Monday, May 10, 2010

Training for holiness

~from the Preface to the Liber Brevior.
Holy Mother the Church has received from God the charge of training the souls of the faithful in all holiness, and for this noble end has ever made a happy use of the help of the sacred Liturgy. Wherein - in order that men's minds may not be sundered by differences, but that, on the contrary, the unity which gives vigour and beauty to the mystical body of Christ might flourish unimpaired - she has been zealous to keep the traditions of our forefathers, ever trying diligently to discover and boldly to restore any which might have been forgotten in the course of the ages.

Now among those things which most nearly touch the sacred Liturgy, being as it were interwoven therein and giving it splendour and impressiveness, the first place must be assigned to the Sacred Chant. We have, indeed, all learnt from experience that it gives a certain breadth to divine worship and uplifts the mind in wondrous wise to heavenly things. Wherefore the Church has never ceased to recommend the use of the Chant, and has striven with the greatest assiduity and diligence to prevent its decline from its pristine dignity.

To this end liturgical music must possess those characteristics which make it preeminently sacred and adapted to the good of souls. It must surely emphasise above all else the dignity of divine worship, and at the same time be able to express pleasantly and truly the sentiments of the christian soul. It must also be catholic, answering to the needs of every people, country and age, and combine simplicity with artistic perfection.
So why are we stuck in the 70s and 80s with Haugen/Haas? Why haven't we outgrown the silliness of this music? Is anyone really convinced the "Mass of Creation" combines simplicity with artistic perfection?

At the Pilgrims' Mass that we assisted in at Santiago de Compostola, the celebrant said, "We are from many lands and languages, so we will sing in the language of Mother Church." So we sang the Ordinary in Latin and the Paternoster in Latin. Can you imagine how powerful that was? To be in an ancient place of pilgrimage, partaking of Holy Eucharist, chanting in the language of the Church, with fellow pilgrims from all over the world chanting in one voice, in one language.

Why is it that at diocesan liturgical events we must sing and pray in every other language in God's green earth taking an eternity to get through it all, and ignore the mother tongue of the Church? Instead, the simplicity of Agnus Dei gets overblown into a market bazaar of languages, highlighting our ethnicities, balkanizing us. But God forbid we sing it in Latin because no one understands it. Note to liturgists, I've taught our pre-Kindergarten class the Agnus Dei and the Sanctus, explained to them the meanings, made a game of it. And guess what? They know it, they sing it. At every school Mass, putting to shame the adults who would not deign to sing Latin. Or worse, leave the church for somewhere else, like a Pentecostal church (because speaking in tongues there is more desirable than Latin). Oh, and half of the kids in the pre-K class are not Catholic. And no, they haven't burst into flames for singing Latin or Gregorian chant, for that matter.

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