Christopher Carstens

In Encountering the Words of Christ in the Mass, Christopher Carstens reflects upon the third edition of the Roman Missal, giving particular attention to the changes in the Mass texts.

Christopher Carstens holds a B.A. from the Oratory of St. Philip in Toronto, and M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Dallas and a M.A. (Liturgical Studies) from The Liturgical Institute. He is currently the Director of the Office of Sacred Worship for the Diocese of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, where he serves as Coordinator of Pontifical Liturgies, liturgical coordinator for the Permanent Deacon formation program, and diocesan Director of RCIA. He is an adjunct faculty member at the Liturgical Institute and a frequent presenter in liturgical conferences and parish education. He is a member of the Society for Catholic Liturgy and is married with four children. Mr. Carstens is one of the presenters of Mystical Body, Mystical Voice.

Todd WilliamsonIn this blog, Praying, Believing, and Living, D. Todd Williamson discusses the pastoral, spiritual, and ministerial ramifications of the revised English translation of the Roman Missal.  Todd's blog is updated every other week.

Todd Williamson is the current Director of the Office for Divine Worship of the Archdiocese of Chicago. He is the author of two editions of Sourcebook for Sundays, Seasons, and Weekdays:The Almanac for Pastoral Liturgy (2007 and 2008, LTP) and has contributed to subsequent editions. He is also co-author of Bringing Catechesis and Liturgy Together: Let the Mystery Lead You! (2002, TwentyThird Publications), and he has written for numerous periodicals (Rite, Pastoral Liturgy, Catechumenate, and Religion Teacher's Journal).

In addition to writing, he is a teacher and national speaker in the areas of liturgy and the sacraments. He is co-host of the monthly radio program, Focus on the Liturgy, which airs on the fourth Wednesday of every month on Relevant Radio 950 AM, in the Chicagoland area.

Todd has been the director of the Office for Divine Worship for eight years. As such, he has dealt with countless pastoral situations in regards to the liturgy. It is from this unique experience that he writes in this blog: breaking open the English texts and making connections to our spiritual and ministerial lives as people of faith.

A native of Pittsburgh, PA, Sandra Dooley moved to Los Angeles in 1999 after 18 years in Orlando, FL. where she spent 10 years as the liturgy director of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Winter Park. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and a Master of Pastoral Studies degree from Loyola University in New Orleans, with emphasis in liturgy. She is an experienced church musician, religious educator and liturgist, and has been a committee member, coordinator and/or speaker at local and national conferences.

In June, 2001, Sandra joined the Office for Worship of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as Associate Director. She was Director of the Office from April, 2003 through July, 2009. She also served on the Board of Directors of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions (FDLC) from 2004 until her return to FL in 2009.

Sandy currently serves as the director of liturgy at St. Margaret Mary Church in Winter Park, FL, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the North American Forum on the Catechumenate.


Blog Posts
Jun 22

Written by: Christopher Carstens
6/22/2010 7:50 AM  RssIcon

Theology and Sanity?
A 1978 book by Catholic apologist and publisher Frank Sheed bears the intriguing name Theology and Sanity (currently available from Ignatius Press, San Francisco). The book’s premise is this: the sign of a healthy, sound (sanus, in Latin) intellect means seeing what is actually there in reality. Seeing things that aren’t there, or not seeing things that are there, means that the intellect, either through error or sickness, is not functioning as it should. How, then, is the intellect to see things rightly? The short answer is theologically. “This means that when we look out upon the Universe we see the same Universe that the Church sees; and the enormous advantage of this is that the Universe the Church sees is the real Universe, because She is the Church of God. Seeing what She sees means seeing what is there. And just as loving what is good is sanctity, or the heath of the will, so seeing what is there is sanity, or the health of the intellect” (Theology and Sanity, p. 22).

By way of example, this means that the Trinity—the loving union of three Persons in one God—is not just a fact of theology, but a fact of reality. That this Trinity created all things out of nothing, and at every moment keeps creation from falling back into nothingness, is not just a matter of interest for theologians, but must be one for all who are interested in the reality of the universe: biologists, salesmen, or authors. That God created each individual for eternal beatitude with the Trinity is not just a sentiment for pious souls, but is the meaning of life for every person, pious or not. The same principle holds for every other truth of faith: the Incarnation, the Assumption, the founding of the Church, etc. The facts of theology are not limited to theology: they are facts of life. And to see them as such, and the rest of the world in their light, makes for a healthy, sound mind: Theology and Sanity.

Sheed’s premise is also applicable to the liturgy. Just as seeing the world through “theological lenses”—that is, seeing the world as the Church herself sees it—gives us the clearest picture of reality, so, too, seeing the liturgy as the Church sees it gives us the right understanding of its nature, reality, and purpose. In addition, seeing the liturgy as it actually is provides for us the context within which each of its ritual elements also make sense—including language.

So much of our language is dictated by its larger context, the particular “world” a language inhabits. Generally speaking, a “6-4-3” doesn’t make a great deal of sense unless one is familiar with the baseball world, in which a 6-4-3 signifies a double play where the shortstop fields the ball, throws it to the second baseman for the first out, who in turn hurls the ball to the first baseman for the second out. (In this same regard, those living in the Chicago Cubs world will be familiar with the famous 6-4-3 of “Tinker to Evers to Chance”!) One doesn't need to know what a “myocardial infarction” is to experience it, but it is only th emedical field which so labels it. And while commanding Fido to “defrag dot exe underscore c colon” (defrag.exe_c:) probably won’t get him to fetch the stick, a computer will respond immediately to this command (as immediately, in fact, as the RCA dog responds to “His Master’s Voice”).

The same holds true for celebrating and understanding the liturgy. Its language is intelligible only in light of the liturgy’s nature, and the liturgy’s nature is only clearly seen through the lenses of the Church. How, then, should we view the liturgy, such that its language can be heard clearly? How do we acquire a sound liturgical outlook? The answer is found in the notion of sacrament, and to this we’ll turn in future posts.

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