Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"Et Tenebrae Factae Sunt..."

If you live anywhere near Chicago and have not heretofore attended the Tenebrae service at St. John Cantius Parish, I envy you.

I say that because you have the chance to experience this amazingly beautiful service — surely Holy Mother Church's most sublime non-Mass liturgy — for the first time tonight at 7:30. [Get directions to SJC here.)

The office of Tenebrae:
...contains 14 psalms, 9 readings, and one canticle, the Benedictus (Song of Zechariah). Lighting is gradually reduced throughout the service. Initially 15 candles are lit and are placed on a special stand known as a hearse, which are extinguished one by one after each psalm. The last candle is hidden beneath the altar, ending the service in total darkness. In some places the use of a strepitus (Latin for "great noise") is included as part of the service. The great noise is usually generated by slamming a book closed, banging a hymnal or breviary against the pew, or stomping on the floor, symbolizing the earthquake that followed Christ's death. This custom seems to have originated as a simple signal to depart in silence. Following the great noise a single candle, which had been hidden from view is returned to the top of the hearse. It is felt that the single candle signifies the return of Christ to the world with the Resurrection.

At the conclusion of the SJC Tenebrae service, when the church is in total darkness but before the strepitus, the choir sings Allegri's hauntingly beautiful Miserere — the hearing of which is, for me personally, the high point of Lent.

Monday, March 29, 2010

"I Cannot Worship a Guy I Can Beat Up"

Mark Shea recently drew attention to some remarks by Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll:

In Revelation (the last book of the New Testament), Jesus is a prize-fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is the guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.

Shea remarked: "I’m sure the guards in charge of the scourging at the pillar felt the same way. Surely, the measure of our worship is 'Can I beat up Jesus?'"

His comment prompted me to recall this ancient Eastern icon:

Its name? Christ the Bridegroom.

Think about that for a minute, especially in light of the Events we will commemorate a few days from now.

I, like most men on their wedding day, went to great lengths to look my best.

And yet, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ — the Bridegroom of bridegrooms — is here shown with His hands bound, stripped half naked, having just been mercilessly scourged and crowned with thorns, and as a result so weak that He can't even hold His head up straight.

Yes, Christ the Bridegroom, for He was preparing to perform the ultimate act of self-sacrificial love for His Bride the Church just a few hours later, the completion of which He would signal by crying out from the gibbet of the Cross words we rightly associate with marriage:

"It is consummated."


I've previously recommended my co-worker Matt Yonke's post on Mark Driscoll's brand of "high octane Calvinism", and I do so again now.

Read thou it here.

Friday, March 26, 2010

"Neither Do I Condemn You"

At Mass this past Sunday, we heard the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11).

One thing I find amazing about this passage is that it almost didn't make it into the Bible. In fact, before the canon of Scripture was finalized in the late 4th century, some versions of John's Gospel didn't include this story.

St. Augustine tells us (cf. De coniugiis adulterinis, 2, 6) that many early Christians were afraid of keeping this story in John's Gospel since it showed Jesus as being so merciful that they thought it might lead people to think that the reality of sin wasn't as big of a deal as the Church made it out to be.

Apparently, the Holy Spirit wasn't concerned about this, since He made sure the story was kept in there.


Mark Shea's take on this story in his recent article on The Sixth Commandment is well worth a read. Check thou it out.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The 30th Anniversary of the Murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero

On this day in 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated while celebrating Mass in San Salvador, El Salvador.

I've had a special admiration for Archbishop Romero ever since I first saw the eponymous film about his life (and death). My admiration for him grew significantly when Jocelyn and I visited his tomb and the chapel where he was murdered during a trip to El Salvador 10 years ago.

When questioned about Romero by Italian journalists 3 years ago prior to his trip to South America, I was heartened to learn that Pope Benedict XVI remarked, "I have no doubt he will be beatified."

Here's the trailer for the movie:

As you can tell, this is no feel-good movie, but as far as showing the ugly reality of man’s inhumanity to man, and the insane brutality that so typified life in Central America in the last quarter of the last century, it’s amazing.

The closing scene, and a few others, too, are absolutely stunning — all the more so because despite some artistic license, the movie is depicting events that really happened.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dumpster Diving

I've never gone dumpster diving myself, but after watching stuff like this, and given my admiration for those who devise ways to avoid spending money, I have to say that my hat is off to those who do.

Monday, March 15, 2010

It Was Only Very Recently

...that I learned there is a group of people who style themselves Cornucopians.

And after reading their Manifesto, I realize I'm one of them.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Why Evolution and Creation Cannot Contradict Each Other"

That's the title of one of the headings in a smashingly good post by Mike Flynn entitled "The Evolution of Evolution".

Check thou it out.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Learning to Knit

Recently, our seven-year old daughter Teresa — our firstborn child — learned to knit.

In itself, this is really no big deal, I suppose, given that it's hardly unheard of for a child to know how to knit. But for me, as her dad, the thing that struck me about her newfound ability is that this is the first time I can recall that one of our children has acquired a skill that I don't have.

From the time our kids are very young, we teach them to crawl, walk, talk, tie their shoes, read, etc., but these are all things that we ourselves know how to do. And still, to be sure, when our children have developed (or will develop) any of these basic skills, as their dad it has brought me great joy to behold each of these milestones, and will continue to do so.

But now that our children are beginning to learn skills that I myself don't have, it has brought me even greater joy, and it has reminded me of the importance of our job as parents to instill in them a desire to discover and nurture their own God-given talents.

[Cross-posted at Catholic Dads]