Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advent Festival of Lessons and Carols

The service tonight was spectacular, presented by the University students, Franciscan Universtiy. I have attended this service, but I think this was one quite moving, flawless singing and organ accompaniment, and timely in this First Week of Advent. I was presented by the Schola Cantorum Franciscana & the Franciscan University Chorale.
The carols sung at the Advent Service of Lessons and Carols,and througout the subsequent liturgical seasons of Christmas and Epiphany, have deep roots in the tradition of Christian worship. By the beginning of the 15th Century, carol-singing had become an intregral element of seasonal worship, particulary in Britain.
Though carols, indeed the celebration of Christmas itself, were banned in England by the Puritan regime of Oliver Cromwell during the 17th century, they were preserved and augmented in the New World, and eventually restored as a beloved tradition in Britain.
While the terms "carol" and "hymn" may overlap, the two genres are, in fact, different. Hymn texts tend to didacaticism; while the purpose of the carol - one that stems from its medieval analogue, the mystery play - is a narrative. For unlettered folk of the Middle Ages, the carol, like a stained glass panel or a fresco tableau, depicted the momentous event of Christ's Incarnation. And, in the honor of the saint who may be called the father of the Christian ode to joy, St. Francis of Assisi, the nature of most carols in both "hilarious" (joyous) adn reverential.
Centuries ago, carol-singing celebrated several seasons of the Church year. The custom has come, however, to be associated with the seasons fo Advent and Christmas.

The Festival of Lessons and Carols was developed as a non-liturgical service for Christmas by the rector of England's Truro Cathedral in the 19th century.
The service became wide spread when it transferred to King's College, Cambridge, England, where its annual performance is broadcast around the world.
The service's popularity has also led to the an adaptation for Advent, which, given that Franciscan University students are away during Christmas, is what we celebrate each year at the University. It has come to be a tradition to present this Festival before the end of the semester and final exams. God Bless the directors and students for the great effort in their performance.
(text from the program )

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nine Days That Changed the World

Last evening at 7:00pm,I attended a new film about Pope John Paul II and his nine-day pilgrimage to Poland in 1979 that led to the fall of Communism in Europe. The screening was free and open to the public at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Steubenville, Ohio. The film was produced by Newt Gingrich and his wife, Callista. They introduced the film and explained what led them to produce this 94-minute documentary that traces the historic visit of Pope John Paul II to Poland the year after his election to the pontificate.
The ramifications of the pope's visit to his homeland were enormous, and the film convincingly shows that those few days in Poland set in motion the series of events that played a pivotal role in overthrowing Communist rule in Europe. Newt Gingrich, who converted to Catholicism in 2009 due to his wife's witness and an encounter with Pope Benedict XVI, presents the story of an extraordinary example of "freedom through faith."
Callista Gringich has stated " We really do try to echo Pope John Paul's message that no state government can come between you and God. And that our only freedom, our true freedom, can only be achieved and sustained through our faith."
The film used never-before-seen film footage of the Pope's visit. The Communist authorities were fearful of the impact of the pope's visit to Poland, snd so they did everything to minimize its effect. The Gringriches discovered that the Polish bishops, not trusting the Communist authoriies, gave video cameras to people in the crowd. telling them to record the event. The footage was made part of the Polish National Radio.
The movie was inspired in part due to the recent media negative coverage of the Church.
Newt Gringrich, well aware of how scandal can obscure great achievements, decided to highlight one of the greatest lasting contributions of Pope John Paul II.
The movie is produced by Citizens United ( a group active in promoting the Traditional American values.)
To schedule a screening, for more information, or to order the DVD, see the web site: