30 July 2010

Maior Caritas Op. 5

John August Pamintuan, Composer

Ed: My apologies that the links have not worked.  Blogger has been difficult today.

I am delighted to see that the brilliant Filipino composer John August Pamintuan's Maior Caritas, Op. 5 as sung by the University of the Philippines Madrigal Singers -- known in the Philippines as "Madz" -- is now available as an MP3 download from Amazon.com.  A link is provided in the little box in this post.

Unless you live in the Philippines or in an enclave of ex-pat Filipinos elsewhere in the world, you would have had a terrible time locating this CD.   After the exercise of much patience I worked my way through Filipino websites to find one selling it, and I have loved every minute of listening to this CD over the last few years.  They are one of my favourite choirs in the world and we feature this recording of theirs (and others) on RADIO WALSINGHAM ONLINE.  What the listener gets with this recording is the Madrigal Singers almost doing sightreading of the material whilst recording.  In fact, this recording is in some ways a miracle that it took place at all.

Now that I have told you it was recorded almost as the choir sightsinging the music, several of the tracks are sheer perfection and are worth the cost of downloading the whole mp3 album.  "O Magnum Mysterium" by Pamintuan should become part of the standard repertoire of every choir.  I say the same is true with Pamintuan's imaginative, prayerful, and impassioned Pater Noster.  As those who journey to the great choral competitions in Italy and the rest of Europe know well, the University of Philippines Madrigal Singers have been one of the greatest choirs in the world.  

Mark Anthony Carpio, the choir director of Madz of this recording, is to be congratulated on the wisdom of recording this work and making it available to the world even if it did not at times let the polished perfection of Madz in performance shine through as clearly.  Of the recorded pieces of Maior Caritas, Op5,  "O Magnum Mysterium" has become almost an expectation of the discerning audience, and I commend the hearing of it to everyone.

I do not know much about the other compositions by John August Pamintuan, but the example of this CD tells me that there is great musical treasure to be found here for the choral director looking for great new music that stands proudly in the living tradition of the great sacred music of the Church.
+Laus Deo!


22 July 2010

Dietrich von Hildebrand, a new website & a great article

My sincere hope is that Dietrich von Hildebrand will one day be named a Doctor of the Church. On a personal note, his Liturgy and Personality had a significant influence upon me as an Anglican priest and was part of the intellectual basis of my conversion to a fuller understanding of Christianity as taught by Catholic Church. I recommend books by von Hildebrand with great frequency, but for those who do not read German only part of his work is translated into English.  Some of the translation work is due to John Henry Crosby's excellent Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy non-profit project.

This splendid website is well worth your visit -- Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy -- and  a good article about it by Zenit is posted this week entitled Dietrich von Hildebrand: Giving the Heart Its Due (Part One). The man responsible for this apostolate John Henry Crosby developed the project in association with Dr. Alice von Hildebrand. I am very interested in the project and making his teaching more widely read among all Christians.  I look forward to reading Part Two!

Below are a few paragraphs from one of Crosby's responses that I found very interesting:

Our mission statement says we are inspired by the need to recover and reinterpret and translate our intellectual patrimony, and at the same time we operate with a great spirit of gratitude toward contemporary thinkers. Phenomenology has classical roots, but it's also a modern movement within philosophy. We're often assumed that new insights can't be had; that sometimes happens with traditionalists who think that the last word on an issue has been said. I don't want to single them out, but you get that with Thomists sometimes because there is a system with Aquinas.

Von Hildebrand reminds that we can always move forward; it doesn’t mean that we are throwing everything else out but there are questions that are distinctive to a period in time, just as there are questions that arise in every generation. I don't think John Paul II built his papacy on the idea that nothing had changed since 1100. Sometimes we don't like to use the expression "the history of ethics," but there has been a slow-growing, and in some ways relentless, process of greater illumination. I think personalism is built around the idea that historically there is a new and deeper understanding and appreciation for what it means to be a person.

I happen to also think that personalism is a very useful way to engage modern issues because personalists love notions such as freedom, which puts them in a strong position to talk to people who are perhaps confused about freedom, like with the gay rights movement. A personalist has a great language to use, you can understand their intuition, but you are also rooted in fundamental concepts like human nature, which they don’t have; the general liberal problem is the belief that the human is just an atomized individual who doesn’t want to accept any limitation. Human nature is a limitation so you don’t want it, you want everything to be subject to your freedom. Personalists understand that intuition but they also understand that our freedom is finite.

Coming to an understanding of von Hildebrand's oeuvre will of course be tremendously helpful in understanding the personalist principle or rather the 'personalism' of Pope John Paul II -- whose thought is so heavily influenced by von Hildebrand.
+Laus Deo!

18 July 2010

Ordinariate Bound

A Book for the Journey

In these days before the Anglican ordinariates are formed within the Catholic Church, there are a number of books that are "must reads". First among them is the Anglican Bishop Andrew Burnham's Heaven & Earth in a Little Space: The Re-Enchantment of Liturgy which I have linked in the wee box to the left, and it can easily be purchased from Amazon.com or from your local bookseller.

So why start there?  Simply because the good bishop outlines precisely what is at stake for the Anglican patrimony and the Latin rite of the Catholic Church.  This is not for Anglicans or ex-Anglicans only, but it should prove a salutary reading for all Catholics.

I believe the critique offered is the most cogent available at this time, so I commend it to you, gentle Reader, as a book worth its price in any currency. 

Those of us who spent most of our years on the fringe edge of the British Empire are sometimes more fiercely or perhaps more intentionally English than the English themselves.  I remember what enormous pride I felt carrying the British flag in procession when I was a boy acolyte.  How I enjoyed as a child celebrations led by the Daughters of the British Empire (Long Live Lemon Curd!)  And finally I was so very proud that our Anglican Church was headed by the Queen of England, whom we all admired,  And then there was Dr. Michael Ramsey as Archbishop of Canterbury and a genuine Saint we were certain.  Other Archbishops of the 20th century also occasioned great admiration from William Temple to Lord Runcie.  And then there was the martyrdom of His Grace the Archbishop of Uganda, Janani Luwum whose passion is recorded powerfully in Booty's The Church in History.

I shall always love the Anglican Communion for the education I received in the Catholic faith and within which I was able to minister as a layman, then deacon, and finally priest.  My parting from the Anglican Communion was filled with many tears, but to be honest I had to be certain that I was not moving toward another Church out of anger (because after my first stroke there was enough to drive one to rage).  I prayed over and poured over these matters, & with a final meeting with my Confessor (before his untimely death) he joyfully threw open the gateway to this new path in the Church

Then it was clear that I was being called by Jesus to express through my person the visible unity of His Church : the most honest way to do that was to be reconciled to the Catholic Church.  There by God's grace I was able to be a part of an Anglican Use parish in the Catholic Church in the USA.  Now among the numbers of the Roman Catholics of the Anglican Use I stand and I stand in awe of the witness to Jesus Christ and the apostolates engaged in for love of Him and for sharing the gift of our Anglican patrimony ... the chief among them Our Lady of Walsingham Institutes of Catholic Culture Studies, RADIO WALSINGHAM ONLINE, the Anglican Use Society and the liturgical apostolate of C. David Burt

Disabling illness has led me to discover my ministry as a hermit and am blessed to be connected to a new Benedictine monastery in Tulsa, Oklahoma founded by Fr.Mark Daniel Kirby for the adoration of the Eucharistic Face of Our Lord.  What an enormous blessing for me!  While I make new friends and connexions, I continue to enjoy my many friendships in the Anglican Church, and I pray for all Protestants to find a way in Christ to unite together.  Then may they be given the graces of humility and perseverance and find their way to the one Church of  Jesus Christ.  So many people I love remain in various parts of the fractured Anglican world, I can only hope and pray that their ultimate trajectory will take them deep within the Heart of Jesus to enjoy eternity with Him and the entire Body of Christ.

With my eyes functioning well, I am able to read all those books I have wanted to read in more depth, and with new medicine to fight against the mutilating psoriatic arthritis I have moments where I am able to type or write free from much of the pain that besets me.  I do not know entirely what this blog shall become in the future; for now, I am grateful for the help of the Holy Ghost in taking up the blog more regularly and entering into so many exhilirating areas of thought, prayer, and Catholic Action.

As a closing thought,  I would like to commend a CD to you I found a complete revelation.  I only knew of Nicholas Ludford as a footnote in English music history, but this fairly recent recording by the choir of New College, Oxford brings together Ludford's genius of composition in the Missa Benedicta together with Edward Higginbottom marvellous conducting.  This sort of recording represents the kind of mining of the patrimony of the Church in England that also cries out for attention and inclusion in the development of the liturgical and musical forms to be brought into the Catholic Church through the  Anglican ordinariates per Pope Benedict's Anglicanorum coetibus.

+Laus Deo!

16 July 2010

Soelle versus Skobtsova

Since my successful eye surgery, I have been reading all sorts of books that previously I had set to the side in order to focus on essential reading for my religious life and work.  Based on a challenge from a friend, I immersed myself in the theological writing of Dorothee Soelle, a German Protestant theologian.  Definitely not my normal cup of tea, but it was a profoundly useful exercise as I continue to contemplate the question of 'Authority' in the Christian Church.

The encounter with Soelle has led me to phrase the question of Authority a bit differently i.e., a question of Origins.  For Soelle, the mystics (especially the female mystics) of the Middle Ages become Soelle's "Authority" for her work of feminist and liberationist theologizing.  The normative Protestant answer on the question of Authority refers to the Bible -- an opinion on authority not that much different from the Sikhs and their sacred writings or the Muslims and the Koran and the Hadith.  So I find Soelle's leaning upon the mediaeval mystics very interesting indeed.  Her appropriation of the mystics gives her writing a unique quality of spiritual depth often lost in the feminist critique (rising from a hermeneutic of suspicion).  

I have offered my thanks to the friend who challenged me to read Soelle and returned the challenge with The Essential Writings of Mother Maria Skobtsova.  At first glance Mother Maria seems a bit of a paradox with her radical ideas and her firm Christian convictions and her absolute loyalty to the Russian Orthodox Church.  That she has not been glorified by the Russian Church tells us that Russian Church authorities are still uneasy perhaps even unnerved by Mother Maria's writings.  It came as a shock to learn that she was not yet "St. Maria of Paris" and I remain puzzled that a nun who was universally acclaimed as a living saint, who ministered the Gospel of Christ in the Ravensbrueck concentration camp, who died in a Nazi gas chamber, has not been seen as a saint or passion-bearer of the highest order by the hierarchy of the Russian Church.

From her writing one realises that Mother Maria was like a force of nature something like a tornado that would remove everything but Christ, His Church, and the souls of human beings.  Her insights often send out shockwaves that unsettle and reorder one's thinking.  There is a great deal in her writing on the Blessed Virgin Mary that speaks positively to those who are praying for a Fifth Marian dogma -- not that Mother Maria would have approved of such, but rather her writing points to an understanding of the Blessed Mother well beyond what current statements of the Church East and West have said.

Her theological insights have left me feeling as though I had been standing under a great waterfall.  Afterward, my mind and my heart still felt the great rush of the Holy Ghost through Mother Maria's radical devotion to Jesus and the Church, and it is all a bit like standing in that wonderful atmosphere around a waterfall, fresh and charged with life.  There is no question of "Authority" or of "Origins" in her writing for Mother Maria goes directly to the Source and there she bids us worship Christ and work to make present the Kingdom of God.

At the beginning of this post I have included a link to Essential Writings: Mother Maria Skobtsova on Amazon, and I heartily encourage you, gentle Reader, to take it up and read.  You will be amazed by the life and thought of this sainted servant of the Holy Trinity.

14 July 2010

Magnificent Video

CMAA Colloquium XX 2010
from Corpus Christi Watershed on Vimeo.

The Wreck of the H.M.S. Anglicana

Watching the General Synod of the Church of England this time round has been quite an education for me. I was well aware that the Episcopal Church in the USA in a few short years no longer bears any resemblance to the Church in which I laboured for a time. Now it is clear that the C of E has mutated into something altogether Protestant in creed and bitter in tone. I sometimes wonder, Who are these people who control what was once 'my Church'? I no longer recognise the lot, and it has left me very grateful for that enclave of Anglican Heritage we have in Houston with Our Lady of Walsingham Roman Catholic Church (Anglican Use).

Those who know me know that the issue of female ordination is not an issue of importance to me. I regard this sort of thing as a symptom of a larger spiritual illness wherein an association of Christians mistakes itself for Christ's poor Church and sets about legislating things for which it has no competency, and the Anglican Communion has never been a competent authority to alter doctrine, dogma, or discipline. I strode across the Tiber with the conviction that the total lack of authority and the ongoing doctrinal drift from faith in Jesus Christ to faith in a generic sort of 'God the blob' (who flits about blessing everyone and everything like a fairy grandmother who has had too much sherry) was simply incompatible with what I (and my anglo-catholic forebears) believed.

Now did I find Paradise in Rome? No. I found some things that made me retrace my steps back into the Tiber, but in the end I found myself at home in the Catholic Church among a vast number of people for whom Truth as revealed in Christ is everything. I am so thankful to Pope Benedict for continuing and expanding the work of welcoming the catholic-minded Anglicans home and for affording us a place of grace where we may share with the Universal Church those good things begun, continued, and accomplished among us by the Holy Ghost ... the Holy Father speaks of it as our patrimony, and our patrimony is a vast treasure resonant with what is most beautiful and true about the Church both Eastern and Western.

I have told my family wherever we may be scattered about the English-speaking world that the HMS Anglicana has run aground (or perhaps been torpedoed by an Enemy), and it is now time to escape to safety and to run into the open arms of Our Lord Jesus as He says to us all, "Welcome to Rome. Welcome home."

+Laus Deo!

12 July 2010

Things the Holy Father Never Taught Me

I am delighted to recommend an excellent column by Dawn Eden concerning the Theology of the Body of Pope John Paul II. Many of you will be familiar with Dawn Eden's The Thrill of the Chaste which I reckon as one of the most remarkable and important books I have read in the last few years.

I will quote a short portion from the beginning but encourage you to read the column in full:

Things the Holy Father Never Taught Me:
Unraveling a Common Myth About the Theology of the Body

by Dawn Eden

Pope John Paul II’s addresses on the theology of the body launched a new era in Catholic catechesis on sexuality and married love. Yet these teachings, popularly known as the TOB, have become subject to interpretations that their author could hardly have envisioned, as some well-intentioned authors and speakers attempt to adapt the late Holy Father’s highly philosophical verbiage into everyday language.
Perhaps no area of the TOB is subject to as much misinterpretation as its teachings on modesty. One common confusion in particular deserves a closer look. ...

Continue reading the column HERE

+Laus Deo

03 July 2010

I had a great friend in the late Right Reverend Leopoldo Jesus Alard, Bishop Suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. In 2003 after learning of his death, I sat down and wrote this hymn text as an expression of my filial love for a wonderful spiritual father, and I hoped to shine a light on the very genuine living martyrdom he endured for Jesus' sake.

Having had some recent requests for it, I feel it is the right time to make it more easily available via this blog. Made popular again at the end of the 20th century coupled with Bishop Timothy Dudley-Smith's marvellous poem "Tell Out My Soul", the tune 'WOODLANDS' by Greatorex is known by Christians of all sorts of backgrounds. Set to my text the tune is strong, bright and uplifting. Certainly a more contemplative tune would also work.

As with all my hymns I pray they please the Blessed Trinity and are useful to the Church. And for you, gentle reader, I ask God to impart to you blessings and graces to press on in the upward call of Christ our God.


To Paradise may angels lead you home.
The arms of Christ enfold you in his love.
The hosts of heav'n and all saints sing with joy
to welcome you, true friend of Christ our God.

Bearing your cross, you suffered for his sake,
strong as a lion, gentle as a lamb.
Your witness shines from earth to heav'n above.
Christ calls your name, "Well done, my faithful one."

All shall be well. Rest in the peace of God
and rise in glory in the Day of Christ.
All shall be well, and all things turned to joy
when reunited we will see the Lord.

Tune: Woodlands (Greatorex)
Words: Copyright © 2003, 2010 by Vincent Uher.

Please write to me for reprint permissions by email: vuher@alumni.rice.edu

+Laus Deo!

01 July 2010

The Canticle of the Lamb

For whoever believes in the power of the Blood of Jesus,
nothing is impossible.

After reading Father Mark Daniel Kirby's post today on the Precious Blood of Jesus -- and I strongly recommend reading his blog and today's post in particular -- I was reminded of Mother Basilea Schlink of the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary and her Canticle of the Lamb. Today the Sisterhood uses a new translation of the text, but I think the first translation -- which one may find in Celtic Daily Prayer -- was simply better ... or perhaps because it is so familiar to me, I simply do not wish to let it go. In the reading of Mother Basilea's hymn, I pray there are blessings for all to be found therein:

I praise the Wounds and the Blood of the Lamb

I praise the Wounds and the Blood of the Lamb
that heals the weakness of my body,
I praise the Wounds and the
Blood of the Lamb
that heals the weakness of my soul,
I praise the Wounds and the
Blood of the Lamb
that heals the weakness of my spirit!

Praise be to the
Blood of the Lamb in His forgiving power.
Praise be to the
Blood of the Lamb in His cleansing power.
Praise be to the
Blood of the Lamb in His saving power.
Praise be to the
Blood of the Lamb in His releasing power.
Praise be to the
Blood of the Lamb in His victorious power.
Praise be to the
Blood of the Lamb in His renewing power.
Praise be to the
Blood of the Lamb in His protecting power.

For whoever believes in the power of the
Blood of Jesus,
nothing is impossible.

I praise the
Blood of the Lamb that covers all my sins
so that they can no longer be seen,
I praise the
Blood of the Lamb that cleanses me from all my sins
and makes me white as snow,
I praise the
Blood of the Lamb that has power to free me
from all my bondages and chains of sin.

I praise the
Blood of the Lamb that is stronger
than my own sin-infested blood
and remoulds me into the image of God,

I praise the
Blood of the Lamb that is victorious
over all powers that seek to oppress me,
over every power of the enemy.
I praise the
Blood of the Lamb
that protects me from all the devious attacks of the enemy.

I praise the Blood of the Lamb
that prepares for me the bridal garment.

I praise the
Blood of the Lamb
that makes all things new.
Hallelujah! Amen.

M. Basilea Schlink
as translated in Celtic Daily Prayer

For whoever believes in the power of the Blood of Jesus,
nothing is impossible.
+Laus Deo!