Liturgy

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The Next “Hobby Lobby”: Mandating IVF Coverage

The most cursory survey of the American mass media in July 2014 would have you believe that millions of women are being denied basic medical care and fundamental rights are under total assault because … they can’t get somebody else to buy their abortifacients. Indeed, the U.S. Senate—whose legislative productivity this year suggests it has [...]

The Impoverishment of Liturgical Culture

On his flight back from the Holy Land recently, Pope Francis made it clear to the journalists he was addressing that he dislikes the discussion, and press coverage, of the prospects for the forthcoming synod on the family being focused mainly on the question of Communion for the divorced and remarried. What he wanted instead, [...]

And All Shall Say: Alleluia, Alleluia

Throughout the world, in the Easter Sunday liturgy, Catholics sing the ancient Sequence, Victimae Paschali Laudes, or as it is known in English, “Christians, to the Paschal Victim.” The sequence offers praise to Christ, the Victor over sin and death, beginning with the verse Christians, to the Paschal Victim Offer your thankful praises! A Lamb [...]

Love for Latin Liturgy More than a Fashion

As a lover of traditional liturgy, I was momentarily excited by a report last week that, for once in my life, I might actually be hip to the trends. It would be a nearly-unprecedented thing for me, and I’m still not sure how to feel about it. But according to a recent second-hand report, Pope [...]

Symbolism and the Language of the Liturgy

In his conversations with the journalist Bill Moyers, the mythologist Joseph Campbell commented on the power of lived symbolism in communal life. When the judge comes out in a black robe, sits behind a high desk and calls the court to order with a gavel he is no longer an ordinary man. He is the [...]

The Promise and Fulfillment of Christmas

Some years ago, when I was recently ordained, it fell upon me to celebrate the Vigil Mass of Christmas at my parish. The pastor, as was his prerogative, always celebrated Midnight Mass, so the other parish Masses were divided between myself and the other associate. The gospel for the Christmas Vigil Mass is the beginning [...]

Benedict XVI and the Way of Beauty

 Something unusual is revealed here as well: the house of God is the true house of humans.  It becomes the house of humans even more the less it tries to be this and the more it is simply put up for him.  — Pope Benedict XVI In modern memory, has there been a Pope who [...]

Jesus Christ Superstar Now

When I was a kid, the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” was all the rage.  Both the local high school and my parents’ church (a large United Christ Methodist affair) each put on large, well-attended performances of the “rock opera” that included the entire teen choir.  The biggest questions were always: Whose booming bass voice would [...]

Pope Francis Will Enliven the Benedict Legacy

Being quoted by the press often leads to an out-of-body experience. This happened to me this weekend when an article posted by the Religion News Service was sent out through the wire and landed at the Washington Post, Huffington Post, National Catholic Reporter, and many other outlets. Every time I would read a new posting [...]

The Casino and the Cathedral: On Recovering Our Abandoned Culture

Today’s pagan temples and chapels—capitalistic institutions bent on money making no matter what—have appropriated Catholic styles, symbols, art, liturgy, and rubrics just as Catholics have lost confidence in them. They are winning and we are not. It’s time for Catholicism to become newly aware of the richest of our own symbols lest we lose out [...]

How John Paul II Restored Liturgical Sanity

We tend to think of the papacy of Benedict XVI as the papacy that put the Catholic liturgy back together again, turning the “hermeneutic of rupture” into the “hermeneutic of continuity.” Rarely receiving the credit for preparing the way is John Paul II, who labored mightily and brilliantly during his pontificate—in a long and consistent [...]

Five Ways to Ruin the Mass

We are getting ever closer to an improved liturgy in the English-speaking world. The new Missal gives us a more dignified language that more closely reflects the Latin standard. The hippy-dippy rupturism of the past is finally giving way to a more settled and solemn appreciation of the intrinsic majesty of the Roman rite. A [...]

Is Chant Like Folk Music?

Somehow we have this impression that Gregorian chant is part of a high Church ethos. It’s for conservatives and traditionalists who favor their liturgy buttoned up, obedient, and strict. On the other hand, this line of thinking goes, people who want authentic human expression of spontaneous religious experience should embrace popular music and a looser [...]

Pope Benedict XVI’s Musical Legacy

One of the many lasting legacies of the papacy of Benedict XVI concerns liturgical music. Enormous progress has been made in his papacy. Incredibly this progress has happened without new legislation, new restrictions, new mandates, or firm-handed attempts to impose discipline on musicians and artists. The change has happened through the means that Benedict XVI [...]

Christ is Born! Come, Lord Jesus!

In the crypt of the church of St. Mary Major in Rome, under the high altar, rests a crystal reliquary containing five pieces of sycamore wood, which are believed to be the remains of the crib of the infant Jesus in Bethlehem. The altar in this crypt chapel is privileged; on it any priest may [...]

Is It Back to Nuns with Rulers?

One of the things I have always found most delightful about the Catholic Church is nuns. Protestants have fearsome and holy women, but they don’t have nuns. There is something feisty and admirable about a nun. Especially a nun with a ruler. How the whining ex Catholics love to whimper about the hatchet faced nuns [...]

An Interview with Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev

A year and a half ago, while searching for a recording of Bach’s Matthäus-Passion to share with a friend, I stumbled across a YouTube clip entitled simply: ”St Matthew Passion. No. 1.” Filled with idle musical curiosity, I clicked away, and within moments, realized that I had discovered something extraordinary. This was breathtaking music; grandiose, [...]

Cosmic Onions? How Still Lifes Point to the Liturgy

It is said that all the great art movements begin on the altar. So, for example, the gothic style began as the style for gothic churches and cathedrals in harmony with the liturgy. However, very quickly the architecture of mundane buildings of the period reflected that form too, adapted as appropriate to the purpose of [...]

The Heavens Proclaim the Glory of the Lord

Many people that I have come across say that they believe in God, and might even acknowledge the need to conform to a moral code (quite how they discern it is another matter) but see no reason for ‘organised religion’, which they see as arbitrary creation of mankind. I think that the beauty of the [...]

Behold the Lamb: The Triumph of the New Translation

To mark the implementation of the new English translation yesterday, the First Sunday of Advent, and to and facilitate discussion, we have reposted this piece and George Weigel's column on the topic.   The reasons given for the new English translation of the Mass are that: it is more faithful to the Latin it restores [...]

A Portrait of Dietrich Von Hildebrand

The name Dietrich von Hildebrand is not, perhaps, as well known as it should be among intelligent and literate Catholics -- or, for that matter, among Christians of any ilk. He is a man whom Pius XII referred to as “a 20th-century doctor of the Church.” Those who remember this pontiff will recall that he [...]

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