Sunday, April 02, 2006

More on Liturgy--the Right Way

From the estimable Bp. Slattery of Tulsa (ad multos annos!!)

In my travels around the Diocese, I have noted certain
communities where the music at Mass has tended more
toward entertainment than toward prayer.The choir or cantor
consciously draws the attention of the congregation to their
performance and really stirring performances are rewarded
by the congregation’s grateful applause.

In this case, the placement of the choir, cantor or musicians
in the most visible and prominent part of the sanctuary, not
only proves to be a distraction to the congregation, but
provides a kind of center stage for a concert of religious
music. In this case, the music becomes the center of the
experience, the sacramental transformation of the
worshipper is reduced to his or her mere inspiration and the
liturgical action of the Mass becomes itself a distraction.

While such a scenario is still quite rare in our Diocese, I
think we are in danger of moving in that direction and it
concerns me as your Bishop.

(We've seen this in Milwaukee. I might add that it is often the case that musicians seem to think that a "silent moment" is to be avoided at all costs. Sad...)

We must also be aware that musical entertainment is not
the only thing which can compromise the prayerful integrity
of the Mass. The Eucharist is just as compromised whenever
we use the liturgy to highlight an agenda or cause other than
the worship of the Father. This is true no matter how positive
or useful the other causes may seem.

For this reason, I want to remind the faithful of the Diocese
that the Mass stands alone as a complete action in itself.
It is that perfect sacrifice from which the Church derives
Her life; thus the liturgy must never be used as an
opportunity to teach, as the context for a history or an art
lesson, as the background for a concert of sacred music,
neither to build community nor to foster parish identity. All
these things are good, but all of them are either in support of
the Mass or are derived from the Mass, and to use the Mass to
foster something less is a serious abuse.

"Just shut up and celebrate the Mass..."

Distractions, the loss of silence and the various liturgical
imbalances of which I have spoken are all partly to blame for
a whole generation of Catholics who have gradually lost their
understanding that the Mass is the true Sacrifice of Christ.
But these problems are not the only reason why Catholics no
longer see that there is an intrinsic and necessary link
between the Mass and their salvation. As critical as these
problems are, even more critical to us as a diocese as we
respond to the Synod’s call for a restoration of the Lord’s Day
is recovering our sense of personal sin which many of us
seem to have lost.

The whole thing (PDF) can be found beginning on P. 3 with a jump to P. 12.

1 comment:

Jeff Miller said...

I have the whole thing posted here: