Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Commentary on the new office at CDW for music, art, and architecture

Michelangelo's masterpiece in the Vatican inspires us to contemplate the mysteries of our faith

It has been my belief for some years now, that in many quarters of the church, the mystery being celebrated has been hidden behind "noise" - both audible and visual.  What has been lost is the contemplative dimension of worship, which is hindered by such noise.  God cannot be heard in the soul above this noise.  We should be able to step out of our noisy world into a place that stills the restless soul enough to hear God.

Mass is suppose to lift us in ways the secular world cannot.  Music, art, and architecture should drive us to ponder the mysteries of our faith.  What we experience when we step into a church should not be self-seeking, but should lead us to seek the Face of God.  In this way, we say to Him: This is your hour and I a giving myself to You, unconditionally. When we let go of the world, it becomes easier to hear the voice of God above all others.

The Holy See has come to the same conclusion, probably long before me, but now it is doing something about it.  Deo gratias!

From Vatican Insider...

The Vatican Secretariat of State has approved the reorganization of the Congregation for Divine Worship. A new office for liturgical music,art and architecture has been established


Congregation of Divine Worship undergoes reform

The Secretariat of State agreed on the Congregation's restructuring last 3 September with Benedict XVI's approval: the reorganization of the Congregation of Divine Worship involved the creation of new offices that will  become operational as of next year. The main change is the establishment of an office, specifically dedicated to liturgical art and music (which Vatican Insider predicted in a previous article), which will provide guidelines to ensure that hymns sung during mass and the structure of new churches are adequate and correspond to the mystery being celebrated.

Continue reading at Vatican Insider... 

The Mass is not about what we get, but about what we give to God.  When we do this right, we do get something - graces and a closer relationship with Christ; when we do this wrong, we get self-entertainment and a distancing from Christ. This, in my opinion, has led to people believing they don't need Mass because their focus is not on giving, but on getting. If the only time someone goes to Mass is when they feel like there is something for them to get, Mass becomes self-serving.  What they don't understand is that worship should be unconditional and God-centered. We give glory to God with no strings attached.   Music, art and architecture all contribute to our right, or wrong, understanding about worship.

There is also the problem of sterile parish environments.  You walk into a parish and find it devoid of anything remotely Catholic.  They are sterile in that they do not lend themselves to meditation.  Is it any wonder why so many people talk in church, so much so, that the decibels rival those found at an indoor mall on a Saturday afternoon? These environments don't distract us from the secular and lift us into the spiritual. Some parishes are so sterile the soul reads them like a business environment.  The only thing missing are the cubicles.

I've witnessed a number of parishes undergoing transformations, so some pastors get it.   A few years ago, my geographical parish lost it's unrecognizable green, blob-like representation of the Blessed Virgin Mary that had been there for about 35 years.  Gone, around the same time, was the olive-green, Borg spaceship-style tabernacle. The current pastor rescued truly beautiful replacements from inner city parishes that had closed. I think we will see more of this, going forward.

As the 70's ushered in "folk Masses" the great parish choirs were lost.  My childhood parish had one of the finest choirs in town. Like in most parishes, it no longer exists.  Dozens of volunteers who participated in this great art form were left out in the cold as music directors, with no ability to direct them, took over and left us a few vocalists and a piano or guitar.  Chant, which was to be retained, was rendered to the monasteries. Even in many of them, it was set aside.  In the meanwhile, the secular world has discovered chant and has made it popular... except in most Catholic parishes.  Go figure.

Truth be told,  I do enjoy some good acoustic guitar music with nice vocals;  I just prefer them outside of Mass. I've heard some very talented players and gifted singers at Masses through the years.  I think our many talented musicians who play these instruments could give us wholesome music to which we can listen outside of Mass, with secular and spiritual lyrics.  It would fill a void left for people like me who have difficulty listening to music with lyrics that lift vice and shun virtue.

I look forward to what we will learn in the years to come through this new office at the Congregation for Divine Worship.

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

- Diane M. Korzeniewski

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