Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Archdiocesan "Plan": Will It Work?

Following the Archdiocesan synod, a new plan for evangelization has been issued by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.  The intrepid folks at Cream City Catholic reviewed the plan and found it.....ahhhh.....businesslike.

In a recent article from the Milwaukee Catholic Herald published on February 11, 2016, we are subjected to a breakdown of ideas that were offered up from the recent Archdiocesan Synod which, in part, was called to determine the causes of and solutions for low Mass attendance across the Archdiocese.

... “Direct our primary attention and strategic efforts to the weekend so that the music, message, and ministries form a high-impact, integrated evangelizing message of Good News, especially to the lost and seekers.” –Third key initiative on liturgy, 2014 Archdiocesan Synod.

Direct, strategic efforts, high-impact, integrated. . . message. 

Sounds like textbook words right out of Marketing 101. If a marketing director wanted to capture more “market share” of a given target audience, these are the words that would be used....

(To me, "high impact" is a 60 MPH collision with a tree, a howitzer round landing within 10 yards, or a lightning strike.  None of them happen inside Catholic churches on Sunday.  But I digress.)

Cream City's author highlights an interesting point here: true “marketing” strategy, the adherents of fixing problems have identified the problem areas and laid out a strategy to make it all better. McNeil states that, “If we want people to come, then it has to be attractive; we have to have good quality preaching.” She continues, “When we say good quality music, we’re not talking about a specific genre; we’re saying it needs to be well done. And (we need) good ministries that help people participate.”...

[But] ...Much... liturgical music has been replaced with “genres” that are more modern, upbeat, and coated with sugar. The choir and musicians, with instruments ranging from guitar to trumpet, are now placed just off-center stage and in many cases, they write their own music and lyrics to serve an audience that may well get caught up in the moment and burst out with clapping and sing-a-longs....

If we understand the Mass as the re-enactment of the Sacrifice of Calvary; the Mystery of Faith and the cause of our redemption, then true Ms. McNeil's demand for "integration" would call for music which reflects those realities, right?  If we understand the Mass, specifically Communion, as Christ's gift of Self to us as spiritual food, "integration" would call for music which reflects that, right?  Even more to the point:  when the Church provides specific texts to be used at every Mass, it would seem that "integrity" is best served by using those texts, right??  RIGHT???   

Well, "hymns" are NOT those texts.  Surprise!!

In general, the 'marketing plan' fails, for as Cream City points out, 

...Doesn’t it trouble you that an article about Mass has overlooked the most compelling reason any Catholic attends Mass? Where is the Eucharist in all of this discussion? The Eucharist is not mentioned even once in the article about Mass. Not once....


What is this 'Good News' about which we speak?  The death, resurrection, and self-gift of Christ, Who overcame sin!  What 'genre' of music is best for that?  The 'genre' of chant which--by the way--is utilized by the entire Eastern church, (uniate or not), by Jews and Muslims, and by Hindus (each mutatis mutandis, of course).  The Anglicans also use chant, sung in English.  It also happens to be the 'genre' mentioned FIRST by every authoritative Church document on the topic.

"Integrity" demands it, ya'know.  Evangelization is not a marketing plan, and the music of the Church is not in place to feed anything but the soul.

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