Friday 20 August 2010

O Sing to the Lord an Old Song ...

Sorry to contradict Psalm 96, but just this once ... Now that the music has been announced for the Hyde Park vigil, can I say first of all how glad I am that they're not going to sing "Our God Reigns". Back in 1982, I was very soon reduced to turning the television volume down to mute.

Certain tunes have a habit of lodging in one's head, and even when it's a good one, enough is as good as a feast. We have been watching the daily repeats of The Onedin Line, and the Spartacus theme has been haunting our brains. Yesterday, thanks to YouTube, I heard for the first time the famous worship song Shine, Jesus, Shine. It has been floating through my head ever since, even this morning in Waitrose. I must find some other music to listen to, to drive it out.

Now for a non-expert review of it. I thought the tune was quite pleasant. I could imagine swaying about and waving my arms in the air, if I were inclined to attend the more charismatic kind of Mass or service of praise. The combination of music and lyrics is warm and emotional, both of which feelings have a place in our love of God.

There were some good points about the lyrics. They refer to the awesomeness of God. They are trinitarian. They recall St John's words about Christ, the Word, as the light shining in the darkness. They bring to mind Christ's words that "the truth will set you free". "Blaze, Spirit, blaze" reminds me of the Holy Spirit coming down as tongues of fire. The flowing river makes me think of Luke 4:14: "The water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life". The last verse says "May our lives tell your story", which is very much a statement of "let's get out there and give witness" - which is good.

I think its limitation is that it stays within the range of belief which the Catholic Church shares with the average evangelical Protestant. The glorious patrimony of Catholic chant, and of our hymns - even the more sentimental ones - teaches these good things and so much more; because it draws on the Christian faith in its fullness.

Some months ago - for a reason which I have now forgotten - I borrowed a hymn book from church for a couple of days, and went through the index, writing down the titles of those hymns whose words and tunes I particularly like. I came across this list only yesterday, and it was lovely to read it again; it lifted my heart as the old favourites, with their touching words and sweet melodies, came flooding back. Leaving aside for the present the beautiful hymns to our Lady, here are just a few:

Hail, Redeemer
Crown Him with many crowns
Alleluia, sing to Jesus
To Jesus' Heart, all burning
Jesus, my Lord, my God, my all
Soul of my Saviour

Now for a tentative suggestion for the vigil. There may be opportunities for small groups to take advantage of the occasional hiatus to sing, quietly but noticeably, one or two of the fine old Catholic hymns, or a piece of Gregorian chant such as the Salve Regina. It may be that the hearts of those who hear them will be moved and attracted by what they hear. One never knows ...

Friday 13 August 2010

Looking forward to hearing all about Downside

Events conspired to keep me from attending any of the public Masses at this week's LMS training conference at Downside. I was very much looking forward to it, but something cropped up that had to take precedence over everything else. I'm now eagerly awaiting the first reports, both of the conference itself and of the Masses.

Saturday 7 August 2010

LMS Training Conference, 10th-13th August 2010: Bus Service from Bath to Downside

For those who are interested in travelling by public transport to attend the public Masses at Downside Abbey in Somerset, during the Latin Mass Society's training conference for priests, here is a link to the timetable for the number 184 bus service from Bath to Frome, which leaves from Bay 7 at Bath bus station, at half past the hour. The journey takes about 55 minutes, and the bus passes Downside Abbey on its way into Stratton-on-the Fosse. I understand there is a bus stop just by the entrance to the abbey grounds.

If you travel to Bath by train, you should leave Bath Spa station at the exit leading to the town centre, then turn left, and you will very quickly arrive at the bus station, which is a large glass-walled building, on the same side of the road as the railway station.

The 9.30 bus from Bath arrives at Downside in comfortable time to attend the Masses, which are scheduled for 11.00 or 11.15. The return buses leave Stratton at 24 minutes past the hour.

For those of us who can manage it, there will be a beautiful and inspiring Mass, and also a delightful tour of the lovely Somerset countryside.

Sunday 1 August 2010

The CDF on doctrine, authority, assent and dissent

The Italian-language blog Messa in Latino, which is always an interesting read, had a particularly interesting post yesterday. It was the text of a doctrinal commentary by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, dating from 1998. You may already be familiar with the document, but I thought it was worth publishing here, for those of us who were not aware of it.

The document was linked to the publication of a new Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity, which were to be made by those assuming any office that is to be exercised in the name of the Church. The profession and oath, which superseded earlier forms, were issued to conform to Pope John Paul II’s Ad tuendam fidem.

This may at first sight seem a little dry, but in fact it was a treasure trove. It set out - in a remarkably concise way for so complex a subject - the sources of the Church’s teaching, and of Her authority to teach, the various categories of Her teaching, the assent that is required on the part of all the faithful, and the position of those who do not assent.

My initial dismay at the thought of battling through such a long translation was soon dispelled when I realised that an English version must already exist somewhere on the internet. And so it does, thanks to EWTN.

Here is the doctrinal commentary.

Here are the Profession of Faith and the Oath of Fidelity.

This is a very helpful summary of the categories of belief, prepared – I think – by EWTN.

And finally, Ad tuendam fidem.

There is a good deal of reading matter here, for those of you who are interested; but fortunately it is broken up into quite manageable chunks. Take your time; no rush! I hope you will find it useful.