Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I have recently come to the realization...

...that I am something of a crypto-Jansenist, or at least that I have strongly Jansenist tendencies. Too long in the camp of those who unthinkingly wander down the aisle at Communion, without regard for worthiness or the probability of sacrilege in the unprepared heart, I found myself committing an equal and opposite sin or sacrilege: refraining too eagerly. Though Augustinian predestination holds no appeal for me whatsoever, much about the Jansenist view of our sinful nature appeals. GK Chesterson's famous bit about reading the daily paper to confirm the doctrine of original sin seems mere inches from the Jansenist worldview, only needing to be updated to viewing the web every day, and even reading a fair number of Catholic blogs.

There's a line in the song "Grace" by Phil Wyckam that says "I need a voice that's louder than mine!" and that sort of sums it up: the necessity of grace; the roughness of our sinful nature; and a strong propensity for vacillation between a libtertine and scrupulous worldview. I do in fact need a voice that's louder than mine--most days just to get from the shower to the office, let alone through to the end of the work day.

Stressing the need for frequent confession is a good thing: it's good psychologically, as well as theologically. (For a pretty thorough explanation of why I think this is so, you can go here, and here, plus a conversational piece about it here.) Stressing the importance of approaching the Sacrament worthily is good too. And yet...St. Pius X advocated, contra Jansenism, frequent, even daily reception, and wanted First Communion to be as early as possible.

So we have modern day, would-be Jansenists like me, and we have an almost Protestant view of Eucharist as symbol, not substance (or Transsubstance), both present in the Church, and both busily judging others. This post touches on a particular case, going way back, that came up through the folks at Catholic Light.

There has to be a medium, that doesn't reduce God and the Sacrament to a syllogism, that doesn't seek to confine the supernatural within the natural. There has to be a place where Jansenism is condenmed but people remain serious, and take worthiness seriously, but also where people are open to God's Grace and calling, open to the sudden recognition of perfect contrition.

Still finding my feet again, obviously.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Some good things mentioned in the comments below. Let me now ask a couple of highly specific music questions:

I like chant, and I agree with the idea that chant is supposed to be given primacy of place. But chant is not something most kids intuitively respond to, especially given that they've been exposed to very little of it, if any at all, in their lives. Does anyone have any specific experience with re-introducing chant into a parish, especially in youth Masses?

This past Sunday's readings included St. Paul's line about "putting away childish things," which struck me an almost physical blow. We are teaching children to put away childish things, but we are also trying to balance that against the fact that Christ said the kids do a better job approaching him than we do. Set aside hymns with obviously problematical theology, and even setting aside non-problematical but still objectionable hymns which place the Congregation's focus on itself ("Gather us in," which I also heard this weekend, and songs of that ilk.) Idon't like those hymns and I won't tolerate them in the areas that I have control over. But what about aesthetics? Take a cheesy little number like "Sing a new song" or "You are near." The texts of those are derived from psalms, and the music appeals to the young ear. Are there other textually sound hymns that you have epxerienced, that appeal to children without grating on adults? We're in the "Barney" era of children's music, remember, and saying it *should* be otherwise may be true, but is unhelpful at this stage.
Prayers needed...

For my sister, who is seriously struggling, and for Mrs. K-G, who is helping her.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

What I am looking for these days...(Youth, Ministry and Music)

Amy Welborn touches on this once in a while, but I'd hope to start a serious discussion about it. My new life makes these questions of really significant professional, as well as personal and spiritual.

Many, many readers and members of St. Blog's seem to agree that catechesis of the young is in appalling shape nationally, even if there are a few exceptions here and there. But it often seems that agreement ends there. So, let me ask specifically: what exactly is wrong with it?

Second, what kinds of youth ministry seem to be exceptions? What works?

Third, music is a really hot topic, and Amy certainly has her views, both theological and aesthetic, many of which I agree with. But if we are to renew musical aspects of liturgy in the nation, it has to go hand in hand with catechesis, which means no more "This Little Light of Mine" at the confirmation Masses. If we want to restore primacy of place to chant, then we have to teach kids chant when their tastes are still being formed. So my question: what resources exist for teaching children the richness of our heritage, without turning them off? It's all fine to say "Well, just hit them with chant and make them like it!" but it's not really very useful. Yes, yes, by all means, teach chant. But are there resources specifically aimed at young people that work! That are shown over time to improve appreciation for, understanding of, and even preference for, chants, in the minds of students?

Any input is extremely welcome.
Okay, new template, new look, new job, comments working. Ready to go.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

As soon as I can figure out Blogger's comments, commenting will be up and running.

And for anyone who was wondering what I was depreseed about in the 3 year old post a few entries down, think back to Pedro Martinez, Grady Little, and Aaron Frickin' Boone. I'm still not really over it, in spite of the passage of time, and the results a year later.
The Complete Text of the Screwtape Letters, online...

So, first new post, and it's just a "hey, here ya go!" Screwtape Letters. Complete. Online. Free. Mmmmmm, good!
Yeah, about that whole "never posting at blogger again" thing...

I'm actually not sure how much, if at all, I will be blogging again. I have a new job that doesn't ban me from blogging, but does require in me even more prudence in what I say than I have had to observe in the past. But I think I'm going to give it a try.

The version of Kairos that appeared at the St. Blog's grouping is completely gone. I never posted much of interest there anyway, since that blog came about right around the time my second child was born and I started staying home with her. So, if you once read Kairos, or happen to stumble across me for the first time, this is where you'll find the blog again. If after 3 months I haven't posted regularly enough to make it worth my own or anyone else's time to visit here regularly, then down the blog will come, cradle and all, for good.

Welcome back.