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Within less than three months, three priest-scholars have died whose contributions to the life of the Church in the United States have been virtually incalculable. Coincidentally, all three entered the Catholic Church as adults.
Father Chrysogonus Waddell, OCSO, a monk of the Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky and a noted musician and scholar, died on November 23, 2008, the Feast of Christ the King, nine days after he was hospitalized with a severe paralytic stroke. He was 78.
Father Chrysogonus was born on March 1, 1930 in the Philippines, where his father was serving in the U.S. Army. Although he grew up in an Episcopalian family, he became a Catholic at age 19.
He joined the Gethsemani community on August 2, 1950, and was ordained to the priesthood May 31, 1958.
Father Chrysogonus was interested in music from his youth, and studied for two years at the Philadelphia Conservatory. In 1962, the Trappist order sent him to Rome for theological studies at the Pontifical College of San Anselmo.
His scholarly contribution to Church music is significant, and though much of his work is anonymous, his compositions are widely used throughout the world. Father Chrysogonus adapted Gregorian chant settings to the English texts that appear in the Missal in current use. He was among the consulters who worked on the Adoremus Hymnal, published in 1997.
Several CD recordings of Father Chrysogonus’s music have been made, including “Christ Has Risen, Truly Risen: Easter Chants and Anthems” (see AB News & Views, October 2007).
In addition to composing music, Father Chrysogonus wrote five books and more than 175 articles, and was an accomplished organist.
His address to the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars convention, “Are There Lessons for Today in Twelfth-Century Sacred Music?”, was published in AB in November 2006.
Cardinal Avery Dulles, 90, Jesuit theologian, died December 12, 2008 of complications of polio he had had as a youth. He was born in Auburn, New York on August 14, 1918, a son of John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State under President Eisenhower.
Though raised in a strong Presbyterian family, the young Avery Dulles lost his faith while attending Harvard. He became a Catholic in 1940. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he entered the Jesuit order in 1946 and was ordained in 1956. In 1960 he received a doctorate in theology from the Gregorian University in Rome, and taught at several Catholic universities since 1988, at Fordham University in New York. In 2001, at the age of 82, he was made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II. Since then, until his illness prevented it, he faithfully attended the US bishops’ meetings as a theological advisor to the conference.
Cardinal Dulles is author of dozens of books and hundreds of articles. His essay “Christ’s Presence in the Eucharist True, Real and Substantial” was published in AB in April 2005.
In 2008 his book Church and Society: The Laurence J. McGinley Lectures, 1988-2007 was published; and his final book a new edition of Newman, on the life and work of Cardinal John Henry Newman will appear in 2009.
Last April, an ailing Cardinal Dulles presented his 39th McGinley Lecture, which was read for him, as he was unable to speak. He concluded with these words:
The good life does not have to be an easy one, as our blessed Lord and the saints have taught us. Pope John Paul II in his later years used to say, “The Pope must suffer”. Suffering and diminishment are not the greatest of evils, but are normal ingredients in life, especially in old age. They are to be accepted as elements of a full human existence. Well into my 90th year I have been able to work productively. As I become increasingly paralyzed and unable to speak, I can identify with the many paralytics and mute persons in the Gospels, grateful for the loving and skillful care I receive and for the hope of everlasting life in Christ. If the Lord now calls me to a period of weakness, I know well that His power can be made perfect in infirmity. “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”
Father Richard John Neuhaus, 72, died January 8. He was born in Pembroke, Ontario, May 14, 1936, one of eight children of a Lutheran minister.
Eventually he followed his father’s footsteps, and was ordained in 1960 after attending Concordia Lutheran Seminary in St. Louis. He was pastor of a Lutheran congregation in Brooklyn during the ’60s and ’70s, where he became known for his civil rights activities.
In 1987, while still a Lutheran, he wrote The Catholic Moment: The Paradox of the Church in the Modern World. The book argued, in his words, “that the Catholic Church is the leading and indispensable community in advancing the Christian movement in world history”.
He entered the Catholic Church in 1990 his sponsor was Father Avery Dulles. The same year he began the highly respected journal, First Things: The Journal of Religion, Culture and Public Life. He was ordained a Catholic priest by Cardinal John O’Connor in New York the following year.
Father Neuhaus was hospitalized the day after Christmas with complications of cancer. He had nearly died of colon cancer in 1993, and wrote about this in As I Lay Dying: Meditations Upon Returning. A compelling essay about this experience, “Born Toward Dying”, written in 2000, is accessible on the First Things web site: www.firstthings.com. In this essay he wrote:
Death is the most everyday of everyday things. It is not simply that thousands of people die every day, that thousands will die this day, although that too is true. Death is the warp and woof of existence in the ordinary, the quotidian, the way things are. It is the horizon against which we get up in the morning and go to bed at night, and the next morning we awake to find the horizon has drawn closer.
Father Neuhaus’s last public appearance was at the December 18 funeral Mass of his friend, Cardinal Dulles.
Father Neuhaus, who consistently, eloquently and powerfully defended Catholic doctrine and practice, was a very strong advocate of accuracy in translation and a sharp critic of the New American Bible (NAB) used for the Lectionary in the US. One of his critiques of the NAB, “Bible Babel”, appeared in AB in March 2006.
He revisited the NAB problem in his final “While We’re At It” column in First Things (January 2009), commenting that the US bishops’ approval in November of the new Missal texts and of the Conception Abbey Revised Grail Psalter gave hope that the “clunky and eccentric” NAB might someday be replaced.
We are thankful for the life and witness of these strong priests. Though their voices are now stilled, their labors for the Church live on. Their courage in promoting and defending the truth of the Catholic faith is an inspiration to us and to countless others. For each of them, we pray:
May the Angels lead you
May the martyrs greet you at your arrival and lead you into
the holy city, Jerusalem.
May the choir of Angels greet you, and like Lazarus, who once was a poor man, may you have eternal rest.
The Australian bishops’ conference reports that they have now approved all segments of the new translation of the Roman Missal from the International Commission for English in the Liturgy (ICEL): Votive Masses, Masses for the Dead, The Commons, the Proper of Saints, the Introductory Documents, Antiphons and Appendices. These were the final “Gray Books” issued and signify that the task of translating the Missal is now complete.
Chairman of the Bishops Commission for Liturgy Archbishop Mark Coleridge (Canberra-Goulburn) said that while it was impossible to predict exactly when the new Missal would be published, current indications were that it might be toward the end of 2010.
Archbishop Coleridge said that the Missal Implementation Team for Australia continued its work on preparing for the publishing of the new Missal. The Bishops Commission for Liturgy will coordinate and manage the international group charged with preparing the material, which they expect to be ready by November 2009.
The Australian conference has invited composers to submit musical settings for the new texts for the Order of Mass, approved in June 2008. Submissions will be received from January 1 to December 31, 2009, then assessed by the National Liturgical Musical Board.
“It is our hope that three or four settings of the Mass will emerge that might be taken up by parishes in Australia, thus providing some common repertoire so that when large Masses are held, the people will be able to know and sing the parts of the Mass”, Archbishop Coleridge said.
Source: Australian Catholic Bishops Conference - www.acbc.catholic.org.au
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