Liturgy and Music: July 2003 Archives

The Irish Elk wonders about today's archiepiscopal installation Mass:

One wonders what value sign-language interpretation at the front of the church has for any deaf worshipers seated at the back.
Actually, there was a designated section occupied by deaf faithful in the front 2-3 rows. They were right in front of us, the choir. Hm.

So far...

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Nihil Obstat has not seen my glaring typo in this post. Gordon Zaft gets the award for pointing out in the comment boxes.

To which I say: Yee-haw! Everyone loves Angus!

Shopping Around

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Parish shopping is now a favorite pasttime in the AmChurch. In the suburbs, where proximity and Sunday morning traffic lend itself to traveling to another parish, all sorts of folks shop around before settling in and registering at a parish. Here in northern VA we have all kinds of parishes:
McParish - no organ, big piano, Marty Haugen all the time.
St. Schola Cantorum - "Verbum Domini"
Our Lady of K thru 8 - popular with parents of small children that don't want them in public school
St. Gerontius - mostly older folks with light organ music
St. Snugglepuss and Companions - the "When's Vatican III?" parish

You get the idea. And it's not uncommon for someone who lives in St. Schola's boundaries to drive 30 minutes to St. Snugglepuss. Similiarly - someone who could walk to McParish ends up driving downtown to get to St. Schola because they hate guitars.

And in some ways, I can't blame them. Particularly parents who want their kids in a Catholic school should explore those options. There's genuine issues that prevent active, prayerful participation at Mass. But at the same time there's some really bad reasons for not going to a particular parish.

Bad Reasons:
"I don't get a feeling of community at Parish X."
Feelings are for sissies. I'm only slightly kidding. There's a "U" in community and you need to engage people at a parish, pray and perhaps even get involved in some form of ministry. And you need to realize the primary function of a parish is the sacraments. Some people think the Mass is all about friendship and hugs and warmth and that's like being offered a 5 course gourmet dinner and telling the offeror you'd rather have a Happy Meal.

"That pastor/associate is too "
And that something is usually liberal, conservative or unfriendly. Meaning, it drives you nuts that the priest preaches about birth control. Or the priest messes with the text of the eucharist prayers. I have no patience with people who can't take getting preached at about moral issues. I have only a little patience with people that totally come unglued when a priest differs from the rubrics. Granted, I've been to Mass where the priest was all over the place. That's very bad. But are you really going to let Fr. Loosey-Goosey ruin your day? Make you drive to a new parish?

Those are the major bad reasons. Chime in if you have others.

More Whining


From the comment box from my recent post about the antics of visiting priest:

I'm intrigued by the notion that the best way we can show support for the church is to ignore liturgical abuses. Why?

I don't believe this and didn't say it. Here's more detail to clarify.

Overall, I think there's some people that exhibit such anxiety about liturgical abuses and other quirky things that happen at Mass that it borders on sinfulness. I have a friend of mine who says if there's any latin at Mass, it ruins his day. Forget about a Novus Ordo Mass - he gets upset if you chant the Angus Dei. He fumes. He fusses. And it does ruin his day.

The flip side of it is the folks that go nuts when there's any deviation from the norm. These people have dog-eared copies of Mass Confusion at the ready. The appendix of that book is very helpful if you want to tally the score at any given Mass.

So here's point number one: if you are really focused on tallying the score one way or another, you are probably not having effective prayer time, and you are less disposed to receive the grace of the Eucharist. I say "focused" because it's the liturgical gladiators that go to Mass in order to critique it. And anyone who is as involved in the liturgy as I am (in my capacity as a choir director) is in danger of becoming a liturgical gladiator.

The gladiator lives for the fight. Either the GIRM is at the ready, or Environment and Art in Catholic Worship has been committed to memory. Toe to toe, the traditionalist doesn't want hands held during the Our Father and "When's Vatican III?" person gets all upset that a gaggle of ladies from the parish isn't carrying rainbow banners in the procession. This focus makes the liturgy an ocassion of division. I could list many, many things that annoy me at liturgies. That could be fun, but if I'm focused on that at Mass, it's not good prayer time.

I know a music director and liturgist who lives by this rule: don't say anything about the liturgy or the music for a given Mass for at least 30 minutes after. If it's still important to you after that, go ahead and have the discussion. It's a good rule that keeps people from being at each other's throats.

I'm not saying that problems shouldn't be pointed out, discussed, and resolved or it's ok for some parishes to differ from the GIRM. I am saying that the liturgy can be the golden calf of the folks who want to have it their way. The reason I didn't complain too much about the visiting priest was I wasn't willing to walk up to him after Mass and say - "Hey, Father. The GIRM specifically states that the Orans position is reserved for the priest. Teaching small children to do that during the Our Father is ill-advised and something we don't do at this parish." or "Father - we don't even let the extraordinary ministers of the eucharist enter the sanctuary until communion time. So it's odd that you'd have all the children come up for the entire Eucharistic prayer." He's a visiting priest. He'll be gone in a week or so and we'll be back to the norm.

And maybe I should have said something. I was angry but also knew it would be over for us when he gets on a plane to go home. I would have approached the situation in a totally different way had it been a priest that was here to stay (that's why we have monthly Worship Commission and Liturgy Committee meetings.) And at those meetings I need to choose my battles depending on how severe the situation is.

More clear?

Related topic: Parish Shopping. More on that another time.



I'm sure there's enough "liturgical abuse" stories out there to keep the traditionalists up all night with the shakes.

I had decided a few weeks ago to try never to complain about a liturgy because in the grand scheme there's many more things out there that should have our attention and help bring more souls to Christ. Still, I need to vent and get some feedback... Read on if you're interested...

The Cathedral's music director, Leo Abbott, has pulled in about 40 singers from several choirs, including ours, to help with the Archbishop's installation Mass on Wednesday, so I've got the list of music. It runs quite a gamut from the beautiful to the banal. Leo knows how to cover all the bases.

As you might expect on such an occasion, the Mass itself will be multi-culti with readings in Spanish, Portuguese, and English, and supposedly will fit the whole thing within two hours. To achieve that, the procession starts 20 minutes before the scheduled time of the Mass.

Nicely enough, His Excellency popped in during the rehearsal to greet the faithful and thank us for coming.

Now, the list:

Thank you, Cardinal Arinze!

The rules of the 2000 Roman Missal are taking some time to implement correctly, and Rome has had to correct some misinterpretations. For example, clergy in some parishes and dioceses have been troubling Catholics by telling them that they are now to remain standing after receiving Holy Communion. To the relief of the faithful, Cardinal Arinze has confirmed that the rules in the new GIRM are not intended to forbid kneeling or let it be forbidden.

(via Adoremus)

We did.

Like Mark Shea is always saying, we have the shepherds we want.

Let me paint a picture for you. We'll keep it in the attic and the image will age and decay over time while the actual subject of the painting never seems to age. Sound familiar? I'm not talking about Oscar Wild's Dorian Gray or Ted Kennedy's liver, I'm talking about sacred liturgy in this country post-Vatican II.

Dress the Mass up in the faux-glitz of OCP toonz and the sacred becomes mundane. Instead of being comported for communion with Our Lord we are prepared for an encounter with subjective sentimentality, shlock, and shmaltz. It's one thing when people experience the Mass this way because they don't know any better. It's another entirely when the priest approaches the Mass in this way.

I went to Mass yesterday at a parish I don't normally attend. The church was jammed - standing room only with people packed into the narthex. When we got the homily the priest began, "I was a little worried about getting a seat in here the place is so crowded, but I have this nice green chair up here on the altar. I thought it had a slot I could put a quarter in to make a vibrator."

I'm not making this up. I wish I were.

A piece in today's WSJ (subscribers only) looks at the popularity of funerary eulogies and mentions the new regulation in Newark:

Religious leaders are looking for ways to make eulogies more appropriate and to give verbose eulogists the hook. (A minister's consoling hand on a eulogist's shoulder really means, "Enough.") Earlier this year, Roman Catholic Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, N.J., caused a furor by decreeing that eulogies don't belong at a funeral Mass. Too many eulogies are more about "how grandpa was a great pool player," without any mention of religious significance, says the archbishop's spokesman, Jim Goodness.

Archbishop Myers would prefer that "words of remembrance" be given at funeral homes or gravesites, but says priests may consider allowing brief comments before Mass begins. His decree, which went into effect July 1, has already sharply reduced church eulogies among the 1.3 million Catholics in the area. Other dioceses are fine-tuning their own eulogy guidelines.

Understandably, many mourners argue that eulogies are the most meaningful part of a service.

In some funeral services, that may be so, but when the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the setting, the context in which a funeral takes place, Christ speaks -- and has already spoken -- His word about the value of the departed one.

Sometimes the efforts of a eulogist can backfire:

Even noncontroversial eulogies can be problematic. [One funeral director] recalls a funeral in which eulogist after eulogist said glowing things about the man who died, leading an exasperated audience [sic] member to stand up and say, "Let's stop joking. He was a no-good S.O.B.!" The room went silent, and the priest quickly concluded the Requiem Mass.

The Boutique Parish

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Does your parish only seat 150 people?
Does everyone seem to know everyone by name?
Is everyone in approximately the same age group?
Is everything sung as though it's the last selection before Christ returns in glory?
Does the congregation burst into memorized songs during Communion?
Does everyone pal-around before Mass and linger afterwards?
Does just about everyone participate in some form of ministry involving the general operation of the parish?

If you answered yes to more than one of the questions above, you probably attend a Boutique Parish.

A music director I know recently went to a Mass at St. Boutique's. She enthusiastically told me about it: everyone sang the roof off, everyone memorized the words, people were very friendly, it was so inspiring...

The boutique experience is great, but there's a problem:

What? Who?

On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

Richard Chonak

John Schultz

You write, we post
unless you state otherwise.


About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Liturgy and Music category from July 2003.

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