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Beauty & Liturgy — 4 Comments

  1. Greetings & Blessings Father!

    Beautiful article, thank you for your post. In regards to the quotes below which I noted because they really stood out to me in this article: (Comment follows the “>>>>>”)

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    “It may have happened on some occasion that you paused before a sculpture, a picture, a few verses of a poem or a piece of music that you found deeply moving, that gave you a sense of joy, a clear perception, that is, that what you beheld was not only matter, a piece of marble or bronze, a painted canvas, a collection of letters or an accumulation of sounds, but something greater, something that “speaks”, that can touch the heart, communicate a message, uplift the mind.”

    “a God experience”

    “some artistic expressions are real highways to God, the supreme Beauty; indeed, they help us to grow in our relationship with him, in prayer.”

    “The Liturgy became like a toy that we shape in our own image, rather than the Liturgy shaping us and our spiritual lives.”

    “I remember a concert of music by Johann Sebastian Bach in Munich, conducted by Leonard Bernstein. At the end of the last passage, one of the Cantatas, I felt, not by reasoning but in the depths of my heart, that what I had heard had communicated truth to me, the truth of the supreme composer, and impelled me to thank God. The Lutheran bishop of Munich was next to me and I said to him spontaneously: “in hearing this one understands: it is true; such strong faith is true, as well as the beauty that irresistibly expresses the presence of God’s truth”
    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

    I want to offer my experience & understanding of 'sacred music' within the Liturgy with the hopes that you may enlighten me and help me to grow in my understanding.

    As I've mentioned, my blog, "The Catholic Worship Blog" seeks to understand the concept of worship within the Church. Naturally, the majority of worship in the Church is liturgical and accompanied by "sacred music". In the post, “How to become a Catholic Worship-music Leader in 3 Steps” I quickly offer Sacrosanctum Concilium’s definition of scared music as that which, ““adds delight to prayer, fosters unity of minds, or confers greater solemnity upon the sacred rites.”SSC112 I also share 116’s designation of chant has having “principem locus” or “principle place” within the liturgy.

    As a Catholic musician who enjoys both Chant & modern praise & worship music as two forms of prayer, both of which enable me to grow in my relationship with God & prayer – I wonder though – is it possible to ascribe these principles to a SMALL percentage of modern praise & worship music so that they too may be appropriately used within the liturgy in order to do that which “sacred music” ought to do. (see SSC 112).

    I agree with you Father, that liturgy is NOT about preference. It’s not about the music that “suits me”, however, I truly believe that we as Catholic Musicians have not seriously taken to prayer & study the possibility of another form of ‘sacred music’ – modern praise & worship that is shaped by the Liturgy & its principles.

    Please do not misunderstand me. I do not want to introduce profane music into the solemn liturgy. I am familiar with what the Pope describes in his book Spirit of the Liturgy as, “rock [music]…the expression of elemental passions, and at rock festivals it assumes a cultic character, a form of worship, in fact, in opposition to Christian worship. People are, so to speak, released from themselves by the experience of being part of a crowd and by the emotional shock of rhythm, noise, and special lighting effects. However, in the ecstasy of having all their defenses torn down, the participants sink, as it were, beneath the elemental force of the universe.” And I understand the feelings of others regarding contemporary praise & worship as emotive, individualistic, & banal. However, this quick dismissal of ALL forms of contemporary praise & worship that utilizes easy chord progressions, basic melody lines, and simple lyrics may be a disservice to the Church.

    Yes, chant ought to have principle place, and in most music ministry circles it does – however I believe there is still room in the liturgy for something as young (compared to how old chant is), unique, and organic as modern praise and worship music. We are JUST beginning to see the fruits of using this music in the liturgy and while there is definite need of reform & redirection, there is also much fruit that has been born that is good & I believe we should cling to in order to understand it better.

    Could it be the case, that p&w music – when discerned & scrutinized through the principles of sacred music of the Church & the notions of beauty you put forth here- be called ‘beautiful’ & ‘a real highway to God’, yes. I do believe so. Thank you and God bless!

  2. Pingback: Beauty & Liturgy – repost via iPadre & CWB response | Catholic Worship Online

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