Sunday, March 07, 2004

Killing me softly with his song
And who is he? Tom Conry. It is the start of the second week of Lent and it finally happened. Ashes -- the song! If truth be told, it should really be "killing me swiftly." Aaaaagggghhhhh!

See Fr. Keyes' treatment of this at the New Gasparian. Also, an article by George Weigel on sacred music is quite good, as are most things George does.

The other thing that kills me is the replacement of the responsorial psalm chosen by the Church with songs adapted from or loosely based upon a psalm. What happens when I, as the homilist, want to make hefty reference to the psalm, only to have it pulled out from underneath my homily like some worn rug? It reminds me how much the priest needs to be involved in clearly training those who assist in any fashion, as well as training the whole parish, about the very essence of the Holy Mass.

And this is not the fault of the laity. I believe priests have been for many decades now largely laissez-faire regarding the Sacred Liturgy. The laity who are paid or who volunteer to plan and play music are often just thrown into the project with no theological or pastoral training. They do the best they can and they presume, and rightly so, that hymns found in approved books are fair game. Sadly, I'm not impressed with many of the contemporary choices in approved hymnals. I think priests need to be far more involved in all aspects of the planning of the Sacred Liturgy. We need to be far more discriminating regarding musical selections. And please, please, do not withhold Latin from parishes until Lent, promoting the idea that using the Church's sacred treasury of Latin is some sort of "penance."

Psalm 74 has become my cry when considering the ruins of what has been the rape and pillage of the Sacred Liturgy, lo these many decades.

"Turn your steps toward the utter ruins, toward the sanctuary devastated by the enemy. Your foes roared triumphantly in your shrine; they set up their own tokens of victory. They hacked away like foresters gathering boughs, swinging their axes in a thicket of trees. They smashed all your engraved work, pounded it with hammer and pick. They set your sanctuary on fire; the abode of your name they razed and profaned. They said in their hearts, "Destroy them all! Burn all the shrines of God in the land!" (Ps. 74:3-8).

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