Monthly Archives: November 2014

What I picked last weekend: 1st Sunday of Advent

Now that I’m scheduling hymns at my main parish, I’m restarting the old What I Played Last Weekend but renaming the category. Here’s today’s first installment.

Notes: Got a lot of singing with the entrance. The psalm was a request from the priest; I prefer the psalm of the day but this isn’t a hill to die on. Everyone loves “Christ, Be Our Light,” and that went well. The litany went OK, but it was completely new and our version has an intro that’s not in the books, causing some confusion.

Entrance: O Come, Divine Messiah

Psalm: To You, O Lord (Haugen)

Offertory: Christ, Be Our Light

Mass Parts: Heritage Mass

Communion: Advent Litany (Prendergast)

Recessional: O Come O Come Emmanuel (a cappella)


A lay Catholic man watches “The Sisterhood”

There are some spoilers in this review.

I’m a lay, single Catholic man, which is probably not the target audience of “The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns,” now airing on Lifetime, a network I don’t watch (I don’t even have cable). Still, my journalist instincts tell me I should watch this; it is an important show for Catholics for multiple reasons:

  1. It’s a mainstream reality show set in the Catholic world, and it appears there will be at least an effort to treat the subjects with respect.
  2. There are a lot of ways this could go wrong.
  3. There aren’t a lot of positive portrayals of Catholicism in the media, period, these days.
  4. The female religious life is struggling in the U.S. and could use a boost, especially in young women, as most orders are aging. Now, how many young nuns do you know? I know one (the lovely Sister Alicia Torres, ministering on the West Side of Chicago, where I really should pay her a visit). Most of you probably know zero. How many older nuns do you know? You may know a few. Some nuns who taught me in grade school are still alive, so there’s that.

So I [ugh] got the Lifetime channel added on my Roku (it doesn’t stream live, only offers on-demand episodes), and watched the first episode the day after it aired, then again after I said goodbye to my Thanksgiving visitors. Here are my thoughts — a note that one of the cast members, Claire, is a friend of one of my sisters and I’ve met her a couple times.

(Photo credit: Lifetime.)

(Photo credit: Lifetime.)


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It’s new hymnal season!

At my main parish, our hymnals are designed to be used in three-year cycles. The new cycle starts soon, so as soon as it was in, I picked up the new version and started perusing.

My main parish uses United in Christ, the bilingual three-year hymnal. So there is plenty in Spanish and English and at least a few changes. I quickly perused every page to see what I liked; fortunately, there is plenty. For example:

• New “old” hymns include “Adoro Te Devote” and “O God, Beyond All Praising,” which is one of my favorites.

• Other additions include an incredibly strong Advent litany and Tom Booth and Jenny Pixler’s “Sacred Silence.”

• There are now solid bilingual translations of “Christ, Be Our Light” and “Praise to You, O Christ Our Savior.”

But I do see some shortcomings:

• So many English translations of Spanish songs simply stink. I wish OCP would fix them; “Pescador de Hombres” is one of the notoriously awful versions. I know translating to fit a meter isn’t easy, but turning “Alabare” (literally “I will praise”) into “O Come and Sing” was just weird.

• The basic Latin Mass setting chants are there, but not the English versions.

Still, my parish has used this hymnal for a while, and it serves our needs fairly well. I’m cheered by the efforts OCP has put in to keep improving this, and I’m looking forward to another solid three years with the books.

Why aren’t readings sung? Easy, easy answer.

The question is asked by a CCWatershed writer: Why are the readings not sung at Mass? One of his suggestions, weirdly, is “psychological immaturity” on the part of the priest.

Even Jesus realizes this is a silly thing to say.


But that silliness aside, let’s address the question. I got my first experience of this at the CMAA colloquium this summer, and I think I can answer this pretty easily. I would never suggest singing readings (except in the EF, of course).

In every experience I had with the sung readings this summer (EF or OF), I noticed two things.

A: I couldn’t hear the singer.

B: If I could hear the singer (some were miked, some not), I couldn’t understand the singer.

Now, obviously, this was a very small sample size in a very big church (though I wasn’t sitting too far back). Others’ experience may vary, but my experience was uniformly negative.

There’s also a personnel issue. At my main parish, we barely have enough singers, period. Trying to get them to sing the readings would be a non-starter, and for the priest, singing a long gospel is a non-starter.

I’m sure some people appreciate sung readings, and that’s fine for them. But let’s not mistake preferences as guaranteed to be improvements from whatever you don’t like. And let’s certainly not confuse a preference for “psychological immaturity.”