Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Most Dangerous Thing in the World


What does Safe Sex have in common with Bad Catholic Art?


What does Squeamishness have to do with Bad Catholic Worship?


Why is truth stranger than fiction?


That last one at least we know. "Truth, of course, must of necessity be stranger than fiction," G. K. Chesterton points out, "for we have made fiction to suit ourselves."


Last week I posted on fiction and drama and how Christian art these days fails to hold any interest for human beings. Red Cardigan has taken up that theme here where she laments the fact that Catholic publishers want fiction that is "safe", overtly "Catholic", sentimental and squishy.


And this is really a more painful thing to write about than I let on. It's painful because writers die a little bit for their work, poets speak from hearts that are circumcised, and actors are the most vulnerable of the lot. I can not tell you how difficult it's been throughout my career to pour my soul into something that is disregarded or kicked around or cheapened by the people who are paying me to do it, and who do not really value it. And it's worse in the Church than in the world.


And I've begun to suspect this is because many folks in the Church are unwittingly abetting the Cult of Sterility.


When God tells us in Isaiah 55:11


So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, achieving the end for which I sent it.


He is telling us that his Word, Jesus Christ, is not just a nice guy, but the most creative and active element in the world today. His Word is seminal, a seed that exists to make us fruitful. We see this in the mystery of the Annunciation. The love that the Lord and Mary had for one another does not return void, the incarnate Son of God comes to be on earth through this love and this assent, born of prayer - born of an intimate communion.




Love is supposed to lead to something - something interesting, for crying out loud (like the little girl on the left, something interesting that the love my wife and I shared led to).


But the world around us is all about the Void, sterility, emptiness. We love "safe sex", but the only way to make sex safe is to cut the gonads off of love.


I have just finished a creative project that will never be seen or heard by human beings. It was a Catholic project, for which I was paid a ridiculously low figure, and which now, being finished, will return void - for the producer will neglect to market it. It's like doing great work for EWTN and having it air at 5:30 in the morning on Thursdays. And while I'm at it, all that Marty Haugen crap and the eager young squeaky Catholics with guitars at the Youth Mass - all of that is simply contrived and unreal, and like all such things will return nothing but the whirlwind.


The stalk has no head; it will produce no flour. Were it to yield grain, foreigners would swallow it up. (Hos. 8:7)


Our bishops are friendly but squeamish, our youth hooking up but disconnected, our hearts bleeding but barren. Our food is not filling; our sex is safe, our passion is listless.


They shall eat, but not be satisfied; they shall play the whore, but not multiply, because they have forsaken the LORD to cherish. (Hos. 4:10)


What I'm saying in this tirade is that the problem is not merely the Catholic Ghetto. The problem is assuming that the Word is somehow unreal, that He can not appeal to real men, to sinners, to actual people, to human beings - the problem is our vastly naive assumption that we ought to control the situation, and that the Word will stay aloof from all this mess and return void.


On the contrary, the Holy Spirit, who comes to us from the Father and the Son, is disturbing, unsettling, fecund.


We are the ones keeping Him from touching hearts and minds. We are the ones who think that art can be safe, as safe as contraceptive sex, as safe as loving another person - and yet loving another person is the most dangerous thing in the world.

80 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Kevin,

"I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled!"

Deacon Jim Russell said...

***"And while I'm at it, all that Marty Haugen crap and the eager young squeaky Catholics with guitars at the Youth Mass - all of that is simply contrived and unreal, and like all such things will return nothing but the whirlwind."***

Your "tirade" may have some merit, but since when do you get to decide what is "real" and "unreal" when it comes to musical style and musical taste? The only thing that "Marty Haugen crap" can possibly mean is "stuff that I, Kevin O'Brien, dislike."

Same with "guitars" and "Youth Mass." This is divisive, as though people who do respond to this choice of style and substance are merely reaping the "whirlwind"?

I doubt it because I've seen otherwise.

You can also just as easily have "Palestrina crap" by ill-prepared singers and cheesy and poor organ music sucking the life out of a Latin Mass soullessly "celebrated" by an automaton priest going through the motions.

The Church permits remarkably diverse styles of worship, liturgy, and musical style. Catholics don't have to like everything, but they should be respectful of what is *permitted* and should pray for reverent and beautiful liturgy in *all* permitted forms--not just the form you personally like.

Is the liturgy and music of China, or Ethiopia, or New Zealand, also "contrived and unreal"???

We've got to stop the caricaturing of our brothers and sisters in Christ merely because of our diversity of aesthetic views....

Deacon Jim Russell

Kevin O'Brien said...

Deacon Jim,

Well, you have a point in that a reverent and enthusiastic Youth Mass is a better thing than an automatic and heartless chant Mass.

However, the question of aesthetics is not merely subjective. As C. S. Lewis pointed out, if our reactions to beauty were subjective mererly, then there would be no point in criticism, nor would beauty lead us to God.

And while guitars and pop music may have merit (I think the music in "Godspell", for example, is objectively quite good), such music and instruments are generally speaking not appropriate for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - and the Church is quite clear on this. Chant should be given a place of prominence in the liturgy, as chant and what we would call classical music is more suited to Holy Mass, and to the reverence Holy Mass demands. While guitar pop Masses are allowed, they are not encouraged either by Popes, Councils, or any of the documents issued on sacred music since Vatican II. What is encouraged is chant and sublime music, for these things evoke more appropriately awe and reverence.

Other forms of music can, as well - but how far can we push it? Can rap or hip-hop lead us to God? Can disco music lead us to God? Can acid rock lead us to God? Of course, anything can lead us to God - but there is a natural objective hierarchy in art and music, and we ignore that at our peril in the long term.

Ink said...

Godspell music is catchy, but the show itself lacks quite a bit of reverence. I would not be so inclined to allow Youth Masses--after having attended many (against my will), the end result is that the focus is on "we the people" and not the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Deacon Jim Russell said...

*****"And while guitars and pop music may have merit (I think the music in "Godspell", for example, is objectively quite good), such music and instruments are generally speaking not appropriate for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - and the Church is quite clear on this."****

Uh...Hate to burst the bubble on this, but, NO, the Church is not "quite clear on this." Sacrosanctum Concilium is very clear to *permit* other musical forms and instruments. Not sure what "pop" music means to you today, but a few centuries ago, "pop" music was--you guessed it--*classical* music....

****"Chant should be given a place of prominence in the liturgy, as chant and what we would call classical music is more suited to Holy Mass, and to the reverence Holy Mass demands."****

So, chant and 18th-century "pop" music is okay?

How about German drinking song melodies--are they okay?

Okay to use an instrument of the bawdy ancient Greek theatre? (pipe organ)

Chant (and organ) have a "pride of place" because so much *good* music has arisen from those forms--meaning that the "contemporary Christian music" of the Medieval Church continues to raise our hearts and souls to God and is a massively important part of the Church's legacy and history.

But the "pride of place" is *not* because the particular musical form is the only one permitted or encouraged.

*****" While guitar pop Masses are allowed, they are not encouraged either by Popes, Councils, or any of the documents issued on sacred music since Vatican II."*****

False. What you refer to as "guitar pop Masses" *is* a legitimate by-product of the encouragement in the liturgical documents to pursue other legitimate musical and liturgical forms while preserving that which came before. Legitimate documents both universal and local make this clear.

****"What is encouraged is chant and sublime music, for these things evoke more appropriately awe and reverence."****

Who gets to decide what "sublime music" is? Chant has an obvious "transcendent" edge to it, no doubt, when it is done well and in the right architecture. But the issue is that we should stick with the guidance of the documents regarding both what is *encouraged* and is *permitted*. There are a host of genuine and legitimate pastoral reasons why more contemporary music may be employed in any given parish. There are also great reasons to move toward bridging the gap between the great patrimony of liturgical music we possess and the more "generational" music relied upon in many places.



*****"Can rap or hip-hop lead us to God? Can disco music lead us to God?"*****

Ask someone who attended a "disco Mass" in the 1970s. Or a "polka Mass" in Polish parishes.

You're really describing "fad" music and how it links in to worship. The "fad" music of Haydn and Handel found a foothold in worship. So did the folk melodies of countless nations, once they passed the "fad" test and endured.

Deacon Jim Russell said...

Just as there is "art" and worship "potential" in a few German drinking song melodies of centuries ago, there is similar potential to be found in the melodies (and lyrics) of "contemporary" songs.

And we have to remind ourselves that there is a place where liturgical music does meet the believers where they "are"--Haugen and Haas already sound banal and outdated to our Catholic youth today, who are being met where they "are" to some extent by even *newer* composers.

My whole point is that this is a BIG "both/and"--just like it's proclaimed in the Magisterial documents on liturgy--we get to enjoy *both* the greatest music of past generations *and* encourage the growth of that patrimony through what is offered by contemporary artists and composers.

As long as it's good and holy, there's plenty of room for music from all eras of the Church's life and history.

Jim R

Deacon Jim Russell said...

One additional point to be made--our criteria for what is "good and holy" in music and worship has to be as universal as the Church--meaning that it involves not just the "Western" (or European) musical ideal but must take a "global" view.

This is another reason why the *universal* music of the Church--chant, some polyphony, the use of organ--has "pride of place": Because it has a unifying effect in liturgy as it's experienced throughout the world. But this does not mean that there is *no* "good and holy" "Middle Eastern" liturgical music possible, for example, or no really excellent contemporary liturgical music to be found in Iceland.

Both/And.

JR

Kevin O'Brien said...

Deacon Jim,

You say Sacrosanctum Concillium "permits" pop music. I never said it didn't. What I did say is Gregorian chant is to be given prominence ...

Article 116 of the Sacrosanctum Consilium states here:

“The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman Rite: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services. But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action, as laid down in Art. 30.”

There you have it.

1. Gregorian chant first
2. Polyphony second
3. Other musical forms "in accord with the spirit of liturgial action", which most of the Marty Mass music is not.

You also say, 'There are a host of genuine and legitimate pastoral reasons why more contemporary music may be employed in any given parish.' Agreed. I'm not saying all the Glory and Praise stuff is bad, or that there's never a valid reason to use it. I am saying most of it is bad music period, and almost all of it is not conducive to prayer or reverence.

Polka music has no place in the liturgy, neither does disco, neither does rap. That's not me being a bully and imposing my taste. That's just objective fact.

But there, I presume, we part ways.

I think we can agree on much of what the other is saying here, but I don't think you are conceding that music has an objective quality that our personal taste can appreciate. If you're really making a case for a polka Mass or a disco Mass, you are pretty far from making a good argument, or even making sense.

Kevin O'Brien said...

"As long as it's good and holy, there's plenty of room for music from all eras of the Church's life and history."

Amen! We agree!

But very little of "Glory and Praise" is good and almost none of it is "holy".

Deacon Jim Russell said...

****"There you have it.

1. Gregorian chant first
2. Polyphony second
3. Other musical forms "in accord with the spirit of liturgial action", which most of the Marty Mass music is not."****

Unfortunately that's NOT what SC says, Kevin. You even quote the document and still omit in your thinking the critical phrase "OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL."

BTW, did you ever read "art. 30"??? Not only is there no such thing as a "Marty Mass" (I know you can't help yourself), but here is Art. 30:

"To promote active participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs, as well as by actions; gestures and bearing. And at the proper times all should observe a reverent silence."

So the "other musical forms being *encouraged* are those that "promote active participation".....your personal exclusion of whatever a "Marty Mass" is supposed to be is just that--a *personal* exclusion, not an ecclesial one....

****"You also say, 'There are a host of genuine and legitimate pastoral reasons why more contemporary music may be employed in any given parish.' Agreed. I'm not saying all the Glory and Praise stuff is bad, or that there's never a valid reason to use it. I am saying most of it is bad music period, and almost all of it is not conducive to prayer or reverence."****

Just cuz Kevin sez it don't make it so. Enjoy or lament your opinion all you want--just don't tell others it's the *Church's* opinion. It's not.

For example, you should focus attention on SC #112: "Therefore sacred music will be the more holy the more closely it is joined to the liturgical rite, whether by adding delight in prayer, fostering oneness of spirit or investing the rites with greater solemnity. But the Church approves of all forms of genuine art possessing the qualities required and admits them to divine worship."

Focus on #114: “The treasury of sacred music is to be preserved and fosterd with great care. Choirs must be diligently developed, especially in cathedral churches; BUT (my emphasis) bishops and other pastors of souls must be at pains to ensure that whenever a liturgical service is to be celebrated with song, the whole assembly of the faithful is enabled, in keeping with art. 28 and 30, to contribute the active participation that rightly belongs to it.”

AND #118: “The people’s OWN religious songs are to be encouraged with care so that in sacred devotions AS WELL AS DURING SERVICES OF THE LITURGY ITSELF (my emphasis), in keeping with rubrical norms and requirements, the faithful may raise their voices in song.”

Deacon Jim Russell said...

AND #119: “In certain parts of the world, especially mission lands, people have their own musical traditions and these play a great part in their religious and social life. Thus, in keeping with art. 39 and 40, DUE IMPORTANCE is to be attached to THEIR music and a suitable place given to it, not only in forming their attitude toward religion but also in ADAPTING WORSHIP TO THEIR NATIVE GENIUS.”

And #120 and #121 admit all non-orgran instruments that “can be made suitable” for sacred use, and encourages the composition of new music in which the whole assembly can participate.


***”Polka music has no place in the liturgy, neither does disco, neither does rap. That's not me being a bully and imposing my taste. That's just objective fact. “****
It’s *far* from an objective fact. You need to be more cautious. The capability of different musical forms to “turn the corner” and be adapted for sacred use may be much broader than you or I would admit, despite the fact that we both would *cringe* at a disco Mass, not to mention rap or hip-hop in Church. We would *cringe* because they are indeed in their current form *not* holy, not sacred, not associated with God.

Yes, there is an “objective” nature to beauty, but it’s not merely just a Western construct when it comes to art or music. It’s a *divine* construct, ultimately, transcending every last bit of geograhpy on the planet.

When it comes to the “beauty” inherent in liturgical music, you personally don’t get to say what makes the cut and what doesn’t, and the Church herself gives *wide* latitude for different *forms* of art and music. Stick with the Church.

Besides, you show your age when you resort to ridiculous labels such as “Glory and Praise,” “Haugen crap,” and “Marty Mass.” You are about a quarter-century behind in your broad-brushing. Why not *stop* the broad brushing and instead be as generous as the Church is regarding the use of different *forms*? I mean, who really cares whether you personally think a certain form of widely accepted Church music is “holy” or holy enough for your tastes? You obviously can decide that for yourself. But you can’t decide that for everybody else.

JR

Kevin O'Brien said...

Glad you admit that music has an objective quality and that criticism of it is not merely a matter of subjective whim.

The Church gives pride of place to chant first, polyphony second, other suitable music last.

Our disagreement is over whether Marty Mass music is suitable.

Even if it is, the Church does not encourage it; the Church does, however, permit it (if it's suitable).

Meanwhile, I'll continue to show my age and call a spade a spade and a piece of crap a piece of crap.

Anonymous said...

1. "All things being equal..."

Do you really think that the balding hippies at the 5pm last chance Mass at the Belleville Cathedral on Sundays are really playing music that is equal to Gregorian Chant?

Would you go on WRYT and say that publicly?

2. The paragraph in SC notes that Gregorian Chant is to be given "pride of place" in the Liturgy. The Vice President has pride of place in the Senate. Yet, Joe Biden is seen more on the floor of the Senate than Gregorian Chant is heard in the Liturgy. I have NEVER heard Gregorian Chant in the Liturgy in the Diocese of Belleville. I've only heard it at St. Francis de Sales Oratory, the Cathedral Basilica, and at the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Gregorian Chant is not given pride of place in the Latin Church, over and against the wishes of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council.

For the Latin Church to dump its patrimony of Gregorian Chant is a serious disservice to the generations upon generations who have not experienced it. At least the Orthodox are intelligent enough not to monkey around with their worship- lex orandi lex credendi. Yet, we in the West fall for every new fad under the sun.

Dr. Eric (blogger won't let me use my Wordpress account)

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxrRg8AFjPE

"King of the Hill" already covered this topic.

The video is short- less than 10 minutes as the B story has been cut out.

Dr. Eric

Kevin O'Brien said...

Dr. Eric, the chant at St. Mary of Victories just south of arch is very good, as is the Latin Oridnary Form celebrated by Fr. Harrison and the Oblates of Wisdom.

Here's an interesting quote, from "Fire of Love", a book about St. John of the Cross, published by Ignatius Press ...

"Quite unperturbed, he [John of the Cross] calmly
resumed his exorcisms [on Maria, a nun who was possessed]. He limited himself to those recommended
by the book of the rites of exorcism, mainly prayers,
though he did not reject the sprinkling of holy water or Gregorian
chant, which MarĂ­a’s demons could not abide."

Deacon Jim, this is not to say that anything other than chant is demonic, but it is to say that chant has its own power that (if we are to take a lesson from the life of St. John of the Cross) causes the devils to cringe.

"To cringe" is a reaction I often have during "our communion hymn", I'm sorry to say.

Kevin O'Brien said...

"Our communion hymn is number 347, 'I am the Bread of Life'"

Deacon Jim Russell said...

****"The Church gives pride of place to chant first, polyphony second, other suitable music last."****

No, Kevin, The CHURCH says that, OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL...pride of place goes to chant, polyphony, etc. If you can't accurately quote the "Church," then you shouldn't try to quote at all....

****"Our disagreement is over whether Marty Mass music is suitable. "*****

Not really. I have no clue as to what a "Marty Mass" supposedly is. Our disagreement is over whether it is charitable and just for one Catholic to marginalize and ridicule other Catholics based purely upon one's *opinion* of liturgical music and whether a blogger should be able to get away with MIS-representing what the "Church" actually says on the matter.

You are entitled to your *opinion*. Have at it. But quit claiming the "Church" only sees things *your* way. The Church *does* encourage the expression of other forms of music in liturgy. SC makes this clear.

JR

PS: Dr. Eric/Anonymous--I am *all for* the kind of "pride of place" that should be given traditional music. I am *not* all for calling fellow Catholics "aging hippies" merely because, all things being equal, they are unable to approach a sufficient understanding of the grandeur and beauty found in chant. It's both/and.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Deacon Jim, the Church does not "encourage" music other than chant and polyphony. It permits it, other things being equal and if the music is suitable. Marty Mass music is neither suitable, nor are other things equal when it is used to bring down the level of reverence at Mass.

Now I will simply have to stop you from characterizing me as some whack-job who's trying to remake the Catholic Church in his own image.

I will readily admit that we should not be judging other Catholics - or other people. I will admit that the Church allows music other than chant and polyphony. I will admit that the question of music is not a question of dogma, but a question of prudence.

But if you really think I'm MIS-representing the Church on this, and that as a blogger I should not be "allowed to get away" with it, then you are just a bit unhinged here.

However, if you think this rises to the level of causing scandal, then please bring it to the attention of our ordinary.

Until then, I admit again that this is a question of prudence that Catholics may disagree on, unlike the other issue upon which we typically argue.

I will not admit that Marty Mass music is reverent or does anything other than subvert true worship. Yep, that's my "opinion", but I wouldn't hold it if I didn't think it were true.

Kevin O'Brien said...

So, let's see. If the Cardinals can't beat the Brewers at baseball, should they follow them around and wait for an opportunity to beat them at hockey?

Kevin O'Brien said...

If there are sane people who read this blog, I could use your help here. Don't be afraid to comment. I mean, all it takes is heroic patience.

Deacon Jim Russell said...

Kevin wrote: "Deacon Jim, the Church does not "encourage" music other than chant and polyphony. "

Are you even actually reading the comments I'm making????

I quoted:

AND #118: “The people’s OWN religious songs are to be encouraged with care so that in sacred devotions AS WELL AS DURING SERVICES OF THE LITURGY ITSELF (my emphasis), in keeping with rubrical norms and requirements, the faithful may raise their voices in song.”

Did you *see* that Kevin? The people's own religious songs are to be...what..."permitted"??? Why, no. It turns out that the Council Fathers actually ENCOURAGE such songs.

Seriously, if you believe what you said--that the Council "encourages" only chant and polyphony--then you are definitely MIS-representing the Council.

The proof is there before your very eyes.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Encouraged WITH CARE. The proof is there before your own eyes.

Why WITH CARE? Because for one thing the gay guitar tunes are not the people's OWN relgious songs. For another thing, this music is not suitable for proper reverence.

You are the most difficult deacon I know, my man!

Go ahead, attack me again.

Kevin O'Brien said...

OK, I've prepared my defense in front of the bishop. I will simply memorize this and repeat it. It's an earlier reply to Deacon Jim. It is apparently what makes me guilty of MIS-representing the Church, something as a blogger I should not be allowed to get away with ...

***


Deacon Jim,

You say Sacrosanctum Concillium "permits" pop music. I never said it didn't. What I did say is Gregorian chant is to be given prominence ...

Article 116 of the Sacrosanctum Consilium states here:

“The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman Rite: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services. But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action, as laid down in Art. 30.”

There you have it.

1. Gregorian chant first
2. Polyphony second
3. Other musical forms "in accord with the spirit of liturgial action", which most of the Marty Mass music is not.

You also say, 'There are a host of genuine and legitimate pastoral reasons why more contemporary music may be employed in any given parish.' Agreed. I'm not saying all the "Glory and Praise" stuff is bad, or that there's never a valid reason to use it. I am saying most of it is bad music period, and almost all of it is not conducive to prayer or reverence.

Polka music has no place in the liturgy, neither does disco, neither does rap. That's not me being a bully and imposing my taste. That's just objective fact.

***

Kevin O'Brien said...

Help, St. Michael! Help, sane readers! Heelllppppp!

Deacon Jim Russell said...

Kevin--"attack" you again?

Why, you're doing an adequate job of attacking yourself without additional help.

So, you insist over the course of several comments that the Council only *permits* music other than polyphony/chant, and that it does *not* "encourage" other music at all.

And now I come to find out that what you mean by those words is that the Council "encourages" only polyphony/chant, BUT that it "encourages WITH CARE" other music????

So, in your lexicon, the word "permit" actually means "encourage WITH CARE" and the word "encourage" means....what???

From this view, one would actually say that the Fathers "encourage" chant/polyphony...*without* care??? and that other music encouraged "with care"?

Your verbiage is doing somersaults, Kevin.

I've clearly said you misrepresent Church teaching if you say the Church *only* encourages chant/polyphony, which is what the record shows you said. I cite contrary evidence.

What you should do instead of the somersaults is simply admit that you *can* be corrected on this point that you agree that the Church encourages *more* than chant/polyphony since the Council Fathers directly state as much in SC.

If you do that you won't be misrepresenting the Council document....

JR

Anonymous said...

Deacon Jim,

I did not write "aging hippies", I wrote "balding hippies" and they are just that. The music they play, the clothes they wear, and the rest of the hairstyles give them away.

You wrote: "It's both/and."

NO!!!

It's not both/and. I've never heard Gregorian Chant except in the Churches I listed. I've been to Mass in Venice, CA; Culver City (where Gary Cooper went to Mass); Orange County; a bunch of places in Suburban Chicago; Indianapolis, IN; Fishers, IN; Noblesville, IN; Tampa, FL; Clearwater, FL; Ann Arbor, MI; Saline, MI; Knock, Ireland; Tuam, Ireland; and a bunch of churches in Roma.

I have only heard Gregorian Chant at my childhood parish (only the Agnus Dei); at St. Jean Vianney Church in Fishers, IN (Fr. Dudzinski said that we Catholics should learn Latin as it is our heritage- like grandchildren of immigrants who still can speak the native language.) and in Roma.

NOWHERE ELSE is Gregorian Chant used. That's hardly "pride of place."

Dr. Eric (Wordpress is still buggy.)

Deacon Jim Russell said...

Dr. Eric--sorry for the misquote.

Aging hippies everywhere are now breathing a sigh of relief! :-)

I actually believe we are in much more agreement on this than you might think. My discussion with Kevin has to do with "principle," while you are very much describing the "practice."

In practice, what has happened has been a rupture from what came before and what one finds now in parishes across the country. But it would not be correct to "rupture the rupture" either, so to speak. That is, let's get the *principles* of SC correct. Doing so means we cannot ridicule and criticize the existence and use of other forms encouraged by SC. We should invalidate that which *is* validated by SC in principle.

Now, in *practice*, we have two issues: first, the rupture associated with past forms, and second, the often-abysmal execution of contemporary forms.

Both can and should be addressed. But they need to be addressed charitably and correctly, meaning that it's not "chant vs. Marty" and only one can "win." And it's not chant = "beauty" and guitar = "crap."

It's just not.

That's the "principle" I'm trying to point out. In "practice" I think our opinions have a great deal in common, especially regarding the hope for a much greater return to a sense of continuity with the great Catholic music patrimony we possess.

Deacon Jim Russell said...

We should invalidate that which *is* validated by SC in principle.

OOPs We should NOT invalidate...

Kevin O'Brien said...

Deacon Jim,

Don't accuse me of intellectual sommersaults, my friend! I've got a ton of links I can point to that show your skill at that. I have argued fairly with you on all issues from the start, and you have never done so with me.

When the Church says 1. First chant, then 2. Polyphony, then 3. other music if suitable, this can hardly be called ENCOURAGEMENT. Yes, the word "encourage" appears in the paragraphy you cite, but it's qualified by the term WITH CARE.

Thus, in context, it's clear the Church is not "encouraging" the music in question. It is neither suitable, nor is it the people's OWN music.

You need to learn how to read beyond proof texting. Context is important, as is the general tone of an entire document.

Deacon Jim Russell said...

Kevin--

It is my hope that the tens of people following this combox can actually see for themselves that the problem here is that you have decided that the Church can't possibly want to make room for the kind of liturgical music you despise.

I am glad that you agree we shouldn't judge others based on their appreciation of diverse musical forms. I presume you can now move past the use of terms like "gay guitarists." Progress.

I would also hope that you will stick with the Church and with SC and its view that the "native genius" of different cultures and times has a place in authentically Catholic worship and music.

Tom Leith said...

No, Kevin, The CHURCH says that, OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL...pride of place goes to chant, polyphony, etc. If you can't accurately quote the "Church," then you shouldn't try to quote at all....

Here we have proof one can accurately quote the "Church" and even be ordained, and not understand the Church at all.

Kevin, if you have the energy for this, I'd suggest attacking the ceteris paribus qualifier so insisted upon by Deacon Jim. What other things should be equal to what? Deacon Jim is using these as weasel-words, but they needn't be. (The biggest single problem IMO with the documents of VII is that they admit a weasel-word reading. Without a hermeneutic of continuity, you get Deacon Jim's usage.)

When you have this nailed down, then ask how the faux-folk-derived tripe you're complaining about is not equal to Gregorian Chant.

Besides SC (which should be read giving ordinary meaning to every word, in context -- which includes the context of Church History) I recommend Spirit of the Liturgy by Cardinal Ratzinger. Or Miller's summary of three articles written in German by him on the subject of sacred music.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Thank you, Tom Leith, for being one of the "tens of people" following this combox. That was actually funny, Deacon Jim, as it's true. Lots of page views for the blog, but most people have too much sense to follow the comboxes. Not us few fools, however!

Tom, you're right in the "heremeneutic of continuity" and in "all other things being equal" - but you can not argue with a proof texter, nor can I argue with Deacon Jim, who (although he is a good guy) argues like this all the time.

For example, I am accused of being "judgmental" for calling Marty Mass guitarists "gay". Obviously I've never called the guitarists "gay"; I've called the music "gay", and I mean that quite sincerely. The fact that I'm passing judgment on the music but not on the people who play or appreciate this music should go without saying - but if I say it, I'll get slammed with something else that's tangential to my argument - my argument being that while this music is permitted, it can hardly be said to be "enouraged", not only becasue (as you point out) all other things are not equal, but also because it's not "in accord with the spirit of liturgical action". But nothing will stop me from becoming a rabid rad-trad trying to turn the Catholic Church into the Church of the Kevin, it seems.

Well, this is not a question of magisterial teaching on morality (as is the other issue Deacon Jim and I have argued), so I'm content to leave it at this.

I say again that, though he frustrates me, Deacon Jim Russell is a good man, a good Catholic, and (as people are now starting to ask me), the co-host of a very fine radio show that defends and upholds the Catholic Church, a show with which it has been my honor to be affiliated.

And I think he has more of a sensitivity and understanding of his issue than his comments to me indicate. His comment to Dr. Eric tells us that.

Deacon Jim Russell said...

Tom Leith wrote: "Here we have proof one can accurately quote the "Church" and even be ordained, and not understand the Church at all."

"Not understand the Church at all."

Wow. How utterly insulting.

It's not "weasel-word" thinking to insist upon an accurate quote from SC.

In my comments I have very much *insisted* upon a hermeneutic of continuity and expressed proper concern for the *rupture* that took place post-VII.

Tom--please don't offer a caricature of what I've said and then accuse me of not understanding the Church.

Nothing of what I have said is in contradiction to Ratzinger's "Spirit of the Liturgy," which I would highly recommend as well. If you think I've said something contrary to Ratzinger's views, cite chapter and verse.

What *is* in contradiction to basic Christian charity is to reduce other forms of liturgical musical expression to being labelled "faux-folk-derived tripe."

So, please, Tom, spare me the insulting accusations of ignorance, focus on what actually *has* been said. Perhaps you will find we're not too far apart in our thinking after all.

Deacon Jim Russell said...

Kevin--I do owe you an apology.

You never used the term "gay guitarists"--my mistake, for which I apologize.

You have only said previously that the music of Haugen and Haas is "gay." And that guitar music and guitar tunes are "gay."

I guess that makes it okay then.

I'm sure that, if people say of your written work that it's "a bunch of trite, contrived and immature garbage," that you breathe a huge sigh of relief that such a person doesn't actually think of you as a bad writer....

It's sort of like when you only *indirectly* accuse me of "proof-texting"--wink, wink, nudge, nudge. You're not really judging a *person*, just a behavior, right?

For the record, it's not "proof-texting" to ask someone to consider the *whole* quote they are misrepresenting, or the *whole* document they are using to shore up personal opinion as somehow emanating from "the Church."

If you look back, you will see that my initial approach was to argue that other musical forms are *permitted* and that you shouldn't vilify such forms just because they *are* that form (the critique should be regarding execution, not existence).

But when you made much of the distinction between "encouraged" and "permitted," I was compelled to correct the mis-impression that SC does not "encourage" local or cultural forms of music in worship. It does.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Apology accepted.

As I pointed out the Church does not "encourage" the Marty Mass music you are supporting, even by virtue of what you quoted from SC.

A friend of mine has suggsted "pearls before swine" applies in this case. I'm certain you agree with that.

With that in mind, I'm banning you from the comboxes from here on out. I think your style of argumentation speaks for itself as to why I'm doing so. If anyone's in doubt about the prudence of this decision, I'll be happy to link you to other combox threads to which Deacon Jim's behavior here stands as a paragon of reason and good will.

Diane said...

WOW....I read about half of this debate and had to skim down to the bottom. Phew....intense!!!

Interesting arguments....you are all very scholarly in your comments, and there is no way I can quote from music documents as you all have, or argue the points as intellectually. All I can do is share my experience.

I work with teens, and yes we have a youth Mass. Our Mass consists of some contemporary and some traditional music....every now and then we add a little chant of some sort, sometimes even in Latin.

The music is no doubt the initial draw for many, it brings in a variety of people....many who are not well formed, but also many who are who just enjoy the liturgy. In the first 15 minutes before Mass when we have some Pre-Mass music, and the crowd tends to be 50and up at that point and it's always the same people which I find very interesting.

Once we get people in the door we have the opportunity to work with them. We invite the teens to the evening of formation after the Liturgy and we teach them. Once they learn more about the faith which takes some time, they seem to grow a larger repertoire for music as well as a better appreciation for the church and their faith, especially the Liturgy. .

All I can say is, in the past 6 years since I've been at this parish our liturgy has improved greatly in richness and respect. It's our largest Mass at our parish, and we've had many people join the parish due to the reverence displayed by the youth at this Mass. We've also had over 20 high school and middle school students go through RCIA.

I get emails all the time from people complaining about this music and suggesting chant. The interesting thing to note is none of those complaints come from people in our parish or even people who frequent that Mass. Most have come from people from very conservative parishes or home schooling mom's. I can only guess they came once and didn't like it so they felt the need to complain without talking to anyone about the inner workings of what is going on in this parish.

I used to take offense, but have learned to take rest in the Lord, and allow the Holy Spirit to move. We've had 3 Pastors in the past six years, two of which did not like that Mass either until they celebrated it several times and both said, "That Mass has it's place, we will leave it as is."

I will continue to do the Lords work, and if He wants that music gone, it will be gone, I am not opposed to that....but until then I guess people will argue, and we will continue to "give praise with blasts upon the horn, praise him with harp and lyre, give praise with tabourine, flutes, strings, crashing cymbals, and sounding cymbals and let everything that has breath give praise to the Lord", just as it says in
Psalm 150.

Anonymous said...

What I like about blog debates, particularly on the subject of artistic taste, is that the aesthetic sensibility is revealed in the quality of the writing, and the loser thus declares himself without much effort from his opponent. Thomas makes clear that some art is better than others (and he gives a still useful rubric cf. Umberto Eco's THE AESTHETICS OF THOMAS AQUINAS). If in doubt about whether organs or guitars are more universally suited to liturgy, this book can help.

Tom Leith said...

> nor can I argue with Deacon Jim

So stop quarreling with him.

> Nothing of what I have said
> is in contradiction to
> Ratzinger's "Spirit of the
> Liturgy"

If you think what you're defending accords with The Spirit of the Liturgy, you've missed the point.

Although I note that Gregorian Chant is very well accepted in Africa, what SC validates (confirming pp Pius XII) is the Missa Luba and similar efforts, the use in India of music in the Kirtan style, or in the rural south music in the style of the old Negro Spiritual (with due care &c). These forms are "their own" and are understood to have a communal, even religious use.

Contrary to what has been said, the performance-oriented, self-centered, faux-folk "We Are God, and He's All About Us" music that passes today for hymns in Catholic churches is contradicted by the entire tradition of sacred music, and no honest reading of SC can lead anyone to conclude anything else.

t

Kevin O'Brien said...

'Contrary to what has been said, the performance-oriented, self-centered, faux-folk "We Are God, and He's All About Us" music that passes today for hymns in Catholic churches is contradicted by the entire tradition of sacred music, and no honest reading of SC can lead anyone to conclude
anything else.'

Amen, Tom. Very well said.

This is my point, too. It is not "our OWN music". It is not folk. It is faux-folk, manufactured and imposed upon the people, who after forty years are now quite used to it, but it is not Negro Spirituals, African Tribal Music, or even German Drinking Songs. It is contrived and agenda-driven pseudo-art.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Diane, thanks for your long and thoughtful comment.

Compare what Ink said above, 'after having attended many (against my will), the end result is that the focus is on "we the people" and not the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.'

I will say that I have, unlike Ink, been to Youth Masses that were reverent and that were not "all about us", even with the sappy music. So it can be done, and it sounds like you're doing something good in your parish.

I just know neither of my kids (age 16 and 19), who love pop and rock and all kinds of stuff I don't like, would ever sit through a Youth Mass for the sake of the music.

The irony here is I doubt that the music is drawing the kids - at least not around here. It's not the kind of music they'd listen to anyway.

It's really not music for "human beings".

But by all means keep doing what you're doing and may the Holy Spirit fan the flame at your parish.

Tom Leith said...

Oh, Kevin, don't ban Deacon Jim. Like I said above, you don't have to respond to everything he says.

Diane --

It sounds like you're on the right track. What the kids want is authenticity. What the Church wants first of all is "organic" -- she wants liturgical music to be somehow already recognized as 1) a social effort like choral or call-and-response styles, tending towards passing on a culture or cementing social bonds; and 2) recognized as being something specially sacred or holy or elevated.

One problem we have here in the USA is we really don't have an organic folk-music tradition anymore: recorded music killed it.

The "folk music" of the Latin Church is Gregorian Chant. I am glad you're introducing it to the kids. Anyone can sing the Pater Noster and it is worth doing! I guess they still use the Lauda Sion Salvatorem in the Ordinary Form on Corpus Christi: I bet you'd find enthusiasm for learning that, the melody is simple and the text, well, it was written by Aquinas. How cool is it that we can still pray in a way completely recognizable to any Catholic from any country for the past 700 years?

Oh! One more thing. Strictly speaking the processional and recessional aren't part of the liturgy. From a classicist's point of view, you have more freedom here to choose something stylistically inappropriate for (say) a communion motet. So you CAN have it both ways (within limits).

Here, check this: Musica Sacra. St. Louis' own Fr. Samuel Weber is pretty active with them. I bet he'd even come and talk with the kids about sacred music if you asked him.

t

Kevin O'Brien said...

Tom, I am banning Deacon Jim because of a long history of snide and unreasonable argumentation that goes in circles from him.

He has come to a point where he will stop at nothing to prove me wrong about something. I have been very patient, but I think it's time to draw the line.

Tom Leith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Leith said...

> It is faux-folk, manufactured
> and imposed upon the people

To be fair, faux-folk wasn't imposed, it was (enthusiastically) bought.

It is a polished development of a more authentic 1900 -- 1930's style of American Folk, but the polish and packaging were/are all about commerce! Pete Seeger thought it was a very bad thing that folk wanted to listen to other folk play folk, but not play it themselves. He railed against that. Pete Seeger was a Personalist! Listen to some of the folk music from the Great Depression -- it is quite good. And even though I greatly prefer Cole Porter, Richard Rogers, Strayhorn, Ellington, and zillions of others, this is good too. John Denver could write a song. It just isn't right for Holy Mass.

The problem I see with folk music that normal people would call folk music at Holy Mass is that it really has no place in Christian worship. We got our chant style from Jewish worship, so we never really adapted a popular style for sacred use -- the most-sacred of sacred music was sacred from the beginning. When people want to bring a popular form into liturgical use today, it has an undertone of rebellion in it, as Cardinal Ratzinger said. It is an attempt to deny the value of the past; of culture itself. It is an attempt to say "our culture is what we make" rather than "our culture is what makes us".

Kevin O'Brien said...

Youuuu satisfy the hungry heart ... with gifttttsss of finest wheat ... ta da da da de da de da da ...

Anonymous said...

Kevin,
Sorry about the delayed response/rescue. No need to argue with anyone who defends Haugen- there's just no soul at home. My husband and I have been discussing this issue for some time. The sterility we first noticed was at parties. My husband is a musician and played in bars for years. At first the parties were fun and interesting. But something happened in the early 1990s. They became dull. The people were dull. Before this, you could get a decent conversation out of any drunken individual. But at these new parties, people drank sparingly, to conceal their true thoughts/feelings. Soon tee-totaling parties were the norm, with disastrously boring results. No life in them.
We noticed the same with young couples. They do not even hold hands. We wonder how their one child was conceived at the distance between them. No life.
The arts are the most affected. Thank God for the internet. At least we can find good music, art and theater (with intense searching) for our family.
We want life back! We want fun parties! With drinking and smoking (not manufactured cigarettes- gag!) and couples holding hands or at least noticing their life's love in public! God save us from the communism that takes away our drink and smoke and fun. God save us from capitalism that waters down our drinks, sells us foul floor sweepings to smoke and tells us that money is connected to happiness.
Good post. We are regular readers of your blog, often agreeing with your thoughts, but alas, short on time to post responses. Keep at it, dear friend.
PS- Fr Pavone is the greatest and Lila Rose is a hero. Don't look now, but your "Shea" is showing.
Yvonne

Martha said...

I have not had the time to read all of the comments here, and some are beginning to be rather repetitive, but as Kevin has invited "sane" people to help him, here goes:
I think that I am quite sane, and I grew up in a different tradition than you did, e.g. the French-Canadian Quebec culture. And I have had the blessing to have been exposed to quite a variety of "good" music at a very young age. I have also been a member of my local church's choir for a few years, and they do indeed use "Glory and Praise". Our choir leader is a professional musician in her own right, but as part of a small "Country & Western" group! In addition, we are located in a rural area. Our choir leader is good at what she is doing, and although I do have a vast musical culture (in addition to a good voice), I cannot see anything wrong with using "Glory and Praise" in our local context. Most of the songs are inspired by, or even quoting, Scripture, and when they are well done they can be quite good. I do enjoy more traditional music as well, and would probably be very pleased if I had the chance to occasionally attend a Mass where Gregorian chant or classical music were the norm, which I can occasionally do if I take the trouble of driving to another church. But in my opinion, every honest effort done with the means available is to be appreciated, not criticized or placed into a category of "not good" art. The important thing however is not the music, it is the community coming together to worship and to partake in the sacrifice of the Mass.

Justine said...

Deacon Jim -

You keep saying ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL, but I don't think you know what that means. If you did, then you would have no trouble understanding that what's being called the Marty Mass crap is, as Kevin's trying to tell you, an acceptable musical choice, but only as a sort of last resort.

All things would be equal if all parishes were equal. Some would certainly embrace Gregorian chant or polyphony, other parishes may not have a music director or choir members knowledgeable or willing to teach or learn sacred music.

But clearly, IF all things were equal, then yes, "Marty Music" would be the redheaded stepchild, and I'm pretty sure the redheaded stepchild routinely gets beaten.

Justine said...

And also the phrase "with care", sir, means "with caution".

Anonymous said...

Musicam Sacram, 1967:

3. Therefore the Consilium set up to implement the Constitution on the Liturgy, on the instructions of the Holy Father, has carefully considered these questions and prepared the present Instruction. This does not, however, gather together all the legislation on sacred music; it only establishes the principal norms which seem to be more necessary for our own day. It is, as it were, a continuation and complement of the preceding Instruction of this Sacred Congregation, prepared by this same Consilium on September 26, 1964, for the correct implementation of the Liturgy Constitution.


4. It is to be hoped that pastors of souls, musicians and the faithful will gladly accept these norms and put them into practice, uniting their efforts to attain the true purpose of sacred music, "which is the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful."1

(a) By sacred music is understood that which, being created for the celebration of divine worship, is endowed with a certain holy sincerity of form.2

(b) The following come under the title of sacred music here: Gregorian chant, sacred polyphony in its various forms both ancient and modern, sacred music for the organ and other approved instruments, and sacred popular music, be it liturgical or simply religious.3

Anonymous said...

I would've banned the deacon long ago, what with all the smugness, all-caps yelling and triple question marks. It's insulting.

I'm an occasional reader of Kevin's blog - I'm actually an actor in the NYC area - (and still a practicing Catholic; yes, please do gasp, it helps convince me of my sanity) - and I'm appalled at how the deacon was treating him. That he hasn't banned you a long time ago is testimony of his patience.

And Kevin, dude, it's your blog. If you wanna call the music gay, please do so. Some things really are gay and it does no one any favors to pretend otherwise.

Look, there are others having a go at the argument from the quoting-church-documents angle, but I'll go from instinct: There are those of us who know - we just know, OK? - that real flowers are better than silk flowers. And plenty of people have silk flower arrangements in their homes. But real are better. And if take slight umbrage at the thought that your silk flowers might not be thought of as the best by some of us, well, I bet you look a tiny bit down your nose at those who have plastic flowers in their homes, yes?

That's just reality. You can whine about how what you have is all you can afford but some things are just objectively better.

Haugen music et. al. are the plastic flowers of music; plastic is in-your-face fake, false, sterile, a cheat, a lie...which was the point of this post?

Anonymous said...

Also from Musicam Sacram, 1967:

9. In selecting the kind of sacred music to be used, whether it be for the choir or for the people, the capacities of those who are to sing the music must be taken into account. No kind of sacred music is prohibited from liturgical actions by the Church as long as it corresponds to the spirit of the liturgical celebration itself and the nature of its individual parts,7 and does not hinder the active participation of the people.8

Joe said...

Deacon Jim,

You're being quite argumentative, flippant, and sarcastic for a deacon. You're not setting a very good example as you sound more like a bitter hippy who is upset that things are no longer going his way.

dmw said...

Re: "All things being equal."

Chant expert Jeffrey Tucker writes:

In Sacrosanctum Concilium (1963), we read that chant deserves primacy of place in the Roman rite "ceteris paribus." That is rendered in English as "other things remaining equal." This is often seen as a qualifier that discounts the role of chant. Many opponents of chant will shoot back when you quote Vatican II: "But other things are NOT equal."

Well, for years I've looked for evidence from the Council (real contemporary evidence concerning the intentions, not just someone's ex post speculations) as to what precisely was meant by that phrase but not even the most detailed accounts (such as Fr. Ruff's) go into the historical detail.

The best approach, then, is to just accept it at face value. Ceteris Paribus is a common Latin phrase used in scientific literature. Wikipedia (as is often the case) has it precisely right.

It is "to acknowledge, and to rule out, the possibility of other factors which could override the relationship between the antecedent and the consequent."

How does this apply to chant? It means even when chant is not possible, even when there are no skills or singers, or even when the books aren't around, or other conditions prevent chant from being used, that in no way reduces its appropriateness for the Roman Rite. In other word, the phrase reinforces the mandate for chant, pointing out that it is so strong that no conditions that would lead to its absence have the effect of diminishing its preferred position."

dmw said...

It is worth noting the revised translation of the GIRM in the new Roman Missal 2011. What does the Church prefer in its sacred music? Let's see. Here's an excerpt from the entry on the Entrance Chant. The same applies to the Offertory Chant and the Communion Chant:

"48. This chant is sung alternately by the choir and the people or similarly by a cantor and the people, or entirely by the people, or by the choir alone. In the Dioceses of the United States of America, there are four options for the Entrance Chant:

"(1) the antiphon from the Missal or the antiphon with its Psalm from the Gradual Romanum, as set to music there or in another setting;

"(2) the antiphon and Psalm of the Graduale Simplex for the liturgical time;

"(3) a chant from another collection of Psalms and antiphons, approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including Psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms;

"(4) another liturgical chant that is suited to the sacred action, the day, or the time of year, similarly approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop."

Anonymous said...

Regarding "all things being equal":

http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/all+things+being+equal

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/all_things_being_equal

sciencegirl said...

Listen, some of my best friends are Minnesotans. But I don't let them cook for me anymore.

And I'm tired of their dang songs.

Haugen and Hass are music from the land of the bland. I like casserole with mushroom soup sometimes, but if someone made me eat it every day and told me it was great and that spices and jalapenos and the opinion of every professional chef ever were not that great anyway, I'd get annoyed. If I had to sing a HH hymn every now and then, I wouldn't even know their names, but since we sing a hymn at the start and end of daily Mass and sing at least 5 hymns during Sunday Mass, I feel like I'm drowning in Minnesota Nice, and it's got me looking for something more...flavorful.

While I finally won the Southwest v. Midwest battle of cookery, I get no say in what songs I have to sing at Mass or what hymnal we have. It's a real drag to be a captive audience member at the continual Minnesotan hymn potluck.

Also, sorry about your latest play being underpromoted; I'd love some edgy Catholic art. BTW I totally think you should put on a production of "Catholic Music Monologues" that you research & write. That way everyone could have their say about Catholic Music, and it would be 10x the controversy of Eve Ensler's snoozefest.

Brian said...

You just can't beat an apology with stipulations.

Daniel Patrick Sheehan said...

What a fun debate! God bless you, Deacon Jim -- I've never seen anyone get so worked up in DEFENSE of Marty Haugen.

Respectfully, I have never attended a guitar Mass (and that is mainly what we are talking about here) that could truly be called "reverent." I don't blame this on the people playing the guitars -- or the saxophones, or the synthesizers, or whatever other instruments find their way into these liturgies -- because they are faithful Catholics at worship, and that is good. But most of the songs tend to be lyrically insipid and musically jarring, even in talented hands -- which, I'm afraid, not every church band is blessed with.

Deacon Jim tells us we can "just as easily" have "Palestrina crap" and automaton priests at Latin Mass. Just as easily? I think not. Despite Summorum Pontificum, the Latin Mass remains somewhat ghettoized and is celebrated and attended by priests and people who truly love it and go to great lengths to have it. People in my diocese drive 40-50 miles to attend it at the one church where it is offered. It's unlikely you'd find such a Mass conducted "soullessly" or sung by ill-prepared singers.

You will, however, find attendants at guitar Masses -- dressed for the soccer game, of course -- ready to bolt for the exits as soon as the priest says "The Mass in ended..." They don't mind leaving early because they never really arrived in the first place. And one reason they never arrived is because they walked through the doors of a church but ended up in a coffeehouse.

Anonymous said...

My computer at home wouldn't let me post and then I got caught up with babysitting my 9 month-old, so I didn't have time to reply on Friday. Now, I'm at work and I don't have my copy of "Spirit of the Liturgy" with me. But Cdl. Ratzinger clearly states that pop and rock are banal and do not belong at the Liturgy.

My computer at home wouldn't let me post and then I got caught up with babysitting my 9 month-old, so I didn't have time to reply on Friday. Now, I'm at work and I don't have my copy of "Spirit of the Liturgy" with me. But Cdl. Ratzinger clearly states that pop and rock are banal and do not belong at the Liturgy.

The Orthodox would never dream of letting that Haugen-Hass scheisse in their Liturgies. Why would the Catholic Church allow it when we have chant?

And, once again, all things are not equal, I would gladly sit through "Gift of Finest Wheat" if I could sing the Sanctus.

Another point, these hymns, even "Hail Holy Queen" don't belong at the Mass anyway. As much as I love "We Three Kings" it is not the proper song to sing for the Introit. The propers are the "proper" parts of the Mass and they are not being sung. There is no Introit but "Gather us In". There is no Communion Antiphon but "I am the Bread of Life". Fix this problem and the point of which hymn to sing is moot.

Dr. Eric

Kevin O'Brien said...

Deacon Jim Russell,

It is not up to you to determine whether or not you have a right to comment on my posts on a blog that I manage and publish, on posts that I write and in comboxes that I moderate. You do not. As Judge Judy says, "This is my playground, not yours."

Although I have announced your uninvitation from this blog, you continue to post, asserting that you see no reason why I have asked you to leave. I have also told you to quit sending me private emails, and you have not heeded my request regarding that. So it has come to this - you continue to post comments on my blog, and I continue to delete them.

Please understand why I have dis-invited you. It is not because you are a bad man or a bad Catholic. On the contrary, I have considered you a friend and a co-worker in the vineyard.

Yet you have put me through a great deal of heartache and headache on the Lying issue. Your style of argumentation has been less than charitable; it has been on the contrary spiteful, and at times astonishingly irrational. I had told you in the past that after eight months of arguing, I did not want to engage you on the subject of Lying any more. I had told you that I welcomed comments from you on other subjects, however - not wanting to lose you as a friend or as a reader.

And so you decided to comment on this post - a post which mentioned bad liturgical music in passing, a passing reference which you jumped upon. Your position is that I am trying to claim Church authority on a matter that is mere private opinion. This is exactly your position regarding the Lying issue, too, that my claim that Lying is intrinsically evil is my personal opinion only, despite the fact that the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Catechism of Trent, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, St. Gregory, and the settled teaching of the Church all agree with me.

In the current debate, when I point out to you above that the concilliar document we abbreviate SC in fact shows that the Church encourages chant and polyphony, and not the Marty Mass music, which I assert is not suitable to liturgical action and which is not the people's "own" music (it is, as Tom Leith points out, "faux folk"), you reply by proof-texting and by claiming that the presence of a word translated as "encourage" regarding folk music proves your point, although taken entirely out of the careful context in which the word occurs and the broader context of the document as a whole.

Thus, when a friend of mine who has been in similar internet tussels with you, suggested I had a kind of moral obligation to ban you from commenting (not because you are an immoral man, but because this kind of intellectual game playing is counter-productive and a bad stewardship of time and intelligence), I realized he was right.

It comes down to this: you are not arguing in good faith.

See http://thwordinc.blogspot.com/2011/09/end-of-arguing-without-end.htm
and
http://thwordinc.blogspot.com/2010/09/beast-advances-part-2-good-faith-bad.html, as I've written on this before.

Now I will say again, you are a good man and I hold no animosity against you. But you are not welcome in this playpen. You certainly have the option of blogging on your own elsewhere, but I will not attempt to argue in good faith with a man whose only objective is to prove himself right and even moreso to prove me wrong, regardless of where the truth really lies.

We argue because it leads us to the truth, not to bolster our agendas, not to shore up our own personal ethics, not to defeat the other guy. Any other use of the faculty of reason and the great gift of discussion and disputation is an abuse of God's gifts.

God bless you, Deacon Jim. Now stop commenting here and stop emailing me.

Let us pray for one another and continue to operate as co-workers in the Lord's vineyard.

Anonymous said...

Kevin--you have every right to delete my comments and "ban" me.

I continue posting in good faith, to those who have commented on my prior posts on this thread.

Anyone who might catch a glimpse of this post before it's deleted will, I hope, note that the one and only "private e-mail" I sent to you regarding this issue was a request to meet to resolve our differences and move forward.

Your refusal to meet with a Christian brother (Mt. 18) really remains unfortunate.

Deacon Jim Russell

Kevin O'Brien said...

My Christian Brother, I will meet with you any time for any reason EXCEPT to argue about the issues we've driven into the ground. In fact, let's do lunch this week or let's go to Mass together. Let's just renew our friendship and not touch on Lying or Music. Will you meet with me under those conditions? We can invite Tom Richard, too. He also wants to avoid the fighting and renew a friendship.

Kevin O'Brien said...

You know, this really is funny. You refer to Matthew 18 in your complaint that I don't want to meet with you (as I say, I'm happy to meet with you, I simply refuse to discuss Lying or Music with you).

So, wondering what part of Matthew 18 you are referring to, I looked it up. Do you mean Matthew 18:15-17? Our Lord's instruction that we are to meet with sinners privately to admonish them of their sin?

Is this what you mean, my Christian Brother?

Is this why you want to meet me, to admonish me of my sin?

Kevin O'Brien said...

If so, I am indeed a sinner and in need of admonishment.

My positions on Lying and Music, I'm sorry to say, are not sinful.

However, I do have sins you could accuse me of that are far more shameful than the little tiny good things I manage to do by God's grace, such as defending His Church and her teachings.

So if this is to be a Matthew 18 lunch, by all means, please give me some fraternal correction. I welcome it. I don't usually get accused of sins at lunch, but it might be a good habit to get into.

Just be advised: I will not discuss Lying or Music with you.

Deacon Jim Russell said...

Kevin--

Look, let's be honest: Mt. 18 doesn't say "If your brother should commit some wrong against you, go out to lunch together and pretend it never happened...."

I honestly feel "wronged" by your treatment of me, and I believe you think I've "wronged" you as well.

That's exactly what should compel us to meet and resolve the wrong. Blogs and comboxes are only *partial* communication. They barely deserve to be called "communication." Unless people are *really* careful and respectful of the limitations of this mode of communicating.

If we really seek to reduce the gulf between our two understandings of two issues, and thereby "right" some of the wrongs, we need *full* communication, not just keystrokes.

We should *listen* to each other in "real time".

God bless you--let's get together, but let's plan on dealing with the "elephant" rather than ignoring it....

Deacon Jim R

Deacon Jim Russell said...

Kevin--you should've given me more time to reply before presuming it's about "sin"--it's not about admonishing each other. We've done enough of that.

I want to meet to have *real* communication that can resolve the feelings of wrongdoing we both have and can hopefully illuminate each other's thinking and reasoning well beyond our failure to do so in this forum.

Deacon Jim Russell

Kevin O'Brien said...

Deacon Jim,

Don't you see that we've come to an impasse regarding the "elephant"?

I am willing to renew our friendship with a cordial meeting and by discussing the many things we have in common, not the one or two things over which we disagree.

Yes, meeting in person would resolve hurt feelings and help re-establish a relationship, and I'm all for that. And for whatever wrong I've inflicted upon you in these debates, I am quite sorry and hope you'll forgive me. You are entirely forgiven for any wrong - real or imagined - that you've inflicted upon me along the way.

However, I really don't see how we could go over the Lying issue or the Music issue any more completely in person than we have in writing. It's clear by now that you won't change my mind and I won't change yours. In fact, a meeting in person at which we discussed Lying in particular would probably end with one of us getting angry and walking out - which I would call a near occasion of sin.

This is why I don't want to discuss Lying (or even Music) with you. We've discussed it to death. We are both passionate about it and would both get far too angry in person were we to discuss it. Also, what more could possibly be said that has not already been said?

As I said the last time we touched upon it, if your conscience is clear on this issue, you must follow your conscience. Let's leave it at that.

So, again, I'll meet with you any time - and I'll be happy to have you point out my sins and shortcomings any time - but I will not discuss Lying or Music with you any more, neither in writing nor in person. It is not only counter-productive, it is deleterious.

Deacon Jim R said...

The "impasse", as it stands, means that you think I, a deacon in good standing, am actually *dissenting* from the Magisterium on the teaching on "lying."

And I think you, a good Catholic layman, have misrepresented the Church's official liturgical stance.

Who else wants to attend lunch with me and Kevin?

I just don't do well socially with folks who think I've compromised my obedience to the Church.

I would rather *try* to settle this once in person. I'm not going to get angry. That's kind of the point--decorum seems more easily maintained when in full and "real" communication.

Ironically, we're getting closer to the original concept of the blog that is attached to these comments....

I just want "real" communication--just one try.

Deacon Jim R

Deacon Jim Russell said...

My last word here--

I *do* unreservedly apologize for doing an abysmal job of presenting my arguments on these issues with you.

I'm pretty sure that, while my written work has sucked, I can more properly articulate my thinking orally and in person.

Just let me know....JR

Daniel Patrick Sheehan said...

Speaking of Marty music, this is from an essay by Anthony Esolen posted here:

http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/947/decline_and_fall.aspx

"Say in public that Chartres Cathedral is a greater work of art than a house by Frank Lloyd Wright, or that the polyphony that resounded in churches across Renaissance Europe is a more powerful and beautiful expression of worship than are the louche verses of Marty Haugen and David Haas, and you will inevitably be charged with elitism; nor will it help you to point out that Chartres was perhaps the greatest piece of folk art the world has known, or that polyphony would be sung and heard in towns everywhere. And this jittery defense of the contemporary deserves a closer look."

It's well worth a read.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Thanks, Daniel! Excellent quote.

FYI - LOUCHE as defined by a quick Google search: Disreputable or sordid in a rakish or appealing way: "the louche world of the theater".

Kevin O'Brien said...

Deacon Jim Russell,

This is real communication: I have said everything I have to say about Lying and your position on it. You have, I assume, done the same.

I am not condemning you or judging you. Your dissent is de facto, not de jure, and I am sure it is motivated by the best of intentions.

But enough is enough.

You may try to paint me into a corner as a slanderer who needs fraternal correction - well, you've offered me some on this issue in this public forum and in other public forums, and I've responded. I am a sinner, but I am defending the teaching of the Church. Offering me the same rebuke in person is something that I am not willing to endure, as it is unfounded and a bit creepy - an example of the unhinged element that you sometimes exhibit in this.

Again, I'll meet with you any time in a spirit of communion and Christian cooperation on any issue but Lying and Music. I will even let you point out to me my sins and flaws on any issues but the ones you've already insisted on, and which I've responded to. I have said that again and again, so I won't repeat it.

And if you try to malign me further in your comments by turning my unwillingness to meet on an issue I'm more than willing to get beyond, an issue your opinion on which, though wrong and in contradiction to settled Church teaching, is an opinion you nonetheless claim to hold in good conscience - if, indeed, you try to slight me for not being willing to let you harangue me in person as you have done publicly and privately in writing, well, so be it. I accept your displeasure here, but meeting with you on these issues would be a truly imprudent thing to agree to.

Again, let's make peace. We disagree. We will not change each other's minds except by prayer and penance and brotherly love - and the latter does not include an in-person discussion on an issue that you are unwilling to discuss rationally or charitably, an issue that we've done to death at any rate.

Please let's move on.

And please be aware that if I delete future comments from you, it is for your own good as well as mine. You are not doing yourself any favors by harping on this. I've given you some rope here, but you're quickly hanging yourself with it, and I'd rather not let you do that in front of God and everybody - or at least in front of the good folk who have read this far.

Let us please move on.

Deacon Jim Russell said...

And thus our working relationship and potential future association ends.

Moving on.

Deacon Jim Russell

Anonymous said...

Mandarin House, Thursday, lunch time on Page slightly west of I-170?

Gentlemen?

Dr. Eric

Anonymous said...

In the early 1970s as a young teenager I began playing guitar at mass. In fact, playing at Mass was the main way I learned to play guitar. We were permitted to play original compositions by the leader of the group, a liturgical abuse I had no awareness of. 

Later in life I played guitar in a number of different parishes in a number of different countries and times of my life. In the early 1990s I began to feel somehow uncomfortable with this type of music. I couldn't articulate it and I wasn't sure why. I am not a trained musician: just a hack. It wasn't until a lecture I heard from Fr. Rutler in the early 2000s on EWTN that I finally had an amazing moment of clarity that pinned down precisely what made me uncomfortable with it. It was like a light going on over my head. Thank you, Fr. Rutler!

Fr. Rutler explained this without referring to lyrics or composers. He just narrowed the focus way down to the nature of the music, which is at the nub of this argument. 

As Fr. Rutler explained it, in a nutshell, guitars, like pianos, etc. are percussion instruments which must be struck in order to make any sound. That's their nature: percussive. Plucking and strumming are types of striking. In order to sustain a tone, they must be repeatedly struck with a constant rhythm. This constant rhythm does something to our thinking and feeling that is quite automatic and subconscious. Strict rhythm like that from a strummed guitar or electric bass (which I played in the 80s with thumb a-poppin' at the 1030 mass !) is by nature martial. It makes us think - bypassing our intellects - of moving our bodies in time. Marching, dancing, swaying, these are the kinds of responses rhythmic music types produce. 

So you are either 

A. unaware of this mechanism, and sort of get carried away in it, shrug it off, and accept it as "normal" or

B. EXTREMELY aware of it, as I became after hearing Fr Rutler lay it out in black and white. 

In either case you are struggling with a distraction from your right to have the sacraments celebrated properly and without distractions of any kind, which is guaranteed to us in Canon law. You are either aware of this or you aren't. 

Having become burned at "ground zero" of the great discatechization that followed II Vatican Council, and having spent years of my young life imposing precisely this type of distraction on everyone attending at Mass, I have some pretty specific theories. Subjectively, where I am allowed to think anything I want without falling afoul of anybody or anything, I feel that 'Marty Masses' are actually a lot more damaging than anyone realizes. 

Not because of Marty, or any of his or others' other eyebrow-raising efforts, but because of the effects on the reality of the individual's phychomotor response. I don't want my inner John Travolta to start spoiling for a boogie during Holy Mass. 

I think that's the key: during Holy Mass. You can plug your little white earbuds into anything you want, I guess. But the character of the music chosen for Mass should help, not hinder in any way, what we all agree as Catholics is the highest form of worship. 

God protect us from clay chalices in the hands of matriarchal armies of "Eucharistic Ministrettes" daring to ape a sacerdotal blessing on the forehead so everybody "gets something" when the indult for both species expired in 2005. 

All started with the same smoke. And look what it brings. 

Its not about Marty, its about stranding your inner dancin' fool out in the parking lot until after Mass. Or was that "buffeting my body"?

Kevin O'Brien said...

Dr. Eric,

Pick up a to go order and bring it over to my place. It sounds as if Deacon Jim will not be joining us.

Deacon Jim R said...

Hi, Eric--

Thanks for the invitation. As you know, I'd show up for anything that is "real," that is for "human beings," and that is not a contrived and superficial extension of the "playground."

If it measures up to real, authentically Christian communication intended to heal and to increase understanding, I'm there.

If it's merely a drama in which each actor plays the predetermined role according to a script that includes an elephant in the dining room, count me out.

(If you do want to meet, the two of us, and talk more about matters liturgical, I'm open to that as well.)

Deacon Jim R

Kevin O'Brien said...

Deacon Jim,

I will not delete your last comment above. It speaks for itself.

God bless you.

Anonymous said...

Kevin,
Would you like us to eat that troll for you? What a waste of breath!
Yvonne +