Sunday, October 21, 2007

So, Exactly What Is the Bishops' Liturgy Committee Doing?

Chironomo raises a lot of interesting questions in this post.

Like him, I had been under the impression that the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy (USCC) had been working on two separate documents--a revision of Music in Catholic Worship (which was simply awful) and a "white-list" of appropriate texts for music.

Based on a press report, Chironomo suspects that those two efforts have been combined into one which will be discussed and/or approved/sent back to Committee at the upcoming Bishops' meeting.

A few interesting bits and pieces:

Ten drafts of the updated "Music in Catholic Worship" were produced before the proposed document was submitted to the bishops for their consideration. It was prepared by the U.S. bishops' Committee on the Liturgy; Bishop Donald W. Trautman of Erie, Pa., is outgoing chairman of the committee.

There are two camps on BCL. Bp. Traut-person is Chairman (he would argue that the '-man' portion of Chairman is sexist and bigoted); Cdl. George of Chicago also serves on the Committee, and Cdl. George is a fellow with a lot of common sense. That would explain the "ten drafts," and what follows here:

"Charity, justice, and evangelization are thus the normal consequences of liturgical celebration," the proposed document says. "Often our participation in the liturgy is imperfect. Sometimes, our voices do not correspond to the convictions of our hearts. At other times, we are distracted or preoccupied by the cares of the world. But Christ always invites us to enter into song, to rise above our own preoccupations and to give our entire selves to the hymn of his paschal sacrifice."

Can you say "pablum to the 8th power"?

"Singing is one of the primary ways that the assembly of the faithful participates actively in the liturgy." It adds elsewhere that "musical instruments in the liturgy are best understood as an extension of and support to the more basic instrument which is the human voice."

Any PARTICULAR "instruments." m'lordships? Like maybe the pipe organ? Or are we trying desperately to maintain the folly of guitars, banjos, kazoos, and snaredrums?

While it says the use of Latin should be fostered and that Gregorian chant has "pride of place" in the liturgy, this needs to be balanced by "the important liturgical and pastoral concerns facing every bishop, pastor and liturgical musician." Each of the three judgments – liturgical, pastoral and musical – "must be taken together with the others," it adds, "and no judgment is sufficient on its own, nor does any one judgment prevail over the other."

In another venue, this would be called "the Hildebeeste Straddle." What crap.

Chiro's article is more extensive, and worth reading. It's fair to say that the Bishops need the help of the Holy Spirit at their meeting. It's also fair to say that simply following Rome's lead will be the best course.

See, for example, this snippet from Fr. Kenneth Baker's article in Latin Mass magazine, excerpted by Pertinacious Papist:

In the introductory paragraphs Benedict XVI refers to the Supreme Pontiff or the Roman Pontiff seven times. This is significant. He makes it very clear in the second paragraph that the liturgy of the church is determined by the Roman Pontiff and not by the local Bishops and their liturgical committees. He says therefore that the local church must be in conformity with the universal Church. In a certain sense after 1970, because of the many options and the power of the Bishops' conferences, Pope Paul VI and John Paul II lost control of the liturgy. Now Pope Benedict is reminding the Bishops that only the Pope, the Supreme Pontiff, has the authority to determine the liturgical worship in the Catholic Church.

Which means that Bp. Traut-person and those of his ilk (still a vocal, if aging and enfeebled, minority) should review the meaning of the term "obedience."

Frankly, Excellencies, when YOU thumb your collective noses at Rome, you are telling the laity that it's open season for thumbing their noses at the Bishops.

Or don't you understand that yet--after 50 years of Sturm und Drang?

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