The morning is gray and dark. A low overcast sky hangs above the damp roads. I have driven to the next town, to another parish, to another Mass for what I hope will be a meaningful experience. A friend has invited me to come and worship in the ancient form of the Church. This is a local experiment, and my first time. A young priest has been given permission to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass in the morning on the first Saturday of each month in this church. I am curious.
Strangely, as I drive, and then as I enter the church, I feel like I’m sneaking surreptitiously to a secret destination for some underground meeting. But I am also excited and hopeful. January is dark but the church looks warm inside. I come early. There is a long line for confessions, so I get in line. The line moves slowly and I realize there will be no time for the priest to hear my confession, so I grab a missal and find a place in a pew. In the few moments before Mass begins I look at the missal. It is a small single-fold, staple-binding paperback, yet the simple woodblock prints and Latin words seem to contain the weight of centuries.
I look around the nave. There are a few souls, not many, sitting quietly and praying or just staring ahead in thought. The cantor and the organist finish their brief rehearsal. The priest has no more time for confessions and walks to the sacristy to prepare for Mass. A few more people show up and take their places in the pews.
After a few minutes the priest comes out to the ambo and welcome us, and says a few words to prepare us for the Mass. We are to not worry too much about when to sit, kneel, or stand he says. Just pay attention and we will figure it out. We can use the missals if we want to follow along, or not. We are encouraged to just experience it as best we can. He then goes back to the sacristy.
A couple minutes later the priest and altar server make their way along the side wall of the nave to the back of the church. This is a minimal crew: priest, server, cantor, organist. But it is enough.
The music begins, signaling the procession is beginning. We all stand.
My previous post featured Jonathan A. Anderson lecturing on the lack of theological considerations in contemporary art criticism. This lecture comes several years later and takes a look at how religion is reappearing in the writings about contemporary art over the past two decades.
Many art critics have religious leanings. Many artists have religious leanings. Many works of art deal with religious themes. However, there would seem to be an unspoken pact among art critics (and art teachers) that religion and theological concerns will not be seriously considered as a topic or approach to thinking and writing about art. This is not a great situation for either artists or anyone who would appreciate art.
Jonathan Anderson is an artist, critic, and professor, and author of the book: Modern Art and the Life of a Culture: The Religious Impulses of Modernism (Studies in Theology and the Arts). In this lecture below he surveys and addresses this lack of theology in art criticism, and why it matters — not merely because he’s a Christian, but because theology can help all of us better understand works of art.
Anderson mention James Elkins and his book On the Strange Place of Religion in Contemporary Art. Here is a lecture Elkins gave on that topic a decade ago:
Catholic News Service recently did a series of video reports on Gregorian Chant, what it is, and how it’s making a comeback in the Church. This is a great introduction to the music of the Church, in essence an ancient form of prayer that seemed at times to have been lost, but has been with us all along.
This last video is somewhat interesting in that the music in it is mostly not chant at all. Still, beautiful music.
I love this video. Fr. Mike Schmitz does such a great job of cutting through a tendency so many of us have. That is, he takes to task the idea that the Mass is about us and what each of us can “get out of it.” Rather, he says, the Mass is about worship, and that worship requires sacrifice. Watch the video to get a better understanding of what I am poorly representing.
I am convinced that if more Catholics focused on worship at Mass, many of the disputes about what form is best, or what music is best, or should we hold hands or not, etc, etc, would just go away.
Filed under Liturgy, Video
This is one of the most interesting and intense conversations I have ever witnessed. Jordan Peterson has received a significant amount of attention of late for his views, and in particular for an interview he did on television. Camille Paglia has been well known for years and is frequently outspoken on a number of topics. Both are absolutely brilliant and provocative. This video is easily worth its nearly two hours running time.