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May a Million Musicians Bloom PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 03 April 2007 06:42
According to a New York Time series that begins this morning, China is the future of the classical music.

While the west is losing its enthusiasm for classical music ("Sales for a top-selling classical recording in the West number merely in the thousands instead of the tens of thousands 25 years ago." and symphanies struggle to fill their halls, western classical music is a hit in China. With 30 million piano students and 10 million violin students, China now dominates world production of pianos, violins, and guitars. As is often the case, the article includes a nice audio slide show.

So next time you shop for that violin, check the label.
Mary: Mother of All PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 03 April 2007 06:00

The US Bishops have just issued a glowing new documentary Picturing Mary that explores the ways in which the Virgin Mary is portrayed throughout time and in cultures all over the world. Picturing Mary is scheduled to run on public television in April and May so check your local schedules. There's a very nice trailer.

I came across the film while following up on an interesting Holy Week story:

How in
Siparia, Trinidad (founded originally as a Capuchin mission) a local statue of Our Lady reverenced by Catholics has also long been a pilgrimage site for over 100 years by Hindus who regard the black image as an image of Kali. Since Good Friday was a holiday even for poor Hindu sugar cane workers in Trinidad, they would camp outside the church on Holy Thursday with lighted candles and fill the place on Good Friday.

Numerous attempts have been made to discourage the practice but when in the 1920's, the priest locked the doors on Holy Thursday night, the crowd threatened to burn the church down. So to this day, Good Friday at Siparia remains a Catholic - Hindu affair. A local Hindu doctor wrote a editorial in today's Carribean Net news in which he is critical of the Catholic refusal to, among other things, not give communion to their Hindu guests who often attend Mass. He regards this as an expression of resurgent anti-Hinduism.

As he describes it "Stalls on the roadway are stacked with Indian sweetmeats and delicacies. Framed pictures of Hindu deities are sold alongside those of Christian saints, and potters peddle their kalsas [jars], jugs and goblets. Members of the Hare Krishna sect peddle incense, images and japa
beads [rosaries] in their trademark traditional dress on the church compound and street. "

Not exactly the image most of us have of Good Friday.

While researching this story, I came across two familiar themes: the local bishop lamenting that Catholics are falling away from the faith because their faith was not personal - and the Hindu doctor noting that only 65% of local Indians are Hindu and that "It is believed that the majority of Christian Indians now belong to the new Evangelical Church and are converts from Hinduism."
Catholic Quote of the Day PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 03 April 2007 05:30
"if the world is a global village, John Paul was known as the village priest."

from Sheila Liaugminas at Inforum
Colorado Dreamin' PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 02 April 2007 20:07

This is your chance to win one of five free Colorado vacations.

They keep trying to sell me but I'm already sold and figuring out my Colorado state income tax as I write.

But perhaps one of our brilliant readers can win.

We'll put some buffalo burgers on the barbie for you!

In case you forgot - this is what it looks like . . .

Bridal Veil Falls - coming down from the infamous Imogene Pass between Telluride and Ouray.
Returning to a Christendom of the South PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 02 April 2007 12:45
From the April edition of the ever illuminating Lausanne World Pulse

The twentieth century saw a radical shift in the Christian world, with a majority of believers now being found in the global South (Asia, Africa, Latin America, Oceania) rather than the global North (North America and Europe). This has not been the case since AD 923 (see graph). The shift has been well documented and presented by scholars over the past decade, most notably Philip Jenkins in his work The Next Christendom.

The graph below is fascinating, showing clearly that in the 16th century - the century of the Reformation and religious wars and Council of Trent, that 90% of Christians were to be found in Europe. But it was also the extraordinary missionary expansion of Catholicism to the west and the east in the 16th century that laid the foundation for our situation today.

The most staggering change took place in the 20th century when through huge increases in the south and equally huge losses in the north, we reached our current situation. Christians still only make up 33% of the world's population but the Christian body changed from 20% "southern" to 70% "southern" in a single century. In a sense, we are returning to our origins.

And I doubt very much whether any of us have fully grasped what that means.




Confessapalooza PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Monday, 02 April 2007 11:23

I just returned from a Lent full of parish missions in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Washington. All four were wonderful experiences for me, partly because they all involved hearing many, many confessions. I easily heard well over one hundred-fifty confessions. That number, however, pales in comparison to what happened at St. Thomas More Newman Center in Tucson, AZ, home of the Dominican community to which I'm assigned.

Last Thursday night the Catholic community at the University of Arizona held what I would call "Confessapalooza." What else would you call fourteen confessors, 300+ penitents, a twelve-piece praise band and a Mexican dinner held in the parish hall? Taking the story of the prodigal son as a model, the Newman staff decided to emphasize the joyous response to the surprise of forgiveness, and the aspect of the celebratory feast that the Father holds for his reprobate child.

Now, perhaps having 300 penitents at a communal penance service is the norm at your parish, but in the past at Newman, they've typically had about 50 or so, including the children preparing for first (and sometimes, last) confession. What was different about this year's? First of all, the season of Lent was intentionally approached as a community-wide event, and commenced the season with a community-wide retreat. The Dominican friars who are the clerics at the Center carefully prepared their preaching throughout Lent to focus on various aspects of forgiveness, and the communal penance service was consistently mentioned in their preaching. By the time the day arrived, there was a real sense of anticipation in the community.

The community gathered at 5:30 p.m. for an authentic Mexican fiesta, followed by a communal penance service that began at 7 p.m. After a liturgy of the word, preaching, and examination of conscience, the priests stood in the sanctuary and other parts of the church while penitents came and confessed while the remainder of the congregation, led by a very talented group of college students sang. Three times the singing was interrupted by a testimony on the experience of going to confession prepared in advance by two undergraduates and a graduate student - who gave her testimony in Spanish.

Fr. Bartholomew Hutcherson, O.P., the pastor of St. Thomas More, said that priests who participated in the event walked away amazed - and at least one copied aspects of it for the communal penance service in his own parish, while other priests spoke of how powerful the service was.

Fr. Bartholomew told me that a number of parishioners who had not received the sacrament for extended periods spoke to him of their renewed appreciation for the sacrament, and it was such a powerful experience for the community that people are asking to have communal penance services more often than just Advent and Lent!

The penance service lasted less than 90 minutes, and almost all the people present took part in an individual confession!

One of the talks I gave for each mission focused on the sacrament of reconciliation, and I, too, heard confessions of people who had been away from the sacrament for decades. I think it just goes to show that if we speak of the importance of this sacrament, and make it readily available, we may very well be surprised at how many Catholics will take advantage of this experience of the Lord's love for us.
Red Hot Apostolic Dance PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 02 April 2007 09:28
This is different. They're hot, they're Catholic, and they are taking back the culture.

Take a look at the St. Michael's Warriors dance company.

From their website:

"Saint Michael's Warriors is a red-hot dance company, burning with the creative fire of Christ's love. The teachings of Christ are the message and dance is the medium. Turning on its head the modern dance culture of the vulgar and the violent, Saint Michael's Warriors spearheads a renewal to jolt the MTV generation back to God.

Dancing original works and the best of established dance art, Saint Michael's dancers spark the stage as witnesses to Christ. Through their movements and the whole of their performances, dancers manifest the joy that is part of prayer, the sacraments and a life joined with God."

SMW are New York based and have performed for Catholic Underground sponsored by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. They have performances scheduled around the wider New York area in 2007.

My favorite has to be this:

Sunday January 21st, 7pm

Hopewell Reformed Church Youth Night
Full evening engagement with Rabelz and the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal

This is a kind of ecumenism I 'd like to see more of.

hat tip commenter Pete Ascosi, whose sister dances with St. Michael's Warriors:
The Journey to the Fullness of the Incarnation PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 02 April 2007 07:53
My parish, Holy Apostles, received 41 new Catholics into communion yesterday and will be baptizing 17 more at the Easter Vigil.

Every year for the past twelve years, 150,000 - 160,000 American adults have been received into the Catholic church. So far as I know, that is the largest group of annual adult conversions in the world (with the possible exception of Africa - if anyone has more information, please share it.)

At a gathering in San Francisco with Cardinal Schonborn of Vienna, I remember how astonished he was when the sponsoring parish told him that they received 100 new adult Catholics every year. "A hundred?" he asked three times as though certain that his excellent English was failing him.

Shortly after I was received, Peter Kreeft wrote me a note (in response to a letter I wrote him) congratulating me on my "one month marriage to the fullness of the Incarnation." Although I was received at Christmas rather than Easter, I've always feel a deep identification with others who enter the Church as an adult.

We'd like to hear from those of you in RICA or who have entered the Church as an adult during Holy Week, tell us what is (or was) like for you?

Those of you involved in RCIA or the catechumenate ministry, what is it like to make this journey with those who are entering? How has it affected your relationship with Christ?
In Blessed Memory PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 02 April 2007 07:40

Written by Keith Strohm

Somehow, it seems very fitting that the anniversary of Pope John Paul II's death occurs right near the beginning of Holy Week. The time surrounding his death was a very painful one for me--on many levels. In addition to watching my beloved papa weaken and die, my personal life seemed to be doing exactly the same thing.

Remembering John Paul II brings back all of the feelings and experiences that I had during the spring of 2005, but through it all, I carry a wonderful sense of what a gift Pope John Paul II was, both to the Church and to the World.

In memory of his death, I'm going to repost something that I wrote on my blog, Take Your Place. It is a short reflection on my experience of John Paul II. It's entitled, Why I Hated The Pope, and it was written during the time of his last sickness:

When I was younger, and heavily influenced by my undergraduate and graduate school indoctrination into postmodern critical theory, I viewed the Church--its teachings and its life--with what many modern day Christian Feminists would call a 'hermeneutic of suspicion.' The institutional Church was, in my view, an outmoded expression of Christianity, weighed down with patriarchal baggage. It required liberation through an authentic entry into postmodern discourse and a true embracing of postmodern, post structural, and post-colonial 'praxis.'

The pope, then, as the symbol of the Church's unity and its supreme legislator, became a target of my disaffected intellect. Though my heart yearned to be with Christ, my mind fought His Church. Pope John Paul II's consistent call to radical orthodoxy, his insistence on a male-only priesthood, his reiteration of the Church's teaching on homosexuality, were like goads in my flesh. They fueled my arrogant rebellion in a way that little else did.

By the time I encountered his encyclical, Veritatis Splendor, my personal magisterium was, quite frankly, fed up with this old white male, a symbol of everything that was wrong with the Church. I choked my way through the text of that encyclical, growing more and more angry as John Paul II laid out his teaching. By the time I had finished it, I knew what I had to do. Somewhere around 1993 or 1994, I excommunicated the pope. He was stricken from the Book of My Life, and if, in the course of the next five years, his name was mentioned--either on tv, in books, or during conversations--I was sure to measure a heap of uncharitable observations and critical comments. Truth be told, I spent a good portion of the 90's waiting for the pope to die.

It was only after a series of powerful encounters with God, and a host of daily conversions, that I have truly come to understand that this man, whom I have 'known' for over two thirds of my life, has been called by God to be the true Vicar of Christ on earth. I am humbled by the vastness of his intellect, his unwavering committment to shepherd the Church, and his deep personal holiness. As I sit and study his words and reflections, I am brought ever more deeply to the realization of my own personal, intellectual, and spiritual poverty.

I grieve the time that I spent vilifying this great man--time that I could have (and should have) spent listening to him call me to Christ. Every time I see him struggling, living, and, ultimately, accepting his infirmity, every time I read an exhortation or encyclical written by his hand, and every time I hear his quavering voice, I remember why I once hated the pope--and why I love him so deeply now. Not only is he my papa, but he is a living example of Christ on earth.

I have never known the Church to be without John Paul II, and although I know and trust in the promises of Christ, I hope against hope that I never have to know the Church without John Paul II.

Please pray for our beloved papa, tonight and always.

It was a curious thing to be a part of the Church without John Paul II alive. I can remember crying when they announced Benedict XVI as the next Pope, not because I had any strong attachment to Cardinal Ratzinger, but because I was witnessing apostolic succession par excellence, the very real manifestation of Christ's promise that the gates of Hell would not prevail against the Church.

There is so much work to be done by the Church in this age, work that we, as laypeople, are called particularly to accomplish. John Paul II, we ask you to pray for us, for the work of the New Evangelization, for the spreading of the Name and the Love of Christ to every corner of the world. On the anniversary of your death, may you continue to intercede for your successor, for all of the Bishops, and for the whole Church united in the fulfillment of Christ's mission.


Upcoming Called & Gifted Workshop PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 02 April 2007 06:49

Written by Keith Strohm

If you are in the Chicagoland area, St. Isidore's parish in Bloomingdale, Illinois invites you to attend their upcoming Called & Gifted Workshop, June 15th-16th. St. Isidore's is one of the largest parishes in the Chicagoland area, and they are working as a community to become a House of Lay Formation, a parish where the gifts and vocations of every lay man, woman, and child are taken seriously and nurtured.

If you are curious about what a Called & Gifted Workshop is, you can find out more about it here.

Anyone interested should pop over to St. Isidore's website and click on the image of Pete, who is taking a peek at the gifts God has given him. That will lead you to an online registration area where you can reserve your space for the workshop!

I'll be teaching at the event, and so will Barbara Elliot, a wonderful Institute teacher and author of Street Saints: Renewing America's Cities.

I hope to see you there.

Holy Week Traditions Around the World PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 02 April 2007 06:33

Check out this fascinating blog Throat Singing: in Pursuit of Overtones

Robert Beahrs of Minneapolis is on a mission to witness remarkable traditions of throat singing around the world. In Sardinia, he find a wonderful Holy Week tradition:

In the sacred tradition of Castelsardo, a quartet of men from the Catholic brotherhood sing together during Holy Week in an inward-facing circle in four-part harmony, manipulating their vowels and timbre in a such a way as to create what’s called a quintina, or a virtual fifth voice soaring above, from their harmonics.

In order to enhance one specific harmonic and achieve this effect, each of the four singers uses his vowels differently when singing the liturgical chants (in a sense, each one is speaking the vowels differently from the others) And Robert includes an analysis of the technique involved.

So when the four vocalists come together to sing a chant such as Stabba during Holy Week, they each have a different way of pronouncing the text (sung in Latin): “Stabat Mater dolorosa, Juxta crucem lacrymosa” in order to support the creation of this elusive and floating quintina, or fifth voice, moving melodically above the quartet.

The Monday of Holy Week, Lunissanti, is the most important of the Easter festivals in Castelsardo which includes “la prucissioni,” a grand procession through the Citta Storico and a midnight feast.

Holy Week PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 02 April 2007 06:32
Growing up, Palm Sunday used to be my least favorite Sunday of the year. The length of the gospel reading weighed down on me, and I resented having to stand that long. I actually remember being exceptionally excited if the priest decided to use the short form of the reading.

Rather than being a particularly special reflection on Jesus' entry into Jerusalem and His subsequent passion and death, I just tuned out the readings because I had heard them so many times before.

As my relationship with Christ and His Church has (in some small ways) deepened over the past 10 years, I've discovered that my attitude toward Palm Sunday has changed as well. What was indifference has been transformed to a deep and abiding love for Palm Sunday. As we celebrate Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem, it is our own entry into Holy Week--a particular doorway to the grace of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ.

Each year, as the Palm Sunday reading is proclaimed, I am convicted of my own sinfulness and for the necessity of the Cross, even as I delight in the liturgical depth of Palm Sunday and--especially--of the Triduum. Each year, I discover new graces during Holy Week and know in the depths of my being that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the Father, has offered everything for the sake of His People and, in a very real way, for my sake.

It also strikes me that apart from Ash Wednesday, where a visible sign of our commitment to penance and conversion adorns our heads, Holy Week provides the greatest opportunity to engage in conversation about our faith. It is a week where the daily routines are interrupted by liturgy, where the passion of Christ transgresses on afternoon meetings and coffee breaks, where strains of angelic alleluias whisper softly in the darkness of the tomb.

I have made a personal commitment to enter into this Holy Week with a certain intentionality--to not float through it as I am sorely used to doing. How do you celebrate Holy Week? What are the things that you are looking forward to as we journey toward our Easter celebration?
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