On May 31, Pope Benedict marked the 100th anniversary of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music with an Open Letter to its Chancellor, Cardinal Grocholweski. It was a timely reminder of how central music has been to our Catholic worship through the centuries, and once again the Pope reminded us of what the very sound of Catholic musical prayer should be.
?In giving priority to Gregorian chant and to classical liturgical music, the Catholic Church is not trying to limit anyone?s creativity but is showcasing a tradition of beautiful prayer?, Pope Benedict wrote.
In the letter, released by the Vatican, the Pope wrote that sometimes people have presented Gregorian chant and traditional church music as expressions ?to be overcome or disregarded because they limited the freedom and creativity of the individual or community.???But, he said, when people recognize that the liturgy does not belong to an individual or parish as much as it belongs to the church, then they begin to understand how, while some expressions of local culture are appropriate, priority should be given to expressions of the church?s universal culture. He said music used at Mass must convey a ?sense of prayer, dignity and beauty, and should help the faithful enter into prayer ? and should keep alive the tradition of Gregorian chant and polyphony.?
Unfortunately, the Church is presently awash with new music that isn?t good enough. We should be looking to the sacred treasury for inspiration. To that end a new and similar initiative in this country will come into being in September. The John Henry Newman Institute of Liturgical Music is being established at the Birmingham Oratory and Maryvale and will stress the importance of chant. The activities of the new Institute will also be put at the service of the Conferences of Bishops.??Benedict, and the new thrust in liturgical understanding, points us all to the chant. This is the best composition lesson anyone could give to aspiring liturgical composers. Those who ignore this advice have much less to contribute to the communal prayer life of the Church, and their influence will wane. More pressing is what ordinary people can sing in liturgies which correspond with the Catholic paradigm. A new Graduale Parvum is being prepared for British Catholics. We are all used to seeing Entrance, Offertory and Communion Antiphons in our missals and weekly mass sheets, which are either mumbled perfunctorily or simply ignored. But these are the essential texts for our liturgies as they change from week to week, and day to day. They are meant to be sung. They are much more important and appropriate to our cyclic prayers than the largely protestant and frequently irrelevant hymns that are stuck on at the usual places during Mass. These antiphons are known as ?the Propers?. I have discussed these with Catholics from time to time, even priests, who look at me blankly and seem to have no idea what they are.
James MacMillan 31st July 2011


Some of the rioters and looters are as young as eight or nine. I then listened to a spokesman for Manchester city council appealing to parents to ensure that their children are not on the streets tonight. Why can?t people see what is staring us all in the face? We are not up against merely feral children. We are up against feral parents. Of course the parents know their children are out on the streets. Of course they see them staggering back with what they have looted. But either they are too drunk or drugged or otherwise out of it to care, or they are helping themselves to the proceeds too.
The parents are the problem; as are, almost certainly, their parents and their parents too. Not that any of them necessarily even know who their parents, in the plural, are. For the single most crucial factor behind all this mayhem, behind the total breakdown of any control or self-control amongst the rampaging gangs of children and teenagers who are rioting, burning, robbing, stealing, attacking and murdering, is the willed removal of the most important thing that socialises children and turns them from feral savages into civilised citizens: a fully committed, hands-on, there-every-day father.
As I have been writing for more than twenty years, a society that embraces mass fatherlessness is a society that is going off the edge of a cliff. There are whole areas of Britain (white as well as black) where committed fathers are a wholly unknown phenomenon; where serial generations are being brought up only by mothers, through whose houses pass transitory males by whom these girls and women have yet more children, and whose own daughters inevitably repeat the pattern of lone and utterly dysfunctional parenting.
The result is fatherless boys who are suffused by an existential rage and desperate psychic need, who take out the damage done to them by lashing out from infancy at the world around them. And all this is effectively condoned, rewarded and encouraged by the welfare state which conceives of need solely in terms of absence of money, and which accordingly subsidises lone parenthood and the destructive behaviour that welfare fatherlessness brings in its train.
Melanie Phillips Goodbye to the Enlightenment

Family Centered Economy

Allan Carlson The Family Centered Economy

Alexander Chayanov?s emphasis on a farm?s sexual division of labor ?turns marriage into a necessary condition of fully-fledged peasantship.? The family itself is a ?work unit,? with family members fundamentally bonded to each other: husband and wife need each other to survive and prosper; and they, in turn, need children to prosper and survive. Shared labor in a common enterprise binds the family together. Mark Harrison summarizes: Peasant economy reproduces itself through the family. The family is the progenitor of the family life-cycle and of population growth. It is the owner of property. As such, it expresses the fact that the aim of production is household consumption.

Quoting Pitirim Sorokin

Now families are small, and their members are soon scattered?. The result is that the family home turns into a mere ?overnight parking place’.

Quoting Wendell Berry

“We are going to have to gather up the fragments of knowledge and responsibility? that have been turned over to governments and corporations during the 20th Century and ?put those fragments back together again in our own minds and in our families and households and neighborhoods.?