Monday, September 26, 2005

Photos of the Month (09/2005, part 2)

A blast from the past….

Here are four men from a time when you really could call a cardinal a prince of the church without inviting the wrath of the usual suspects (or the prelate himself, for that matter). They prove that in the fine arts there is no such thing as over-dramatization and that a Cappa Magna makes any man, who is allowed to wear it, look impressive, no matter if he is old or young, corpulent or slim, standing or sitting.

Andre-Hercule Cardinal Fleury (France, 1653-1742), chaplain of Louis XIV, tutor of the young Louis XV, prime-minister of France from 1723 (never officially assumed that title), one of the most influential spirits in French politics during his time.

Armand-Gaston-Maximilien Cardinal de Rohan de Soubise (France, 1674-1749), prince-bishop of Straßburg, builder of the magnificent „Palais de Rohan“, grand-uncle of the famous and notorious „Cardinal Collier“.

Alberico Cardinal Archinto (Italy, 1698-1758); nuncio in Florence and Dresden, secretary of state and vice-chancellor of Benedict XIV

Adam Ignacy Cardinal Komorowski (Poland, 1699-1759), primate of Poland, defended the Polish Church against powers in the state that questioned her juridical competence.

Does this seem weird?

While riding my dad’s car through Düsseldorf during my last visit to Germany, I heard a song on the radio. It was called “Falsche Freunde” (false friends). It was a “German Hip-Hop” kind of tune and the lyrics were all about friends that keep bumming smokes without ever having cigarettes to return the favor, friends that talk bad about your new haircut behind your back although they told you they like it, friends that like your new girlfriend a little more than they should. You get the idea.

And then suddenly there was this one line: “Falsche Freunde, die die falschen Parteien wählen.” (False friends that vote for the wrong parties). First I just smiled and thought it was sort of clever to have a line like that in a song that was published two weeks before the election in Germany.

Then I thought again and it suddenly struck me: How can a party be wrong? If you live in a democracy, then any party up for election has been examined thoroughly and you can be sure that whatever their program is, it is not anti-constitutional. This means you can only have other parties, but not wrong parties. So what are we talking about here? Is it just a bunch of guys that wrote a text that isn’t very well thought-out? Or is it a song written in order to make you believe that you can only vote for this or that party without being considered totally backwards, totally antisocial or totally un-PC?

Or does this run deeper? Is it possible that all these people that always say that democracy is the best form of government aren’t so sure of this at all and wish that those parties that do not share their opinion of how a state has to be run weren’t up for election at all? And if this is the case, what does it tell us about the understanding of democracy that these people have?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

My ten favorite arguments against the Cappa Magna...

...and the explanation why I love them so much

10.: It is medieval
If you consider that historically/culturally the middle ages ended in the early/mid 16th century (at the latest) and the cappa magna as we know it today was introduced in 1464 and never officially abolished afterwards, 30 feet of scarlet watered silk are as medieval as a Corpus Christi Procession.

9.: It is expensive
So are the computers that certain people use to operate blogs in which they ridicule friendly, generous and Catholic Bishops and Cardinals, who were caught wearing the Cappa Magna. So the “sell the unnecessary stuff and donate the money to some good cause”-mantras only seem to hit home so much, don’t they, guys? At least Pell or Burke don’t insult people with gruesomely ignorant weblogs. Then again, they don’t have to. They got a life and probably way more attention than they want sometimes.

8.: It is unbiblical
I don’t think I even have to comment on that, do I?

7.: It is pure splendor

6.: It is self-aggrandizing
And it is therefore in stark contrast to the aforementioned self-righteous snipers who with childish slander and blatant sarcasm unjustly judge those they don’t understand, and consider themselves the self-anointed future of pure and clean Catholic Christianity.

5.: It is out of touch with the people
Yep. I had the opportunity to witness the “Out-of-Touchness” of Cardinal Pell in Germany. Man, was I mad when I saw the smiles on the faces of the Juventutem youngsters, as they greeted the Cardinal, who was leaving the church in his Cappa Magna. And what does this arrogant, haughty prince of the church do? He dares to shake hands and exchange some pleasant and humorous words with these kids. Booh! Shame on you, George!

4.: It is ridiculous
When in a teenager’s autograph-book someone writes “beauty is only in the eye of the beholder” everyone is down on their knees, shedding tears because of so much insight and truth. When men who are at peace with their faith, men who do not have to go down into the cellar if they want to laugh, men who do not have to take a poll before they decide what to wear, when those men demonstrate their love for Christ and his Church by adding a little more style and beauty, and this expression of joy is seen as ridiculous, then the defect is supposed to be with the wearer of the garment? Yeah, right! And even if you argue (as I would) that it is not beauty, but only preference, that is in the eye of the beholder: Well, if you’d rather prefer no Cappa, don’t use one and don’t go to a place where one is used.

3.: Is is a sign of triumphalism
If you believe that this feeling of triumph is in no way related to what happened 2000 years ago but only means: “Hey, I can dress way nicer and occupy way more space than you losers!” the problem, again, seems to be pretty much on your side.

2.: It is for fussy youngsters that cannot stop living in a past they didn’t even know
The fussy youngsters that seemed to have quite enjoyed Cardinal Pell entering the Church in the Cappa Magna also were the kids who knew the Latin Vespers by heart, who sang with loud and beautiful voices, who behaved with utter dignity and who were altogether a totally pleasant crowd to be with. In my lifetime I have spent way too much time with people who will gladly use any argument against what they think is too much splendor or too much pride or just too much. The only memories I have of those people are bitter faces, a lack of a sense of humor and an ostentatious holier-than-thou attitude. So, please, give me fussy anytime. These kids know what they are doing and why they are doing it.

1.: It is effeminate/unmanly/queer
Of course this has to be #1! In an age where art refuses to depict reality, and where pure beauty is seen as evil, where else would you go, if you see an elderly, maybe even overweight and rosy-cheeked man wearing lace and watered silk? Back into your closet? Rather not. Someone might find you there while you are not officially protesting against all things presumably gay. So cock the gun and fire away. As long as you do not find yourself at the receiving end of the prejudice, you’re fine. And as long as you point the finger and keep on yelling, you might escape the uneasy silence that will force you to think about the real reasons behind the uncomfortable feeling you get, whenever you see a prelate in Cappa Magna.

This is only a warm up. I will describe my experiences with the “Pro-Cappa” and the “Con-Cappa” crowds in a slightly longer essay later. Those of you who already feel sick: Better stay away. It won’t get more pleasant. Those of you who want more: Stay tuned! Those of you who grumble ‘Who is this a-hole and why does he think anybody is interested in his two cents?’: I don’t have the foggiest.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Photos of the Month (09/2005)

I don’t know who these guys are. The photos are sort of an attic-find. Whoever took them is long dead and whoever owned them afterwards didn’t have a clue as to the who and where. But I just love the birds-eye-view of the Cappa Magna, so I thought I should share these snapshots with you.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Did you know that... (1)

… the Cappa Magna is never worn together with gloves?

“Wait a minute!” I hear some of you say. “I have seen photographs of cardinals or bishops in Cappa Magna processing through a crowd of people, blessing them with hands in gloves!” I know, I have seen pictures like that myself. The rule isn’t very strict and I don’t think anybody will really pay attention to it, especially nowadays, when the Cappa Magna is hardly used anymore and liturgical errors are more than common. The correct form though would be to omit the gloves when you are wearing the Cappa.

Bishop Josef Stangl of the diocese of Würzburg in Germany. He was bishop from 1957 until 1979. He is wearing a nice Cappa Magna of purple silk, which is strange, since bishops were supposed to wear purple wool. But as I have heard from a indeed well informed "Vaticanist" there is about a million privileges still active even today in the Catholic Church, so why not purple silk for a bishop? And Stangl does look good, except for the gloves. They are nice, too, but they are just no supposed to be worn with the Cappa. So even before Vatican II liturgical regulations obviously weren't obeyed that strictly.

A happy Cardinal Tettamanzi during his time as Archbishop of Genova. In his Genova years Tettamanzi liked to use the Cappa Magna every now and then. And he even does so without gloves.

So why another catholic blog?

Hello everybody!

During my recent visits on several blogger-pages I found a growing interest in the either beloved or hated Rolls-Royce of the non-liturgical vestments of the Catholic Church: The Cappa Magna.

Since I am a sucker for superfluous beauty and do in no way consider the Cappa Magna to be ridiculous or unmanly or a waste of space and money or a relict of times gone by or whatever argument-du-jour tries to speak against its use, I decided to open up this blog as

a) a point of information about the Cappa Magna (I am by no means an expert but I found out interesting little details and read funny little stories that I might post during the next weeks)

b) a safe haven for everybody who wants to talk about how much and why he or she likes the Cappa Magna

c) a photo series in which I will present some of the nicer pictures of my vast collection of Cappa Magna-photographs

Although the Cappa Magna and related stuff might be the focus in the early stages of this blog, it does not mean that I will not find other topics to write about. Since in the future I might write about pretty much everything that is on my mind, it is likely that I will incur the anger of some readers. If I do, feel free to drop a comment. If you do so, please keep this in mind: I really do appreciate ostentatious display of semantics and edoocayshun, but pleasepleaseplease, while you are at it, try to add a little information, too. There’s nothing more boring and annoying than a critic who tries to flame folks with his style and panache and then forgets to say something. Oh, by the way: If you want to write a comment, telling me how swell I am, that’s cool, too.

I will not write daily just to make people think I have something to say. I will write when there is something to write about.

That’s it for now. Stay tuned for: “My ten favorite arguments against the Cappa Magna (and the explanation why I love them so much)”