Thursday, November 17, 2005

Mass: Spirituality, not Entertainment

By way of Southern Appeal I found this very encouraging article that takes a look at Cardinal Arinze's assessment of the recent synod.
The Mass is a moment of reflection and encounter with God, rather than a form of entertainment, says Cardinal Francis Arinze.

In an interview with Inside the Vatican magazine, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments made a comprehensive assessment of the recent Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist and of developments in liturgical practice 40 years after the Second Vatican Council.

Regarding "music in the liturgy, we should start by saying that Gregorian music is the Church's precious heritage," he said. "It should stay. It should not be banished. If therefore in a particular diocese or country, no one hears Gregorian music anymore, then somebody has made a mistake somewhere."

However, "the Church is not saying that everything should be Gregorian music," the cardinal clarified. "There is room for music which respects that language, that culture, that people. There is room for that too, and the present books say that is a matter for the bishops' conference, because it generally goes beyond the boundaries of one diocese.
I repeat the key phrase above:The Mass is a moment of reflection and encounter with God, rather than a form of entertainment. It is heartening to hear the Cardinal say that, and it is something worth remembering.

On the Gregorian Chant, I have been going to Latin Mass - both Tridentine and Novus Ordo - for a couple of years now. There is no comparison between the chant and most contemporary Church music. It's not that all of the modern stuff is bad, it's just that the Gregorian music is much more spiritual. And ultimately, the most important aspect of Mass is to achieve a greater communion with God, and anything that helps achieve that is worthy of praise. When I hear the Chant I almost feel trasnported back to a different age, and in doing so I feel that much closer to God. Well, that's me anyway.

I love this:

"I will not now pronounce and say never guitar; that would be rather severe," Cardinal Arinze added. "But much of guitar music may not be suitable at all for the Mass. Yet, it is possible to think of some guitar music that would be suitable, not as the ordinary one we get every time, [but with] the visit of a special group, etc."
This is wrong I know, but whenever I see a guitar at Mass I suddenly have a Bluto moment where I just want to go to the front of the Church and rip the guitar out of the person's hands, and . . .. well, you know. Of course nothing will ever surpass the time I went to a Lutheran Service and a full band - led by the Priest - played the Beatles' "Let It Be." Eh, it's their religion, let them do what they want. But not a good choice for liturgical music, if you ask me.

Unfortunately, the following is also very true:
Vatican II brought many good things but everything has not been positive, and the synod recognized that there have been shadows," Cardinal Arinze acknowledged.

"There has been a bit of neglect of the holy Eucharist outside Mass," he said. "A lot of ignorance. A lot of temptations to showmanship for the priest who celebrates facing the people.

"If he is not very disciplined he will soon become a performer. He may not realize it, but he will be projecting himself rather than projecting Christ. Indeed it is very demanding, the altar facing the people. Then even those who read the First and Second Reading can engage in little tactics that make them draw attention to themselves and distract the people.

"So there are problems. However, some of the problems were not caused by Vatican II, but they were caused by children of the Church after Vatican II. Some of them talking of Vatican II push their own agenda. We have to watch that. People pushing their own agenda, justifying it as the 'spirit of Vatican II.'"
I do sometimes get the impression that some Priests think they're part of a nightclub act. As one commenter at Mark Shea's site once said, a part of me wants to hold up a card that says "DO the parts in red, SPEAK the parts in black." (Or maybe it's the other way around).

And finally, here is something so profoundly true, and yet so simply stated:
Cardinal Arinze concluded that the liturgy "is not the property of one individual, therefore an individual does not tinker with it, but makes the effort to celebrate it as Holy Mother Church wants. When that happens, the people are happy, they feel nourished. Their faith grows, their faith is strengthened. They go home happy and willing to come back next Sunday."
And that's exactly how I feel after most Masses that I have attended. A properly done Mass is so spiritually fulfilling, and yet too many parishes have tried desperately hard to tinker with what has wroked for 2,000 years. I don't want awful bands screaching some bland tune, while the Priest goes up and rambles about the Washington Redskins. It's heartening to see that Cardinal Arinze understands this, and even more encouraging that Pope Benedict and the rest of the hierarchy grasps this essential point as well. God bless them, and thank God for granting us these men.

Of course, if these reforms are implemented, it might mean less "On Eagle's Wings." As much as I will so desperately miss hearing it, I will try to bare it if I can.


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