Crackdown on Ugly Churches

Happy St Cecila's Day. Ora pro nobis. I'm sure she despises both rock and protest songs.

The Catholic Herald today draws our attention to an article by Andrea Tornielli on a new Vatican commission being set up to combat the rise of ugly modern Church buildings. There are so many images on Google from which one could choose, aren't there?

What a glorious monument to modernism they are...

'A team has been set up, to put a stop to garage style churches, boldly shaped structures that risk denaturing modern places for Catholic worship. Its task is also to promote singing that really helps the celebration of mass. The “Liturgical art and sacred music commission” will be established by the Congregation for Divine Worship over the coming weeks. This will not be just any office, but a true and proper team, whose task will be to collaborate with the commissions in charge of evaluating construction projects for churches of various dioceses. The team will also be responsible for the further study of music and singing that accompany the celebration of mass.

Cardinal Antonio CaƱizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Benedict XVI, consider this work as “very urgent”. The reality is staring everyone in the eyes: in recent decades, churches have been substituted by buildings that resemble multi purpose halls. Too often, architects, even the more famous ones, do not use the Catholic liturgy as a starting point and thus end up producing avant-garde constructions that look like anything but a church. These buildings composed of cement cubes, glass boxes, crazy shapes and confused spaces, remind people of anything but the mystery and sacredness of a church. Tabernacles are semi hidden, leading faithful on a real treasure hunt and sacred images are almost inexistent. The new commission’s regulations will be written up over the next few days and will give precise instructions to dioceses. It will only be responsible for liturgical art, not for sacred art in general; and this also goes for liturgical music and singing too. The judicial powers of the Congregation for Divine Worship will have the power to act.

As is known, last 27 September, Benedict XVI transferred jurisdiction of two areas, from the Congregation for the Divine Worship to the Rota Romana (the Holy See’s Court of Appeal), under the motu proprio Quaerit simper...'

For full article click here.

Purgatory

If by God's great mercy we go to Purgatory, is our tenure there because of our offenses against the Divine Justice or is it because we were not humble and docile enough to the Holy Spirit to pray, in times of temptation and, indeed, at all times?

Sin is repulsive to God and His Justice demands that we make reparation in the next life for our sins. However, I'm just wondering whether we really go to Purgatory for our offenses, when surely the root of all our sins is our neglect of humble prayer which is the source of friendship with God and the only source of any obedience to His will.

Surely, if there were any way to avoid the pains of Purgatory, we would seek ways in which to do so, even though our nature is perverse and we can choose to abandon prayer, the very life of the spirit. It is this freedom of the will that means that we can obtain salvation at the last or our perdition. We are inclined to push God to the periphery of our existence but the Catholic Faith teaches us that it is by no means impossible for us to become true men and women of prayer and to 'pray without ceasing'.

One gets the impression from the lives of the Saints that their whole existence was powered by prayer from the rising of the sun to its setting. I am gradually getting more disciplined at saying morning and night prayer, but, in between, as anyone who has been reading the blog the past day or two will be able to tell, it is a Haily Mary there and an Our Father there. It is all very sporadic, hence my asking advice about the Office. Those I know who pray the Office emanate an inner peace and quiet confidence in God. The examples of the Saints show us that they are not so much 'supermen' but humble men who learned to rely no longer on themselves at all, having discovered their different weaknesses, but instead entrusted themselves to God's love and providence at every moment.

St Augustine of Hippo tells us that our hearts can have no rest until they rest in God. This is our daily experience and yet there are some whose love for God leads them into a deep life of prayer - it is that prayer that becomes the driving force of their love, their thoughts, words and actions. I don't doubt that we go to Purgatory to 'serve time' for our offenses. Neither am I suggesting 'sinlessness' is something with which we are graced or that we shall obtain within this life.  However, I know men and women of great, frequent and fervent prayer and they are inspirational, not necessarily in what they do, but in who and what they are. Their great love for God is borne out of their humilty and perhaps constant awareness of their own dependence on God in perhaps every waking hour.  They are those who can say, 'It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me'.

Saints teach us that faith is caught, not taught and that the 'just shall live by faith'.  Saints go to Heaven really because of their intimate friendship with God, a friendship which is nourished and nurtured through prayer. We can do nothing of ourselves and it is this friendship that leads to 'good works' which, without faith and prayer, become empty and devoid of the love in which they find meaning. If we should desire the things of Heaven, then we must be willing to accept poverty of heart and dependence on God. Whenever I fall into grave sin, one of the first things I think is, 'I should have prayed, hang on, I could have prayed'. I wonder if the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for whom we should pray, think that too.

So, as is obvious, I am not actually very good at praying, but I'm becoming more aware of the fact that, as the Catechism teaches, 'It is always possible to pray'. For those who are admit they are stubborn-hearted, like I, then this truth of the Faith should be encouraging. It is, always and at all times, everywhere, wherever we are, whatever we are doing, it is always possible to pray, even if our nature is so perverse that we can go nearly a whole day without conversing with or petitioning God. How strange we are and what a great mystery Faith is. And I will admit it. Even now I am thinking, 'Yes, I will, yes, I will, after this blog post, as if this blog post is more important than prayer!'

The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde

Quite some time ago, I asked my Catholic therapist a question: If you could recommend any one book for me to read - one that speaks to and addresses my issues, my problems, etc. - what would it be?

This was her answer:


Huh? What? Oscar Wilde? As in the homo that my bisexual boyfriend of so many years worshipped and adored? Gay icon extraordinaire? Was this a joke?

Nope.

She recommended this book, written by a convert to Catholicism, because it is a book that explores Wilde's lifelong dance with the Catholic faith. Or rather, his lifelong fascination with it, but a fascination that more resembled a quest to run from, hide, and avoid it. (It's also a book that strongly challenges - no, it actually destroys - the accepted notion that Wilde died of syphilis, as contracted from his numerous homosexual escapades.)

To be honest, I've known nothing of Oscar Wilde because by the time the bisexual boyfriend had gotten around to reading and introducing me to Wilde, I wanted to avoid anything that smacked of decadence and homosexuality, etc., like the plague. I didn't even know until just recently that Wilde had written "The Importance of Being Earnest." So let me say it was very odd for me to agree to read a biography about a person in whom I had no interest and no experience. But I did.

While reading this book, I wept. Many times. I related to Wilde's story and struggles in ways that shocked, scared, and even comforted me in the sense that I didn't feel so alone as a human soul.

Parallels and similarities to my own life and situations from the past abounded: I saw him struggle with the real and true love he had for his wife - and then abandon it for the lure of homo erotica. I observed his struggle with pride, notoriety of the self-created kind, and caricatures of his own making that eventually turned into reality (and were his eventual undoing). I watched him wrangle and wrestle with the Holy Spirit as he pitted Him up against his domineering intellect and desire for absolute freedom.

I cried for Wilde (and myself) as he landed himself in prison, saturated with the knowledge that he was there because he had ignored the truth of his inner self and Truth itself. And then I cringed when upon his release from prison, he is unable to make the change that he so desperately wants to because sin has eclipsed his being to the point that it has transformed him into a person he nearly despises but can no longer escape from: himself.

Oscar Wilde eventually converted to Catholicism on his death bed.

When I finished the book, I had the overwhelming urge (and still do) to have a mass said for him. But I figure I'll just get laughed at if I tried or someone will think it's a joke.

Below are quotes I found inspiring and thought-provoking, as taken from the author of this book, Joseph Pearce, as well as quotes from Wilde's writing. I offer them here not really for anyone but myself - as a memory or diary of a journey I made with Oscar Wilde earlier in the year. Sort of a reminder to actually ponder and reflect deeper upon something that made such a huge impact on me.


"Anarchy

Freedom's own Judas, the vile prodigal

License who steals the gold of Liberty

And yet has nothing....." Oscar Wilde


A Catholic friend to Wilde: "You will be damned, you will be damned, for you see the light and will not follow it!"


"Wilde's 'higher emotions', his aesthetic sensibilities, were attracted to Rome, but he was troubled by a pessimistic rationalism that led him toward scepticism. The warring paradox at the center of his psyche was that he was emotionally attracted to the faith but temperamentally tempted to doubt. Logic, as perceived by the pessimistic side of his character, led him away from the Church and not towards it. He accepted...that Catholicism was the only rational form of Christianity...." Joseph Pearce


"...loving for their mere artificiality those renunciations that men have unwisely called virtue, as much as those natural rebellions that wise men still call sin." Oscar Wilde from "A Picture of Dorian Gray"


"The tragedy at the core....is that Wilde had ceased to believe in metaphysical truth while remaining in love with it...The paradox of Wilde's position is that he believes in the capacity for belief but only possesses the capacity for disbelief. He is in love with the Church but finds himself exiled with the unbelievers. He desires metaphysical truth but can only see it as a beautiful lie." Joseph Pearce


"I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. That would be hypocrisy." Oscar Wilde from "The Importance of Being Earnest"


"I don't think now that people can be divided into the good and the bad as though they were two separate races or creations. What are called good women may have terrible things in them, mad moods of recklessness, assertion, jealousy, sin. Bad women, as they are termed, may have in them sorrow, repentance, pity, sacrifice....." Oscar Wilde from "Lady Windmere's Fan"


"Nowadays people seem to look on life as a speculation. It is not a speculation. It is a sacrament. Its ideal is love. Its purification is sacrifice." Oscar Wilde from "Lady Windmere's Fan"


"[The definition of a cynic is] a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing." Oscar Wilde from "Lady Windmere's Fan"


"With no clear understanding of the true nature of love, its source and its sustaining power, she [Salome] fails to perceive life's highest common factors and turns to its lowest common denomination. Incapable of love, she is left with lust." Joseph Pearce discussing Oscar Wilde's "Salome"


"....a man who has lived a life of sin is confronted at his death with the consequences of his actions. As the Book of Life is read, it emerges that he has been cruel, has spilt innocent blood, has idolized lust and has betrayed his friends. He answers defiantly when God decrees that he is to be sent to hell that God cannot send him there, 'Because in hell have I always lived.' The man's wisdom outwits God, who has no answer. Eventually God answers that as he cannot send the man to hell he will send him to heaven. The man tells God that he cannot send him to heaven either, 'Because never, and in no place, have I ever been able to imagine it.'" Joseph Pearce discussing Oscar Wilde's "The House of Judgement"


"And every human heart that breaks,

In prison-cell or yard,

Is as that broken box that gave

Its treasure to the Lord.

And filled the unclean leper's house

With the scent of costliest nard.

Ah! happy they whose hearts can break

And peace of pardon win!

How else may man make straight his plan

And cleanse his soul from Sin?

How else but through a broken heart

May Lord Christ enter in?"

Oscar Wilde from "The Ballad of Reading Gaol"

Normal Service Will Resume Shortly...



I'd like to dedicate this song to all those named in it. I hope this does not offend those of the faithful who were recruited to the CV project because it isn't aimed at them. This song is about how many are 'called' but few are 'chosen' in the Church.

Apparently His Grace, the Archbishop of Westminster, has expressed his 'disappointment' over the Government's plans to redefine marriage. Isn't 'disappointed' how you feel when you don't get a job or when Arsenal slip to 6th in the league or something?

Catholic Voices

Catholic Voices?
What’s that?
On the TV and the radio
Its sounding flat

Oh they’ve all been media trained
But there’s something they lack
You don’t need a script to tell the truth

Where’s Paul Priest, James Preece, me and Mac?
We enjoyed the Papal Visit oh but looking back
It would have been nice to tell the media that
‘We love the Pope and have you got a problem with that?’

We got Austen
We got Jack
Oh but smooth operators don’t win any Souls back
You need some people who love the Faith and Pope and don’t hold back
Why were we left out?
Do they think we’re deranged?

Catholic voices!
O Can you hear them?
O Catholic voices!
Where are they when you need them?
Catholic Voices!
We’re limited in choices, dear
Whooah oh
Catholic voices!
O Can you hear them?
O Catholic voices!
Where are they when you need them?
Catholic Voices!
We’re limited in choice this year
Whooah oh

Magic Circle?
What’s that?
It’s the management of the Church by liberal Bishops and
The choices of the new appointees on the terna that
Is given to the Nuncio

So what’s up with that?
The chance of getting men who are loyal to the Pope is fat
Holy, potential Bishops ignored like leprotic cats
Do they think that this is some kind of game?

Catholic voices!
O Can you hear them?
O Catholic voices!
Where are they when you need them?
Catholic Voices!
We’re limited in choices, dear
Whooah oh
Catholic voices!
O Can you hear them?
O Catholic voices!
Where are they when you need them?
Catholic Voices!
We’re limited in choice this year
Whooah oh

Ah well
Who knows whats down the road?
Maybe 'Gay Masses' will appear in the heart of Soho
If they continue we’ll be told to hold our tongue, you know
And we’re the ones labelled insane!

Catholic Voices?
What’s that?
It’s a way of sidelining critics of liturgical tat
And vocal critics of Episcopal choices that
Have led to the decline of the Faith!

Catholic voices!
O Can you hear them?
O Catholic voices!
Where are they when you need them?
Catholic Voices!
We’re limited in choices, dear
Whooah oh
Catholic voices!
O Can you hear them?
O Catholic voices!
Where are they when you need them?
Catholic Voices!
We’re limited in choice this year
Whooah oh

(Repeat)

We're limited in choices this year
We're limited in choices this year
We're limited in choices this year
We're limited in choices this year

We Can't Talk to Young People About Salvation...



...but we can sing about it.

The good news is the message of Salvation. The bad news is that over in Italy, as Rorate Caeli reports, even the dead are still being denied a funeral in the traditional Rite and that, as Linen on the Hedgrow reports, West Wales is about to lose its only Traditional Latin Mass. Let's do as he asks and pray a Rosary for its continuation. Meanwhile, here is an anonymous Catholic law student who attends the Traditional Latin Mass rapping. You can't hear all the vocals but you get the general gist. He talks about sin and Salvation too...It must just be Bishops who don't believe it can really be discussed, then...