Monday, July 21, 2008

Pope Benedict "Raises the Bar" Again

Watching the Final Mass of WYD 2008 demonstrates just how far we have come in a short time. There will no doubt be discussion of this Mass, as there was of the Washington Nationals Stadium Mass, for a long time to come. However, there is one overarching observation that must serve as the starting point for any discussion of this Mass... we are moving quickly towards a liturgical vision guided by the documents of Vatican II rather than the spirit of Vatican II.

As large mega-event Masses go, this one was remarkable. That it was a Youth Mass was more remarkable still. If there is a message to be had from this point of view, it is that there is no need for a distinction between a "regular Mass" and a "Youth Mass"... There was nothing in this liturgy that demonstrated a need to pander to so-called "teen interests"... no rock music, no scantily clad singer-performers, no dance numbers (OK... the Gospel Procession was a little over the top...) and no simplified rites or dumbed-down messages.

On the contrary, this was excellent liturgy offered to God on behalf of the Youth, whom Benedict obviously respects and values. We heard beautiful music presented by an orchestra and Organist with Choir. We heard a well-trained schola chant the Introit, the Veni sancte Spiritus during Confirmation and the Communion Antiphon in Latin. The Mass Ordinary was sung in beautiful (if not a little theatrical?) settings using Latin and vernacular texts combined. The entire assembly chanted the Pater Noster in Latin. There didn't seem to be any problem understanding what was going on...

The few moments of questionable taste stood out starkly and seemed out of place. The Aboriginal Gospel Procession, the easy-listening karaoke style "Taste and See" at communion.... these now seem nostalgic and sentimental, leftovers of a passing era. Requiem in Pace.

The absence of Extraordinary Ministers, the all-male altar servers, the Pope distributing Communion kneeling and on the tongue. Expect these to be permanent fixtures at events like this in the future, and expect them to eventually make their way back into parish settings. Eventually... it will take time, as this took time. We are a large flock of sheep, and there is only one shepherd. But he is determined.

He has raised the bar. Will we make the effort to rise up to it, or will we opt to "limbo" our way under it?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

We are Known by the Company We Keep

I had to answer a query from a choir member about why we don't use the "Mass of Remembrance" (we remember how you loved us to your death...) and while looking up the problematic texts to the acclamations, my travels led me to the Sheet Music Plus website.

I was on the page for Mass of Remembrance, and like all sites of this type, they cross-promote music... you know the old "If you liked Mass of Remembrance, you might also like..."

And so what might I like if I actually liked Mass of Remembrance?

If you liked Mass of Remembrance, you may also like music by:

I have to hand it to them.... they nailed it right on the head!

Monday, July 14, 2008

The TLM Leads Youth To Idolatry?

Such is the claim in an incredible article that appeared in the latest issue of Today’s Liturgy titled “Avoiding the Golden Calf”. Reading this article I had to wonder what the author, Robert Feduccia, was trying to accomplish. Like the review of Sing To The Lord that also appeared in this issue of Today’s Liturgy, it seems to be an agenda driven editorial more than anything else, but let’s take a look.

The author begins with a touching story about his visit to the Tomb of the Unknowns in Washington D.C. The focus here is the complex ceremony performed by the Old Guard at the tomb. The precise attention to detail and the expertly performed actions, while impressive, cause the author to begin worrying about whether they are actually honoring the Unkowns in the tomb, or are they more concerned with the ceremony itself.

"…my thoughts go to the next question: What do they love? Do they love the unknowns or do they love the ceremony? I hope they love the ceremony. It is noble, worthy of preservation and demonstrates the honor the fallen deserve. But more than the ceremony, I hope they love the soldiers to whom the honor of the ceremony is directed. "

"I think this can serve as a good analogy for worship and can also help frame the question for those seeking to make an offering in spirit and truth. "

OK… aside from insulting the Old Guard at the Tomb of the Unkowns, the author hurls a few insults at Catholics who worship in the Extraordinary Form, although he hasn’t yet made that connection, so you don’t know you’re being insulted until later. It is comforting to me that the author believes that the Extraordinary Form liturgy is worthy of preservation.

To begin, I question whether this is really the “good analogy” that the author claims. Comparing a military ceremony, contrived by men to honor men, with worship inspired by the Holy Spirit to Honor Almighty God may lead to some false comparisons. In the case of the Old Guard, the unknowns are honored through the commitment and dedication of the men who spend many hours learning this complex and precise ceremony. The point of learning the ceremony is to perform it perfectly. By performing it perfectly, the men have accomplished that goal for which they have sacrificed. This is how they honor the dead.

The author seems to want us to apply this same paradigm to the rubrics of the Extraordinary Form, as he mentions it in the very next few sentences:

"I see today’s committed young adult Catholics drawn toward worship. I find there are those who are attracted by the Traditional Roman eucharistic liturgy. The grace of sacred art, the nobility of chant, and the sense of mystery and transcendence that the Missal of Blessed John XXIII or the Novus Ordo can provide all have great resonance with a large group of younger Catholics. Another form of worship that seems to truly appeal to younger Catholics is one where Praise and Worship songs, those written and published by both Catholics and the larger community of Christian believers, are frequently used. "

A few comments are due at this point. This article pretends to be a criticism of the concept of “worshipping the liturgy”, and the author would like you to believe that he is criticizing both Traditional liturgy and Praise and Worship style liturgy at this point. However, the analogy of the Old Guard at the Tomb of the Unkowns and its precise ceremony really don’t apply to P&W style worship, so it is obvious that the criticism is being leveled at the Traditional Mass. Note that “there are those who are attracted by the Traditional Roman Eucharistic liturgy”, but P&W worship “truly appeals” to younger Catholics.

This simple comparison reveals a serious bias on the part of the author. Consider if the author would have said “I find that the Traditional Roman Liturgy truly appeals to younger Catholics”. Such a statement would require that the author then criticize the liturgy itself and demonstrate some actual flaw to make his point that these young Catholics are being misled. Instead, by making their preference for the Extraordinary Form into an emotional response (attraction), it leaves open the argument that their attraction is actually to the external elements of the liturgy, and not directed towards the worship of God. The author is clearly implying that there is an intrinsic flaw in the structure of the Traditional Mass and its distinctive rubrics that opens it up to the type of “worship of the liturgy” that he is critical of.

Compare this to the P&W style worship which “truly appeals” to younger Catholics. The implication here is that this style of liturgy is authentic, and the individual’s attraction to it is justified because of it’s worth. The author’s eventual criticism is not of the liturgy or its form but of how some individuals lack the depth to experience liturgy beyond mere externals, and end up being attracted by this or that song. This is not a criticism of the worship style, but of those who worship. From this point on, the article is dealing in apples and oranges.

Another odd moment in the passage above is in need of comment:

"The grace of sacred art, the nobility of chant, and the sense of mystery and transcendence that the Missal of Blessed John XXIII or the Novus Ordo can provide all have great resonance with a large group of younger Catholics. "

Is this a blunder, or is the author saying that if the Novus Ordo is implemented with a sense of mystery, using sacred art and noble chant it will also have great resonance with a large group of younger Catholics? If this was his intention, then his criticism is also expanded to the Latin Novus Ordo as well, and his actual agenda becomes clearer.

The author goes on:

“I hold dearly the truth that we are destined for an eternity of worship. Our Catholic understanding of salvation is that all creation will be summed up in Christ, will be fused with him. In that union with him, we will enjoy the same blissful, ecstatic and eternal relationship with the Father that the Son enjoys."

“Anything that draws the young Church into this relationship is a friend to me, and I am its ally. That said, there are concerns that I have, not in these forms, but in our humanity that is so given to efforts that miss the mark.”


What are these “efforts that miss the mark” that he is speaking of? Is he saying that we aspire to worship perfectly but never are able to? Is he trying to imply that we construct methods of worship (like the Extraordinary Form) that may lead us to false worship? Is he talking about the Extraordinary form at all, or is he possibly claiming that P&W style worship is an effort that misses the mark? The very next paragraph makes clear what he is referring to here.

"The Missal of Blessed John XXIII is beautiful; it is transcendent. If we understand art as a human effort to express the reality of God, the Missal is itself a work of art."

So.. the Missal of Blessed John XXIII is a work of art. Art is a human effort. Our humanity is so given to efforts that miss the mark. Get it now? He goes on…

“It is noble, rooted in timelessness, artful and divine. It is obvious why people can feel so passionate about its use. Nonetheless, I find that there are dangers in making the Latin Mass, as it is commonly called, an idol. “

And so here we are at the point of the article. Latin Mass = Danger. Latin Mass=Idolatry. Lest you think I’m reading too much into this... the article continues:

“Relating back to the question about the sentinels, what is being loved? Is it the form or is it the one whom the form makes present? In other words, is the Father being worshipped by our communion with His son, or is the liturgy being worshipped? We should want to give our best for the Lord. The attention to precision and detail that draws many young Catholics to this Missal can become the focus of the worship. It is a danger that demands great spiritual attention. The form of worship should not be idolized.”

The italics on the word “form” belong to the author… his criticism is of the form of the worship, specifically of the Extraordinary Form of worship. The comparison to the ceremony performed by the Old Guard forces the reader to accept his view that the Extraordinary Form developed as a method of honoring God through the completion of a complex series of precise actions, dressed up in beauty and reverence performed for the purpose of attracting the faithful. If this was all there was to it, the author would indeed be correct in warning unwary souls of the danger of worshipping form over substance. The problem here is a matter of the author’s misunderstanding of the purpose of worship. The next passage sums this up…

"The Missal of Blessed John XXIII is a noble and precise offering to the Father. Praise and Worship are meant to capture the heart of the individual. I have been to gatherings where I felt that my chest could not contain my heart. Those times, where the love that I felt for the Lord was so overwhelming are among the greatest moments of spiritual consolation I have ever encountered."

Apparently, for the author, worship is about how we feel, and the purpose of worship is to elicit feelings in us, to arouse our emotions and “draw us into” the experience of loving the Lord. The Missal of Blessed John XXIII is a “precise offering to the Father”. Praise and Worship “captures the heart of the individual”. The Missal of John XXIII is about form. Praise and Worship is about feelings.

Notice that the author talks at length about his meaningful experience at Praise and Worship, but never mentions how he feels while worshipping in the Extraordinary Form. The clich├ęs and tired platitudes about the EF being “noble” and “beautiful” and “transcendent” are empty praise at best, sort of like the person who claims they aren’t racist because they have “black friends”. I doubt that the author has much experience worshipping in the Extraordinary Form, but I am certain that he doesn’t want that experience to be available to young Catholics.

The author then goes in what seems like a new direction, taking up the issue of musical selection in Praise and Worship style liturgy.

“I have found that many people attach themselves to certain songs. When that song isn’t used during a service, they claim the worship experience wasn’t good. ‘I just didn’t feel it’ they say. People have commented to me about feelings of resentment and anger toward the person leading music when he or she doesn’t play a certain song or doesn’t play it properly. The worshipper felt disconnected as the others sang the song poorly or in a different way from how he or she learned it.”

What a positive and resounding endorsement of P&W liturgy this is! The author apparently doesn’t see this as a problem with the form of the liturgy though, but as an issue with the individual and how they feel. The result is a dilemma, elegantly expressed by the author as he concludes his argument:

“This kind of emotional attachment to songs has even made its way into the liturgy. Songs to be used during a specific liturgy are chosen because people like them, not because they draw attention to the present liturgical action. These songs get an emotional response, but not necessarily the type of emotional response we should be aiming for. Is greater immersion into the liturgical action desired, or is the emotional response of familiarity on the part of the congregation desired?"

That is the question! Too bad he doesn’t answer it. The truth is, it can’t be answered without repudiating the purpose of Praise and Worship liturgy, which is to elicit emotional responses and feelings from the participant. A greater immersion into the liturgical action would make worshipping God the object of the liturgy. The author is torn by the realization that P&W liturgy is about US! He wants it to be about worshipping God, but understands that ultimately it is about how we FEEL. He knows that if he answers that we need greater immersion in the liturgical action, he admits to a flaw in the form of the worship itself and would have to propose selecting music that is liturgically centered, abandoning the popular-music based liturgy model. If he answers that the emotional response of familiarity is desired, he admits that the current model disregards the liturgy itself. And so he doesn’t answer.

Besides, this article isn’t about criticizing P&W style worship. Notice that he had no problem definitively answering his questions regarding the Extraordinary Form Mass:

“…is the Father being worshipped by our communion with His son, or is the liturgy being worshipped? We should want to give our best for the Lord. The attention to precision and detail that draws many young Catholics to this Missal can become the focus of the worship. It is a danger that demands great spiritual attention. The form of worship should not be idolized.”

So, in the spirit of the author’s article, I’ll leave it up to you to decide: Is the author actually concerned about the souls of young Catholics being led astray, or is he just expressing a personal prejudice against Traditional liturgy? You decide.

And one more thing; why is he so concerned about young Catholics attending Mass in the Extraordinary Form anyway? Everyone knows that it only appeals to a few breakaway ultra-orthodox groups and there is no interest in it anywhere else… right?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

In What I Have Done, And In What I Have Failed To Do….

Omission can be a serious matter. In reporting news, it can be used to shape the story to fit a particular agenda. It can be used to manipulate public opinion by leaving out things that disagree with a particular agenda being forwarded. We even have sins of omission. Our Confiteor contains a reference to omission when it says “I have sinned….in what I have done and in what I have failed to do”. So it might be said that omission becomes something more than just “editing” when it concerns reporting on matters relating to the liturgy. It becomes the obvious promotion of an agenda, perhaps even an attempt to deceive the intended audience.


Not that I would expect any less from our friends at OCP, particularly when it comes to reporting on recent developments in sacred music in the Catholic Church. Much of what is happening does not bode particularly well for them. It’s with this in mind that I just have to comment on the recent reviews of “New Documents” in the August-November edition of Today’s Liturgy. The subject of the review is the two most recent documents from the USCCB relating to music, the Directory for Music and the Liturgy and Sing To The Lord: Music in Divine Worship. I have been waiting for nearly two years for an OCP response to the first of these documents, and some 6 months now for them to write about the latter.

Mostly, I was anxious to see how they would approach some of the less convenient parts of these documents. The first document, with the suggestion that the number of songs, “if they are to be used widely by the faithful, should be relatively fixed”, would pose particular problems for the publishing industry. Let’s see how they spin this…

“It might be helpful to look at what Liturgiam Authenticam actually states: “If they (liturgical songs) are to be used widely by the faithful, they should remain relatively fixed so that confusion among the faithful may be avoided”(108). Due to the rich blessing of a large number of talented and prolific composers and the tremendous number of songs available and used throughout the country, it would be difficult, if not completely impossible, to identify any one group of songs used as widely as the document presumes. Our national diversity makes the selection of a common repertoire a practical impossibility.”

Sense the terror and fear in this response? The words used to respond make the agenda clear: rich blessing, large number, prolific, tremendous number, throughout the country…. followed by difficult, completely impossible, as the document presumes, practical impossibility. The message is clear; what Liturgiam Authenticam is asking can’t be done. There are too many songs already being used by too many people in too many places to narrow it down to a stable repertoire. Further, all of these songs are necessary to accommodate the diversity present in the Church, making compliance with LA a “practical impossibility.

OK, never mind that creating such a stable repertoire would all but put OCP out of business, we are supposed to believe that they are acting in the best interest of the Church. But the particulars of the Directory frighten them… it could easily go either way and they have no control over it. They go out of their way on three different places in the review to note that this document requires approval from the Holy See, and as of yet it has not been approved. It is also noted that the document “is likely to undergo changes made by the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments”, though it fails to mention that such changes would likely be adverse in their view, and could well include demands for an actual “list” of approved songs as is required by Liturgiam Authenticam. Guess they just left that one out…

The review of Sing To The Lord, however, breaks new ground in the tactical omission of particular items that disagree with your agenda. To read this review, you would think that SttL is just a re-wording of Music in Catholic Worship. I understand that SttL was not the document that it was supposed to be, nor was it all that many had hoped for, but… there is plenty in it to rejoice over, and all in all it sets the ground for the dismantling of the progressive music agenda if it were to be implemented. The reviewer must have missed most of that…

Some highlights of the review: My emphasis and comments

“In Section II (The Church at Prayer) attention is focused on those who have significant roles in the celebration of the liturgy. After mentioning ordained ministers (for 3 pages !) the document stresses (for 1 page) the role of the Gathered Liturgical Assembly, the entire people present at a celebration. Only then does it address ( for 5 ½ pages!) ministers of liturgical music as such, highlighting the various individual ministerial responsibilities. Perhaps this may not seem of great significance, but I do not agree. Sing to The Lord clearly emphasizes that music ministers are servants of the assembly, a concept that is not always understood or appreciated.”

WHAAT!! You have to stretch like Mary Lou Retton to get that out of Section II of this document. To begin with, since when is something mentioned for 3 pages, addressed for 5 ½ pages, but stressed for 1 page? Wouldn’t we ordinarily say that those topics to which more space is given are being stressed? I guess it just wouldn’t do to say that the “role of the Gathered Liturgical Assembly, the entire people present at a celebration” is mentioned, since we all know that that’s what the Mass is all about, right?

And then there is the matter of the music ministers being servants of the assembly.

(Relevant quotes from SttL, please)

Choir members, like all liturgical ministers, should exercise their ministry with evident faith and should participate in the entire liturgical celebration, recognizing that they are servants of the Liturgy and members of the gathered assembly.

The director of music ministries fosters the active participation of the liturgical assembly in singing; coordinates the preparation of music to be sung at various liturgical celebrations; and promotes the ministries of choirs, psalmists, cantors, organists, and all who serve the Liturgy.

Directors are collaborators with bishops, priests, and deacons, who exercise a pastoral ministry based on the Sacrament of Holy Orders, which configures them to Christ the Head and consecrates them for a role that is unique and necessary for the communion of the Church.
----

So…Sing To The Lord does clearly emphasize what the role of the music minister is, and it isn’t to be a servant of the assembly. It is to be a collaborator with the clergy and a servant of the liturgy. I would have to say there is a big difference between the two, and I have a hard time believing that the author simply overlooked this point since he went out of his way to discuss it. This was deliberate. On the topic of omissions, most of what is said in the section concerning the Choir emphasizes the unique role of the Choir separate from the assembly. This section makes note of places where the Choir exercise their unique role such as:

Choirs and ensembles, on the other hand, comprise persons drawn from the community who possess the requisite musical skills and a commitment to the established schedule of rehearsals and Liturgies. Thus, they are able to enrich the celebration by adding musical elements beyond the capabilities of the congregation alone.(SttL 28)

At times, the choir performs its ministry by singing alone. The choir may draw on the treasury of sacred music, singing compositions by composers of various periods and in various musical styles, as well as music that expresses the faith of the various cultures that enrich the Church. Appropriate times where the choir might commonly sing alone include a prelude before Mass, the Entrance chant, the Preparation of the Gifts, during the Communion procession or after the reception of Communion, and the recessional. (SttL 30)

So… what this particular passage is saying is that the Choir can sing any part of the Mass by itself! The assembly does not have to sing everything… it can sit back and listen at times. This is what is meant by Interior Participation… but we’ll get to that in a moment.

The reviewer then turns to Section III of Sing To The Lord (The Music of Catholic Worship). In doing so, he moves unseen over one particular part of Section II, inconveniently titled “Latin in The Liturgy”. This section contains such gems as:

Pastors should ensure “that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin
those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.”60 They should be able to sing
these parts of the Mass proper to them, at least according to the simpler melodies

At international and multicultural gatherings of different language groups, it is most
appropriate to celebrate the Liturgy in Latin, “with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful.”61 In addition, “selections of Gregorian chant should be sung” at such gatherings, whenever possible

To facilitate the singing of texts in Latin, the singers should be trained in its correct
pronunciation and understand its meaning. To the greatest extent possible and applicable, singers and choir directors are encouraged to deepen their familiarity with the Latin language.

Each worshiping community in the United States
, including all age groups and all
ethnic groups, should, at a minimum, learn Kyrie XVI, Sanctus XVIII, and Agnus Dei XVIII, all of which are typically included in congregational worship aids. More difficult chants, such as Gloria VIII and settings of the Credo and Pater Noster, might be learned after the easier chants have been mastered.71

When the congregation does not sing an antiphon or hymn, proper chants from the Graduale Romanum might be sung by a choir that is able to render these challenging pieces well. As an easier alternative, chants of the Graduale Simplex are recommended.


Geez… for the life of me I can’t figure how he overlooked all of this. Oh well… on to the section on instruments. The reviewer writes:

I find it very insightful that under the second heading, “Instruments”, the first one listed, and by implication the most important, is the human voice.

Yes, it is the first instrument listed. It is discussed for a total of 2 sentences in this context. The next instrument listed is the organ, discussed for slightly more than a full page. No mention of that in the review though….

But it is his statement “and by implication the most important” that I find fascinating. He seems to be saying that since the document lists the Human Voice first under instruments, it is thereby the most important instrument. Hmm… I find it very insightful that under the first heading, “Different Kinds of Music for the Liturgy”, the first one listed is Gregorian Chant, followed by The Composers and Music of Our Day. Did he miss the implications of that section? Or maybe the section on Participation, where the first type of participation listed is Internal Participation

Even when listening to the various prayers and readings of the Liturgy or to the singing of the
choir, the assembly continues to participate actively as they “unite themselves interiorly to what the ministers or choir sing, so that by listening to them they may raise their minds to God.”


Did the reviewer miss the implication that by being listed first under the heading of participation, that this is perhaps the most important kind of participation? I don’t think he missed it at all. I think he omitted it.

The end of the review draws attention to two other sections that survived from Music in Catholic Worship, the explanation of Progressive Solemnity and the Three-Fold Judgment. These are extolled as “sections that combine to set the context for music that will enable a particular community to express its faith in song in a fitting and meaningful way.” He explains that

“In simple terms, this document reminds us that what is sung and how it is sung makes a very effective and practical means of highlighting the more important liturgical days from those of less solemnity.”

Yes, that would be very simple terms… it also reminds us that the most important music sung during the Mass is the Priest’s Chants and his dialogues with the assembly, followed by the Sanctus, memorial and Amen. After that, the Antiphons and Psalms, refrains and responses such as the Kyrie and Agnus Dei, and lastly, the least important music in the liturgy are the hymns sung by the assembly. Maybe that couldn’t be explained in simple terms. Or maybe he just left it out because it doesn’t fit the idea that the assembly is the most important part of the Mass. That got omitted too.

All in all, this review is transparent. But what would we expect from OCP? Can we honestly expect them to look out for the good of the liturgy? Would they gladly put themselves out of business for the sake of the liturgy? Remember, the reviewer says that the music ministers are servant to the assembly. Incredible. One would think that a review of such an important document would point out all of those things that differ from the current norms. Instead, it talks about those things that are the status quo, and that’s it. All of the rest is omitted.

And one more thing. The reviewer…. The Most Reverend Ronald P. Herzog, Bishop of Alexandria Louisiana. He voted on this document back in November, so don’t even try to say that he doesn’t know what’s in there.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Beating that Horse a Little More...

I had to remove the original posting here... seems the author of the article (or a friend of the author it seems) is using the "copyright" bit to stop commentary. Oh well...

However, their comment on my combox is NOT copyrighted, so let's see what they had to say:

My emphasis and comments

-----
I fail to understand why music in the Catholic Church must have such a narrow definition (such as...?). Our own God is infinite and yet you are saying there is no room for other forms of expression beyond chant and scholas (I did not say that, nor do I believe that). If you attend liturgies in other places such as South America or Africa, you would find a completely different form of expression (true... however they may well be in error as well. Liturgical abuses are not restricted to the U.S.A). Nowhere does it say that artists must be so constricted in their creativity to worship a God that is far bigger than anyone can imagine.(Umm..Tra le Solicitudini, Musicae Sacrae, Sacrosanctum Concilium, Musica Sacra, Liturgiam Authenticam, Sacramentum Caritatis.. as well as numerous writing by our current Holy Father.)

I personally love chant. I've been a member of choirs over the years. I know that the Vatican prefers chant most especially for the liturgy. But we aren't at liturgy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are out in the world most of the time and it's hard sometimes to stay connected to our God with all the distractions the world provides (precisely... so placing our faith within the context of such distraction is the answer?). Popular forms of music are a wonderful way to stay connected to our faith and even feed it and share it with others (I would strongly disagree). It's something you can take with you in your car, your mp3 player, or it can just play in your head. I could go on and on how much my faith life has been fed by contemporary music with lyrics about the Catholic faith. (and it has shaped your faith into a particular form)

I have to say that I personally know the writer of the article you printed on your blog. He works tirelessly and donates so much time to this effort of promoting Catholic (pop) music. He has a very large family and a responsible job at a university and yet finds the time to work with Critical Mass, and work with people such as those involved with the Eucharistic Congress. Critical Mass is an excellent band and has inspired many young people to worship our Lord (but it has inspired them to worship HOW... ?). It is too bad that the committee could not work a little harder to find a place to them to play at the Congress.

You mention why Critical Mass didn't suggest themselves directly as band to perform. If you are offering to help someone promote an event, don't you think it's a little crass to promote your own band in the process? (not at all... most of the bands there would have done so in an instant) It was obvious that Critical Mass was a viable choice and the committee was well aware of their work. I think the committee could have done better by them.

Also, please note that this story was reprinted on your blog without our permission (and has been removed... my apologies). There is a copyright at the bottom of this and all stories that requires that you email the editor for permission to post a story before doing so:

© Copyright 2008 GrapeVine. Permission to copy or reprint this story must be obtained by writing to susan@gvonline.net. Used by permission.

Since the story was already here, I figured I might as well comment on it. (thanks).

----

So there we have it. Yes, of course I understand that this was not intended to be in the context of Mass, although certainly MC Marini's role in organizing the Eucharistic Congress certainly wouldn't rule that OUT! The point I was making, that was sorta sidestepped in this comment, was that there is a disjunct between the message of Catholicism and the medium of Rock Music. I wish I had said it first, but Pope Benedict XVI beat me to the punch in "Liturgy and Church Music". His analysis of why the medium of Rock Music is incompatible not only with Catholic worship, but with the entire message of the Catholic faith should be read by any and all "Catholic Rockers" who truly believe that what they are doing is inspired by the Holy Spirit. The conclusion is that, well, not all spirits that inspire are holy.

If you, the commentor, are reading this, I would urge you to click on the above link and read what he has to say about what you are doing. The problem is, obedience is perhaps the most trying of virtues.




From the Horse's Mouth...

Sometimes one just has to get information "from the source" as they say...

This from an interview with Dan Schutte at the "Grapevine" blog... I wonder if they actually listened to what he was saying at this point...

My songwriting process can be different for different pieces. Sometimes it begins with a melody. Often it will begin with a single line of text that I use to begin to create a melody. As the music will often run beyond the snippet of text that I have, I then have to fill in the rest of the lyrics. As a piece comes together I will play and sing it many times over looking for places that don’t feel quite right. This is where, I suspect, the creative intuition enters the process in discerning when something is just right or not. I will often have to work at certain places in the music or lyrics until I discover what feels right.

Of course there is nothing unusual about this process of song-writing... it's how all pop music is written! Melody first, lyrics invented to fit the melody. Reminds me of Sir Paul McCartney's tale about how he wrote the ballad "Yesterday"... beginning with the lyrics "scrambled eggs", creating a melody from that, then scrapped those words and put in the word "yesterday", and from that "filled in" the rest of the words. An excellent creative process. For pop music.

However, this is the antithesis of sacred music in which the text has primacy, and the music comes from the text. That is the model provided by Gregorian Chant and Polyphony. That is the model that even contemporary sacred music is to follow. Not that it is a "revelation"... but here we have Mr. Schutte admitting that he does just the opposite.

With this process duplicated over and over again by such "composers" (I prefer songwriter), is it any wonder that texts eventually emerge that have nothing whatsoever to do with the Catholic Faith? The point for them is not the words.... it's the melody. A tune. A pretty tune. A singable tune. The words are an afterthought, something to go along with that tune. Who cares what they say, as long as they sound nice.

Thank you Mr. Schutte, et al....

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Pope Speaks (again) about The Organ

While at Castlegandolfo, The Holy Father addressed a group from Regensburg who had come to visit him. The following comes from the Vatican News Service:

VATICAN CITY, 5 JUL 2008 (VIS) - This morning in Castelgandolfo, the HolyFather received a group of pilgrims from Regensburg, Germany. In brief remarks to them, the Pope recalled the "marvellous day" inSeptember 2006 when he blessed the new organ - the "Benedikt-Orgel" - in the"Alte Kapelle" of Regensburg, of which his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger,was once director.
"I have an indelible memory", said the Holy Father, "of how - in the harmony of that wonderful organ, of the choir conducted by Mr Kohlhaufel, and the luminous beauty of the church - we experienced the joy that comes from God. Not just the 'spark of the Gods' of which Schiller speaks, but truly the flame of the Holy Spirit which brought us to feel in our innermost being what we also know from the Gospel of St. John: that He Himself is joy.And this joy was communicated to us".

Benedict XVI spoke of his contentment "that this organ continues to play and so helps people to perceive something of the splendour of our faith; a splendour ignited by the Holy Spirit Himself. Thus the organ has an evangelising role, in its own way it announces the Gospel".

It always picques my curiosity when the Holy Father makes off-the-cuff comments like this. This reminds me of his comments to the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music last November, when he touched on very much the same thing, the evangelizing power of sacred music. At that time, the suggestion was made by Msgr. Miserachs that a curial office for Sacred Music may be a good idea. Then all went quiet on the topic. Now it re-emerges during Benedict's time away.

Just seems curious.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Wars and Rumors of Wars

Signs of the endtimes? So we're told, and if that's the case, we may be heading that way. If there is any truth to the rumors that began circulating a few days ago, we're in for the Mother of All Liturgy Wars (MOALW), as it was "leaked" in the Italian Press by a "source close to the Vatican" that there may be an effort originating from the Holy See and the CDWDS to mandate that the consecration formula as well as other sacramental formulae for Baptisms, Confirmation and confession be said in Latin. During Mass. Everywhere in the World. Including the US.

Call me a sceptic, but I think this might not be too well received in some circles. There have also been numerous comments across the blogs that this seems to far "out there" to be anything but a wild rumor. While I agree that it is a bold move, I for one think that this may well be coming our way. Why? Because this is an issue that Benedict has spoken about often in his writings and statements, and it is a move which he has good reason to make at this time.

Consider the convergence of several disparate events: The issue of discussions with the SSPX regarding a return to full communion, the recent re-introduction of communion kneeling received on the tongue at Papal Masses and the One Year anniversary of Summorum Pontificum. Each of these events, decidedly important, would have been considered highly unlikely only a short while ago. They are all tied closely to the issue of a return to tradition. And, they are all connected to issues that arose from the "hermeneutic of rupture" that Benedict has spoken about in relation to the post Vatican II liturgy.

So too for the issue of the Latin language at Mass. In Sacramentum Caritatis, Pope Benedict spoke at length about the importance of the Latin language, not only as a traditional element of liturgy, but as a way of assuring the proper transmission of the faith. And at no point in the Mass is this so important as in the consecration formula. If there were to be a place in the Mass where the use of Latin for this purpose would be of greatest importance, that would be it. And this consideration, the proper transmission of the faith, is strengthened further by the recent squabbling over the translation of "pro multis" in the Eucharistic Prayer. As the ultimate arbiter of things liturgical, perhaps it is time for the Pope to step in and resolve this issue. That may be what is coming. That and the MOALW.