A composer retires from the liturgy wars
In Standpoint magazine, the composer James MacMillan recalled that liturgical disputes had afflicted the planning for the papal visit. “There were countless battles behind the scenes,” MacMillan wrote, about the public liturgies.
“For example, the bishops asked me to write a new congregational Mass for the open-air liturgies, and a powerful faction fought very hard for this not to happen. It was said that a classical ‘art’ composer could not have the grass-roots parish experience and ‘pastoral insight’ necessary for – etc, etc.”
By that “etc” MacMillan was referring to certain trends in Church music: “those aisle-dancing and numbskull jogging for Jesus choruses, maudlin sentimental dirges, faux American folk music and cod-Celticness. The American musicologist Thomas Day described this kind of liturgy as ‘a diet of romantic marshmallows indigestibly combined with stuff that grabs you by the scruff of the neck and shakes you into submission with its social message’.”
Nowadays, MacMillan said, he doesn’t get involved in “the liturgy wars”. While still writing for choirs, he tends to “just sit in the pews, suffering with the rest of the Catholic faithful”.
A safe pair of hands for the future?
At Settimo Cielo, Sandro Magister said three candidates are being whispered about as possible future popes: Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila (though he is probably too “liberal”), Cardinal Robert Sarah (though he is probably too “conservative”) and – most plausibly – the current Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
The cardinal is viewed as a safe pair of hands, as seen in his diplomatic efforts, who would continue the spirit of Francis.
Moreover, wrote Magister, Parolin has a reputation as a pastor “with a solid theological formation, that is rarely found in a prestigious diplomat. His recent trip to Moscow was a crystal clear example of this, where discussions at the highest political level alternated with religious meetings with the heads of the Russian Orthodox Church.”
But for the moment, of course, this is all hypothetical.
A Nobel winner who Catholics might enjoy
After Kazuo Ishiguro was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, Joan Desmond at ncregister.com said Catholics should applaud the decision. Unlike many contemporary novelists, Desmond wrote, Ishiguro’s “deeply moral stories go to the heart of the human condition with a spare narrative style that hints at deeper forces beneath the surface”. His “moral vision”, if not explicitly religious, “is compatible with the Church’s own insistence that the truth is knowable, and that we ignore it at great cost to our own human flourishing.”
Among other novels, Desmond commended The Buried Giant, an “examination of conscience” which reflects on “memory and forgiveness in marriage”.
✣ The star of a BBC drama about the Gunpowder plot has an unusual back story – he is a distant relative of one of the plotters.
Kit Harington, who gained fame as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones, is a co-executive producer of the drama, called Gunpowder, but also plays the role of Robert Catesby, his ancestor.
He told The Daily Telegraph that on bonfire nights as a schoolboy he would explain to friends that the real brains behind the plot was Catesby, not Guy Fawkes. “My middle name is Catesby and it’s something I was proud of,” he said. “It’s a part of my family history.”
The series, according to the Telegraph, tells the story of the Gunpowder plot “from the point of view of disaffected Catholics”.
It begins with Mass at a stately home and shows the persecution of Catholics under James I. Catesby’s cousin is played by Liv Tyler, best known for her role as Arwen, an elf in The Lord of the Rings.
✣ Jacob Rees-Mogg has offered a masterclass in how to disarm the most aggressive of hecklers. Outside the Conservative party conference last week a passer-by told him to “f— off and die.”
“With barely a blink,” according to The Times diary, “the Mogg replied: ‘And if I do, will you please pray for my immortal soul?’”
✣The week in quotations
Many of us feel as if a dagger has been thrust into our guts Cardinal Cañizares of Valencia on the Catalan referendum Newsletter
It corrects an anomalous failure that should never have occurred Cardinal DiNardo and Archbishop Lori on the revising of the contraceptive mandate Press statement
It is not a surprise Bishop Bastes of Sorsogon on President Duterte’s falling approval ratings Manila bulletin
A real Christian … is not whiny and angry Pope Francis General audience
✣Statistic of the week
4,000 The number of groups who joined Poland’s near million-strong mass rosary prayer Source: AP