28 June 2011

Charity in Our Words

From the Catholic Catechism:
2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:

- of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;

- of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them;

- of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor's thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:

Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another's statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.

2479 Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one's neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.

21 June 2011

The Danger of Criticizing Bishops and Priests

As a traditionalist, I've heard my fair share of criticisms of the hierarchy, and am well aware of the clergy's shortcomings with regard to changes in the Mass, the liturgy, music, etc. I tend to agree with much of the criticism. But I've always been very hesitant to take part myself, because I always remember the words of the saints with regard to the dignity of the priesthood and the danger of setting oneself up in judgment over its ministers. I keep foremost in mind the account I'll have to give to God one day when I stand alone before Him, and He asks me to give an account for every statement I've ever uttered. Others may no doubt accuse me of being overly timid or fearful in publicly rebuking wayward clergy, but in this case, I fear God more than man, and would rather stand before Him with a clear conscience on judgment day than give way to the pressures of fellow Catholics to take part in badmouthing priests.

Our Lord told St. Catherine of Siena:
You ought to despise and hate the ministers’ sins and try to dress them in the clothes of charity and holy prayer and wash away their filth with your tears.

Indeed, I have appointed them and given them to you to be angels on earth and suns, as I have told you. When they are less than that you ought to pray for them. But you are not to judge them. Leave the judging to me, and I, because of your prayers and my own desire, will be merciful to them.


Fr. Thomas Morrow wrote an insightful article on this very subject, one worth reading and pondering. He notes, "[I]t is not wrong to acknowledge the errors of priests or bishops, or gently point them out. But, when it becomes a zealous sport to pontificate about such errors, and to verbally attack these clerics personally, it goes too far."

The usual suspects are yammering on about Fr. Corapi's resignation from priestly ministry, and much of it is, to be expected, imbalanced, uncharitable, judgmental, and self-righteous. I'm not talking about comments in the comments boxes, but rather the Catholic bloggers themselves, some of them very well known, with a fan base of their own. In my opinion, they should know better, but it's clear from their lack of charity they do not. Perhaps these Catholic bloggers believe they are doing a service to the Body of Christ by angrily denouncing, in the most vivid terms, Fr. Corapi's behavior, but they deceive themselves, and lead their own "followers" astray by their self-righteous and uncharitable behavior.

I should add that I do not in any way condone Fr. Corapi's course of action--but instead of wasting precious time pontificating on how very wrong he is, I'll save myself the trouble and offer up sincere prayers for him instead, with the hopes that God in His great mercy will help him, who has helped so many in his twenty years of priestly ministry.

10 June 2011

Gregorian Chant: Requiem

The Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael's Abbey have put out a new CD, and one thing's clear: they've got chops.

It's common knowledge that Gregorian chant increases alpha waves in the brain, producing a calming effect, which makes it conducive to prayer. Not only does it have a purifying effect on the soul, it is also said (by those who specialize in exorcism or demonology) that it helps to purify the air of evil elements, and chant prayed by religious rather than by a secular choir is the most powerful.

The first piece sets the meditative tone by treating the listener to the sound of rain, church bells tolling distantly. As is obvious from the title, the CD includes chants from the Requiem Mass, ending with a responsory for the commendation of the soul and two responsories for the procession of the body. It was just the Fathers' luck that the recording session coincided with "one of the longest and most violent tempests of 2010," but this worked to their advantage. The atmospheric chant, with its meditations on death, is accompanied by the occasional howling wind in the background, with haunting and powerful effect. A highly professional recording, one is never subject to any off notes; the sounds come through with clarity and crispness from first to last.

The CD is worth purchasing, and may be found at Jade Music.

From the jacket description:
This is the third Gregorian chant album by the Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael's Abbey in California. This is not an actual Mass, but the traditional Requiem music according to the ancient Norbertine Rite, a form of the liturgy similar to the ubiquitous Roman Rite but the exclusive patrimony of the Norbertine Fathers. The album is available in stores on April 12, 2011.

The Norbertine Fathers and the Pacific Symphony
Thanks to the buzz and press coverage surrounding the previous two album releases, Carl St. Clair, the music director of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, invited the Norbertines to perform with the Orchestra. The three concerts, which took place in late February 2011 at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, CA, were extremely popular and well received.

The Expansion Project
St. Michael’s Abbey has been blessed with many vocations since its beginnings in the 1960s, and the boarding preparatory school consistently receives the highest ratings for its classical education and formation. Because of its growth, the community needs to expand its facilities. When the community began to consider expanding, it discovered that its current site is geologically unstable so the community will have to move to new land.