for which topic you think I should take on. They can be as generic as "Weekly Scripture reflections" or as specific as "What is the deal with the Immaculate Conception?"

I might not be able to blog about every topic to the same extent, but I'll certainly try.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Where is our sense of the sacred?

Perhaps you've heard of the "Benedictine" altar arrangement -- whereby a priest celebrating Mass versus populum (facing the people) has a crucifix and candles placed on the altar. You can see an example of it in the first picture in this post. I think it's great; it's theologically sound, liturgically appropriate, and spiritually enriching. You can read what the Pope had to say about it (before he became Pope) here.

Well, in a Catholic forum, in a thread asking people whether their parishes had adopted this altar arrangement, one woman posted this remark:
It is just a preference he has - until he takes steps to make into some kind of enforceable practice does it make any real difference what parishes do or don't adopt the same practice?

My parish is no less Catholic because my pastor does not use the same table setting as the Pope.

Now, on one hand, she's absolutely right: this altar arrangement is a preference of the Pope (albeit one he is endorsing more and more lately) and it is not law or enforceable in any parish.

But it was the second thing she said that really disturbed me. Does she really see this as quibbling over "table settings"? Is this what the Altar of Sacrifice has become? A dining room table with a tablecloth and candles and napkins and utensils and a centerpiece?

Don't get me wrong: Holy Communion is the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, and happy are those who are called to share in that banquet! But the Eucharist is first and foremost the sacrifice the Church offers God, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to the Father. It's not a picnic! It's not a meal! It's not a snack! It's not a "course". It deserves more than a "table". Pope Pius XII says that "one would be straying from the straight path were he to wish the altar restored to its primitive tableform" (Mediator Dei, n. 62) or entertained a host of other antiquarian tendencies, such as removal of black as a liturgical color, or ridding crucifixes of any signs of physical distress.

Is the sense of the sacred suffering in our parishes? Is Mass about showing up and "taking" Holy Communion... or is it about accepting your place in the Body of Christ, which is His Church, and rendering to God His due worship, the corporate public worship of the Church, culminating and originating in the offering of the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the Heavenly Father?

Is it about being present when Heaven touches Earth? Or is it about table settings?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Prayer Intention

The wife of one of my fraternity brothers passed away last night after giving birth to their daughter. Please pray this weekend for the repose of the soul of Kira Alston Grimaldi, and for her husband Francisco, and their daughter Maya Celina.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Corpus Christi Mass in Rome - Communion on the Tongue, Kneeling

The Holy Father celebrated the Solemnity of Corpus Christi (which is traditionally observed on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, although here in the States it has been transferred to the following Sunday) in Rome today.

During the reception of Holy Communion by the faithful, a kneeler was placed at the foot of the sanctuary, and those receiving from the hands of the Holy Father received on the tongue, kneeling!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Kalamazoo: Arrival

Kristin and I flew from Philadelphia to Detroit (6:15pm), and then on to Kalamazoo (9:30pm). Kristin's not a fan of airplanes, especially not small ones (not that the planes we were on were particularly small). Our seats on our first flight were in the very back, right by the engines, so we didn't talk much (since we couldn't hear each other very well).

In Detroit, we had over an hour to wait, and Kristin was still a bit shaky. As we ate, I noticed a priest speaking of Kalamazoo. Kristin saw a few people she recognized too.

The flight to Kalamazoo was oversold (by two people, it seemed), and we were not seated near each other at all. We were rolling on the runway for at least ten minutes, and I asked the woman seated next to me if we were planning on driving the plane to Kalamazoo. :)

I read nearly two-thirds of By What Authority? by Mark Shea (thanks, Gretchen!) on the plane rides. I practiced my Latin verb conjugations in between flights.

Once we landed, we boarded a bus to Western Michigan University, and we were in our dorm room by midnight.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Personal: Brief interlude

I'm home for three days... and then it's off to Kalamazoo, Michigan, with my wife (via Philadelphia International Airport) for the International Congress on Medieval Studies!

I'm attending the following sessions and events:
  • Thursday
    • 10:00 AM - Jewish-Christian Studies I: Sabbath in Time and Eternity
    • 1:30 PM - J.K. Rowling's Medievalism I
    • 3:30 PM - J.K. Rowling's Medievalism II
    • 5:20 PM - Vespers
    • 7:30 PM - Chant within and beyond the Middle Ages (with Prof. Mahrt from the Church Music Association of America)
  • Friday
    • 10:00 AM - Trinitarian Theology
    • 1:30 PM - The Children of Húrin (A Roundtable)
    • 3:30 PM - Style and Re/Vision in Tolkien
    • 5:20 PM - Vespers
    • 7:00 PM - Tolkien Unbound: Readers' Theater Performance
  • Saturday
    • 10:00 AM - Religions and Philosophies in Tolkien
    • 1:30 PM - Tolkien's Monsters
    • 3:30 PM - Reading John's Apocalypse in the Middle Ages
    • 5:20 PM - Vespers
    • 10:00 PM - Dance
  • Sunday
    • 7:00 AM - Mass (Pentecost)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Personal: Goddaughter receiving First Holy Communion

This weekend, my wife and I are driving ~14 hours (round trip), down to Franklin, VA and back. My God-daughter and niece, Sarah, is receiving her First Holy Communion this Sunday.

What will we listen to in the car? I've got a CD of assorted chant and polyphony from my friend Emily, another CD (O Lux Beatissima) of chant, and I'm thinking of burning a CD of O Fortuna (which I love, and Kristin and I heard performed a couple of months ago); Kristin has a CD of polyphony (by The Orlando Consort).

Hrm, what else...? Perhaps some non-sacred music by Guster (a band Kristin and I both enjoy). And Still Alive from Portal. And a handful of clever songs by Jonathan Coulton.

What would you suggest?