Fr. Neuhaus: more about the Mass at Nationals Stadium

Fellow former Lutheran Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, over at First Things, was an commentator on EWTN during the coverage of Benedict XVI’s visit.

He has more to say about the papal Masses.  Let’s have a look with my emphases and comments.

Benedict and Beauty

By Richard John Neuhaus
Friday, April 25, 2008, 5:38 AM

In my commentary here and in my coverage of the papal visit with Raymond Arroyo on EWTN, I had occasion to make somewhat critical remarks about the way the Mass was celebrated at Nationals Park in Washington. My observation that New York, by way of contrast, did itself proud was quite untouched by my notorious New York chauvinism.

In response to my comments, we received hundreds, if not well over a thousand, emails, letters, and references on the blogosphere. I estimate that they ran about five-to-one in favor of what I had said. Responses by church musicians were overwhelmingly favorable. But those in the minority expressed deep outrage. Some took my remarks as criticism of Pope Benedict. [This is similar to my own experience.]  My point was that the Washington style of celebration flew in the face of much that Benedict has written about liturgy and music. Others complained that my comments insulted the musicians and choirs who were very sincere in doing their thing, no matter what others thought of it. No doubt. But most of those in the minority charged me with elitism and snobbery in trying to impose my musical and liturgical tastes on others.

Where to begin? The matter of taste—or, if you will, aesthetics—enters into it, no doubt. But the problem with the way the liturgy and music was handled is that it focused attention on the gathered people and the performers rather than on what Christ is doing in the Eucharist. [Exactly!  This is also my point in my column this week in The Wanderer.]  It was a display of preening multiculturalism that proclaimed, “Look at us wonderfully diverse people exhibiting our wonderfully diverse talents!” I should add that this was the impression more powerfully conveyed on television, which was what I saw from the broadcast studio. Some people who were in the stadium and participating in the Mass tell me they hardly noticed the sundry musical performances, except as a vague background noise. They were the fortunate ones.  [For sure.]

No doubt there are many parishes where people regularly suffer worse than what was perpetrated at Nationals Park. For the most part it was bad music competently performed. But one expects better, one expects much better, at a papal Mass. Especially when the pope is one who has been so very explicit in his views on liturgical and musical practices.

In the March issue of First Things, Father George Rutler has a devastatingly arch review of Piero Marini’s A Challenging Reform: Realizing the Vision of the Liturgical Renewal. Marini was the Master of Pontificial Liturgical Celebrations until he was relieved of his duties by Pope Benedict.

What Marini calls the “vision of the liturgical renewal” has over the years been strongly criticized by Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict as the invention of the proponents of “the spirit of Vatican II”—a spirit in sharp contrast to what the council actually said. In Sacrosanctum Concilium, the council said:

    That sound tradition may be retained, and yet the way remain open to legitimate progress. Careful investigation is always to be made into each part of the liturgy which is to be revised. This investigation should be theological, historical, and pastoral. . . . Finally, there must be no innovation unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from the forms already existing. (emphasis added)

The difference between the organic and the manufactured has been a theme constantly emphasized by Benedict. The story of how, after the council, Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, ably assisted by Piero Marini (now archbishop), manufactured multiple innovations in accord with their vision of renewal is well known. And, of course, over the past forty-plus years, bishops and priests beyond numbering, taking their cue from the likes of Bugnini and Marini, brought their own “creative resources” to bear on the manufacturing process.

The difference between the organic and the manufactured has everything to do with Benedict’s repeated emphasis on “the hermeneutics of continuity” in the correct interpretation of the council, as distinct from viewing the council as a rupture in the Church’s tradition. The hermeneutics of rupture results in talk about a pre–Vatican II Church and a post–Vatican II Church, as though there are two churches, one before the council and one after.

Nobody seems to know why Pope Paul VI allowed Bugnini to take such liberties with the Church’s worship, or why, in 1976, he “exiled” him to a diplomatic post in Iran, where he died. Without directly criticizing Paul VI, Ratzinger has written that a “pope is not an absolute monarch whose will is law, but is the guardian of the authentic Tradition.” With respect to the liturgy, he has said, “he has the task of a gardener, not that of a technician who builds new machines and throws the old ones on the junk-pile.” In the same context, Ratzinger invokes the “golden words” of the Catechism: “For this reason no sacramental rite may be modified or manipulated at the will of the minister or the community. Even the supreme authority in the Church may not change the liturgy arbitrarily, but only in the obedience of faith and with religious respect for the mystery of the liturgy.”

In his book The Feast of Faith, Ratzinger addresses the question of sacred music in a passage well worth pondering:

    The movement of spiritualization in creation is understood properly as bringing creation into the mode of being of the Holy Spirit and its consequent transformation, exemplified in the crucified and resurrected Christ. In this sense, the taking up of music into the liturgy must be its taking up into the Spirit, a transformation that entails both death and resurrection. That is why the Church has had to be critical of ethnic music; it could not be allowed untransformed into the sanctuary. The cultic music of pagan religions has a different status in human existence from the music which glorifies God in creation. Through rhythm and melody themselves, pagan music often endeavors to elicit an ecstasy of the senses, [A dionysiac experience] but without elevating the sense into the spirit; on the contrary, it attempts to swallow up the spirit in the senses as a means of release. This imbalance toward the senses recurs also in modern popular music: the “God” found here, the salvation of man identified here, is quite different from the God of the Christian faith.

For Benedict, aesthetics is never mere aesthetics.  [This is a good line.  Often Benedict is accused of imposing his personal preferences, his aesthetic view.  What is is doing is far more subtle.] He readily acknowledges his debt to Hans Urs von Balthasar, who has helped many of us to appreciate more fully the ways in which beauty is inseparable from the transcendent realities of the true and the good. I do not wish to be too hard on those who planned the celebration at Nationals Park. It was, sad to say, not unrepresentative of much Catholic worship in our time. The planners and the performers no doubt meant well, but it is worthy of remark that at a papal Mass there was so much that reflected an ignorance of, or defiance of, the very considered views of the pope.

As much as it seemed as if the organizers had not the slightest clue about what Papa Ratzinger has written about music and liturgy over the last decades, I can’t bring myself to believe that at least someone in the whole organizational structure didn’t ever pick up a single one of his books. 

We must continue to discuss the contrast of the Mass at Nationals Stadium with those in New York City for a long time.

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Fr. Neuhaus: more about the Mass at Nationals Stadium

  1. From what I remember, most of the selections at the Mass in Washington that could be deemed appropriate, were done before the Mass started, and before the end. Placido Domingo should have done “Panis Angelicus” for a communion motet, but it was relegated to window dressing, in favor of the more self-absorbed material during the Mass itself. New York, on the other hand, had an almost polar opposite approach to the role of music in the liturgy.

    I think adherents to Catholic tradition should see this as a victory. The Holy Father was gracious in the face of what he witnessed, as any good diplomat should be. But he walked away from the experience with a view of the status quo that all of us have had to endure for years. If he suspected something had to be done, Washington taught him to be certain of it, and New York taught him that the solution is within reach.

    Right now I just feel bad that we were all dumping on poor Mr Arroyo at EWTN. The guy’s just tryin’ to do a job, and his explanation made sense to me.

  2. Exaudi says:

    Father,

    I’ve read Spirit of the Liturgy, and have been very moved by the Holy Father’s explication of the difference between, as you say, Dionysiac worship concerned primarily with an inebriation of the senses, and ‘Platonic’ worship which completes man, lifting both intellect and will to God in a ‘sober inebriation.’

    Forgive my simplicity, but can you elaborate more on what he means when he talks about Platonic worship? Is it simply that which compels also an intellectual movement in man, as opposed to simply an emotional one, and what does that involve if that is the case?

  3. TNCath says:

    I never understand why the music at these Masses have to be so “over the top” and complicated. Why not use the Gregorian melodies for the Mass parts (such as Mass VIII which many people know), put in some motets and solid hymns that people know and can sing as they did at St. Patrick’s and in Yankee Stadium, and be done with it. Also, the only instrument necessary for these Masses is the organ. A full orchestra seems ostentatious, loud, and a bit overbearing. If the organ alone is good enough for the Holy Father at St. Peter’s, why isn’t it good enough in Washington and New York? Finally, the solos by Placido Domingo and others also enhanced the “peformance mentality” of these Masses.

  4. Thomas S. says:

    In response to Fr. Neuhaus, I had a very good seat at the DC Papal Mass and must say that the music was not just vague background noise despite my best efforts to make it so. The mass was visually exceptional and was, for the most part, in keeping with the Holy Father’s reforms. I was unable ignore the music due to its sharp opposition to the visual aspects of the liturgy. What I remember most was the Holy Father incensing the altar accompanied by some sort of mystic pagan flute ensemble. I felt as if the music was urging me to worship “Mother Earth” while the Vicar of Christ was preparing to consecrate the bread and wine. This contrast certainly had to be confusing to many people in attendance. I applaud those gifted enough to tune the music out.

  5. Janice says:

    Too bad Fr. Neuhaus’ concerns about beauty didn’t extend to his nasty, spiteful comments about everything else during the Holy Father’s visit.

  6. Woody Jones says:

    Although I taped the Mass at Nationals Stadium, after reading the descriptions of it here I decided not to watch it as it might be harmful to my health (I might blow a gasket). It sounds like so many of the liturgies that we faithful have had to endure — self-worshipping ceremonies with a consecration. Why this does not qualify as tempting God, and thus the sin of irreligion, is beyond me — I personally think that it does. It is very encouraging, though, to see the frank discussion of this matter in this forum and I commend Fr. Z. for doing so.

    With respect to Bugnini, I will refrain from repeating the more scandalous suggestions that have been advanced over the years, but would just recall that I once read the transcript of an interview given on Radio Courtoisie by Jean Guitton, one of Pope Paul’s greatest friends, who said that Pope Paul thought that by promulgating the Novus Ordo he would encourage greater ecumenical closeness between Catholics and Protestants. The most amusing part followed as the French Lutheran pastor on the show then interjected: but I do not understand, we still celebrate the mass facing East, after all.

  7. Thomas S. says:

    Janice:

    I couldn’t disagree more. Fr. Neuhaus spoke with refreshing candor and clarity during the broadcasts of papal events. He commented eloquently on the truly great aspects while frankly addressing the negative. It was a nice balance between the overly cynical secular media and the propagandists of the American bishops. If you happen to be referring to the chatter and bickering between him and Arroyo, I found this to be simply endearing sarcasm and humor. I can see why some may not appreciate it . . . but certainly not “nasty” or “spiteful.”

  8. Shane says:

    Perhaps my question is related To Exaudi’s.

    I am all but entirely on board with the general sentiments about music that Fr. Z expresses on this blog. However, I cannot entirely explain why in a rational way. Let me explain.

    Music in the Mass – as well as everything else – ought to be God-centered. That’s the point. I think that there is a certain degree of focus on the congregation insofar as that the rites of the Liturgy must be comprehensible to them. This is one of the reasons that we have different rites. In other words, it may not make sense for the Liturgy to include genuflecting in a culture where genuflecting is an imprecatory symbol (were one to exist). Perhaps I’m not explaining what I am trying to say very well, but essentially I am just trying to state the things that the Church (e.g., Vatican II, Pius XII) has said about the value and proper execution of bringing the culture of a people into the Liturgy, as opposed to the improper inculturation of making the Mass a celebration of the culture.

    In other words, whatever happens at Mass must be firstly for the sake of the worship of God and then secondarily for the sake of sanctifying and aiding the worship of the people in attendance. The thing is that over the centuries, different styles of music have come to be used in the Mass, much of it which would be considered by Fr. Z, the general readership of this blog, and Pope Benedict as appropriate. Some of it has even included elements of inculturation. Now there must be some reason for these new forms of music being acceptable as opposed to other new forms of music not being so.

    Yet it can’t simply be about God. God doesn’t need music, and He certainly doesn’t have an aesthetic taste for music. He doesn’t per se enjoy Gregorian Chant any more than the St. Louis Jesuits. Jesus might have aesthetic tastes, but that’s a whole other issue and we don’t really have a way to discover what those would be anyways. The point I am making is that the music in the Mass is for the glory of God. It’s not supposed to be a celebration of the people, the culture, or anything else. However, it ultimately is for the congregation insofar as that God doesn’t have a taste. Really, what the music is for is in for the people, but in some way that it actually is for the glory of God as opposed to being for the people.

    I hope that somebody can understand what I am trying to get at here, and will be able to briefly explain exactly how this all works. Why is Mozart better than Haugen (objectively speaking; subjectively, I enjoy the former and find the latter to be banal) for the worship of God when God really doesn’t have an aesthetic preference? How is the music for the sake of God, rather than the congregation (vertical rather than horizontal) when God neither needs music nor has an aesthetic taste, whereas the people are the ones who do?

  9. Saturday afternoon at 5 PM Eastern, “Catholic Radio 2.0!”, my weekly program on BlogTalkRadio, will take up these very issues. Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J. will join me for the first half-hour to clarify what the Council actually said, how those words have been misinterpreted, and the positive steps now being taken toward true reform. In the second half-hour, two liturgists, Jeffrey Tucker from Sacred Music magazine and The New Liturgical Movement blog and Todd Flowerday from the blog Catholic Sensibility, will each present his choices of music for the Ordinary Form of Mass for the Sixth Sunday of Easter. Given their differing approaches, this should be a unique panel.

    You can listen to the live stream or download an archived copy by going to http://www.blogtalkradio.com/CommanderCraig. Please join us!

  10. Janice: his nasty, spiteful comments about everything else during the Holy Father’s visit

    Piffle.

    I had an entirely different impression. There was nothing nasty or spiteful about his comments, in my opinion.

  11. magdalen says:

    I laughed out loud at Fr.’s comments and thought, thank God someone is
    saying these things.

    I cannot find words to say how tired I am of the celebration of our
    multicultural diverse community nonsense. To see the Holy Father
    imprisoned in it was sad to me and I could not watch again for a time fearing
    more of the same.

    Save the Liturgy, Save the World!

    May we please have our Mass back everywhere!

  12. mike c says:

    TNCath wonders why music, I can’t call it sacred, at these “extravaganzas” is “over the top.” It is because professional musicians who know nothing about liturgy are in charge. Forty years ago, there was the St. Pius X School of music in NY, which taught which sacred music pieces and Mass settings could be used. The rules then were rather rigorous. (Mozart’s Coronation Mass is a beautiful musical work, but not suitable as a Mass setting because of all the repetitive stanzas, which cause the celebrant to take a break in the liturgical action)
    The bottom line: artistic conceit.

  13. mike c says:

    Shane is correct in his second & third paragraphs. Then, he goes off track by stating:”…it can’t simply be about God…” No? The purpose of the Mass is to adore God, to thank Him for what we receive from His bounty, to appease His justice and to seek grace and mercy for ourselves and others. I think you could say the Mass is God-oriented.
    But what can we mere mortals offer GOD, short of our lives. How about our talents? St. Augustine stated: “He who chants the Mass prays twice.”
    Sacred music is not supposed to glorify the culture, for then it is profane. Symphony orchestras were frowned on by Pope St. Piu X. Even the electric organ was banned for years, derisively called “the Hammond.”
    God does not need music, but as an offering to Him it must be pleasing. It is probably doubly pleasing when the music is subordinate to the liturgy, as it should be – no ego or artistic conceit. Sorry but I was against the symphonic Masses staged by the late Msgr. Shuler for that reason.
    There are, including the Requiem, 19 Chant Mass settings. More than enough for the liturgical year. Polyphonic Masses can be employed, if and only if, they do not cause a break in the sacerdotal action of the celebrant. I am painfully reminded of an incident at St. Jean Baptiste in NYC, some years ago, when the NYT advertised a performance of the Coronation Mass. It was actually a sung NO Mass celebrated by Cdl Schönborn. He stood for 5 minutes, doing nothing just before the epiclesis. (That’s an example of the break to which I refer.)What had been a crowded church suddenly became emptier when the cheapskates realized that this was a Catholic liturgy.
    There has been friction between liturgists and musicians for 2 centuries. Obviously, the liturgical position should trump any performance oriented art. The current modus operandi seems to be if it’s maUdlin or emotional – it’s in. HUMBUG!

  14. J.D. Aquila says:

    Good piece by Neuhaus. I attended the Mass at Nationals Park and I agree with the assessment that to us in attendence the music, minus Panis Angelicus, was merely a background. Thankfully, I couldn’t even tell where the choir was coming from. To the choir’s credit they did sing “Tu es Petrus” when Benedict arrived, but it was hardly a commendable performance.

  15. JohnB says:

    Personally I am glad Fr. Neuhaus spoke his mind regarding the Mass at Nationals Park, I could not agree more. More importantly Fr. Neuhaus reiterated the Holy Fathers teachings and writings on liturgy.

    I live in the Archdiocese of Washington and recently read a review of the Mass at Nationals Park in the diocesan newspaper the Catholic Standard. The review was written by a priest who previously penned a negative analysis of the TLM “The Tridentine Mass down the road”. His main theme in his review of the Mass at Nationals Park was “That was Catholic”. Not surprising that someone with an aversion to the TLM would praise the music that day at Nationals Park.

    At least they got it right in New York.

  16. Shane says:

    mike c

    I appreciate your response. I also am dissapointed by it, in part. It reads as though you read my post, then stopped reading the instant you saw something you disagreed with. Please understand, I am not accusing you, either of this, or of the mindset or attitude which would cause one to dod such a thing. Rather, I am trying to express the fact that my statement “it can’t simply be about God” was explained in the rest of the paragraph following the statement; it was part of a question.

    In other words, I agree that the Mass is supposed to be entirely about God. However, I also understand that God has no aesthetic taste. So there is a chasm in my thinking that I am trying to get some help in bridging. The Mass is all about God, and certain music is right or wrong for the Mass because of this, but God really doesn’t need music, nor does He “enjoy” one type over another. What is appropriate music for Mass in some way has to do with the relationship of the congregation to the music – for they are the only ones for whom the sound of the music actually makes a difference – yet it simeltaneously is all about God. I am seeking to discover the solution to this paradox.

  17. Le Renard says:

    Others complained that my comments insulted the musicians and choirs who were very sincere in doing their thing, no matter what others thought of it.

    What? And the Pope and God Himself wasn’t insulted by the horrendous music?

    No doubt. But most of those in the minority charged me with elitism and snobbery in trying to impose my musical and liturgical tastes on others.

    What about the terrible musical and liturgical tastes being imposed on the Catholic Faithful every Sunday by Rock-n-Roll Style “Worship” music?

    This just all the more proves the fact that authentic Catholicism in America is an endangered species!

  18. Comments made by the Holy Father yesterday

    The Pope then went on to refer to “the spiritual value of the art of music which, in a special way, is called to infuse hope into the human soul, marked and sometimes injured by its earthly condition. There is a profound and mysterious relationship between music and hope, between song and eternal life”, he said. “It is no coincidence that Christian tradition shows the spirits of the blessed as they sing in chorus, captivated and enraptured by the beauty of God. But true art, like prayer, is not foreign to everyday reality, rather it calls us to ‘irrigate’ that reality, to make it sprout that it may bring forth fruits of goodness and peace.
    http://212.77.1.245/news_services/press/vis/dinamiche/a0_en.htm

  19. Jordanes says:

    I loved Father Neuhaus’ frank and honest commentary. He’s never been one to mince words, and the things he said really needed to be said.

  20. RBrown says:

    In other words, whatever happens at Mass must be firstly for the sake of the worship of God and then secondarily for the sake of sanctifying and aiding the worship of the people in attendance. The thing is that over the centuries, different styles of music have come to be used in the Mass, much of it which would be considered by Fr. Z, the general readership of this blog, and Pope Benedict as appropriate. Some of it has even included elements of inculturation. Now there must be some reason for these new forms of music being acceptable as opposed to other new forms of music not being so. Yet it can’t simply be about God. God doesn’t need music,

    God also doesn’t need the Eucharist to be celebrated.

    and He certainly doesn’t have an aesthetic taste for music. He doesn’t per se enjoy Gregorian Chant any more than the St. Louis Jesuits. Jesus might have aesthetic tastes, but that’s a whole other issue and we don’t really have a way to discover what those would be anyways. The point I am making is that the music in the Mass is for the glory of God. It’s not supposed to be a celebration of the people, the culture, or anything else. However, it ultimately is for the congregation insofar as that God doesn’t have a taste. Really, what the music is for is in for the people, but in some way that it actually is for the glory of God as opposed to being for the people.

    I hope that somebody can understand what I am trying to get at here, and will be able to briefly explain exactly how this all works. Why is Mozart better than Haugen (objectively speaking; subjectively, I enjoy the former and find the latter to be banal) for the worship of God when God really doesn’t have an aesthetic preference? How is the music for the sake of God, rather than the congregation (vertical rather than horizontal) when God neither needs music nor has an aesthetic taste, whereas the people are the ones who do?
    Comment by Shane

    I understand what you are saying, and I think that you are wrong.

    The problem is that you are trying to reduce aesthetic judgment to subjective preference. There are objective factors involved, among which is:

    Appropriateness–Dulles Airport might be a beautiful building, but that doesn’t make it appropriate architecture for a church. I don’t think Sousa marches are appropriate for mass–or worship in general. Likewise, Gregorian chant is not used during football games.

    IMHO, the present battle is happening because many years ago devotional music (so called because its prime intent is to arouse devotion in the listener) began to used as liturgical music (music that is appropriate to the words and actions of the liturgy). In many cases hymns, some more refined that others, actually replaced the liturgy, i.e., Introit, Communion, Offertory, etc.

    Once that changed, then subjective preference become the un-norm.

    And so to respond to your comment about Mozart and Hauken, I question whether either is appropriate for mass.

    I could give other examples: Bach’s Art of Fugue, esp transcribed for Chamber orchestra, and Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez are both extraordinary works–but I don’t want either at mass.

  21. I have a simple saying: Society teaches us how to worship ourselves, Church shouldn’t remind us of it.

    Fr. Neuhaus said what he thought, I can’t ask for anything more.

  22. Lee says:

    The USCCB blog was absolutely unreceptive to any criticism of the Mass in Washington. They didn’t have a notice, “Positive comments only please!”, but they may as well have.

    But this is exactly the same sort of attitude that got us into the sexual abuse crisis. I think it may have been Fulton Sheen who congratulated a new bishop in these terms, “Congratulations your excellency. You will never have a bad meal or hear the truth again!” Obviously this is an occupational hazard, but it seems very unwise to make it policy.

  23. Gerard says:

    I almost always enjoy Fr. Neuhaus’ commentary. I was hoping he would keep going since I think he was being too delicate in his complaints about the musical abuses at Nationals.

    EWTN should invite John Vennari, Michael Matt, Fr. Paul Trinchard or Bishop Williamson to give color commentary.

    Those who complain about Fr. Neuhaus would be begging him to come back and love his diplomatic way of expressing himself.

  24. Shane says:

    RBrown,

    I am not reducing aesthetics to subjectivism. I think that there is a subjective component to an aesthetic, but I also think that there is something very objective about it.

    The Liturgy is for the worship of God, so it would seem that whatever music is used is that which gives the greatest worship to God. What then makes Mozart’s Requiem better at giving worship to God than “City of God?” I accept that there’s a difference, and I can even recognize it in the experience of listening to it, but I can’t come up with any rational reason why this is so.

    The question I am asking is, what makes one piece of music appropriate for the Liturgy, and another inappropriate?

    You said that appropriateness makes the difference. My entire question is what makes one thing appropriate and another not. If it is entirely about God, then how does one judge what is most appropriate for the worship of God, not being God ourselves? We know what is appropriate for our dealings with God because He has told us so, but He hasn’t told us this with regards to music – at least He did not in the first place. Today we can quote from Church documents pointing to Gregorian chant and polyphony, but when Gregorian chant first came into being, God hadn’t spoken through the Church on the matter. So, what about Gregorian chant made it appropriate in the first place as opposed to other things?

    In other words, anyone can look at a Church document that says X and so know that X is true. The matter of why it is true is another one, one which is important as well. So knowing what is best for the worship of God, the quesion is why?

  25. Tom says:

    Father Neuhaus wrote: “As much as it seemed as if the organizers had not the slightest clue about what Papa Ratzinger has written about music and liturgy over the last decades, I can’t bring myself to believe that at least someone in the whole organizational structure didn’t ever pick up a single one of his books.”

    Monsignor Guido Marini is, I believe, familiar with Pope Benedict XVI’s statements regarding music and liturgy.

    Monsignor Marini expressed his pleasure with the music that had been prepared for the U.S. Papal Masses.

    Monsignor Marini declared: “I really like this variety of styles that has been prepared for the celebrations.”

    Regardless of what we believe about the Mass in question, the Holy Father and Monsignor Marini knew what to expect when they arrived in the United States.

    I can only conclude that they did not find the Nationals Stadium Mass offensive.

  26. Jordanes says:

    Tom said: I can only conclude that they did not find the Nationals Stadium Mass offensive.

    That’s one possible interpretation. Another possibility, which Father Zuhlsdorf mentioned to you the last time you made this identical point just a few days ago, is that they are gentlemen.

  27. CPKS says:

    To be appropriate for the Mass, whether it be a grand papal Mass or a small parish affair, I think the following considerations are paramount:

    1) Did the composer intend anything irrelevant or contrary to the celebration?
    2) Will the music hinder the audience/congregation in forming the appropriate attitude?

    Consideration (1) rules out works with a secular theme (e.g. a hymn of praise for the opening of an abortion clinic), but also sacred works with an inappropriate theme (e.g. lenten music during the Easter period).

    Consideration (2) could rule out the use, for example, of an Irish folk melody well known in Portugal as the tune of a pious modern hymn, but better known in Britain as a lament for a deceased prostitute. It also rules out a great deal of really splendid sacred art, simply because people are just not used to it and react to it with hostility. I am particularly mindful here of the music of Messiaen, perhaps one of the most thoroughly Catholic composers in history, whose music is suffused with theological symbolism and grounded in theological meditation, but which would probably strike a great many people as just a horrible noise, or else as some clever bastard trying to show off how clever he is. Finally, it also rules out conspicuously rotten art, because its very tawdriness makes it unworthy of the liturgical context. Obviously, these are none of them absolute considerations; a congregation of Portuguese philistines could be considerably uplifted by a bad Irish folksong of murky origins, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    All great art is prophecy, and provided it is not, by artist’s intention or public perception, associated with an inappropriate subject matter, then it could serve a liturgical purpose. But in a liturgical context, it is clearly the meaning and purpose of the liturgy that is paramount, and great art, irrespective of whether and how magnificently it glorifies God, is not appropriate to the liturgy if it provides a stumbling block to the participants in that liturgy.

  28. Jack says:

    Shane,

    I think the key uderstanding is that music is not merely an ornament. You might think of music at Mass in the same way as, say, flowers for the altar. After all, both are supposed to be beautiful, and advance the glory of God. Further, for both, the idea of beauty is relative. After all, who’s to say what the better altar flowers are, tulips or lillies? In the same way, so long as music is chosen for the glory of God, who’s to say what’s superior?

    But then history shows us the problem with that thinking. Music is not merely an external. The earlies Christian communities made their prayers into chants to help them pray. For the first millenium there was no distinction between music and prayer. They’re the same thing. And since they’re the same thing, they must reflect one another. No one would want to take the lyrics to rap or rock songs and speak them during the Mass. Why then think that it is ok to include similar melodies?

  29. mike c says:

    Gregorian chant not appropriate for football games? Not so, Requiem in aeternam would have been most appropriate for the Boston Patriots.

    The Church is fortunate that it has a great body of liturgical law concerning sacred music. It removes from discussion Joe SixPack’s subjective tastes. I urge anyone interested to acquire a copy of: Papal Legislation on Sacred Music (95A.D. to 1977A.D.) by Msgr. Rob’r Hayburn. It’s out of print you can get it on EBay or from Loome (3 mo. wait).

    As for the music employed during the recent Popapaloozas, I guess it’s in keeping with the orientation of the NO, i.e., “entertain ‘em.” TrueMass on the other hand is the organic progression of liturgy through the centuries. No Marty Haugen back then, T.G.

    The point I am making, which Shane did not grasp, is that I agree that God doesn’t need music to be satisfied. Music is employed so that we mere mortals can offer our talents to God in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, not in Sr. SlackButt’s communal meal.

  30. I can’t say I’m a huge Neuhaus fan myself. Cacciaguida likes him, and was very annoyed at me about it several years ago. A columnist in the Wanderer had observed that Fr. Neuhaus “gave a whole new meaning to the term ‘extreme unction’.” For about a week, every time Cacciaguida saw me suddenly split myself laughing and asked me what was funny, I’d squeal, “Extreme unction!” and lose it all over again. He was pretty exasperated by the time it wore off.

  31. Jayna says:

    The coverage on the papal visit was the first time I really tuned in to EWTN for an extended period of time. In doing so, it was also my first exposure to Fr. Neuhaus’ particular brand of commentary. I have to say I was well pleased with his take on events and agreed more than a few times with the critiques he offered of the Washington mass.

    I myself suffer week in and week out from the lack of truly traditional, truly Catholic worship. (Though I will say that my church conducted a parish survey this weekend and I clearly let my feelings be known on the matter.) It’s almost as if the American Church has severed itself from the Church as a whole, and although there are certain historical reasons for this, it is no excuse for segregating oneself from what is supposed to be a unified and single voice. It is as if our bishops, our priests, our parish leaders have not heard the Holy Father’s call to cultivate an authentic and unified Catholic identity. It does not do to celebrate our differences with multicultural or isolated local displays within the liturgy (I find this to be especially true in my parish where the English-speaking and Spanish-speaking communities exist almost entirely independent of each other). Rather, we should be celebrating our shared Catholic identity through liturgy that is oriented towards the divine, instead of ourselves, and one that is a true representation of the Church’s teachings on the matter.

    Well, that was a little long-winded, but I’ve been holding that in since this morning when I had to suffer through one of our priests dancing (well, maybe not dancing per se, but doing a little more than toe tapping) and singing along with the choir’s gospel/revival selection while the gifts were brought forward for the Eucharist.