Saturday, February 16, 2013

Bishop Alexander Sample issues pastoral letter as he leaves Marquette for Portland

Bishop Sample in October 2012 leaving the sanctuary at Assumption Grotto
following a Pontifical High Mass he celebrated.

Scanning the headlines at Catholic Culture this morning, my eyes caught an interesting title:
Bishop Sample issues pastoral letter on sacred music.  One thing I really like about Catholic Culture's presentation of the news is that there are always original source links included at the bottom.  Such is the case here where we can read the pastoral letter itself, entitled, "Rejoice in the Lord Always", as well as the press release.

Why Now?

One might wonder why Archbishop-designate Sample would issue a vision for sacred music in a diocese that he is leaving.  The answer is given to us in the press release:

The music Upper Peninsula Catholics hear and sing at Mass is about to change, as Bishop Alexander K. Sample sets the vision for an authentic renewal and reform of sacred music in line with Vatican II and the mind of the Church. 
Bishop Sample signed his Pastoral Letter on Sacred Music in Divine Worship, “Rejoice in the Lord Always,” on the Memorial of St. Agnes, Jan. 21, and released it on Feb. 12. [n.b., Bishop Sample's appointment to Portland came just over a week later] 

“In any discussion of the ars celebrandi (the ‘art of celebrating’) as it relates to the Holy Mass, perhaps nothing is more important or has a greater impact than the place of sacred music,” states Bishop Sample in the introduction to his final pastoral letter to the Church in the Diocese of Marquette. 
The press release then elaborates:

Bishop Sample had originally intended that the document, titled “Rejoice in the Lord Always,” would form part of a larger pastoral letter on the sacred liturgy, which he had been working on for a year.   
Due to his appointment as Archbishop of Portland in Oregon, he stated that this larger work would not be completed, even though he hopes to finish that more comprehensive message at a later time.  
“The first section of the pastoral letter on the sacred liturgy to be finished was this piece on sacred music,” noted Bishop Sample.  “I have decided to issue it as a ‘stand alone’ letter.”
His reasons for doing so are twofold.  First, this document had already been distributed in draft form to the musicians of the diocese at the sacred music conference held in Marquette last summer.  Second, the pastoral letter will provide the incoming director of sacred music for the diocese and St. Peter Cathedral with the authority to help shape the reform and renewal of sacred music in the U.P.
There you have it. I'm glad it's out and I look forward to reading it in it's entirety.  I look forward to future pastoral letters.

The pastoral letter takes aim at bringing sacred music into harmony with Church documents.  Quoting the press release again:

In his pastoral letter, Bishop Sample sets the stage by stating, “What is attempted here is a faithful presentation of what the Church has taught as it regards sacred music from the time before the Council (Vatican II), at the Council itself, and in the implementation of the Council’s thought in subsequent years. 
“Although much of what follows may contravene the formation that many have experienced over recent years, this is in no way to be interpreted as a criticism of those dedicated Church musicians who have offered their service with a generous heart and with good will.” 
The pastoral letter contains sections on the history, nature, purpose, qualities and treasury of sacred music in the Church, pointing out that “Gregorian Chant…should be given pride of place in liturgical services.” (Vatican II’s Sacrosanctum Concilium)

There are some very interesting things to be found in the letter, which I have not yet read.  I'm not a fan of reading reports about pastoral letters, encyclicals, etc. (at least, stopping there and not going to the original document).  With that, I would encourage you to read his pastoral letter in full.

Here are the links again:

For interesting news items I don't have time to blog on, check out my Twitter Feed: @TeDeumBlog

Te Deum Laudamus! Home

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

- Diane M. Korzeniewski

Note: The recommended links below are automatically generated by the tool, so they are not necessarily related content.