Monthly Archives: November 2017

Choir Stuff

1. After several years without cable, I was happy to hear how much EWTN’s choir music has improved. They always provided serviceable music, of course. But now they’ve got some kind of professional choir director doing great things with a small but excellent force of musicians. They also seem to be in the habit of performing more of the great choral repertoire of sacred music. Even the priests are chanting more.

EWTN’s usual daily choir seems to consist of seven men (Franciscans) and five women (laywomen, not sisters or nuns). The men usually chant the psalm.

Another nice touch is that the choir bows at the name of Jesus, which is actually in the rubrics for everybody but is often forgotten.

2. Newt Gingrich’s wife, Callie, was named ambassador to the Vatican and confirmed a few weeks back. She’s also joining the Sistine Chapel choir in her capacity as soprano. I am not sure how this avoids being a conflict of interest, except probably she is not getting paid like choristers usually are. (Also, to be fair, none of the female voice parts are particularly important in that choir. Which is probably how she avoids it being too much of a timesuck.)

Callie Gingrich has always been an interesting figure, to say the least. But harnessing her energies in the service of the United States is a pretty good idea; and sending a conservative woman to deal with Pope Francis’ curia will probably make quite a few heads explode.

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St. Albert the Great on Reception of Communion under Both Species

Yes, I’m still working on St. Albert the Great’s 36 Sermons on the Sacrosanct Sacrament of the Eucharist, which was once commonly attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure. Quotes from it were commonly used in books used by priests for Mass preparation.

Right now I’m in the section on the Precious Blood, which is very interesting. From the early Middle Ages until the last twenty years or so, it was the tradition in the West for the people not to receive Communion under the species of wine (except as part of a nuptial Mass, Last Rites, and so on); only the priest received under both species. This had some practical advantages, because parishes outside of wine-growing areas needed only a tiny supply of wine and a tiny chalice. But beyond that, we don’t hear much about the reasoning; and frankly, a lot of people who were in favor of the change were already covering up that stuff when my mom was a kid.

St. Albert is not unaware that things used to be different, so he has to argue about what is “more fitting.” He sees priests and bishops as being much like the sacrificial vessels and equipment used in the Temple. They are not consecrated to one use — that of the Lord. But they should also be adorned with the beauty of virtues, faith, and a strict way of life, just as the Temple vessels were adorned with good materials, jewels, and fine workmanship. In that way, they can act as a fitting receptacle for the Lord’s Blood.

He also sees the reception of the two species by different groups as being similar to Moses’ act of covenant in Exodus, where part of the sacrificial blood was thrown on the altar and part on the people. His quotes call back to the old sacrificial regulations, where the people eat the sacrifices’ flesh. So we hear a lot about receiving both species as a fuller sign; but St. Albert sees the practice of some receiving only under one species as also a fuller sign.

St. Albert also talks frankly about the practical worries of someone serving mostly in wine-producing areas. Since the people did not usually receive Communion frequently, and since most people didn’t have access to Confession every week before Mass, everybody tended to go to Communion during the great Church feasts — particularly at Easter, but also on Christmas, Pentecost, local saints’ days, etc. Anybody could go up to receive Communion when he or she felt ready. It would have been seen as wrong and overly nosy to try to control people’s spiritual lives by making them go up row by row, or line up rigidly. Churches didn’t have pews back then, either. And so we get this:

For when the Christian people come together to receive the Sacrament at solemnities, they press up against each other, because of the crowd around the altar. so that the Lord’s Body can barely be picked up [by the priest] without fear of being dropped. And so how much more could the chalice of the Lord’s Blood not be received without risk of a spill?

I think this clears up why altar rails got popular….

Finally, a more oft-mentioned reason for reception under one species was to fight a heresy that for some reason was prevalent and recurrent in Europe: that each of the two species of Communion only contained part of Christ, not all of Him. St. Albert says that unformed people find it hard to believe in the full Presence of Christ under the species of bread, if they commonly receive the species of wine also.

One would like to say that this was prejudiced of him; but if you spend much time online talking to badly educated Catholics from Europe or the Americas, you often run into people making this mistake. It was also a foundational belief of several Protestant sects that emerged in early modern times. So yeah, you might disagree with his prescription but he wasn’t wrong about the disease.

So you can see there is some very interesting stuff.

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Still Freaking Hilarious!

That “Hall of the Mountain King” video about why certain folks got Trump.

He who laughs last, laughs best.

Hard to believe it’s been a year — time flies when we’re having fun!

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Lone What?!

We had some state issues I wanted to vote on, so I went to my polling place this morning. It’s a church at the back of a very quiet platte, set a few blocks away from the highway, the mall, and Wright State University. I kept my eyes open, because on the past few election days, I’ve seen various wild animals and some possible coyotes in the area while walking to and from.

Well, I definitely saw something today. She was standing in the middle of one of the roads in the platte, looking at me rather bemusedly. She seemed a bit big for a coyote, because she was about the size of a German shepherd. She was sort of a dark brown/gray brindle, but she had a few touches of red.

The funny thing was that her conformation was more like a dog, at least when she was standing still.

She didn’t look aggressive, sick, or starved, but it seemed pretty strange for a nocturnal animal like a coyote to be out openly at 9:30 AM.

Well, I didn’t think it was a good idea to turn my back, or to advance. So I sternly told the critter to go home.

She looked at me funny.

I repeated myself.

She looked disgusted, turned, and sort of slunk off into the easement between two fenced yards, in the general direction of some vacant wildish ground. I watched her go, checked around for other coyotes, and proceeded on my way. I also called county animal control and the state wildlife people, but neither one were particularly interested.

The problem is that, when I looked at pictures of Ohio coyotes, she didn’t really look like them.

She looked like the left-hand side of this comparison photo. Not with the white markings, though, and with more of a gray-brown body and a reddish face. Except for the color, she also looked a lot like this picture of an Eastern coyote with a lot more wolfish look than most.

So… yeah. I’m kinda reconsidering this whole concept of “walking to my assigned polling place.”

(And yeah, I can’t really say that I regret not having a photo. I’m thinking that fishing around in my bag, instead of looking stern and dominant until she was gone, would not have been a good plan.)

On the other hand, the recent non-Viking version of the Wright State Raiders mascot may now constitute a valid local reference….


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