Why Chant Can’t Speed Up

Canto GregorianoWhen I first encountered Gregorian Chant in the Catholic Mass, it felt like a serenade for my soul. The music massaged my anxiety away, and I knew right away I wanted more chant in the masses I went to, more chant in the prayers I prayed, more chant in my life.

So what did I do? What I usually do when I find treasure — I shared it with others as fast and as much as I could.

I started by teaching Tantum Ergo to the kids in the youth group. Yes, it was all in Latin. Yes, they took to it easily and faster than I thought they would. And yes, it was slow, paced, and measured.

But why exactly is Christian chant so slooooooow? Why do we draw out the Kyrieeeeeeeeeee eleison (among others)? Why do we take our time and pronounce everything carefully, tediously…

Well, it’s the same reason why lovers can talk for hours. When you love someone, you don’t rush through conversations, you don’t speed through hellos and blitz through farewells, you don’t sing to each other just to get it over with. You savor it!

You take it slow, show them you care, take the time to make it clear and meaningful.

When you encounter beauty, you want to stay in it. Nobody brushes off a stunning sunset. Nobody forgets a special smile. But everybody wants to prolong their exposure to beauty, to stall and relish in it — get absorbed into it.

And that’s why chant can’t speed up. Because we’re singing to our Beloved, because we’re humming to Him with the saints in Heaven, because we’re steeping in His glory and beauty.

Even toddlers know Gregorian chant is just different — and dare I say…  just better.

So next time you’re at a Mass with chant done right, don’t just listen… but feel the music. It’s prayer with texture.

Is Chant Still a Thing?

[YOU BET it is!]

Godzilla and the True God

Godzilla 2014The turf of my childhood has a Godzilla-sized shape carved into it. In fact, when I was a first-grader, I was so obsessed about the radioactive beast that I made a shrine for him one day atop my dresser — complete with train wreck, car in mouth and hand, and ocean surf at his feet! The water leaked and blistered the wood finish of course, and Mom made me take it down, but my fanhood stayed with me. Everything had to be Godzilla! It got to the point that even my humble little computer teacher in Catholic school became uncomfortable whenever I said Godzilla since it seemed to him to mock the name of the True God.

So when I found out there was another effort to remake the classic (my favorite was Godzilla 1985), it was difficult to pass up the film on the big screen.

And if you didn’t notice, I’m the most scrupulous film viewer I know. Mix that movie-scrupulosity with my super-serious-Catholicity and whaddya get? Well… let me show you with a screenshot:

[Click image for better view]

[Click image for better view. Elle Brody is played by Elizabeth Olsen.]

And I’m pretty sure my working knowledge of Catholic iconography is decent. Anyway, what’s an overt Catholic medal doing on the necklace of a summer blockbuster’s actress?

Well, everything that goes into a shot of any film means that the director approved of it. Everything in every scene cost work and money to put there, and producers and directors won’t waste time and money making sure things show up on a frame, unless they want it to. So the fact that this medal is blatantly focused in on, with the shot resting on Elle and with her medal clearly noticeable, one has to think either: (a) Elizabeth Olsen insisted on wearing the medal and director Gareth Edwards approved of it, or (b) director Gareth Edwards insisted the medal be part of the actress’ costume, and Elizabeth didn’t object. Other than those two paths of thought, anything else is a stretch…

HALO jumpersBut then there was the scene of the military personnel preparing for the now-famous HALO jump scene. Just before their jump, we hear a Christian praying to God, thanking the Lord Jesus for allowing him and the other men to serve others with their lives. Now that is pretty obvious that there is a Christian presence to this film — a presence I definitely did not expect but was pleasantly surprised by. After all, these scenes both vindicated me that Godzilla is not a mockery of the True God.

Anyway, just wanted to point out those God-fearing tidbits in Godzilla. If you do decide to give it two hours of your time, know that it’s definitely a fun flick with a big emphasis on mothers and fathers and their children, on husbands and wives and their faithful marriages, and of course on the king of the monsters. Gojira!

When Demons Ask For Prayers (again)

SO! Here we are again with another Satanic group trying to hold a black Mass in the Oklahoma City Civic Center on September 21, 2014. What do I have to say about this? Same thing I said back in May:

Just heard news of the supposed Satanic Black Mass coming up on May 12, 2014 (it was eventually cancelled) on the campus of America’s ”finest” university: Harvard. You can read more about it here and here, but for the most part, some student group wants to reenact the Satanic ritual for curiosity and ”educational purposes” as if it was nothing serious, but…

A black mass is a sacrilegious ceremony that invokes Satan and mocks the Catholic Mass. Connected to witchcraft and demonic worship, it involves the desecration of the Eucharist, often by stealing a consecrated host from a Catholic Church and using it in a profane sexual ritual.

[It sees you, but you don't see it.]

[It sees you, but you don’t see it.]

So even if this student club doesn’t use an actual consecrated host, and even if none of them believe in what they’re doing, the danger remains that the devil doesn’t care if you believe or not. In fact, he would much rather go undetected while he ravages lives, like the alien man-hunter called PREDATOR. And even if everyone in the club is atheist, that doesn’t change a thing. In fact, that helps the devil hide even more! But ironically, what might end up happening is that Harvard becomes infested with demons, and then must resort to having a Catholic priest exorcising the place. But would the school do such a thing as to endorse the Church and ask her aid? That would be the bigger surprise, actually.

Anyway, don’t merely read about this and shake your head in defeat! That’s exactly what Satan wants us to do!

[O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.]

[O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.]

Instead, learn to turn evil on its head! Whenever something like this comes up, I interpret it as a call for prayers… much much prayer! Whenever I see a Satanic symbol, a demonic act, a temptation to sin, etc., I go right to praying for the persons involved (and all their beloveds, too). That’s right, I see these provocations of spiritual warfare as promptings to launch a barrage of blessings and prayers. I ask my priests, my brother seminarians, my siblings in Christ, and all the angels and saints to join me.

Usually, I turn to my favorite prayer from the Miraculous Medal:

And then I add on a prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel:

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into Hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

— Pope Leo XIII

[Samurai Saint Michael the Archangel, by Daniel Mitsui]

So! Turn that worm’s schemes into the its worst nightmare — pray for mercy, forgiveness, love and conversion! It’s the absolute last thing the devil wants you to do, so make it the first thing you do! Because doing what the devil doesn’t want you to do is actually the best thing to do!

And feel free to use your own favorite prayers! But remember…

MissalMissile

Happy to be Hated

Today is Good Friday.

Christians today around the world remember the scourging, suffering, crucifixion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, it is the day we murdered God, the day He let us kill Him.

There are many things we can discuss about this: why did God let us kill Him? how can God die? why would we do such a thing? etc…

But right now, I want to share why I think we call this infamous Friday good.

Doesn’t it seem ironic that we call this day good? It’s like calling September 11th Good Tuesday. Doesn’t it seem absurd? And doesn’t it seem even more absurd to be happy about it?

What do I mean? I mean it is a great thing, a happy thing to be hated by haters. It is a good thing to be hated by what I dub:

AntiCatholicKlub

Yes, this exists. Members of the Official Anti-Catholic Klub [OACK] include the KKK, the Nazis, and Communist Parties. There are other members too, like radical Islam, Satanic cults, militant atheists, and even some misguided Protestant denominations. All these groups are very different from one another, but they share one thing in common: they hate the Catholic Church.CatholicHaters

Why do they hate the Church? Because they want power they don’t have. They want power they can never have. They want to have a leader who leads forever. They want a leader who can create universes from scratch. They want a leader who is not only invulnerable and incorruptible, but immortal and invincible too. A leader who — even if he somehow gets killed — can resurrect Himself!

And we have that one-and-only leader in the Lord Jesus. So on this Friday twenty centuries ago, when hatred, death and sinners (you and me) cut down our Christ, we Christians call it a good day — because this day means we’re on the right side. We’re on the winning team.

We’re supposed to be hated by evil-doers. We’re supposed to be hated by the prideful, the envious, the wrathful. Because if they like us, if they call us friend… that means we’re not threatening to them, that means we are just one of them — part of their klub.

So don’t be afraid of being hated by the haters. It’s a good thing. But notice that if you hate them in return, you just joined their team…

So do what Jesus does.

Start today.

P.S. If you’ve never watched the Passion of the Christ, give it a look!