About this blogger:
A theorist, organist, and conductor, Jeff Ostrowski holds his B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Kansas (2004), and did graduate work in Musicology. He serves as choirmaster for the new FSSP parish in Los Angeles, where he resides with his wife and children.
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“Gerard Manley Hopkins once argued that most people drank more liquids than they really needed and bet that he could go without drinking for a week. He persisted until his tongue was black and he collapsed at drill.”
— A biography of Fr. Gerard M. Hopkins (d. 1889)

Getting Rid Of "Gree-vee-uhss" (Mispronunciation)
published 10 March 2013 by Jeff Ostrowski

REQUENTLY on this blog, I have mentioned that we feel called to stay positive in our postings. So-called “controversial” Catholic blogs get a lot of traffic, but often cause great harm to souls. For instance, such blogs can cause good Catholics to waste a lot of time typing on the computer instead of praying, serving others, fulfilling our obligations, and so forth. However, from time to time, I think it is OK to mention a lighthearted critique. At the moment, I am speaking of “Gree-vee-uhss.” Any Catholic who went to school in the 1950s will remember the nuns teaching children how to pronounce the word “grievous.” Many were tempted to pronounce it as “grievious,” which is incorrect.

Every time I go to Mass these days, I hear a vast majority of people saying “grievious” instead of “grievous.” What can be done about this? I suppose the priest could make an announcement. What will be done about this? Probably nothing. So why I am talking about it? I’m not sure, but every time I hear people saying “grievious” my ears burn and I break out in a sweat. Then again, what can we do in today’s world? Believe it or not, the word “irregardless” (a true abomination) has been in the dictionary for more than 100 years. And many famous public speakers cannot even correctly use the word “whom” (they usually just say “who”). Grammatically, misusing “whom” is like saying “Him went to the store” or “Her likes to go swimming.”

As long as I am breaking my normal rule, I would like to say that I will never get used to calling God “you.” What ever happened to “Thee” and “Thy” ? It seems that in the 1950s, Catholics started to address God as “you,” even in respected books like Joseph Connelly’s Hymns of the Roman Liturgy (1957). I’ve heard it said that people cannot understand what “Thee” means . . . yet we still use “Thy” in the Our Father at Mass, and nobody seems confused . . .

By the way, although our Blog is positive, that does not exclude the possibility of serious reflection upon how things can be improved. Later this week, Dr. Kwasniewski offers a reflection on “Communion in the hand” which I hope readers will prayerfully consider. It might be good for me to remind all our readers that Watershed in no way judges the motives or intentions of Catholics, whether they receive Holy Communion on the tongue or in the hand. The reflections are offered for your consideration, in case people find them to helpful in their spiritual lives. The object is for all of us to grow in love for Jesus Christ and the Church.

Where did “Communion in the hand” come from? Well, some sources would strongly seem to indicate that this was a practice of the Early Church, at least in some places. After the Council, unfortunately, a good portion of “Antiquarianism” reared its ugly head, even though Antiquarianism had been condemned by Pope Pius XII. Communion in the hand is a prime example. A friend of mine told me about a pamphlet in the 1970s which was printed in an extremely professional, expensive, “flashy” manner: color print, glossy pages, artistic design, etc. The pamphlet contained all kinds of quotes trying to prove that Communion in the hand existed in the Early Church, and (therefore) should be used today. Hearing this, I said, “Father, that must have been a pretty powerful argument for Communion in the hand.” He replied, “No, Jeff, because they forgot one thing. They forgot to mention the real and serious reasons why this practice was abandoned as the Church developed through the centuries.” Oops! (Or, as we used to say, “Duh!”) Leaving aside all the important reasons the Church has given throughout history as to why Communion in the hand is not optimal, I would add one more. Think of all the trashy stuff we touch with our hands each day. Our hands are just plain dirty. For me, it becomes almost unthinkable to receive Communion in the hand, considering this.

Finally, rather than just go on and on in a negative fashion, please allow me to share something I thought about the other day:

OW FREQUENTLY the Church uses “light” to signify Christ, Truth, and God (most notably, perhaps, on Holy Saturday). There are many reasons for this, and I won’t mention them here, but let me mention one. I was sitting in my car, and the sunlight was coming in through the window. It was very WARM and BRIGHT. But, I moved the little sun visor, and all of a sudden the light was blocked. Moving it again, the light came through again. Moving it once more, it was blocked. I began to think about the giant sun, and HOW FAR that light had to travel, just to be either blocked or allowed in. The galaxy is huge. The earth is huge. But what a difference that tiny beam of light made! Trust me, it made a big difference.

It struck me that the Church was wise to use “light” as an image of God’s love. As an aside, the office hymns are “obsessed” with this theme. I considered putting some in the Campion Hymnal [url], because Cardinal Newman translated them all, but I was afraid people would not understand the connection. They would only think about the daytime vs. night (which is what they refer to) and not the theme of “light.” I better stop here, otherwise I will start talking about too many wonderful themes, like the magnificent significance of the rooster in the office hymns, how bells represent our time on earth, etc. This blog has already gone way too long, but it’s hard to stop!

This Blog already went too long . . . but please allow me the following “P.S.” :

Have you noticed how our culture has disintegrated? Take singing: on so many of today’s kids cartoons, they don’t even sing songs anymore. The “songs” are simply goofy rhymes spoken to rhythm, like rap music. We Church musicians always act surprised at the “level of ignorance” concerning the finer points of liturgical music, but should we be surprised? Our children don’t even have nursery rhymes any more. All they have is this nasty “sprechstimme” of talking “in rhythm.” I don’t have words to describe how terrible I find this practice. Now, I realize sometimes this type of thing can work, like Rex Harrison’s songs in My Fair Lady. Rex Harrison (famously) could not sing, so none of his songs have real tunes: he just “speaks in rhythm.” Sure, that works. But this is different. This is especially evident when we consider what people went through in the Middle Ages, with disease, no modern medicine, no running water, no electricity, no penicillin, etc. Yet, musically they were eons ahead of us.