Friday, April 18, 2008

The following is a compilation of three responses I made in other blog comboxes regarding the Papal Mass at Nationals' Stadium in D.C.

Katherine, a very well known poster from various lists offered the following in the RPInet Listserve:

"Just back from the Mass. I was spiritually rewarded by every minute of it."

To which I felt compelled to respond:

Katherine, mon ami, I know you choose your words very carefully, which I truly respect. There is no reason to doubt or call to question what you said above.This being a thread concerned with liturgical music in general, and the music at service of this specific Mass, I have no reason, from your words, to believe you endorse the "spectacle" and cavalcading potpourri of "showpieces" that, IMO, was a gilded cage that kept the flight of grace and the Holy Spirit captive to egoism on the part of many.What saddens me most is that at Vespers the Holy Father was integral as both a figurehead, and more importantly as a humble worshipper sharing in the heavenly dialogue. But at this "event" at the stadium, he was as celebrant, mostly a spectator. Concessions, whether sublime and unspoken, or deftly articulated between the archdiocese and young Marini, were made. The Holy Father conceded to spoken orations despite his known proclivities and love of sung prayer. The Lessons and Gospel's proclamations were slathered in bravado and hubris, not humility.I've, myself, strayed from the music, but when you conclude the psalm with a cadence that is only more ambiguous than Sondheim because it lacks Sondheim's expertise and surety, and whose text calls clearly, obviously for consonance, not an Ives'ian "Unanswered Question," then the rest of the lineup is pretty much doomed. Communion was anything but. Some elsewhere have almost applauded Haugen's MoC acclamations simply by contrast to the Lead Zepplins of the litany of "aren't we so PC and cool" Communion pieces. I don't buy that either, as the lag time between invocations by Benedict to the fanfare of brass introductions works against whatever austere simplicity MoC intrinsically has.AMERICAN IDOL as it has evolved, has more integrity than the truly baroque monstrosity that this Mass's musical repertoire contained.But what do I know? I'm just a working stiff in a rural outpost on the Left Coast.I do know that I wish the crypt of the Basilica could've held thousands of regular faithful beyond the American princes, so that they could have sung and heard that music which is undeniably Roman Catholic.With respect,Charles

Among the hundreds of combox critiques and observations at the New Liturgical Movement, Jeffrey Tucker's first post regarding the musical performances unleashed a veritable Pandora's Box of charges and counter-charges that all but declared this event the last trumpet blast before a liturgical Armageddon. Among the mix of venom, bile, reason and reaction, one post by the ever-practical Richard Rice (if my instincts are correct as to his identity) struck me as particularly cogent. I augmented his post as follows:

Richard R (Rice?) hit the nailhead squarely. Our sewing circle here can banter 'til hell freezes over about how every macro and microcosmic aspect of the DC "spectacle" edifies their own philosophical perspective on what constitutes proper, much less licit liturgy. So what?The seemingly purposeful detachment of our bishops (hence to their priests) from serious engagement collegially as how to address equally serious issues of worship practice in their local sees is the real disaster.Yesterday's stadium Mass was certainly a "Hindenburg." But what political entity's hubris mandated the engineering of such an innovative and symbolic spectacle?Lotsa hubris yesterday evident throughout. Hubris is not in any way, shape or form to be found integrally in music. It can be found in both composer and performer, and then made manifest in their music. Sure. What was evidently missing yesterday was true humility from whomever served as architects of that brokedown, baroque, monstrous musical palace. And that lack of humility was heartbreaking, because as Richard R aptly states, it diminishes authentic worship to the status of mere ceremony. And many of us live that heartbreak daily as we try ever so often, with ingenuity, charity and deference, to engage our parish pastors to enter into dialogues concerning the "hows" of our worship. Only to find more indifference and disengagement.

In Jeffrey Tucker's second commentary post on the music for this event, he was describing his perception of the different economies at play that likely spawned the harbinger of doom for post-conciliar, American worship music standards. But he couldn't resist this little barb, which is found ever so often on the largely traditional boards spoken by many who still are regaled in the luxuries of youth and distance from the evil, egocentric, perpetual adolescent "baby boomers."-

"It must be said: they're old and unteachable."

Poor boy, he couldn't see that it wasn't a fastball down the middle, but a slider, and swung away anyway....

Jeffrey, with all respect, why do you believe it necessary to use stereotypes to fortify a contention of yours? Yes, there is a problem of attitude and education. And I agree (see my post in your earlier thread) that humility among our ranks, both as musical leadership and certainly as Catholics, must remain evident in our ongoing duties. And I agree that a majority of designated leaders of music in parishes and perhaps even cathedrals aren't interested in these truly progressive ideals being realized. But it ought NOT be said that such are "old and unteachable."I'm not taking personal umbrage at that. It simply isn't the whole truth.If you want to offer a general characterization of the modern, Catholic music director (which won't be much different than those in earlier eras I suspect) you can cite the somewhat trained (degreed) musician who trots from parish to parish every few years, demonstrates little interest in either the musical or spiritual formation and improvement of his/her volunteer personnel, who resigns themselves to whatever repertoire a predecessor or hymn product was in place as they arrived, who has little interest in engaging their pastor/employer with issues that are "difficult" so as not to be a provocateur, and so forth.I'm really sickened by a sort of common notion that this whole melange of a mess often gets laid at the feet of so-called "aging hippies."When in doubt, just refer to Pogo: "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

After viewing the balance of liturgies during the Holy Father's visit, I'll take some time before posting again on this subject. In the meanwhile, I'm mindful of something Todd Flowerday posted prior to the visit that basically suggested we all cool our jets (like that was gonna happen) and don't get all exorcized by the hoopla attendant to these mega shows, and make sure we tend our own gardens in the meanwhile.

No comments: