Monday, June 30, 2008

And The Survey Says....

I was a bit disturbed by this report on the most recent Pew survey, that is until I got to the end....

US Catholics tilt left, Pew survey finds

Washington, Jun. 30, 2008 ( - A newly released study from the Pew Forum shows that many self-described American Catholics ignore Church teachings on both theological and social issues.

In March the Pew Forum released the first findings of an ambitious"religious landscape" survey, showing an important demographic shift within American Catholicism, with with younger Catholics less likely to remain active in the Church, while Hispanic immigrants replace many of the "cradle Catholics" who no longer practice the faith. The Pew survey found widespread dissent from Church teaching and a massive exodus from the Catholic Church, concluding that "roughly one-third of those who were raised Catholic have left the church, and approximately one-in-ten American adults are former Catholics."

In its follow-up report, comparing the beliefs and practices of America's major religious groups, the Pew Forum found that 48% of Catholics respondents favor legal abortion (16% in all cases, 32% in most cases), while only 18% agree that abortion should always be illegal. A substantial majority of the Catholics polled-- 58%-- said that society should accept homosexuality.

On theological issues, only 16% of American Catholics believe that the Church is the one true means of salvation, the Pew Forum found. (By comparison, 36% of the Evangelical respondents chose that answer.) An overwhelming 79% of the Catholics said that many different faiths could lead to eternal life.

I will interject for a moment here...and so I wondered... how could this be? Are faithful Catholics really this far gone?? Then came the punchline...

The Pew Forum survey did not make a distinction between active and lapsed Catholics. In fact, 48% of the respondents who identified themselves as Catholics said that they attended Mass "a few times a year" or even less frequently.

The Pew survey demonstrated an apparent liberal tilt in the political views of American Catholics. Although 36% of those surveyed described themselves as conservatives, and only 18% as liberals, a slim majority (51%) favored more government programs and 60% supported stronger environment laws. About one-third (33%) of the respondents said that they favored the Republican party, while nearly half (48%) favored the Democrats.

And so.. when the pew survey wants to find out what Catholics think and believe they ask... former Catholics? Were the members of other faiths interviewed "former members" of those groups? I doubt it.

This opens up the age old argument about what IS a Catholic anyway. Can someone who supports abortion, finds no moral objection to homosexuality, does not believe that the Church is the means of salvation and only attends Mass a few times a year (Christmas and Easter I'm guessing) really claim to be Catholic? I doubt that too.

My Three Predictions about Sacred Music: UPDATE

Last November, before the Bishops composed and voted on the new guidelines, I wrote an article containing three predictions for what would be happening with Sacred Music at 6 months, 12 months and 18 months in the future. At that time I said that I would check back and see how things are turning out....

The prediction for 6 months:

There is going to be a transformation of the discussion/ debate concerning music at Mass within 6 months.
Further still, there is going to be a radical transformation of this issue and how it is discussed. The transformation will become apparent this next week with the Bishop’s vote on Sing To The Lord: Music In Divine Worship, although I will qualify that by saying it is not the document itself that will bring about the transformation. Rather, this document is going to serve as a kind of epitaph for the last 40 years of liturgical music, putting a good face on it and speaking lovingly while affirming that it has passed on, paving the way for what will follow. The key feature of this document is that it will affirm that the directives of the Second Vatican Council concerning music need to be clarified, and that future development of music needs to be guided by the principles set forth in the council documents themselves.

Ok... this was certainly the most vague of my three predictions, but remember that it was made before the new music document was made public. Has there been a "transformation"of the discussion about Sacred Music? Consider the following:

  • November 9th 2007: Msgr. Miserachs hints that there may be a curial office for Sacred Music in the works and that "a pontifical office with authority over sacred music would correct the abuses that have occurred in this area"
  • December 6th 2007: The USCCB announces the new music document Sing To The Lord: Music in Divine Worship. Although this document is not everything that some would have liked, it is HUGE in terms of political impact on the status quo. With MCW, as vague as it was, there was a sense of "official approval" for the continued movement away from the Church's traditional music in favor of a "people's music" approach. The new guidelines make it difficult to infer such an approval in the future, with prominent statements on the use of Latin language in the liturgy, a statement regarding a minimum repertoire of Gregorian Chant ordinary settings that EVERY assembly should know, extended discussion of Antiphons at Mass and how they should be used, a strong statement about the importance of the presider's chants and the "sung Mass" model being preferred over the current "spoken Mass with hymns". All of these points and others made in SttL refute the general direction of progressive liturgists and in a sense put them in opposition to the official position of the USCCB. The new vision laid out in SttL is, in a sense, a considerable change in direction for liturgical music, albeit one that may take several years to have real impact.
  • The Masses at D.C Nationals Stadium and St. Patrick's Cathedral. The Pope's visit to the United States in April created an atmosphere in which the usually rarified and esoteric discussions about liturgical music suddely were thrust onto the pages of the New York Times and mainstream news services. Two of the "mega-liturgies", D.C Nationals Stadium and St. Patrick's created an easy comparison, so obvious that even those not normally concerned with liturgical music made note of the differences. The verdict.... Il Papa was not pleased with the music at DC, while he was obviously overjoyed with the Mass at St. Patrick's. Later, the Mass at Yankee Stadium prominently featured beautiful hymnody, Gregorian Chant selections, appropriate psalmody and the unusual occurance of 30, 000 faithful singing the Credo III in Latin together. I doubt such a public Mass would have been possible even two years ago...

So is there a transformation of the discussion about Sacred Music taking place? I think there is, although it is a difficult thing to put a finger on at this point. Consider that the Winter-Spring edition of the OCP Journal Today's Liturgy bore the foreboding title Music in a Time of Change.

...and of course, when OCP says there is change happening we can be assured that it's for real!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Threefold Judgment Revisited

During a discussion this past week on the merits and shortcomings of the new music document, Sing To The Lord: Music In Divine Worship, the issue of the retained “Three-Fold Judgment” of music for use in the liturgy came up. It is generally considered to be a problematic, if not actually destructive element of the new document. This facet of STTL was held over from Music in Catholic Worship, where it had the effect within the document of permitting virtually ANY style of music which was, at a minimum, at least music. As such, it’s inclusion in STTL might seem to be a sort of “deal breaker” for those who were hoping for a set of guidelines with some direction to them. However, in light of the context in which this document exists, it does not have to be seen in this way, but can instead be seen as an argument in favor of the Church’s traditional music.

The problem with the Three-Fold Judgment as was outlined in MCW was the criteria to be used. In the context of MCW, where active participation was the criteria for all liturgical judgments, one was left evaluating music based on its suitability for group singing, with all other considerations being secondary. This had the effect, maybe unintended, maybe not, of effectively eliminating that very music that was proclaimed as a “great treasure” of the Church, Gregorian Chant. In its place, more simplistic songs modeled on popular songs were judged more suitable because of their supposed suitability for being sung by the assembly. Of course, the reality was that much of this music was more difficult than most of the Gregorian music intended to be sung by the assembly, with the result being that Gregorian Chant was replaced by music that was less suitable liturgically and musically.

Sing To The Lord: Music In Divine Worship maintains the Three-Fold Judgment, but within a new context. In the new document there are significant differences in the criteria laid out for evaluating both the textual content and the musical aspects of liturgical music. At the outset of SttL, the concept of active participation is discussed at length, with greater importance being given to “interior participation” and only secondary consideration given to participation through singing. This is no small difference. The emphasis on interior participation, drawing people into prayer, would tend to favor music of greater depth, and would mitigate against the kind of simplicity and banality too often found in music modeled on popular song models. The “lowest denominator” criteria that was proposed in MCW has been replaced by a description of active participation more in line with that written about in Benedict XVI’s writings, and more in line with that described in Sacrosanctum Concilium and Musicam Sacram. Although the “Three-Fold Judgment” remains, the criteria for judging has changed.

Of course, this assumes a very thorough reading of SttL, as well as some familiarity with Sacrosanctum Concilium, Musicam Sacram and the relevant writings of Pope Benedict XVI. It also assumes a willingness on the part of Pastors and musicians to begin looking at liturgy with a “hermeneutic of continuity” as has been said so often in the writings of Benedict XVI. Happily however, there is a renewed energy towards reform, perhaps enough to encourage and support some serious thought about sacred music.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Some Thoughts on Mutual Enrichment

The recent statement by His Emminence Cardinal Castillon Hoyos to the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales has caused considerable comment these past few days. On the one hand, his statements bode very well for the traditionalists… that Pope Benedict desires that the Extraordinary Form Mass be offered in every parish is in itself an incredible revelation to be made public by a highly placed official in the Vatican. This alone has given energy and hope to the many who would like to see the Church move towards this type of reform.

What has caused some consternation, on the other hand, is the continued position expressed that there should be mutual enrichment of the two forms of the liturgy. What does this mean exactly? The Cardinal’s exact words in regard to this issue:

This brings me to my third point. You are rightly convinced that the usus antiquior is not a museum piece, but a living expression of Catholic worship. If it is living, we must also expect it to develop. Our Holy Father is also of this conviction. As you know, he chose motu proprio – that is on his own initiative – to alter the text of the prayer pro Iudæis in the Good Friday liturgy. The intention of the prayer was in no way weakened, but a formulation was provided which respected sensitivities.

Likewise, as you also know, Summorum Pontificum has also provided for the Liturgy of the Word to be proclaimed in the vernacular without being first read by the celebrant in Latin. Today’s Pontifical Mass, of course, will have the readings solemnly chanted in Latin, but for less solemn celebrations the Liturgy of the Word may be proclaimed directly in the language of the people. This is already a concrete instance of what our Holy Father wrote in his letter accompanying the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum:

"the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching: new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal. The “Ecclesia Dei” Commission, in contact with various bodies devoted to the usus antiquior, will study the practical possibilities in this regard."

Naturally we will be happy for your input in this important matter. I simply ask you not to be opposed in principle to the necessary adaptation which our Holy Father has called for.

This brings me to another important point. I am aware that the response of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” with regard to the observance of Holy Days of obligation has caused a certain amount of disturbance in some circles. It should be noted that the dates of these Holy Days remain the same in both the Missal of 1962 and the Missal of 1970. When the Holy See has given the Episcopal Conference of a given country permission to move certain Holy Days to the following Sunday, this should be observed by all Catholics in that country. Nothing prevents the celebration of the Feast of the Ascension, for example, on the prior Thursday, but it should be clear that this is not a Mass of obligation and that the Mass of the Ascension should also be celebrated on the following Sunday. This is a sacrifice which I ask you to make with joy as a sign of your unity with the Catholic Church in your country.

Ok…. If we agree that there will need to be some compromise and mutual enrichment for the two forms of the Roman Rite to co-exist in a living worship environment, and that should be agreed upon, then there isn’t much to argue about in the Cardinal’s statement. But where is the mutual in this mutual enrichment?

A popular radio personality has repeatedly noted that in the political arena, when we talk about “reaching across the aisle”, such reaching almost always goes one-way, and that to liberals, compromise consists of the conservative position caving in to the demands of the liberal position. So far, the same can be observed in our situation (N.B- I am not suggesting here that the OF is a “liberal” liturgy and the EF is a “conservative” liturgy, only that the same principle applies as regards compromise).

For instance, in the above passage from the Cardinal’s address he outlines a number of ways in which the Extraordinary Form will need to adopt the practices of the Ordinary Form liturgy, including proclaiming the Liturgy of the Word in the vernacular, accepting the changes to the prayer pro Iudæis in the Good Friday Liturgy, and transferring the Holy Day obligations to the following Sunday when this is the applicable law in the diocese. So far, it’s all going one-way…

What about bringing some aspects of the Extraordinary Form into the Ordinary Form? There are some very obvious and meaningful ways that would not even require any actual changes in the law regarding the Novus Ordo. The issue of ad orientem would be the most logical starting point, followed by perhaps the reception of communion on the tongue. These are both issues that have been in the forefront lately, and it seems that Pope Benedict supports both of these practices becoming the norm in the Novus Ordo. Requiring both of these practices in the OF would be a sign of actual compromise, and meaningful mutual enrichment.

The problem I see is that, while it is mandated that the EF must use the new Good Friday Prayer, and it is mandated that the Holy Day obligation has to be transferred to the following Sunday, it is only suggested (and not even in writing) that ad orientem is permitted in the Novus Ordo, and it is encouraged, but only by example, that communion may be given on the tongue. Why not take the same position with these issues as with the Holy Day obligation issue and just mandate that Mass will be said ad orientem in the Ordinary Form, and mandate that communion will be distributed on the tongue? This would go a long way towards bringing the two forms closer, and would eliminate the confusion about the status of these practices in both forms. If these are only going to be suggested in the Ordinary Form, then it should be only suggested that the new Good Friday Prayer be used, and only encouraged that the Holy Day Obligation be moved to the following Sunday in the Extraordinary Form.

If there are truly going to be two forms of the same rite, then these forms need to be treated equally. Until real mutual enrichment begins to take place, and I do believe that we will begin to see some required changes in the NO, then there will continue to be suspicion among traditionalists that they are being asked to give- give- give, while the NO is allowed to continue unchanged. If allowed to build, such suspicion will only further divide us into separate camps, and discourage any further willingness to “reach across the aisle”…

Monday, June 16, 2008

Greetings to the CMAA Colloquium...

I just returned to my home in Florida two days ago from the Chant Intensive, and was not able to stay the extra week for the colloquium. My wife and I are already planning to attend next year though. To all of those who are taking part in the colloquium this week, greetings! I am anxiously awaiting to hear some first hand reports on the week's activities from those who are there.

Statement from Cardinal Hoyos

This from an article in the Telegraph (UK) via WDTPRS:

"Asked whether the Latin Mass would be celebrated in many ordinary parishes in future, Cardinal Castrillon said: “Not many parishes – all parishes. The Holy Father is offering this not only for the few groups who demand it, but so that everybody knows this way of celebrating the Eucharist.”

And from this statement, and others he has made in the past few months, a theory has arisen that there is some sort of TLM "mandate" on the way.

I don't know.... such a thing certainly could be possible, but if so, it isn't being indicated in this statement at least. In this case, Cardinal Hoyos seems to be expressing his view that the TLM will eventually be present in all parishes in the future. How far in the future? It doesn't say. Perhaps he is thinking 20 years.... 50 years... 100 years?

The article in the Telegraph also makes another rather bold statement:

In addition, all seminaries will be required to teach trainee priests how to say the old Mass so that they can celebrate it in all parishes. Catholic congregations throughout the world will receive special instruction on how to appreciate the old services, formerly known as the Tridentine Rite.

Did Cardinal Hoyos say this, or is this some leap of logic being put forward by Damien Thompson who is known for his zeal for the TLM? We will have to wait and see.

Let's assume for a moment that Cardinal Hoyos DID say something to this effect. He has made such statements before, indicating that seminaries will be required to teach the TLM. This DOESN'T mean that every seminarian will have to learn it, but just that the seminary will HAVE to offer it. Still an option. The issue of Catholic congregations receiving instruction is more interesting however. I will try to find the actual article from November of 2006 (I remember it well though) about a committee which would be developing a DVD based instructional program to be distributed to all parishes with the release of the new Missal translation.

Is this the same thing... no, but such a program IS being developed for the Missal translation, and it wouldn't be out of the question to distribute such a "mandatory" catechetical program in parishes for the TLM. It is done quite frequently these days. The Bishops Faith Appeal. Protecting God's Children. If as much effort was put into teaching the faithful about the TLM as is spent educating them on the importance of giving to the Faith Appeal or the need to be vigilant about pedophile janitors, CCD Teachers, choir members and volunteer ushers (oddly, Priests were never mentioned in the program I had to attend), then we would all be wise to buy stock in the company that makes chapel veils.

Again, it's a case of "wait and see".... maybe there is something brewing. We are still waiting for the clarification document on Summorum Pontificum. Maybe it was decided to go in a different direction given the attitude of some Bishops. Maybe the Holy See truly desires that the TLM be present in every parish, gave Bishops the chance to move on it and is now taking the next step. Maybe there is something going on that we don't know about out here in the blogosphere. There are so many possibilities that even an educated guess is one in a million.

What we can do is be thankful for the developments that HAVE taken place, and continue to pray for the Church. Nothing will happen overnight. Then again, we could wake up tomorrow to.... who knows? These are strange times.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

An interesting snippett...

While researching a source for another article, I came across this little bit from Sacrosanctum Concilium:

"Let bishops carefully remove from the house of God and from other sacred places those works of artists which are repugnant to faith, morals, and Christian piety, and which offend true religious sense either by depraved forms or by lack of artistic worth, mediocrity and pretense."

Depraved forms? Mediocrity? Pretense? Repugnant to faith? Offend true religious sense? Who would create such things to use in the church? Let's all be thankful that our ever vigilant Bishops have removed all such art from the house of God!

Now excuse me while I go find the music for "Table of Plenty" for Mass this weekend....

Can Catholic laity save Sacred Music?

A few more thoughts that have arisen during the Chant Intensive this week. It has been an inspiring, if not exhausting week so far, and a lot has been accomplished in a short time. However.... something very strange happened on the way to the Chant Intensive.... and whatever it was must have swallowed up ALL of the Priests and Deacons that should be attending this week. Given the importance of Gregorian Music to the liturgy, and the interest in liturgy that has been generated by the events of the past two years, one would think that more Priests and Deacons would be interested in investigating this thing called "Chant" that was skipped over in Seminary.

No such luck though... it looks like the laity are on their own in this struggle, at least for now. Which leads to my question of the day... Can Catholic laity save sacred music? Sacred music has needed saving before. The monestaries were the repository of tradition for centuries, and preserved and developed the chant tradition in it's proper environment... The Divine Office. The liturgical movement of the early 20th century brought chant back into prominence in the Church's liturgy outside the monestary, with help from the top in the form of a certain Motu Proprio from Pius X. The Vatican even went so far as to set up the Pontifical Academy for the study and promotion of Sacred Music, and approved and distributed books and materials, and followed up with additional legislation to support the implementation of this restoration.

Today we have no less daunting a task than did the monestaries of the middle ages, or the liturgical movement of the early 20th century. However, the current task is made all the more daunting by the lack of assistance from the Church. It's almost like the benevolent stranger who tries to help some poor soul who neither appreciates nor wants their help. Not only do you not get thanks, but you actually have to fight them to help them. It seems like something of an uphill battle to restore Sacred Music to a Church that won't get behind the effort. And with the Church silent on this issue, the effort all falls on the laity who are working from a position of weakness.

Can the laity save sacred music? The answer may be "yes", but then the question becomes "how long will we be willing to keep trying". Even the most fanatical advocates will draw the line at some point if their efforts aren't acknowledged and rewarded.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Being Careful Not To Compare

I awoke this morning in time to get to morning Mass at John Cantius (it's about 20 minutes from Loyola where the chant workshop is going on), not too difficult since my body is still on "Eastern" time, but my clock is on "Central", so everything seems an hour later to me! I caught about the last 10 minutes of the Canons Regular (about 20 of them) saying morning prayer together with antiphonal psalmody. Nice!

It was difficult to not keep thinking of whether it would be possible to get a liturgical program like this going in parishes across the country, and if so, then how? While driving back to campus, I came up with a few thoughts on the subject that, while not the most optimistic, at least lays out the areas that I think need the most work.

To begin with, despite the elaborate and magnificent structure that is St. John Cantius, that's not what's responsible. There are magnificent Churches across the country, many of which do not present the liturgy well. And it is not necessarily that they have made the decision to make use of both Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the liturgy. That too is a part, but again, there are parishes across the country, and increasingly so, that make use of both forms.

No, it was while sitting in the church watching the Canons Regular recite Morning Prayer together that the real reason was made obvious. It begins with a decision by the Priests. Not a decision to try and do what the parishioners want, but to do what the Church requires. Not to try and shape the liturgy according to peoples lives and schedules, but to shape the peoples lives and schedules according to the liturgy.

From this, everything else comes... the beautiful art and architecture (what the Liturgy requires), the beautiful music (what the liturgy requires), the attention to daily prayer and devotions (what the liturgy requires)... it all begins with that decision to SUBMIT to the Church rather than trying to shape it to our convenience, to be like children and do as we are told.

This decision will be a long time coming in many parishes, and until it is made, those who try to bring beautiful art and architecture, beautiful music and adherence to tradions will be fighting the administration every step of the way. It's not really possible to compare one parish with another, or to criticize a parish for not having "gotten on the bandwagon" or "with the program"... in some places it really is not yet possible. That decision hasn't been made.

Pray for Our Priests...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Mass at St. John Cantius

Being in Chicago on a Sunday morning has it's advantages... Mass at St. John Cantius. I don't really know what to say except to thank God for such a place, and to pray that there shall be more and more places like it.

After Mass (The 12:30PM Tridentine Mass), the thought ocurred to me that the best way to dispel the many, many misconceptions, protestations and criticisms of the "Old Mass" (Priest turning his back, not being able to understand what's going on, no participation from the assembly) is to simply go to Mass. Particularly go to a beautiful and so carefully prepared and executed Mass such as one finds at John Cantius. You would be hard pressed to say you don't understand what's going on... that is entirely clear! The direction that the Priest faces seems not only natural, but is demanded by the action of the Mass. And given the faces of the people in the pews, riveted, yes riveted, to what was taking place before them, and responding when called to, I would dare anyone to say that they were not participating in this sacrifice.

The logic of the liturgy is laid bare before us in the "Old Mass"... tghe role of beauty, the role of silence, the role of the Priest and the role of the faithful are all so obvious, that for a moment, I very uncharitably thought "What were they thinking, God, what were they thinking to change this?" And the reason suddenly became clear why Pope Benedict has taken the path that he has with the liturgy... for the first time in a long time, I felt Catholic, I felt that this is what we are supposed to be. These things we call "tradition" aren't old worn out relics. They are what we are supposed to be.

St. Mary's Kalamazoo Workshop

What a day! In a small converted gymnasium in Kalamazoo MI, you could find Fr. Rob Johansen ("Thrown Back" blog), Jeffrey Tucker (NLM) and Fr. Z (WDTPRS) and, well, me too (Chironomo's Podium, Authentic Update).... all there for the cause of CHANT! It was truly incredible and encouraging to see so many people, directors, cantors and choir members coming together to learn about Sacred Music. We are moving forward, I am assured of that now. How long it will take depends on us, and on the grace of God.

Just for the record, I am at a Dunkin' Donuts (I am NOT a "Starbuck's fan) across the street from my hotel in downtown Chicago. It looks like I'll be able to go to the 12:30PM Mass at John Cantius, which I am really looking forward to. After all the bad weather here last night (Tornadoes, etc...) the weather is beautiful. It seems to always be the most beautiful after a storm. Maybe that's a sign....

Friday, June 6, 2008

I think I'm about 3/4 of the way there....

I'm SOMEWHERE in Indiana... right over the river from Louisville KY.... I've been driving for 12 hours, so I'm stopping at the Cracker Barrel for some coffee and dinner... I'm still amazed at how easy it is to find a wireless connection anywhere!

Makin' JaJa...

Actually, I guess it's spelled Macon, Georgia.... taking a short break and getting a coffee on my 14+ hour trip today to get to Kalamazoo for tomorrow's workshop. At least there's no shortage of good internet connections while driving on the highway now! I've been listening to my chant CD (actually a CD I made of several chant ordinaries I got on the internet... ) and have several whole sets memorized already. It's surprising what you can do when you have a lot of time in a car!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Off To Kalamazoo

I'm leaving tomorrow for my 8 day long "Chant Vacation". My first stop will be the Saturday Seminar with Fr.Z and Jeffrey Tucker - At The Lamb's High Feast in Kalamazoo MI. This was an add-on "bonus" seminar for my trip to the Chant Intensive at Loyola University from June 8-13. I'm hoping that both of these events will help me along the way towards a greater use of chant and authentic Sacred Music at Masses in my parish..... eventually!! I have to admit, it's going to take some work, and some time. Please say a prayer for me as I have to drive about 19 hours from home for these events, leaving my wife and family for more than a week.