To Run Against the Wind -UPDATED

What do you seek? I mean once you come to grips with your mortality. Especially when your best laid plans fall apart in an instant via illness, an accident, or perhaps a death in the family. There you were sailing along majestically, deluded by your own good fortune to the point that you actually thought you were controlling your destiny.

Perhaps you felt you had figured out the game of life. You believed you could will your way to an earthly heaven. Yes, you are a winner, and winners never quit. And then everything you had mapped out for yourself slipped away from you.

Your dreams slipped past you like a stranger in a crowd. Or just when thought you knew what would make you happy, and when your idea of what you would spend your life doing was coming to fruition, it became unobtainable through no fault of your own, either for the reasons outlined above or because the economy takes a dive.

The gifts given to you are not yours, see, but they are on loan to you. Besides that, your gifts span various disciplines, while the world forces you to specialize in one discipline to the exclusion of the others. Surely you’ve noticed that. The jack-of-all-trades is lampooned as a “master of none.” “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” And so it goes.

Suppose, for example, that the occupation you think will bring you the most personal satisfaction becomes impossible for you to do. Or perhaps there is no market for that pursuit which brings you the most personal fulfillment or happiness. Or it’s likely that many share the same calling you love, but the competition is so cut-throat that only a few actually succeed. Ideas of “follow your bliss” ring hollow then. Folks who are disabled due to an accident encounter this moment of truth in a rude awakening every day.

Or suppose the person you love reneges on their promise to love you back. Often that is how you come face to face with the supposed virtue of selfishness. Which brings me to this scene from the movie Forrest Gump. Remember it? Forrest’s mother has died, the love of his life is gone, so he goes running back and forth across the country. Why?

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There you are running back and forth through this life for no apparent reason. And then it dawns on you that the winds of the world are going every which way. They are blowing you hither and yon. At some point you realize that you need to stop. Time to head home.

Did you here that last song in the clip? That’s from Bob Seger’s eleventh album. It came out a few month’s after Pink Floyd’s The Wall. In a way, it is a song-story exactly like what I’m writing about here, only better. The album went to number one on the charts because it resonants with our experiences in this world. This could be a theme song for YIMCatholic.

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G.K. Chesteron, in his biography of Charles Dickens, weighs in with some thoughts to conclude this post with.

“If we are to save the oppressed, we must have two apparently antagonistic emotions in us at the same time. We must think the oppressed man intensely miserable, and at the same time intensely attractive and important. We must insist with violence upon his degradation; we must insist with the same violence upon his dignity. For if we relax by one inch the one assertion, men will say he does not need saving. And if we relax by one inch the other assertion men will say he is not worth saving. The optimists will say that reform is needless. The pessimists will say that reform is hopeless. We must apply both simultaneously to the same oppressed man; we must say that he is a worm and a god; and we must thus lay ourselves open to the accusation (or the compliment) of transcendentalism.”

And that is about all I have to say about that.

Because John Galt Is Really Ayn Rand, Not Jesus Christ (Nice Try Though)

What does it take to snap Joe-Sixpack, USMC out of his reverie? That’s easy. Keep attempting to redeem the ideas of Ayn Rand and Christianize them. I’ll fix bayonets and come running like a teufel-hunden responding to one of those silent dog whistles.

Reverend Robert A. Sirico of the Acton Institute (which I generally admire) recently wrote an article entitled Who Really Was John Galt Anyway? Therein, Rev. Sirico tries to tease out Jesus Christ from the persona of Ms. Rand’s fictional character John Galt. Or perhaps he tries to tease out Ms. Rand’s longing for the Lord. [Read more...]

From the Treasure Chest: The Catholic Religion and Art

I’ve got this hobby of finding electronic versions of great books about the Catholic Faith. I share this pastime with everyone who stops by here too, via the YIMCatholic Bookshelf. At last count, I’ve added 853(!) fully searchable volumes to the shelf so far. There’s no cost to read or download them, and we’re open 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Just the other day I found some books that were digitized from the collection of the Monastic Library of the Abbey of Gethsemani. Yes, the one in Kentucky where Fr. Louis was a monk and priest. They also spent some time on the shelves, and possibly still do, at the University of California in Berkeley. Who knew?


They are a compliation of essays entitled, A Pulpit Commentary On Catholic Teaching. The series was published starting in 1908. So far I’ve found volume I and Volume IV, so I’ll keep digging for II, and III. The subtitle of these books? A Complete Exposition of Catholic Doctrine, Discipline And Cult By Pulpit Preachers Of Our Own Day. That’s a pretty cool subtitle, you have to admit.

And it is neat that they are written by Catholic preachers too. What follows is an essay on Religion and Art from Volume IV. That’s a subject I’ve been playing with lately, especially regarding music. Perhaps Fr. Louis took a look at this volume back in the day too. It’s possible. But for now, I’ll save you a trip to the library at the Abbey in Bardstown KY.

Stand-by for a discourse on Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, Catholic style.

St. Andrews, Pasadena CA

Religion and Art
By the Right Reverend James Bellord, D.D.

“Thy renown went forth among the nations for thy beauty: for thou wast perfect through my beauty which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord God.” —Ezech. xvi, 14.

The first object of religion is to bring us into communication with God and to save our souls: but its influence extends farther and lower than this object, and it affects the whole man in all his relations. Religion brings us into union with God; and God is not only the perfection of our spiritual life, but your intellect, will, imagination, and your whole natural life. We must not think that God is the object of worship only; He is the object of all our faculties and senses: they must all look to Him and serve Him.

God is not only Truth and Law, the rule of our belief and moral action, He is also perfect Beauty. This is one of His divine perfections. God’s Beauty will be one of the delights of the blessed in heaven. They will be filled with it as with His Truth and Goodness, through these faculties whose object is beauty. Beauty is also a mark of God’s works. Each one, even of His lowest material works, is an object of delight for its beauty to any who cares to study it. “His ways are beautiful ways” (Prov. iii, 17).

Our Lady of Sorrows
Chicago, IL

The Beautiful is one of the great sources of delight to mankind. It is something intangible and indescribable inhering in things; it is something which is different from their material composition. We cannot analyze it. It is a certain harmony and proportion, variety and unity, which fills us with delight as we contemplate it. Whether we consider a melody, or a series of sounds, a mountain chain, or a problem in mathematics, a poem, a thunderstorm, an invention, there is a something which is the same in all, which appeals to our sense of beauty and gives us exquisite pleasure. It is some gleam of divine beauty reflected in the creature.

It might be thought that Religion has no concern with the science of the beautiful, that it is too austere to bend to such frivolity, and that earthly beauty is rather the material of self-indulgence and sin. Not so. The perception and enjoyment and production of beauty are closely connected with God and religion. Religion is to us the source of the highest beauty as well as of truth and morality. The text speaks of the beauty of Jerusalem, which is the figure of the present Jerusalem, the true Kingdom of God on earth. She, too, is renowned for her beauty, and is made perfect with the beauty of God, which is communicated to her. Let us consider the desire which God has given us for the Beautiful, and see how it is met by Religion and gratified.

We are full of desires. These are capacities for action or enjoyment implanted in us by God. These natural cravings are good in themselves, and are intended to be gratified under due conditions, except so far as God may call us, at times or totally, to self-renunciation. However, through our own perversity or that which we inherit, we often exercise these desires on forbidden objects, or selfishly, for our own interest and pleasure apart from God. There is great danger of these desires becoming evil and leading us to sin and eternal loss. They need to be exercised then with caution and self-restraint.

Our Lady of
Guadalupe Shrine
La Crosse, WI

One of our chief desires is rooted in the imagination and aims at the enjoyment of the Beautiful; and this is the origin of Art. We try to copy for our possession something beautiful in nature or in our own imagination. This is a faculty peculiar to man. The beasts do not share it; they seek food, shelter, warmth, and there is an end of it; of beauty, as of truth and law, they have no apprehension. Among men this faculty is universal. Early savage man engraved reindeer and horses on his implements of bone, and adorned himself with teeth of animals or beads of stone. Infants delight in beauty of color, and cry for anything bright and pretty. Savages show an acute sense for color and form in their ornaments of beads, and porcupine quills, and skins. Cave-dwellers have left colored pictures of men and animals on the walls of their abodes. The poorest people, indifferent almost to comfort, will adorn their hovels with bits of china and glaring pictures. The sense of beauty and of art, although crude, is common to them all. God is the ultimate object of this craving. The more nearly we approach to the likeness of God, the more shall we participate in this beauty, the more we shall be able to appreciate it and reproduce it. Religion brings men more under the influence of God, not only as the Truth and Law of goodness, but also as Beauty. It guides our desire and leads us to its fulfillment.

The Church of God is beautiful. “Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is no spot in thee” (Cant. iv, 7). She is so, as being one of the chief of God’s works, His special dwelling, and the manifestation of His perfections to men. Her doctrines are beautiful. The mysteries of Religion, the perfections of God, the life of Jesus Christ, the glory of His blessed Mother, the sacred Scriptures, have been the continual delight of thousands. The solemnities and ceremonies of divine worship in the Catholic Church, how impressive they are for their stateliness and beauty! Those who have come out of curiosity or hostility have often felt as if they had seen a glimpse of heaven. Whether splendid or poor, whether celebrated under the dome of the noblest Church in Christendom, or in a wooden hut, or a cavern beneath the ground, the worship of the Church is always stately. She cannot be frigid or lifeless on the one hand, or grotesque and fanatical on the other. Her action, like that of God, is always beautiful.

The Catholic religion does far more than any other to elevate and ennoble its followers’ characters and beautify their lives. Among the simple, the poor, the suffering, in remote corners of the world, among an industrious and Christian peasantry, there is found a spirit of contentment, courtesy, faith, patience, purity and fervor, which go to make up the most lovely of spectacles. Religion is the only antidote to that sordid selfishness, meanness, cruelty and lust, which stain our civilization with such unloveliness and produce such hideous results. It is being discovered that the creation of wealth degrades the workers, that mere knowledge and industry cannot elevate them, and that the sight of artistic and beautiful things is necessary to nourish the imagination and bring light into their lives. Of old the Catholic Church supplied this need of the mind with its sculptured cathedrals, its pictured glass, its wealth of statuary and painting, its histories of the saints, its festivals and bright processions, pulpit eloquence, and moving strains of music. The Reformation in some lands swept all this clean away, condemned it for the very reason which is its great merit, that its vividness and splendor appealed so much to the artistic sense and gratified the imagination. Time has brought its revenge. Legal holidays, popular concerts, and galleries of art, are an attempt, all too tardy, to supply the toiler with some few crumbs of the banquet of beauty which the Church of old dispensed abundantly to all.

I must quote in substance the words of a distinguished nonCatholic author on this point: “One method by which Christianity has labored to soften the characters of men has been through the imagination. Our imaginations affect our moral character, and, in the case of the poor especially, the cultivation of this part of our nature is of inestimable importance. Rooted to a single spot, excluded from most of the interests that animate the minds of other men, condemned to constant and plodding labor, their whole natures would have been hopelessly contracted, were there no sphere in which their imaginations could expand. Religion is the one romance of the poor. It alone extends the narrow horizon of their thoughts, supplies the images of their dreams, allures them to the supersensual and ideal. … It is the peculiarity of the Christian types that, while they have fascinated the imagination, they have also purified the heart.” He then recalls some of the externals of Catholic worship and concludes, “More than any spoken eloquence, more than any dogmatic teaching, they transform and subdue his character” (Lecky).

As Religion is so closely connected with uncreated Beauty and with the Beautiful in most of its forms, so it has been the chief agent in originating and inspiring Art. Faith has supplied noble images to the mind, and breadth and dignity to the characters of men, and these qualities have expressed themselves outwardly in architecture, painting, poetry, music, etc. From these arts, first employed in the service of Religion, all modern Art has sprung. Painting, decoration and sculpture began in the Roman catacombs with the endeavor to express Christian hope in symbols on the martyr’s tomb, and Christian reverence around the Altar of the Holy Sacrifice; and they were brought to perfection by the need of representing the doctrines of religion on the walls of Churches for the instruction of the faithful. The requirements of a new class of buildings for religious purposes created the glorious architecture of the Middle Ages, more living and progressive than the massive Egyptian, the stern Doric, and the elegant Corinthian; more capable of yielding in its details to the varying fancy of each nationality; more capable of development on many different lines, ranging from rude massiveness to fair delicacy, but always marked by truth and perfect taste. Musical notation was invented by Pope St. Gregory the Great, and later the simple but exquisite hymns of the liturgy were one by one composed.

The Pieta

Popes and bishops were always the chief patrons of Art. Monasteries were the home of art as well as of piety and learning. Churches sprung up over Europe, each of which was a museum of beauty open for the free enjoyment and culture of all. The walls, the windows, the pavement, the altars, the tombs and the shrines were examples of the best that human taste has ever wrought in stone and wood, embroidery and metal, glass and precious gems. All this was no mere extravagance or luxury, or an artificial or enthusiastic movement, but it was the natural and spontaneous expression of high and noble feelings. Faith and love, generosity and awe, the sense of man’s sin and God’s majesty, and of the truth and eternity of religion, must of necessity find expression for their intensity and their force in works vast, beautiful, and durable. “I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of the house, and the place where Thy glory dwelleth” (Ps. xxv, 8). The spirit of these words, which God poured forth on those who labored on the Temple and Tabernacle of old, we may well believe to have been infused into the souls of the medieval artists, that they might be able to translate, not only their own devotion, but even a reflection of uncreated Beauty into the works of their hands.

So much is Art bound up with the Catholic Church that no history of Art or any portion of it could be written without giving the largest place to Catholic doctrines and customs, to popes and saints. A philosophy of Art would be chiefly a history of one aspect of religion, and of the widespread degradation which follows the decline of its influence. When intolerant atheism shall advance so far as to remove from the streets of cities, the walls of museums, and the shelves of libraries all traces of religious art, as it has already attempted to remove all traces of religion and morality from the school-room, it is not too much to say that ninety-nine per cent. of all the genius, and one hundred per cent. of the refining influence of art, will have perished. When artist or poet wishes to depict the beauty of worship or religious feeling, where else does he seek inspiration but in the solemn High Mass of a Catholic cathedral, or among the crowd who sit round the confessional, or in the daily life of the priest or sister of charity? When the tourist in a foreign land seeks distraction from his year-long toil, in pursuit of the beautiful in nature or in man’s handiwork, where does he find the chief center of attraction?

Piazza, St. Andrews
Pasadena, CA

He goes not to the churches of his own religion, but to a Church whose doctrines he disbelieves, and whose worship he scoffs at; doing it unwilling homage by recognizing in it a sense of life, truth of devotion, majesty, of worship, beauty of workmanship, and by yielding to the feelings of awe which these things enforce. It is strange that so many can admit the Catholic Church to be the highest expression on earth of religious beauty; i. e., of divine beauty, both material and mental, and yet fail to recognize in her the highest expression of divine truth and law. For the True, the Good, and the Beautiful are one and indivisible.

This suggests another thought; that, where religious truth has failed, there will the sense of beauty be impaired and its ideal lowered in the course of time. This age is far superior to any preceding in wealth, knowledge, mechanical appliances, and general cultivation. Our great works surpass in many ways those of the Ages of Faith. How wonderful are our railways, bridges, hotels, warehouses! For utility they are supreme; but not one is marked by the extraordinary beauty of ancient times. Town-halls, castles, streets, churches especially, had a beauty now irrecoverable. Architecture was never so overwhelming for its power and gracefulness as in the old Catholic churches. A great building reflects, as does a great book, the mind and qualities of its architect, as he reflects these of his age. The qualities of the times of faith have perished, so we can no longer produce their effects.

How melancholy, as a rule, are our attempts to revive an old style of architecture; they are no longer the spontaneous expression of an original mind, but are forced and lifeless imitations, mechanically made; they are like a stolid wax figure with its smooth countenance and fixed expression, by the side of a living face full of character, brightness, and emotion. There are few of these medieval revivals which are not marked by inconsistency and inharmony of parts, servile imitation or glaring bad taste. Let there be a vast competition of designs and selection of one by a committee, let cheapness be one of the points of merit, and the result will be one of those abominations and eyesores that disfigure our modern cities.

The Chair of St. Peter
Rome

Enter an old Catholic church in an old Catholic city and you are awed into mute wonder. It speaks to you of the eternal, the ancient of days, the immutable: it seems as if its multifarious beauty could never be grasped, and it is certain that man, as at present, could not again produce its like. You feel that it is truly the house of God and the gate of Heaven, a blessed vision of eternal peace. But if it be one that has passed from the Catholic to some reformed Church, what a picture of desolation it presents. It is a desert of monotony and inutility, a storehouse for incongruous tombstones. It is a corpse. That sense of life which comes from the presence of the Most Holy with the beacon lamp and kneeling worshipers is absent. It is the Jerusalem of the captivity. “How doth the city sit solitary that was full of people: how is the sovereign of the Gentiles become as a widow? . . . The ways of Sion mourn because there are none that come to the solemn feast: all her gates are broken down. . . . The enemy hath put out his hand to all her desirable things, for she hath seen the Gentiles enter into her sanctuary, of whom thou gavest command that they should not enter into thy Church” (Lam. i, I, 4, 10).

It is just the same with these altar-pieces, triptychs, chalices, reliquaries and vestments, removed by vandal governments from their natural home to picture galleries and museums. They have lost half their beauty; they are no longer parts of a living beautiful body, but anatomical specimens. How sad and useless they are, taken forever from the service of God, put under glass shades, turned into mere objects of curiosity, from being part of the eternal worship of the Church and aids to faith and virtue!

In painting, too, the soul is gone when faith has ceased. The old monk-artist sought inspiration in prayer and fasting, before taking his brush to portray the Virgin Mother and her Divine Infant. He sought to make men realize spiritual truths and move them to purity and love. The modern artist, pipe in mouth, works from questionable models to make a reputation or to fill his pockets. Modern painters are undoubtedly superior in technical knowledge, in manipulation, archeological correctness of detail; they will reproduce exactly the scenery amidst which our Lord lived, the particulars of His costume, the type of face then prevalent: but the figures are not divine, all spiritual beauty has fled.

Judas’ Kiss, Giotto

Turn from these to the frescoes of Giotto, or the rude mosaic of Ravenna: anatomy, perspective, details are all astray, but you have seen in these works a spiritual life. You feel as if you were actually before the stern, all-seeing, impartial Judge of Mankind, or as if you had seen, face to face, the most pure and most blessed of women. You may see young men, as they come suddenly into the presence of the Madonna di San Sisto, check their laughter, snatch off their hats, and stand silent and motionless, as though they saw a real glimpse of heaven through the parted veil.

A Protestant Dutch School of Art arose some couple of centuries ago. Light and shade portraits, domestic life, tavern orgies, dead game, pots and pans, texture of tapestries and furs they rendered with unexampled perfection. But when they forgot the limits of their powers and tried to soar to the higher level of religious ideas, their incapability was shown by the grotesque and soulless results. Turning to modern days, we may compare ordinary exhibitions of sculpture with the delicate, lovely, and touching conceptions in the great cemeteries of Genoa and Florence. We may see, too, in the undue sentimentalism and ingenious filthiness of academies and salons, how Art can fall when the purifying and ennobling influence of faith is cast off.

Judas’ Kiss, Mosaic
Ravenna, Italy

Again, the stage is a branch of Art with which the Church has little to do, except to watch it with suspicion, and occasionally to pronounce a warning. Part of it is respectable and really belongs to the domain of high Art. But it has often been a powerful instrument of immorality, and its associations are not always lovely. Yet the Church originated the modern drama in her miracle plays, which still survive in the Passion Plays among remote mountains. These furnish a rare occasion of observing the association of Religion with this form of Art. After feeling the thrilling effect produced by untutored mountaineers, whose chief qualifications are their devotion and belief, and who receive holy Communion by way of preparing for the play, one can understand how much moral power and spiritual and artistic beauty there may be in the drama.

Ruskin has remarked that the decay of a country begins in its Art, and its prosperity is measured by its possession and appreciation of fine artists. The character of its art and the direction of its taste are, of course, closely allied with its national character, in its decline or improvement. I may, perhaps, go farther, still, and suggest that the art of a nation, and especially its religious art, may throw a sidelight on the character of its religion and of its religiousness.

For instance, the numerous indications of the approach and future absorption of an important section of Protestants into the Catholic Church are much reinforced by the sight of the work done of late years in the restoring and refurnishing of old churches, and the building of new ones. When one sees the scrupulousness and consciousness of the new work and its perfect harmony with the old, the conclusion is forced on one that a similar spirit has presided over both and that those who have so perfect a sense of beauty cannot be very far off from a perfect sense of truth.

On the other hand, we find that a weakening of the Religious Sense, as during the Reformation, is accompanied by a decline in art and loss of esthetic sensibility. And one is tempted to fear that where art, and especially ecclesiastical art, is flimsy, finical, untrue, mean and cheap, there will be a corresponding weakness in the sense of Religion. Today there are two different tendencies that are daily becoming wider and more defined. On the one hand, there is a revival of severe taste and real beauty in Art: on the other, there is an Art which prostitutes the advantages of cultivation to the representation of all that is hideous in vice and that panders to the filthiest passions.

This correspondence of Art with Religion is not complete and definite. A holy man will not of necessity be a man of taste; and a correct artistic taste does not prove the truth of a man’s belief or the excellence of his morals. It can only be said that on a large scale the general tendency of an age will be broadly in the same direction; towards Truth, Goodness and Beauty jointly, or away from them. This can be recognized by comparing nations or periods, and not by a comparison of individuals.

Da Vinci

Great is the beauty of the material works of God; greater still is the beauty of the works of human intelligence directed by God; greatest of all, the spiritual beauty of a soul in the state of grace. This kind of beauty does not vary according to our tastes. This is essential beauty coming direct from God, and a participation in His. “Thou are perfect through my beauty which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord God” (Ezech. xvi, 14).

Our Lord Jesus Christ possesses this by His nature in infinite perfection. His blessed and most pure Mother possesses the highest degree of communicated beauty. The contemplation of these has raised a high ideal before the eyes of men, which has been attained by apostles, martyrs, confessors, and virgins. Their zeal, their labors, their purity, their self-renunciation, their lives and their deaths are the most beautiful things among the many beauties of this world.

Below these there are thousands of beautiful lives grouped or dotted about amidst the unutterable abomination of sinful lives. This is not the beauty of material form, or of cleverness, or of wit, or of fashion; they are not the lives of statesmen, of the successful, the wealthy, the ambitious; but they are hidden lives unknown beyond a small circle, lives spent in toil, in suffering, in ignorance, perhaps, in poverty, lowly in the eyes of the world and unenviable, but lovely in God’s sight for their faith and love, humility and obedience, patience and resignation. Of such it is written “O, how beautiful is the chaste generation with glory: for the memory thereof is immortal: because it is known both with God and men” (Wisd. iv, 1).

Introducing Fr. Manuel de Zumaya, Composer-Priest (1678-1755)

I think I once heard someone famous claim that the Catholic Church could never produce artists of the caliber of a Beethoven, or Tchaikovsky. Maybe I heard them wrong, but I’ve been working at disproving that assertion lately. It all started when I learned that Vivaldi was a Catholic priest. And then I bumped into the beautiful polyphony of Fr. Tomás Luis de Victoria.

Of course, there have been beautiful composers of chants and polyphony since the Church began. Remember St. Romanus the Melodist? Awesome story, and amazingly beautiful music. Which brings me to this morning.

There I was just minding my own business, looking for some music to share with you, and somehow I stumbled upon another composer-priest story.

Have you ever heard of the baroque composer from Mexico named Manuel de Zumaya? Me neither. And sadly, I can’t find very much on him in English, though there is a Wikipedia page about him. He’s been called “the Handel of the Americas.” The first video shared below had this in the liner notes: ” a mexican priest and composer, from Mexico City; he was Kappelmeister of Mexico City Cathedral (1715-1738).”

That is what got me started on the quest for more information. On the site Artistopia.com (you have to LOVE that as a website name!), I found this citation on him.

Biography

Manuel de Zumaya or Manuel de Sumaya (c. 1678 & ndash; 1755) was perhaps the most famous Mexico|Mexican composer of the colonial period of New Spain . His music was the culmination of the Baroque music|Baroque style in the New World ; of Spanish, French, Dutch, British, and Portuguese colonial composers, none stand out as much as Zumaya did. He was the first person in the western hemisphere to compose an Italian-texted opera , entitled Partenope (Zumaya)|Partenope (now lost).

Life

Manuel de Zumaya was born in Mexico and was a mestizo (of mixed Native American and European descent).

In 1715, he was appointed chapelmaster of Mexico City ‘s cathedral , and was one of the first Americans to become one. He served there until 1738 when he moved to Oaxaca , where he followed his close friend Bishop Tomas Montaño against the vigorous and continuous protests of the Mexico City Cathedral Chapel Council for him to stay.

Manuel de Zumaya died on December 21, 1755, in Oaxaca, where he had resided since 1738.

Style

His works are a multiplicity of his talents and styles. He was a master of the older Renaissance style and of the newer Baroque style.

In 1711, the new Viceroy, Don Fernando de Alencastre Noroña y Silva. Duke of Linares, an devotee of Italian opera, commissioned Zumaya to translate Italian libretti and write new music for them. The libretto of the first, La Parténope survives in the National Library of Mexico | Biblioteca Nacional de Mexico in Mexico City , though the music has been lost.

The Hieremiae Prophetae Lamentationes is a Gregorian chant|Gregorian —style antiquated notational piece. Zumaya authored the charmingly jolly ‘Sol-fa de Pedro’ (Peter’s Solfeggio) in 1715 during the examinations to select the Chapel Master at Mexico City’s cathedral.

Zumaya’s other famous piece, Celebren Publiquen , shows his ability to handle the polychoral sound of the high Baroque era. With his distribution of the choral resources into two choirs of unequal size, he copied the style that was favoured by the Spanish and Mexican choral schools in the early 18th century. The rich textures and instrumental writing reflect Zumaya’s “modern” style and are at the opposite end of the spectrum from his anachronistic Renaissance settings.

Zumaya’s recessional Angelicas Milicias presents his ability to superbly combine the Baroque orchestra and choir to create a sublime and stately piece worthy of the Virgin Mary herself (to which it is dedicated). The interludio, Albricias Mortales , is done in much the same style as Angelicas Milicias.

While I keep digging for more information, check out the following four pieces that I found via YouTube. I think you’ll agree that they are wonderful.

Look out below —Angelic Militias!

Translation:

“Angelic militia, armies of heaven, that you protect the divine sovereign palace of the Monarch of the Holy Empire: To arms!, That the most beautiful and pure, triumphant Queen on a par, goes up, to be gratefully crowned. And this way rubs the strings, and the resound of trumpet and timpani, applauds her glories, with sweet roars of gun salutes.”

I don’t know about that translation, but the piece is sublime.

Something like “Guilt, as if?” I don’t speak Spanish, so help me out here readers! Here are the liner notes from the person who posted this,

This aria was composed by the Kapellmeister Manuel De Sumaya, New Spain’s Händel. He was born in Mexico City in 1676 and died in Oaxaca City, 1755. (some of Sumaya’s music can be heard in Jack Black’s “Nacho Libre”, when he climbs up the cliff to get the eagle eggs) Manuel de Sumaya is the most important composer of the New Spain and he’s the composer of the second american opera “La Parténope” after Torrejón y Velasco “La púrpura de la Rosa”

The Greatest Miracle music for the 1709 dedication of Basilica of Guadalupe, Mexico. So says the person who posted this video.

Joyful Light of Day. Try to stop from turning pirouettes. I dare you.

I’ll keeping looking to see if I can find more information of him and his contemporary named Ignacio de Jerusalem.

Because Blogging For Christ Is Like Being St. Philip

Above is a snapshot of the last 500 visitors to this space. If a picture is worth 1000 words, then this one is worth 1500. As such, I’ll be brief. After baptizing the Ethopian eunuch, the Holy Spirit whisked Philip away to evangelize somewhere else. That is what it is like to be a Catholic working in the apostolate of St. Blogs.

the Spirit of the Lord took Philip away suddenly and the eunuch saw no more of him, but went on his way rejoicing.—Acts 8:39

I could kid myself that no one reads the stuff that is shared here, or on the other hand, that I “know” many of the readers who stop by. But the humbling truth is, I don’t know you. I didn’t e-mail you to please stop in. Something, or more accurately, someone, prompted you to stop in here today. You may have had no intention to do so, and yet you wound up here.

From the looks of it, you come from all over, from “every clime and place.” You are all welcome, all brothers and sisters of mine. And you are all God’s children. And you are not alone…

Thanks for stopping by. I pray your visit was a profitable one. Come back again soon.

Update: The Holy Father on Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age

Because the Sexual Abuse Scandal is Like The Ribbon Creek Incident

All of you who have never heard of the Ribbon Creek Incident, say “aye!”

Now, all of you who remember those pesky SAT analogy questions that went like this,

apple is to tree, as fish is to _________. a) Christians; b) water; c) sharks; d) pole

say “aye!”

I hope when reading that expression, you went with “b” as your answer.

Otherwise, I’m going to have to take all of you out as a group to the sand pit behind the squad bay and p.t. the lot of you until you can see yourself in the reflection of your own pool of sweat. Black Flag conditions be damned!

If you haven’t guessed it by now, this post is being brought to you by my alter-ego,  Joe Six-Pack, USMC. Remember the first time he showed up? And as the poor, hapless, civilians that you are, I (he?) probably lost many of you by using the jargon that every Marine knows like a second language. And I’m not gonna give you the scuttlebutt on those terms either. That is what Google is for! Go look up the words you didn’t understand on your own.

So, where in the world is this post going? Well, Archbishop Dolan recently said something very wise regarding the sexual abuse scandals that have occurred aboard His Majesty’s Ship. To paraphrase His Excellency, he says we can never forget.

Never Forget!

So what is the Ribbon Creek Incident and what does it have to do with the Church? The Ribbon Creek Incident took place in 1956 at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in lovely Parris Island, South Carolina. P.I., see, is across the Port Royal Sound from it’s polar opposite, Hilton Head Island. The one is where Marines are made, and the other is where tourists forget their cares for a week or so. It’s analogy refresher time.

Hilton Head Island is to Heaven as Parris Island is to ___________ a)Fort Dix, b)Fantasy Island, c) the Emerald Isle, d)Hell.

You guys are getting better at this, but you’re still too slow. Yes, this time “d” is the correct answer.

On April 8, 1956 at approximately 20:00 (that’s 8:00 PM) a Drill Instructor named Staff Sergeant Matthew McKeon took his platoon of recruits on a little punitive march into the wetlands around Ribbon Creek. Six of his recruits didn’t make it out because they drowned. And that is when the Marine Corps started aggressively fixing the problem of overzealous Drill Instructors destroying the raw material for the finest fighting force the world has ever known.

Would the Mothers of America continue to allow their boys to become Marines if sadistic D.I’s killed them in the process before they had even earned the title? That is highly unlikely. Just a few short years before this incident, the First Marine Division destroyed 8 Chinese Red Army divisions during it’s fighting withdrawal from the Chosin Reservoir to the coast at Hungnam. And don’t forget the successful, though brutal, island hopping campaign in the Pacific during the recently concluded World War. Would you believe this storied history was sullied by the disaster at Ribbon Creek? The tabloids were having a field day, as were the mainline newspapers.

In reaction to the incident, did the leadership of the Corps cover it up? Not no, but hell no! Because it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that recruitment would be harmed by more incidents like this. And thus, national security would be put at risk.

Another institutional perspective that caused the leadership to act swiftly to correct abuse of recruits in training was the ever threatening prospect of the dissolution of the Marine Corps altogether. Lot’s of bright, well meaning folks continued to point out how redundant it was to even have a Marine Corps. These whiz kids could always break out ideas, and the budget numbers to support them, for folding the Corps into the Army, Navy, and that new-fangled branch called the Air Force.

Do you think I’m kidding? Check out this quote from an Amazon review of John C. Steven’s book Court-Marshal at Parris Island:The Ribbon Creek Incident,

An extremely informative & detailed read! Stevens iterates a tragic event in Marine Corps history with a direct, thought provoking style. As the current Commanding Officer of the Recruit Training Regiment at Parris Island, I am encouraging my officers & drill instructors to read this book in order to better understand how close we, the Marine Corps, as an organization, came to being disestablished because of the actions of just one man.

Another book of interest on the same subject matter is Keith Fleming’s, “The U.S. Marine Corps in Crisis: Ribbon Creek & Recruit Training.” That is another important book in helping to understand how the recruit training process has evolved.

So being entrepreneurial, and forward looking, and bent on survival, you see, the Marine Corps changed. You can read all about it in the two books mentioned above by the Colonel, as well as briefly over at Wikipedia. But suffice it to say, for the purposes of the simple analogy I have proposed here, that the Marine Corps decided to fix the problem ASAP. The Corps moved swiftly to address this issue. Now true, the actions taken would never bring these dead recruits back to life, and never restore them to their families. However, the Corps takes care of her own, and changes were made at every level to insure that these six young men did not die in vain.

Now, swiftly is a relative term. It took years, nay, decades for Headquarters Marine Corps to effect institutional changes to successfully prevent on-going abuse of recruits. Ribbon Creek was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and the immediate actions the Marine Corps took only began the long, slow, crawl away from the abyss of institutional extinction. I was at Parris Island in 1981, and by that time many training changes had been put in place. Ribbon Creek happened 25 years before I arrived on the Island, and yet the institution continued to tune and fine tune the process of how Marines are made for another 20 years after I graduated. I would argue that the transformation in recruit training from the time of the incident in 1956, and the amount of time that elapsed until its gruesome effects on the reputation of the Marine Corps subsided, is about 40 years.

So by no stretch of the imagination am I saying that the Church is in the 9th inning of the game here. If anything, She is in the second inning, and for all we know, she may be playing a double-header. But I can tell you this assuredly. The Marine Corps never forgot Ribbon Creek, just as surely as she never forgot Belleau Wood, Tarawa, or Iwo Jima. Nowadays, training recruits isn’t done by the seat of the pants, but it is done as 1/4 art and 3/4 science. To even become a Drill Instructor nowadays is one of the hardest schools to successfully complete as an enlisted Marine. The future of the Corps depends on high quality recruits being successfully transformed into high quality Marines, by impeccably qualified Drill Instructors and Officers. Mistakes still occur, but the organization is intent on discovery of personnel problems. Transparency is the rule.

And that’s it folks. Joe Six-Pack, USMC’s analogy is complete.

The Ribbon Creek Incident is to the Marine Corps, as the Sexual Abuse Crisis is to the Roman Catholic Church.

It isn’t pretty, and it won’t be quick, but the change that has to come about to identify the causes of the sexual abuse crisis, identify the parties involved in propagating it, rooting out and turning over to authorities those who engaged in this criminal behavior, has arrived.

With leaders like Archbishop Dolan, and Pope Benedict XVI at the helm, I have confidence that the changes and procedures needed to root out abusive priests, and keep them out going forward, are being developed and will be implemented, and they will continue to evolve. Like the Marine Corps and Ribbon Creek, the Church must never forget is right! And might I remind you that this means us lay Catholics especially. We must be ever vigilant going forward, much like the passengers on Flight 93 were back in 2001. It took everyone in the Marine Corps, from the Commandant to the lowliest Privates, and every rank in between, to change the culture of the Corps after Ribbon Creek. Similarly, this participation at every level will be required by Mother Church if indeed She is to avoid the lee-shore of scandal that she found herself heading towards. “All Hands, Prepare to Wear Ship!” is the command, and incidentally, you are one of the hands, savvy?

And if the leadership needs an example for best practices in this department, please feel free to forward this post to Headquarters, er, I mean the Vatican. You might even recommend Dr. Zimbardo’s book too.

Semper Fidelis

UPDATE: I just saw, An Archbishop Burns While Rome Fiddles. Regarding that article, some clarity (and footnotes)from Elizabeth Scalia.

For Guerilla Catechesis Like This By Stephen Colbert

Ok, so I don’t get to watch television much. I’m not saying I never watch television, but I rarely get to sit down and take in a show, you know, in its entirety. I’d rather be writing, or reading, or watching one of my children’s ball games.

Today, though, I was reading Mark Shea’s blog and saw this video clip of Stephen Colbert teaching a class on Free Will, Satan, Sin, and Hell, courtesy of an interview he was doing on his comedy show (the Colbert Report) with Professor Philip Zimbardo of Stanford University.

Dr. Zimbardo wrote a book called The Lucifer Effect about what happens when folks obey unjust authority mindlessly. His implication regarding what took place in the Garden of Eden is interesting. But even a layman who happens to be a professional comedian can teach the Doc a thing or two. Take a look.

The Colbert ReportMon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Philip Zimbardo
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Now, I’ve not read the good professor’s book, but I can bet you that he hasn’t read the Book of Wisdom. Maybe you haven’t either, because Martin Luther tossed it from the Canon after he took his scissors to the Sacred Scriptures. Right there, in chapter 2, God (via the Holy Spirit-inspired writer) says,

For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are in his possession experience it. (2:24-25)

Bravo Zulu! Stephen was running short of time, so he didn’t have a chance to mention that fact. Dr. Z. got a little more than he bargained for though, wouldn’t you say? And another thing, I’m not all jazzed up about Colbert’s use of the F-word, so I’ll send him this link too.

Well Done!

Dear YIMCatholic Readers…

There is something about the month of June that brings about change. Palpable change, just like when the Spring season gives way physically to that of the Summer.

This time last year, I was a junior partner of this blog, having been aboard for a mere six months. Allison Salerno, was even more junior, having officially been brought aboard by Webster Bull at the end of March 2010. We were junior members of a new endeavor called Why I Am Catholic.

By last June, Webster had effectively handed the conn over to me and Allison. Prior to that time, I hadn’t posted more than a couple of times a week. I didn’t really know much about blogging or writing. I still don’t. I remember though that something prompted me to continue plugging along, even as Webster had to turn his attention to completing a big writing project. Muddle through and continue sharing what it is that called you to be a Catholic, is the vibe that I got. So, along with Allison, I continued to do just that.

And a funny thing happened in that readers still came to the blog. Webster made appearances occasionally, and stepped up big time when I went on vacation at the end of July. And Allison was an able partner, bringing her perspectives on the life of faith to our readers as well. She was transitioning to a new career as a teacher last summer, and was able to post her thoughts consistently.

When classes started though, Allison understandably had to focus on her new vocation. Webster was immersed in his project still and after Labor Day, this space effectively had only one voice sharing posts with the world. Yep, that of the unintentional blogger. If you want to see what you have to look forward to now that the unintentional blogger is the only one here, check the September 2010 link in our post archive.

The last post for September was Webster saying he was back, but alas a few weeks later he was gone permanently. Allison was up to her neck in lesson plans, and the mine field of a new career (and she still is…pray for her!) and so the little newbie who could, just kept plugging. And miraculously, good folks like you kept stopping by and reading the posts. By October, Allison was able to post occasionally and Webster Bull’s brainchild continued to flourish.

And it still flourishes to this day, because as it turns out, this blog wasn’t the brainchild of Webster Bull. Webster himself was prompted to start YIMCatholic through the whisperings of the Holy Spirit; at the insistence of the Advocate of the True Vine, even if he wasn’t sure of this at the time. Is it any surprise, then, that the unholy trinity of Webster, Frank, and Allison are all still blogging, (Webster at Witness and Allison at Rambling Follower), all still working for the same Boss? Not to me it isn’t.

So once again, June came around the calendar, and brought change along with her, just as surely as she did last year. Change, if I’ve learned anything in my short life, is a constant. Embrace it, or run from it, it will effect you one way or another. I’m the embracing type. I saw this thought once and it always stuck with me,

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”– William Arthur Ward

Stand by to come about!

I’m still learning how to be a writer, and like most of my prior education, I am finding that the best way to learn to write is by experience. Maybe I’m supposed to be a writer during this next stage in my earthly sojourn. If so, it will be as a self taught Catholic writer, because frankly I don’t have the time or the money to be taught by professionals. The same is true for learning about the faith. I won’t be cutting tuition checks to any schools of higher learning chasing degrees in theology anytime soon. Because the next folks named Weathers that I will spend money for tuition on are currently 15, 12, and 10 years old, and frankly, they have first dibs on any college money in my bank account.

But continue blogging for the Lord, I shall. I can’t promise that there will be something up for followers to read every single day of the week. My life outside of blogging is pretty full, what with my responsibilities to my wife (22 years come October!) the aforesaid three (almost) teenagers, all of their activities, and my day job.

So now, everyone is current on the situation of the blog. YIMCatholic will continue, as will my friendships with Webster and Allison. You’ll have a self-trained, retired Marine, ex-stock broker, ex-logistics manager, who currently works as a bit player in a sleepy archive at the helm as your intrepid blogger. An unpublished writer who (when I can’t think of anything to write myself) shares stuff that he finds along the way with you. Sometimes deep stuff, sometimes off-the-wall stuff, but all of which speaks to the reasons Why I Am Catholic.

And you get all of this for free! That’s not a bad trade.

For the Faith and Courage of St. Justin Martyr

It’s the first day of a new month on the calendar. Summer breezes are blowing, and the grass is green. In my neck of the woods, school is out and the pools are open. Some folks have already made trips to the beach to enjoy the sun and the sand. You know, to get away from it all.

Juxtaposed against the fantasy of a relaxing vacation to the sound track of the rolling surf, I present you with the trial of the Samaritan named Justin Martyr. What you are about to read took place in the year 165 AD. Let me do a little math in my head, hmm. Yes, about 132 years after Christ died.

Say you were Justin. If you were in his shoes today, in the Year of Our Lord 2011, you would be about to be executed for believing in something that you knew occurred in the year 1879. Not so long ago as to have lost much significance, especially given that the Fall of the Temple in Jerusalem happened in the year 70, or in the year 1916 from our modern day Justin’s perspective.

Let’s have a look through the glass,

from The Martyrdom of Justin and Others

Though nothing is known as to the date or authorship of the following narrative, it is generally reckoned among the most trustworthy of the Martyria. An absurd addition was in some copies made to it, to the effect that Justin died by means of hemlock. Some have thought it necessary, on account of this story, to conceive of two Justins, one of whom, the celebrated defender of the Christian faith whose writings are given in this volume, died through poison, while the other suffered in the way here described, along with several of his friends. But the description of Justin given in the following account, is evidently such as compels us to refer it to the famous apologist and martyr of the second century.

What follows is a snippet, or two. As you read them, imagine how the ordinary rank and file citizenry, say like the denizens of the various portals at Patheos.com (for example) would tsk, tsk, in astonishment at the behavior of this fellow named Justin. Perhaps they would lament all the while the demise of this noble, upright, possessor of radically unbalanced views.

After they had been brought before his tribunal, the prefect Rusticus said to Justin: “First of all, you must obey the gods and submit to the orders of the emperors.”

Justin said: “There is no blame or condemnation in obeying the commands of our Savior Jesus Christ.”

The prefect Rusticus said: “What are the doctrines that you practice?”

“I have tried to become acquainted,” said Justin, “with all doctrines. But I have committed myself to the true doctrines of the Christians, even though they may not please those who hold false beliefs.”

“You miserable fellow,” said the prefect Rusticus, “are these then the doctrines that you prefer?”

“Yes,” said Justin, “for I adhere to them on the basis of a correct belief.”

The prefect Rusticus said “What belief do you mean?”

The Prefect, see, was a very busy man. He probably didn’t realize that Justin had done a lot of reading, and thinking, and had figured out that Christianity is true. He wrote a book about it too. But time being of the essence, he gives Rusticus the Cliff Notes version here,

Justin said: “The belief that we piously hold regarding the God of the Christians, whom alone we believe to have been the maker and creator of the entire world from the beginning, both visible and invisible; also regarding the Lord Jesus Christ, the child of God, who was also foretold by the prophets as the one who was to come down to mankind as a herald of salvation and a teacher of good doctrines.

Now I, being but a man, realize that what I say is insignificant when measured against his infinite godhead; but I acknowledge the power of prophecy, for proclamation has been made about him who I have just now said to be the Son of God. For you know that in earlier times the prophets foretold his coming among men.”

“The Maine,”Havana 1898

Oh, my dear fellow, Rusticus may have thought, if you would only be reasonable, and stop being so damn sure of yourself! But Rusticus is the one being closed minded here. Justin was willing to live and let live in the name of religious freedom.

But force him to belief in something else? Sorry.  Being only 132 years removed from the death of Christ is like being as sure today that your great-grandfather was killed when the Maine was blown up in Havana. “Remember the Maine!” Justin’s behavior, then, in a word? Intransigent. Which is poles apart from “balanced.”

… the prefect Rusticus said: “If you do not obey, you will be punished without mercy.”

Justin said: “We are confident that if we suffer the penalty for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, for this is the confidence and salvation we shall have at the terrible tribunal of our Savior and Master sitting in judgment over the whole world.”

And guess what his companions said?

Similarly the other martyrs said, “Do what you will. We are Christians and we do not offer sacrifice to idols.”

I love esprit de corps and camaraderie.

The prefect Rusticus passed judgment, saying: “Those who have refused to sacrifice to the gods and to yield to the emperor’s edict are to be led away to be scourged and beheaded in accordance with the laws.”

And thus the happy conclusion.

The holy martyrs having glorified God, and having gone forth to the accustomed place, were beheaded, and perfected their testimony in the confession of the Savior. And some of the faithful having secretly removed their bodies, laid them in a suitable place, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ having wrought along with them, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Stick that in your “balanced” pipes and smoke it. St. Justin, and Companions, pray for us.

The 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500: Feast Day for Gearheads-UPDATED

It’s no secret that I’m a gearhead, unless you just stumbled in here today for the first time. If it is fast, I like it! I don’t care whether we are talkin’ cars, boats, planes, go-karts, even the pine-wood derby. You name it.

Speed, and the drivers with the skills to thread the needle and run across the razors edge, and win, is a testament to the wonderful human creature that God created.

Because as creatures go, humans are pretty slow. Think you can out run a lion, tiger, or bear? How about the cheetah? You’d be lucky if you can keep up with your pet daschund, at least in short bursts of speed. No. Mankind has had to use our God given intelligence to figure out ways to go faster than all of the creatures mentioned. But to bring speed to the common man, it took the invention of the automobile. And eventually, folks started competing to see who could be fastest on any given day. Thus motor racing was born.

In my mind, the big show in motor racing is the Indianapolis 500. Don’t get me wrong, I love the 24 Hours of LeMans too. Indy cars cutting it up on the streets of Long Beach, or Toronto, is a close second. Trans-Am cars (remember those?) were awesome to watch as well. Formula One? You don’t even want to know.

But Indy is where the best eventually land. It is among the only oval track races I ever bother watching. Here is an example of why,

Silly announcers. Ha! Ol’ Sammy schooled them. That dude Hornish can drive. The Andretti Curse at Indy lives! Mario Andretti won in 1969, but no Andretti has ever won the Indy 500 since. The closest finish ever was in 1992 when Al Unser Jr. defeated Scott Goodyear by .043 seconds. The Top-10 finishes of all time are listed here.

In about an hour, the show will get off the ground. Jim Nabors, who for the past 30 years or so has sang “Back Home Again in Indiana,” won’t be able to attend this year due to being ill. Please say a prayer for him. And say a prayer for safe racing for the rest of the field too.

Oh, check out the warm-up act for today’s race. PUNCH IT!

I don’t think Evil Knievel ever made a jump that successfully. Awesome! The back story of this feat is here.

Speaking of the field, it is one of the most closely matched fields in the history of the race. This is the closest matched field by time in Indianapolis 500 history – 2.5399 seconds separate fastest qualifier Alex Tagliani and slowest qualifier Ana Beatriz. The previous record was 3.0622 seconds set in 2010. Sweet!

Other cool factoids for this years race can be found here.

Ladies (four of them this year) and Gentleman, Start Your Engines!

UPDATES: Congratulations to 2011 INDY 500 Winner Dan Weldon. Another amazing finish!

UPDATE II: The “didn’t see that one coming,” finish.


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