The music in this video from Saint Monica Church in Santa Monica California attracts people to Mass, the church appears full. But what does it do for Catholics in the long run and how many Catholics don't attend Mass because of this music? It is performed well, sounds contemporary, but does it honor the Latin Rite's Catholic ritualistic spirituality and its patrimony? I report; you decide:
We all know the sobering statistics about Catholics who are less engaged in their parishes or have opted not to be engaged at all. Some still consider themselves Catholics, but many are now calling themselves "nones" spiritual but of no religion. Some aren't even spiritual. They are pagans.
For 50 years now, the Magisterium of the Church has called what has happened to the Mass and the declining number of people who attend Mass, "renewal." They are like the legend of the ostrich, who buries its head in the sand rather than see reality. Well, I learned that ostriches don't actually do that; not sure how the legend began; but how much more true is it of the human bishop, even symbolically, to bury his head in the sand and not say "Rome, we have problems" with the so-called renewal of the Mass!
Here are some money quotes from
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh must focus on “better homilies, better music and more people” as its six-county territory attempts to reverse a series of “sobering” trends... (my question: what is better music and does he mean how it is sung, meaning it is more appealing, or dealing with the elephant in the room, music performed well, but has no place in the liturgical spirituality patrimony of the Catholic Church's Latin Rite?)
Since 2000, weekly Mass attendance has dropped by 40 percent — for almost 100,000 fewer regular churchgoers; K-8 Catholic school enrollment fell by 50 percent; and the number of active priests plummeted from 338 to 225.
By 2025, if trends hold, the diocese projects that just 112 active priests will remain. (Of course, we have to take into account that Pittsburgh is a part of the "rust belt" and people are left the area. But more striking is the time frame of 2000 to today. The sex abuse crisis, or rather, its non ending reporting, at times unfair, as well as the humiliation rank and file Catholics feel about it, must be taken into account too. It is liturgy but also leadership, meaning BISHOPS, need to be better leaders and deal with priests who in any other profession would have been fired or sent to prison.
My final lament:
We fixed a liturgy which in the minds of 99% of the clergy and laity of the early 1960's wasn't broken. Liturgical theologians and some bishops told us, insisted on it, that it was broken and that if only the Mass was fixed, then there would be a springtime of renewal in the Church.
All we heard for the past 40 years after Vatican II was about fixing the liturgy, harassing Catholics to active participation (not actual participation) and alienating not a small number from the Church by making them feel like second class citizens if they preferred the liturgy to remain unchanged.
I fear, too, that we continue to insist that Catholics do this, that or the other to be considered good Catholics, all institutional sorts of things, like being a lector, a communion minister, heading a committee and doing all the churchy things that is required for RCIA, Confirmation for children as well as Holy Communion.
It is all divorced from life in the public square be that at home, work or play where Catholics spend the majority of time.
But back to good music to fix the Mass. JUST WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN? AND WILL IT MEAN MORE EXPERIMENTATION WITH MUSIC, PERFORMED WELL, BUT HAVING ABSOLUTELY NO BEARING TO THE LITURGICAL SPIRITUALITY AND PATRIMONY OF THE LATIN RITE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?