19 02 2010

It’s better when you’re in a monastery in the desert listening to this chant in the dead of night. But still well done.



4 responses

22 02 2010

Arturo, you should find this a worthwile watch:

Let me also suggest these Syriac chants for the ‘dead of night’ quality you mention, though the annoying style of video montage accompanying the sound is better avoided:

22 02 2010
Arturo Vasquez

It would be difficult to connect with the Catholicism of von Balthasar or Congar precisely because that isn’t really Catholicism. It is an intellectual fad of those who wanted to break the wall down of the Catholic cultural ghetto (“razing the bastions” is what von Balthasar called it). If you read the liturgical reflections of Louis Bouyer or the childhood reminiscences of Dom Botte, you will see how modern Catholicism emerged. There was not just a benign neglect exercised by these figures towards popular Catholicism, one which can be remedied by bringing back a few vestments or a selected private devotion. There was rather a downright antagonism towards the old school religion. Catholics don’t want to face the fact that all of the “Scripture and liturgy” resourcement talk prior to the Council was not some program to “augment” the Catholicism of the past, but rather an effort to “reform” it, which is a nice bureaucratic way of saying, “destroy it”. It isn’t neutral, you can’t just mix and match it with what came before. All of it was intended to corrode all that was “pagan” and “legalistic” in the Catholicism of the past. That is why I loathe the Novus Ordo so much, even with all of the Latin bells and Gregorian whistles; it’s not that I care for the topic of liturgy anymore. It is more that I see the fingerprint of such a destructive ideology all over it, like a wine laced with a small amount of poison.

But even within the Church, it has been “head” religion that has been prized since the Counter-Reformation, and one can even say, since the Patristic Church on some level. Catholicism has always been afraid of its own “paganism”. The problem is that, over time, what that means has always been an ever-changing prejudice. A cardinal even at the height of the Tridentine reform could give a necklace of martyr’s teeth to his niece thinking that it was a prefectly pious gift. One could imagine the reaction that this would get from a contemporary Catholic. Vatican II in many ways was the ultimate triumph of “head religion”: it is not enough to pray a rosary, one has to pray the “Scriptural rosary”. I once went to a Stations of the Cross where they had changed the hymn of the Stabat Mater to make it more “Christocentric”, all the while keeping the tune. And this is not even mentioning the endless blathering that passes as Catholic liturgy: everything has to have a “little sermon” to it. Not even Martin Luther went this far. Catholicism went from a religion with a book to a religion from a book, by the book, and for the book.

Thankfully, popular Catholicism marches on, though not as a pure Platonic idea manifesting itself through history. It has never been that. The reason Catholicism has historically had both the scholars and the people venerating dead bandits is that it is a real religion, and that is what real religions look like. I agree that many people in a Protestant culture admire the Church because it has “class” and big, impressive buildings. But often that is all that they think that the Church is, along with the Bible and loving Jesus. Sadly, many will never have grandmothers who pray over them with eggs to prevent soul loss or altars that include, along with images of Christ, the Virgin, and the saints, dead relatives, slain pop singers, sports stars, etc., all as one big happy family. In other words, the sacred and the secular will always be separate, divided in the public sphere by ideas of bourgeois propriety and the dictatorship of personal taste. In other words, no sacred will exist at all, at least on any meaningful level.

21 02 2010


Someone brought this to my attention recently:

I could not help but think of your writing, with this fellow horrified by St. Anthony of Padua’s tongue being venerated, and his statement that such is “so difficult to connect with Catholicism of the von Balthasar or Yves Congar or De Lubac variety.” He complains of Romaphilic Evangelicals who overlook such “superstitious” Catholicism when being wined and dined by the Vatican.

19 02 2010

No expert in Coptic chant, but this reminds me of the alleged mass sighting of the Blessed Virgin in Assisut, Egypt ca. 2000… music/chant in background. Link:

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