Monday, November 19, 2012


I think one of the things that has created more disunity in the Church and more babel is inculturation being brought into the Mass as it regards music, dance, exuberance and the like.

One of the worst things for the Church's unity and peace has been the vernacular because everyone has his or her own opinion of which vernacular should be used, how high or low, formal or pedestrian. Just think of the liturgical and cultural wars that are taking place in the Church and only for the past 50 years because of the allowance of the vernacular and inculturation. Think of all the useless energy spent of complaining about the English translation of the Mass in its older equivalent model and now in its more stringent literal translation that eschews the pedestrian approach.

Was there all this angst about language and culture prior to Vatican II-no,no,no!

So I would suggest to the powers that be that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass recover its universal appeal by reverting to Latin as the official language of the Mass everywhere for the parts of the Mass that don't change and the vernacular of a very literal translation of the Latin for that which does change.

However, for popular devotions such as the rich variety that our Mexican and other Hispanic brothers and sisters have, more power to them! Let it all hang out. I think of outdoor processions that are loud and boisterous. I think of those who make pilgrimages on their knees. I think of the authentic religious dance of Africans.

I think of the use of the vernacular for the Sacraments of Holy Matrimony, and Holy Baptism. I think there can be legitimate cultural adaptions here and I especially like the ones of the Mexican and Filipino cultures.


Mr. C said...

Hmmm, FRAJM, are you hedging your bets here with selectively vague semantics?
You picture a couple with a sacramental devotion of the laso, and then later praise inculturation of other ethnic traditions, exhorting them to "bring it on." You love the boistrous parades and processions, bands and dancing, but you also insert the word "outside." Outside of what? The Nave? Folded into, but technically "outside" the liturgy?
What if the couple was African-American and were depicted lighting the so-called Unity Candle? Would their ethnicity mitigate the unnecessary faux tradition of that accreted to the liturgy?
I think it fair to simple admit that when it comes to inculturation of ethnic customs into the formal rites of the Church, we turn quite a blind eye. I don't really reject such duplicitous acquiescence, I just wish that people would acknowledge it, and when it exceeds propriety. One might start by telling Rocco to pipe down about how Dec. 12th has now formally eclipsed both the Nativity and Resurrection Sunday as the pre-eminent American Holy Day.
Charles in CenCA

ytc said...

I suppose you saw the PrayTell post, Father?

Frankly I think American Catholicism is far less inculturated now than it was before the Council! How ironic... or is it?

Joseph Johnson said...

Whenever I attend a Spanish Mass (or a bilingual Holy day Mass with Hispanic parts) I get the distinct impression that our Hispanic brothers and sisters have never heard of the "reform of the reform." They seem to be in their own version of the same mode most English-speaking Catholics were in in the 1970's and 1980's. Sacred silence is not a part of the Hispanic Masses I have attended and forget about traditional Sacred Music.

Wouldn't it be great if we could sing Mass parts together in Latin and not have to endure bilingual Masses and Hispanic (and English Haugen/Haas type) music that is ill-suited to the nature of the liturgy? I realize that most Hispanics are not as educated as their Anglo counterparts but shouldn't we nonetheless try to catechize them about liturgy and Sacred music and bring them into the orbit of universal liturgical reform (maybe even some Latin to bring us together) rather than allowing them to remain in their own de-facto segregated little world?

The status quo is two parishes in one that occasionally worship together (Holy days) and the current forms of Hispanic music are not a positive "gravitational pull" on the OF, to put it mildly.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Popular devotions which are boisterous, like outdoor processions, should be, well, outdoors. Bishops should meticulously guard against silly intrusions into the other sacramental rites of the Church, such as unity candles, jumping the broom and the like. More guidance should be given to Anglo priests who are requested to do odd things in these sacramental rites.

Henry Edwards said...

One could wonder whether Hispanic Masses don't simply provide a way to keep "them" down on the (liturgical) plantation, largely out of sight and out of mind, for those who have more important Church affairs to concern them.

But then some might say that the traditional Latin Mass can play an analogous role, segregating in their isolated enclave the tiny minority of these Catholics concerned with reverent and proper liturgy, thereby keeping them out of the hair of those who have more important Church affairs to concern them.

Father Pablo said...

There is a rich history of sacred music in Latin America, in particular in Mexico and Bolivia. Throughout the Spanish colonial era local composers wrote some of the most beautiful sacred works such as Manuel de Zumaya.

What tends to happen in the United States is that those in charge of the music ministry at Masses in Spanish are from the Caribbean and they have a very particular style of music which in my country (Peru) you would NEVER hear at Mass.

This is a constant problem within Hispanic communities in the USA, that the music at Mass does not match what folks are used to back in their home country (unless they're from the Caribbean).

Attempts to have song books like "Flor y Canto" are not very effective since they cannot capture the musical variety from Latin America. These books also have songs translated from English into Spanish which are awkward to sing.

I don't know if this link below will work, but it's an example of Zumaya's work, composed in Mexico by a Mexican musician with text in Spanish:

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Fr. Pablo, that is my biggest concern if I ever am assigned to a parish with a signifcant number of
Spanish speaking Catholics. What I have experienced in our diocese in both Anglo and Hispanic communities in terms of so-called liturgical music is simply abysmal and its seems that Anglo's have won the day in terms of imposing our godawful tradition of poor liturgical music that we invented after Vatican II upon the multi-cultural expressions of Latinos in our country.

Is there a move within the Hispanic community to recover chant both in Latin and Spanish and a higher quality of liturgical music and choral singing led by organ or no instrumentation. And with the Hispanic's love of more lively types of contemporary Catholic music, can't that be shifted to popular devotions and prayer services apart from the Holy Mass???? Just wondering!