Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Fr. Perrone on Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, iPhone Confession App, and Orchestra Mass for Easter

Fr. Eduard Perrone, pastor of Assumption Grotto on Easter Sunday 2006.
Fr. Perrone played the organ at the Noon Mass and was meditating during the readings

I asked Fr. Perrone for permission to reprint his weekly column which appeared this past Sunday, which he granted.  The bulletin is only online for a short time before another replaces it.  At least for a few more days, the article below will be seen in the link for this week's bulletin.  For not knowing what to write, he had a lot to say - LOL.  There are three topics that he covers.  1) Alice von Hildebrand, PhD being named at the top of the Top Ten People of the Year by Inside the Vatican magazine, 2) the iPhone Confession App, and 3) The Orchestra Mass that will be done for Easter.

A Pastor’s Descant

Here I stare at the blank computer screen awaiting an inspiration that will direct my thoughts. There’s nothing of singular importance at the moment, only scattered morsels. These I share with you today.

On Dr. Alice von Hildebrand being named among Top Ten People of the Year
First comes to mind a notice I received to the effect that Inside the Vatican magazine (an e-format publication) has named as its number one Top Ten People of the Year Dr. Alice von Hildebrand [here is a version of it online]. Some of you may know of her, or know her personally, as an outstanding spokesman for the Catholic faith from our Call to Holiness Conferences in years past, from Catholic TV, or from her occasional writings.

There are indeed many reasons for the acknowledgment, given the immense influence she has had as a teacher and lecturer. I have always appreciated the breadth of her learning, her devotion to the sacred liturgy, her love of great music and, dare I add, the sheer charm of a noble personality shaped by Catholic piety. I am particularly grateful to her for speaking out against a rather vulgar exposition of Pope John Paul’s ‘theology of the body’ which has become very fashionable (and for its lay exponent, highly lucrative, I should think). As I may have written erstwhile, matters relating to matrimonial love need to be couched in terms respectful of their delicate nature.

As our faith has often been cheapened in its exposition, as our liturgy has been debased by secularity, so this subject has been much abused, not only by the world (where we might not be so surprised by it), but even by those claiming to represent the teaching of the Church. Against this Dr. (a ‘doctor,’ that is, of philosophy) von Hildebrand has protested and made a stand for an approach to the subject that demands old fashioned modesty. While some have in turn criticized her on some secondary points that she has made, her basic point is absolutely on target, namely, that matters relating to chastity ought to be spoken of with great discretion and a certain reserve befitting their quasi sacred nature. I know that to many that seems an outmoded kind of precaution given the immense openness to the moral filth that scars our time. Yet I find it, on that very account, to be all the more necessary as a safeguard against the prevailing foulness. I stand with Alice von Hildebrand to defend what the Church has historically treated with the utmost sensitivity and restraint. Bravo then to Inside the Vatican for their correct number one choice of Dr. Alice von Hildebrand.

On the iPhone Confession App
In the news recently was the overexcited announcement of an iPhone and iPad application for Confession. The idea brought to the minds of some that the Church had now found a way to make Confession ‘by phone’ possible. A case of wishful thinking, as it turned out. This is but a new tool to aid in the preparation for the Sacrament, and especially, I would think, for those who have either been long absent from the confessional or for those who have particular difficulty in making an examination of conscience. While there’s no question that people find Confession difficult due to an inherent reluctance to disclose to a priest the dishonorable thoughts, words and deeds which we call our sins, yet there’s not now, nor ever will there be, a way to get around the requirement to admit one’s sins. When one considers the incalculable benefit of being freed from damning guilt through the absolution of a priest, the price of integrity to the priest-confessor is indeed a small one to be made. The Holy Spirit is said to help us in our weakness. Let’s not neglect to invoke Him to assist us in making our confessions whole and entire, with real, supernatural contrition and a firm purpose of amendment.

About the Orchestra Mass for Easter
My final bit is a musical one. This Easter we will have the Missa Solemnis by American composer Paul Creston, an Italian by birth (he changed his name; a fashionable thing at the time–the early years of the 20th century). The music is indeed very subdued, being based on Gregorian Chant, though it is an orchestral Mass.

I was edified to learn that Mr. Creston, a world-renowned composer of symphonic music, held the post of church organist at St. Malachy in New York City. Though touted as New York’s “actor’s church” on account of certain celebrities who frequent it, the position of church organist in our time is a humble one for a musician of his stature, though history has known some outstanding composers who have likewise been church organists (Bach, Bruckner, Rheinberger, Vierne, Messiaen, among others). There is in fact no better employment to be made of one’s gifts, musical or otherwise, than to put them at the service of almighty God in the sacred liturgy. There the limelight may be dim on the world’s stage but fully resplendent in that world of supernatural radiance.
Fr. Perrone

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