February 14, 2000
volume 11, no. 31

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    Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe.

    Today Pat begins a series on the decline of Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the new liturgy and how we have lost the essense of what it was always intended to be. He traces the decline of Gregorian Chant as one of the progressives' great ploys in denuding the Church of Latin for no melody was more closely associated with reverence and the Latin liturgy than the beautiful, melodious, even haunting tones of Gregorian Chant echoing throughout a cathedral. He illustrates where Saint Augustine's words referred to Chant, not some guitar or instrument with little semblance of sacredness. He shows where much of the "music" that has replaced Chant leans toward either a Protestant influence or new ageism and is stamped by the liberal factions that seek to tear Holy Mother Church apart. That is the gist of his column today, Secularizing the Sacred - part one: Music.

    For past columns by Pat Ludwa, click on VIEW FROM THE PEW Archives   If you want to send him ideas or feedback, you can reach him at

Secularizing the Sacred part one: Music

        What if you belonged to a school district that had low attendance, high truancy, and those that did attend school had poor grades overall. Now consider that the district, set reforms in place to turn that around. You'd feel pretty good wouldn't you? But what if those 'reforms' entailed removing classes of any kind, that musical groups that appeal to the students were to be 'booked' for their entertainment. No classes, no grades, no learning. What if you then complained to the school board and they told you that it was more important to get the kids into the school and that's what this was intended to do. I hope you wouldn't have warm fuzzy feelings about the state of education in that school district. In fact, I'd hope you'd pull your kids out and look for schools were they'd actually learn something and not just be entertained. But, essentially, that's what we have in many churches and Diocese's throughout the nation.

        What is the Mass and what are its ends? "The Holy Mass is offered to God for four great ends, corresponding to the four great duties we owe Him; these are:

    • 1) To praise, honor, and adore the infinite majesty of God, Who is infinitely deserving of all glory that can be given Him by His creatures.
    • 2) To satisfy the infinite justice of God, Who is infinitely offended by the sins committed against Him.
    • 3) To thank the infinite liberality of God, Who requires an infinite return for all the favors bestowed upon His creatures.
    • 4) To petition the infinite goodness of God, Whom nothing but pleading of infinite value can move to grant us all needful blessings." (My Prayer Book; Rev. F.L. Lasance, pg. 231-232)

        Nothing there about praising the community. "The purpose of the liturgy, then, is to manifest our perception of God and our response to Him. It is theocentric rather than homocentric, revealing the focus of one's love. God characteristically gives and man takes. Love, though, is reciprocal. The Church under divine guidance has realized this in the structure of the Mass. (LISTENING AND LITURGY; Reverend Peter T. MacCarthy)

        I hope to address other aspects of the Mass, but one aspect that is very evident is the Mass as 'horizontal' worship (even if partially) and the 'fads' incorporated to just bring the people into the church. The most evident is the music.

        St. Augustine points out that we are physical creatures and therefore our senses come into play. Music is one means that reaches the very soul of mankind. It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that armies of the past went into battle with the sound of martial music playing. The regimental band was just as important in a battle as the men and their weapons. It steeled the nerves, fired the blood, and prepared the man for the forthcoming battle. Likewise, we see high school and college marching bands playing 'fight' songs to fire up the team and the fans for the 'battle' of the football field. (Woody Hayes, coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, called football the 100 yard war)

        Camp fire songs fostered comraderie, etc. In fact, from classical to rap, music affects the very soul of man. In fact, Vatican II speaks of the importance of music in the Liturgy. "The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy….. Therefore sacred music is to be considered the more holy in proportion as it is more closely connected with the liturgical action, whether it adds delight to prayer, fosters unity of minds, or confers greater solemnity upon the sacred rites" (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy; Vatican Council II; SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM; Chapter VI; Sacred Music; #112)

        It goes on to say "The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services. But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action, as laid down in Art. 30." (Ibid #116)

        This teaching has been supplanted by the notion that the congregation can't sing Gregorian chant or polyphony. Yet we hear songs that are modern, but even more difficult to sing. "In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man's mind to God and to higher things." (Ibid #120)

        Again, when has the organ been the traditional musical instrument? Now, it appears that the guitar is. "But other instruments also may be admitted for use in divine worship, with the knowledge and consent of the competent territorial authority, as laid down in Art. 22, 52, 37, and 40. This may be done, however, only on condition that the instruments are suitable, or can be made suitable, for sacred use, accord with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful." (Ibid)

        That some use the guitar is fine. I've even heard beautiful classical music played on a guitar, but often, the guitar is used to 'bring the people into the church' rather than edify the faithful. A lot of the music we hear runs the gambit from the mundane to the obscene. Rock and roll masses? Who is that for? Is it meant to give glory to God or to entertain the people?

        The Mass is not a social gathering. It isn't a community banquet, it's the community of God coming together to give Him all praise, honor and glory. And in doing so, the fruits of the Mass are that we are blessed by God with untold graces. "When a priest celebrates Holy Mass, he honors God, he rejoices the angels, he edifies the Church, he helps the living, he obtains rest for the departed, and makes himself partaker of all blessings." (Following of Christ)

        The music we use in the Mass has lost it's sense of the sacred, how can we expect anyone to feel the Mass is sacred and needed for graces? Like a student attending a school with no classes, one gets nothing from a Mass where they go simply to be entertained. And one gives nothing to the people of God when they create a Mass whose main intent is simply to 'draw' people in the church. It becomes dependent on the latest fad.

        But this isn't the only aspect of the music that is troubling. Recall the protest songs of the 60's? They 'taught' the listener to protest the war in Viet Nam, and/or the Government. Music 'taught' a new way of thinking to millions such as the amoral lyrics, 'If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with.' Whereas the Consiliar document states: "The texts intended to be sung must always be in conformity with Catholic doctrine; indeed they should be drawn chiefly from holy scripture and from liturgical sources." (SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM; Chapter VI;Sacred Music;; #121)

        But are they? Scripture reads, "Jesus said to them, I am the Bread of life; whoever comes to Me will never hunger, and whoever believes in Me will never thirst'" (John 6:35). A modern hymn (one which I love) used to be sung. "I am the Bread of life. He who comes to Me shall not hunger, he who believes in Me shall not thirst...No one can come to Me, unless the Father calls him..and I will raise him up……"

        Now, the words have been changed to 'you who come to Me, etc.' No big deal? One version is true to the Scriptures, the other presumes belief. One makes it conditional, the other, automatic. It's almost a new rendering of Feeneyism, that one was automatically saved just by being a visible, physical member of the Catholic Church. For the sake of inclusiveness, he/him (a generic term in this case for all of us) was changed to you. The word changed, the meaning changed. Though, with education, the true meaning may still be garnered. However, even worse hymn's have entered into the hymnal.

        A hymn I recently heard, (and I'm copying it directly from the hymnal my church uses) goes; "Summoned by the God who made us, Rich in our diversity, Gathered in the name of Jesus, Richer in our unity: (chorus) Let us bring the gifts that differ And, in splendid varied ways, Sing a new church into being, One in faith and love and praise."

        Is it me or doesn't this sound like it came straight from the Call To Action song book? The song goes on to speak of this 'new' church; "Male and female in God's image, Male and female God's delight….Trust in the goodness of creation; Trust the 'Spirit' strong within; Dare to dream the vision promised; Weave a song of peace and justice; Draw together at one table, All the human family Shape a circle ever wider, and a people ever free."

        The song is full of CTA buzz words. It has references to the jargon and views of FutureChurch, Call To Action, WomanChurch, etc. Just as Vatican II points out that music should be used to edify and teach the faithful, so music is used to teach error and dissent. I could go into a book on the errors entailed in this song, but we can see that this 'new' church they're calling for has little to do with the Church Christ founded and worships Him.

        So, again, how can the people of God come to a sense of the sacred, how can they gather and worship the Lord when even the songs they sing are geared more to entertainment and worship of the community? Though God is present with us when we gather for the Mass, (and when was the last time you heard it called the Mass), we are not God. Music which draws our attention to God, His glory, power and majesty brings us before Him in humility and repentance. Music which draws our attention to ourselves, only elevates us in our own eyes. We find ourselves coming before Him in pride and indifference. As Catholics we can't afford to do that and truly call ourselves loyal children of God.

    Pax Christi, Pat


February 14, 2000
volume 10, no. 31

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