Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Sterile Families: Are We Dogs?

I avoid the subject of religion in the office, not because I shy away from our Catholic faith or because I find any shade of embarrassment in it. No, it is because my boss and a few coworkers are very Evangelical Baptists who take any alternative perspective on Christianity to be an insult against them. Why, once I let be known that I could happily go a Sunday or three without hearing a sermon only be told that not having a sermon "ain't Biblical." I mentioned that the Catholic Mass is significantly older than Protestant rites and does not necessarily foresee a sermon unless the bishop is there to deliver it. I think I would be met with more tolerance drinking martinis in the Middle East.

Today these same fine folks were discussing their preferred methods of sterilization after having children. One, who is "saved" (from what?), let it be known that she "got her tubes tied" during the c-section to deliver her third child. Another said his mother forced his father to get a vasectomy after child #2 only to need a service herself due to cancer. And another's got "fixed" the day her daughter was born. They looked at my unease in utter confusion and a polite that quietly said, "I cannot believe you are so prissy that you refuse to acknowledge how normal and necessary these things are."

Sterilization and contraception have come full circle on our day. The early feminist pioneers of these methods of contravening children were invented for the purpose of positive eugenics. Promoters, like Marie Stopes and Margaret Sanger, intentionally targeted poor and minority communities for these products hoping to weed them out of the general populace while more suitable types proliferated at a controlled rate.

In our own day the poor continue to reproduce like rabbits and, unlike fifty years ago, when blacks had more stable marriages and lower illegitimacy rates than whites, they generate children into broken environments. By contrast, the bourgeois American white collar workers have grown accustomed to certain things: a reasonably sized house, one good vacation a year, exorbitant university educations and savings to go along with them, and general comfort. The idea children are a calling unto their own is utterly removed from this lifestyle. Children represent a few years of annoyance followed by a decade of congratulatory events, games, graduations, and engagements.

Most bothersome is the attitude toward the marital act in this bourgeois mindset. The couple see intimacy as something more essential than children and financial comfort more important than meeting minimal financial support. The partners inevitably objectify each other as means of fulfilling desires. They are not one flesh any longer than it takes for both of them obtain their wish and go back to their own entertainments.

Perhaps the two bravest things one can do today are to take up a religious vocation and to start a true Catholic family. Both constitute total abandon to normal ambitions and comforts. The family may have it harder, as the monk in his cloister is removed from a social and financial system pitted against him. The family must remain as one, even as Christ and the Church are one, against the vicissitudes of a derisive society that looks at each additional child as a downgrade in potential future vacations.

Their more secular counterparts will have the opportunity to be happy, living comfortably and without bother, with nothing growing on their consciences, and enjoying each day and each sensation as it comes in their sterility. Then again, I may be describing my old sheepdog Godfrey.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Bugnini & Pacelli

"You remember Eugenio, don't you?"
I have spent the last two weeks in a hospital room along side my ailing father, who the other day went to Confession for the first time in many decades. During my time alongside him in his convalescence I was able to start Yves Chiron's Annibale Bugnini: Reformer of the Liturgy, the first genuine biography of Msgr. Bugnini and a book which I hope to review this week or next. For many reasons it is an interesting book, bringing to light many aspects and details of the reform process which are lost in the propaganda narratives on both the conservative and liberal sides of the aisle. Among these details is the liturgical reforms of Pius XII.

We know about the Vatican II preparatory commissions, which included Msgr. Lefebvre and Cardinal Montini; they did not like each other well before 1975. We know about the parliamentary tactics at "the Council." We know about the Consilium and its members. We are inundated with facts about the Vatican II reforms. What we do not know as much about are the Pius XII reforms. We know what they were (common of Popes, three new Holy Saturdays, a new Holy Week, compressed feast ranks, no subdeacon if one wanted, dialogue Masses and much more). We know less about the people and process behind it, or at least we did until now.

Papa Pacelli's first reform was that of the psalter, re-translated from Greek into Latin by Augustin Bea, SJ, whose work was received with the criticism adauget latinitatem, minuit pietatem. Pope Pius held the accuracy of the psalter close to his heart and took the popular clerical disdain for the project, written off as "German pedantry", very personally. Down, but not out, he and Cardinal Salotti decided to convene a commission interested in the "general reform" of the Roman liturgy in 1946. The date is quite crucial because Mediator Dei and the "Pian Commission" followed in successive years. Other than the inversion of St. Prosper's dictum lex orandi, lex credendi, the most pivotal part of the encyclical comes in the pontiff's acknowledgement of organic development as the natural mode of liturgical maturation and then derogating all liturgical authority to the Holy See alone (MD 58). Far from restricting the more radical elements of the Liturgical Movement, the pope was taming them and culling from their number. Ferdinando Antonelli, OFM, a member both of the Consilium and Pius XII's group, would call Mediator Dei a magna carta for the healthy part of the Liturgical Movement.

Unlike the Vatican II preparatory sections and the Consilium, Bugnini spent most of his time on Pius XII's commission as a secretary and observer rather than an administrative leader and visionary. Hired directly by Pope Pius after reading his pastoral articles in his journal, Ephemerides Liturgicae, Bugnini was a conscientious worker who did little in the discussions and work groups. Bugnini, Antonelli, and the rest of the initial study group published a generally forgotten work called Memoria sulla Riforma liturgica, which highlighted a general desire to reform the Martyrology, the Office, the kalendar and festive system, liturgical music, Canon Law, and the Mass itself (over 343 pages). Pius's interest in the Mass is unclear, as the Memoria suggested the Mass itself would not change much, but vernacular would be introduced and the popular manner of participation would forcibly evolve. Organic change by committee.

In 1958, the year of Pacelli's death, the Commission drafted an instruction on the liturgy with a particular focus on sacred music. The document, issued fittingly on September 3rd, defined several levels of "active participation", giving popular singing of the Ordinary chants a nod of approval, but expressing a greater desire for the laity to join in singing the proper chants of the Mass! Aside from being ridiculous musically, the proper chants were a clerical function before the Ordo Romanus I in the year 800, when Latin and proto-Italian were still very similar languages. The document permitted hymns to substitute for the propers when such music might incite "devout feelings".

Perhaps most eye-popping among the Commission's internal reporting are the results of an international survey sent to 400 bishops concerning potential reform of the Breviary. The most popular things demanded were simpler hymns (23%), vernacular (18%), and a single nocturne at Mattins (17%), meaning the vast majority had no interest in these things at all, but were eventually given them in time.

So, what was the Vincentian priest, Annibale Bugnini, doing while Antonelli, Bea, and others were plotting to cut Patristic lessons from Sunday Offices? When Pope Pius declared a Holy Year in 1950 Bugnini saw an opportunity to repeat an experiment he concocted some years earlier in a poor Roman suburb. He attempted to publish a book geared toward pilgrims and their priests called La Nostra Messa, his first attempt at "paraphrasing" the existing Roman Mass. His Vincentian superiors took a look and point blank refused to publish the work, but Bugnini self-published the 36 page pamphlet through the printer of his journal, Ephemerides.

What was La Nostra Messa? Bugnini's "paraphrase" of the Mass, edited by his disciple, a young Carlo Braga, was effectively an instructed narration of the Mass read by a "commentator" or "reader", a role which would reappear in the transitional Mass of 1964-9. The priest would celebrate a spoken Mass quietly with his server while the reader—"a priest, member of Catholic Action, or a woman"—would verbalize descriptions of what was going on during the Mass and suggest certain pious thoughts or prayers people might consider during these moments. During the Lavabo inter innocentes the reader would tell people the priest was washing his hands so he could touch the Body of Christ shortly. This incessant noise would only stop for the consecration; otherwise, he or she would continue to blather through the Roman Canon. Bishop Charriere of Lausanne criticized this dialogue Mass as an imbalance between between the priest and the people, but the damage was done. The Holy Year meant two printings of La Nostra Messa were sold and made their way to parishes with modern-minded priests that year; by 1962, twelve editions of the pamphlet had come off the press, some 1,500,000 copies.

Even five years ago one would occasionally hear that Pius XII's pontificate provided genuine liturgical reform, in contrast to those novelties of Paul VI. Time, scholarship, and continually expanding use of the pre-Vatican II rites have effected one conclusion: it all needs to go. Give us the real Roman Liturgy, please.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

St. Joseph and the Thomists

Whilst perusing the local parochial bookstore one never knows what one might find amidst the piles of pre-owned volumes of forgotten preconciliar lore. Some will be seminary castoffs, some will be dust magnets with even dustier theology, and some will be a long-lost collection of Thomistic Josephology.

A Thomistic Josephology is a collected edition of articles written between 1961-1966 by James J. Davis, O.P. for the purpose of examining "the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas on St. Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the foster father of Jesus Christ." I had never heard of this collection before finding it on an unassuming shelf, and even a search online comes up with scarcely any results.

Those who remember my old series on Josephology may recall a brief installment concerning the relevant doctrines of St. Thomas. What I treated summarily, Davis treats with over 300 pages of commentary and quotation, both in translation and out of it. Indeed, the bulk of the word count can be found in the Latin footnotes.

The first two-thirds of the collection very straightforwardly quote Thomas on his few Joseph-related passages and a many other vaguely related passages. These come not only from the two Summas, but also from the Catena and Thomas's scriptural commentaries. If there is one thing Davis is not it is lazy; his thoroughness could be considered pedantic, but in reality he has provided a helpful compendium of all that St. Thomas could possibly be argued to have written about St. Joseph. Davis establishes Thomas's arguments with their many dependencies on St. Jerome, particularly his doctrines of Joseph's vow of celibacy and of an actual marriage between Joseph and the Virgin Mary.

At around page 190 Davis descends into the odd realm of later Thomistic speculation. Suarez's "order of the hypostatic union" appears, as do many arguments according to fittingness. Davis actually does address the problem of Joseph supplanting the older belief in St. John the Baptist's preeminence, and admits that there is no simple solution to the problem. His section on the virtues and gifts of St. Joseph do not admit that he was in possession of every possible spiritual magnificence. He suggests there is much to doubt at the doctrine of Joseph's sanctification in the womb, and also at the idea of his resurrection and assumption. He traces the origin of some now-forgotten quotation attributed to Thomas about the great patronage of St. Joseph and proves it false. All things considered, this is a very reasonable work and not one to be easily dismissed like many devotional books. It would be better if those popular works were all replaced by this forgotten volume on the shelves of Josephite devotees.

Indeed, one wishes that Davis had applied his intellectual powers to a study of the Church Fathers and not restricted himself to Thomas's immediate influences and to the speculations of his followers. It is good to have a collection of Thomistic thought on St. Joseph, but Davis is too prone to accept Thomas's argument as a fait accompli rather than the thought of one Doctor among many, all working within an existing tradition. Many times Thomas is proof-texted in the way a Baptist might quote St. Paul. (In the prefatory material it is boasted that it "is obvious that the sole sources for this work are the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas," as if that were not indicative of a problem.)

This is a good reference volume for those who don't wish to rummage through their multi-volume set of the Summa Theologica for quotes, but it is not a useful survey of Church teaching and tradition on St. Joseph. Sadly, one comes away feeling that it could have been thus if the author had only been willing.

St. Joseph the Workingman, pray for us!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Problems with the Eastern Communion

Have you ever experienced trouble with the Eastern Communion? I have. 

No, not the collection of churches themselves, but the actual administration of Communion in the [Byzantine] Eastern Churches can be an occasion for trouble. Much has been made about Communion in the hand in the Roman Church and not without just cause. It subverts the received reverence for the Body of Christ, has lent itself to abuse in the act of giving Holy Communion, and once in a while can permit a Satanist or militant Muslim to acquire a Host with the intention of desecrating the Word Incarnate. The Eastern practice does not lend itself to these exact problems, but that is not to say it is without issue entirely.

The same difficulty with Communion in the Greek rite Churches is that it is almost always administered using a long, ornamented spoon. The Holy Bread must be cut into very small portions in order to remain steadily on the spoon without sliding and the administering cleric must be careful not to impart too much of the Precious Blood other than what has soaked into the Bread.

Unfortunately, the Sacred Species still tends to come off the spoon at least once in a while and end up either on the purificator (Byzantine houseling cloth) or end up directly on the floor. This is further complicated by the fact that children and the elderly often have trouble timing when to open or close their mouths as the spoon approaches. For the split second the Body of Christ is as vulnerable as during His earthly sojourn. At least once every half year some of the Precious Blood ends up on the floor. Thankfully, the Holy Bread more often than not is caught either on the diskos or the purificator. The other week one of our readers attended my parish and found some of the Blood dripping onto the cuff of his shirt.

There is, however, a Byzantine Church that retains ancient practice and has a safer Communion for it. The Melkite Catholic Church retained the pre-Byzantine practice of giving Communion by means of intinction at the hand of the cleric. Practically, this means the deacon holds the chalice next to the priest, who in turn holds the diskos with the Holy Bread. The priest, using his hand and no additional implement, dips the Bread into the chalice and then puts it directly into the communicant's mouth just as would be done in an old rite Roman Mass. The diskos, usually larger than an ordinary Greek one, doubles as a sort of Communion plate, catching any stray liquid or particulars. As the priest directly holds the Body of Christ, the precarious moment when things tend to go wrong is also eliminated.

Communion accidents in the Byzantine rite probably pale in contrast to irreverences in the modern Roman rite, but they remain something avoidable.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Cathedral Chapters

source: New Liturgical Movement

As usual, Canticum Salomonis has a fascinating series on the Gallic liturgical rites that pre-dated the forces of change in our own day. Prior to the late 19th century each French province or archbishopric had its own distinct liturgical use. St John Vianney likely never celebrated the Roman Mass, only the primatial rite of Lyon, to which his bishop was a suffragan.

While it is tempting to concentrate on the now lost traditions of the church of Lyon and its apoclyptic liturgical signs or Rouen's retention of the ancient fasting rules and public penance, one more startling aspect of the Voyages Liturgiques is the ubiquity of cathedral chapters in deciding the liturgical life of a diocese.

The "chapter" was a collection of stable priests, usually many dozen, who sung the full Divine Office and any prescribed votive Offices every day in a public church. This church was normally the cathedral of a diocese, but a city without a cathedral could have a "collegiate" church and a city with a cathedral chapter could have numerous additional collegiate churches; the city of Rome probably had nearly a dozen two centuries ago and today still has half a dozen. In addition to the Office, the priests, called "canons", would offer any Masses prescribed by the kalendar in the solemn form and could celebrate private Masses for the intentions of their benefactors. Indeed, once upon a time no priest could be ordained without a financial path laid out in advance for him by his benefactors and his bishop. Each canon in a cathedral had the duty to pray for the intentions of his particular church and for his benefactors, living and dead.

These chapters exercised unique authority over the liturgy of their own diocese. In Lyon, for example, no one was admitted to the Mass of a feast if he missed Vespers, even if the bishop himself failed to attend. None could celebrate Mass in the sanctuary of the cathedral save members of the chapter, of which the bishop was an honorary member. The archbishop of Lyon could only pontificate from the throne four times per annum: the Nativity, Mandy Thursday, Pascha, and Pentecost. For the rest of the year solemn Mass served by the chapter would be the public liturgy of the cathedral.

These benefice-receiving canons often drew the ire of other clergy and anti-clerical rhetoricians, perhaps not unjustly. Unlike monks, they took no vow of poverty and could keep the proceeds from their practice of the Office. Similarly, they spent half of their waking hours praying the Office and so rarely had to make the rounds visiting the poor and contagiously sick the way humble parish parsons did. Disproportionately did canons come from noble families and disproportionately did they become monsignori and bishops themselves.

Yet for all their associated short-comings, the institution of canons safeguarded the liturgical tradition in their dioceses and connected the roots of the liturgy with the soil of the local community. The prayer in these cathedrals was very much the prayer many generations of people had offered to God and which they desired to pass on unaffected. Many of these churches retained infant Confirmation and Communion, frequent Communion of the faithful, full ceremonies of Holy Week that would blow the pre-Pacellian rites out of the water, and an overall generous view toward worship as the normative manner of Christian prayer. So influential were chapters in the liturgical life of a diocese that S Pius V had to predicate Quo primum tempore on their unanimous decisions:
"This new rite alone is to be used unless approval of the practice of saying Mass differently was given at the very time of the institution and confirmation of the church by Apostolic See at least 200 years ago, or unless there has prevailed a custom of a similar kind which has been continuously followed for a period of not less than 200 years, in which most cases We in no wise rescind their above-mentioned prerogative or custom. However, if this Missal, which we have seen fit to publish, be more agreeable to these latter, We grant them permission to celebrate Mass according to its rite, provided they have the consent of their bishop or prelate or of their whole Chapter, everything else to the contrary notwithstanding."
Canons still exist today in many European churches, albeit without the same function and purpose that they once had. Even churches that still retain a daily office, like Westminster Cathedral in London, usually resort to a trained choir instead of the standing chapter, which is more often than not composed of retired priests enjoying the honor of wearing scarlet in old age. There are, however, a few groups that continue the old use, not the least of which is the relatively new community at St. John Cantius in Chicago.

Three years ago I wrote some thoughts on the state of Christian communities and places where the Church might want to consider her efforts, not least of which are universities and the problem of solitary clerical life. Chapters belong to a time when pious minds thought prayer was worth something of their money and when a sufficient part of society was Christian enough to sustain such a body. Those days have passed, for now, but could not a solution to the problem of numerous miserable priests, living alone in the rectories of half attended churches, be partially found in these older chapters? Could not our clerks recite the Office in common and provide a vibrant destination for the diocese's faithful five days a week, attending to the needs of individual parishes on the weekends, when suburbia actually lives in the suburbs? If anything, it would eliminate much opportunity for vice and perhaps incubate some probity for virtue in our priests. It might even be more attractive to those considering a vocation to pray in common daily and have something of a private life than the remote existence in a parish so many priests live today.

Friday, January 11, 2019

What Makes "Good" Liturgical Music? Part III (Finale): Music's Place

The average man, woman, or child does not go to the opera. They do not go to the symphony either, save once in a lifetime and only then because a friend's wife lamentably suggested it. To speak of music in the context of "high" culture is just as unapplicable now as it was during Mozart's time, when the illiterate masses had to content themselves with drinking songs, hymns, local ditties, and poetry. Great music, the sort from which we are basing our observations, had no very little place in their lives save in one place: the Church.

"Here comes everybody," James Joyce once said of the Church. Education and secularism have diluted this comment in our time. Clergy are now comparatively less educated than their predecessors and laymen are often more educated than clergy. More to the point, at least in the developed world, the Church tends to retain people from more stable parts of society, like traditional families, whereas in the past the Church could be expected to play host to all rungs of people. Joyce's remark that anyone could be in the Church is not untrue in our day, just less forceful. It is, however, still true.

"Everyone" sets foot in a church, or the Church, at some point and is forced to hear what transpires at the altar. What happens at the altar is dissimilar to any other form of engagement save music. It is not a lecture, where one can fall asleep; it is not a movie, which can fail to gain our sympathies by mere boredom or cardboard characters. For good or ill, it is has "intentionality" which grabs a hold of us as if it were another subject, just as we are "subjects" to Scruton, and not as an "object", something that we can objectify or make our own. It has its own place and purpose, like music, and we cannot help but have a reaction to it.

Just as music has its own sincerity in provoking a mood or emotion by means of rhythm, tempo, themes, arcs, melodies, and farces, so the liturgy has its own way about it with protestations of unworthiness, prayers for the needs or people, readings of exhortation, the words of Christ, the bringing forth of gifts at the altar, a prayer of thanksgiving, the transubstantiation of the elements and appearance of God, the partaking of the Body of Christ, and the dismissal. The Mass is, in fact, the place where ordinary people have encountered music of "high" culture and the best music of high culture often came about for use in this very setting.

Ordinary men and women experience music through microphones or, if they are fortunate a few occasions of the year, in concert. They may enjoy what they hear in this sedated setting, but rarely encounter it fully. The one setting where most people will truly encounter music is in dancing, contorting the movements of the body to the power of the music and giving up control of one's own mind to the timing and rhythm of the sound emanating from either an orchestra, or a wedding band, or a chamber quarter. In more deliberate ways, the ballet dancer coordinates every gesture to the vicissitudes of music in a way which has very few parallels. Through dance, music joins to our wills and moves us where it will.

This paradigm inverts within the sacred confines of the Church, or at least it should. The priest, deacon, cardinal archbishop, and lector do not move because the timing of a Renaissance piece tells them to "step it up", but rather the music emanates from the sacred work being performs. The older the music, the more apparent and seamless the congruence of action and sound.

Take, for example, the most poignant part of Lent outside Holy Week: the incensation of the altar during the pre-Sanctified Divine Liturgy. The priest sings a verse of a psalm ("Put a guard, O Lord, before my mouth...." etc) while waving his thurible, a sign of his prayer and a real gesture of prayer. When he finishes he drops to the ground while the faithful rise and ask that his prayer be received in their own sining of psalm 140 ("Let my prayer rise like incense before and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice").

The Roman liturgy, always more sparse in its externals than its Byzantine brother, similarly views music in a sacred context. There is no more Roman week than the old Holy Week and during the old Holy Week the Church greets Christ and goes from the gates of Jerusalem up to Calvary with Him on Palm Sunday. During the distribution of branches on Palm Sunday the Church sings Pueri Hebræórum, portántes ramos olivárum, obviavérunt Dómino, clamántes et dicéntes: Hosánna in excélsis. The Church equates herself with Israel, the people of God bound by blood in covenant, because she is just that. Then follows a procession. In our modern, reduced Missal we might think that the door ceremony is the point of Palm Sunday, but it is in fact the procession and the music tells us so. In former times a station would be made outside the Church while children atop the church would sing:
Hic est, qui ventúrus est in salútem pópuli. Hic est salus nostra et redémptio Israël. Quantus est iste, cui Throni et Dominatiónes occúrrunt! Noli timére, fília Sion: ecce, Rex tuus venit tibi, sedens super pullum ásinæ, sicut scriptum est, Salve, Rex, fabricátor mundi, qui venísti redímere nos.
This is not drama or theater. It is not music for music's sake like it was with Mozart. Here the music follows our running from our true, fulfilled Jerusalem to meet Christ like willing children who first sang to Him twenty centuries ago. The more memorable Gloria, laus, et honor tibi sit at the door warily remembers the faithlessness of some of Jerusalem then; let us pray that Sion, the Church, remains faithful now.

In Sarum the procession would enter the church and celebrate a Mass of the Passion of Our Lord, but unlike in the Roman rite it would pause before doing so and reveal the Holy Rood before the choir and all would fall down in silent worship. As with the elevation at Mass the silence is pregnant, impossible to ignore, and its own music, demanding we say nothing before the crucified Christ. It is still music, it just has no sound.


We have considered the "intentionality" of music, that music is something un-predicated upon our own reception of it. Music comes upon us like another person, for it approaches us on its own terms, not ours, as another subject and not as an object of our own perceptions. Music can be true, sweet, false, saccharine, and any other number of things that tell people instinctively whether or not it is "good" music.

Music grasps the listener and the listener can even occasionally encounter music on its own terms by giving himself to it, by contorting himself to its whims. This is true, albeit opposite, in the music of the Church, where the action dictates the music and the music only has a place as far as it is concordant with what transpires in the sanctuary. Indeed, music must strive to be the same thing happens in the sanctuary. Otherwise, it is bad liturgical music.

It begs the question to readers: can hymns, outside of those prescribed in the Divine Office, ever be "good" liturgical music?

Monday, January 7, 2019

A Very Merry Christmas (?!)

Yesterday, January 6, was Armenian Christmas. Today, January 7, is Coptic Christmas. Did I get that right?

These two churches, mysteriously called Oriential (sic) Orthodox, in contrast to the Eastern Orthodox, share Communion with each other, but not the date of Christmas in the United States. The Armenian Church is the last Apostolic Church to adopt the celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord; they are only the last because they have not adopted the feast at all. They observe Christ's birth along with the Baptism in the Jordan and the Wedding Feast at Cana on January 6, the Theophany feast. My own Byzantine parish celebrated that same feast, Theophany, today with an extraordinarily detailed blessing of Jordan Water in a service that resembles the structure of the Divine Liturgy, complete with readings, an Alleluia, a Gospel, a Litany, and a dismissal.

The Coptic Church, especially here, in America, continues to adhere to their own kalendar, which aligns with the Julian system still favored by many Calcedonian Orthodox, which makes today something approximating December 25 on another schema. They will observe the feast of Epiphany on January 19, thirteen days after their Armenian brethren.

Despite what some commentators believe, especially those who wish to impose a universal date for the Resurrection for all Catholics (East and Latin) and Orthodox, either according to the Gregorian kalendar or the Julian one, the disparate celebration of feasts is not an inherent occasion for disunity with the broader Church. If anything, the local observance should be favored over the universal norm, should they differ, if only because of the lesson of today's (or yesterday, or the 19), that Christ came to sanctify and save the world, not to confuse it. It would be better, in this writer's humble opinion, to uplift and Christianize the rhythms of our society than to create a parallel world in which they do not exist. Were the pope to announce we would henceforth celebrate Christmas on January 7, the greeting card issuers and toy retailers would smile in having two extra weeks of sales; they would not hang on to the current date.

The ones who have it hardest are those caught between cultures, immigrants more often than not. Our parish will repeat the Divine Liturgy for Christmas on January 7, entirely in Ukrainian, a service more often than not attended by those who adhere to the traditions of the Old World as they live in the New.

Now, will the Armenian Church in New York, St. Vartan's, have mitred deacons today for St. Stephen?