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July 19, 2005

Comments

Tim Ferguson

Amen Amy - having grown up with a parish big on liturgical experimentation and "newness" around every turn, I find so much comfort and so much...ummmm..."God" is the only word that comes to mind...when I go to a Mass that's simply and reverently prayed. I love good music, I love pageantry, I love the drama of our tradition, but I love the peace that comes from not wondering what's going to be sprung on us next, wondering whether I should kneel or stand or receive communion on the tongue or the hand, whether someone next to me will be offended if I don't hold out my hand at the Our Father. I can forget about myself and concentrate on God and what He's saying to me. These days, I'm really finding that peace at the Tridentine Mass.

Jeff Coyle

I was a Benedictine monk in simple vows at one time (it was not my vocation) and I miss the simple liturgy that we had. We had tasteful music, the priests paid attention to what they were doing and didn't experiment, etc. The same went for most of the ordained monks who were assigned to parish ministry -- they carried the ideals of good liturgy with them! We are blessed with a priest in our parish that likes good liturgy, and who goes "by the book" more often than not, and who isn't afraid to preach the teachings of the Catholic Church. In the last year we have heard homilies about the joy of all vocations, especially the love he has for the priesthood; homilies against abortion and contraception, and several about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist under the form of bread and wine, i.e. transubstantiation!

Our church is noisy before mass, which I can live without, but it has grown on me (for good or for ill), but once Father signals to the choir to begin the processional, it is all business and about prayer and the eucharist, and not about him.

Mark Wyman

Excellent point!

M. David

It's the beauty of God's justice - there will be no liturgical peace as there is no unity in the US Catholic parish today. Unity first, good liturgy second.

But we don't even want unity – to do that we must have doctrinal unity (think of the disregard for the teachings of social justice or birth control), or respect for our leaders (obedience? - hey we know better than our bishop!), or simply being a servant and not a chief.

We have become Protestant in our culture and thinking, and will thus suffer the same pains as they do. It's all about the personal individual in everything, from piety to materialism to doctrine to community (think folk who go to whatever parish they want based upon the quality of liturgy or the quality of preaching). You know, it's all about me, not about us.

Bottom line: God is truly just in AmChurch today. We deserve the pathetic music and the fake community, and it would be unjust if it changed anytime soon. As for me, I just grin and sing along; I figure it’s part our punishment.

Lynn

My sentiments exactly! Several years ago the liturgist tried to "create community" at daily Mass by roping off all except first few pews. It didn't work, thank God. Such arrogance and insensitivity is amazing. Apparently they have no idea why people attend daily Mass to begin with. The roping off of pews didn't work at Sunday Masses either.

Tim Ferguson

did you respond by trying to rope off the liturgist? Just a helpful suggestion :)

David W.

I would just like to underscore what you wrote because what we want is the prayer that Holy Mother Church has given us in the Sacred Liturgy and how we will get it is through prayer. It really is as simple as you stated, but it really is that difficult because prayer takes time. It is hard work. It requires that we be humble. And most of all it necessitates that we completely trust God. As you indicated, the solution is not a program with line items and budget amounts. However, sometimes we are much more comfortable with such complicated solutions rather than the simple one which is having a conversation with the One we want to worship.

thomas tucker

Too simple. It'll never work.
Try again. :)

Maureen

I think Jeff Coyle and I either attend the same parish, or twins separated at birth. :)

Rich Leonardi

Great post, Amy. Let's try simplicity and reverence before tackling, say, Palestrina. Once we direct our minds back towards worship, we'll have laid the foundation for something more glorious.

Septimus

Amy:

I agree with you, although I was one raising the point about "resources"--in the context of the request for chant, choir motets, etc. The resources I meant weren't simply money, but people with time, talent and proclivity, to make it happen.

If you want this to happen in your parish, ask: how can I make it happen?

...NICELY!

Some won't believe me, but I think most priests would be delighted to have it quiet before Mass, if only for "selfish" reasons; so they can be recollected. If they are the offenders, it could be they've given up trying; maybe a humble request might move them in the right direction.

I can tell you from personal observation how priests almost have to bat away people, before Mass, from visits to the sacristy, "I just have one question, Father" and it adds to the cacophony.

Another suggestion: support your pastor in saying NO to "add-ons" at Sunday Mass.

Trust me, everyone is at him to include this or that. Write him a nice letter, polite and humble, communicating support for FEWER such things.

Nothing combative, just a REQUEST--and if he has some of those in hand--I stress, HUMBLE AND POLITE, NOT COMBATIVE--he will have ammunition when he says "no" to announcements, reports, and pageantry. It will help him say, "we do this 4 times a year"--or even, "we won't do this any more."

Even if he doesn't change it; what have you lost?

We will hear, over and over, about stubborn priests who won't entertain any suggestions or help.

But many priests would be open to "traditional" music like chant; it might be on their list, if only they can get around to finding someone to help.

Again--we'll hear the horror stories, and yet I insist: many priests want laymen who will take a project and run with it, such as training servers, assisting at funerals (serving, setup, music, leading music at Masses without a musician. It could be you!

Joseph Kubis

"It's an attitude, a stance toward the liturgy ... ".

I agree, but it takes much work and time to get there. The "holy simplicity" does not come automatically. I think Todd is right: It takes work.

Mark Shea

Amy:

You are God's scalpel for cutting through crap and getting to the point. Thanks.

Roz

Amy, take that last comment by Mark and make it the subheader of your blog. A higher accolade was never spoken.

You're right, of course. It's about more of Jesus and less of us. His preferences and not ours. Forbearing whenever possible, being charitable all the time, growing in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Zippy

It's the beauty of God's justice - there will be no liturgical peace as there is no unity in the US Catholic parish today. Unity first, good liturgy second.

I don't have a comment on this, I just wanted to see it in bold.

chris-2-4

but...
but...
but...

..."good" liturgy (almost by definition) promotes unity, doesn't it?

I think a big part of the liturgical problem is a kind of "false evangelism". It's the mentality of "Whatever Gets People to Church". What they really mean is, "Whatever gets people to come to the mass I'M performing at." But, the liturgy should not cater to the people we want to bring into/back to the church. It should be a celebration of those who are there and reflect the truth that they have found.

Zippy

..."good" liturgy (almost by definition) promotes unity, doesn't it?

Perhaps. Perhaps in some senses it divides, as well. Discomfort is always somewhat divisive, and good liturgy should always involve some degree of discomfort (e.g. the penitential rite) in addition to comfort.

My (current) take on the trad-vs-neo liturgical spat is that the trads are correct that the earlier rite is objectively better (not more valid but better) in many ways; but I think the reason we lost it may be because we didn't appreciate it. And now we have a circumstance where everyone gets the liturgy they are willing to put in the effort to get. Some people literally move their families to get to a better liturgy; some people gripe about having to drive an extra half hour to avoid heterodoxy. The point about the modern liturgical mess being our just deserts is well made, I think.

JTII

Before choosing up sides on these issues, everyone should attend a weekday Mass. It reminds you what it's all about - or supposed to be.

As much as I love traditional sacred music and the Tridentine Mass, there is something very special about the simple, spoken service that takes place on a daily basis in our parishes.

Another benefit - observing the intense piety of ordinary people. It never fails to make me humble.

I'm not making this up

"Some won't believe me, but I think most priests would be delighted to have it quiet before Mass, if only for "selfish" reasons; so they can be recollected. If they are the offenders, it could be they've given up trying; maybe a humble request might move them in the right direction."

There are people in positions of influence and power in the Catholic Church who think that steps to achieve quiet before Mass are symptoms of racism.

David Kubiak

I agree in that the only Mass I can attend at my territorial parish without commiting some kind of mental sin before Communion is the daily one. But Amy's comments might seem to be arguing for a Novus Ordo version of the dreaded "Low Mass mentality" that people like to bash a certain kind of traditionlist with. The solemn sung liturgy is the most classic expresssion of the Mass in the western Chuch. We cannot be satisfied with the state of the liturgy until the Novus Ordo gets the "High" Mass right. And there is a long, long way to go in that effort.

amy

Actually, David, that wasn't really my point. My point was that the argument made that any type of reform of the reform will take just massive amounts of resources is bogus. What most people want - the total effect of a prayerful liturgy - happens every day in most parishes. It's just on Sunday things go haywire. It's a matter of taking that daily Mass attitude and letting it reign on Sundays as well.

Tim Ferguson

How, in heaven's name, could encouraging quiet before Mass be a symptom of racism? Am I particularly ignorant here? What am I missing?

Simon

It seems to me to be so very simple. Respect the rite, start praying...and get out of the way.

Amy -- excellent post. This, I think, is what so many Catholics are looking for.

It's also noteworthy that daily Mass in most parishes is preceded and followed by silence. There are always opportunities to get together with fellow parishioners once you step outside or into the vestibule. But daily Mass isn't marked by the distracting party atmosphere inside the Church building that increasingly follows Sunday Mass in many parishes. That atmosphere cuts off the life of prayer altogether.

Tim

Amen, Amy

M. David

..."good" liturgy (almost by definition) promotes unity, doesn't it?

This misses the problem; we don't agree on what "good" liturgy is from a cultural point of view.

And we won't - not until we agree on the basics of Christian doctrine and how this applies to our culture and unity. And this means AmChurch dropping our typical resistance to the Church doctrine:

1) we think we obedience to our bishop is optional (we judge his orthodoxy)
2) we refuse to take responsiblity for our parish community (church hopping)
3) we disregard the Church teachings of sex and family (think birth control)
4) we reject the Church teachings on social justice and evangelical poverty (just look in parking lot - we are materialistic and are proud of it)

I would argue that a parish's chances for "good" liturgy is directly related to how its members agree on what it means to be a "good" Christian.

meteorologist

The problem with the "Sunday Mass should be more like the weekday Masses" idea is that, as always comes up in the posts on "successful" evangelical churches, daily Mass goers are largely a self-selecting group.

If on Sunday the pews were filled folks having that same intentionality, I imagine things would be very different. What to do in the meantime...I haven't a clue.

Suibhne

Beautifully written, Amy. And I think Mr. Leonardi reiterates your point perfectly when he writes:

Once we direct our minds back towards worship, we'll have laid the foundation for something more glorious.

Once we better understand the essence of the Mass, we will better understand how to properly adorn it.

Mary Jane

Thanks for the reminder, Amy! This is the reason that this is the blog I always come to first in my compulsive cycling around the Internet. Not just the links - it's the thoughts. Face it - Amy rocks!

I'm interested in the comment on quiet daily Masses. Many churches I've been in lately have added hymns before and after and depending on the celebrant a sung Sanctus (sorry, Holy, Holy). The quality varies with whomever shows up and what chance there is that the hymn will be suitable for a cappella unison singing and that the pitch won't be too low.

When I find a simple spoken weekday Mass, I rejoice. And I'm a musician! When I'm not actively involved in the music for a Mass (which happens most weekends), I love a chance to focus and pray.

Mary Kay

meteorologist said what I was thinking.

People who attend weekday Mass have consciously arranged their day, given priority to being at Mass and are very prayerful when there.

Sunday Mass also has people who are "fitting it in" to their schedule.

John

Lynn: Several years ago the liturgist tried to "create community" at daily Mass by roping off all except first few pews. It didn't work, thank God. Such arrogance and insensitivity is amazing. Apparently they have no idea why people attend daily Mass to begin with. The roping off of pews didn't work at Sunday Masses either.


Lynn, funny that you should mention that. Two weeks ago I went to mass at a neighboring parish in the Village (I generally go to St. Stan's) and knowing the liturgist's penchant for showmanship sat in the front pew before the tabernacle which it's safe to say was not central to the evening's proceedings. Twice, I was approached and encouraged to move to one of the middle columns (there are four) but I politely refused. The third time I instructed the young lady ( about my age late 20's) that I was there for Christ not the "craic" and while I think she was initially stunned that someone would say that Father Groovy was an impediment for one uniting with Christ she has since then thanked me for my honesty.

meteorologist

Mary Jane, at one of the parishes where I attend weekday Mass, we typically sing the Sanctus and the Agnes Dei (both in English). Both are very simple with no instrumentation. I find it to be a beautiful, prayerful simplicity. I think the added prayerfulness comes from removing the feel of everyone mumbling through it. Singing has a way of pulling together (unifying, even) the distinct voices into a common prayer.

Lynn

If only we could, Tim! :)

Todd

Without reading the 30-some posts already up, I'll just address the original post.

Amy, with respect, though I have often lamented the relative wealth of resources given to catechesis when these are provided to the detriment of liturgy, that was not my argument in the thread in question. My objection was to the drumbeat of complaining that lacks commitment and tenacity others have shown for serving the liturgy.

The primary resource for good or at least for better liturgy is to be found within the parish itself, primarily people who take the liturgy seriously enough to pray it and make it the source and summit of their spiritual lives.

"The point is that people yearn to go to Mass and not be assaulted by ego and its fruits."

And this is a good point. People who get involved in liturgy beyond the pew, be they clergy, lay ministers for liturgy or music, or parish volunteers, do indeed need to examine their ego and assess what their involvement actually means. Musicians have a difficult road at times; many of us are trained to perform, and it is very difficult to separate the ego from the result. Priests, I suspect, are equally vulnerable to the consideration that their training, responsibility, and position should merit them ... well ... consideration. And certainly volunteers, whether fresh from watching EWTN or just back from CTA, can stumble into an exaggerated sense of self-importance. The danger is a given, a given for any of us, and the only guard for it is spiritual direction and/or the frank input from a trusted community. The latter, in other words, would be a group of persons who tell you when you're doing great and when you're full of spit and you, priest or lay person, have the good sense to listen to such ... well ... good sense, and respond accordingly.

I agree with Amy's take on daily Mass. A few more quotes:

"This is not an argument for minimalism."

Glad to hear it. Schools and RE get the hugest portion of the parish budget. It could be rather lame for a catechist to suggest straight out the daily Mass model will do while she sits on ample resources which directly benefit a minority of people--those who even bother with RE--in a parish.

"It's an attitude, a stance toward the liturgy and what is going on there, one that I've discussed many times: trust the liturgy that the Church has given us, put every other agenda aside, put a lid on our own egos."

A bit more, even. Trust the liturgy to be the peak of the Catholic experience, not the classroom.

"This is why people appreciate monasatic liturgy as well. There is no frantic need to re-invent things ..."

Agreed. But people trying new things in liturgy aren't necessarily driven by novelty. Some of my colleague try things just to get through to the seemingly lifeless, voiceless majority populating the pews Sunday after Sunday. I agree it's no good to get desperate, but I can understand the urge. Monks don't ahve that problem. And it's also why I make retreats in monasteries: those people take the faith seriously.

"It seems to me to be so very simple. Respect the rite, start praying...and get out of the way."

Note that there's no mention of complaining. Or at least of complaint without commitment.

Lynn

Once again, I'm with you, Tim. I read the comment equating asking for quiet with racism three time...for the life of me, I can't imagine what it means.

Lynn

Good for you, John!

Lynn

"It's a matter of taking that daily Mass attitude and letting it reign on Sundays as well..."

Exactly!

Art Deco

meteorologist offers:

If on Sunday the pews were filled folks having that same intentionality, I imagine things would be very different.

and

M. David offers:

This misses the problem; we don't agree on what "good" liturgy is from a cultural point of view.

And we won't - not until we agree on the basics of Christian doctrine and how this applies to our culture and unity. And this means AmChurch dropping our typical resistance to the Church doctrine...

If my experience in that milieu is representative, Anglican congregations, in and amongst whom regularity of observance and adherence to a Christian moral sense is atypical, are quite able to hold satisfactory eucharistic services.


Todd offers:

My objection was to the drumbeat of complaining...

Two of the three Anglican congregations of which I was a member saw fewer than 100 people at services on any given Sunday. Each congregation did what it did with a haphazardly formed priest(ess), a volunteer choir, and a choirmaster who was paid a small salary and was not given to speaking or behaving as if he had been given a fiendishly complicated engineering project to execute week after week.

...that lacks commitment and tenacity others have shown for serving the liturgy.

For my own part, I have no interest in engaging in a futile remonstrance with the pastor or the parish worship committee, whose sundry offenses are not likely to have been undertaken because of some deficit of skill or knowledge, but rather in service to ingrained preferences. I am not on the payroll, and the Byzantine-rite parishes are near enough at hand.

Susan Peterson

Ok, I will tackle the "quiet = racism" comment with a guess.

Some parts of the country have quite a few African American Catholics. Others perhaps have quite a few Hispanics...I know less about them. A cultural characteristic of African Americans tends to be that they find enthusiasm in worship and warmth and friendly banter in fellowship to be marks of genuine worship, holiness and community. Catholics of German, Polish, or Irish descent, might have a different idea about what ought to happen inside a church proper. Suppose you have both in the same parish and complaints are made by the latter about behavior everyone knows is associated with the former? Feeling strongly that one's own cultural pattern is the correct one in this situation could be characterized by some as racism. I don't think it is any more racism for one group than it is for the other but the climate on this subject still makes this sort of thing difficult to discuss openly.
Susan Peterson

James Englert

If there is a Sunday mass that starts at 7am or earlier, it will probably have that daily mass feeling. Too early for ego.

David Kubiak

Are there any signs that the liturgical ideology espoused by that group who meets at Notre Dame is losing its stranglehold on the American Church? I don't see how any progress can be made so long as people with this kind of formation are maintained in power by bishops.

Lynn

There's a parish here that has a 7am Mass. Unfortunately it's also too early for me.
The evening Masses are a little less hectic than the "traditional" morning ones.

Lynn

There's a parish here that has a 7am Mass. Unfortunately it's also too early for me.
The evening Masses are a little less hectic than the "traditional" morning ones.

Richard

A great post, Amy.


Tom McKinney

Amy,
I think the reason that the daily Mass seems so refreshing, is that in its quiet, God centered(rather than community centered) piety, it is more akin to a Tridentine Low Mass than the Novus Ordo kumbayah circus that takes place at the Sunday Morning mass.

Jim

Another factor in favor of daily Mass is that the homily is more likely than not to consist of one reasonably good point of exegesis about one of the readings, after which the homilist sits down. This technique could work wonders at Sunday celebrations of the Eucharist.

Also, I find at daily Masses that there is less busy-ness and more silence after both the homily and after Communion. Again, Sunday Masses could use a little bit more of that in both places.

John

Read through all the posts. May I add my 2C's too. Amy does have a talent for picking important topics, her intros are attention getters and interesting.

There seems to be a consensus that people who think Mass is a prayer, weekday Mass goers, will produce a liturgy that is serious and prayerful.

So it is not resources, not latin, not Palestrina but faith which is the secret ingredient. OK. Better catechesis seems to be the logical answer to our problem. For starters, priests should make it abundantly clear, by behaving in a manner unmistakeable to all, for the next hour or so I am leading a prayer in personae Cristi.

This could take years even if we started yesterday. I do not have the resources to move my family Front Royal or Hancville. Hence my fallback position: please, may we have the Tridentine Mass back until the Sunday Mass people figure out why they go to church?

Caroline


How, in heaven's name, could encouraging quiet before Mass be a symptom of racism? Am I particularly ignorant here? What am I missing?
Posted by: Tim Ferguson at July 19, 2005

Quiet before Mass is white, northern European behavior. To promote it says something negative about other cultures which are rapidly become the majority culture in American Catholicism.

John Lilburne

Making changes requires effort, has a cost.

Perhaps many people "yearn to go to Mass and not be assaulted by ego and its fruits". But there are also people who yearn to go to Mass to lead and others to follow.

I think its a worthwhile objective that the community "trust the liturgy that the Church has given us, put every other agenda aside, put a lid on our own egos ...". But that will not happen at the flick of a switch. It will require effort and sacrifice.

Sam Schmitt

"Quiet before Mass is white, northern European behavior."

I always thought that quiet was encouraged by all cultures as a prerequisite for prayer. Does all the talking have to be done in church?

John Bianco


Caroline, actually many parishes in Latin America have quite a bit more reverence than in the US. I know in northren Mexico, many parishes go as far to even omit the sign of peace during mass, and it is not uncommon for women to wear veils still as well. When I used to live in Northren California, Asian immigrants of various cultures and the parishes they attended were a bit more reverent, and even quiet if you will than parishes that were in well off white neighborhoods. If you dont believe me, go to Our Lady of Peace in Santa Clara one day for a Sunday mass, the conregation is probably at least 75% non white, but it is reverent, quiet as can be considering its cramped quarters, and the altar rail is even used still.

John Bianco


Its sad that the people who promote "diversity" the most usually have negative views of their own culture, and have cartoonish views of other cultures. All the more to reboot the reform back to 64 while granting a wider and generous indult to those who are liturgically stuck in the 70s and 80s.

Colleen

Excellent post, thanks so much.

I absolutely love the weekday Masses, that 1/2 hour of simplicity is such a gift.

"Some of my colleague try things just to get through to the seemingly lifeless, voiceless majority populating the pews Sunday after Sunday."

Todd, I don't mean to pick on you or your collegues but you guys have to get off of this mentality. If people didn't care (lifeless voiceless majority) then they would not be there at Mass swimming against the secular world we live in. It's way easier to stay home or go to the Mall than it is to go to Mass. No one knows what goes on internally/spiritually inside another person and regardless of their degree (noise level?) of 'participation' or their facial expressions (or lack thereof) they could be among the most joyous and holy people sitting in those pews right in front of your eyes. Perhaps putting the choirs in the lofts or in back of the parishes would eliminate the distraction of 'lifeless' 'voiceless' parishioners from the watchful and judgemental eyes of some of the liturgical experts. Those people are responding to God and not the experts standing or sitting in front of them.

Michael

I always thought that quiet was encouraged by all cultures as a prerequisite for prayer.

No, not at all. It's certainly not a very common behavior or attitude for group worship.

Zippy

Quiet before Mass is objectively more reverent than noisy chatter before Mass. Race has nothing to do with it. Just because certain behaviors break along cultural lines that does not mean that no behavior of this sort is objectively better than any other.

Han Ng

For everyone RE: David Kubiak's comment on Novus Ordo "High Mass"

Has anyone here ever actually seen a Novus Ordo High Mass--that is Mass where all the proper prayers and the readings are sung? I am just curious. I have seen a Novus Ordo Missa Cantata, I have seen a Novus Ordo Low Mass with hymns, but I have never seen a Novus Ordo High Mass.

Han Ng

michigancatholic

Colleen is 100% right. It's not the liturgist's job to do anything to US. Their belief that we have to RESPOND TO THEM is obnoxious and idolatrous. They need to get the hell out of the way and stop trying to control everyone, including God.

That goes double for the attempts at music. Shut the heck up so we can pray, will you? Karioke belongs at the bar, not the Church.


B Knotts

The noisiest church I've ever been in was pretty much all white.

I think the "racist" accusation is made from whole cloth to try to intimidate people from objecting to the desacralizing of the liturgy.

I add my voice the number of people asking for a wider availability of the Traditional Latin Mass. I am hoping and praying that the Holy Father will soon restore the right to every priest to say it, without approval from his local ordinary.

michigancatholic

BTW, I haven't always felt this way. But I've heard more than a decent share of liturgy/musician types slander the congregation and act superior and snotty. I've had it.

We don't sing, correct. Did it ever dawn on these people that might be THEIR fault because the pitch is wrong for most people (usual) or they're totally off-key (almost always) or the song is heretical (too often)? Or a schmaltzy song doesn't belong at that place in Mass? Or that they're the ones that need to be corrected because THEY'RE off-base and that's why we're staring at them over there?

Doesn't it ever embarrass them that they might be distracting us from God? What do they think God thinks of this? Or don't they care?

Why do they thing we're stupid lumps because we'd like to pray? And why do they think that ONLY THEY know how to go to Mass??? What gives them the right to insult everyone who isn't a liturgist or cantor????

Lynn

What's the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist?

Todd

"It seems to me to be so very simple. Respect the rite, start praying...and get out of the way.

No budget line required."

Can you say the same thing about a Catholic school? Respect the Catechism, start teaching, get out of the way. No budget needed.

Hmm.

JTII

I wasn't going to post again, but michigancatholic's last comment (re: liturgy/musician types superiority) has inspired me.

I understand that these folks see their work as a ministry and that's fine. But do they understand that sometimes things get a bit intrusive? I am thinking particularly about singing during Communion. Whatever happened to the Thanksgiving that we are supposed to be giving after receiving the Host? I sure would appreciate some quiet at that time. Or, at the least, some quiet background music being played.


Colleen

A Catholic school is not a Catholic Mass.

Maureen

Re: singing during Communion

How is singing during Communion distracting from prayer? I've heard this before, but I don't see how it's any different from silence or instrumental music. I mean, if you're praying you're paying more attention to that, and if you're meditating the sound should just wash over you. In fact, that's generally the idea for Communion music.

(I think we really need some Communion music that shakes people up and points out just what a bizarre and important thing is occurring. But that's just me.)

I mean, I could understand if it was a math test -- math and instrumentals just go together -- but I didn't really think people were doing a lot of active cognition at Communion time. Am I wrong?

(Ooh! Neuro studies of what people's brains are doing during Mass! Yes, this is what we need!)

Suibhne

Han Ng:

My parish in Northern Virginia (St. Catherine of Siena in Great Falls) has a Novus Ordo High Mass every Sunday. Smells, bells, altar boys, the works. All the parts are sung/chanted in Latin. Continuing the practice of our just-relocated pastor, our new parish administrator (former parochial vicar) puts a premium on the liturgy, budgeting for a professional music director and choir. Very frequently we have a small orchestra accompany the choir. We are very blessed.

I must say however, though I love attending this Mass each week, it does not compare to a Tridentine High Mass.

Colleen

I think music during Holy Communion is lovely (and has always been the norm afaik) but the 'forced' singing by everyone (otherwise you are not actively participating and deemed passive by the professional observers) is wrong. I remember in my parish the priest told us, Sunday after Sunday, that we were to stand and sing during Communion until the last person had received and was back in his seat (oddly, he did not do this during the weekday Masses and the people kneel during Communion).

OTOH, in a neighboring parish, the priest would tell us that these moments after receiving Holy Communion were the most sacred moments... we had Jesus within us and we should take moments to ask Him for our needs and to thank Him for the blessings He has given us. There was quiet music in the background and people would spontaneously come back to their seat and kneel like they knelt before getting up for Communion, some with their heads buried in their hands...

In that first parish I mentioned, the priest was transferred and spontaneously, the parishioners resumed (without direction either way from the new pastor) kneeling during Holy Communion, returned to their seats and knelt, some with their heads buried in their hands. Not many of them sing during Holy Communion, which may be the only 'quiet' time they have the entire week.

Maybe some people see singing in unison as unity of worship rather than seeing the community of believers coming together for Mass as unity of worship, I dunno, I think all this is beyond me.

KH

Han Ng,
There's a N.O. High Mass every Sunday at St. John's in Stamford, CT:
http://www.stjohnsinstamford.com/

And we have these guys, too:
http://www.stamfordschola.org/

Pure bliss.

julie

Skipping all the comments to say, as a family we perfer the weekday and Sat masses at our Parish. No singing, lots of quiet.

John Lilburne

Sulbhne, I think your priest was faithfully following the liturgical books by saying peeople "were to stand and sing during Communion until the last person had received and was back in his seat".

According to the 2002 General Instruction to the Roman Missal (GIRM):

"86. While the priest is receiving the Sacrament, the Communion chant is begun. Its purpose is to express the communicants' union in spirit by means of the unity of their voices, to show joy of heart, and to highlight more clearly the "communitarian" nature of the procession to receive Communion. The singing is continued for as long as the Sacrament is being administered to the faithful.[Footnote 74: 74. Cf. Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, Instruction Inaestimabile donum, 3 April 1980, no. 17: AAS 72 (1980), p. 338.] If, however, there is to be a hymn after Communion, the Communion chant should be ended in a timely manner. ..."

Also from the GIRM as approved for the USA: "43. The faithful should stand ... except at the places indicated below. ... as circumstances allow, they may sit or kneel while the period of sacred silence after Communion is observed."

Clearly it is not the period of sacred silence when there is singing. If there is no singing at daily Mass then perhaps it is less clear. But I believe the priest should also have directed people to stand then as well. It is not silence when the priest is saying "The body of Christ" and people are responding "Amen".

According to the Code of Canon Law, canon 846: "The liturgical books approved by the competent authority are to be faithfully observed in the celebration of the sacraments; therefore no one on personal authority may add, remove or change anything in them."


Ed the Roman

Speaking as a cantor, I don't blame the people for not singing.

I blame the pastor. He bought the current hymnal, Gather, which some musicians do not care for (including me). He provides the clavierists (who direct the program in the absence of a director) with a list of approved hymns week by week. He dismissed latin chant tout court when I approached him about it.

I don't know how to go about proposing an English chant mass once a month yet; some of the basses like the idea, but I am not convinced that it will be tolerated.

In any event, I sing with the choir rarely now when I'm not scheduled (male cantors are few here), and I haven't gone to regular rehearsals in years: we don't do anything I don't know, and we don't do very much that I want to spend more time singing it than necessary. If I want to glorify God with music that is actually meritorious, I'm much more likely to have the chance at my wife's Methodist church. Where we have actually sung mass parts in Latin, from time to time, and where the symphony chorus performed the Fauré Requiem in the spring. There's no chance of anything like that happening in MY parish AFAICT.

Thank you for your indulgence.

Dina Swift

>I think your priest was faithfully
>following the liturgical books by
>saying peeople "were to stand and
>sing during Communion until the last
>person had received and was back in
>his seat".

He has obviously not read the answer to the dubiam addressed to the CDW in the wake of the promulgation of the latest GIRM.

It was never intended that those who wish to kneel and pray be prevented by some required robotic unity of posture.

(I think for us English speakers the translation of "dum" is critical -- "while" rather than "as long as" would have made all the difference, and is the only sensible solution since it is apparent that no communion song need be sung at all. If the chant/song itself is optional, how can it make sense that it absolutely must last any certain length of time -- if the antiphon is read, instead, we do not read it repeatedly until the last person has received.)


"Unity first, good liturgy second."

Confuisng cause and effect -- the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Christian existence. If we commemorate and celebrate to our utmost ability, peace and love and joy and, yes -- unity, will follow.

Bernard Brandt

I would like to thank Ms. Welborn for her cogent thoughts re liturgy.

Concerning her thoughts, I would like to offer some comments from my perspective as an Eastern Catholic.

Many observers of Eastern Orthodox or Catholic liturgies have remarked upon how "beautiful" or how "heavenly" the music is. I must say that they have mistaken the effect for the cause. That music, from the simplest "recto tono" chant of the psalm reader or priest", to the most complex choral settings of Rachmaninoff, is driven by the belief that the Divine Liturgy is the manifestation and presence of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.

I suspect that the problems which came to the Roman Liturgy after Vatican II (and not necessarily because of Vatican II) are because that for many people (and even liturgists) the focus shifted from the Kingdom of God to the so-called "People of God".

If I may offer a suggestion, when we get away from "liturgists" and back to "people who serve the liturgy", and when we get away from a horizontal, self-absorbed focus on ourselves as "People of God" and back to focusing on the Kingdom of Heaven, then we may start to see the reforms which the Council Fathers of the Second Vatican Council intended.

And that, as both Ms. Welborn and our Lord have observed, will only happen with prayer and fasting.

A final note: As regards the use of the name or term, "racist", I am reminded of the words of Jerry Pournelle: "It appears that these days, "racist" means someone who is winning an argument against a liberal." May I suggest that the use of "racist", or other name-calling, is inappropriate for Christians.

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