Sunday, March 13, 2005

John Allen, Opus Dei, and RE Congress

Last week, I received the tape of John Allen's talk concerning Opus Dei: Myth and Reality from last month's Religious Education Congress in Los Angeles. In my opinion, it was an excellent talk, as he addressed the various myths concerning the group that have been perpetuated in various Catholic circles and in pop-culture (such as from "The Da Vinci Code"). What Allen has presented is a very even handed presentation using his research done for his upcoming book concerning Opus Dei, which I will certainly make a point of reading. Claude Muncey has already written an excellent review of the talk. I agree with his points and refer you there for more information. :) I would also like to refer you to Opus Dei cooperator and fellow blogger Matthew Collins' Opus Dei FAQ.

The Religious Education Congress is a mixed bag. Though I didn't attend this year, I myself have attended four times in the past and have had occasion there to hear some really good speakers, such as John Allen, Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., and Fr. Virgilio Elizondo. I have also had occasion to hear some not-so-good speakers, such as Fr. John Gallen, S.J., and I know to avoid others whom I have heard before at other venues. I do have to be discerning when selecting certain speakers or attending certain liturgies, yet, I have never regretted attending, and I have always been challenged to learn something new.

The pictures of what you see during the liturgies are nothing new. But there have been, on occasion, some good liturgical treasures - such as when the Eastern Catholic communities of Los Angeles help put together the Byzantine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom at the Congress, cantored by the Schola Cantorum of Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Church in Anaheim. And during the closing liturgy of the 2002 congress, with Cardinal Mahony as celebrant, I, myself, heard with my own ears a full choir sing Palestrina's Sicut Cervus during the Offertory. It was the only time I have ever heard polyphony during any liturgy of the current ordo missae.

For some pretty even handed opinions concerning the RECongress, please see Claude Muncey's commentary as well as the various commenters at Amy Welborn's blog. Most of you know me: I love a little Latin and masses celebrated ad orientem, so you can take my opinion for what it's worth or leave it :p

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