Sunday, October 29, 2006

Bishop Morlino: We ain't the focus

That's the Bishop of Madison, WI (home of the wonderful folks at Evangelical Catholic). He's just issued a short document on the music used at Mass. [Hat tip Amy]
After the council, an overemphasis was given to the presence of Christ in the assembly, so that the other ways Christ is even more sacramentally intensely present suffered a certain neglect.

Evidence of that is given through the occurrence, not unusual throughout the United States, of the practice of the taking of the consecrated Precious Blood of Christ, which remained after Mass, and pouring it down the sacrarium or even an ordinary sink. Evidence of this is also given in the need seen universally among the Bishops of the United States to issue a document affirming and clarifying our belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharistic species.
The question arises, does some of the music routinely sung embody the incorrect overemphasis on the presence of Christ in the assembly, so that people are confused as to the importance of the sacramental intensity of His presence, especially under the signs of bread and wine.

Certain songs come to mind where the lyrics raise a real question for me. For example: "We are called, We are chosen, We are Christ for one another, We are a promise, We are sower, We are seed, We are question, We are creed." Singing that song repeatedly teaches people something, and I am afraid that it is something that I as Bishop do not want to teach them, but we certainly need to begin a dialogue about these matters.
And I seriously doubt that this means that Bp. Morlino wants to impose the Tridentine Rite or use Latin exclusively. The music at EC Masses (which has his full backing, and in which he's participated) is largley Protestant-Evangelical Praise & Worship, with the occasional traditional or contemporary hymn and, yes, Latin, thrown in. (EC isn't easily pigeon-holed. Thankfully.)

Liturgy, and even more so, liturgical music, continues to be scandalously divisive. I pray that the our Bishops' discusison on music during their November meeting is fruitful.


Jennifer said...

That's pretty interesting. My home parish plays that song quite a bit. When I worked in youth ministry, it was a favorite. It is definitely community oriented. While I was reading this post, I could hear that song in my head.

At the same time, one of the things I like about the Protestant churches I've visited is their praise music. For me, that's where I experienced music as prayer for the first time.

I had to laugh at an editorial in the latest Crisis magazine. I can't remember the name of the author, but he went off on the song "Awesome God." He questioned the place of a song using "slang" being sung anywhere under any circumstances. Instead, he offered, youth and young adults should learn to understand and enjoy traditional hymns (I have never heard of the type of hymns he was referring to). On top of fact that I wanted to write him to let him know that "Awesome God" became popular while I was in junior high and that I am now 35, I didn't find his editorial convincing. With the exception of slang, his arguments against praise and worship music pretty much boiled down to "I just don't get it." Why should the youth learn about and understand his ancient hymnal when he can't seem to get past the fact that "awesome" was only slang word in his day.

I will be interested to find out what happens with liturgical music. Whatever does happen, I wonder if anyone will be happy.

Gashwin said...

Yeah ... sometimes those on the "other side" go overboard too, thinking that unless it was composed before 1900, it's tainted, or the only appropriate language for worship is Latin.

I like the melody of "Gather us in" and think it is pretty. But I think the problem is larger than this one hymn, which epitomizes an idea of church that focuses on the community to the exclusion of everything else, especially God.

That is something no one can accuse Praise & Worship hymns of doing, that's for sure.

Yeah, I wish our good Bishops would do something, but it's also not just up to them. People get worked up about music, and lots of turf wars and battles and what not will follow, no matter what the Bishops decide to do. The division on music is a symptom of the wider division or polarization within the Church.