Archd. of Canberra and Goulburn: Pastoral Letter on Liturgy

I was alerted by Australia Incognita to an interesting pastoral letter for Pentecost issued by Archbishop Mark Coleridge of the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn in Australia.  The letter concerns liturgical practice.

Find it here.

Let’s have a look at part of it with my emphases and comments.

PREPARING THE FEAST

A Pentecost Letter on the Liturgy
To the People of God
of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn

In the splendid words of the Catechism, the Holy Spirit is “the artisan of ‘God’s masterpieces’, the sacraments of the New Covenant” (CCC, 1091); and at this time of Pentecost I want to speak to you of the sacred liturgy in which “God’s masterpieces” are celebrated. In doing so, I am conscious of my role in the Archdiocese as the moderator of worship, charged with the duty of sanctifying the People of God, especially in the sacred liturgy.

A NEW PHASE

Pentecost Sunday was the day chosen by the Australian Bishops to implement the new General Instruction of the Roman Missal, albeit in a provisional translation to be replaced by a final version once the new translation of the Roman Missal appears, perhaps late in 2009. For a copy of the new translation, go to www.acbc.catholic.org.au/documents/200707031933.pdf. I would especially ask the clergy to read the Instruction as a whole.

The General Instruction sets out how Mass is to be celebrated in the Roman Rite, [Obviously, this is the Novus Ordo we are reading about.] and the new version has been drawn up in the light of forty years of experience of Mass celebrated according to the Missal of Paul VI. The changes it introduces are not great. For the celebrant there are a number of changes, but for the people there are just two:

The congregation stands immediately after the celebrant has said “Pray, brothers and sisters, that our sacrifice will be pleasing and acceptable to God, the almighty Father” and before praying “May the Lord accept this sacrifice…”.

Before receiving Holy Communion, communicants bow to the One they are about to receive. Bowing is the preferred gesture, but those who are accustomed to genuflect before receiving or to kneel to receive will be free to follow their custom.  [Excellent.  He doesn’t try to squelch freedom.]

At www.acbc.catholic.org.au/documents/200804151396.pdf you can find a brochure outlining and explaining these changes. 

The new version of General Instruction is one of a number of indications that the Church is moving into a new phase of the ongoing journey of liturgical renewal, the roots of which reach back to the Second Vatican Council and beyond. In earlier times, it seemed that the process of liturgical renewal begun by the Council was complete. But that is not the case. The journey of liturgical renewal, we can now see, is only in its early phases, and the appearance of the General Instruction is one indication of this. Other still more important indications will be the appearance in the not too distant future of the new translation of the Roman Missal and the new translation of the Lectionary. Now is the time, the Spirit is saying to the Church, to take stock of the liturgical renewal of the last forty years, to discern as clearly as possible what has succeeded and what has failed, and to make adjustments in the light of that discernment.

This means that all of us will have to be open to learn, and that is not always easy. Over recent decades, liturgical habits have taken hold, some of which have been beneficial, others detrimental to the celebration of the liturgy. It is never easy to break the hold of bad habits, especially when we do not see them as bad. Openness to learn always involves humility, a preparedness to recognise that I do not know all the answers. In the case of the liturgy, that humility involves a preparedness to learn from the Church, to whom alone the liturgy belongs; and in the new General Instruction and the new translations of the Missal and Lectionary, it is the voice of the whole Church, the Bride of Christ, that we hear.

THE BIG PICTURE

Against that background, let me make some general observations.

Silence

 

 

Our worship generally has become very chatty, [It is a problem, I think, in the Novus Ordo itself, that it lends itself to chattiness.] to the point where one of the challenges now is to allow silence to play its part in the liturgy. This might begin with our places of worship. Where once our churches were places of silence for the sake of prayer in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, the custom has arisen in more recent years for people to talk freely in the churches, certainly before and after Mass. The same is true of the sacristy: where once silence was the rule (again for the sake of prayer and recollection) often now the sacristy has become a noisy and distracting place. Once was too that the priest was expected to pray the prescribed prayers as he vested for Mass, [YES!!] and this was one factor which contributed to an air of silence in the sacristy. I wonder would it be possible to encourage an air of silence or at least quiet in sacristies before Mass, and to make our churches places where there is a silence which supports prayer. Of course there are times when one has to talk in a sacristy or a church, but it is a question of the prevailing atmosphere. In that sense, I am speaking more about prayer than about silence for its own sake.

Then there is the question of the place of silence within the Mass itself. The Roman Rite presupposes seven silences:
1) before the Act of Penitence
2) before the Collect (after the celebrant’s call to prayer)
3) after the First Reading and before the Psalm,
4) after the Second Reading and before the Gospel Acclamation
5) after the Homily
6) during the Intercessions (after the intention is announced and before “Lord, hear us”)
7) after Holy Communion

Some of these either disappear or are reduced to a bare minimum with the result that the liturgy can have a noisy and unreflective feel to it. This is often what people are referring to when they speak about a loss of the sense of the sacred in the Mass – a weakened sense of the presence of God and the deeper resonances of the liturgical words and actions that comes with silence. In this new phase of the liturgical renewal, I think we need to work hard at creating a greater sense of silence as that from which the words and actions rise and that to which they return.

Language

The style of language used at Mass will change when the new translation of the Roman Missal appears, perhaps late in 2009. [I certainly hope it will be before that!] It will be a more elevated and sacral idiom, which may feel strange at first. But it is important to realise that the language of the liturgy was never everyday language; it was always more elevated and even slightly old-fashioned.  [That is exactly right.  Even the Latin used when the language shifted from Greek to Latin in Rome was not the Latin of the common people.  It was an elevated style.  Some make the claim, falsely, that the language of liturgy ought to be in the language of the people as it is spoken.  Not so!] That is because it is ritual language. For the celebrant to say at the start of Mass, “Good morning, everyone” and for the people to reply “Good morning, Father” is everyday language which in other contexts would be perfectly appropriate. But in the liturgical context it is out of place because it misunderstands ritual and the language that it requires. It can suggest a casual or informal approach to the liturgy which focuses more on the priest and the people than on their common worship of God. Therefore, in this new phase of renewal, another thing we need to understand better is the kind of idiom appropriate for worship.

When the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council approved the use of the vernacular languages in the liturgy, they had no idea of what was on the way. They imagined that some parts [Right!] of the liturgy would move into English (in our case), but that Latin would remain in general the language of worship[YES!] It was up to Bishops’ Conferences to ask the Holy See for permission to use the vernacular at certain points of the liturgy.  [This is what the likes of Annibale Bugnini (NB: Archbp. Piero Marini worked for him, and some people say still works for him) fought to hard against.  For Bugnini the liturgical reforms were also all about shifting the power to regional conferences so that they, not the Holy See, could approve the translations!] What happened then was that Bishops’ Conferences generally and spontaneously asked for the entire liturgy to move into the vernacular and the permission for this was given. That is why it seemed that the Church went from Latin to English overnight. Some in the Church have continued to worship in Latin – as is their right – but most are happy to have moved into English. At the same time, it does not have to be a stark choice of one or the other. In the Cathedral at least I have asked that some elements of the Greek and Latin of earlier times be retained in the Mass, even if English remains by and large the language of worship. This means that the Kyrie is sung at times in Greek, and the Common of the Mass, the Gloria and the Creed are sung at times in Latin. Similarly some of the great hymns of the Gregorian repertoire – especially the Marian anthems – are sung at times. It would be a pity if such a heritage were wholly lost to us. It is perhaps more difficult for parishes than for the Cathedral which has greater resources. But some modest use of the ancient languages of worship can be enriching.  [I would say some bold use of ancient languages could be even more helpful in reestablishing the attitudes Bp. Coleridge is wisely promoting.]

Music

Music is another vital element of worship that needs to be revisited as we set out on this new phase of the journey. It is not just a question of having good music, but of having good music which serves prayer and which, in that sense, is not an adornment of the liturgy but integral to it[Precisely.  Music is not an "add on".  It is not meerely "functional" or "utilitarian".  True sacred music is itself prayer.  Listening to it is an active participation in prayer.  Thus, good sacred music is an "integrating" part of liturgy, pars integrans.] The music of the liturgy needs to rise from the silence of prayer and create a still deeper sense of that silence. Of course, it has the function of creating a sense of unity as one voice is made of many voices. But it also needs to be music that opens on to the mystery of God, which is what I mean when I speak of serving prayer. Some of the songs used in worship tend to replace or disrupt any sense of silence; they add to the sense that the liturgy is “noisy”.

Some of the texts used are also decidedly feeble and even at times questionable theologically. [Excellent!]  Historically, the Roman Rite used only the Psalms in the Eucharistic liturgy: hence the Entrance and Communion Antiphons which were sung with the Psalms and accompanied the Entrance and Communion Processions. It is not a matter of saying now that only the Psalms are acceptable; but they do have a privileged place in the musical repertoire of the Roman Rite. I might add that the Holy See has asked Bishops’ Conferences around the world to draw up a list of music approved for use in worship. This is part of a pruning process of the repertoire that has built up over the last forty years, and it is already taking place in Australia.

The music chosen for worship should be appropriate to the liturgical season and to the part of the Mass when it is sung. This may seem obvious, but it is not uncommon for choices of music to fail on one or both counts. It is worth recalling too that singing or music should not be prolonged unnecessarily. In the Roman Rite, singing or music tends to accompany action rather than stand in its own right. Therefore, the music or singing should stop once the action is complete.

The Body

Another important consideration at this time is the use of the body in worship. Here again it is important to remember that the actions of the liturgy are ritual actions and to see the prescribed gestures of the liturgy as a kind of sacred choreography. This includes a range of gestures: genuflection, the sign of the Cross, bowing (during the Creed and before Holy Communion), kneeling, the use of the hands by the celebrant (to greet the people, to pray, to bless the gifts and the people). It is important that all of these are done simply, carefully and well, with neither over-statement nor under-statement.

Ritual means on the one hand that we worship not just in spirit but in body; it means on the other hand that we avoid theatricality. Theatricality can be a problem with liturgical movement or dance, especially at school liturgies. It can become a kind of concert, which is why at times people applaud at the end. That is clearly not what the liturgy requires. Liturgical movement – whether done before or during the liturgy – needs to serve prayer; it needs to lead people more deeply into the mystery of God. If it does that, it can have a place in the liturgy, but if it does not then it would be better left to a concert.

Beauty

Pope Benedict has stressed the point that beauty has a unique power to speak of the mysteries of the faith, and to speak to those who may not share our faith. That is why the Catholic Church has always been concerned with beauty in worship – not for the sake of a vapid aestheticism but for the sake of the Gospel. Imperfect created beauty makes visible the perfect uncreated beauty of God which is revealed supremely in Christ crucified and risen. Therefore, the buildings in which we worship should be beautiful, which is not to say highly elaborate or impossibly expensive. The great churches of the Franciscan tradition, for instance, have about them a striking simplicity, but they are also strikingly beautiful. Some of the older churches in the Archdiocese are beautiful and need only to be respected for what they are. Many of the newer churches are less evocative, and it is worth asking perhaps how they might be made more beautiful without spending a fortune.

Not only our churches but also the vestments and vessels used in the liturgy need to be of first-class quality. I would ask that parishes have an audit of the vestments and vessels currently in use to see whether they are worthy of the sacred mysteries. I would also offer a reminder that chalices and patens should not be of glass or pottery but of metal. Vestments and vessels of quality are of course an item on a parish budget, but they should be an item close to the top of the list. To claim that a parish could not afford anything better is to raise questions about priorities[Thus exploding the arguments of the minimalist progressivists.]

Creativity

A final more general consideration concerns creativity in the liturgy. At times, there is the impression that creativity means that we have a freedom to change and adapt the liturgy as we see fit. But this is not the Church’s understanding. Creativity in Catholic worship means that we do as well as possible what the Church sets down in the liturgical books. People coming to Mass have a right to a celebration of the liturgy according to the norms set down by the Church[Hear!  Hear!] anything else can be unsettling and distracting. Without changing anything, we are to bring as much prayer, intelligence, imagination and sensitivity as we can to the act of worship. Creativity concerns the quality of our participation, not an adaptation of the ritual in an attempt to improve it or to make it more relevant.

To speak of participation is to raise the question of what the Council meant when it stressed the need for “full, conscious and active” participation in the liturgy. At times, this is taken to mean that everyone has to do everything all the time. But this is not the Church’s understanding. The Roman Rite presumes that everyone has his or her particular role in the liturgy and that participation means that each performs his or her own role as well as possible. To listen in silence to the Readings is certainly “active” participation, as are all the great silences that are built into the liturgy. To speak of “conscious” participation does not mean that every word, gesture and action needs to be immediately and easily accessible to all, since much of the symbolism of the liturgy moves at a more than conscious level. Creativity in the liturgy respects the different levels at which the language, actions and symbols move and the way in which they gather up the whole human person.

….

 

At this point Archbishop Coleridge moves into the norms.  You can read that part yourselves. 

WDTPRS gives high kudos to Archbp. Coleridge!

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35 Responses to Archd. of Canberra and Goulburn: Pastoral Letter on Liturgy

  1. Liam says:

    The chart of translation duties for the Roman Missal currently has the translation and approval process going well into 2010, IIRC.

  2. Al says:

    That chart was produced by the US Bishops; many suspect it was intended as a stalling tactic.

    I suspect the translation will be here before the chart says it will. It’s important that it arrives during Benedict’s pontificate.

  3. Cheers for Abp. Coleridge!

  4. “This means that all of us will have to be open to learn, and that is not always easy. Over recent decades, liturgical habits have taken hold, some of which have been beneficial, others detrimental to the celebration of the liturgy. It is never easy to break the hold of bad habits, especially when we do not see them as bad. Openness to learn always involves humility, a preparedness to recognise that I do not know all the answers. In the case of the liturgy, that humility involves a preparedness to learn from the Church, to whom alone the liturgy belongs; and in the new General Instruction and the new translations of the Missal and Lectionary, it is the voice of the whole Church, the Bride of Christ, that we hear.”

    It is great to hear a bishop say this. Every time I read something in the GIRM I am actually amazed at how much actually isn’t allowed by the instructions. In my own diocese all sorts of “bad habits” have become the status quo regardless of how “liberal” or “conservative” a parish is. I just wonder: do these priests actually read the GIRM? They are either vincibly ignorant, or even worse, they have read it, and they just do whatever they want.
    I even had a priest tell me in all seriousness, that “the Tridentine has to be done strictly, but you may do whatever you want in the Novus Ordo.” It’s sad that so many (even “conservative” priests) have that attitude. I blame their formation. But what makes it even harder is that it is so ingrained that you can’t provide constructive criticism in the least. I’ve rarely met a Novus Ordo priest who has taken constructive criticism well, no matter how humbly or tactfully I pointed out the error.

  5. Ann says:

    Ahh, silence in the liturgy — what a novel idea! I have found that if I want to pray quietly in the church before the Blessed Sacrament, I have to go at a time when there is no one else there. It certainly won’t happen when I go for Mass – before, during or afterward.

  6. Diane says:

    It is so refreshing to see a bishop…….teaching.

    What struck me is that he was very gentle in his tone, yet not coming across as ambiguous. Furthermore, like Pope Benedict XVI, the bishop was not condescending to those who do the very things he is trying to bring to an end.

    If Detroit wasn’t waiting on a new archbishop to be named, I would send a copy in to the archdiocese for consideration of a similar pastoral letter on those liturigcal items that apply to everyone, everywhere, such as silence before Mass.

    If one were to have a recording of a mall on Saturday afternoon and many Catholic parishes before and after Mass (and some, during), the decibels would probably be similar. It’s awful that no one can pray on account of it.

  7. elizabeth mckernan says:

    I’m beginning to wish I lived in Australia! It was great to read what this Bishop says. I do hope we receive something like this in England. What I cannot understand is why it has all taken so long to realise the things he points out?

  8. Hoka2_99 says:

    Bishop Coleridge has great courage and the teaching was beautifully expressed. I’m sure it’s a Pentecost pastoral letter which will be remembered by the faithful of the diocese. I wish I could say the same for our bishop’s pastoral letter, the content of which I have already forgotten. I was at our Vigil Mass and confess that I sat there looking forward to watching the Papal Mass next morning on EWTN and wondering what the Holy Father’s homily would be like. It turned out to be one of his best!!!!!!

  9. Ann says:

    When I first posted earlier this morning about the silence, I had only read a short bit of this Archbishop’s letter as I was running late to get to work! However, I have now read the whole post and I have to say that it almost made me cry — it is as if he is speaking directly to my parish; everything he has commented on touched a sore spot in me and felt like a soothing balm. Some of his words are exactly those that I have been trying to express myself over and over again to no avail, and now I read them here in a pastoral letter so I know I am not off on my own track somewhere. I am very tempted to send a copy of this to our new Archbishop and ask (with charity) if he might please address some of the same things in our own diocese.

  10. RichR says:

    “In the Roman Rite, singing or music tends to accompany action rather than stand in its own right. Therefore, the music or singing should stop once the action is complete.”

    This is something about the TLM that always seemed odd. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Traditional Mass, and would attend it exclusively if there was one here in town. However, in a Missa Cantata, for example, the Creed would be started by the priest, and the schola would take over in leading the people. However, up at the altar, the priest would be saying the Creed on his own at a brisker pace (because he’s not singing it). He’d do all the bows and genuflections, and then go back to his seat to “wait out” the Creed that’s being sung. It made it seem like the music was, in fact, not corresponding with the action, and, therefore, was out of sync with reality.

    I know that there should be a distinction between the priest and the laity. The Novus Ordo Missae, even in Latin, has eliminated (or made optional) some prayers and gestures from the Mass that seem to show this distinction (eg: ad orientem, separate Confiteor, Indulgentiam absolutionem, only the priest receiving the Precious Blood, only the priest distributing Holy Communion, altar rails, etc….). However, in all these examples, the retention of the traditional practice would not create a sense of disjointedness as do musical “parts” for the people which drag on way past the completion of the same prayer being said by the priest.

    Maybe someone else could set me straight on this?

  11. Tom says:

    “…even if English remains by and large the language of worship.”

    Archbishop Coleridge’s pastoral letter is weak regarding the issue of liturgical language. Why not state…Ordinary of the Mass in Latin…readings in vernacular?

    Okay…it’s good that the Archbishop has emphasized the need to restore so-called “smells and bells” to Holy Mass.

    But the fact remains that the Novus Ordo itself is the problem…the watered down, ecumenically-flavored prayers, lack of sacred gestures, Eucharistic Prayers (other than EP I) that fail to convey a strong sense of Catholic identity…

    We would be better served by simply casting aside the Novus Ordo and offering the Traditional Mass in the vernacular.

    The liturgical crisis will not disappear by simply peppering the Novus Ordo here and there with bits of Tradition.

    Archbishop Coleridge’s pastoral letter features several solid points…but the Latin Church must return to the TLM, even if offered in vernaculars, to restore a strong sense of Catholic identity among the Faithful.

    Pax.

  12. Will says:

    The congregation stands immediately after the celebrant has said “Pray, brothers and sisters, that our sacrifice will be pleasing and acceptable to God, the almighty Father” and before praying “May the Lord accept this sacrifice…”.
    This has always struck me as awkward, as there’s much rustling as people stand while saying the prayer. At my parish people have started to stand when the priest finishes his ablution and turns back to the altar. This seems smoother, but isn’t in the rubrics.
    And they insist on applauding after mass. Drives me up the wall every week.

  13. Limbo says:

    I’m beginning to wish I lived in Australia! It was great to read what this Bishop says. I do hope we receive something like this in England. What I cannot understand is why it has all taken so long to realise the things he points out?

    Comment by elizabeth mckernan —

    Don’t get too excited ! My Bishop is a shocker – the more noise the better for him !!! …and “Latin ? What’s that , Never heard of it …Jesus loves you !”

  14. Limbo says:

    “We would be better served by simply casting aside the Novus Ordo and offering the Traditional Mass in the vernacular.”

    Don’t you dare !

  15. Darcy says:

    Wonderful exercise of Archbishop Coleridge’s teaching authority!

    About sacred music in the OF:

    “In the Roman Rite, singing or music tends to accompany action rather than stand in its own right. Therefore, the music or singing should stop once the action is complete.”

    There is a lot more to what the GIRM says about sacred music than that (following on Musicam Sacram, and Sacrosanctum Concilium) and it is in keeping with the hermeneutic of continuity (the importance of singing much of the Mass, the liturgical role of schola and cantors, Gregorian chant, Latin…). Hopefully this is just the first step for the Church in Canberra and Goulburn.

  16. Brian C. says:

    Before receiving Holy Communion, communicants bow to the One they are about to receive. Bowing is the preferred gesture, but those who are accustomed to genuflect before receiving or to kneel to receive will be free to follow their custom.

    Would someone please send this (via candygram or whatever medium would gather the most attention) to the USCCB? As it is, many US Bishops will punish “genuflection before Holy Communion” (to say nothing of receiving while kneeling!) with a special wrath that pro-abortion politicians would seemingly never need to fear…

    In Christ,
    Brian

  17. a very good letter. Now now, we don’t need to destroy the NO, celebrating it in line with Tradition is a great starting point. God Bless the Bishop for actually teaching.

  18. Tom says:

    The Archbishop wrote:

    1. “In this new phase of the liturgical renewal, I think we need to work hard at creating a greater sense of silence as that from which the words and actions rise and that to which they return.”

    2. “I wonder would it be possible to encourage an air of silence or at least quiet in sacristies before Mass, and to make our churches places where there is a silence which supports prayer.”

    Regarding statement #1: In the TLM, we don’t need to work hard to create the sacred sense of silence that is all but devoid at “Ordinary Form” Mass. The sense of sacred silence flows naturally from the TLM.

    Again we encounter Novus Ordo weakness as compared to the TLM. We must “work hard” to create the sense of sacred liturgy with the Novus Ordo…conversely, the sense of sacred liturgy flows naturally from the TLM.

    Regarding statement #2: The Archbishop wonders…wonders?…whether it’s possible…possible?…to encourage an air of silence to instill into our churches the sense of the sacred?

    He “wonders”?…is it “possible”?.. Shouldn’t he know? Wow! It is obvious that the process to restore the sense of the sacred to the Novus Ordo will prove very difficult.

    Yes…the Archbishop’s pastoral letter features some solid points…and at least we have moved somewhat from Rome’s (and the bishops’) 40-year-old party line that the liturgical “renewal” was a solid success.

    Our Churchmen have at least recognized that something must be done to correct the Novus Ordo liturgical disaster.

    While better than adhering to the old party line regarding the so-called liturgical “renewal,” Archbishop Coleridge’s pastoral letter deals with the symptoms…the problem is the Novus Ordo itself.

    But at least it’s the first step toward what I believe is the following reality:

    Many Churchmen have recognized finally that they have a liturgical disaster on their hands. As is the case with Pope Benedict XVI, our Churchmen cannot bring themselves to acknowledge that the Novus Ordo is the problem.

    Therefore, our Churchmen address the symptoms…they will spruce the Novus Ordo a bit…add some “smells and bells” here and there to the Mass.

    However, the “reform of the reform” is destined to fail as the Novus Ordo itself is the problem.

    When the “reform of the reform” flops, a future Pope and our Latin Churchmen…decades from now…will return to the Traditional Latin Mass.

    Initially, we had the liturgical “reform,” which gave us the Novus Ordo…a liturgy destined to flop.

    Now, rather than address the true problem — the Novus Ordo — we’ll waste additional decades implementing the “reform of the reform.”

    Eventually, our Latin Churchmen will return to the TLM.

    Until then, let’s pray that the report that Pope Benedict XVI desires that the TLM be offered at each parish is true.

    While the Novus Ordo structure will continue to crumble, at least with one TLM Sunday Mass at each parish, Latin Catholics would have the opportunity to attach themselves to the “Extraordinary Form” of Mass.

    As compared to the “Ordinary Form” of Mass, the “Extraordinary Form” conveys the Faith and imparts Catholic identity in far superior fashion.

    Pax.

  19. Johnny Domer says:

    I don’t want to nitpick what is an excellent statement on the whole, but I do wish the good Archbishop had mentioned in the section on music something constantly repeated in Church documents on the subject (Tra le sollecitudini, Mediator Dei, Sacrosanctum Concilium, and the GIRM itself): GREGORIAN CHANT specifically should have the pride of place in the liturgy, and after it polyphony. I think the problem with music in church involves a lot more than merely getting rid of bad hymns or singing Psalms more. Even hymns that are “good” (like “Immaculate Mary,” for example) are not close to the level of sacrality, artistry, and universality (the three characteristics of sacred music identified by St. Pius X in Tra le sollecitudini) exhibited by Gregorian chant and polyphony. We need to get away from hymns in general (both the bad ones and the good-intentioned but somewhat schmaltzy old Irish ones), and we need a severe vetting of the awful Mass settings in use (another point he did not mention, unfortunately).

    Also, if one artificially decides not to use Latin during the Mass, one is cutting oneself off from 95% of the greatest music ever written for the Mass. I know the Archbishop is here encouraging the use of Latin for some parts of the Mass, but I agree with Fr. Z: MORE LATIN!

    With that said, let me stress again that this was an excellent statement on the whole; I wish he were my bishop. God bless him!

  20. Lee says:

    Gosh, I, for one, am so fond of some of the old hymns and I miss them very much. The last time I heard “O What Could My Jesus Do More” I was reduced to tears. Of course that was a long time ago. It may be schmaltzy to some, but it sure beats the droning icky stuff we have now. I also miss “O Lord I am Not Worthy.”

  21. Lee says:

    And can’t they (whoever decides these things) make it a regulation that you don’t read the announcements right after Holy Communion? Everyone sits down and listens about the bake sales and stuff. Can’t we have some silent kneeling time after Holy Communion to be pray and be as close to God as possible?

  22. Warren Anderson says:

    Yes, well said Your Grace! A parish at which I cantor is slowly being restored by a wise and sensitive pastor. The need for change is apparent. The going is slow, given the agenda of certain music ministers. Last sunday a woman came up to me after Mass and proceeded to chide me to present more “upbeat” music – shorthand for “schlock”. She wanted more “dancey” music, to quote the word she used. Without trying to offend her, I pointed out that as a trained musician I could not in good conscience present music that is subpar, especially concerning the music for Holy Mass. I tried in vain to persuade her to consider the need for a change in content. We have known each other since I converted some 24 years ago. She is a cradle Catholic in her early sixties, I, in my mid forties. She complained that she didn’t know the songs we sang (e.g., Crown Him With Many Crowns) – where has she been for the last century?! At one time I presented the usual suspects – St. Louis Jesuits, Haugen, Haas. No more. I was tempted to add to our conversation, when asked why I had lost that earlier “enthusiasm”, that I have grown up. A large part of the Catholic demographic needs to grow up! I, for one, have not lost one ounce of enthusiasm. I, like others too, am predictably and appropriately enthusiastic (grateful, humbled, overjoyed, etc.) when praising God through chant, Palestrina, etc. People often compare one style or genre of music to another based on the flimsiest of criteria, basing their judgments on “feeling” or personal preference. That people can use their personal preferences to critique music shows that a lot of work must be done to promote an objective sensibility concerning artistic merit. Let’s face it, these days most people have no idea what constitutes sacred music of quality. Most people are stuck on pop fluff that at best might be described as devotional music. At worst, the same music is often heterodox bordering on heretical. Thank goodness we have a major prelate calling for reason to overcome the ill effects of relativism on music of the Liturgy.

  23. Johnny Domer says:

    Lee, I guess I should clarify that I don’t think we should be rid of the good old hymns necessarily; I’m just saying we need to understand their value in the grander scheme of things. Gregorian chant should come first. In fact, I attend a Low Mass at Notre Dame every Sunday during the school year, and we sing some of those old hymns at the beginning and end of every Mass; I’m very fond of them. I’m just saying they shouldn’t be the foundation of our musical repertoire.

  24. Lee says:

    I totally concur, Johnny. When I HAVE to attend an English Mass, it just makes me long for those old hymns instead of the dribble we are confronted with. Maybe it’s the more respectful and poetic language (like the now out-of-vogue lifting of the veil in the Good Friday prayers) and the Thees and Thous and the pleasing melodies of the “old” hymns that grab me.

    “Mother, dear, O pray for me.”

  25. Paul Murnane says:

    What a great letter! The Holy Father’s influence here is palpable.

    Does anyone think we would have seen a letter like this (and from other bishop’s as well) with any other pope?

  26. Lacrimarum Valle says:

    Good heavens, a bishop behaving like… well, a bishop!

    A great letter.

    Top man. My hero du jour (or possibly d’annee)

  27. Maureen says:

    Re: silence being associated “naturally” with the EF

    Um. Well. Historically? No. The constant lament of churchmen through the ages is that people often just won’t shut up, even during the Consecration. In the East, in Hagia Sophia? Also noisy. In medieval and Renaissance times, when the parish church was the natural meeting place and mall of the neighborhood, this tendency was even worse.

    A very common liturgical abuse before Vatican II was ever heard of, was that the low Mass allowed people to chat, sell things, etc. without any interference of vocalizations from choristers or priests.

    So no, silence is not “natural” to the EF or any other form of Mass. Silence is only ever the result of hard work in formation of groups and devotion in individuals. Anybody who thinks otherwise is just dreaming.

  28. jacobus says:

    This is more proof, I think that the Ordinary form of the mass needs a lot more work before it’s going to seem natural.

    Consider this:

    “Then there is the question of the place of silence within the Mass itself. The Roman Rite presupposes seven silences:
    1) before the Act of Penitence
    2) before the Collect (after the celebrant’s call to prayer)
    3) after the First Reading and before the Psalm,
    4) after the Second Reading and before the Gospel Acclamation
    5) after the Homily
    6) during the Intercessions (after the intention is announced and before ‘Lord, hear us’)
    7) after Holy Communion”

    I don’t know about anyone else, but when these particular silences are present, it feels incredibly affected and fake. It is a false sense of solemnity, akin to singing hymns and chant very slow.

    The greatest silences are in the EF, when the ministers are doing their separate work. Silence because holy things are taking place. Not just silence for the sake of silence.

  29. Anon 3 says:

    “The chart of translation duties for the Roman Missal currently has the translation and approval process going well into 2010, ”

    Are the US Bishops sure about the translation taking that long?
    I thought I read that in Australia the bishops had told the WYD organizers to use the new translation.

  30. TerryC says:

    An excellent letter. I agree that our parishes in the United States could benefit from such letters sent out by bishops as pastoral as this one.
    I also agree with Maureen that silence during, before and after Mass is a matter that will only be cured through formation.
    Father has had requests for silence placed in the announcements, in the bulletin, on signs outside the church entrance, and even from the pulpit, all to no lasting avail. Likewise with applause, even to the point of the cantor making the statement that applause is just not appropriate.
    At a liturgical conference with surrounding parishes I made the statement during discussion that we needed to respect the silence built into the Mass, specifically criticizing the lack of a period of silence after Communion. The response from several people was of course we have silence then, thats when the choir does the meditational hymn???!!! They did not seem to understand that music#silence

  31. Willebrord says:

    Very nice! My only wish is that this was happening here, in the USA, as well!

    (well, there is one thing… I started reading the new translation on the link, and it mentioned “fufilment of the Tridentine Mass in the Novus Ordo,” or something to that effect, and I was very annoyed.)

  32. David2 says:

    Not every diocese in Australia is as lucky.

    We received a document in our newsletters that substantially (in my opinion) misrepresents the General Instruction, and the ACBC statement “Some Changes in the Celebration of the Mass”.

    The ACBC “Some Changes” statement of the GIRM says nothing about kneeling or genuflecting, and the General Instruction said that it is “reccommended” that all follow the customary manner of reception (standing, bow, stick out the hand), and is silent on the question of genuflecting or kneeling for reception on the tongue.

    The document we received said unequivocally that the bow is to “replace” all other forms of reverence for reception of Communion.

    This, notwithstanding that Redemptionis Sacramentum expressly retains the right of the faithful to receive kneeling and on the tongue, or to genuflect before receiving.

    Given that the “Sandalistas” seem to be running the show in parts of my diocese, I hardly think this is simply a matter of sloppy expression.

  33. PaulMac says:

    If all you enthusiastic “foreigners” want to emigrate to Australia because of Archbishop Coleridge, make sure you pick one of the handful of dioceses with bishops like him, and then pick a parish with a priest like him. And they’re outnumbered. Which is why the Australian Bishops’ statement on the GIRM referred to by David2 is like it is. No, it’s not sloppy expression – it’s a bit of a last-ditch stand by the trendies. But there are signs that a reform of the reform is beginning. Episcopal appointments under Benedict XVI are likely to move the reform along. Watch the diocese of Sale (in Victoria, Australia), where the retired bishop twice defied directions from Rome to reinstate a priest he removed for being orthodox.

  34. Mary says:

    Jacobus — I don’t know about anyone else, but when these particular silences are present, it feels incredibly affected and fake.
    I agree! I guess it’s an invitation to reflect, but I feel as if the priest might as well take out a stopwatch, set it and say, “You have two minutes — now REFLECT!” Not conducive, IMO!