Thursday, January 07, 2010

On 'Active Participation,' and Music in the Liturgy

From the Pope's liturgist, who (evidently) knows of the dissent over the new translation of the Mass here in Milwaukee and elsewhere........

...Are we truly certain that the promotion of an active participation consists in rendering everything to the greatest extent possible immediately comprehensible? May it not be the case that entering into God’s mystery might be facilitated and, sometimes, even better accompanied by that which touches principally the reasons of the heart? Is it not often the case that a disproportionate amount of space is given over to empty and trite speech, forgetting that both dialogue and silence belong in the liturgy, congregational singing and choral music, images, symbols, gestures? Do not, perhaps, also the Latin language, Gregorian chant, and sacred polyphony belong to this manifold language which conducts us to the center of the mystery?

Mystery sorta precludes pragmatism, eh?

And then there's that 'music' discussion:

Why does the Church insist on proposing certain forms as characteristic of sacred and liturgical music which make them distinct from all other forms of music? Why, also, do Gregorian chant and the classical sacred polyphony turn out to be the forms to be imitated, in light of which liturgical and even popular music should continue to be produced today?

The answer to these questions lies precisely in what we have sought to assert with regard to the spirit of the liturgy. It is properly those forms of music, in their holiness, their goodness, and their universality, which translate in notes, melodies and singing the authentic liturgical spirit: by leading to adoration of the mystery celebrated, by favouring an authentic and integral participation, by helping the listener to capture the sacred and thereby the essential primacy of God acting in Christ, and finally by permitting a musical development that is anchored in the life of the Church and the contemplation of its mystery.

The sacred liturgy is not a pleasantry-exchange accompanied by music appropriate for dinner conversation.

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