Wednesday, December 31, 2003

My meeting with my pastor went much better than I'd hoped for. He explained that his concerns were mostly that the congregation not be distracted by people getting up and down during the Eucharistic prayer, and also that people not be made to feel bad or wrong if they are not able to kneel (which a number of folks in the other choirs are not). I pointed out that having to stand for the whole prayer was actually more tiring than either kneeling or sitting, at which he expressed surprise and said he had not intended to tell people they couldn't sit. I suggested some possible options such as singing the memorial acclamation from a sitting/kneeling position etc. He said he would give it some thought and let me know. He also clarified he didn't have any problem with a cantor kneeling, which solves my immediate problem since I'm supposed to cantor tomorrow.

Thanks to all who prayed about this. I'll keep you informed.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Peg Noonan asks, "Why are rich people afraid of the Virgin Mary?". Perhaps it's that whole crushing-the-snake's-head thing -- rather than feeling protected by Our Lady they fear her? Makes you think, doesn't it?

Thanks to Mark Shea for the link.
I will be meeting with my pastor tomorrow afternoon to discuss the issue about the choir standing during the Eucharistic prayer. I'm not optimistic about it since I very much doubt my pastor will change his mind, and I don't know what, if any, changes might be made that will ease my mind on this problem. Please pray that I will not be overly defensive or obnoxious.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

This is encouraging -- the new bishop of Phoenix, in one of his first acts, led a prayer vigil at an abortion mill. Would that more bishops would do so!

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Music for Mass
SSPP Latin Schola (10 p.m.)
Solemnity of the Nativity, Year C

Carol Service
Veni, Veni Emmanuel
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Dixit Maria (Hassler)
Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming
Angelus ad Pastores Ait (Hassler)
Silent Night/Night of Silence
Harke the Herald Angels Sing
Joy To The World
O Holy Night

Gathering Song: Adeste Fideles
Penitential Rite: Kyrie (Chant Mass)
Gloria: (Chant Mass)
Responsorial Psalm: Today Is Born Our Savior
Gospel Acclamation: Today Is Born Our Savior
Preparation of the Gifts: Resonet In Laudibus
Holy,Holy: Sanctus (Chant Mass)
Memorial Acclamation: (Chant Mass)
Great Amen: (Chant Mass)
Our Father: (Traditional Chant)
Lamb of God: Agnus Dei (Chant Mass)
Communion: Silent Night, Holy Night
Meditation: Noë, Noë, Noë (Mouton)
Recessional: Angels We Have Heard on High
Music for Mass
SSPP Volunteer Choir (7 p.m.)
Solemnity of the Nativity, Year C

Carol Service
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
O Holy Mary
The Inn at Bethlehem
O Little Town of Bethlehem (ST. LOUIS)
Silent Night
Resonet in Laudibus
The First Noël
Angels We Have Heard on High
While By My Sheep
Joy To The World

Gathering Song: O Come All Ye Faithful (ADESTE FIDELES)
Penitential Rite: (recited)
Gloria: Christmas Gloria
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 96: Today Is Born Our Savior
Gospel Acclamation: Today Is Born Our Savior
Preparation of the Gifts: O Holy Night
Hark the Herald Angels Sing (MENDELSSOHN)
Holy,Holy: Sanctus Mass of Creation (Haugen)
Memorial Acclamation: Mass of Creation (Haugen)
Great Amen: Mass of Creation (Haugen)
Our Father: Yantis
Lamb of God: Mass of Creation (Haugen)
Communion: Piano solo
Meditation: What Child Is This
Recessional: Joy To The World

Merry Christmas!

I'll post the Mass music later. I wish all my readers a blessed and holy Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Since people are asking, here's the response I got to my note:

Dear Gordon and [choir director]:
The decision to have choirs stand during the Eucharistic Prayer was not made by our Choir Directors. It was made by our pastor and I agree with it. The rubric allows for exceptions for good reasons. It was our judgment that kneeling in the choir area is impractical, first because there are no kneelers and secondly it would be more distracting to the congregation to have the choir trying to pop up quickly for the singing of the anamnesis response. I don't think it confuses the congregation, especially here, where the congregation has been traditionally kneeling at the times called for in the new GIRM and the choir has been traditionally standing. I would suggest that if the Schola wants to adopt the practice of kneeling, that it be discussed with [pastor] before implementing such practice. I think he would not be inclined (nor would I) to adopt different postures for different choirs, particularly when you consider the elevated steps used by some of our choirs. Notwithstanding the devout and good intent of your thoughts and comments, Gordon, in the end carrying them out would be both impractical and actually more distracting to the congregation. I believe I was suggested that choir members give a profound bow at or immediately after the elevation of the Body and Blood of Jesus. I know I discussed that with [other choir director] and I'm not sure I mentioned it to you, [choir director]. I would be happy to discuss this further if either of you would like. For example, if a member of the Schola feels strongly about this, he or she could quietly move to the pews on that side and absent themselves from the choir after the Sanctus and return for the Our Father. On the other hand this should not become a mass exodus or significant partial exodus of the choir. That would be distracting, disrupt the flow of the liturgy and weaken the choirs singing during the liturgy of the Eucharist.
May God bless both of you for all that you do for our church and the people of God.
Fr. [associate]

I should mention that our Schola sings from the nave area to the left of the sanctuary (in front of Mary's altar), so we are in front of the congregation and to the side.

I followed up with this note:

Hi Fr. [associate],

Thanks for your response.

1) Clarification -- does this apply to cantors as well, or only to choirs?

2) I would like to meet with you to talk about this sometime next week if you will be around. Or if you prefer I could meet with [pastor] since it was his decision. Let me know.



And I received this response:

Hi Gordon:
I think it applies to the cantor as well as the pianist/organist. If cantors wish to kneel in place, the pastor should give that consideration provided all cantors, physically capable of kneeling without kneelers available, desire to do so. I would be opposed to sending competing messages to the congregation where some cantors kneel and others do not. You can speak with either of us next week. We are both on the same wave length on the issue. Feel free to speak with [pastor] about it.
Fr. [associate]

I don't know what to do at this point. I am sick at heart and I don't know why it hurts me so.
This Christmas seems to be going rapidly downhill. I had very high hopes for this Christmas, but somehow they all seem to be unraveling.

  • I felt very rushed, and I never got ANY decorating done except for my outside lights. I didn't even get a tree. That is depressing.
  • I have not mailed even one Christmas card. I finally got my Christmas letter done Sunday night and got it xeroxed last night but I've not mailed any at all.
  • It seems I've had a bazillion things I had agreed to do that took up large chunks of my time.
  • There's the aforementioned no-kneeling-for-the-choir thing at church, which is bothering me much more than seems reasonable. It's just ripping my heart out and makes me want to chuck everything.
  • There's a lot of squabbling in my family right now about who's doing what and so forth, with the result that no one knows when the heck we will be able to exchange gifts at all. My sister is not well, she was supposed to have surgery but isn't feeling up to traveling at all. It's just a mess.
  • And of course I'm feeling lonely and unloved.

*sigh* Of course all these things are distracting me from the whole point of the season.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Back in November, just before we sang at the 11 a.m. Mass, for reasons that are still not clear to me our Schola was told we should remain standing during the Eucharistic prayer. This has been bothering me since, so I finally wrote up my thoughts and send them to our director and the celebrant at Mass that day:

My apologies for not having sent the following more promptly but it took me a while to gather my thoughts on the subject.

I was very concerned and disturbed by the decision made on 11/16/03 that the Schola was to stand during the Eucharistic prayer. After much thought and reflection, I respectfully request that this decision be rescinded, for the following reasons:

1) The Church rubric in the US is to kneel during the Eucharistic prayer.

2) There was no consultation among the Schola members about this discussion, as far as I am aware. It seems arbitrary.

3) As far as I can remember, the Schola has always knelt or sat during the Eucharistic prayer. There was no explanation or reasoning given as to the change, and I cannot think of any reason to be making a change now.

4) It confuses the congregation when we do not have the same postures as they do. For example it has often been my observation that if the Schola does not kneel after the Agnus Dei the congregation is confused as to whether they should kneel or stand.

5) It appears the concern might be that there is a lack of unity in the Schola's posture if some members kneel and others sit. Aside from the point given in #3 above, the Schola should adopt the same posture as the congregation. Indeed, my understanding of the Vatican II documents is that the choir is supposed to be seen as an extension of the congregation. At the Eucharistic prayer only the celebrant stands. It seems very improper for the Schola to be standing at this point, instead of having the same posture as the congregation (i.e. kneeling or sitting).

6) If the Schola's unity were truly the issue, a number of other items should have been and indeed ought to be addressed:

a) Saying the Creed as it is written (some members omit the word "man")
b) Omitting the bow during the Creed

The fact that these issues(and others) are not addressed suggests the argument re: unity is a specious one.

7) It also appears that it may be a concern that some members of the Schola are unable to kneel. However, this was not a concern in the past, even though my experience has been that some members have knelt and some have sat. Furthermore, not everyone in the congregation is able to kneel; those that cannot sit, they do not stand.

8) It is distracting for the congregation to see people standing during the Eucharistic prayer.

9) Members of the Schola who wish to obey the rubrics of the Church should not be prevented from doing so except for a grave reason, but none has been presented.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Music for Mass
Peter Dodge & Gordon Zaft, cantors; Kathie O'Sullivan, pianist
Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year C

Gathering Song: Maranatha I (Westphal)
Penitential Rite: Mass of Creation (Haugen)
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 80 (Respond & Acclaim)
Gospel Acclamation: Advent Gospel Acclamation vs. 4 (Haas)
Preparation of the Gifts: Holy Is His Name (Talbot)
Holy,Holy: Mass of Creation (Haugen)
Memorial Acclamation: Mass of Creation (Haugen)
Great Amen: Mass of Creation (Haugen)
Our Father: (Traditional Chant)
Lamb of God: Mass of Creation (Haugen)
Communion: Like A Child Rests (Walker)
Recessional: People, Look East (BESANCON)
Just in time for Christmas, the terrorism alert level has been raised to orange. *sigh*

Saturday, December 20, 2003

I attended the University of Arizona® Fall Commencement today, as my friend Amber Lee was graduating with her BM in Vocal Peformance (Go AL!). It was a nice ceremony. Particularly interesting to me (other than the usual tortilla-tossing that happens at UA commencements) was the awarding of two honorary doctorates. Interestingly enough, two UA alumni are both serving as ministers in the Afghan government, and they received honorary degrees today. It's amazing the connections in our world between Tucson and a far-off country struggling to rebuild itself.
At home I run a Smoothwall firewall to protect my home network from intrusion. It runs on an old P2-233 I had lying around. I recently installed some updates to ensure that I was keeping the bad guys out. Before I rebooted the machine tonight, it had been up for 165 days!

If you are looking for a flexible home firewall that can do things like VPNs, pinholing for outside access, support for dynamic DNS, and setting up a DMZ network, I highly recommend it. Check it out.

Friday, December 19, 2003

I saw Return of the King tonight. It was absolutely terrific! Highly recommended. It's 3 hrs and 20 minutes but didn't feel long at all. A couple of key plotlines were left out; one of them pretty understandably and the other not. Still an excellent production and one that will stand as a classic, I'm sure.
My Friday Five:

1. List your five favorite beverages.

  1. Diet Dr. Pepper
  2. Diet Pepsi
  3. Milk
  4. Vernors
  5. a real cherry Coke (fountain mixed)

2. List your five favorite websites.

  1. Slashdot
  2. Figure Skater's Website
  3. CNN
  4. Star Net (the Arizona Daily Star)
  5. Computer Geeks

3. List your five favorite snack foods.

  1. 4-Cheese Doritos
  2. maple & brown sugar oatmeal (hey, it's a snack, really!)
  3. onion dip (usually with #1 above)
  4. saltines
  5. baby carrots

4. List your five favorite board and/or card games.

I rarely play board or card games, but...

  1. Chess
  2. Risk
  3. Poker
  4. Monopoly
  5. Hearts (haven't played in ages though)

5. List your five favorite computer and/or game system games.

I don't play any. In college I wrote a D&D type system with my friend Marc, but in general I've never been big on any of this stuff.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Tonight was my second of 5 sessions I get to teach this year for RCIA. The subjects were original sin, sin, grace, and faith. We had a really nice discussion about the topics, and it was really nice to see that people are grasping things and thinking about them. For example early in our discussion about sin, we'd said that sin was not about feelings, and how the determinant for what is sinful is not about how we feel (after all concupiscence handicaps us) but whether it's against God's law. Later we were talking about how sometimes we can have feelings of lust, anger, etc., and I asked if that was a sin -- and one of the candidates replied that it couldn't be because sin wasn't about feelings. Bingo! It's so cool when people make connections.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

I'd be remiss if I didn't mark the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight. Unfortunately, the attempted re-enactment didn't come off. Still, it's a milestone, one to reflect on how far we have come in 100 years of flight. All because of two tinkerers from Ohio!

Monday, December 15, 2003

Prayer requests

Please pray:

  • For the repose of the soul of Richard Chonak's mother, and for Richard and his family.
  • For my friend M.'s daughter B. who is ill and needs some kind of surgery to figure out what's going on.
  • For my sister, who is going to have an operation (hopefully before Christmas) to fuse two of the vertebrae in her neck. She's been in a lot of pain.
  • For the repose of the soul of my friend MH's aunt.

Thanks for your good prayers.
Tonight I led an intrepid band of carolers through the Winterhaven neighborhood. Winterhaven's residents are famous for going all-out in their Christmas displays, and this year's example was no exception. The lights were terrific, although as usual we got so caught up in singing that we didn't see as much of the neighborhood as I'd have liked. There were 8 of us, including 6 members of Collegium Musicum, and 2 friends of CMers. We were well balanced: 2 sopranos, 2 altos, 1 tenor and 3 basses. Not bad. We sounded pretty darned good too. We sang a number of old favorites, including:

  • Carol of the Bells
  • Silent Night
  • Angels We Have Heard On High
  • Joy to the World
  • Jingle Bells
  • We Wish You A Merry Christmas
  • O Come All Ye Faithful
  • Away in a Manger
  • What Child Is This
  • Hark the Herald Angels Sing

We also had a go at some more difficult stuff:

  • O Magnum Mysterium (Victoria)
  • Coventry Carol
  • the infamous Deck the Halls in 7/8
Here's my belated Friday Five:

1. Do you enjoy the cold weather and snow for the holidays?

Snow? What is snow? Oh, that stuff we sometimes get on the mountains. Yes, it's pretty. As for cold weather... I like it in small doses. Fortunately, in Tucson it's usually warm enough during the day, even in January.

2. What is your ideal holiday celebration? How, where, with whom would you celebrate to make things perfect?

Hm. This is tough. Generally my ideal holiday would be singing at Midnight Mass, then coming home and getting up early with a wife and several beautiful, well-behaved children. Obviously since I'm lacking those I'm a ways away from my ideal holiday :-)

3. Do you do have any holiday traditions?

Midnight Mass. Large Christmas lights, of the non-blinking kind. Fudge and Christmas cookies, formerly made by my Mom and now by my sister, God bless 'er. My well-worn Christmas stocking. Christmas caroling in Winterhaven (a local neighborhood).

4. Do you do anything to help the needy?

I usually give to the food bank when I go caroling, plus donations to the Salvation Army and other local groups.

5. What one gift would you like for yourself?

Of the "store-bought" variety, a USB flash drive/MP3 player/voice recorder/FM radio with 256 MB of memory (expensive). Of the "priceless" variety, someone to love, of course!
Peggy Noonan, as she so often does, gets it exactly right on the capture of Saddam Hussein:

But normal people don't have to be sophisticated. They can be normal. And happy. And say what normal Americans say when something great in history happens. "Thanks, God. Thanks a lot."

Thanks to the lovely Jeanetta for the link.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Saddam Captured

As probably everybody is aware by now, Saddam Hussein has been captured. This is really a momentous day, for Iraq and for the US and its allies. Good work!

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Tonight was my first turn to teach RCIA for this year. Under our new system we team members are only present when we are teaching, which for me is only 5 times, in addition to taking the dismissal and our retreats. Tonight I talked about the Saints, and also introduced the class to the Rosary. We were a little short on time so we said an abbreviated Rosary; we did the Luminous Mysteries but left out the 2nd and 4th. Still we packed a lot into our 90 minutes of class.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

I would be remiss if I didn't thank God and St. Anthony for the recovery of my class ring, which I misplaced almost a month ago. I was in my office and had just changed into my skating gear and had put my pants down on the guest chair, and noticed that my watch (which I'd put in the front pocket) was almost falling out. I noticed that and wondered where it would have gone if it had fallen out, since I'd thought my ring might have fallen out under similar circumstances. I realized there was a potpourri basket on the floor behind the guest chair that was a perfect receptacle; I looked in it and saw the gleam of gold from my class ring! Thanks be to God, and thank you St. Anthony, for this find.

The episode made me reflect on my relationship with material things. I only have five pieces of jewelry that hold real meaning for me. They are:

  • University of Arizona® class ring, given to me by my brother and Dad in 1985.
  • My Mom's Phi Beta Kappa key, which was given to me when she died.
  • My Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia fraternity pin.
  • My watch, given to me by my best friend.
  • A pearl tietack that my mother gave me when I was little.

Of course I don't wear the Phi Beta Kappa key, but the others I do. I'll have to be more careful in the future.
Today was our bimonthly "alumni lunch" for NewMonics (, my former employer. After a bunch of us were laid off in August of '02 we formed an email list to keep us in touch, and we meet to have lunch every other month to touch base and see each other. Today there were 14 of us, which is just about everyone. I've been very fortunate that every place I've ever worked has been staffed by people who became not just coworkers, but friends, the kind of people you really enjoy working with. This lunch is an example of that.
You have to check out Kathy Schaidle's Twas the Night Before Kwanzaa. Bwahahaha!

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

One of the great things about having two blogs is getting to quote yourself :-). Anyway, I went to the doctor yesterday and he told me I really did hurt myself in my fall October 5th. *sigh*

Monday, December 08, 2003

Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception!

Sunday, December 07, 2003

The Arizona Daily Star reports that 80% of Arizonans still claim to believe in God, but they are increasingly fuzzy on just what that means. It's not surprising, but it's still sad that so many want to believe but are seemingly turned off by traditional religion, or are unwilling/unable to turn their vague beliefs into something more concrete.

The Star also asked readers to submit responses on their beliefs in God and religion. The results (Part I and Part II) are pretty interesting reading. As usual the atheists are both condescending and defensive, and among the others there's quite a bit of fuzzy thinking. One particularly saddening comment (from a grad student at UA, a homosexual man who has left the Church):

I always liked the peaceful and ritualistic nature of Mass. But these days Catholics are playing guitars and holding hands and if one wants an authentic Roman Mass, one has to attend an Episcopal service.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Being an Arizonan, December 7th has always held a special place both in my heart and the heart of all Arizonans as the anniversary of the loss of the state's namesake battleship at Pearl Harbor in 1941. I-10 is designated the Pearl Harbor Memorial Highway, and this year as every year, the bell of the USS Arizona will be rung at the annual memorial service.
Episcopal Spine Alert, as Mark Shea likes to say. Thanks to Mark for this story on the bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin reminding "Catholic" legislators that checking your conscience at the door didn't work at Nuremberg and won't work before God either. Of course the legislator whine back that he can't tell them what to do.
Alas, there's no Friday Five this week. At least I remembered!

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

In Sunday's Star, columnist Bonnie Henry talks about Tucson's F-word. She's got a point.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

One of the neat things about the Internet is getting to know about new cool stuff that would have been to expensive to be notified about before the advent of email. The example in this case is that one of my favorite artists, Sally Harmon, has released a new album. Check it out.
Well, that didn't take very long at all. Now a polygamist is invoking the Supreme Court's sodomy decision to claim that polygamy is okay. Of course, the problem is that he's right (about the decision, not about polygamy).
Time has a good cover article on the coming Type II diabetes epidemic. The saddest part is that it seems to be almost entirely preventable.