Apparently “Novena Solena”…

Apparently “Novena Solena”… October 16, 2012

…doesn’t exactly translate from Foreignese into English as “Solemn Novena”. Seriously, this must be seen to be believed:

Either that, or these people have an altogether different understanding of what “solemn” means.

I think the roller skating angels are my favorite part, though the music is also great.

Where would the world be without sheer tasteless Catholic kitsch? I find it curiously reassuring somehow. It consoles me to know that the Church is still the home of ordinary schlubs like me with no aesthetic sense who chew with our mouths open, laugh at stupid jokes, enjoy vulgar spectacles and, for all that, try to love God in our clumsy dumb way. I much prefer it to the fragile orchids of liturgical perfectitude. Not that I have a problem with liturgy well done. It’s just that I think crass people are more important than ideal aesthetics.

The only thing that would turn me off to this bizarre video would be finding out that this strange circus was not an expression of ordinary schlubitude planned and executed by schlubs from their tasteless and simple hearts, but of some idiot elitist liturgist who devised it with the supposition that this is what “the people” want. Then I’m offended. But if this was planned and executed by ordinary schlubs doing the best they can like some pack of crack-brained Little Drummer Boys, I will respect it in the spirit of tasteless but sincere devotion in which it was given. Widow’s mites and all that. Not everybody is Mozart. Lots of us are just goofballs who offer what substandard stuff we can. Just think how much dreadful singing Jesus smiles on at each Sunday Mass.

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  • I think this is just what you get when Portuguese intermingles with Indian and Black. That is to say, I think this is just Brasilians being Brasil. i am open to correction though.

    But this is the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, who has meant a lot to me personally since I first heard Romaria several years ago. On my blog, , I have the translation, and a video of the song. It is the perfect song for my life. I think it is for many people. So that’s why I am plugging my own blog. 😉

    • And thank you. You said something here I was struggling to find words for on Daniel’s blog.

  • My sweet tone deaf daughter is one Jesus must smile upon, for what God did not give her in talent, she makes up for in enthusiasm.

  • Faith

    Was that the actual music they played? Or was it dubbed over by someone who disapproved of the whole display and wanted to make it more circus like? Even so, I can sort of see the reasoning. The Bible should be celebrated and rejoiced over as much as anything or even more so! If your culture is into big flashy parades (and you’ve got easy access to one of those big parade floats!) why not? David danced before the Ark. It isn’t my cup of tea but it did seem like it was done with respect. But what do I know? I go to the folk mass at my church and clap along. I’m one of those crass people myself.

  • Thomas

    crass – lacking sensitivity, refinement, or intelligence

    Are you praising these qualities or appreciating that the Church accepts them?

    Also, given the cultural context of that video I’m not sure the word applies.

    • Thomas

      From what I can gloss of the Portuguese comments on the YouTube page,
      these things are just as heated a point of debate in Brazil as they are here.

      So, what do I know?

      It clearly isn’t solemn to me.

      N.b. Still curious about your meaning here, ‘It’s just that I think crass people are more important than ideal aesthetics.’

      • Thomas

        Yeah, I’ve sussed it.

        appreciating that the Church accepts them

        Read it a bit under-awake.


      • Mark Shea

        People matter more than things.

    • Mark Shea

      A little of both.

      • Thomas

        Yes, I think I see your meaning.
        Intelligence, sensitivity, and refinement do not in themselves automatically warrant praise for a person or institution nor is the lack of these automatically deserving of condemnation; much of the possession of these qualities is attributable to circumstances beyond any single persons control but not all and much depends on the sense in which these terms are used (psychologically, Thomistically, Analytically, biologically).
        I think that these qualities in themselves are undeniable goods in the teaching of the Church but are often incorrectly touted by Late High Modernists as the paragons of human perfection.

  • victor


    • Thomas


      +1 Internetz

      Absurd-length, looping YouTube videos ftw.

      • victor

        Sorry. It’s just that whenever I hear “March of the Gladitors”, no matter the context, even if it’s an insanely bad General MIDI synth version played in a Basilica, it triggers an involuntary, visceral, and almost primeval Circus Afro! episode, without any premonitory urge.

        • Thomas

          I’m not even sure it was played in the Basilica, sounded dubbed over to me!

          Is that better or worse?


  • Thomas

    This things is hypnotic in it’s details.
    The giant carousel is being pushed by hand…
    I’m entranced. A 10hrs. version could break your brain.
    It’s like a bit of Fellini in situ.


    • Speaking of Fellini, before I was Catholic I saw a video on youtube of a Holy Week procession through Rome and, as a film nerd, I had this beautiful moment of awareness when I realized Fellini was getting his ideas from the life of the city itself. As a shy, geeky boy in the Midwest I had assumed it was all coming direct from his imagination. I’ve wanted to visit Rome ever since.

      • I can’t recall its title, but the only Fellini film I have seen is the one set in Lugo, or at least in Romagna. I watched it with a boy from Lugo, who is my brother from another mother though we are currently estranged. He translated on the fly. It is the most CATHOLIC movie I have EVER seen.

  • Brian

    I just wonder how many of the altar boys are thinking “I am being discriminated against, because I can never be an angel on rollerskates”

  • This is an argument for joining the SSPX or the Orthodox.

    • ivan_the_mad

      In a “not at all” sort of way, sure.

  • Matthew

    Why is it that in the area of the Good (i.e. Morality) we all understand that sincerity is not enough but in the area of the Beautiful (i.e. Art and Aesthetics) sincerity seems to trump all?? I understand ‘doing the best with what you’ve got’ but this is not that. The Beautiful is as objective as the Good and the True. Even absent the circus music this is NOT Beautiful.

    • It’s definitely got problems. But first skate a mile in their roller skates before going overboard to criticize something that comes from such a completely different culture.

    • I assume this isn’t a rejection of de fide teaching, and if so please correct me, but I’ve never bought into the objectivity of the beautiful. Beauty is as much a matter of context as content. I’d find this beautiful and amusing in its proper setting, though I find it tacky and disrespectful here. And there are incredibly “ugly” works of art that are beautiful in their own way, like the works of Anselm Kiefer. (They don’t photograph well, so I suggest you see his works in person if at all possible.) In fact, on my own blog (which isn’t focused on Catholicism and is just a personal blog, but does mention my Catholicism when it’s relevant) I recently posted about a singer by the name of Lykke Li that I find incredibly attractive because she’s ugly in a singular way: I’ve never seen anyone that looks like her, and that uniqueness, despite running contrary to the usual rules of beauty, is itself curiously beautiful.

      So no, I can’t agree with your post, because I can’t agree with its axiom, BUT I do think we should always approach liturgy with reverence and humility. I do not believe this would be approved if everyone prayerfully considered the matter, not because of its aesthetics, but because of its bombastic character. But I might be wrong: I haven’t prayerfully considered the matter, either; I’m basing it off other incidents I have prayed about.

      And, lastly, if I die and make it to Heaven – God willing – I wouldn’t be the least bit upset to be greeted by angels on roller skates and a giant Carnival float. And, even if that didn’t greet me, I’d hope I could pull some strings and make sure every Trad were greeted by that image so I could savor the looks on their faces for all eternity. haha

    • How on earth can beautiful be objective? Unless you define beautiful as that which is Good or True, which skirts the issue.

      Surely someone, somewhere, thinks something is beautiful that you do not (ha! like the roller skating angels in question!). Do you genuinely feel that the disconnect must be because he is wrong and you are right?

  • Matthew,

    Real beauty awakens the mInd and soul, stImulates It, elevates It. A thIng’s aesthetIc qualIty Is the objectIve measure of It’s beauty.

    You have no Idea what wIll do thIs for human beIngs from backgrounds alIen to you. You lack the experIence to begIn to assess the objectIve beauty of thIs thIng. It Isn’t yours.

    • Thomas

      I see what you dId there.

      • No, my phone doesn’t like Mark’s comment software, but only half the time. I wish I could figure out how to stop it, but once it starts capitalising all the i’s I have no way to stop it.

        I’ve even tried rebooting the phone. It’s an entry level samsung droid. If anyone knows how to fix that, I’d appreciate tips.

        • I’m comforted by this because I had no idea what you were getting at semantically with all the capitalized I’s.

          • I understand Thomas to understand that accident as a semantic trick meant to underline the self-referential nature of the other’s argument.

            I only mean to defend myself from that. It was not my intent. It is purely accidental, as evidenced by a number of other posts in a number of other threads, already commented on by other readers.

            • But, I do wish I had done it on purpose. It would be an awesomely sneaky way to make my point. I I I I I I I you you you you you.

              • Thomas

                Fortuitous accident.

                • Thomas

                  Department of Redundancy Department at work.

                  Fortuitous, no accident need.


  • B.E. Ward

    Has anyone checked to make sure Fr. Z is ok after seeing this??

    • ivan_the_mad

      To that I say “haha!” and hopefully that is enough for the minimum comment requirement.

  • Ted Seeber

    I remember, soon after Redemptionis Sacramentum came out, I actually bothered to complain to a liturgical dancer at my trendy parish that her costume was far too sexy for Church.

    We haven’t had a liturgical dance since.

    If you couch your complaint about liturgical abuse in a way that offends even the liberals, it has a tendency to end.

  • Blog Goliard

    When did so many of Mark’s commenters become hard-core relativists?

    I love these people. But I don’t accept that what they did was in any way appropriate for a liturgical celebration.and I’m quite willing to defend objective standards of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, because if we reject them we must instead hold that there is no difference between this, and a well-executed Pontifical High Mass, and a Lady Gaga show.

    • Thomas

      Have you now or ever lived in Brazil?

      There is a difference in being willing to defend Truth and being provincial.

      This is not a comment on this video but on the idea that anyone here is a ‘hard-core relativist’ and as long as we are on the topic of relation:

      “The undivided sway of thinking in terms of substance is ended; relation is discovered as an equally primordial mode of reality…’ – Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity 1970


      • Thomas

        Do you now or have you ever*…


    • Faith

      You can’t compare this video to a Lady Gaga show. This was innocent. Everything was focused on the Bible that the young woman at the top of the float was holding and showing everyone. The Bible was handed down reverently and taken to its proper place on the altar. No one was immodest. You can process around the church chanting, swinging a censor and decked out in beautifully bejeweled robes, but maybe another culture might process by having young girls dressed as angels glide down the aisle while a a big fancy float brings in the all important and beloved Word of God. The men on the float where like angels too, gesturing to everyone in the congregation to look up at the Word of God. It was a different but joyful and respectful celebration. David danced before the Ark and his prudish prig of a wife was embarrassed and told him to stop. I don’t think it is being relativistic to think that different cultures might have different ways to express joy and reverence. Some might be more playful than others. Viva la difference!

    • I’d genuinely like to hear a defense of the objectively beautiful. There are clear standards to which we can appeal for objective truth and goodness, but not for beauty.

      • Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder, but, beauty is objective, at the same time.

        It helps if you consider the opposite of the Beautiful, which is not Ugly, but Numbing. The opposite of aesthetic is aneasthetic.

        That which is beautiful enlivens the senses, quickens the mind, brightens the soul. This is the standard by which beauty should be objectively judged, the effect it has on it INTENDED audience. Does it awaken them, make them more alive and more truly human? To the degree that it succeeds, it is beautiful.

        Or does it deaden the soul, making it numb to reality? Does it anesthetise the human spirit? To the degree it does this it is the opposite of beautiful.

        The objectivity of beauty is not the proper proportions, or the right color palette. This confusion is a result of modernity’s reduction of reality to abstractions, ideas and formulas. The objectivity of beauty is in it’s effect.

        What is subjectively beautiful to me may not be subjectively beautiful to you. But the things which make me most alive and human, and the things which make you most alive and human, can be said to be equally beautiful.

        On the other hand, contra everything I wrote, it is by reason we can know God is Goodness. it is by Revelation that we can know He is Truth. It is only by living in the Spirit that we can know He is Beauty. Father, Son and Spirit. These things come in threes for a reason.

        • This is a very good answer, and a definition I can get behind fully. Thank you for writing it.

          When I hear people talking about the objective reality of beauty I’m always thinking about ratios and colors, and I think about world art like that found in, say, Africa, that has an entirely different concept of what is aesthetically acceptable but is still to me (and many others) quite beautiful on its own terms. In my experience those arguing for the objectivity of beauty have typically been arguing for the European artistic canon, and the whole thing has the stink of cultural superiority about it. Your definition sidesteps that entirely.

          I also enjoy your definition because it denies beauty to those things that are artfully constructed for the purpose of attacking the human soul, like propaganda, manipulative advertising, or banal pop music. (Actually, mentioning banal pop music is probably redundant since it falls under the former two.)

          • Oddly enough, my own culture has its standards of beauty, and consider them the highest form, since we are “Real People”.

            The answer I gave you is more in line with the European understanding, prior to 1500. That is to say, the self-consciously Christian answer, coming as it did from a people still grappling, on their edges with incorporating Christ into their various pagan cultures.

            • And I meant to add, my blue eyes and brownish parti colored hair do not measure up to that standard. Your people consider me very handsome. I meet that standard very well.

              I see ugly in the mirror. I am cool with that. God loves ugly old me, and so there is hope for humanity!!!

    • Blog, let us get this drink 2 weeks and 3 days from now. And you try to defend the objectivity of Beauty. I will rip your defense apart, and then offer my own defense of the objectivity of beauty, already printed farther down below. I think it will be educational for both of us. After all, I might fail. But I am very confident you will. I am willing to risk making a fool of myself. I have no doubt you are too, being a far better man than I.

      (Before anyone interprets anything in this comment as sarcasm, I assure you it is not. It is sincere.)

  • At least they were dressed modestly… And no giant puppets of doom.

  • I am spitballing here, but this is Aparecida.

    The young lady atop the Carnival float represented Nossa Senora gia Aparecida. The three fellows circling below her are the fishermen who hauled her statue up miraculously from the waters as they tried in vain to catch enough fish for a coming solemnity. Angels on rollerskates is a pretty awesome way to depict their noncorporeal nature. Angels just don’t walk, you know?

    And as for solemn, as I understand it, the problem is English, not the Romance languages. In this language, it’s common denotation is taken as “grave and serious”. While solemnus, the Latin word, and all it’s Romantic children, does not carry this. In those languages, solemn merely means “with full ceremony”. Latin is normative.

    If indeed the music was dubbed (I hadn’t even suspected that for a second until someone suggested it), then this IS solemn for Brasilians. Maybe not for creole Portugese, but for the common people of Brasil, this is one way they express high honor and full ceremony: with a giant carnival float of Our Lady and her 3 servants, in a cloud of angels.

    Once you mute it, it is quite beautiful to me. It’s a spectacle, sure, but it’s a spectacle ordered toward honoring Our Lady and, by extension, her Son.

    It’s not NEARLY as bad as your local parish pastor asking you to give this or that performer applause for their contribution, on an objective level. Since we’re gonna go there.

    • Thomas


      This was my basic understanding.

      However, although I only have an understanding of Portuguese through Spanish and a past acquaintance, it seems to me that the YouTube comments in Portuguese are not uniformly in favor of this presentation.

      Anyone care to correct my assumptive gloss? Probably too late.

  • Joe

    What sort of hell was that supposed to represent?

    • You are referring to a re-presentation of the miraculous appearance of a statue of Our Lady to the people of Brasil.

      Has a statue unmade by human hands ever appeared to your people, Joe?

  • If “March of the Gladiators” was dubbed over this video, then this video is propaganda. Propaganda against humanity and humanness. The point of this propaganda is to lessen Brasilian expression and elevate Modernity.

    If it is dubbed, whoever dubbed it is working for the enemy.

  • herewegokids

    I lived in Brasil for several years and my first thought was, “Maybe they’re feeling left out of Carnaval!” but I upon further reflection I totally agree with Hezekiah. Angels on rollerskates is AWESOME and solemn can and should mean ‘high ceremony’ not necessarily glum and serious.