Thursday, June 22, 2006

A break in the action

Well, we have been so hard at work at the Musica Sacra colloquium that we saw nothing of the comings or goings of the prelates and potentates at the installation/enthronement of the new Archbishop of Washington, Donald Wuerl. No, we have had our faces buried in our Liberes Cantualis (correct Latin?) and sheets of polyphony all day, pausing only for a beautiful Missa defunctis tota cantata.

One might wonder, why do we do this? I confess, this is even harder than I thought it would be, and it is tempting to do as many priests do, and say, "I've got so many other things to do, I just won't be any good at this, so why bother?"

But I believe the liturgy deserves our very best. I believe we are constantly tempted to forget, or lose touch with, the transcendent, throughout our lives, including in our worship. My lay brothers and sisters, correct me if I am wrong, but lay folks coming to Mass on Sundays and holy days, are even more hard-pressed to touch heaven. If we do not do all that we reasonably may to foster a truly other-worldly experience of Mass, we who are charged with this duty--meaning clergy, and all those who take special roles in liturgy--are failing the people we claim to serve.

Also, we do this because we have a great treasure, an inaestimabilum donum in the music and prayers and liturgy of the Church, and we must share it! Recall the parable of the man who built great storehouses for his grain, and the Lord said, "thou fool, this very night your life will be required of you!" It is rather presumptuous to say, "oh, they won't want it"; really, how do you know; and further, is it really for you to say?

There is a sobriety to the Roman liturgy, but in recent decades, that has become aridity. People flock to music stores to buy cds of chant--what does that say?


Anonymous said...

Fr. Fox,
Thanks for bothering. I hope you have a good trip back. Your deep appreciation and reverence for the Church's liturgy will rub off on us.

Miami county had a rough time weather wise. I hope and pray that there was no damage to your Church or parishoner's property. The TV news showed some storm damage, uprooted trees etc.

Anonymous said...

our faces buried in our Liberes Cantualis (correct Latin?)

if you mean "books," I think you mean "Libri"

Terry said...

"oh, they won't want it"; really, how do you know; and further, is it really for you to say?

Father, I think many probably do. Your point about people buying Gregorian chant CD's substantiates it. However, your series of posts seem to indicate that this is indeed a great deal of work and effort. I admit to often being a chronic complainer, sometimes to the point of being self-righteous, regarding the banal music played during the Mass. But perhaps now I'll understand it might simply be because it's simply easier.

I'm sure some will reply with something along the lines of "What, you can't give the Lord time and effort?" But our choir consists of volunteers, most of whom I would imagine work all day, have to take care of their children, etc. And there are three priests, the pastor being in his 70's, for a parish of over 13k members.

I'll still protest the content of some of the music chosen, and wish that the celebrants would chant more, but I now have a bit more perspective that perhaps it's not as easy as I think it is.

And it's worth noting I don't possess a musically inclined bone in my body.

I echo Mr. Lang's sentiments. Thank you.

Dad29 said...


"Anything worth doing is worth doing badly."

Trust me, Father, it's hard to do Chant badly--but even if you THINK you're doing badly, I can name people who do it worse...

Ad Majorem Dei Gloria!! is all you have to recall.

Deacon Jim said...

It is worth the time and effort. The deeper your knowledge and understanding of the liturgy, the better the chance that those of us who try to connect once a week through Sunday Mass will actually connect. I have been a lector for years, and I have coached lectors. I have come to understand that a lector people will listen to may not necessarily have the greatest "pipes," but has a passion for scripture, lives and prays with scripture, and thus is able to proclaim in such a manner that someone in that particular congregation may actually have an "oh wow!" moment of enlightentment. It does not come from a casual approach to liturgy at all. It's creating opportunity for the Spirit to work, and that takes more than a casual approach.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. It was good to see that you´re at least willing to attempt it: that´s half the battle, I suspect.

Glad to have come acros your blog. Good stuff, actually.