The dope on tropes


It’s almost impossible to find a new, English-language setting for the Mass that doesn’t have a series of tropes for the Agnus Dei.

Agnus Dei, for you non-Catholics, is Latin for “Lamb of God.” At the end of the liturgical prayers, before the distribution of Communion, we sing/pray: “Lamb of God Who taketh away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace.”

Well, these modern settings — Marty Haugen’s Mass of Creation, Christopher Walker’s Celtic Mass, for instance, just to name two (and both of which, by the way, sound so perky and 60s Rock Opera that I’m not sure how they wound up in a Mass instead of on a stage somewhere)– offer a series of “verses,” presumably to keep the faithful occupied while all the hordes of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (NOT “Eucharistic Ministers!”) are piling forward and being served Communion themselves:

Lamb of God…
Bread of Heaven…
Tree of Life…
Prince of Peace…

The problem with these tropes, as they are called (a literary device, words conveying imagery, subsituting for the literal thing they are depicting) is that they competely detract from what is going on in the Mass at that point in time.

We have observed the Birth of Christ on the altar with the Consecration; now we are at Calvary. The common misconception is that we Catholics attempt to re-sacrifice Christ at every Mass; perhaps it is better to think of this moment in the Mass as a bringing out of eternity (kyros) and into our own time (chronos) the once-for-all Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. Here we, through the Mass, are transported to that moment when the spotless Lamb of God was lifted up for my sins, and yours, those of the whole world, prefigured from the earliest pages of Scripture, through Abel’s sacrifice, the ram that took the place of Abraham’s beloved son Isaac on the altar, to the Passover Lamb… in the New Testament John the Baptist identified Jesus as “The Lamb of God” (see image above) and finally to the cry of the Church in Heaven in the Book of Revelations, “Lamb of God!”

The Latin, therefore, is restricted to identifying Him with the words consistent with the Scriptures: “Lamb of God!” Not, you will observe, “panis caelestis” or “arbor vitae,” but “agnus Dei” — Lamb of God. It is through the gory shedding of His blood that we have hope of salvation, forgiveness from sins, victory over sin and death. Only the image of the Lamb is acceptable here.

My first happy act as the new Music Director of Our Lady of the Americas Catholic Church has been to abolish the use of those distracting tropes and to begin a return to our full recognition of Christ as the Spotless Lamb of God.

Pray for me and my new parish.

I’m a Mandarin! What are you?

I’m a Mandarin!

You’re an intellectual, and you’ve worked hard to get where you are now. You’re a strong believer in education, and you think many of the world’s problems could be solved if people were more informed and more rational. You have no tolerance for sloppy or lazy thinking. It frustrates you when people who are ignorant or dishonest rise to positions of power. You believe that people can make a difference in the world, and you’re determined to try.

Talent: 54%
Lifer: 31%
Mandarin: 56%

Take the Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin quiz.

One of only 16% according to the test. I’m ridiculously pleased, for what it’s worth!

Spring, and young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love…

even non-human males.

It’s spring, and my dear, devoted Bubba is back to bringing me love tokens. Last year his offerings included several little lizards (skinks), a dead mockingbird, a small rat, a dying baby bunny, and a live! squirrel.

This morning a few minutes before 4:00 a.m., his meowing woke me up from a bizarre dream I was glad to be awakened from. I thought he was asking to be let out — it was raining heavily and threatening to storm when we went to bed at 10:30. But when I staggered to the back hall and opened the door, he never came to me.

Then it hit me… that soft little gutteral “meow…” I turned on my lamp and rolled over to see him reaching his paw under a shirt that had fallen on the floor. I lifted the shirt and… it was a baby mouse. He grabbed it with his front paws, looked up at me and said, “Meoaow” again, but just at that moment the mouse jumped out of his hands and darted up under the bed.

All this winter, I’ve not seen a sign of a mouse in this trailer, and what does that stinkin’ cat bring me? A MOUSE.

Which is why I’m up and at the computer at 5:30 on a Saturday morning. grrrrrr…..

I think I’m back

Blogging, as Randy has told me repeatedly, is something that needs to be tended to on a daily basis.

Problem is, I don’t have something sparkling and witty or wise to say every day. I don’t even have anything vaguely interesting to say every day (witness the fact that it has been more than a month and a half since I’ve attempted to post!)

Moreover, I am, where my writing is concerned, a perfectionist. I don’t particularly care whether school papers and books stay piled on the living room floor for several days; if they don’t make noise, I don’t really notice them. But when it comes to words — I want everything “just so” and I am only far too aware of how far below my ability the blog writing I’ve done actually comes.

I beat myself up over it regularly and have mostly talked myself into abandoning the blog altogether.

However, life goes on, and maybe I needed a break from this sort of writing for a while. The last couple of days, however, I’ve been thinking about a lot of things and the accompanying idea to them all has been “hmmm, ya know, I oughta blog about that!”

So here I am.

I’m utterly astonished that anyone has actually continued to READ this thing while I’ve been M.I.A. — and thank you for that. I make no promises about trying harder or doing better… I’ll just do my best while I’m up to it, okay?

God bless you!