Sunday, January 20, 2013


While still in the early stages, the Holy Father's "reform of the reform within continuity" movement is becoming like a locomotive charging forward from this papacy and bringing renewal to the entire Latin Rite of the Roman Church.

This is particularly a threat to those who thought history would be on their side; that the so-called "spirit" of Vatican II would win the day not only beginning with the Liturgy celebrated in a dumbed down, congregationalist, parochial way, with make it up as you go liturgics and the showmanship of priests and congregations stuck on themselves and all about themselves (clericalism and laityism), but also in the areas of doctrine and morality.

In this scenario, which could never have succeeded in the true Church, since the gates of hell will never prevail, Jesus is seen as just one more good man amongst many others of other religions or no religions and that in these other religions salvation is achievable through them and their "gods" not just through Jesus Christ.

In this corrupt vision of Jesus and His Church, secular morality is viewed as spirit filled replacing traditional Catholic morality based upon Scripture, Tradition and Natural Law. Yes, there are Catholics, especially academics, proposing such nonsense for the church and political cliques in the Church trying mightily hard to sway the day toward this corrupt morality by leading others into this kind of heretical thinking. This so called "new morality" is the old fashioned immorality. We've always had immoral Catholics, but at least they knew that what the Church taught in the areas of faith and morals was infallible and a guide to help them to know the truth, and if their lives lacked, then by God's grace they could experience a metanoia (change of heart) and repent of their immorality and through sacramental penance experience forgiveness and reconciliation and that there would be no limit to the offering of this forgiveness and reconciliation with the one caveat that one was sincerely sorry for one's sin and was striving to seek God's grace to purify them of the works of sin and eternal damnation.

So, what our Holy Father models for us and what the Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Antonio CaƱizares is hoping to overcome slowly but surely is the manner in which in many places throughout the world the liturgy is celebrated, not by saying the black and doing the red, but by doing one's own thing in the most banal and dull, boring way and then adding the superficial veneer of "showmanship" to make the boring interesting by using entertainment types of antics to spruce things up.

But what really strikes fear into those stuck in the '70's are the following comments from Cardinal Antonio CaƱizares which leave in no oblique way where we are going as a Church:

He stressed the need of the notion of mystery, and particulars such as the altar facing East and the fact that the sacrificial sense of the Eucharist must not be lost.

(And this is the true bombshell that scares the beegeebees out of progressives stuck in the 70's): When it comes to the liturgy, he says some of the changes that were called on by the Second Vatican Council, are still pending. But if those changes are applied correctly, he says, even traditionalists groups, like that of Lefebvrians, would not feel mistrust.

The progressives are shaking in their boots and rabidly angry! God is good!


Bret said...

Sadly, the "spirit" of Vatican II stuck in the 1970s timewarp is still very much alive and kicking. At my parish today, the enterance hymn was "Sing A New Church", perhaps the most offensive and perverted hymn possible. The Communion hymn was "I Have Loved You With An Everlasting Love", a very pretty love song... but that's just it... it's a secular love song. The closing hymn was the ever annoying "Lord of The Dance", the very definition of nails on a chalkboard. All through it, our "musical" director seemed very proud and kind of arrogant about his hymn choices. THe progressives may be shaking in their boots, but the still have a very strong death-grip on their power in the Church that probably won't be broken in the typical suburban dioceses for a few more decades.

Henry Edwards said...

Upon seeing that "rabidly angry" in your title and the stuck-in-the-70s hippie in the top cartoon, I was reminded of your secret admirer "mad Bill" at PrayTell and jumped over there to see if you'd stoked his fire once again with this post.

Yep, at least you've got at least one faithful follower who hangs on your every word.

John Nolan said...

Perhaps "mad Bill" might consider commenting on this site. Pater Ignotus is a bit out on a limb. PrayTell is a strange beast. On the one hand you can read a long and absorbing exchange on the finer points of Latin translation, but then you have to endure the unhinged ravings of the usual suspects, among whom Bill is an egregious but far from isolated example. My eminently sensible comments are automatically blocked. I suppose I should take this as a compliment.

Anonymous 2 said...


“The closing hymn was the ever annoying "Lord of The Dance", the very definition of nails on a chalkboard.”

You have touched a nerve here, not necessarily in a bad way. However, I am very sensitive to conversation about this particular hymn because, as best I can tell from discussion on this Blog, I am supposed not to like it and I would like to be sure exactly why not. The issue troubles me because I_do_ like this hymn a lot, and have since I first heard it. It struck a chord one might say.

So, Bret and fellow bloggers, what exactly is the problem with it? Perhaps we can separate different questions:

(1) Are the lyrics the problem? Do they contain theologically suspect, even heretical, elements? I have certainly heard this suggested, in particular the resonances with Shiva (it seems that the composer was partly, but only partly, inspired by the figure of Shiva in Hindu mythology). Here is short description of the genesis of the hymn:

Then again, what about someone who knows nothing of Shiva? Or is the problem the notion of “dancing” as being somehow heretical when taken literally (imagining Jesus doing so) or irreverent (as in liturgical dance)? But here again, I don’t think the composer intends the dancing to be taken literally but figuratively – a metaphor to capture the goodness and joyfulness and creative power suffusing Creation and originating, of course, with God.

(2) And even if not the lyrics, is it perhaps the musical style with which the hymn is presented that is objectionable? Here again, we might want to make some distinctions among different kinds of musical presentation. The following are four very different styles. I have not sought anything egregiously bad in quality but good quality illustrations of some contrasting styles (although I couldn’t find one with an organ_and_choir yet, just with organ_or_choir, that doesn’t mean there isn’t one):

(3) And related to these questions, is it the context of the performance – at a Mass, for example, as opposed to being part of a musical program presented at a Church that is perceived as the main problem?

Thanks for your thoughts on all this.

Anonymous 2 said...

P.S. Here is a link to the lyrics, in case it is helpful:

Marc said...

A2, instead of answering your questions, I'll ask you: why should this song be included in the celebration of the Liturgy?

rcg said...

We went to the local NO parish today. They had bongos. Well, I think they were like paired jimbae. The lyrics were in Latin! I guess that makes it OK.

ytc said...

PS: What makes Bill so weird is not only the content of what he says, but his odd dislike of personal pronouns. He always says something like, "Was referring to Alan's post," instead of, "I was referring to Alan's post." Alan in this case being, of course, Father McDonald.

ytc said...

PPS: Excuse me, Father, for spelling your name with only one "l" rather than two.

Anonymous 2 said...


Naturally, I appreciate your attempt to shift the burden of persuasion =). But your question can be asked of_any_hymn or liturgical practice I think. I would have thought that the burden is on those objecting to a song or practice that is permitted under the applicable diocesan norms (I assume the hymn is in fact permitted under current norms). And, of course, there may well be good arguments that such song or practice is indeed objectionable or, in other words, that the relevant norms should be changed. Much of the discussion on this Blog seems devoted to making this sort of case; so my questions seem very much in keeping with that.

Therefore, I return to my questions. What makes the hymn liturgically objectionable for the Mass – the lyrics or the musical style? And even if it is liturgically objectionable, is it acceptable in another setting?

I am not trying to be argumentative here. I genuinely want to know the answer, and why I may have been in error all these years in my liking for the hymn.

So, thanks again anyone who can help me with this.

Rachel M. Gohlman said...

May I please share this article I wrote. It's about how young Catholics are wanting the Church to go back to tradition.

John Nolan said...

Re 'Lord of the Dance'.

The tune is that of the Shaker hymn 'Simple Gifts'. I think there were objections to Sidney Carter's line "I danced on the Sabbath and I cured the lame/The holy people said it was a shame", because it conflated the gens sancta with the Scribes and Pharisees.

To people of my generation who grew up in the 1960s this song is of a piece with 'Michael, row the boat ashore' and 'Kumbaya' without which no folk Mass was complete. Feelings of nostalgia? Not really.

Unknown said...

To speak to Brett, Anon 2, and Marc,

The argument raised about hymnody can be best summed up this way:

Hymns don't really have a place in the Mass, regardless of the song. They are tolerated, however that tolerance is very limited and very precise. I won't go into quotations and a long diatribe, but I will make a general response.

The Mass itself is a song. It is intended to be sung and as such, the use of hymns is not necessary. If we look to the ordinary of the Mass (the unchanging parts), we see a multitude of settings written through time which include the Kyrie, the Gloria, the Credo, the Sanctus/Benedictus, and the Agnus Dei. The diversity of song which those unchanging parts of the Mass bring show a difference in style which can range from chant up to and including Mozart's Coronation Mass. Continuing, the Church is also clear that the propers (the changing parts) are also sung. Those are the introit, the collect, the epistle, the gradual, the alleluia/tract, the offertory, the preface, the communion, and the postcommunion. Those are mostly done in a chant setting, although there are polyphonic expressions out there, albeit very rare.

The use of hymns is only applicable in the "low Mass" setting, wherein the Mass is said and not sung and even then it is really only applicable if the hymn is in Latin and has an aptitude for the Mass of the day. The applications of hymns is most properly left to the Office and to paraliturgical aspects.

You'll see that my position is supported by Musicam Sacram, Sacrosanctum Concilium, de Musica Sacra, tra le sollecitudini, and Musicae Sacrae. There is other support, but needless to say the Church has been more than clear about that.

So, while songs like "Lord of the Dance" may be very appealing emotionally, the insertion into the Mass is not necessary properly, because there is music already proper to the Mass. And as Vatican Council II states, no one may add, remove or change a part of the Mass on their own accord, even if he be a priest.

Bret said...

Anon 2, my problem with the song is twofold: the lyrics I find to be on the ridiculous side, the image of someone dancing around like a hippie at Woodstock is what the lyrics bring to mind. Second, the melody-- I just don't like it. I have the same reaction to "Gentle Woman"-- the melody just irratates me - I'd much prefer it if it would be replaced with "Miracle Of The Rosary".

Does anyone have any comments or thoughts on the other two songs my parish played, "Sing A New Church", and "I Have Loved You With An Ever Lasting Love"?

John Nolan said...

Andy, if you look at para 64 of Pius XII's Musicae Sacrae (1955) you will find that singing vernacular hymns at Low Mass is not merely allowed, but recommended. It already had the force of custom in many places. Since the Low/Sung/Solemn distinction which was affirmed in Musicam Sacram (1967), and then undermined in the same document, was theoretically abandoned when the NOM came into force (although for all practical purposes it still remains) then in the OF vernacular hymns are allowed whatever the degree of solemnity.

I would warn all traditionally-minded Catholics that the bad liturgical practices of the last half-century have already acquired, or are about to aquire, legitimacy on account of established custom. Everyone who wants a restoration of genuine liturgical music knows that the four-hymn sandwich is the elephant in the room, but not even Bugnini's Consilium in the 1960s could get rid of it.

John Nolan said...

Bret, I have never heard 'Sing a NuChurch' since the English bishops did not authorize it (although they let a lot of equally dreadful schlock slip through the net) and Joncas never really caught on over here. However, since I normally only attend Mass in Latin, thus sparing my sanity for the last forty-odd years, I am perhaps not the best qualified to comment.

Anonymous said...

Bret and Anonymous 2, I have always thought ofthr "dance" in the sense of C. S. Lewis's idea of the dance as symbolic of the activity and supposed interconnectedness of Heaven. -Ancil Payne

Anonymous 2 said...

Thanks for the various responses, which are helping me to form a clearer idea about perceptions of “Lord of the Dance” and also to learn more about the applicable governing norms. For example, although I was somewhat familiar with Musicam Sacram, I knew nothing of Musicae Sacrae. Perhaps others will have additional insights. Thanks again.

Gene said...

When I was in grad school in Theology, one of my neo-prot professors was going on and on about how human expression is a sign of the presence of the Kingdom. He exulted about art, poetry,and literature and then lavished much of his gushing upon "the Dance."
I raised my hand and asked, "then, would you say that when the children of Israel made that golden calf and danced around it that this was a sign of the presence of the Kingdom, as well?" Of course, the seminar broke up in laughter.
His response (I kid you not), "Now, young man, you are making me angry. That is an impertinent question." I turned in a drop slip after class. LOL!

Unknown said...


You are right of course, and I said as much above when I made the distinction, with the exception of the vernacular hymnody to which I stand corrected. However, I do not take into account the practical over the rule.

The practical application is flawed. There is to be a distinction between the low Mass and the high Mass, even through the liturgical revolt. The fact that 99.99% of parishes do not employ a proper high Mass is of no consequence, other than the liturgical tom-foolery which is going on.

As with most things, the Church is clear on her actions. However, the reformers have misinterpreted and misaligned themselves to make way for the babel of the vernacular to be present almost 100% of the time.

I will say though that in practical application you are right, but then again, we know that most practical application with regard to the liturgical action since the reforms have been illicit, by virtue of intention of the Conciliar Fathers.

rcg said...

Bret, John N. has commented on the New Church tune. I can recall with little effort the scar of Everlasting Love from memory. New Age drivel. As I mentioned before, we attended a NO Mass this week where the congregation was regaled with a Latin chant before Mass accompanied by bongos. I was so upset I missed the actual words before they ceased the attack. I consider this a sort of negotiation presented by an opponent who senses they are about to lose. The good news is that they understand what is going to happen and are trying to save some of their changes by incorporating them into the Renewal. But bongos? Even I have my limits.