Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Liber Psalmorum

The traditional Latin Psalms are now available in a handy, pocketbook size volume, from Lulu Publishing. You can get it as a softcover book, or as a digital download. This one will be very handy as a pocketbook for the scholar, seminarian, and churchman. It is my second publication, though of course it is not really an original work, except in the sense that I provide a brief preface, and a schedule for praying the psalms. A percentage of the revenue from this, and my other similar projects, will go to support the work of the Society of Saint Polycarp. See my Lulu storefront here. Back to your regularly scheduled programming. And stay tuned for other projects that will be of interest and benefit to the Church.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Lil Rev's ukulele festival

Last week I read an article in The Shepherd Express, a local alternative newspaper, about an upcoming event featuring Lil Rev, probably my all around favorite local musician. The event was the first annual Milwaukee Ukulele Festival, to be held at The Coffee House. The Coffee House, located inside a Lutheran Church, in the neighborhood of Marquette University, has been hosting musical events in its auditorium for several decades now. The Milwaukee Ukulele Festival was organized by Lil Rev, and put together with the hard work and dedication of both Lil Rev and the Milwaukee Ukulele Club. (The Milwaukee Ukulele Festival also got a write up, by the way, in the Journal Sentinel.) So Saturday I dropped in there to check it out. I must say, it was a very enjoyable evening. I even got to meet Lil Rev's baby daughter.

Though this was a festival dedicated mainly to the ukulele, which I am learning is a very versatile instrument, and though Lil Rev is clearly spending much of his time these days with the ukulele, I hasten to remind, or inform, the reader that Lil Rev is known for much more besides. He is an accomplished musician, whose one man show displays his talents with several instruments, such as the guitar, ukulele, banjo, mandolin, as well as the harmonica, and the kazoo. (Whenever I hear that kazoo it reminds me of the music of Arlo Guthrie, whose movie Alice's Restaurant, generous gift of Father Hollywood, I often enjoy watching.) Lil Rev's main value, out of all the great things that can be said of him, is that he is a great promoter of music of bygone eras, especially American folk and blues.

Lil Rev, true to his own Jewish tradition, also sings traditional Yiddish songs. He has even written one or two of his own. Lately, I must say that I particularly enjoy listening to his CD of Jewish and Yiddish Folksongs, I Can't Keep the Past Behind Me, which you can find here. Imagine an Albanian Lutheran son of a Muslim driving around Milwaukee with Yiddish folk songs blasting on the CD player. There oughta be a law against people like that.

Friday, September 25, 2009


The other day the thought came to me that I forgot to include pagination in the Psalter. I had been meaning to add page numbers since June, when a good friend suggested it (Thanks, Miss Grace). I had a post-it note specifically about this, which was on my desk, and happily I rediscovered it a couple days ago. I soon found, though, that my document immediately went from 264 pages to like 295 when I added the page numbers. The numbers moved the text. So I took it as an opportunity to go back in and tighten up the content, and to look everything over. The result is a much better, much tighter book, and more economical, I might add, since I have managed to bring it down to 194 pages. While I was at it, I corrected a couple three mistakes, etc. The book is much stronger, less pictorial fillers, but stronger over all nonetheless.

I feel bad about having to make this change after publication. But on the other hand I don't feel too bad, since my data with the publisher informs me that there has only been a few orders placed so far anyway. You early purchasers have a very rare first edition. If you have one, feel free to email me (latifhakigaba@gmail.com) and I will hook you up. I know who a couple of you are.
The second and improved edition can be found at my Lulu Storefront.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

my Lulu storefront site

I now have a storefront page at Lulu Publishing. Please find it here. There you can find the new Book of Psalms in English & Latin, and soon you will find other material there as well.

Sermo in Lingua Mea

As often as I pray Psalm 139 I confess that the Lord knowest altogether the word that is on my tongue. This passage has profound implications for the speech for which we allow the tongue to be employed in our daily life. Yet it also reminds me of the Word made flesh, which is placed upon the tongue in the most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. The Good Shepherd knows what He feeds the sheep of His pasture. And without impugning the motives or faith of those Christians who receive the Body of Christ on the hand, there is a great deal to be said in praise of the traditional practice of receiving our Eucharistic Lord on the tongue. For it is both practically wise, as it makes for more careful handling of the Sacred Species, and spiritually significant, as it elegantly embodies the receptive and passive righteousness of the sheep receiving the nourishing food by the hand of the Shepherd, of the bride receiving the life giving love of her Spouse. Many pastors need to be taught, or reminded, how to properly administer the Body of Christ on the tongue of the communicants, and I say this with respect. For I have witnessed some poor and sloppy practice. These matters require and merit, however, deeper and more attentive expostulation on another occasion. For now, I simply wanted to take a moment again bring up the subject, and to refer the kind reader to one Lutheran wife's take on church art, which I particularly enjoyed.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Book of Psalms in English & Latin

If you are interested in having the traditional Latin Psalms side by side with the classic Coverdale Psalms, in a handy 6 X 9 paperpack, or as a download, it is available at Lulu.com. Eventually it will be available through other distributors as well. But for now, you may certainly buy it directly from Lulu. For a few days it seems the e-book option was disabled. Now that seems to be fixed. See this link for info. Soon I will also be publishing the Coverdale by itself, and the Latin by itself. The present volume, however, is in my view, ideal for schools, students, homeschoolers, pre-sems, seminarists, and any who desire the ability to immerse themselves in such rich traditional psalm texts as these. Oh, and if I didn't mention it yet, you may buy it here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Book of Psalms in English & Latin for sale

My English/Latin Psalter, The Book of Psalms in English & Latin, is ready and available at Lulu.com. Anyone interested in a bit of light on my saga of the last few days, trying to resolve a font problem, please see my comment in the previous post.

The psalter can be purchased as a download, or as a softcover book. Much to say on the texts of this book, and their usefulness in today's church, when I don't feel quite so spent.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

how do I set the page size of a pdf?

How do I set the page size of a PDF to 6 X 9? Anyone know? Thank you very much for your help.

psalter finally published

It has been a particularly hard & frustrating summer for me. Not because my job is hard, but because it has been so hard getting myself used to third shift, and sleeping during the day, that I am usually not left with much time or strength to accomplish much at my desk. Well, a couple weeks ago, I decided to try to make a special effort to finish the revisions on my book of psalms, and I can now report that it is complete, and satisfies the publishing specifications of the publisher.

I consider it noteworthy that I completed the project yesterday, on the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, since that feast is the anniversary of the day I started seminary in 2003.

Anyway, a little info on the book. It is the book of Psalms, in English and Latin, side by side, facing pages. Both texts are what I would call classic versions, the English is that of the great early English Lutheran, Miles Coverdale, and the Latin is the immortal Gallican Psalter.

I will have more to say on these texts, but for now wanted to just share the good news. You can actually find the book now at Lulu.com, but I would ask that anyone interested in it please refrain from buying it for a few days, because my copy will arrive at my door within two days, and I want to check it for any major problems. (One main question I have is whether I properly "embedded the fonts." If so, then I'm pretty sure it will be ready for use.) After that, trust me, I will not hesitate to inform this audience.

I am happy to have this project out for a couple reasons. One is that I know it will be a good resource for students, especially those in high school and older, and even for grade schoolers in classically oriented schools, or homeschoolers who are learning Latin. I am quite certain it will also be of value to seminarians, and others in the church. A revival of Latin in the church will bear good fruit, and I am glad to be a small part of it. Even in terms of English texts, I am very happy to do all I can to promote good traditional texts, such as the Coverdale Psalms, which will not only dignify worship, and elevate the mind, but will also give us a healthy sense of tradition, which in the end will bear theological and pastoral fruit.

The other reason I am glad to have this one out the door is that it has been a learning experience to go through the whole publication process, and an accomplishment which will help propel me to get going with other projects. God willing, we will see several other items out in the next year, resources that are designed for the good of the Church.

You can find preliminary data on the book here.

By the way, the book is being made available in two ways: softcover, and digital download. I can see many benefits to the download. The more actual copies you purchase, however, the more you will help support not only an obscure Albanian who doesn't deserve it, but also and more importantly, the future work of the Society of Saint Polycarp. Also, for the record, I am aiming to eventually publish material like this in a better quality format, and since one of the benefits of Lulu is that it lets me retain the rights to my work, I will have the freedom do do just that at some point.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

don't adjust your set

Having heard that my use of such a bold, in-your-face, green on this blog provides some difficulty for older priestly eyes, I have decided to try a softer background. While aiming to make my color scheme more helpful, I admit that I also want to avoid making it boring or what I'd consider ugly. So factoring those considerations, I shall go with the present scheme for the time being. Any strong feelings on the matter, do share.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A New Gaba Link

It's always good to get more Gaba. I am referring, of course, to the important neurotransmitter. (And, incidentally, GABA is now available as a supplement in the new Jones soda line.) I cannot, however, give the same unqualified praise for the Deacon/hotel night manager variety of Gaba. Nevertheless, I must say it is humbling to note that one of my blog writings was picked up and linked over at the Gottesdienst Online blog. Thanks to Father Beane for the compliment.

More importantly, thank you, Father Beane, for continuing to draw attention in worthy forums like Gottesdienst Online to the issues of reverence in worship, and for doing so, in this instance, in large part by aiming a spotlight on Father John Stephenson, and his writing. I cannot recommend Dr. Stephenson's work highly enough, whether his articles, or his dogmatics texts (particularly the one on the Lord's Supper), or his sermons.

While on the general topic of the rubrics of the Mass, let me share something I read recently. Periodically I read and meditate upon the rubrics and good rubrical studies. I used to do so out of what I would call an almost pure love of theology, which God for some reason placed in my heart and soul early in life. (I know that many fail to see the relationship between theology and the rubrics, and I can only say that we must catechize them on this point some other time.) Now, however, I do so also out of a sense of diaconal duty. In the area of rubrical commentaries, there are few modern texts more worthy of such study than J. B. O'Connell's The Celebration of Mass, published by Bruce Publishing, Milwaukee, in 1959.

In general, I find Lutherans who ridicule the traditional rubrics and yet call themselves Confessional Lutheran to be an amusing species. In particular, though, I am reminded lately of the way in which prominent churchmen, by means of what I would call cognitive contortions, characterize certain traditional postures at the altar as "contortions." O'Connell in this regard offers a corrective to such thinking. On page 373, for example, he writes that one of the faults in the celebration of Low Mass is to pronounce the consecration "with contortions of the mouth or body." There is such thing, in other words, as contortions, worthy of blame and critique, in the celebration of the Mass. And it has nothing to do with the practice of keeping the thumb and forefinger together from the consecration to the ablutions (a truly simply and logical rubric, though foreign to many today, and no doubt requiring some getting used to). In this regard, it is worth directing our attention also to what O'Connell writes on page 241 of the same book, where he holds forth on the liturgical posture of standing. He writes:

"When standing at the altar the rubrics describe the Celebrant as stans erectus. He stands erect, not merely because it is becoming in appearance, but also because of his official dignity as another Christ standing before the altar of sacrifice. The priest should stand well balanced, feet placed close together, with his weight on the ball of the foot. He should not bend forward, nor lean against the altar, much less rest his elbows on it, except when this is prescribed. He should stand still, not swaying about. Above all he should hold his head erect, not bowing it, nor cocking it on one side, nor craning his neck towards the Missal."

What we have here is not legalistic minutiae, but pointed reminders against irreverent or worldly behavior at the altar. The dignity of the Eucharist, and of the Christic priestly office, call for dignity of posture, not the exhibition of one's personality, as charmed as everyone may be by the priest's personal quirks outside of the Mass. Such commentary as O'Connell's is as relevant now as it was in the 1950s. We see the need for it in all churches. I know of one campus pastor, for example, who likes to stand behind the altar, and lean against it, as he gives the prayers, reminding me of some bartender, about to ask me, "Now, what'll you have?" There are pastors who sway; some tap their feet. We needn't even speak of those who dance, perform the marshal arts, and any number of other inane secularity.

When you don your alb, and the eucharistic vestments, you are stepping out of your personal tastes, so that you may step out of the way, so to speak. The liturgy does not need your help. You do not contribute to it. However, it can be harmed, and sullied. Let us remember that in the Mass we step, with spiritually bare feet, as it were, into heaven itself, and let us behave accordingly.