Tuesday, March 14, 2017



In a wide ranging interview, Archbishop Chaput said this about the Liturgy:

Practically, nothing attracts people to Sunday worship more than beautiful music, a beautiful environment, and a beautiful homily and if that’s done well, parishes flourish because people are attracted to goodness, truth, and beauty. As I look at my own life and the moments of religious experiences that I’ve had have been around these kinds of issues.

The problem as I see it is that a lot of stuff sung at Mass in terms of superfluous hymns or style/sounds of the various intrinsic parts of the Mass can be quite well done and beautiful but alien 👽 to what is truly Latin Rite sentiments or spirituality.

Who helps pastors, the primary liturgist of a parish, to distinguish between music beautifully provided but inappropriate for the Mass, sacred words set to changing fads of musical styles that tickle the ears 👂?

Examples of bad music for Mass performed very nicely:


Anonymous said...

"Who helps pastors, the primary liturgist of a parish, to distinguish between music beautifully provided but inappropriate for the Mass, sacred words set to changing fads of musical styles that tickle the ears?"

With proper seminary formation as a priest, why should the pastor need help in discerning appropriate liturgical music? The Church has devoted well over a thousand years to development of its musical tradition that Sacrosanctum Concilium called "a treasure of inestimable value". Can not one assume that both SC and this musical tradition were covered adequately in the priest's seminary education?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I can only speak from my own experience of the seminary in the 70's and that we were given an eclectic approach to liturgy which included chant but modern idioms as well. I suspect this is true today as well.

Maybe priests ordained in the last five to ten years can shed some light on their seminary formation in terms of music in the Mass today.

As well, once we get to parishes where all kinds of music is sung, like lifeteen music of the worship and praise variety, for a priest to say to musicians that the worship and praise is no longer going to be performed at the Mass that is most jammed could lead to a national news story on websites.

The problem,of course, is that bad music is performed in a glorious way that attracts the multitudes. Just think of St. Monica's Church in Santa Monica, CA---their contemporary Mass is packed!

Jusadbellum said...

I think one rule of thumb should be to listen to the MEN of the parish. If they're not singing along then jettison the song. Chances are, when men sing, the women will too but more importantly, ALL research has shown that children (girls and boys) will adopt the religious attitude of their fathers - so if dad isn't singing, the unspoken message to boys and girls is that religion is "women stuff" which of course as the WNBA proves, is the death knell for any spirituality.

It's counter-intuitive at first to think this because we're so used to the idea of women being far more spiritual than men. But I think the anthropological and historical data on this is overwhelmingly the case that spirituality and religions are by far a male-lead enterprise the world over- Hinduism, Buddhism, Paganism, name the religion and the involvement of local men is the deciding factor as to the cultural and social and ultimately the POLITICAL power a given religion will have.

So get the men singing and everything else will take care of itself.

John Nolan said...

The celebrant holding hands with his young servers is positively creepy. Let's hope the intimacy stops there.

If bad music and bad liturgy turns you on, then who am I to judge? If both were proscribed (which they should be) then presumably the 'multitudes' would have to seek entertainment elsewhere.

This video clip is truly toe-curling.

Anonymous said...

My most recent experience with newly-ordained priests is with ones from the North American College in Rome, who are wonderfully trained in sacred music and whose Latin and Gregorian chant are beautiful.

Incidentally, an inappropriately celebrated Mass that is "packed"--with folks thereby misled about worship of God--is certainly nothing to be happy about. Indeed, people's liturgical standards being what they are after 50 years of post-Vatican II miseducation, the fact that a Mass is "packed" is likely an indication of something questionable about it.

rcg said...

That is an interesting question about Santa Monica. Is it always packed for the contemporary music Mass? Would that work other places? How sound is the Mass, the Liturgy, and the teaching? Does it have a positive Catholic impact on the congregation?

As far as music goes it seems that we are missing the point. People expect Church music at Mass. We are not managing a wine bar, so the music should support the Mass. Excuse me, it MUST support the Mass or should not be played. The joy of Grace might move me to feel like I am on eagle wings but I will hold on to that feeling and not burst into song until on the way home.

The pastor should be able to start with the lyrics and determine their sutability for the Mass even if he is totally deaf. After that he can review the to al character of the music to see how it matches the message he is trying to communicate. If he can't do it alone he can consult with other pastors. The music director should be trying help meet the pastor's goals beautifully so should start with the message and use his expertise to find works of music that support the goal. Questionable music, trite songs, and raucous melodies simply won't meet the criteria. If they do then the issue can be solved by educating the pastor.

TJM said...

John Nolan,

I agree with you that it is creepy. When I was a cantor, my left-wing loon pastor demanded I hold hands at the Pater Noster, because not to do so would be a "political statement." I found that comment strange, and I told him "I don't hold mens' hands. He backed down.


That is good news. I think the biological solution will take care of most of the current problems. The young priests I encounter are interested in being priests and not social workers or lounge entertainers.

Tom Makin said...


Henry: I too have been most recently exposed to newly ordained priests (Nac and US Seminaries). There is a stark difference between the "newly ordained" and those of Fr. McDonald's era. They are much more classically trained and less inclined to the 70-80's worship type. Thank God!!

Fr McDonald makes a good point re: upsetting the apple cart with his Teen Life Mass. Who am I to say but if it were me I would slowly and gently introduce more classical music and incorporate some classic rubrics that help to blend things better...It's sad to go to Mass when there are less common parts of the liturgy used and see young, and even not so young, absolutely clueless as to what to say and do. That's the fault of Pastors who have chosen to let all that go.

I was with my son in Rome recently where much of the classic is still common, and saw how absolutely enthralled he was by the sacredness of it all. Do not be afraid to bring it back. People want it even if they don't know it. The secret is to make it normal again and not the exception. Sadly, much of what has been lost needs to be taught a new.

TJM said...

Tom Makin,

The good news is that some older priests, like Father McDonald, matured and re-evaluated what they were taught. That is to his credit. Others are just double-knit dinosaurs who lack the introspection or energy to learn anything new.

George said...

In a Protestant religious service, being without the Holy Eucharist and a liturgy which has as its focal point the perpetuating of the Divine Sacrifice of Christ, music and sermon take on more prominence. In a Catholic Mass, with due reverence and respect to all that is the proper in the relationship of one to the other, music serves the liturgy without imposing on it in any way. We pray,adore, and worship God with music and prayer, as do the angels and saints in heaven.

Православный физик said...

rcg, Let's just say the reason the pews are packed at this St Monica's parish aren't exactly for the reasons one may think. ...(Or may be so, if one tends to think they're man-centred and not so much God-centered). My last experience at St Monica's the Liturgy oddly was completely offered according to the rubrics.

The music there is horrible, but as mentioned, it is done well.

rcg said...

Thanks, Joe. So since this pack 'em in then this is supported by the bishop? How does it meet his spiritual goal for the diocese? How does this educate people concerning Catholicism? It strikes me sort of like high volume, low margin sales.