ASK FATHER: Concert in a church… appropriate?

From a reader:

Dear Father, a pastor of one of our Catholic Churches is allowing a symphony concert to be held in church if it gets rained out. The symphony is going to play show tunes, patriotic songs, lively marches, Stars and Stripes, 1812 overture, with vendors outside the church selling food, drinks, etc. It is usually held on the grounds of a replica of a Fort which is right next to the church. Many people who will attend are not Catholic and I think it isn’t a good example for Non-Catholics or Catholics alike. I think it is very disrespectful, irreverent and inappropriate. Would like to hear your views. Thank you and God Bless.

Can. 1210 provides us with the parameters:

“In a sacred place only those things are to be permitted which serve to exercise or promote worship, piety and religion. Anything out of harmony with the holiness of the place is forbidden. The Ordinary may, however, for individual cases, permit other uses, provided they are not contrary to the sacred character of the place.”

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in 1987 issued additional clarifications about concerts in church, published HERE.

Keep in mind that the “Ordinary” would be the local diocesan bishop, the vicar general, an auxiliary bishop, an episcopal vicar, or, if this is a church owned by a religious order, a religious major superior). The Ordinary would have to give permission for something like this, not the pastor. The Ordinary may have determined that there are legitimate reasons for hosting this event in a church.

Praying for good weather, so that this possibility does not become a reality,  is highly to be recommended. Though we already nearly a month after St. Swithun’s Day, asking his intercession for good weather would not be too pushy.  Besides, he may be on a break right now, and just waiting for someone to ask him to intercede.

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  1. APX says:

    I don’t know about the current Roman Missal, but the 1962 Roman Missal does have the prayers that can be added for Fair Weather, which never seems to let us down for Corpus Christi (despite it raining all day each year) and I wouldn’t underestimate the power of a Rosary Procession for good weather either. Even just secular things Our Lady seems eager to assist with holding off the rain long enough for whatever needs to get done.

  2. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    It is very important to get this right! In May, in a beautiful Gothic Revival Dutch church in Utrecht which is privately owned and where concerts are regularly held, the Cardinal Archbishop was convinced a particular ‘performance’ was a matter of Canon 1211: “Sacred places are violated by gravely injurious actions done in them with scandal to the faithful, actions which, in the judgment of the local ordinary, are so grave and contrary to the holiness of the place that it is not permitted to carry on worship in them until the damage is repaired by a penitential rite according to the norm of the liturgical books.” The St. Willibrord Apostolate, responsible for services there (including, up till mid-May, both solemn OF and EF Latin masses almost every Sunday) is in the grave situation of preparing to ask to Cardinal Archbishop to withdraw the church from designation for divine worship, if conditions assuring that such can never happen again are not given by the owner-‘exploiter’ by 31 August.

  3. David Zampino says:

    Ah, St. Swithun!

  4. Sonshine135 says:

    I know quite a few Catholic Churches that hold rock concerts during their Masses every Saturday and Sunday. Bahzing!……..couldn’t help myself.

  5. Vecchio di Londra says:

    At least the 1812 Overture has a lot of church bells ringing, in between all the cannon fire.
    And it quotes the solemn melody of the Orthodox Troparion of the Holy Cross, ‘O Lord, Save Thy People’. That’s already more connotations with traditional Catholic worship than you might get at some OF Masses…Though Tchaikovsky also quotes noisily from the Marseillaise, which is rather more infrequently heard in church, even at the wackiest OF.
    Actually, now I come to think of it, I’m surprised no modern liturgist has yet attempted a setting of the Marseillaise as a rousing Wir-sind-Kirche type hymn.
    ‘Hey kids c’mon lets go and sa-ave the world,
    We are the people, let’s have our say!’
    is the best I can extempore right now for the opening, but I can imagine it arranged for out-of-tune folk guitar, wheezy harmonium, drum-kit, and a 70-year old soprano voice. It has a social message, and a pleasingly ecumenical ring, no inappropriate mention of the Deity, and suitable for joint worship with ‘all religions and none’…
    But I see I’ve gone completely O/T now.

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