To Be Perfectly Clear…

Had we been able to attend the Vigil Mass at the Los Angeles Cathedral last night, I’m sure we would have had a wonderful experience – all those faithful Catholics joined in celebration of Easter would far, far outweigh mere bad architecture.

Early Christians celebrated Mass in holes in the ground while trying to avoid being thrown to the lions – so, yea, things could be a LITTLE worse.

Whiny little sissy signing off.


well I’m speechless

Due to a confluence of forces beyond my control, my two children who are coming with me to Mexico and I are unable to attend Easter Vigil Mass at the Los Angles Cathedral as hoped.

We did get to walk by.

– a guard would not let us inside – in fact, he would not even allow us to get close enough to the doors to admire the flowered Cross or look inside through the glass. Because???
– the enormous (in every sense) building night make a decent modern art museum. Perhaps grotesque installations representing the bloated egos of the people  who, uninhibited by taste and deaf to the sensibilities of the people, wasted a couple 100 million on this  monument to self glorificatiion could be displayed there – if they could fit.
– nice to see the gift shop and the grill  were open to cater to the can’t get into the cathedral crowd. 

so I guess I’m not quite speechless. appalled, horrified, sickened, sure.

my mantra  –  sacraments work by working. grace abounds.

Galileo and the Debate Over Copernicus

From the always interesting Mike Flynn, background information on the debates surrounding the Copernican model championed by Galileo.

A brief snippet:

“Given the available scientific knowledge in 1651, a geo-heliocentric hypothesis clearly had real strength, but Riccioli presents it as merely the “least absurd” available model – perhaps comparable to the Standard Model in particle physics today – and not as a fully coherent theory.”

These kinds of things are rarely surprising to anyone with a toehold in the land of real history, but remain mysteriously unknown to the Galileo-as-victim-of-religious-stupidity crowd.

Group Selection versus Kin Selection: Evolutionary Biologist Bar Fight

Over at First Things, this blog post links to this article,  in which pretty much the entire profession of evolutionary biology comes down hard on one its brightest stars, E. O. Wilson, for insisting that the actual evidence and the math that purports to explain it do not support the theory of kin selection. What makes this more interesting is that Wilson himself is chiefly responsible for the prevalence of kin selection – he read a paper by a student that proposed it, and then spent years promoting and expounding on the theory.

Kin selection won out in large part because it logically falls out from gene selection. The danger here is that, given a good theory, the evidence tends to get found that supports it, while any evidence that confounds it tends to get explained away or ignored. That being said, I personally can’t see how group selection is supposed to work in the real world, or how, fundamentally, it differs from kin selection in practice if it did in fact work – breeding practices being what they are, your group is pretty much coextensive with your kin. But, not being a biologist or a mathematician (although I do often play one at work), I don’t have the chops to look at the actual evidence or math.

Funnier still – would Wilson call this consilience? – this issue comes to my attention just as I’m finishing reading The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Kuhn, in which he lays out the why and how of Normal Science’s reaction to anything that threatens it.

Anyway, my sympathies are with Wilson (read several of his books, he’s a sharp man) even though, logically, I can’t see how he could be right, because his opponents (including, of course, Dawkins – I’ve read several of his books, too – he’s very very bright) are snarling a bit more than is civil.

Gotta love cool, logical science in action!

A Prayer

Holy Mary, Mother of God,

Hold our children close to your heart,

And pray your Son to fill them with His Love,

And uphold them in their faith,

That they may serve Him joyfully in this life

And sing his praises with the heavenly hosts in the next.


Music at Mass: Palm Sunday, 2011

Honest, I’m trying not to whine. The people in this parish are a really good group, the priests have, after all, given their lives to this work – good intentions and actual holiness abound.

The music, however, almost always sucks at Parish A. What is really needed is a young, orthodox priest who can, with heroic patience and good-will, simply lay down the law: we will not fall into these errors. We will consider whether, for example, the Eucharistic theology expressed in the text is something our Protestant and Evangelical brethren would agree with, and if so, NOT USE IT. We will consider whether individuals with broad and inclusive yet highly refined and experienced musical taste consider the musical content of the piece to be worthy of the standards and tradition of the last thousand or so years of Catholic liturgical music, not just the last 40.

And so on. We all know the drill.

Today, we sang musically execrable commons. The texts, although manhandled in the usual way to fit tunes with a certain forced symmetry not native to the English texts, were not heretical – hey, count your blessings. Aside from that, we sang a curious and interesting song for communion “Our Blessing Cup” by Bob Hurd. What makes this song interesting is that 1. it is very scriptural, yet 2. it manages to miss the uniquely Catholic character of the Eucharist. The text of the refrain is from 1 Cor. 10:16 – straight up St. Paul, how could you go wrong?

Our blessing cup is a communion with the blood of Christ
And the bread we break, it is sharing the body of the Lord.

How can we make a return for all the goodness God has shown?
We will take the cup of life, and call upon God’s name.

Precious indeed in Your sight, the life and death of those You love. We are Your
servants, for You have set us free.

and so on.

The communion hymn is one obvious and painless place to express the Catholic theology of the Eucharist. Yet, here, we use a scripture passage that can and has been understood by our separated brethren to express the decidedly non Catholic (anti-Catholic, really, if you read, for example, Hegel) belief that the Eucharist is not really the Body and Blood of Christ, but is, you know, a communion with Christ’s Body and Blood (whatever that means). So, this hymn’s impact could have been greatly enhanced by taking the verse text from John 6 – My Flesh is real food, my Blood real drink, unless you eat my Flesh and drink my Blood you shall not have life within you.

Instead, as is so often the case with liturgical music from the last 40 years, we express one thought somewhat ambiguously in the refrain, and then sort of leave it hanging as we take a tour of some other possibly related thoughts in the verses. The goal seems to be to achieve a miasma of warm feeling that won’t offend our Presbyterian or Church of Christ brethren – which shouldn’t  really be a prime goal in the sacred Liturgy of the Catholic Church.

Not to mention the soap-opera theme school of music style.

Real Music, With Real Theology! As Sally says: That’s my knew philosophy.