Laudetur Iesus Christus!
Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, priest; Saint Peter Chanel, priest and martyr
And I don’t want it to end. Last night and all the experiences connected thereto were truly gifts from God.
So I have had an interesting day indeed. Went to morning Mass, spent some time chatting with the Lord after Mass (not aloud, people would think I was even more strange than they already think), had a wonderful strolling chat with a priest-friend (we were supposed to meet in church but he asked if I wanted to go for a walk so for a walk we went) that had helped me come to grips with my newly re-discovered penchant/love/ardour for the more traditional practices of Holy Mother Church (“come to grips,” I sound like I am in AA: “The first step to recovery is admitting I have a problem.”) and how to practice them with prudence (a virtue in which I need to grow), and I went to Confession! I know, I usually make an appointment but by the time the strolling chat was done, it was time for Confessions to begin so I just stayed and went to Confession. I *may* or *may not* have slipped my mantilla on for that. Just sayin’. It was nice.
Oh, and at the end of our conversation as we headed back to church, we ran into our other associate. He and I started discussing what we were going to do with him since this was going to be his one and only Festival. Father said that they can camp on his front lawn. To me, that sounds delightful (so long as you get industrial earplugs and have a high-quality tent that can resist staggering persons running into it). And he has been told he will play bingo with us! I think one of the themes for the weekend is Sports Teams so I was talking about all the Red Wings swag I was going to wear.
So after spending about four hours at church, I made my way back home. I really enjoy the walk because I can pray a Rosary in the time it takes me to get home. I can catch up on podcasts. Or I just listen to music.
Also today, while I was home churching it up, the rest of my family was moving my younger sister out of college for the last time (she graduated with her degree in business). Thank the Lord I did not go because there would have been no room for me. And my parents complained about how much I packed. My stuff was mostly books that could be fit into plastic containers. My sister had clothes, shoes, clothes, and more shoes. When they finally got home, I helped carry things into the house. Bag after bag of shoes and clothes. I made a few comments but then my sister got me good saying, “Allie, for every pair of shoes I own, you probably have two holy cards, a rosary, or a theology book.” To which I had to say, “Touché.” ‘Cause it’s probably truer than true.
But anywho …
As I walked home, I listened to the soundtrack for one of my favorite silent films. No, that’s not an oxymoron. Silent movies usually had musical scores written to be played at the theatre to accompany the action on the screen. That’s why when you go to a place like the Fox Theatre in Detroit, you find an amazing Wurlitzer theatre organ that can produce standard organ sounds along with various sound effects.
The film is “The Passion of Joan of Arc” from 1928 by Carl Theodore Dreyer. It is considered one of the greatest films to come out of the silent era. The intertitles (dialogue) is based on the original trial transcripts of Joan of Arc so they are historically accurate. It was originally shown sans musical accompaniment because the director wanted the viewer to get a grasp on the drama that was taking place on the screen.
I could go on ad nauseam about this film so I will spare you that and just give you this Wikipedia article with all of this accompanying links to give you the story (it’s really interesting, honestly).
I could also make you all sick with my jibber-jabber about the soundtrack that was created in 1994 to accompany the film that was originally completely silent. The composer was so inspired by the film and what Joan was experiencing that he created this wonderful soundtrack, “Voices of Light”. If you can find a libretto, watch the film with the soundtrack and follow it in the libretto and you shall see how beautiful the work really is. I love watching the film and listening to the soundtrack. It’s simply ethereal. You can find the film on YouTube and the soundtrack on iTunes.
For a taste of the film, here is part one from YouTube:
It is seriously one of my favorite films. I usually watch it a couple times over Festival weekend when I am sitting at the phones and putzing on Aloysius (yes, my laptop has a name).
Whenever I listen to “Voices of Light,” I feel uplifted. Yes, none of the words are in English but you can almost imagine the action and emotion of the film just by listening to what is being conveyed by the music (though the libretto can really enhance the experience). It’s an almost ethereal experience for me. But that’s the purpose of music, to uplift the spirit. Music is meant to lift man from the ordinariness of his life. To help raise his spirit. Modern pop music does not do such a thing. But we won’t get into that.
Listening to the soundtrack today, I could not help but make some experiential parallels between how I feel when I listen to the soundtrack and my experience with the TLM. Now, obviously the experiences I have had with the TLM are on a much higher plane but in this situation, I am talking on a purely ‘superficial’ sense. You can’t really compare a musical soundtrack to the Lord becoming present in the Blessed Sacrament at Mass.
But there are some parallels. When I was at the TLM last night, I was uplifted by the music which was what could be regarded as truly Catholic music. Not the malarcky that passes for church music nowadays. There was chant (quite a nice amount of it, of course) and there were traditional church hymns that one hears every once in a while when the musician at Mass decides to pull an oldie but goodie out of the dust heap.
When I listen to the soundtrack, especially the tracks that happen around the time when she is burned at the stake and other parts in the preceding trial. The music is such that it affects you emotionally. You can almost empathize with Joan and her struggle with her judges and jailers. You are saddened when she is sad. You feel her pain as she contends internally to find the right answer to the questions of the judges when one answer not well considered could lead her to the stake or the torture chamber. You feel her happiness when the Blessed Sacrament is brought to her and her despair when in order to receive it, she must abjure all that she said she had experienced (her voices, etc.).
This also brings up another point, liturgical music. Oh Lord, I could go on and on and on. But I shan’t. I’ll spare you.
One of the Ratzinger books I am reading, “The Feast of Faith,” covers this. If I had it near me, I would give a few quotes where he discusses music in the context of the liturgy. Liturgical music is supposed to aid the participants (he also talks about what active participation (participatio actuoso) really means, very interesting) is understanding the action of the liturgy. It is meant to uplift the spirits of the persons present from their earthly plane to a higher transcendent plane. It’s supposed to make the people aware that it is at the Mass and in the Eucharist that we encounter Christ, the Human-Divine Godhead. It is at the mass that we are united with the angels and saints in worship of God. What more could we want?
The sad reality is that much of modern church music is quite banal and bordering on happy-clappy at times. All the “We are Church” anthems. All “We are … this, that, and another thing.” Much of it, at least by my experiences, is rooted in the self, in the here and now, and in what God can do for us.
I remember when I was in college, we used to ask each other, “When we die, how will we know we are in Heaven?”
Some of us would get all theological and say stuff about the beatific vision and how we will experience a joy and peace that nothing on earth could ever create or simulate.
Others said we would see our loved ones again.
Then, the delightfully snarky ones said, “Well, it depends on the kind of music you hear.”
“Yeah, if you hear Palestrina, Mozart, Gregorian chant, or anything like that … you’ll know you’re in Heaven. If you hear ‘We come to share our story …’ or ‘We are called …’ then you know you did not make it. You’re either in Purgatory or Hell.” Of course, to be charitable, they would say Purgatory would be the probable answer.
What happened in the last forty years that caused such a shift in the music of the Church? We go from the beautiful ethereal chant and such to happy clappy. Now, there are places where you can still hear all of the beautiful music from the Church’s heritage, most tend to be either traditional-leaning Novus Ordos and, of course, our dear TLM.
As I wrote this, something else popped into my mind that is connected to this pertaining to why so many young people are attracted to the time-honored traditions and heritage of the Church. The video embedded below was taken from this post by Father Z over at WDTPRS (What Does the Prayer Really Say?). I was actually directed to it by the priest-friend with whom I took the stroll-chat today. I want more of my appointments to be like that, srsly, that was great. In the short four minutes, Father summarizes why so many young people are attracted to the TLM, traditional practices, and more traditional religious congregations and such.
In short, it should be really no surprise that young people are so attracted to things like the TLM. The young people of today are hungering for it. They long for it. Unlike the previous generation or two, we long for structure and order. Because it is in that structure and order that we feel the most connected to that which we really desire, the Truth. When things are a hodge-podge, Truth becomes muddled and hard to discern because it is mixed with other things are are extraneous and inorganic.
Well, Imma go. Today was a great day, Deo gratiasbut now, I have to go get ready for bed.
Have a wonderful Sunday!