From a reader…
I am writing you because of what I believe concerning a ‘teen mass.’ A few weeks ago, I was not able to make it to Mass in the morning. Someone had told me that a particular church had a Mass that was not a rock music mass. I went there early to go to confession, and after confession, the practice “music” began, and so I left, and prayed with my missal at home.
It seems to me that attending a a sacrilegious mass, such as a teen rock mass, is a mortal sin, objectively. It is also scandalous for someone to see me there, as they may think that I am ok with such an evil abuse.
The next day, I went to confession to my priest (in case I was wrong about it being sinful to go to a rock mass). When I asked him, he simply told me that he understood my dilemma, and did not weigh in on it being worse to go or to miss.
Anyway, I posted about it in a forum that I sometimes go to, and everyone is going off about how I am putting my thoughts above the Churches teachings and so forth. Does the Church not have definitive teachings on reverence? I know that it was, at one point, only ok for instruments that mimicked the human voice. Anyway, your insights would be quite helpful to me personally, and also to my conversation ongoing right now… Thanks, and God bless!
Reason #9 for Summorum Pontificum, Authentic Tool of the New Evangelization.
For a sin to be mortal there are both objective and subjective factors that must be evaluated.
The objective factors are relatively simple and they are the same for everyone. Sacrilege is grave matter and would ordinarily be an objective factor for mortal sin. The Church has not made a definitive ruling on what sort of music would render Holy Mass sacrilegious. (I have my views.) Wise and holy priests and bishops have given us guidelines. The Church herself has said taught that our treasured Gregorian chant and polyphony are to be preferred to all other forms. That puts an official stamp on those forms. It seems to me that the farther musical forms depart from those two the more… dubious they are, in the very least. Rock music is a distant departure from Gregorian chant, as is jazz. Ergo….
And yet, mirabile dictu, the Church has not definitively said that it is forbidden for sacred liturgy. The Church also hasn’t definitely condemned stupidity or bad taste.
I would avoid a Rock Mass, as I would open petrie dishes of Ebola virus. I would avoid a Polka Mass, a Hip-Hop Mass, a Country Western Mass, and a Siberian Throat-Singing Mass as if they were cultures of Naegleria fowleri, the Brain Eating Amoeba.
That said, if I found myself – unwittingly and unwillingly and yet unavoidably – having to attend one, I don’t think I would confess that I had committed sacrilege.
Sure, I suppose one could just walk out, but … were one to stay, and then to offer prayers and sufferings in reparation for the insult to Our Lord and to the Holy Angels present, and to Good Taste, one could also resolve then to do everything in one’s power to eradicate such horrific things in the future and guide confused souls into better paths.
I remember many years ago we use to say that the true reform of sacred liturgical music would begin when the last guitar was busted over the head of the last pop-combo member. It’s hard to imagine that this has continued for so long. I guess this sort of thing is like having rude neighbors with an especially obnoxious mynah bird by their open window: the pets you hate seem to live forever.
Pray for the people who perpetrated that awful experience, asking God to help them to an encounter with true beauty and transcendence. Ask God to raise up in them a sense of religious horror at the travesties they have in the past perpetrated and inflicted.
Meanwhile, so that others can do some penance in solidarity with you… straight from 1966!