How to Reverse the Catholic Exodus

Saturday, June 12, AD 2010

Let us pray for all those change agents that are striving to bring back the authentic Catholic culture inside parishes, chanceries, and apostolates.

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5 Responses to How to Reverse the Catholic Exodus

27 Responses to My Thoughts on the Guitar Mass

  • Guitar Mass. Ah the unspeakable horrors that simple phrase contains!

  • If they made use of instrumental pieces by Segovia at various points, that would not be offensive. Why not ditch the organ and just have plainchant?

  • Of course, there is no place in the documents of Vatican II where they specify that the organ should be replaced with the guitar. There is also no place where they specify the organ is the only acceptable liturgical instrument.

    In fact, quite the opposite is the case.

    112. The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy.

    Holy Scripture, indeed, has bestowed praise upon sacred song [42], and the same may be said of the fathers of the Church and of the Roman pontiffs who in recent times, led by St. Pius X, have explained more precisely the ministerial function supplied by sacred music in the service of the Lord.

    Therefore sacred music is to be considered the more holy in proportion as it is more closely connected with the liturgical action, whether it adds delight to prayer, fosters unity of minds, or confers greater solemnity upon the sacred rites. But the Church approves of all forms of true art having the needed qualities, and admits them into divine worship.

    The argument is or has been made by liturgical reformers that this is grounds for the legitimacy of guitars and other instruments. And by the manifest practice of Benedict XVI, guitars and other instruments are licit for use in the Holy Mass if they are incorporated in a solemn, dignified and reverent manner that is consistent with the Traditional Beauty of the Mass.

    I say this as someone who greatly prefers traditional styles of liturgical music; modern music is too busy, too self-centered, and too indulgent. Often times the words of liturgical music promote misunderstandings or at worst even bits of heresy.

    I lament the death of beauty and the sense of the numinous that used to be the Catholic Church’s bread and butter. But this is not an excuse to suggest everything that happened in liturgical reforms is somehow illicit. Following Father Corapi and many others, we should not reject the reforms of Vatican II but embrace what they actually are as recorded in the documents that were actually written, for these documents profess the true “Spirit of Vatican II”, which is nothing but the Catholic spirit of repentance and reform writ large.

  • Zach,
    I think you misunderstand. The statement that “I have still failed to find anything in the documents of the Second Vatican Council where it said to replace the organ with the guitar” is simply in response to the common assertion that the introduction of guitar masses was required by Vatican II. I don’t think anyone is even suggesting that guitar masses are illicit; just that the music is almost always insipid and fails the test you quote above. Yes, there are people who like the music, just as there are people who to this day don’t get why Bluto violently interrupted the Riddle Song.

  • Personally, I think Michael Iafrate would have been justified in socking Belushi in the nose.

  • Hi Mike,

    Fair enough, I didn’t see in this post the assertion that “the introduction of guitar masses was required by Vatican II”. I also didn’t know anyone thought this. What a silly idea!

  • I never used to hate guitar music, or guitars, until I turned Catholic back in 2000 and endured the happy-clappy-crappy guitar masses with the uber-banal schlock “music” that seriously infests too many Catholic masses in Mahoneyland. (Far more offensive are the schlockmeister guitar cantors who also shake rattles during the “Gloria” or elsewhere in the Mass, or plink background noise during the consecration as if they think their semi-skilled “guitar stylings” somehow add something worthwhile. to the Sacrifice of our Lord Made Present.) Too many masses I suffered through down there had the musical trashiness of that Animal House scene. Thank God there were Byzantine Catholic parishes down there where I could worship without being musically tortured. I wish had discovered THAT option sooner!

    I totally cheer the Belushi character. In fact, back when I still lived in LA before moving to a city where I can now attend the Glorious Mass of the Ages every week, I used to spend much of Mass fantasizing piling ALL the guitars in the world in a huge heap then watching as a herd of bull elephants in rut galloped over them, reducing all to a smoking pile of splinters. Somewhere in the fantasy was the additional one that all plans and diagrams for making new guitars would also be destroyed.

  • Bravo Alice!

  • Alice Ramirez: Could not have said it better.

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  • As a traveler who has attended masses in a variety of locations, it is interesting to me when I see the multi-varied approaches. I am not sure I have seen the situation that Alice describes. Mostly, I see a singular guitar that is played quietly as background music to the piano/organ/keyboard and the vocalists.
    Is the “guitar mass” something more?
    If it is, then I would have to definitely have to agree with the chorus here that denounces said guitar masses, especially if accompanied by clapping and other carousing.
    If it is my experience, then I am not sure of the issue.
    I would, however, hope that each church would announce a standard mass in addition to the guitar mass.
    My two cents…. 🙂
    TheWriter @ http://www.goodwrites.com

  • Gary,

    Nothing in the Second Vatican Council mandated the imposition of guitars in the Mass.

    For more information click here:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/02/18/this-is-why-i-love-cardinal-arinze/

  • Guess you wouldn’t like the fact that I’ve played banjo in church, eh, Tito?

  • You are from West Virginia after all.

    😉

  • I thought banjo masses were great when I was thirteen.

  • Phillip, how many “banjo masses” have you attended? I’m from West Virginia and have attended zero “banjo masses.” When I played banjo at mass (which was once) it was in Toronto.

  • Hmm.

    I have yet to endure a guitar mass of a type comparable to the strumming doofus above. I have however witnessed many “contemporary music” masses with praise-band style accompaniment.

    My reaction to what I heard was, in essence: Why do Catholics have such a hard time putting together an ensemble of skillful players, singers, sound engineers, writers, and arrangers? Why must every parish ensemble have so many hacks and weak links?

    Too Many Hacks

    For that is really what I heard: A lack of skill. In some cases I heard one or two talented individuals, but they were undermined by the poor quality surrounding them. If it wasn’t that the other musicians in the ensemble were low on talent or practice, then it was the selection of music or poor sound reinforcement or both.

    Now the best worship leaders and worship bands and sound technicians and writers and arrangers among Evangelicals can, in fact, produce music worthy of a Mass. They don’t always: Sometimes they’re pretty atrocious, too. But the best ones — the type you find at the Evangelical churches known for having excellent music — can do it, and in fact do achieve it on a regular basis.

    But apparently the Catholic roster at even a very large and well-funded parish, such as the one where I attend Mass, is one or two persons deep when it comes to this skill set.

    This, I think, is one source of all the complaints from Catholics, and their predisposition to write off the entire genre of instrumentation as unfit for liturgical use. They think to themselves, “I’ve heard what a contemporary ensemble sounds like, and it’s rubbish.” What they’ve heard is rubbish: But it’s rubbish because it was mostly bad songs with mostly bad melodies and mostly bad chart, poorly arranged, played by beginner-level or intermediate-level musicians after insufficient rehearsal, and sung by mostly unskilled or unsuitable singers, badly miked, through a bad sound system, inexpertly mixed by some zero-experience kid or other, selected on the basis that he was the only one who volunteered for the job.

    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…

    Now pipe organs were, to be perfectly precise, the original analog synthesizers. Organ music was the original synthesizer music, and its introduction a few hundred years back scandalized traditionalists. Those of us with an appreciation of good pipe organ music can look back on that time and wonder why the traditionalists of that era regarded it to be such a wild and unsuitable innovation.

    But the traditionalists’ arguments would have been greatly strengthened had the introduction of most Catholics to this kind of church music involved a player of low caliber on an instrument of low caliber played through low-quality pipes in a church building unsuited to the instrument. (Keep in mind many historic churches and cathedrals were build around a pipe organ; that is, the architectural layout was engineered specifically to make the organ sound good.)

    That is entirely comparable to what Catholic parishes are dealing with now. (If the excellence of Catholic worship music begins to increase, then I suppose in another few hundred years our descendants wonder what the traditionalists of our era were going on about.)

    The Numbers Game

    And then there is the problem of numbers and the mobility of Protestants between churches. Let us say that in a given parish’s geographical area, there are five hundred musicians capable of playing at the skill level needed…and there are twenty churches attempting contemporary-instrumentation music, one of which is the Catholic church.

    Now if one or two of those churches have particularly talented bandleaders, their quality of music will begin to go up. As a result of this, other musicians will want to attend that church: Not necessarily to play in the worship band, but because they have the ears of a skilled musician and it hurts their ears to sit in the pews at a church where the music is bad.

    Now amongst Protestant evangelicals folks really may attend a particular church for this reason and no other — in their view the theological differences between denominations are just the fruitless debates of navel-gazing theologians, so you might as well go to church at a place where your soul is, or at least your ears are, being fed. So once a few churches begin to have good music, their pews fill with skilled musicians, giving them a “deep bullpen” from which to draw…and the music keeps getting better and better.

    But notice that this process doesn’t touch the Catholic church. A Catholic musician can’t go elsewhere, and none of the Protestant musicians are likely to show up at the Catholic church unless they’re reading the Church Fathers and considering converting. The result? The “bullpen” for a given parish is as deep as whichever Catholics are within convenient driving distance of the building.

    The Textual Issue

    I think there may also be another problem, and perhaps an insoluble one: Some of the musical parts of the Mass involve particular texts: The Gloria, the Kyrie, and so on.

    For these texts the Latin is generally well-metered and each line has the same number of syllables and the same pattern of stresses; it was written with the possibility of being set to music in mind. But the English translation of these texts is done for exactness without regard for syllable count, regular stress patterns, or any other attributes which govern lyrical suitability. And of course the grammar of Latin involves regular endings for words based on gender or tense or on whether a word is the subject or the object: Rhymes fall into place with the ease of a ripe apple falling from a tree. Not so in the English language, let alone text translated into English from other languages!

    Now don’t get me wrong: I don’t want people taking liberties with the words of the Mass: I want the real deal. I am just observing that it is difficult to set these parts of the Mass to music for the reasons stated above. Frankly it might be better to opt for the Latin text in those cases: It might lend itself more easily to musical arrangement.

    In The End

    In the end, I don’t know whether the Catholic Church will ever do contemporary-instrumentation worship music well, and if she doesn’t, perhaps she’s better off sticking to what she’s good at.

    But it’s a shame, because it lends false credibility to the notion that certain instruments are unsuited to worship of God. This is false: But certain things played on those instruments can be unsuitable, and certain ways of playing them can be unsuitable (most notably, playing them poorly).

    I hope instead that some movement for excellence in this area will begin to build in the Church, as it did with that crazy newfangled sci-fi sounding pipe organ centuries ago. I hope that centuries hence, the life of the Church will be thus enriched, as it was by the pipe organ.

    Of course, in the end, all instruments and voices will be stilled, and three things will remain: Faith, Hope, and Love, and we know which is greatest. But until then, there is room for the use of lesser gifts, and of those talents of which God makes us the stewards.

    Provided we use them well.

    A postscript: You may have noticed that throughout this post I have leaned on the terms which focus on instrumentation, such as “contemporary-instrumentation worship.” I do that because I am focusing on the appropriateness of electric guitar, folk acoustic guitar, synthesizer, and drums in worship music. I avoided the term “praise and worship music” because while all the music which falls under that heading uses the instruments listed above, not all of it is suitable for mass even when played well. This is part of what I meant about what passes for contemporary instrumentation music in parishes which attempt it: They select some truly awful numbers which probably embarrass even the Protestants who wrote them, and present this to the parishoners as “praise and worship music.”

  • RC,

    With due respect,

    The following statements of yours:

    “Now the best worship leaders and worship bands and sound technicians and writers and arrangers among Evangelicals can, in fact, produce music worthy of a Mass.”

    “the notion that certain instruments are unsuited to worship of God. This is false…”

    Are… questionable.

    The first statement, because I don’t see why an Evangelical with technical skill would understand what the Mass really is, or what sort of music is worthy of it.

    The second, because it actually has been set down in encyclicals what instruments are and are not acceptable at Mass. Of course no one cares to follow those instructions.

    My hope is that Benedict’s “reform of the reform” will put a stop to liturgical abuse, including musical abuse, and bring about the widespread reinstatement of Gregorian and polyphonic chant.

    I absolutely reject, and the Church has historically rejected, even a hint of musical relativism, the argument that one form is as good as any other provided that the “content” is somehow sacred. Forms can be profane in themselves, regardless of whether or not the words refer to saints or the most vulgar sex acts.

    To God, we are to offer up only the best. The historical distinction between sacred and profane music ought to be restored in full. I don’t object to a “Christian band” or whatever playing at a youth group meeting or some other event. But it has absolutely no place in Mass.

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_25121955_musicae-sacrae_en.html

  • Joe! Happy to see you. (Okay, to read you.)

    The bit in the encyclical (with which you answer the second of the two statements you’re debating) is something I’d read before, and I think I have not misunderstood the purpose and intent of it.

    But you’re correct to call me out on it, because I was thinking in the back of my head “the notion that the instruments I have in mind are unsuited to worship of God is false” but what came out of my fingers was “the notion that certain instruments are unsuited to worship of God…is false.”

    Not the same thing, and I should have been more careful! For certain instruments are so utterly inflexible in their sonic palette that they simply can’t generate the kind of sound needed at Mass. The harmonica, the kazoo: Instruments, to be sure, and instruments with a part to play in the soundscape of life, but, for Mass, c’mon.

    So, you got me. I said that wrong. I hold that what I was thinking was correct…but I botched it; I didn’t say what I was thinking with sufficient precision.

    So to say what I should have said: “The instruments of a praise band are capable of being played in such a way as to evoke the majesty, the sense of the numinous, the joy (quiet or exultant) called for at Mass; they are however also capable of being played with the style of a honky-tonk band; to play them in the latter fashion at Mass is execrable, but the instruments themselves are not intrinsically unsuited.”

    Better?

    Before you answer that by saying, “Better, but I still have a problem with it…,” let me anticipate one possible objection: You might say, “Better, but there’s a difference between an instrument being capable of the right kind of sounds, and an instrument easily and naturally producing the right kinds of sounds.”

    Which is a reasonable objection, but not an insurmountable one. Consider the electric guitar: One can play horribly unsuitable stuff with this instrument, or wondrously suitable. But the same is true with the violin, especially when traveling under its alternative identity, as the fiddle. Trumpets have been used in worship since the psalms were written: But not, one hopes, using the stylistic flourishes that Maynard Ferguson adopted when playing the theme song to Hawaii Five-0, such as the “rip off release.”

    In short, these are issues which are surmountable through the use of well-written arrangements played by skilled musicians: Tell ’em what to play, and they won’t get creative and start popping and slapping their fretted electric bass when you turn your back. (And another benefit to the use of well-written charts is that it weeds out the less-trained musicians. Old joke: “Q: How do you make the guitar player in a high-school band be quiet? A: Put sheet music in front of him.”

    Regarding the other statement you questioned:

    I said, “Now the best worship leaders and worship bands and sound technicians and writers and arrangers among Evangelicals can, in fact, produce music worthy of a Mass.”

    You replied, “…I don’t see why an Evangelical with technical skill would understand what the Mass really is, or what sort of music is worthy of it.”

    Well, he probably wouldn’t, until he was in the Church!

    But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t already made that kind of music, in Evangelical worship services or elsewhere, at moments when his artist’s soul and/or the Holy Spirit directed him that something special and awe-inspiring is called for at this moment.

    My point was not that an Evangelical, comfortable in his utter unfamiliarity with the origins of the Bible or the Church Fathers or the doctrines which defined the Christian faith for the first three quarters of its history, already knew what was suited to a Mass when he probably has never attended one, unless he had a Catholic friend or family member who either got married or died.

    My point was that a sliver of the music produced by these talented musicians does rise to the level and character required at Mass, even though they themselves have never thought about it that way: They were just trying to produce really excellent, well-thought-out music with a particular character to it.

    As for Benedict’s reform of the reform, I’m all for it. And if that seems contrary to what I’ve written above, remember that I’m calling for excellence here. If the contemporary instrumentation can’t be used excellently, then it shouldn’t be used! (But I hold — have indeed witnessed — that it can, so naturally I hope that it will.)

  • RC,

    I wonder if there might be a possible conflation here of music that might not necessarily be offensive to God, and music that belongs at Mass.

    Lets take the guitar, electric or acoustic, or the trumpet. Now, I don’t deny the possibility that one can make music on these instruments that is not offensive to God and perhaps even worthy of Him.

    I’m still not sure if that rises to the level required to be worthy of the specific occasion of the Mass. Trumpets are loud. Guitars are romantic. Neither is appropriate to the occasion of the Mass, which is a sacrifice. So I would say these instruments are not capable of producing sounds suitable for the Mass.

    Mass is one, perhaps two hours out of the week. I see no good reason to insist that the traditional music be replaced.

    It would be better for no one to go to Mass ever again than to sully it with profanity, musical, visual or otherwise, so that people did show up. You can quote me on that. There are appropriate venues for profane or vulgar music, so no one ought to feel denied or discriminated against.

    On a tangent that has nothing to do with anything you’ve proposed, I must say:

    Sometimes the reason for musical innovation is subversive – to use the objective power of music to change hearts and minds on critical issues. The music industry knows nothing that the ancients and the Church have always known – that music does have power, it does and alter moods and thought patterns, that it is not mindless entertainment devoid of any psychological effects.

    That is why the Papacy has always taken liturgical music extremely seriously.

  • “a sliver of the music produced by these talented musicians does rise to the level and character required at Mass”

    Eh… maybe a sliver.

  • maybe a sliver

    Now that’s a bit too optimistic for me, but a clock can be right twice a day.

  • Joe:

    Fair enough; I think our experiences differ too widely for me to argue you to a different opinion on this (or you either, Tito!). And of course I wouldn’t want to argue you to a different aesthetic sense, only on the capacity of certain instruments to deliver the appropriate results.

    So really the only thing in your (Joe’s) last note I’ll challenge — no, challenge is the wrong word. The only thing that made me go, “Whaa?” with a befuddled look and a cocked eyebrow, was this: “Guitars are romantic.” Romantic?

    Hmm. Okay, let me break this down. There are four basic kinds: Nylon-strung acoustic, steel-strung acoustic, hollow-body electric, and solid-body electric. All require amplification to be audible unless the church is a tiny one (Mass at my parish regularly has, I estimate, eight hundred in attendance). The least flexible is the nylon-strung, or classical. It sounds either (a.) almost just like a harp, (b.) Spanish, in the flamenco or true classical style a la Segovia, or (c.) 70’s singer-songwriter-esque, which I suppose comes across as “romantic.”

    Next comes the steel strung-acoustic, which sounds (a.-c.) like any of the nylon-strung options, (d.) like a harpsichord, arpeggiating with a high-end sparkle if a plectrum is used, (e.) like a richer rolling piano left-hand figure if played fingerstyle, as exhibited in some Irish music and Irish influenced tunes, and (f.) like the Indigo Girls, which is least appropriate.

    After that comes the hollow-body electric, which is best at the “jazzbox” sound, and beyond that can offer every sound that the solid-body electric can offer, but usually in an inferior way because it was designed to offer the jazzbox sound. All other sounds involve compromise.

    That leaves us with the solid-body electric, which sounds like…everything. Like a piano, like a single violin, like a cello, like a string quartet, like a harp, like a harpsichord. There is no instrument so flexible save an actual synthesizer. Buzzsaw distortion would be horribly unfit for Mass, but roll off the high end and use volume swells, and suddenly you have the sound of a cello, but with more control. Clean up the sound and turn on the echo/reverb, and the piano itself cannot roll high-octave arpeggios with such a combination of crystalline sparkle and quiet resonance, like wind chimes. And, sure, one could also make the thing sound like, oh, I don’t know, Keith Richards. But one can also make the church piano sound like Scott Joplin.

    Well. That’s enough. Time to dress and go to Mass. All this won’t change what I hear today, sadly. On with reform, to a godly end!

    (Postscript: I notice you say that trumpets are merely “loud.” I wonder if the size of the parish influences our respective judgments? As I said before, my parish has several hundred folks in even its 7AM Sunday Mass. But that’s not uncommon in the Atlanta area, where churches tend to have large numbers of congregants. I guess your parishes smaller?)

  • what is wrong with traditional catholic music for mass? what is wrong with latin chant? why doesnt the choir stay in the choir loft? that noisy guitar music makes me sick.

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  • I never cease to be amused by all the anal retentive, pharisaical prudes who, in their quest to “elevate” worhsip, do nothing more than reduce the discussion to the same banal patter you’d find at a wine tasting club.
    Jesus’ most harsh conndemnations were reserved for religious purists who effected religion without redemption…or rather, style over substance.
    The organ was banned from Christian worship for centuries because it was a pagan instrument viewed as being profane. The only reason it came into favor was that a bishop at some point was given an expensive one as a gift and decided he liked it.
    What we call “classical” music was widely condemned just a few hundred years ago as being profane and common.
    Stringed instruments have a far longer and more well-established role in our salvation history and liturgy than any other kind, perhaps except some wind and percussion instruments.
    I personally enjoy the organ when its played well, just as I enjoy guitar or ensemble when played well. Which instrument prevails is based entirely on how best to help people respond in thanks and praise to the pashcal mystery. There are some songs I love and would never play on guitar (Lift High The Cross), but there are many that the organ is too much for.
    The bottom line is that it does come down to skill and cultural relevance, and this is made clear in Church teaching, both worldwide and by the various bishops’ conferences.
    However, I had to laugh when I read “Sing to the Lord” the American Bishops’ document… it encouraged the use of the organ for “evangelization.” This is where the rubber meets the road. The aformentioned naval gazing prudes would be hard-pressed to drag their pipe organs out onto street corners among the poor and Godless who need to hear the Gospel.
    Christ himself tells us that the surest path to hell is to imitate the pharisees. Catholics are in greatest danger of this because we have such a well developed structure in our religion, theology, and liturgy. After nearly 35 years of being a Catholic liturgical musician (guitar) and with a Masters in Theology/Liturgy, I find pharisaism to be strongest in liturgical circles. It is the perfect place to be self-centered and in control but devoid of faith.

  • Tony,

    Thank you for your charitable and insightful comments.

    //sarcasm off.

  • Anytime! Thanks for your substantial, insightful reply!!// sarcasm off.

Adios Heretics, Hello Orthodoxy!

Wednesday, December 2, AD 2009

With the recent scandals rocking the Catholic Church here in America as in President Obama receiving an honorary degree at the University of Notre Shame to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claiming that abortion is an open-ended issue in the Church, we have seen a reemergence of ecclesial leadership on behalf of our shepherds.  Many bishops have awoken to the fact that being “pastoral[1]” has been a remarkable failure in resolving the deviancy emanating from Catholics and Catholic institutions.

The upsurge of young adults rediscovering their faith to the excellent parenting of Catholic families in raising fine orthodox Christian children, we have seen what is only the beginning of a Catholic renaissance here in America.  And let us not forgot the ever faithful cradle Catholics among us that have contributed in keeping the faith in the tumult arising from the Second Vatican Council to today.

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6 Responses to Adios Heretics, Hello Orthodoxy!

  • Gates are not an offensive construct, they are purely defensive.

    It seems to me that Hell’s defenses are weak and rather than sit back and hold off Satan’s attack we should be taking the offensive. Christ has assured us that if we attack Hell’s gates, they cannot prevail against us.

    How do we attack Hell? We must seek virtue.

    Thanks for posting this. Will our orthodoxy increase the attacks against us individually in spiritual warfare? I don’t know about you, but the current situation, both in the Church and the secualr world; think more and more Tridentine Masses and mantillas as well as Tea Party Protests, is pusing more and more of us to conservatism and orthodoxy. Will that cause a step up in demonic attacks – it sure feels that way.

    Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio. . .

  • I wouldn’t have said “Goodbye, Liberals” as the title to Michael Voris piece, but “Goodbye, Heretics” which is more accurate in my opinion.

  • It sure is inspiring to see young people be proud of their faith. When my 16 year old daughter came back from an A.C.T.S. retreat, she inspired me to be closer to Jesus and proud to be Catholic. I was supposed to teach her and she ended up teaching me.

  • protestantism=institutionalized dissent….it also bleeds into Holy Mother Church members as well unfortunately.

  • Diane,

    I agree on some levels. It’ll be a generation or so until most (unfortunately not all) dissidents and heretics leave or are purged form Holy Mother Church.

    Ora pro nobis!

Much to the Chagrin of the Powers that be, the Tide is Further Turning Toward Catholicism Thanks to Traditional Minded Anglicans

Tuesday, October 20, AD 2009

The dream of orthodox minded Catholics and Anglican liberals came true on Tuesday, October 20, 2009 as the Vatican announced that traditional minded Anglicans, clergy included, would be welcomed into the Catholic Church with their own Anglican style rite (though not exactly a rite of their own.) The promise Jesus made that the Gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church is now once again being made manifest for those who chose to recognize it (Matthew 16:16-20.) What King Henry VIII started Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have salvaged. The English and their former empire (if they wish) can return home again.

Since many conservatives may now leave, religious liberals too have high hopes as the worldwide Anglican Communion can possibly fulfill their wish of unbridled liberalism. However, it is becoming plain to see that it is for all intents and purposes the liberal’s wish is now turning into a death wish.  The irony of reading statements by traditional Anglicans thanking God for Pope Benedict’s statement coupled by liberal Catholic posters in the dissident National Catholic Reporter asking to be saved from Rome spoke volumes. Even with fawning mainstream media coverage, every liberal Protestant denomination has seen their numbers plummet in recent years, some as much as 50%, while Catholicism, with all the negative banner headlines, continues to grow around the world.

The Archbishop of Canterbury seems a truly tragic figure cut from a Shakespearean play trying to hold together what a murderous king wrought. It couldn’t be done and so we may now see the implosion of the Anglican Communion, especially in the only region that had any vibrancy, Africa. The African and Asian continents have long been the hope of the One True Church. Fortunately, the embers of truth can also be seen in North & South American seminaries and even in Europe, where the Faith had seemed all but dead.

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50 Responses to Much to the Chagrin of the Powers that be, the Tide is Further Turning Toward Catholicism Thanks to Traditional Minded Anglicans

  • Dave,

    Perhaps the future King of England will be relieved of this meddlesome title and realize that crossing the Tiber is his country’s best hope.

    Too many quotes to pull from a great article.

    King Henry VIII created this mess so as to satisfy his lust.

    We can see the many problems in todays society as we see our nation succumb to sex on demand. Where sex becomes our identity and all vices turned to virtue.

  • “King Henry VIII created this mess so as to satisfy his lust.”

    Actually, it was more about his desire for a legitimate male heir than anything else — he could “satisfy his lust” with any of his numerous mistresses whenever he pleased, but only a properly married wife and queen could give him an heir, which Catherine of Aragon was not able to do. In other words, it was more about his “right” to have exactly the kind of child he wanted (male) by any means necessary … hmmm, sound familiar?

    What if Henry and Catherine had been able to accept her infertility as God’s will for them, and fully embraced their only daughter Mary, or another relative, as a potential heir; or allowed the succession to pass to another noble family, placing their trust in God to protect the nation, rather than violate the law of His Church? Maybe things would have been less stable in the short term, but a lot of grief would have been avoided in the long term.

  • Elaine,

    You are correct!

    And how eerily similar it is in todays dark climate of secularism.

  • And to think the church’s detractors blast it for being so medieval when the secularists themselves seem to be eating the bitter fruits of ol’ King Henry XVIII. Kudos to Dave for a splendid article … loved the “Tortoise of Truth vs. Hare of Relativism” comment!

  • I became Catholic in 1998 when I was 23 and I was horrified by what I saw taking place within the Church and also outside of Holy Mother Church in society and other churches.

    I could never explain my yearning for the traditional Mass and the traditional ways ~ except to say that I, a young 20-something, yearned for a GROWNUP approach to the Faith. Seriously! All of this Liberal crap is so immature and childish and even the young Catholics of ten years ago and today just can’t stomach it.

    Now I’m just… shocked to the core!! I thought that this “dying” of the Christian faith was a bad thing, that this meant that Christianity was going to flicker out and pretty much die and we Christians that were left over would be a rarity.

    Now I see exactly what is going on and it’s so awesome! This death of all of these Reformation protest-churches (protestant!) is opening the door wide for the regrowth of the Catholic Faith all over the world!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Where I live, you can see how much Christianity has totally died a death ~ and I used to think, “What an spiritually sterile place I’ve come to.” But now I see that… “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Pray ye the Lord of the Harvest sends workers into his harvest…”

    The situation is not so wretched and hopeless after all!!!!!

  • A great, and might I say predictable 😉 article Dave.

    And I have been meaning to buy your book for ages.

    MUST – BUY – DAVE’S – BOOK !!!!

    God bless.

  • From another era ” The shot heard around the world”. Dave, you have not lost your ability and rhetoric to bring insight and hope to those who love our Church and its tenets and traditions. Boy is the tide ever turing. Those Catholics who have espoused relativism and have tried to change the foundation of the Rock must be in total shock. God Bless and long live Benedict XVI.

  • “The last four decades have seen liberal Christianity reach out to every sort of relativistic idea, whim and group. The western intellgentsia praised these efforts even as liberal churches emptied of their adherents.”

    Christians trying to change in order to satisfy agnostics and atheists is foreordained to end in spiritual death.

  • Once again Dave puts everything together perfectly! I am passing this on to the young person whom I am sponsoring in RCIA.

    Thanks again, Dave and commentators!

  • I’ll be very curious to see how the African Anglicans respond to this… they tend to be more evangelical (“low church”) than the TAC, and hence (presumably) less-likely to swim the Tiber, despite their “merely Christian” orthodoxy.

  • Elaine,

    You’re not quite correct.

    Actually, it was more about his desire for a legitimate male heir than anything else — he could “satisfy his lust” with any of his numerous mistresses whenever he pleased, but only a properly married wife and queen could give him an heir, which Catherine of Aragon was not able to do. In other words, it was more about his “right” to have exactly the kind of child he wanted (male) by any means necessary … hmmm, sound familiar?

    It has been noted by many that Henry’s romps with his mistresses likely caused Catherine’s inability to have a male heir. She wasn’t infertile; they simply had absurd infant mortality. What is that a symptom of? Syphilis. A sexually transmitted disease. Indeed, Henry satisfying his lust probably was at the heart of the whole thing.

  • I think the responses of people in the US like Mims are indicative of the evangelical Anglican reaction; to paraphrase, “it’s nice they agree with us the liberal Anglicans are bad, but we’re not gonna start worshiping no pope or Mary.”

  • Not to mention, as we know today, a male heir (or lack thereof) comes from the genes of the father, not the mother. So it was Henry’s fault he could not get a male heir.

  • Andy — you’re correct in saying Catherine wasn’t “infertile” in the strict sense; she got pregnant plenty of times, but only had one child live to adulthood, while all the rest were miscarried, stillborn, or died shortly after birth. And it’s quite probable that syphilis or some other STD contracted from Henry’s “romps with his mistresses” had something to do with it.

    However, Henry and Catherine themselves had no way of knowing that, so as far as Henry’s actual intentions were concerned, it was his determination to have a legitimate male heir that was the heart of “the king’s great matter.”

    Also, remember that Henry and Catherine’s one surviving child grew up to be known as “Bloody Mary” because of her counter-persecution of Protestants during her brief reign. Well, that would likely never have happened if Henry hadn’t treated her like dirt and tried to force her and her mother to give up their Catholic faith, and Mary to admit she was a “bastard,” after his marriage to Anne Boleyn. She might have been a really good queen if only she’d been treated with some respect in her younger years.

  • Elaine, Catherine wasn’t infertile. She got pregnant 4 or 5 times. Henry’s proable syphilys caused sickly children.

  • Kung would tool around the narrow streets of the Germany university town of Tubingen in his Porsche leaving the poor bicycling Father Ratzinger in the dust. Some forty years later, the Tortoise of Truth had passed the Hare of Relativism.

    I laughed out loud at this–a vivid image!

  • The irony of reading statements by traditional Anglicans thanking God for Pope Benedict’s statement coupled by liberal Catholic posters in the dissident National Catholic Reporter asking to be saved from Rome spoke volumes.

    Why can’t we simply do some sort of “Parish-Swap”, where we trade liberal Catholics for Conservative-minded Anglo-Catholics?

    That way, we not only welcome the traditionally-minded folks into the fold, we also do away with all the rubbish that is liberal Catholicism!

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  • Great news, great article. We need these people who love Our Lady, love a dignified liturgy and love the Pope. They will teach our liberals and the rest of us much.

  • I hate to be the one to rain on this parade but…

    1000 conservatives join the Church: Front-page news.
    1000 liberals leave the Church: Just another Monday.

    If it’s numbers you want to talk about, Catholicism isn’t doing too well. Catholics are leaving the Church just as fast as Anglicans are leaving theirs. If it were its own religion, ex-Catholics would make up the 2nd largest religion in the US. In my experience, the most common response to “What religion are you?” is “I was raised Catholic but…”

    I don’t think this “to hell with liberals” attitude is productive. There’s nothing wrong with reaching out with both hands to the right and to the left.

  • Actually Restrained Radical it is the other way around, the mainstream media loves to stick to the Church with breaking news headlines whenever something bad happens in the Church. However, did you notice any breaking news when something good happens i.e. the provisions Pope Benedict made for orthodox minded Anglicans? It isn’t so much reaching out to the left or the right that is the Church’s mission; it is to preach the truth of the Gospel of Christ, no matter how popular or unpopular it may be at any given time.

  • “There’s nothing wrong with reaching out with both hands to right and to the left.”

    How about this — why don’t those conservative Anglicans just remain with their coreligionists who have embraced homosexuality, woman priests, etc.

    They should, instead, reach out with both hands to those on their left and simply accept them and their beliefs, however wrong.

    The same with us Roman Catholics.

    We should reach out with both hands to those on the left, those who advocate abortion, those who support homosexuality, those who promote woman priests; and simply accomodate them and their beliefs, however wrong.

    Did not Christ preach in Matthew 18:17 that those who dissent from the Church are to be treated, not like a heathen or a publican, but as somebody whose errant beliefs we should accomodate?

  • “However, did you notice any breaking news when something good happens i.e. the provisions Pope Benedict made for orthodox minded Anglicans?”

    Front page of the New York Times.

    e,
    No doctrinal changes were made to accommodate the conservative Anglicans. I’m not advocating any of the following but here are some examples of what’s possible on the orthodox left: women deacons who marry and baptize, openly gay celibate priests, married priests and bishops, a more democratic election of bishops, radical liturgical reform (rock bands, dancing, etc.), a higher bar for just war, maybe some wiggle room on contraception, pushing for liberal causes like weapon bans, torture bans, more lenient sentencing, selective conscientious objector status, gays in the military, environmental protection, universal health care, minimum wage, unionization, world courts, etc.

  • Yeah — I’ll look forward to having Mass celebrated where in it, heavy metal bands perform, various break dancing takes place, and the Communion served is actually an Oreo cookie, with Elton John serving as its chief celebrant.

    Nice liberal utopia you have going there.

    Personally, I’d rather have a Church with a few, but very faithful, people (as even then Cardinal Ratzinger had once envisioned) as opposed to one entertaining the numerous masses, the majority of which yield to heretical beliefs/practices.

  • Restrained Radical, studies have shown that articles in the mainstream media’s newspapers and in their respctive network and cable news channels are terribly skewed against the Church. I would ask you to visit the Newsbusters site of April 2008 and see how television and the print media covered Pope Benedict’s visit to New York City. Listening to Katie Couric (and many others) beforehand, one would have thought Americans would greet the Holy Father with demonstrations, not the genuine admiration that was shown by those in the Big Apple and rarely discussed by those news organizations.

    Even the Anglican story of this week was hardly given a mention in most newspapers, TV network or cable news channels, a very strange development when one considers the fact that some Protestant commentators called it one of the biggest developments in the religious world since the Reformation.

  • “Even the Anglican story of this week was hardly given a mention in most newspapers, TV network or cable news channels, a very strange development when one considers the fact that some Protestant commentators called it one of the biggest developments in the religious world since the Reformation.”

    Front page of the NY Times, WSJ, Washington Post, and LA Times. That’s as mainstream as you can get. If you didn’t read about it in the MSM, I suggest you find better news sources.

    Judging by the web traffic, the Anglican news wasn’t very popular with readers. No surprise there. The Average Joe doesn’t care.

  • Restrained Radical thank you for proving my point, the truth is the truth whether it is popular with the mainstream media or not and the Average Joe or not. The plummeting liberal denominations wanted to be liked so much they tried to appeal to everyone and to paraphrase GK Chesterton ended up appealing to one one. When the faithful of these dying groups come to realize where the truth has always existed (the Catholic Church) they can’t wait to swim the Tiber.

  • Again I can’t believe I’m agreeing with the lower case vowel again.

    Restrained Radical,

    I would prefer quality over quantity any day of the week. A smaller more faithful Church would only feed my soul and bring me ever closer to reaching Heaven.

  • Why is it that only conservatives can be faithful Catholics? How do women deacons diminish the quality of the soul food you want and decreases your chances of reaching heaven?

    The new apostolic constitution should teach us the opposite lesson. The one true faith can accommodate different paths. The NO doesn’t detract from the TLM. The Church can appeal to conservatives and liberals.

  • Restrained Radical. the point is we either follow the teachings of Christ and the Church he established or not. We can’t make up our own ideas to go along with the whims of society. Pope Benedict has spoken of the Dictatorship of Relativism where sadly too many in the religious world model the Church after soicety.

    It is important to note that Jesus and the Early Church were counter cultural which is why the Church slowly grew, instead of rapidly. We must recall that in the Early Church everything thing matter and practice (especially as it pertained to sexuality) was permissible in the secular world. The Church wouldn’t even permit divorce let alone the varying sexual practices and orgies that were commonplace in the ancient world. Actually, if the Church really wanted to grow it would have permitted all of those things, since they were commonplace. The Church did not, which is eventually after many decades and about three centuries, the secular world saw the wisdom in the Church’s teachings and beliefs.

  • The Early Church didn’t have an Anglican Use, received Communion in the hand, probably sitting down, had Mass in the vernacular, women deacons, married clergy, and bishops elected by the laity. One can be liberal and orthodox.

    The Church thrived through inculturation. Traditionalists (those who believe it should be the only way, not merely an option) arbitrarily pick some point prior to Vatican II and say “That’s were the Church must freeze.” Evangelical Protestantism thrives today despite the fact that its members are more socially conservative than Catholics, mostly because it is extremely liberal in style. Too liberal for my taste but the point is that one can be liberal and orthodox.

  • Restrained Radical, with all due respect the Early Church was about as far from the liberal model of thinking as one could imagine. Public confessions, shunning of anyone in the secular world who was living a promiscuous lifetsyle (which was just about everyone who wasn’t a believer.) In addition what the priest or bishops said was stricly adhered to, as early as 96 AD we have records of the Church in Corinth sending a letter to the Pope (Clement I believe) asking what to do to resolve a theological matter. Keep in mind the Holy Father had to live in hiding and St John the Evangelist wasn’t that far from Corinth on Patmos, we can see the weight they put in obediance and orthodoxy.

    Remember when occasion heresies emerged where, say for example, someone didn’t believe in the Eucharist, the faithful themselves would volunteer to organize armies to wipe them out. As late as the 1400s, St Joan of Arc wanted to organize an army to wipe out Jon Huss in Bohemia and she wasn’t alone. As you can see for many of the faithful no quarter was given to liberalism and personal interpretations of Scripture.

    As for modern Evangelicalism, as I predicted in my book, “The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism,” much of the mega church movement has already stalled and in some cases is in a free fall, some have turned to the Emergent Church movement and some have even become dissolutioned with that idea. Some big mega churches in Florida and other locations have folded up their tents and closed because of financial problems or because a charismatic pastor was replaced by someone less than charismatic. By 2020 mega churches of the world will, by and large, be a thing of the past. In times of trouble the faithful increasinly want to embrace the truth and to paraphrase Mark Shea, not “my own personal revelation of the moment.” The liberal self absorbed model is thankfully being replaced by the truth. The Dictatorship of Relativism is out and Pope Benedict XVI is in, Thanks be to God!

  • Tito:

    Again I can’t believe I’m agreeing with the lower case vowel again.

    You demonstrate remarkable reasoning here, Taco Man! I am deeply humbled. Although, it is not I that you are actually agreeing with here; it is more so our great vicar of Christ himself who’ve taught me much.

    Restrained Radical, I would prefer quality over quantity any day of the week. A smaller more faithful Church would only feed my soul and bring me ever closer to reaching Heaven.

    AMEN!

    It’s like that “Salt of the Earth” metaphor that then Cardinal Ratzinger had elaborated on in that same-titled book:

    He envisions a largely post-Christian world in which the church will be on the defensive, smaller in numbers, but, he hopes, more coherent and committed in its faith.

    Quality vs. Quantity: Personally, I believe Christ would rather have the few and the faithful as opposed to the many and the heretical.

  • e, I sometimes wonder if Benedict might be mistaken, and we instead see the emergence of a huger, committed Catholic Church.

  • Pinky,

    A Catholic Church blessed with a multitude of faithful Catholics would be a great blessing, I grant you that.

    Indeed, there is nothing more I would want than sharing the authentic Christian faith with those who genuinely adhere to it.

  • Restrained Rad, reading over this article and your comments, I think we’ve got a failure to communicate. I’ve seen four different things labelled “liberal Catholicism”:

    1) orthodox Catholicism which illuminates a person’s politics toward compassion for the poor and needy, which Americans call liberalism

    2) hope for the increased allowance of some of the newer (or very old) religious practices within the orthodox Catholic faith

    3) disobedience, or permissiveness toward disobedience

    4) doctrinal dissent, or permissiveness toward doctrinal dissent

    You mention things that could potentially fall under all four categories. I don’t think anyone here would dispute the holiness of concern for the well-being of the poor. Liturgical development and changes in specific rules of Church discipline are fine (although I’m personally shell-shocked, and I’d like to see things left alone for a while). Breaches in Church discipline for the sake of disobedience, well, that gets into motivation, and I’m glad I don’t have to decide what falls under category 2 or 3. The last category is full-on wrong.

    I think this article lumps categories 2 through 4 together.

  • As far as I’m concerned, the more “Catholics” that leave the Church, the better. They’ll leave room for the truly Catholic Catholics! We don’t need the Liberals and cultrual Catholics in our ranks, holding us back and trying to control our Church so that they can justify their sins and their lifestyle choices ~ or their sheer spiritual laziness that only brings them to Mass on Christmas and Easter.

    This is no rain on our parade ~ it is a cleansing of Holy Mother Church! And good riddence! Those empty spots left by lukewarms and Liberals mean we have more space for real Catholics!

  • Why can’t we simply do some sort of “Parish-Swap”, where we trade liberal Catholics for Conservative-minded Anglo-Catholics?

    That way, we not only welcome the traditionally-minded folks into the fold, we also do away with all the rubbish that is liberal Catholicism!

    There is much more to being Catholic, and much more to being Anglican, than taking sides in the culture wars.

    Your suggestion here shows that your real religion is culture war nonsense.

  • Precisely Michael. I find this “war” mentality very disconcerting. Do we really want people to “leave the Church?” Perhaps we should want them to continue in their process of conversion, as we are called to — not get out. One might gather that people who wish these things have no hope for these people — perhaps they do have it. It is surely hard to discern.

    But what I cannot gather is, how is sitting around in judgment of others’ Catholicism, or lack of it, to our spiritual betterment? Have we made it through that narrow gate, or are we confident we’re going to pass through it? For the way toward destruction is wide and spacious.

    Judgment comes to the hypocrites and sanctimonious just as it does to the unrighteous — and from my reading of the Gospels, more harshly. Sometimes I get the impression, because it is so incredibly hard to imagine otherwise, that the people who evince such, dare I say, a pharisaic tendency don’t offer anywhere near the number of prayers for ‘bad’ Catholics, for their conversion, and for their ultimate salvation at the mercy of God with all the sinners that has ever lived in the history of our species than the condemnations and persistent flammatory rants about these people and their spiritual and moral failings — no matter how objective they be. Does holiness not demand more of us?

    It is too easy to sit around and list the spiritual and moral failures of an individual, or a categorized group. It is another thing to reach out, to try to be the difference to these people. Sometimes this requires not be stridently and coldly objective. I did not convert because people were telling my that a “gay lifestyle” was going to lead me to Hell. I converted because there was a vibrantly orthodox priest that loved me as a person, who did not see me merely as a dissident Catholic. It is so reductionist to reduce a person merely their worldview or personal struggles, no matter how much those things define them. A person is made fundamentally in the image and likeness of God — there is our starting point and dare I say, our ending point.

    This has nothing to do with accomodating heterodox theological or moral views, or shifting away from orthopraxy. If I seem self-righteous, pray for me, the unbelievable sinner I am. To take one of the dissident issues very personally, I would rather be a sinner who made it through the narrow gate and a saint in heaven by the unfathomable mercy of God that struggling homosexuals can pray to (and are prayed for by), whose life may have changed theirs, before I ever sat in stridently objective judgment of “those people” who might as well leave the Church and let more orthodox people enter in a nice exchange.

    “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

  • You’ve made the mistake that these people are judging.

    They want to feed their souls.

    The modernists in the Catholic church, some not all, want a church that cannot exist.

    I completely agree about a church swap.

    The modernists do more harm by leading others astray. They’ve done more harm than good.

    Your comments are full of assumptions that are unwarranted.

  • Do they want to feed their souls? If I wasn’t aware of the fact (and maybe not an orthodox Catholic), I might not have guessed.

    Moreover, I do not understand how the fact that dissenting people wishing the impossible legitimizes “swapping” them for people who would wish to enter the Church. For afterward: would they return? Would we go after them? Or would we leave them to their “liberal” ways?

    I cannot see why we cannot simply invite those who wish the fullness of truth and be the Catholics we need to be to our brethren who are on the fringes of orthodoxy. Why do they need to leave? I’m not a huge fan of the “get out” mentality. I don’t think it’s reasonable.

    Even if modernists do harm to the Church from within, I don’t see how those desperately insistent on orthopraxis — as good and noble the intention is — but if it is done to the point of throwing virtue out the window, I’m not convinced that some, particularly the most extreme traditionalists, do not bear culpability as well.

  • Eric,

    You may be describing an obscure minority.

    I’m all for church swapping, but I believe it is more rhetoric than anything else.

    I’ve witnessed many, many priests, even today in the archdiocese that you and I share, continue blurring the lines between the teachings of the church so that anything is permissible.

    Believe me, just because Pope Benedict’s initiatives have sprung doesn’t mean that those that want to harm the church are gone, nor are they sincerely ignorant of the truth. I have had to bite my tongue often to post about these dissident priests in our archdiocese. I have decided to let Cardinal DiNardo do it quietly rather than make more of a scandal than it already is.

    Yes, extreme traditionalists do bear culpability. The way they judge others without getting to know the person. They way they lack charity and gossip about others behind their backs. Especially how snobby they can be. I have friends who are extreme traditionalists and I see how uncharitable their behavior can be. And I do call them out on it all of the time.

    As far as church swapping, it represents my sentiments of how disgusted I am at both priests and laypeople that continue to teach, proselytize, and live worldly lives and values openly and without a sense of wrong that gets my gander. Believe me there are more than 10 times those type of people than there are extreme traditionalists.

    Believe me, they will leave (not all, some or maybe many) under their own recognizance before we ask them to leave (which no one has asked them to, but have only suggested on websites such as ours). Once they learn more of what it means to be a Catholic than to be of the world.

  • Has Eric and Michael Iafrate ever even consulted Scripture itself and look towards why Jesus Himself said that those who dissent from Church teaching (Mt 18:17) are to be treated as a heathen or publican?

    How many heretics in the early church won the hearts of innocent Christians simply because they were welcomed and embraced by those in the Church herself, which seemed to legitimize them and their heretical beliefs?

    An example of this is to be found within the Arian heresy which insinuated itself through countless ranks of the flock simply because of this error.

    Such a case is to be found today where many countless Catholics have succumbed to the Protestant notion that there is no such thing as the ‘Real Presence’, as traditionally defined by the Church, and that the Eucharist is nothing more than merely a symbol.

    Those naive continue to fall into such heresy because of how Catholics like Eric and Michael Iafrate would rather ’embrace’ such Catholics instead of subscribing to the same treatment of them as Jesus Himself had prescribed.

    It is no wonder why heresies such as this continues to gain ground amongst the majority of Catholics today within the Church but errors such as ‘abortion is a right, not an act of murder’ is likewise adopted and embraced not only by those who truly believe in such a horrendous notion as this but also by the innocent who unwittingly accept such an error because errant Catholics like their CCD teachers tell them it is so.

  • Wow, I checked back and found quite the debate going on. All I can say is this in response to the statement, “The one true faith can accommodate different paths”: So long as they don’t bear the taint of dissent. It doesn’t take much to smell out a rat.

  • “So long as they don’t bear the taint of dissent. It doesn’t take much to smell out a rat.”

    The problem being that there are those Catholics who would gladly accomodate the rats, even if innocent members of the church itself suffers that black plague of heresy which would tragically claim the very lives of many of the Faithful.

  • e.,

    So e., when are you going to add a pic to your avatar?

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Res et Explicatio for AD 8-25-2009

Tuesday, August 25, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!Ketef Hinnom Silver Amulet

Buckle Up! Because here are today’s Top Picks in Catholicism:

1. An interesting find of Biblical proportions has been announced.  Silver amulets predating the Dead Sea Scrolls by 400 years was found with Biblical inscriptions, the Book of Numbers 6:24-26:

24 The LORD bless you and keep you:
25
The LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you:
26
The LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

Written in Hebrew script, the pure silver amulets were discovered in the ancient tomb complex of Jerusalem’s Ketef Hinnom.  Archaeologist Gabriel Barkay wrote the discovery in the Biblical Archeology Review.

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6 Responses to Res et Explicatio for AD 8-25-2009

  • Just by way of interest, your no. 1, the two tiny silver amulets were discovered by Dr Barkay way back in 1979 (in Chamber 25 of Cave 24 at Ketef Hinnomin). They are inscribed with portions of the apotropaic Priestly Blessing which is found in the Book of Numbers (6:24-26). They are the earliest known citations of texts that are also found within the Hebrew Bible.

  • Stephen,

    I haven’t done any research on this, but I’ll take your word for it.

    It could be that they verified the age and the inscription on the silver amulets only now, but that is just a stab in the dark on my part.

    Nonetheless, I do find this fascinating and intriguing since this is another piece of the puzzle that continues to provide evidence and verification of the validity of the Holy Bible.

  • Yes, ‘fascinating and intriguing’ indeed. That is why I have such a passion for Biblical Archaeology. The amulets were fully re-examined in 2004. The latest news is that BAR in its 200th copy (this month) reviewed it as one of the most significant finds in Biblical archaeology thus far… and it truly is! I am constantly examining archaeological finds, and that, in light of the Scriptures… If you like, you can visit my blog and have a look…

    Many blessings to you and your readers,

    Stephen.

  • Oops, I almost forgot, I blog at http://biblicalpaths.wordpress.com/

  • Looking forward to parousing your blog when I have time, good stuff!

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Res et Explicatio for AD 8-24-2009

Monday, August 24, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

Buckle Up! Because here are today’s Top Picks in Catholicism:

1. The Reform of the Reform project continues as the Congregation for Divine Worship recommended the following:

  • Voted almost unanimously in favor of a greater sacrality of the [Latin] rite.
  • The recovery of the sense of Eucharistic worship.
  • The recovery of the Latin language in the celebration.
  • The remaking of the introductory parts of the Missal in order to put a stop to abuses, wild experimentation’s, and inappropriate creativity.

In addition they declared the reaffirmation of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue.

Pope Benedict XVI continues in correcting the abuses and misinterpretations of Vatican II with these rectifications and tweaks.

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5 Responses to Res et Explicatio for AD 8-24-2009

  • Quote: “According to an interview featuring E. Michael Jones, who knew several prelates close to Medjugorje explained the contrasts on how both popes approached the issue. It seems that JP2 wanted to believe in the Marian apparitions but was hesitant due to the evidence to the contrary while Papa Bene isn’t hesitating to begin to make a ruling against the validity of these questionable apparitions.”

    Unfortunately, Mr. Jones takes wide liberty in making statements that cannot be supported. The entire piece written by Jones is a sham and an embarrassment to him and others who promote his books and articles. Jones lacks any direct quotes and is thus left to fabricate the truth based on his skewed view of Medjugorje. Cardinal Ratzinger was involved from the beginning in removing judgement of Medjguorje from the local Bishop to the Yugoslavia Conference of Bishops and more recently to the Vatican. A more full rebuttal to Jones can be found here:
    http://catholic-ecclesia-dei.blogspot.com/

  • Timothy,

    We all struggle do discern God’s will, for some it’s easier than others.

    But when the Virgin Mary tells her Medjugorje seers to join the priesthood and convent and you refuse, that is enough for me to believe that the Marian apparitions are a sham and nothing more than the devil playing these poor kids (no adults) for all their worth.

  • Please Taco; there’s more than just that which would lead one to doubt the sham that is Medjugorje.

    Our Lady of Fatima it certainly is not.

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96 Responses to Return of Gregorian Chant

  • FYI – There will be a Gregorian Chant workshop at St. Theresa’s in Sugar Land on Feb. 13th & 14th, 2009. It will be presented by Scott Turkington, who is on the board of directors for the Church Music Association of America. $75 for the weekend, beginners welcome!

    http://www.musicasacra.com/sugarland/

    Incidentally, there is also a (free) concert of William Byrd’s Mass for Four Voices at 7:30pm on Feb. 13th, put on by the St. Theresa Schola Cantorum. Come for the whole weekend!

  • Chant is a nice option for liturgy. Too bad most of the folks pushing it as if life depended on it are simply “high culture” types who simply have an emotional attachment to one particular form of music and insist on imposing it on the rest of the church.

  • Before you make sweeping statements like that, you might want to have some basic familiarity with what the advocates of traditional sacred music (chant and polyphany) actually say about it — and more importantly what the Church herself has said about chant: namely that it should (according to Vatican II) given “pride of place” as a form “specially suited to the Roman Liturgy.”

    If we take the universal understanding of our Church seriously, we should certainly be following her guidance in this regard rather than the sort of Americanist guitar strumming which is all too often inflicted on us.

    Surely as someone so able to get outside the dominant cultural paradigm you agree?

  • “who simply have an emotional attachment to one particular form of music and insist on imposing it on the rest of the church.”

    Yes. One does wonder when most music directors at masses in this country will wake up to the astounding fact that the year is 2008 and not 1978. The persistance of bad “worship” music from the sixties and the seventies of the last century is as much a wonder to behold as it is painful to hear.

  • Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium §116 (1963) says, “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”.

    Amen.

  • [quote]If we take the universal understanding of our Church seriously, we should certainly be following her guidance in this regard rather than the sort of Americanist guitar strumming which is all too often inflicted on us.

    Surely as someone so able to get outside the dominant cultural paradigm you agree?[/quote]

    Yes, one would think so, but how could this fit into a pre-ordered worldview?

  • Darwin – First, I am quite familiar with what “they” say about it, having been active in liturgical music for about 15 years. Second, despite your wishful thinking, the “universal church” is not teaching us to restore monocultural music universally. It’s not even asking us to ban guitars. Keep dreaming. And what is “Americanist” guitar strumming anyway?

    Donald – The worst of liturgical music is from the late 80s and the 1990s. Most parishes are using music that sounds like its from the Weather Channel or Elton John “Circle of Life” crap and it’s horrid. A lot of the music from the 70s was actually quite good.

    Surely as someone so able to get outside the dominant cultural paradigm you agree?

    Yes, what better way to “get outside the dominant cultural paradigm” than by restoring the former dominant cultural paradigm, and not because the type of music is any “better” in any objective way, but because 1) of some emotional “mysterious” feeling it gives you and 2) because it suits your ecclesiological ideology.

    Of course some types of music are better than others, and we can certainly say that some types of music are suitable for the eucharistic liturgy and others are not. And of course chant is fantastic. Sure, let’s even say it should have the “pride of place.” But it’s merely an option among many.

  • Here is a thread from Catholic Answers on the worst Catholic hymns.

    http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=197443

    Note that it goes on for 50 pages.

    My personal list of the bottom ten Catholic hymns that make my ears bleed:

    1. Sing a new song-1972.

    2. I am the bread of life-1971.

    3. On eagles’ wings-1979

    4. Here I am Lord-1979

    5. Gift of finest wheat-1976

    6. Be not afraid-1974

    7. Glory and praise to our God-1976

    8. Hosea-1972

    9. Peace is flowing like a river-1975

    10. Ashes -1978

    Bad music is created in every decade, but the seventies abuse the privilege.

    Hear is a good article that explains why this mouldy boomer music is foisted upon us so frequently at Mass.

  • I am curious if there is overlap between Donald’s bottom 10 and Michael’s top 10 from the 70’s.

    Personally I think some of those songs are defensible, particularly when they are scriptural, but to say they are defensible is not to say they are ideal.

  • I am personally a lover of Lassus, Victoria, Byrd, Palesrtina Tavener AND all of the songs on Donald’s list.

  • I have a certain shame-faced affection for Gift of Finest Wheat, though my list of horribles would line up well with Donald’s. I’d add Let Us Build the City of God in place of Gift of Finest Wheat.

    There’s an important distinction to bear in mind, however, when talking about Palestrina, Byrd or the Glory & Praise Hit Parade versus talking about chant. (And this applies equally to Gregorian Chant in the Latin Rite and the various Eastern forms of chant which are found in the Eastern Rites and the Orthodox churches.

    John Michael Talbot and Palestrina are both composers who wrote specific compositions in the idiom of their times (though one barely deserves the title and the other was among the most brilliant composers of choral music who ever lived). In that sense, Desprez, von Bingen, Monteverdi, Byrd, Tallis, Palestrina, etc. are of a specific time and culture, though composing music to fit an eternal and universal purpose. (And creating beauty which can be appreciated in many times and places.)

    Chant, however, is not a composition in the same sense. It is a mode of turning words into musical prayer, not a style for composing songs. This is what make’s Michael’s comment about “restoring the former dominant cultural paradigm” very odd. The “dominant cultural paradigm” in regards to sacred music has varied throughout the history of the Church. Medieval compositions are very different from Renaissance ones, which are in turn different from Classical and Baroque and modern ones. The various forms of chant, however, are not time and place specific in the same way. They’re flexible — listening to an African or Latin American priest or choir chant is very different from hearing a French or Spanish one — and yet they contain a universal musical language of prayer. (The use of the Church’s universal language helps as well, of course, when it comes to bridging barriers.)

    That is why the Church teaches that chant should have price of place in our liturgy — not because it is superior music or from a superior culture (though it is musically superior to much of what is churned out in any given period or by any given culture) but because chant provides the Church with a musical language of prayer which crosses cultural and temporal boundaries.

  • I appreciate music from all periods, but the problem that happened over the past generation and a half with Catholic Mass music in this country is that it largely remained frozen in time with the same 20 hymns or so, mostly from the seventies, played ad nauseum. One of the benefits of belonging to a Church that spans two millenia is that it gives us the opportunity to choose good music from many time periods, with the mediocre and bad music, alas always in the majority for any time period, residing in sweet oblivion. Time to take advantage of this and give the jejune hymns of the past two generations a rest for say a century or so.

  • “Hear is a good article that explains why this mouldy boomer music is foisted upon us so frequently at Mass.” should have been “Here is a good article that explains why this mouldy boomer music is foisted upon us so frequently at Mass.”, although, considering the subject matter, no doubt it was a Freudian slip.

  • .”..but because chant provides the Church with a musical language of prayer which crosses cultural and temporal boundaries.”

    I understand the claim and sympathize with the sentiment, but am not so sure that it is in a category unto itself, actually delivering in such a way.

  • Donald,

    Sadly I’ve been inculcated with these songs, having grown up in the 80’s and 90’s. Most of the songs you list I actually like. However, as I’ve become more and more aware of liturgical abuses, I’ve also become a little more sensitive to abuses in music, as well. There might be hope for me yet…

    As a completely useless anecdote, just this morning I was looking up the lyrics to Tim Schoenbachler’s “Rise Up, Jerusalem”. The song popped into my head at Mass yesterday, and I was trying to remember if it was something we sang in church years ago or was some pop piece that I’d heard elsewhere.

  • No problem Ryan, force of habit will cause many people to become fond of items that they would otherwise not be fond of. Of the songs produced during the seventies I actually like One Bread, One Body which I know is fingernails on the chalkboard to many people. Tastes will vary. My main point is that these songs are played too frequently and detract from the massive musical heritage that Catholics have to draw upon.

  • I am curious if there is overlap between Donald’s bottom 10 and Michael’s top 10 from the 70’s.

    Most of the songs he mentioned I don’t really like. I do like “I Am the Bread of Life” and “Be Not Afraid.” “Hosea” is also pretty good. The rest are not very good songs. “Here I Am Lord” rips off, of all things, the theme from the Brady Bunch.

    I do tend to like St Louis Jesuits hymns for the most part (only a few of the songs D mentioned were their songs), but I tend to like the more obscure ones. And I like them stripped down to folk instruments, well played, as they were intended to be played. Not translated to piano or pipe organ. And not simplistic guitar strumming. Good guitarists and singers playing “Answer When I Call,” for example is simply beautiful.

    A more interesting question is whether the songs on the “top ten worst songs” lists make it because folks are simply sick of them, and sick of bad music in general in Catholic parishes. “Be Not Afraid” is a great song, but it’s overdone and it’s usually played horribly. Any style of liturgical music can be done poorly. Donald’s later comments indicate to me that his issue is more with the fact that he is sick of certain hymns being over played. That’s certainly a legitimate point, but it does not signal an overall problem with the quality of Catholic liturgical from 1960-present.

    That said, I mostly don’t like Haas and Haugen (Haugen is better). And I can’t stand the Catholic embrace of “praise and worship” music.

    Chant, however, is not a composition in the same sense. It is a mode of turning words into musical prayer, not a style for composing songs. This is what make’s Michael’s comment about “restoring the former dominant cultural paradigm” very odd… The various forms of chant, however, are not time and place specific in the same way.

    What is “odd” is the notion that chant somehow floats above culture as if God herself wrote it. I’ve heard that argument before and frankly I find it ridiculous.

    I was fortunate to grow up in a parish that had a “folk Mass” with a very competent choir. These “folks” knew what they were doing. Great guitar players, fiddler, bass, etc. They had a huge batch of songs to draw from and they knew how the songs were intended to be played. Thus, it’s hard for me to accept the across-the-board dismissals of contemporary Catholic liturgical music.

    I’m working on an album of St Louis Jesuits songs played in a very stripped down format, with a sort of Appalachian old time feel. I am picking some of their more obscure songs for the most part.

    “Cry of the Poor,” played well, is one of the best, most hauntingly beautiful contemporary Catholic hymns in my opinion. But it does not translate well to piano or organ.

    I like Taize music (in Latin, English, or Spanish) because it feels both ancient and contemporary.

  • God herself

    Can I hope that’s a typo…?

  • That said…

    What is “odd” is the notion that chant somehow floats above culture as if God herself wrote it. I’ve heard that argument before and frankly I find it ridiculous.

    I don’t think the argument is that God himself produces chant, obviously the various forms of chant are human developments, but they’re human developments with a purpose and form different from “song writing” or “composition” in that they are means of singing pre-existing words (the words being the main emphasis) to a musical form that provides beauty without making the musical composition the center (a center to which the words are fit.)

    In this sense, a chant approach works equally well in Latin, English, Spanish, etc., so long as one takes into account the rhythms of the language itself.

    Though I can certainly imagine given your background and ideological commitments why you’d want to ignore or recategorize chanted prayer.

  • Most of what Donald puts on his list rank near the bottom of my list, too It’s not that they are necessarily bad songs (in fact, melodically some of them are very good), but most of them suffer from one serious defect: they’re virtually unsingable by ordinary people. The melodies have huge intervals in them or cover an enormous range (and sometimes both). The majority of people can only consistently sing an interval of a third or maybe a fourth, but many of these songs have fifths, sixths, and even octaves in them. Most people’s effective range is perhaps a full octave, but some of these songs stretch almost two octaves (“I Am The Bread Of Life” is especially bad about this). If your goal is to have the people sing along with the choir, this is the worst thing you can do; the result typically is absolute cacaphony. The great advantage of chant (and hymns up until the early 20th century in general) is that the intervals and ranges are relatively small (and the meter is regular). Even untrained singers can sound reasonably good with that material. By contrast, only a trained choir typically sounds good with much of the modern stuff.

    There are other issues involved that I won’t get into, such as apparently sopranos and tenors write all of the modern music and put it in keys that are uncomfortable for a bass such as myself, or performing in a style that is totally inappropriate for the source material (the parish I’m at now is the second consecutive one where the music group tries to play Andrae Crouch’s “Soon And Very Soon” and absolutely butchers it…).

  • I’m working on an album of St Louis Jesuits songs played in a very stripped down format, with a sort of Appalachian old time feel. I am picking some of their more obscure songs for the most part.

    I’d be interested in hearing it when you’re finished.

    but most of them suffer from one serious defect: they’re virtually unsingable by ordinary people.

    Truer words were never spoken. I grew up in a Presbyterian church (where they sang the Psalms, and nothing but the Psalms, set to music) and later a Southern Baptist church — and in both instances, everybody sang. Take a look around my parish on Sunday and people struggle along (if at all) while the director puts on a solo performance.

    Something’s amiss here, and it ain’t the parishioners.

  • God herself

    Can I hope that’s a typo…?

    Like his refusal to capitalize certain words, Michael I. is just going out of his way to be obnoxious.

  • One thing professional gadfly Todd Flowerday correctly points out is that everybody needs to step back and realize that hymn-sifting will occur and is occurring. Each of the currently popular hymnists is going to be lucky to have maybe five of his/her songs in a hymnal come the turn of the 21st Century. Which means that we’ll end up singing a lot of chaff, alas.

    The transcultural effect of chant is a good point. The Church has rarely been monochrome culturally, least of all during its formative years, and yet that’s when traditions of chant proliferated throughout. Take a listen at Sr. Marie Keyrouz’ eastern chant repertoire and that comes through with crystal clarity. And, yes, hymns do as well, given the hymn fragments we see in the NT (Phillipians, for example). But it is the centrality of chant to the actual liturgical prayer forms of the Church across time and culture which distinguishes it from hymnody.

  • Can I hope that’s a typo…?

    If you want to. But it’s not a typo.

    I don’t think the argument is that God himself produces chant, obviously the various forms of chant are human developments, but they’re human developments with a purpose and form different from “song writing” or “composition” in that they are means of singing pre-existing words (the words being the main emphasis) to a musical form that provides beauty without making the musical composition the center (a center to which the words are fit.)

    I said “as if” God writes chant.

    Of course I see that chant is held to be different than mere “song writing” in a way similar to how icons are not mere paintings. But even most contemporary liturgical composers do not see what they do as mere songwriting. And given what you have said about using pre-existing words, etc etc, it still does not follow that chant somehow “transcends” culture. It simply does not.

    Though I can certainly imagine given your background and ideological commitments why you’d want to ignore or recategorize chanted prayer.

    I have said a few times now in this thread that I like chant. A lot. I don’t ignore it at all. I have some on my laptop right now. But the push to enshrine chant as the only “real” form of liturgical music is misguided and not catholic (in the “small ‘c’ sense of the word). If you want to try to misrepresent my position (as usual), go ahead, but I’ll indeed point out whenever you do so.

    The great advantage of chant (and hymns up until the early 20th century in general) is that the intervals and ranges are relatively small (and the meter is regular).

    Your point about the singability is a good one. But I don’t agree that pre-20th c. hymns were easier to sing. I say this from experience in choirs over the years who have used a variety of music from different time periods.

    Take a look around my parish on Sunday and people struggle along (if at all) while the director puts on a solo performance.

    Yes, absolutely. But here again, this is a problem with the practice of liturgical music, NOT with the style of the music.

  • Can I hope that’s a typo…?

    If you want to. But it’s not a typo.

    Well, okay.

    I kind of thought it might not be, but I had hoped that my low expecations were not actually reflective of reality.

  • As Julian of Norwich says so beautifully, Jesus is our Mother…

  • Tito,

    Both man and woman were made in God’s image.

    Can you use your analogical imagination to understand that in God’s perfection there is femaleness?

  • Mark,

    I understand where you and Michael I. are coming from, but I respectfully disagree with calling God a ‘she’. It is more an act of provocation rather than anything congenial.

    The thread is about Gregorian Chant and then MIchael I. decides to throw a hand-grenade that is completely unrelated to the topic, ie, par for the course.

    What’s the name of your pooch?

  • So our Lady is our mother, in whom we are all enclosed and born of her in Christ, for she who is mother is mother of all who are saved in our savior; and our saviour is our true Mother, in whom we are endlessly born and out of whom we shall never come.
    ….

    And so in our making, God almighty is our loving Father, and God all wisdom is our loving Mother, with the love and the goodness of the Holy Spirit, which is all one God, our Lord.

    The mother can give her child to suck her milk, but our precious Mother can feed us with himself, and does, most courteously and tenderly, with the blessed sacrament, which is the precious food of true life..

    The mother can lay her child tenderly to her breast, but our tender Mother Jesus can lead us easily into his blessed breast through his sweet open sidem and show us there a part of the godhead and of the joys of heaven, with inner certainty of endless bliss.

    Julian of Norwich, Shewings

  • Tito,

    The dog’s name is Georgia, or Georgie for those who are on familiar terms with her. She’s actually my girlfiend’s.

  • Mark,

    Thanks for the Julian referrence. It’s always good to learn more about the faith.

    Georgia it is. I’m a big cat and dog fan. Cats because they take care of themselves, dogs because they are loyal. Though I don’t own any as of this moment, I’m thinking of getting two kittens sometime next year.

    Felix and Nestor!

  • The thread is about Gregorian Chant and then MIchael I. decides to throw a hand-grenade that is completely unrelated to the topic, ie, par for the course.

    I’m sorry you find female terms for God “provocative.” That’s your problem, your issue, not mine.

    Utterly hilarious that you think my use of the word “she” for God was an intentional attempt to derail the conversation here. You have issues, my friend!

    Can you use your analogical imagination to understand that in God’s perfection there is femaleness?

    Tito has made clear for some time now that he has no analogical imagination.

  • Mark – Femaleness is a “hand grenade,” according to Tito. I’ll bet the women in his life must be flattered.

  • Michael,

    Maybe you are being a bit too tough on Tito. He probably just wants to respect the language that God chose in his full revelation of Himself.

    Unfortuantely, a too obsessive adherence to this langauge has historically stifled the theological imagination, and we are all the victims.

  • Utterly hilarious that you think my use of the word “she” for God was an intentional attempt to derail the conversation here.

    Of course it was. The troll’s mission accomplished!

  • From a recent post:

    Whenever I see debates about Church music, they are generally about stylistic issues, instrumentation, and the like. These debates usually center around music selection — which hymns to select and why. It’s been this way for at least as long as I’ve been involved in church music (13 years). I wish to change the terms of the debate; I’m not going to center on style or instrumentation. Instead, I wish to concentrate on the texts of the music assigned for the Mass each and every week.

    Now many will wonder at the final part of that phrase. “I didn’t know each and every Mass has music assigned already. I thought pastors, music directors, and liturgical committees chose the music for the Mass.” This kind of question is a manifestation of what I see as a case of deep liturgical amnesia that has plagued the Western Church since even before the Second Vatican Council. But that is another post for another time.

    Read on…

  • Aristotle,

    That’s a very key point you bring up, and while I think that chants are particularly appropriate forms of music to the texts appropriate to the mass, I would agree with you that it is more important that we regain the lost propers of the mass than what style of music they are in.

    Michael,

    I’ve known rather more women who are offended by the implication that they were incapable of “relating” to God when He is referred to with the masculine pronoun (which is generally how the scriptures and Church Father describe Him, after all) than who are offended by comments such as Tito’s. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I very much doubt that any women worth winning the admiration of would be offended by what he said.

    As you are no doubt aware, God is traditionally referred to in orthodox Christianity as masculine, just as the Church is traditionally referred to as feminine, and I think the case is pretty solid that doing otherwise can only be taken as:

    a) An attempt to shock and/or flaunt one’s transgressive attitude.
    b) An expression of solidarity with the sorts of “feminist theology” which have been explicitly rejected by the Church.

    Mark,

    You’re right, of course, that there are aspects of God which we, in human terms, might see as feminine. Men and women are equally made in His image. However, I must admit that I can’t see where generally sticking with describing God as the scriptures and the Church Fathers described Him has stifled theological imaginations that much over the last 2000 years.

  • Darwin/Brendan:

    On the contrary, God is referred to as both masculine and feminine throughout the history of orthodox Christianity. Jesus himself referred to God as female at times. Take it up with him.

    You’re simply not familiar with the breadth of the tradition. Sticking God in a box labeled “BOY” is transgressive, not referring to God as “she.”

    Tito-sterone is right, though: this thread is about liturgical music not “feminist theology.” The fact that you jerks can’t handle a feminine pronoun in reference to God is not my problem. YOU are the ones who are making a big deal about it, not me. Get over it.

  • Jesus himself referred to God as female at times. Take it up with him.

    Once, yes. But there’s hundreds of times more scriptural support for saying that God is pro-war (i.e., much of the Old Testament). Likewise, if you look at Church history, there were more wars started by the Church itself than there were orthodox theologians who called God “she.” So if, in a thread about Church music, someone dropped a completely irrelevant aside that God is pro-war, only jerks like you would be sidetracked over that comment, right?

  • Is today Festivus or Christmas Eve?

  • On the contrary, God is referred to as both masculine and feminine throughout the history of orthodox Christianity. Jesus himself referred to God as female at times. Take it up with him.

    I think you’re wrong about that, but if you want to provide ten specific citations from the from the New Testament and/or Church Fathers (stick to people canonized so we don’t have to argue over whether they’re “orthodox”) I’ll gladly concede the point.

    Sticking God in a box labeled “BOY” is transgressive

    If you read what we wrote, we pretty specifically did not do that.

    Tito-sterone is right, though: this thread is about liturgical music

    Just so. Thus, if you want to return to that, I’ll throw this out: It strikes me that one of the things you’re missing when you talk about chant being culturally specific rather than a universal part of the Church is that chant as a form is not a product of a specific regional culture, but rather of Catholic culture.

    So while it’s well and good that you have an affection for religious music in a bluegrass style (a style to some extent specific to your region of origin) it strikes me as important that we as Catholics also give significant (not merely token) place in all her liturgies to both her universal language and to her developed forms of music and prayer.

    There’s a balance to be found here. I think in many cases in the immediately pre-Vatican II period there was a tendency to attempt to impose a lot of European cultural baggage along with an authentically Catholic culture, yet since the 70s (though this seems to be slowly and surely correcting itself) we seem to have swung in the opposite direction and our authentically Catholic language, music and other cultural elements are often ignored and replaced with quickie knock-offs of the local regional cultural forms.

  • I think you’re wrong about that, but if you want to provide ten specific citations from the from the New Testament and/or Church Fathers (stick to people canonized so we don’t have to argue over whether they’re “orthodox”) I’ll gladly concede the point.

    Why ten? That’s arbitrary number. Even if Jesus referred to God as female “once” (as S.B. incorrectly states) is that not enough to convince you that referring to God as “she” ONCE in a stupid blog thread might be acceptable?

    is not a product of a specific regional culture, but rather of Catholic culture.

    “Catholic culture” cannot be completely isolated from culture in general.

    it strikes me as important that we as Catholics also give significant (not merely token) place in all her liturgies to both her universal language and to her developed forms of music and prayer.

    Sure. But nevertheless, it still remains an OPTION to do so.

  • Why am I in moderation? Because I called God a “she”?!

  • Probably for the same reason that Vox Nova automatically moderates comments that use certain rude words.

  • I’m not sure why the comment was in moderation, but I pushed it through.

    Yes, ten is an arbitrary number. I’d be moderately impressed with five, come to that. But I did indeed pick it arbitrarily. Given the thousands of times that God is referred to in the scriptures and by the Church Fathers, it seems to me that if you can’t locate ten specific instances where God is referred to with the feminine pronoun (and this would have to mean just calling God “she” or “her” — not an analogy to a mother or some such literary device) then that would substantiate my claim that your use is unusual — and only makes sense as a way to make a statement or dissent from the traditional Christian understanding of God.

    “Catholic culture” cannot be completely isolated from culture in general.

    Certainly not, but it doesn’t need to be wrapped in the dregs of the culture in general either. At no time in the Church’s history has chant been the prevailing musical form in the wider culture — it’s always been specific to the Church and her worship.

    Sure. But nevertheless, it still remains an OPTION to do so.

    Yep. Kind of like it’s an option to occasionally celebrate mass in the vernacular.

  • Even if Jesus referred to God as female “once” (as S.B. incorrectly state

    Put up or shut up. Give a citation outside of the mother hen passage (“How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing”).

  • …only makes sense as a way to make a statement or dissent from the traditional Christian understanding of God.

    There is no “dissent” involved in using “she” as a pronoun for God. Unless you happen to think God is male. THAT is heresy.

    Kind of like it’s an option to occasionally celebrate mass in the vernacular.

    Latin and vernacular are both options. Yes. What is your point?

    Give a citation outside of the mother hen passage

    The parable of the woman and the lost coin.

  • That’s not a very good example — the whole point of that story was the attitude towards the lost coin; the story had absolutely zero to do with “femaleness,” or any attributes thought to be particularly “female.” Just like the point of the “unjust judge” story was the value of persistence, not to say that God is literally an unjust judge.

  • Why do some people get so sensitive in regards to the issue of the femaleness of God?

  • I think what you meant to ask was, “Why do some people get so sensitive [towards attempts to derail a conversation by raising bogus arguments] in regards to the issue of the femaleness of God?”

  • If you sincerely are puzzled, check out the (a) and (b) points in Darwin’s comment, December 24, 2008 A.D. at 12:54 am

  • S.B. – I didn’t “derail” anything. I used a female pronoun for God, as I often do, and there was a comment made about it. In response to that comment, I didn’t fight back, if you remember. The ones “derailing” the conversation are the folks who can’t seem to deal with a casual comment.

    Mark – There is, sadly, a deep hatred of women that persists in some quarters of Catholicism. Of course they will protest, “I love my wife, I love my daughters, I love my mother.” But their god is Maleness. It’s connected to their love of war, their admiration of soldiering, their passion for guns. Even Christ’s use of female images for God does not satisfy them: the feminine must be excluded from the Godhead.

  • S.B. – I will not continue talking about the reasons why I used a female pronoun, if you are concerned about “derailing” the thread. I suggest that if you are really concerned about it, then you too should shut us about it and deal with it. I may continue to use the word “she,” just as I would “he,” in reference to God. But that ain’t “derailing” anything.

  • There is, sadly, a deep hatred of soldiers and policemen that persists in some quarters of Catholicism. Of course they will protest, “I love my friends who are soldiers.” But their god is their own political beliefs, not Christianity. It’s connected to their leftist posturing, and their desire to fit in with their radical friends. Even God’s repeated commandment to wage war throughout the Old Testament does not satisfy them: Anything to do with soldiers must be excluded from their faith.

  • Yes, Michael, I am afraid you are correct.

  • My comment, if it wasn’t obvious, was intended to be as facetious and silly as Michael’s psychoanalysis. The notion that you have a “deep hatred of women” if you don’t mind private gun ownership and if you’re thankful for the service of American soldiers . . . that’s one of the most knee-jerk examples of ideological dimwittedness I’ve ever heard.

  • There is, sadly, a deep hatred of women that persists in some quarters of Catholicism. Of course they will protest, “I love my wife, I love my daughters, I love my mother.” But their god is Maleness. It’s connected to their love of war, their admiration of soldiering, their passion for guns. Even Christ’s use of female images for God does not satisfy them: the feminine must be excluded from the Godhead.

    I suspect that you know very well this is not the motivation involved, though I have little doubt that you have the low opinion you state of those who disagree with you. Because although you’re a somewhat unpleasant and disdainful person at times, you’re not particularly stupid — and as analysis goes that above is pretty stupid.

    Now you gave as an example of Jesus referring to God with a feminine pronoun “The parable of the woman and the lost coin.” This pretty much substantiates my expectation when I said, “you can’t locate ten specific instances where God is referred to with the feminine pronoun (and this would have to mean just calling God “she” or “her” — not an analogy to a mother or some such literary device)”

    The text of the parable you mention is:
    “Or what woman having ten coins 2 and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’ In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

    I should hardly have to point out to you that this is a case of Jesus comparing God’s rejoicing in the return of one sinner to that of a woman who finds a lost coin — at no point in it does Jesus refer to God as “she”. (I can’t really imagine you’ve gotten as far an academic theology as you have at this point without knowing the difference — so I must assume that you either think we’re pretty stupid or that you’re being disingenuous in making your argument.)

    Now if someone did actually object to parables, analogies and similes in which God is compared to a woman for one reason or another, you might perhaps have a case that that person has a hang up about women based on some sort of prejudice or disdain. That’s not the case, however. You’re simply referring to God as if He were female by referring to Him as “she” or “her”. (I’m assuming that your lack of capitalization is simply typing laziness, such as I at times suffer from myself, and not a point such as your lack of capitalization with “america” and “usa”.) Doing so puts you very much outside the tradition of how God has always referred to Himself in revelation, and outside the traditional language of the Church.

    That said, I don’t really doubt you when you say,
    may continue to use the word “she,” just as I would “he,” in reference to God.
    Because when it comes to making a statement, you don’t seem to mind putting yourself outside of the traditional range of Church thought.

    ———-

    But since you seem to feel all this is a distraction, I’ll close by returning to point.

    When you said: Sure. But nevertheless, it still remains an OPTION to do so.

    I fell into the temptation to go for the snappy content-less reply and said: Yep. Kind of like it’s an option to occasionally celebrate mass in the vernacular.

    Instead, I should have been more clear as to why I’ve been objecting to your repeated characterization of the use of chant in liturgy as “just an option”.

    First, the use of chant and the use of Latin were both originally intended (as in, when the rubrics were written — and in the case of chant this is still reflected in the current rubrics) as the norm while the use of the other songs in place of chant, and of vernacular in place of Latin, are the options — allowable exceptions to the norm.

    This clearly doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to use other songs in other styles in the context of the liturgy, nor to use the vernacular in place of Latin in some or all of the liturgy. Using other music and other languages remain a perfectly acceptable option.

    The problem, however, is that in the modern US these exceptions have become the norm, and often what was meant to be the norm is harshly opposed. (For example, one of the priests at our parish, when the choir chanted the introit before the entrance hymn, gave the directive: I don’t want you people doing that Latin stuff at any of my masses again.)

    This trampling of the very aspects of our Catholic liturgical culture which bring all parts of the universal Church together (rather than fragmenting us apart so that even the Spanish, Vietnamese and English masses at the same parish become foreign to one another) causes serious problems for the Church. And your initial dismissive comment on this thread, and subsequent follow ups, suggest to me that you either don’t “get it” or are part of the problem.

  • There is, sadly, a deep hatred of women that persists in some quarters of Catholicism. Of course they will protest, “I love my wife, I love my daughters, I love my mother.” But their god is Maleness.

    Does your diagnosis apply to Benedict XVI?

    First of all we have to say that the Bible does indeed, when addressing God in prayer, use the image of him as Father, and not as Mother, but that in images used in talking about God it always equally attributes feminine characteristics to him.” God and the World p. 101

    Notice the distinction Benedict makes between referring to God and describing God’s attributes or characteristics. As Darwin noted, your assertion above is either disingenuous or sloppy. The Bible does not describe God as ‘she,’ but it describe God as possessing ‘feminine’ characteristics. Those are two very different things. More Benedict XVI:

    Yes, why is this strictly limited to calling God Father?….I would in the first place hold on to the fact that the word ‘Father’ naturally remains an image. It remains true that God is neither male nor female, but is simply God. Yet at the same time we are talking about an image that was given to us authentically by Christ himself, and is thus non-exchangeable…
    God and the World p. 102

    Notice, Benedict XVI seems to take it for granted that we are ‘strictly limited to calling God Father.’ He goes on to explain what some of the reasons for this might be, but says we cannot come to a definitive answer. I would submit for your consideration that those who believe, like Benedict XVI, that God should be referred to using masculine pronouns do so not because of some sort of ‘deep hatred of women,’ but rather because it is the language through which God has chosen to reveal Himself.

  • I have promised S.B. that I would not “derail” the conversation further. I encourage all of the men here to get over the fact that I used “she” in reference to God.

    Hey, by the way, do any women read this blog?? You have no women contributors….

    Something to think about.

  • Michael I.,

    It’s a shame that even during Christmas you continue in your uncharitable ways. You have not contributed anything to the thread concerning Gregorian Chant except your bile and hatred for all things sacred to our beautiful Catholic faith.

    If you continue distracting from the conversation, you will be put back on probation.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,.

    Tito

  • You have not contributed anything to the thread concerning Gregorian Chant except your bile and hatred for all things sacred to our beautiful Catholic faith.

    Baloney. I repeatedly said how much I love chant. I simply don’t think it should be used instrumentally as a symbol in the ideological battles of the Catholic Right.

    You need to look at who really has derailed the conversation.

    Even during the holidays you are a major league nutcase. But happy Christmas to you anyway.

  • Michael I.,

    Too bad you wished me a “Happy Christmas” preceded by an insult.

    Par for the course.

  • I must say that the arguments for primacy of Gregorian chant have been wanting, even in both the claims for 1) a special universality, in contrast to beautiful “compositions”; and 2) their separateness from the hymnody. In the end, all we have left standing is an argument from authority…

    And why does God’s using masculine language preclude us from also acknowledging that a) he transcends the human sexes; and b) contains equally the perfection of both sexes in God’s unique, special way, as Genesis informs us that both man AND woman are made in God’s image.

  • I must say that the arguments for primacy of Gregorian chant have been wanting, even in both the claims for 1) a special universality, in contrast to beautiful “compositions”; and 2) their separateness from the hymnody. In the end, all we have left standing is an argument from authority…

    Well, given that the Church is the authority in determining the wording and form of the liturgy, I’m not sure that an argument from authority is really out of place. Indeed, attempts at arguments from first principles for one liturgical form or another usually come up rather poor.

    There are, I think, good arguments for chant which could be made from first principles. (One might note, for instance, that most major religious traditions have their own forms of chanted prayer.) But it’s not really an issue one can make arguments about as one might about the necessity of an all powerful deity being one.

    And why does God’s using masculine language preclude us from also acknowledging that a) he transcends the human sexes; and b) contains equally the perfection of both sexes in God’s unique, special way, as Genesis informs us that both man AND woman are made in God’s image.

    It doesn’t. Everyone agrees on that.

  • It doesn’t. Everyone agrees on that.

    Sure. “Everyone” “agrees” on it but some insist on using language that says the precise opposite. And condemns anyone who uses a female pronoun for God — in casual conversation, mind you, not a liturgical formula.

  • As discussed above, Pope Benedict XVI has said we are ‘strictly limited to calling God Father,’ and that this image, having been provided by Christ, is ‘non-negotiable.’ There is a difference between attributing ‘feminine’ attributes to God like compassion, and referring to God using a feminine pronoun (one happens in Scripture, the other doesn’t as BXVI and numerous commentators noted above).

    Thus far, it is not clear whether you disagree with this distinction, are ignorant of it, or don’t understand it. You have offered nothing other than insults and third-rate exegesis to support your point of view. Granted, this is a combox on a blog, but it is intended to be a forum for discussion; if you are unwilling (or incapable) of having a discussion on this topic, then at a minimum please refrain from insults and other childish behavior.

  • Invoking the “non-negotiable” language, eh? That’s a conversation stopper.

    A few things to keep in mind:

    1) Though I don’t know the context of that particular passage from Ratzinger (I don’t have that particular book of his) it seems to be an expression of his opinion. You are certainly free to cite him to strengthen your argument, but you need to understand that you are citing his personal opinion in this case. His opinion is certainly a strong participant in these discussions, but in this case he does not represent a “final word” so to speak.

    2) Again, I can’t look at the context of the passage you plucked, but I truly have no problems with Ratzinger’s views necessarily because I don’t think he is in contradiction to my position. Take for example his assertion that “Yet at the same time we are talking about an image that was given to us authentically by Christ himself, and is thus non-exchangeable…” Of course there is real significance to the images of God that Christ gave us. The image of God as Father is indeed “non-exchangeable” in that sense. We don’t simply “get rid of it” because it offends modern sensibilities. I am not in favor of renaming the persons of the Trinity, for example, as some feminist theologians have suggested. But insisting on retaining the “Father” language in reference to God does not exclude the possibility of other images (as we have seen, Jesus used female images for God).

    3) There is a good deal of evidence that the “Abba” language that Jesus used is not as “masculine” as many of you anti-feminists would like to think.

    4) COMPASSION IS NOT A “FEMININE” QUALITY. IT IS A HUMAN QUALITY. These bogus dualisms are precisely part of the problem. Let’s not perpetuate them.

    You have offered nothing other than insults and third-rate exegesis to support your point of view.

    5) You may not like my views, but I am not insulting anyone (save for the ever-charming Tito, I suppose, who does not really qualify as a dialogue partner in this case). Nor have I attempted any sort of “exegesis.” I guess it’s easy to call my exegesis “third rate” when I haven’t attempted any. Figures. It would be like me calling your “theology” third rate when you clearly haven’t engaged in anything remotely resembling theology.

    If you are unwilling (or incapable) of having a discussion on this topic…

    Once more, you might not like my views, but it’s absurd for you to suggest that I am “unwilling” or “incapable” of having a discussion on the topic. I never really intended a discussion on the topic (as I have said) but quite clearly have been bullied into it through a snarky response to my use of the word “she,” then accused of “derailing” the previous conversation. If ya’ll would LIKE to discuss the appropriateness of feminine images of God, fine, but you can’t then accuse me of “derailing” the conversation on liturgical music when I participate in the new discussion.

    Which is it going to be?

  • As you are no doubt aware, God is traditionally referred to in orthodox Christianity as masculine, just as the Church is traditionally referred to as feminine..

    If this is to imply that God is really masculine, and not feminine, then would it follow that we are all really feminine, not masculine…

  • 1) Agreed.

    2) There is a fairly clear distinction, as discussed above, between referring to God as having attributes typically described as feminine (like a mother hen…) to God, and referring to God as feminine. That is the distinction Benedict XVI articulates, and it is the distinction between your position and his (and mine).

    3) All well and good. Why do you refer to me as an anti-feminist? Feminism has a lot of different meanings. Is Benedict anti-feminist? Was JP II? If so, then fine. Otherwise, all I have done is cite Benedict’s position.

    4) Notice I put ‘feminine’ in quotes above; I agree compassion is a human attribute. Later in the passage I cited, Benedict XVI was describing the use of the word ‘rachamin’ in the Old Testament, which is a word for sympathy/compassion with corporal overtones referring to the ‘motherly body’ of God. That’s why I used compassion.

    5) You may not like my views, but I am not insulting anyone (save for the ever-charming Tito…) Nor have I attempted any sort of “exegesis.”

    5) Nonsense. You wrote, “But their god is Maleness. It’s connected to their love of war, their admiration of soldiering, their passion for guns.” Unless Tito is now multiple persons, you were insulting more people than Tito. And yes, saying somebody’s ‘god’ is ‘maleness’ (whatever that means) is an insult as is saying they love war.

    As to exegesis, you seem to think describing God’s attributes using feminine images (e.g. the woman and the lost coin – suggesting God desires and rejoices over every individual’s salvation; and the mother hen analogy- referring to a lament over the failure of people to respond), is identical with referring to God as female. This, as Benedict XVI and other commentators have noted, is fallacious. There may be a valid case for referring to God as ‘She’ or ‘Herself’, and perhaps these passages can be cited as incidental support, but these passages do something quite different than referring to God as feminine. This is not exactly ground-breaking, nor is it difficult to understand. That is why I referred to your interpretation as third-rate exegesis.

  • “If this is to imply that God is really masculine, and not feminine, then would it follow that we are all really feminine, not masculine…”

    It is fairly common in the tradition of the Church and Christianity to think of the soul as feminine in response to God. Even non-Catholic writers addressing a popular audience like C.S. Lewis discuss this, saying that there is a larger sense in which all souls are feminine/receptive in response to God’s initiative. Ever read the Song of Songs?

  • Sure. “Everyone” “agrees” on it but some insist on using language that says the precise opposite. And condemns anyone who uses a female pronoun for God — in casual conversation, mind you, not a liturgical formula.

    Because there’s a very big difference between the two points Mark made, which I fully agree with (That God transcends human sexes and that both men and women find their perfection as creatures in God, in whose image both men and women are made) and the peculiarly modern idea of alternately referring to God as “he” and “she”.

    Nor does consistently referring to God as “He” (which is, after all, the choice that God Himself has made in His interactions with humanity) serve to deny either of those points.

  • I’m working on an album of St Louis Jesuits songs played in a very stripped down format, with a sort of Appalachian old time feel. I am picking some of their more obscure songs for the most part.

    This has got to be one of the most unintentionally funny things I’ve read on St. Blog’s in a long time, all the more so coming from the oh-so-serious commenter who wrote it. Thanks for the chuckle.

  • Ah, come on, that project could be cool Rich…it all depends on which songs are chosen and the arrangements.

  • There is a fairly clear distinction, as discussed above, between referring to God as having attributes typically described as feminine (like a mother hen…) to God, and referring to God as feminine. That is the distinction Benedict XVI articulates, and it is the distinction between your position and his (and mine).

    […]

    As to exegesis, you seem to think describing God’s attributes using feminine images (e.g. the woman and the lost coin – suggesting God desires and rejoices over every individual’s salvation; and the mother hen analogy- referring to a lament over the failure of people to respond), is identical with referring to God as female.

    Right here you show that you can’t even control the “distinctions” you think you are making. In the first, you say that I can’t distinguish between using female images for God and describing God as “feminine.” In the second, you say that I don’t know the distinction between using female images and calling God “female.” These are two very different things.

    Note, however, that I never said “God is female.” All I did was to use the word “she” in reference to God. Just as using “he” in reference to God is not a claim that God is male — in orthodox Catholic thought, anyway — use of the word “she” does not imply that God is female.

    There may be a valid case for referring to God as ‘She’ or ‘Herself’…

    Then it’s interesting that no one here, save Mark, rushed to my defense for doing so in the first place. Because my use of the word “she” was seriously not done as a statement, but casually.

    …and perhaps these passages can be cited as incidental support

    Which is all I used them for. And yet you slam me for “third rate exegesis” when I was doing no such thing.

    …but these passages do something quite different than referring to God as feminine.

    Well, no. They do MANY things including referring to God as feminine. To say that these passages do not refer to God as feminine when they clearly do (in the course of telling us other things about God of course) is simply to have an allergy to comparing females with God. That is a huge problem.

    Nonsense. You wrote, “But their god is Maleness. It’s connected to their love of war, their admiration of soldiering, their passion for guns.” Unless Tito is now multiple persons, you were insulting more people than Tito. And yes, saying somebody’s ‘god’ is ‘maleness’ (whatever that means) is an insult as is saying they love war.

    Those are not insults, but observations.

    …the peculiarly modern idea of alternately referring to God as “he” and “she”.

    If you think referring to God using both masculine and feminine pronouns is “modern,” then you clearly have no familiarity with the history of world religions, the history of Judaism, or the history of Christianity. Blaming everything on “modernism” is typical here, but quite stuppid in this case.

    Nor does consistently referring to God as “He” (which is, after all, the choice that God Himself has made in His interactions with humanity) serve to deny either of those points.

    This “God himself used masculine words” is silly as well. Quite a fundamentalist Protestant approach.

    Nor does consistently referring to God as “He” (which is, after all, the choice that God Himself has made in His interactions with humanity) serve to deny either of those points.

    I agree with Mark’s points too, obviously, and I don’t think occasionally referring to God as “she” serves to deny his points either.

  • For those who are interested, I was just reading in Peter Kreeft’s The Philosophy of Jesus this little section….

    “Alone among the many ancient gods, the Jewish God was always ‘He’, never ‘She’ (or ‘It’ or ‘They’ or the Hermaphrodite). For ‘She’ symbolized something immanent, while ‘He” was transcendent. ‘She’ was the Womb of all things, the cosmic Mother, but ‘He’ was other than Mother Earth. He created the earth, and He came into it from without, as a man comes into a woman. He impregnated nonbeing with being, darkness with light, dead matter with life, history with miracles, minds with revelations, His chosen people with prophets, and souls with salvation (which John Henry referred to). He was transcendent.

    That is why only Judaism, of all ancient religions, had no goddesses and no priestesses. For priests are representatives and symbols of gods. Priests mediate not only Man to God but also God to Man. Women can represent Man to God as well as men can, for women are equally human, valuable, good, and pious. But women cannot represent this God to Man, for God is not our Mother but our Father. Earth is our Mother.

    Jesus always called God ‘Father.’ And Jesus was anything but a male chauvinist. He liberated women more than anyone else in His time. But He was also a Jew. He believed that Judaism was the revelation of the true God. He believed that God had taught us how to speak of Him. He not only believed this, He knew it, for He was there! He was (and is) the eternal Logos or Mind or Reason or Word of God. He was the Mind that had invented Judaism – unless He was a liar and Judaism was a lie.”

    By the way, I think Chant is the way to go… I would like to see more churches chanting the antiphons… the Intro, Gospel, and Communion… maybe a combination of them in Latin and then English… I think that would be cool. (as you can see; I’m a Medieval Modern.) 🙂

  • Bret,

    Peter Kreeft is one of my favorite apologists.

    That is why we don’t have priestesses as well in the Catholic Church. Though the Roy Bourgeois supporters and their SOA conspirators would beg to differ of Mr. Kreeft’s conclusion(s).

  • o say that these passages do not refer to God as feminine

    Again, when Jesus says that God cares about the lost sinner as much as a housewife might care about a lost coin, that is NOT “referring to God as feminine” in any way whatsoever.

  • Note, however, that I never said “God is female.” All I did was to use the word “she” in reference to God. Just as using “he” in reference to God is not a claim that God is male — in orthodox Catholic thought, anyway — use of the word “she” does not imply that God is female.

    The difference is that traditional Christian writing has always referred to God as “He” while not asserting that He is a male. Traditional Christian writing has not referred to God as “She”. When you go around referring to “God herself” you strongly imply a claim that God is female (or at the very least a strong rejection of referring to God with masculine terminology). By the same token, if you went around calling God “it” or “they” people would take you to be making a statement about your beliefs as to the nature of God. There doubtless are senses in which one could strive to justify such a usage, but since the usage would be contrary to all tradition using it (especially in passing when discussing other topics) would be taken as making a statement.

    Well, no. They do MANY things including referring to God as feminine. To say that these passages do not refer to God as feminine when they clearly do (in the course of telling us other things about God of course) is simply to have an allergy to comparing females with God. That is a huge problem.

    So does the “mother hen” passage consist of referring to God’s avian nature? I know the modern education can be a bit peculiar, but I can’t really imagine that you’re unclear on how an analogy or simile works.

    If I were to make an observation along the lines of, “In discussion, Michael is like a harpy. A harpy will follow her victim constantly, pecking and tearing, yet never engaging in a direct fight — hovering always just out of reach and flapping her wings in the face of her prey while screaming incessantly,” I would clearly be describing you in rude and unflattering terms, and imputing a number of characteristics to you, but one could hardly claim that I was saying you were female and could rightly be described as “Michael herself.”

    The passages in question certainly describe God, and they do so by drawing on examples and similes which describe women (or female birds, etc.) but that certainly does not mean that they refer to God as feminine.

    Our archetypal language is frequently gendered. For instance, if I said, “Michael cared for his son as tenderly as any mother could have,” I wouldn’t be saying you were female, but rather drawing on a cultural archetype which sees mothers as more tender than fathers.

    If you think referring to God using both masculine and feminine pronouns is “modern,” then you clearly have no familiarity with the history of world religions, the history of Judaism, or the history of Christianity. Blaming everything on “modernism” is typical here, but quite stuppid in this case.

    Read what I wrote. I said specifically that the tactic of referring alternately to God as “him” and “her” was very modern. You’re described yourself as having the habit of alternately referring to God as “he” and “she” more or less at random without attempting to make any particular theological point by it. I challenge you to point to any orthodox Christian writer living before 1700 who did the same. In this sense, yes, what you’re doing is very modern.

    And I continue to stand by my claim that there is practically no precedent in the history of orthodox Christianity for referring to God at all with the feminine pronoun, except in the middle of a analogy or simile. (Note: If you’d made some sort of statement along the lines of, “God watches over us with more care than any mother over her children,” no one would have challenged you. It’s the random “God herself” that’s causing disagreement.) If you want to shoot me down on that claim by providing specific citations, I’m perfectly happy to look at them.

  • If I were to make an observation along the lines of, “In discussion, Michael is like a harpy. A harpy will follow her victim constantly, pecking and tearing, yet never engaging in a direct fight — hovering always just out of reach and flapping her wings in the face of her prey while screaming incessantly,” I would clearly be describing you in rude and unflattering terms, and imputing a number of characteristics to you, but one could hardly claim that I was saying you were female and could rightly be described as “Michael herself.”

    Marvelous.

  • Bret (and Peter Kreeft, who is a philosopher, not a scholar of Israelite religion) has clearly never heard of Ashera, nor of the development of monotheism is Judaism.

    Though the Roy Bourgeois supporters and their SOA conspirators would beg to differ of Mr. Kreeft’s conclusion(s).

    Tito does not seem to have the intellectual capacity to distinguish movements and persons. I do not support Bourgeois’ actions with regard to women’s ordination. But that had nothing to do with his work to close the SOA.

    Traditional Christian writing has not referred to God as “She”.

    Julian of Norwich did. That IS traditional. When you use the word “traditional,” you are using it to exclude certain traditions from view. That’s dishonest.

    I said specifically that the tactic of referring alternately to God as “him” and “her” was very modern.

    No, it’s not. There are pre-modern instances of it. Julian of Norwich.

    ou’re described yourself as having the habit of alternately referring to God as “he” and “she” more or less at random without attempting to make any particular theological point by it.

    Who says I am not making a theological point by it? I most certainly am. What I meant above is that I am not attempting to derail the conversation here or to be “controversial.”

    And I continue to stand by my claim that there is practically no precedent in the history of orthodox Christianity for referring to God at all with the feminine pronoun, except in the middle of a analogy or simile.

    But masculine language for God (“he”) is an analogy as well. ALL RELIGIOUS LANGUAGE is analogy.

    It’s the random “God herself” that’s causing disagreement.

    It’s not random. And it should not cause disagreement if you acknowledge that God is neither male nor female.

    If you want to shoot me down on that claim by providing specific citations, I’m perfectly happy to look at them.

    I am fairly certain that some of the Church Fathers even used feminine images for God, but I am on vacation and don’t have my resources with me. Perhaps someone here who specializes in patristics (anyone?) would know.

  • If I were to make an observation along the lines of, “In discussion, Michael is like a harpy. A harpy will follow her victim constantly, pecking and tearing, yet never engaging in a direct fight — hovering always just out of reach and flapping her wings in the face of her prey while screaming incessantly,” I would clearly be describing you in rude and unflattering terms, and imputing a number of characteristics to you, but one could hardly claim that I was saying you were female and could rightly be described as “Michael herself.”

    Of course, there are clear difference between God’s being and my own being. So your analogy breaks down and is, in fact, irrelevant.

    Again, here we have a case of Protestant thinking: God is a being like us, only bigger.

  • Of course, there are clear difference between God’s being and my own being. So your analogy breaks down and is, in fact, irrelevant.

    Nah, you’re just being obtuse. DC is describing how analogies work. If you can’t follow the point that’s fine, but it is irrelevant for the purpose of his explanation who the subject of the analogy is.

    Again, here we have a case of Protestant thinking: God is a being like us, only bigger.

    So ‘Protestant thinking’ involves thinking ‘God is a being like us, only bigger’? Well, I guess there are more barriers to ecumenical dialogue than I realized. Or perhaps the barrier in this case is that you (and MM, for whatever reason) have an odd habit of describing anything ignorant as ‘Protestant’. Sure some Protestants probably think that. So, for that matter, do some Catholics. It’s a matter of education and reflection. If you are going to describe something as ‘Protestant,’ it would be better if you limited yourself to what educated Protestants believe. In my opinion, it is embarrassing for a grad student in theology to make such an ignorant generalization. But then, you also believe people who refer to God as ‘Him’ do so because they ‘hate women.’ What a subtle and nuanced appreciation you have of those who differ from you!

  • Julian of Norwich did. That IS traditional. When you use the word “traditional,” you are using it to exclude certain traditions from view. That’s dishonest.

    I can’t speak to Julian of Norwich as I haven’t read her Revelations of Divine Love. My understanding is that she consistently uses feminine familiar imagery in speaking about God (thus talking about the senses in which Jesus and God the Father nurture us like a mother) but I do not know linguistically how she refers to God. My suspicion would be given what I’ve read about her and given that she was never formally censured and the general theological tenor of the 1400s, that she used a lot of feminine imagery (and thus has been much cited and misused by modern feminists who are driving at a wholly different point) but that she did not habitually refer to God as “She”. However, I’d have to read Revelations of Divine Love to know.

    But yes, I do mean to be restrictive when I say “traditional” because I try to write with a certain degree of precision and I don’t want you to be able to wiggle into supporting your claims by going all Eileen Pagels on me.

    I said specifically that the tactic of referring alternately to God as “him” and “her” was very modern.

    No, it’s not. There are pre-modern instances of it. Julian of Norwich.

    Again, you seem rather stubbornly to ignore the different between using feminine imagery (in Julian’s case, recounting mystical visions of God) and referring to “God herself” in passing.

    Plus, if Julian is the only writer who did this (and again, I’ve no where read that she simply alternated referring to God as “he” and “she” as you said that you do) one uncanonized anchoress hardly makes for a tradition.

    You certainly know a lot more about trendy and avante guarde modern theologians than I do, and it wouldn’t surprise me if a certain number of the works you’ve read make the claim that alternately referring to God as “he” and “she” in order to express the idea that God is not “a male” has precedence in traditional Christianity. However, so far as I can tell, I’ve studied linguistics and language rather more than you have, and I’m pretty confident in asserting that this is a rather modern use of language.

    Of course, there are clear difference between God’s being and my own being. So your analogy breaks down and is, in fact, irrelevant.

    Again, here we have a case of Protestant thinking: God is a being like us, only bigger.

    There is most certainly a big difference between your being and God’s being, but prose composition is the same either way. Using feminine imagery to describe you is not linguistically any different than using feminine imagery to describe God — in neither case is it then appropriate to in a completely unrelated place talk about “Michael herself” or “God herself”.

    And while you are a male in a sense in which God clearly is not (aside, of course, from the obvious fact that Jesus was himself a human man, while at the same time being fully divine) it is equally the case that you and God are traditionally referred to using masculine pronouns. And thus in either case it would be seen as making some sort of a statement to do otherwise.

    Essentially, through use the usage of “He” to refer to God has become the standard neutral usage. When we talk about “God himself” we use the standard usage which Christians have used for 2000 years and which Jews used before that from a fairly early period. (Though obviously, there are linguisticly plural usages in some of the earliest parts of the Old Testament which present their own issues — but that’s another topic.) To refer to God as “she”, “it” or “they” instead thus strongly indicates a desire to disagree with the traditional understanding of God — asserting that He is female or is neuter or is plural.

  • That said, I recognize that we’re all on vacation right now (and I promised Eric that I’d use that vacation to, among other things, write a substantive post on gun control) so with the assurance that I’ve said everything I can several times over I’ll give it a rest and offer you the last word if you want it.

    Though others should, of course, feel free to do as they like.

  • If you are going to describe something as ‘Protestant,’ it would be better if you limited yourself to what educated Protestants believe. In my opinion, it is embarrassing for a grad student in theology to make such an ignorant generalization.

    I’m quite serious. The Protestant tendency is to think of God as if God were a being in the world, whereas the Catholic distinction is to place God radically outside the world. This is why Protestants tend to have problems with understanding the Catholic principle of mediation. I realize my way of explaining it was not very sophisticated. But I did that on purpose.

  • o refer to God as “she”, “it” or “they” instead thus strongly indicates a desire to disagree with the traditional understanding of God — asserting that He is female or is neuter or is plural.

    This is simply not true. In fact, using “she” from time to time is precisely a way of stressing the traditional, orthodox understanding of God. I have not asserted that God is female. God is neither male nor female. And God is both one and plural, by the way. That whole “Trinity” thing.

  • “Hey, by the way, do any women read this blog?? ”

    My wife does 🙂 But I’m sure she’s bored with this particular thread already. *yawn*

    Getting back to topic – Here’s a reminder about the Chant Workshop at St. Theresa’s in Sugar Land in February, presented by CMAA:

    http://www.musicasacra.com/sugarland/

    Beginners welcome! Merry Christmas to all.

  • Thanks, Alan. I’ll let my wife know about the workshop. Maybe she and one or two others from the St. Elizabeth’s schola can make it.

  • Still looking for some female commenters on this blog. Can’t find one.

  • Still looking for some female commenters on this blog. Can’t find one.

    You don’t have many female commenters on VN either, dude. Sure, there’s the occasional female blogger or commenter, but easily 90% of the posts and comments are written by males. So if you’re trying to impress feminists for some inexplicable reason, you’re failing too.

  • I suppose everyone needs a hobby, but you don’t seem to be very good at this one if you assume that commenters with names like MissJean, Esther, and Kathy are all men.

    Or were you laboring under some sort of patriarchal illusion that because you asked on this particular thread if there were any woman commenters that they were then obliged to come and announce themselves to you here?

  • Michael I. I thought you were married? I hope your wife doesnt’ know that your trolling around for women on The American Catholic.

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