NCR Today

A new song for the Arab Spring

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A new flower blossoms in the Arab Spring and involves the legendary music producer, Quincy Jones, who has collaborated with Emirati social entrepreneur Badr Jafar, to jointly produce the Arabic charity single entitled "TOMORROW/BOKRA." The song involves 24 leading Arab artists from 16 nations across the Middle East and North Africa singing with one voice for a better tomorrow.

CNN, the global media partner to this initiative, offered this report:

"A charity single made by legendary music producer Quincy Jones featuring some of the Arab world's top recording artists has become an internet hit. The official video for "Tomorrow/Bokra," (Bokra is the Arabic word for tomorrow) has been watched more than two million times on YouTube since it was released earlier this month. The album released last week. "People gave their soul to this project," said Jones. "This is not about records and money. This is about the young kids."

The proceeds will go to fund musical, artistic and cultural projects for children in the Middle East.

Morning Briefing

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China to ordain Vatican-approved bishop, but the Vatican and the Chinese government-controlled Catholic church are fighting over the guest list.

Opinion: Key Task for Catholic Higher Ed , Catholic colleges and universities in the United States over the past 20 years have adopted new mission statements and added personnel and programs designed to reemphasize the religious dimensions of the Catholic college experience.

Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua -- Pa. cardinal testifies in rape, endangerment case

Should philanthropies operate like businesses?

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One of the main goals of NCR's Mission Management column created by our dear friend Joe Feuerherd, publisher and editor-in-chief of the National Catholic Reporter from 2008 until his death earlier this year, is to highlight best practices and ideas that, when well-executed, change peoples' lives. Since 2009, as the lead writer for this column and with the considerable help of NCR colleagues, friends and readers, I have been able to scour the country and identify good examples of mission management in action.

One of the perennial tension points in the not-for-profit space continues to be the issue of how much a charity, including parishes and dioceses, should be run like a business and whether a business model is, in fact, an applicable model for charities. Much has been written on this topic by academics, philanthropists, business executives and charity managers.

Detroit priest offers insight to new missal

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As a priest in a small city of Detroit parish, I was offered a unique experience of the new translation of the Mass. For the past few months, we had tried to prepare our congregation for the transition in two ways: 1) We have been incorporating the sung responses [i.e. Gloria, Sanctus] in a new musical setting over the course of the last month; 2) Over the past few weeks, we have been practicing congregational responses such as the creed and preface at announcement time with participation aids in the pews.

The reality of the first weekend

I called attention to the cards in the pews as we began Mass this weekend. The upshot was that there was a lot more reading on everyone's part and a lot less focus on the meaning of the words. It was, in my opinion, a much more left-brain experience than I am used to at Mass. For me as a presider, this was particularly frustrating, since the words for almost every prayer the presider prays is now changed.

California cathedral meets new missal with indifference

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At the cathedral of the San Jose, Calif., diocese Sunday, the first use of the new translation of the Roman Missal was met with a mix of indifference and creative interpretation.

While the domed ceiling of the mission-style Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph echoed with a mix of "And with your spirit" and "Also with you" responses from the congregation at several points, many of the other changes went off smoothly, with many parishioners bowing their heads to read from an instruction pamphlet.

Yet in one noted change, the cathedral's pastor told parishioners after his homily that while they'd be saying the Nicene Creed this week, they might not in the future.

Instead, Msgr. J. Patrick Browne said he'd rather use the Apostle's Creed, which is "shorter and easier to understand."

Joking after the recitation of the creed, Browne said that next week "there will be a test on the meaning of the work consubstantial."

After Mass, one parishioner said she thought the new prayers would lead to a deeper appreciation for the Mass.

New Jersey parishioners take new missal in stride

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"Good morning. Hmm, I'm not sure I'm allowed to say this with the new Roman Missal. I feel edgy, like I've never done this before and it's my first Mass," quipped the priest, who had certainly celebrated at least his silver jubilee, at the beginning greeting of liturgy using the new Roman Missal in a New Jersey suburb in the Diocese of Camden. "I think I already made one mistake, but that's OK, we'll get through this together."

Prior to Mass, the music director had gone over a few responses, though it was obvious the community had been preparing along the way. With humor and encouragement, he said several times: "The Lord be with you," attempting to reprogram the previously normal response into "And with your spirit."

With grace and good humor, community members laughed and practiced. During the liturgy it was apparent longtime practices are hard to break, yet the community created powerful liturgy evidenced in its gestures, prayers, proclamations and music.

Washington parish meets new missal with confusion, resignation

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Foreheads wrinkled in confusion, giggles, sighs, smiles and occasional eye-rolling were the order of the day as parishioners of Sacred Heart Parish in LaConner, Wash., fumbled with the ubiquitous "cue cards" and goldenrod music scores employed to coach them through the first Sunday Mass of Advent 2011 -- an initiation to the revised Roman Missal translation.

Acknowledged as a "destination parish" -- defined more by joy than geography -- Sacred Heart draws parishioners from at least a half-dozen towns in Washington's Skagit Valley. It has no resident pastor.

New parishioner Jeff Scott, who coaches basketball at nearby Mt. Vernon High School and works at Washington Bulb Company, said of the new Mass rite, "There's nothing wrong with change and it will take a while to learn, but I welcome change. It's no big deal."

LaConner resident Tracy Hancock, 37, was perplexed about the revised translation. "I was telling my mom who was sitting next to me, 'Is this just change for change's sake?' I guess I just don't understand the whole rationale behind the changes."

New missal could drive away Catholics at California parish

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On the first Sunday of Advent, Michael Cassidy sat in a pew at St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Berkeley, Calif., as he has done most Sundays for the past 35 years. But it is likely to be his last liturgy there for a while.

Because of his strong opposition to the new Roman missal, he is taking "a vacation from the Roman rite," a decision he describes as "very painful."

Cassidy's concerns go beyond the new translation to the motivations underneath the words.

"I believe the whole thing is designed to undercut the ecclesiology of Vatican II, which in turn underlies the prior liturgical changes which followed the council," he said. "The next generation -- assuming that they come to church -- will grow up with a liturgy which denigrates that ecclesiology and glorifies another, older one. So much for 'letting in fresh air.'"

In another pew, fellow parishioner Mary Bucher was offended at the insertion of "I have sinned greatly" into the Introductory Rite.

"I don't go around sinning greatly," she said. "I am not going to say this."

Why the return to such a negative view of faith? she asked. "Are they trying to undo Vatican II?"

Well, she said, "We're not going back."

Religious liberty blossoms at the U.S. Air Force Academy

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The newly minted and urgently created U.S. Bishops Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty will be tickled to learn that the U.S. Air Force Academy is officially making room for pagans, druids, witches and Wiccans, according to a story in the Los Angeles Times:

"We're here to accommodate all religions, period," [says Chaplain Maj. Darren] Duncan, branch chief of cadet faith communities at the academy. The building of the Cadet Chapel Falcon Circle on the hilltop, he says, is no different from the past conversion of chapel rooms into worship spaces that serve this year's 11 Muslim, 16 Buddhist and 10 Hindu cadets. There are also 43 self-identified atheist cadets whose beliefs, or lack of them, Duncan says are also to be respected.

"It is very nice to have our own space," says Cadet 1st Class Nicole Johnson, a 21-year-old senior from Florida who became a pagan after entering the academy.

Alabama: The price of intolerance

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Today's New York Times editorial captures the high price of Alabama's radical new immigration law. For those championing the move to airlift more than 11 million undocumented immigrants back to their birth countries or those trying to concoct a dastardly law like Alabama's, they ought to pay close attention to the true cost of such ideas.

Back in 2004, President George Bush proposed comprehensive immigration reform:

"Saying the United States needs an immigration system 'that serves the American economy and reflects the American dream,' President Bush Wednesday outlined an plan to revamp the nation's immigration laws and allow some eight million illegal immigrants to obtain legal status as temporary workers.

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January 13-26, 2017

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