Category Archives: Roman Catholicism

The one true church of the Apocalypse, or the harlot of Revelation? You decide.

Why I Think Michael Scanlan Went from Charismatic to #straightouttairondale

A little while back I posted How Did We Get from Scanlan to #straightouttairondale?, which posed the obvious (for me at least) question: how did Michael Scanlan, who (when I was going to the Steubenville conferences in the early 1980’s) was promoting a  Charismatic type of spirituality, end up at the conservative Catholic type which I characterise as #straightouttairondale?

One of the commenters on that post may have, IMHO, come up with the answer.  He commented as follows:

If necessity is the mother of invention, then desperation is the mother of re-invention.

In a speech from maybe 20 years ago on EWTN radio, Father Scanlon mentioned that two separate foundations who rate the viability of not for profit institutions both stated the school would close. Scanlon and the powers that be latched onto faithful and traditional Catholicism. That was a novel concept, what with most Catholic colleges being neither traditional nor faithful. Their relationship with EWTN has surely born fruit as well. EWTN was an instrument in my reconversion, and until finding this site, I was unaware of its Charismatic past.

What I am about to say is really the proposal of a theory.  It’s a theory that may not sit well with many people, not only because it characterises the participants in a less than perfect way, but also because so many people do not grasp the institutional dynamics that drive non-profit institutions such as churches, universities and governments.  Having worked in these, I can tell you that institutional survival drives many of their decisions and overrides the ideological or religious motivations that drive the faithful.

One of the things that “full-gospel” Christianity has dealt with from Azusa Street onwards is a deficiency of respectability.  That’s driven a great deal of the history of the movement.  Focusing on institutions of higher learning, if we look at a Pentecostal institution like, say, Lee University, we’re looking at a place which has experienced a long, hard road to get where it’s at today.  With respectability comes moneyed donors and students who can afford the tuition, both vital ingredients for the survival and prosperity of any private college.

In the case of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, the participants started further up the “food chain” than most of their Pentecostal counterparts did both in the beginning and really during the Renewal’s heyday.  But that doesn’t always translate into the donors and students that the Franciscan University of Steubenville needed to survive.  For all the conferences they hosted and the prominent place the University attained in the Renewal, they still experienced financial difficulties, to the point where the existence of the institution was in play.

Enter conservative, #straightouttairondale Catholicism.  There’s no denying that the Renewal and #straightouttairondale had touchpoints, as anyone who has read Ralph Martin’s Crisis of Truth is aware of.  (Some of you will also remember Mother Angelica’s famous rant after Christ was depicted as a women during a papal visit.)  But the means the two had to meet their common goals were highly divergent, and means is key here.  From their divergent musical tastes to their view on the working of the Holy Spirit, the differences between the two are profound.

#straightouttairondale Catholicism, however, was more respectable than the Charismatic Renewal, and that made it attractive for someone like Michael Scanlan, who was trying to make his institution viable.  Making the transition between the two was tricky enough on its face, but Scanlan had another problem: the existence of the Servants of Christ the King covenant community, which was under the direction of the Sword of the Spirit movement.  Guitars and folk music were anathema enough to the #straightouttairondale people, but a group connected to Sword of the Spirit, with its dicey connections to the Catholic Church and autocephalous authority structure, wouldn’t do at all.

In 1991 a group which spent a lot of time talking about visitations from God got a visitation from on high in the form of Steubenville’s Bishop, Albert Ottenweller.  He basically broke the group up.  That breaking up–a major point in the University’s history–was hardly acknowledged by Scanlan in later communications, as indeed was the Charismatic Renewal at the University.

I think it boils down to the respectability issue.  I’ve noted a broad reluctance to discuss the Renewal from many of its participants.  If we consider the practices current in the Renewal vs. those in #straightouttairondale, it’s not hard to see why.  On a deeper level, the Charismatic Renewal attempted to import the free exercise of the spiritual gifts into a church which had absorbed them into its sacramental and hierarchical system centuries before, and that was an uphill battle from the start, one only made easier by the state of Roman Catholicism in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Based on these considerations, I believe that we can make the following assertions about Scanlan and the break-up of the community:

  1. I think that Scanlan had advance knowledge of Ottenweller’s visitation and the result that it would have.  I think it’s a stretch at this point to say that Scanlan actually induced Ottenweller to come to the University, but it’s possible.  Even at that, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Scanlan threw the Servants of Christ the King under the bus.
  2. I think that he used the results of that visitation to further the transition of the University from a Charismatic institution to a #straightouttairondale one.  The University has, frankly, prospered from that transition.  Whether Roman Catholicism is better for it, or the state of the souls of those involved in all of this improved, is a trickier proposition.

Some of this monograph was drawn from John Flaherty’s compilation on the subject; I would especially draw your attention to the National Catholic Reporter’s article on the University, which was especially informative.

Senovia

Emmanuel L.P. 3000  (1975)

Most rock groups were pretty compact: four or five members, but they put out the defining sound of the era.  Large groups with choral leanings were exceptional, even among Christian groups.  We’ve featured large groups like Cloud, with their ethereal sound and very Anglican harmonies.

At the opposite end of the spectrum in every sense of the word is this group, from East Los Angeles and almost entirely Hispanic.  This album moves and rocks in a way that’s a sheer delight to listen to.  From their hard-driving cover of “I Am the Resurrection” onward, the vocals and instrumentation work very well.  For those of us who spent much of the 1970’s wishing that someone would “cut loose” it’s too bad it took this long to find a group that did just that, but Senovia does.  The closest thing to this album posted is God Unlimited, but although their work is excellent their result is restrained by comparison.  This is an album that has been forgotten, but it shouldn’t have been and shouldn’t be now.

The Songs:

  • I Am The Resurrection
  • Follow Me
  • Salvation Song
  • Christian Man
  • Glory Land
  • New Creation
  • United By Love
  • Children
  • The Lord
  • My Name Is Peace

The Musicians:

  • Ken Brokamp, Director, Guitar
  • Ron Rios, Bass Guitar
  • Esther Puente
  • Jesse Galenos, Guitar
  • Vic Valverde, Harmonica
  • Cenovia Madero, Maracas
  • Gloria Guzman
  • Rudy Pacheco
  • Gil Fierro, Congas
  • Dave Hidalgo, Drums
  • Olga Castelianos
  • Ofelia Balt-Liovera
  • Rosa Colorado
  • Maron Valadez, Guitar
  • Ricardo Yanez Electric Guitar

DL

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Kathy Kanewske: These Days

Mayim MM 1001 (1976)

Texas Catholicism made some magnificent contributions to the “Jesus Music” era, including this, this and thisThese Days is yet another contribution to that roster.  From the Community Of The Well in Austin, this delight is a well produced, well instrumented production with excellent vocals and a variety of styles, from the country style of “Jesus was a Carpenter” to the Jewish overtones of the “Song of Joel.”   Unlike most other Catholic productions, it does not have a particularly long section devoted to strictly liturgical music.  I suspect that the obstacle to wider acceptance of this music for liturgical use was that most parishes didn’t (and don’t) have the musicians up to performing it, but that’s a reason a great deal of great liturgical music written during this time ended up on the shelf.

Kathy Kanewske is still active producing Catholic music.  Albums like this, however, are a reminder that the Lord’s Prayer really says “on earth as it is in Texas.” 😉

The songs:

  1. Jesus Was A Carpenter
  2. Song Of Joel
  3. Do You Know What It’s Like
  4. They That Sow In Tears
  5. Jesus Riding Into Jerusalem
  6. Lamb Of God
  7. We Have Seen A Great Light
  8. Blessed Is The Man
  9. Eternal God
  10. Caring
  11. When Thou Passest
  12. Christopher Stephen

DL

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People of Praise: Come, Lord

P/P 7601 (1976)

After the food fight I got into with my posting of the one Word of God album I did, I became reluctant to post another Catholic Charismatic community album.  I think, however, that the genre needs to be remembered and available when possible, and this production of the People of Praise in South Bend, Indiana is a good example of it.

Although the People of Praise wasn’t a small community, they brought in (yes, they did) Jim Cavnar from the Word of God community in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to produce the album.  It’s safe to say that there wasn’t that much difference in the worship styles of the two communities to start with, but with Cavnar’s presence it would be difficult to tell this album blindfolded from its Word of God counterparts.  The downside to that is the flat style, tambourines being the only percussion allowed, and heavy on the acoustic guitars.  The upside is that it was easy for a congregation to sing to (which is more than I can say for a lot of the current praise and worship music) and no worse than much of what OCP has produced over the years.

The style may be the same, but most of the songs are different from the Word of God repertoire.  One exception is “We See the Lord,” based on Isaiah 6.  It’s an old favourite of mine and was of my prayer group leader, who worked for the Southern Railroad.  It’s one of several songs with Protestant origins, common in the repertoire of communities and prayers groups of the era.

In her book Which Way for Catholic Pentecostals, J. Massyngberde Ford depicted the Ann Arbor-South Bend connection in a way that reminds history buffs of the Berlin-Rome axis.  (I guess that throwing in Dallas’ Community of God’s Delight makes a Berlin-Rome-Tokyo axis.)  But Ann Arbor’s leadership had fallings out, first with South Bend and then with Dallas, over the Sword of the Spirit.  For all the similarities of the three groups, that suggests that Steve Clark and his SoS people overplayed their hand, which contributed to the breakup of the 1970’s Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

The Songs:

  1. Come Lord
  2. Mission Hymn
  3. My Heart Stands Ready
  4. We See The Lord
  5. Jesus Is the Light of the World
  6. Make Music to Our God
  7. Revelation 21
  8. O Living Water
  9. But We See Jesus
  10. I Know the Lord Laid His Hands on Me
  11. Christ is the Lord of All
  12. When the Roll is Called Up Yonder
  13. Every Time I Feel the Spirit

DL

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You Could Just Stand There and Look Stupid: An Ascension Day Reflection

Today is Ascension Day, when we celebrate Our Lord’s bodily ascension into heaven.  The Acts of the Apostles describe the “aftermath” on earth as follows:

While they were still gazing up into the heavens, as he went, suddenly two men, clothed in white, stood beside them, And said: “Men of Galilee, why are you standing here looking up into the heavens? This very Jesus, who has been taken from you into the heavens, will come in the very way in which you have seen him go into the heavens.” (Act 1:10-11 TCNT)

For some reason, this reminds me of an encounter I had with one of my students.  This student was unique in many ways.   I found out independently that he had a hard life: abandoned by parents, brother in jail, poverty, but that he had given it his best shot in life and was working on his civil engineering degree (which he completed.)  Helping students like this makes teaching worthwhile.

One day he came to see me in my office.  My office is away from most of the College of Engineering and Computer Science in a building with 24-hour card access.  If you don’t have a card, during the day you can ring the doorbell and be admitted.  He did that and got to my office, but then he asked me a serious question: “What would I do if I didn’t know to ring the doorbell to get in?”

“Well, you could just stand there and look stupid,” I replied.

He thought a second and sad, “I could just stand there and look stupid.”  In spite of this inauspicious start, we had a good meeting.

Every time I read the passage in Acts I cited above, I always think to myself, “You know, those two men were certainly angels, otherwise they would have said, ‘Men of Galilee, why are you standing here looking stupid up into the heavens?'”  Our Lord had just given them instructions as to what they were supposed to be doing:

So, when the Apostles had met together, they asked Jesus this question–“Master, is this the time when you intend to re-establish the Kingdom for Israel?” His answer was: “It is not for you to know times or hours, for the Father has reserved these for his own decision; But you shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit shall have descended upon you, and shall be witnesses for me not only in Jerusalem, but throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Act 1:6-8 TCNT)

But they just stood there looking upward until the angel gave them the reality check they needed.

Two thousand years have passed, and many Christians, mesmerized by whatever “spiritual happening” is going on around them, or what’s trendy in the church.  But Our Lord not only gave us a mission; he sent the Holy Spirit to empower us to accomplish that mission.

Our Lord’s messengers were too polite to tell the disciples to quit looking stupid and get on with their task.  But, polite or not, it’s the truth: the mission has not changed, and is still out there for Christians to accomplish it.

Translating Bossuet was Really Worth It After All

With Holy Week behind us, I’d like to stop and note an interesting email dialogue.  My persistent (well, sometimes) Canadian commenter took a catty swipe at my translations of Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries, which is an ongoing project of mine.

Evidently someone else thinks highly of the effort.  I received this from Dr. Mitchell Ginsburg of the University of California at San Diego re my translation of Bossuet’s Sermon on the Profession of Mlle de la Vallière:

I have come across the rendering from the French at the above cite. It strikes me as the most accurate rendering of the original sermon by ‘Abbé Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet that I have been able to find (even more so than in some old texts giving an English version, from the 1800s!) and would like to give the source…

I am fairly fluent in French (my wife is French and we’ve also lived in France in the past and I am a dual national, so I can vote in the upcoming French elections, as well as in California and US elections of course), so I was surprised by some of the “translations” and “excerpts” from Bossuet that I could download online that had no corresponding text in the French (parts of the “sermon” being sheer inventions on the part of the English-language editor, I’d say). I only ran across Bossuet when I was doing research on Hafiz, and found some essays by the man who became the very first professor of Sanskrit at Cambridge Univ.—I hadn’t heard of him but in reading about him I recognized some of his colleagues and even students.
(He apparently was fluent in Western languages including Latin and Greek–the old school of Classical education) as well as Arabic, Farsi, Sanskrit, Hindi, and so forth, and in one essay, in passing to set the stage for a discussion of Rumi, he spoke highly of Bossuet… the winding path of curiosity and linked ideas! ;o)

For someone whose fluency in French certainly exceeds mine, that’s a high compliment.  And an inspection of his website will show that he looks at things differently than I do.  That’s not a novelty with me; that was also the case with Ron Krumpos.

More on my Bossuet translation project is here.  There’s something universal in his appeal, and that makes the project worthwhile.

Without Clouds: A Good Friday Reflection

Recently I was speaking with a Nigerian pastor about current attitudes towards adversity in life.  I have seen many concerned about the effect of prosperity teaching on African Christians, and this pastor certainly practices an approach to ministry that is full of faith.  But he also accepts the reality that there will be adversity in life, that bad things will come along, even to God’s faithful.

That reminded me of a song that we used to sing in the Texas A&M Newman Association, the Dameans’ “Without Clouds:”

(Personally, I think our Texas-raised musicians did a better performance job than those, ahem, across the Sabine, but I digress…)

The refrain is as follows:

“Without clouds, the rain can’t wash the land
Without rain, the grass won’t hide the sand
Without grass, the flower’s bloom won’t grow
Without pain, the joy in life won’t show”

When I first heard this, I was going through Aquinas’ Summa, and he makes the following observation about the effect of adversity on the just:

“Justice and mercy appear in the punishment of the just in this world, since by afflictions lesser faults are cleansed in them, and they are the more raised up from earthly affections to God. As to this Gregory says (Moral. xxvi, 9): “The evils that press on us in this world force us to go to God.” (Summa Theologiae, Ia, 21.4 ad 3)

The emphasis is a little different in each, but the root idea is the same: adversity has the potential for good to come out of it.  I came to know this as “Without Clouds Theology.”

Many secularists (including newly minted ones like Bart Campolo) have disliked this whole concept, but what’s disturbing to me is that, in the intervening time, many American Christians have come to dislike it too.  Oh, they won’t say it directly, but we have the plague of “Open Theology,” and torturous attempts to explain the problem such as The Shack.  The simple fact of the matter is that too many American Christians have adopted the idea that life should be free of adversity or pain.

This idea didn’t come out of the blue; it comes from the culture, a culture that leads the church more often than the other way around.  To a large extent that belief has destabilised our culture and our country.  We can’t even stand the idea of people disagreeing with us let alone inflicting real pain; both UC Berkeley and Middlebury College saw violence to keep up a “safe space” for their true believers.  (You’d think that someone would point out that a group of white people with Murray’s supposedly higher IQ would have more to show for it then they do, but I digress…)

Now, of course, we have those who consider the Passion of Our Lord as “child abuse,” since the Father willed that the Son go to the Cross for the salvation of all people.  It never occurs to people like this that, to be in the “happy” state where they are, those in the past have sacrificed and suffered in a secular sense.    And those who did suffer and sacrifice knew that such was necessary to carry out what needed to be done.

It is in this context that the suitability of Our Lord’s saving act on the Cross must be seen.  It’s a reminder that the adversity of his suffering and death lead to the victory on Easter morning.  In the past the general state of life reminded people of the necessity of the Passion; now the accomplishment of the Passion must not only be the road to salvation, but also a reminder that the road to victory often runs through the land of pain, suffering and adversity.

Seeing, therefore, that there is on every side of us such a throng of witnesses, let us also lay aside everything that hinders us, and the sin that clings about us, and run with patient endurance the race that lies before us, our eyes fixed upon Jesus, the Leader and perfect Example of our faith, who, for the joy that lay before him, endured the cross, heedless of its shame, and now ‘has taken his seat at the right hand’ of the throne of God.  (Heb 12:1-2 TCNT)

The Way You’d Really Like a Young Person to Start Bible Study

On his or her own initiative, as was the case with Bossuet.  From R. de la Broise’s Bossuet and the Bible, pp. xiv-xv:

He was fifteen years old when a happy coincidence came to mind.  His father, who returned to Dijon from time to time, led him (Bossuet) to his office.  There the young man “threw his hand on a Latin Bible, which he took with his father’s permission.  It was the first time, studying in secondary school or in rhetoric, when he opened the holy Books.  He found a taste and a sublimity which made him prefer it to everything he had read until then.  He remembered and recalled it with pleasure, all through his life, when he had touched this reading for the first time.  This moment was always present and living to him as it was the first time, as his soul was struck with these things which left him with a more profound impression of joy and lights.”

First note: that the Bible was in Latin wasn’t an obstacle for Bossuet or for most educated people of the day.

Bossuet had been raised with both extracts from the Scriptures and of course the cycle of lectionary readings that came with the Mass.  But the enthusiasm with which he studied the Scriptures themselves is significant.

Evangelicals are always looking for ways to get their young people to read and study the Bible.  And, truth be told, their efforts have not been match by the results: Biblical ignorance remains a serious problem these days, as shown by the popularity of things such as The Shack.

I think the core of the problem is that the method of Evangelicals is geared toward those who lack basic curiosity about things.  As a result little is left to the imagination, especially in Biblical studies since the idea hangs on the Bible more than it hangs on God.  For many this works, but I am not convinced that it works for the kinds of leaders that Evangelicalism claims to be so enamoured with.

The liturgical system presents a temporal framework for the presentation of eternal truth.  Sooner or later some will attempt to go “behind the curtain” and that’s what happened with Bossuet and the Scriptures.  May our presentation of God’s truth inspire that in more people!

The Five Lessons of Creation

From Philo Judaeus, On the Creation of the World, LXI:

And in his before mentioned account of the creation of the world, Moses teaches us also many other things, and especially five most beautiful lessons which are superior to all others.

  1. In the first place, for the sake of convicting the atheists, he teaches us that the Deity has a real being and existence. Now, of the atheists, some have only doubted of the existence of God, stating it to be an uncertain thing ; but others, who are more audacious, have taken courage, and asserted positively that there is no such thing; but this is affirmed only by men who have darkened the truth with fabulous inventions.

  2. In the second place he teaches us that God is one; having reference here to the assertors of the polytheistic doctrine men who do not blush to transfer that worst of evil constitutions, ochlocracy, from earth to heaven.

  3. Thirdly, he teaches, as has been already related, that the world was created; by this lesson refuting those who think that it is uncreated and eternal, and who thus attribute no glory to God.

  4. In the fourth place we learn that the world also which was thus created is one, since also the Creator is one, and he,making his creation to resemble himself in its singleness, employed all existing essence in the creation of the universe. For it would not have been complete if it had not been made and composed of all parts which were likewise whole and complete. For there are some persons who believe that there are many worlds, and some who even fancy that they are boundless in extent, being themselves inexperienced and ignorant of the truth of those things of which it is desirable to have a correct knowledge.

  5. The fifth lesson that Moses teaches us is, that God exerts his providence for the benefit of the world. For it follows of necessity that the Creator must always care for that which he has created, just as parents do also care for their children. And he who has learnt this not more by hearing it than by his own understanding, and has impressed on his own soul these marvellous facts which are the subject of so much contention namely, that God has a being and existence, and that he who so exists is really one, and that he has created the world, and that he has created it one as has been stated, having made it like to himself in singleness; and that he exercises a continual care for that which he has created will live a happy and blessed life, stamped with the doctrines of piety and holiness.

I would suggest that you (especially if you’re NEC) read this in light of this piece.

Paul Quinlan: Run Like a Deer

FEL  S-092 (1967)

The ink (printed or handwritten) had barely dried on the Second Vatican Council’s documents when Catholic composers and artists began to write songs for what we call the “old folk Mass” but what was revolutionary then.  Leading the pack (in quantity at least) was Paul Quinlan, S.J., who produced an enormous number of songs that resonated in many Catholic churches during the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Most of the songs on this album are drawn from the Psalms, which was a favourite well for Quinlan to draw from.  It’s hard to expect even output from someone as prolific as Quinlan, but some of his songs are very memorable; I know that my group at Texas A&M made good use of “Song of Thanks.”

As far as his style is concerned, it’s a very sparse, mid-60’s folk style.  That will go down well with some people but many who came after him performed his work in a richer style.  An interesting comparison can be made with his “Glory to God,” which appears (albeit in rehearsal mode) on this recording.

As the 1970’s wore on and NALR’s productions slowly came to dominate the folk Mass scene, much of Quinlan’s work fell by the wayside.  Today of course we have the #straightouttairondale people who ban the folk Mass altogether, but this album is a nice reminder of what people can do when they start with a “clean slate.”

The songs:

  1. Lord You See Me (Ps 139)
  2. Run Like A Dear (Ps 11)
  3. Glory To God (Ps 122)
  4. O Praise The Lord (Ps 150)
  5. Glory To The Father (Ps 92)
  6. God Arises (Ps 68)
  7. Clap Your Hands (Ps 47)
  8. The Lord Is My Shepherd (Ps 23)
  9. Not To Us O Lord (Ps 115)
  10. Come Let Us Sing (Ps 95)
  11. Song Of Thanks (Ps 118)
  12. Father Bless This Work (Jn 17)
  13. Halay! When To God I Send A Plea (Ps 4)

DL

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