Thursday, 31 December 2009

Alma Mater: "the anti-Roman complex"?

Some year ago now the theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar referred to an "anti-Roman atttide" within the Catholic Church. The context was theological, and von Balthasar was referring to a trend in Catholic theology that took every opportunity to attack the office of the Successor of Peter - it forms an "anti-Petrine attitude". His analysis is wide ranging and detailed - The Office of Peter and the Structure of the Church.

The recent CD Alma Mater was not well recieved by some in the Catholic blogosphere (here and here - as a matter of principle, I will not link to the original source to which these bloggers refer), but, having listened to it, I wonder why. Alma Mater can be found on Spotify - register for free if you need to, download the software, and enter "Alma Mater" in the search box. There are aspects of the CD that one might not like - if you do not have an understanding of Italian, French, Portuguese and German the words of the Holy Father are somewhat lost, as reading the translations in the CD insert is not the same as being able to follow the original words in context within the playing of the music (and some of the English translations and Italian transcriptions are incomplete in any case - sorry, I haven't got the language skills to be able to check the Portuguese and German!). One's taste in music might also put one off one or other of the individual tracks - I suspect that the third track "Advocata Nostra", whose north African influence reminded me of music heard during a recent visit to Sicily, is one to love or hate. I liked it, and found it the most intriguing track on the CD.

I found it a very interesting CD altogether. I thought the integration of themes from the words of Pope Benedict, sections of the Litany of Our Lady and the traditional Marian anthems with orchestral music and one or two other Marian compositions worked well. The choice of themes provides, in my view, a very contemporary Marian catechesis: Holy Mother of God, Mother of the Church, Our Advocate, You are Blessed, Cause of our Joy, Help of Christians, Queen of Heaven and Our Teacher. An example from the words of Pope Benedict, included in the track Help of Christians (in part my own translation from the CD, as the Italian text in the CD insert is incomplete/inaccurate):
When we recite the Rosary we relive the important and significant moments in the history of salvation; we retrace the different stages in the mission of Christ... With Mary we turn our hearts to the mystery of Jesus. We put Christ at the centre of our lives, of our time, of our cities, by contemplating and meditation upon His mysteries of joy, of light, of sorrow and of glory. .. Help us, Mary, to receive in ourselves the grace that these mysteries exude, so that through us it may spread through society by way of our daily relationships, and purify society from so many negative forces that it may learn of the newness of God.
The last track ends with the prayer "Oremus pro pontifice nostro .." (Let us pray for our Pope ..)  and a resounding orchestral setting of the Christus Vincit. What more could a Catholic want?

The infidelities in the texts in the CD insert are unhelpful; but leaving those aside, I wonder whether Alma Mater has not been the target, in the cultural realm, of a certain "anti-Roman attitude"?

1 comment:

Brian said...

Hello Joe

Interesting point – but your evidence seems weak! The two bloggers you cite are the two bloggers least likely to have an anti-Roman attitude, in so far as that as equates to disrespect for the office of the Successor of Peter. ‘Rome,’ in so far as it could be understood to equate to the organisational bureaucracy run by fallible human beings who make poor judgment calls, just like anyone else in any other type of human organisation, occasionally gets things wrong. Just because it gets criticised in that realm, does not imply that the critique is aimed at the office of the Successor of Peter.

Happy New Year!