The Papal Example In America

The hand-wringing continues over the musical choices for the Pope2008 liturgy in Washington next month. The commentariat seems to have gotten over their Marty Haugen fervor, turning the vicious pen to the “dumbed down songs,” the “liar and a thief” of a music director, the “American bishops (and/or their liturgical apparatchiks) … flipping the bird to Catholic tradition, liturgical norms, and to the holy father (sic)” and the brilliant conclusion, “Cancelling would be an EXCELLENT move at this point.”

We have the philosophy of reform2 in a nutshell: stamp one’s feet and scream, “My way or no way!”

Jeffrey Tucker sums up the angst:

To those who would complain, the Archdiocese assures us as follows: “The musical program for the Mass was chosen by an archdiocesan committee, with approval from the Vatican.”

And that is that.

And on the six candlestick front:

After all our hard work in our parishes (“this is what the Holy Father wants us to do” etc.), and I’m going to have to fight off whiny parishioners for weeks (months, years?) complaining, “…but they approved that music for the POPE…”

Live by papal example, die by papal example …

But it does make me wonder about Pope Benedict’s reaction were he to read a transcript of one of these threads. Worship in the traditional format has the surplices and cassocks all straightened, but it doesn’t seem to elevate Catholics in the higher virtues. You know: those encyclical topics. Something like hope. Or love.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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9 Responses to The Papal Example In America

  1. Dustin says:

    Though I’m more inclined to give the reform2 crowd the benefit of the doubt, and tend to agree with many of that blog’s opinions on liturgy (I like the six candlesticks!), I agree that the ever-upward-ratcheting fervor and anxiety of the last few weeks is positively juvenile.

    I appreciate the commentary and lessons that NLM often provides, as a learning experience, but I daren’t go near the combox. It bears, for me, a bright radioactivity placard.

    Best wishes, Todd, on a new career. And are there photos yet of the Enceladus flyby?

  2. Tony Neria says:

    I am a child of Vatican II. I was born in 1958 and am a cradle Catholic. I can honestly say I can’t remember any Gregorian chant being sung in church during my childhood and very little since then. Because i majored in music in college, I understand the history of chant. Because I am a cradle Catholic, I understand the sacredness of chant and I truly love it. I understand (sort of) where the New Liturgical Movement folks are coming from (although i think their web site should be called the “old” liturgical movement!) but I doubt very many Catholics agree with their thoughts on music in the liturgy.

    So as I understand it, all the music I’ve been singing all of my life as a Catholic is not worthy of the liturgy. All the music that I have grown to love and that I’ve used to worship God is trite and not worth the paper it was written on. All the music that has taken me to a deeper love of Christ sacrifice on the cross and that has carried me through the good times and bad is just fluff?

    How can someone tell another human being that the music they are singing is not worthy of God…is not worthy of their own prayer?

    How arrogant? How pompous? How mean spirited and unchristian?

  3. Gavin says:

    I find the furor over the Pope’s Masses to be embarrassing. All this is doing is making people who care about having good music at Mass look like extremists. It’s times like these that I’m thankful not too many people read NLM. Otherwise this would be seriously damaging to the cause.

    FWIW, I’m impressed by some of the music lists I’ve seen for the pope. There’s a lot of it that I would never do, but some of it is pretty good, and all of it looks like a solid effort, worthy or not.

  4. Todd says:

    I think it’s fair to say pretty much any music director or music lover would program differently. I know I would have declined the choice of Mass setting and opted for something different.

    It would seem simple enough for any reform2 musician to simply state her or his desired program of music. And how she or he may expect choristers from around the archdiocese to pull together said repertoire with a reasonable number of hours of rehearsal.

  5. Liam says:

    Musical melodramatics aside (what else is new under the sun?), I actually would love to see a sunset on outdoor and arena-staged mega-Masses. B16 has actually shown some sympathy to that sentiment, by dramatically reducing them. I think that is a more important liturgical statement, in long-term terms.

  6. Gavin says:

    Might I add that I’ve been paying much attention to the coverage of the new Star Trek movie and I keep getting Deja Vu from reading hardcore fans. They’re EXACTLY like Catholic traditionalists – “If it doesn’t look like the 1960s model, it’s not really Trek!” “Bring back Shatner!” “The communicators have a video screen, I’m not paying to see that!”

    Count me as someone interested enough in the fact that the pope is visiting our great country that I can overlook some music I find unsavory. Oh yes – and if the movie doesn’t open with the classic theme sung by a warbly soprano “aaaaaAAAAAAAH..” then it’s not Trek.

  7. Jeff Pinyan says:

    Tony Neria:

    So as I understand it, all the music I’ve been singing all of my life as a Catholic is not worthy of the liturgy.

    That’s not it, although some of the music I’ve grown up singing at Mass (I’m 26) has been pretty awful and does not belong in the Mass. The “reform2″ position (with which I am slowly but surely aligning myself with day-by-day) as I understand it is this:

    Chant is the music proper to the Roman Rite and its omission is lamentable. It has been REPLACED with hymns injected into the Mass. Not all of these hymns are unworthy of the Mass, but they are all additions (or replacements) to the Mass. (For example: chanting the Entrance Antiphon is choice #1 for the introit, whereas a hymn is choice #4 (of 4); the order of these represents a preference, a ranking.) Instead of chanting the Ordinary of the Mass, more often than not it is merely spoken; when it is sung, it is often sung to newer musical settings that are not always appropriate for Mass, no small number of which modify the words of the Ordinary to fit a tune, rather than shape their tune around the words.

    That’s how the reform2 crowd sees it; at least, that’s how I see it.

  8. I think one of the things it proves is that Pope Benedict is not the Pope the online liturgical inquisition thinks he is; they have been given a fantasy about reform by some prominent blogs on the internet, but they don’t realize how much their reading is a delusional reading of the whole context of Benedict’s reform.

    One has to love the fact that every time he does something they like, they use it as proof he is one of them; anything else, it is someone else’s fault.

  9. Jimmy Mac says:

    “When in wonder
    When in doubt
    Run in circles
    Scream and shout.”

    “Cope, don’t mope”

    Bl. Mechtilde of Ubaldigor

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