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Liturgical Relativism? - RedCaves - 06-30-2013

This post that I type is a very serious one because it involves the truth about what and how liturgy is and should be. Therefore, I would really appreciate it if I can get some scholarly feedback.

In my last semester at college, I took a religion class called "Liturgical Music and Theology". In it, we read Liturgy Documents, its rules, regional regulations, and how it relates to the type of music that is essential to the liturgy.

I told my professor on the first day who I was in terms of "liturgical loyalties" and he didn't seem to mind. I told him how dissatisfied I was with the liturgy being done there and how I compared it to a "hippie fest" that was stuck in the 70's. He told me, however, to keep an open mind about the liturgy being done since we can find beauty and Christ at the chapel.

Throughout the semester, we talked in-depth the why's and why nots of including certain types of music for Mass. Every time I tried to say that this type of music was wrong or inappropriate, instead of agreeing with me, he would always ask us "Why?" and "by what principle do you reject it?", etc.

Granted, as a professor, he was trying to make us critically think about how to word our responses, but when I told him about Fr. Cekada's comment about how extremely inappropriate it was to use Negro spirituals at a Catholic Mass, he encouraged us to find a reason as to how it can serve, for example, an African-American Catholic community. I would have thought that he would say, "Well, of course that's wrong because...etc"

When I read documents such as Sacrosanctum Concillium, "Sing to the Lord: Music for Divine Worship, Milwaukee statement, etc. I was surprised to find out that  many of the things that I complained were actually, more or less, permitted by the authoritative documents. Basically, from what I've read, the documents gave a "blank check" for bishops and priests to use on what is deemed appropriate to use in Mass,  be it music or whatever.

As long as you can find a reason for it to be sacred, it can be used in the liturgy. That was my impression.

What do you guys and gals think? Does liturgical relativism exist? If so, where, how, and is it really authorized by Rome or I am just misunderstanding the documents?


Re: Liturgical Relativism? - JayneK - 06-30-2013

I think this is an example of what Michael Davies called "time bombs" of Vatican II. It was not the intent of the majority of Council Fathers that the documents be taken as they have, but the vagueness and ambiguity of the wording do permit it.  So technically, it is authorized by Rome.




Re: Liturgical Relativism? - RedCaves - 06-30-2013

(06-30-2013, 07:17 PM)JayneK Wrote: I think this is an example of what Michael Davies called "time bombs" of Vatican II. It was not the intent of the majority of Council Fathers that the documents be taken as they have, but the vagueness and ambiguity of the wording do permit it.  So technically, it is authorized by Rome.

That's sad to read.

If I were to say this to any official from Rome, they would deny this. It's even more sad that a man of dubious orthodoxy, such as Cardinal Kasper, is the only one to come out say, "Huh? Oh, yeah, there are ambiguities in the documents."

Stuff like that scares me.


Re: Liturgical Relativism? - JayneK - 06-30-2013

(06-30-2013, 07:29 PM)RedCaves Wrote: That's sad to read.

If I were to say this to any official from Rome, they would deny this. It's even more sad that a man of dubious orthodoxy, such as Cardinal Kasper, is the only one to come out say, "Huh? Oh, yeah, there are ambiguities in the documents."

Stuff like that scares me.

Yes, I find this very disturbing and I do not see an obvious solution.  I just try to trust God, keep calm and carry on.


Re: Liturgical Relativism? - SaintSebastian - 07-01-2013

The problem is it is difficult to establish a universal standard for music style, which is why general guidlelines are given, but it is ultimately left to the discretion of bishops and priests as to what fits those guidelines. That the music contain nothing heretical is an easy standard regarding content, but after that, what can you do? I guess you could restrict the instruments that are permissable, but I've heard "hippie fest' music played on an organ quite often.

RedCaves, how would you regulate liturgical music? What rules could one make that would get rid of such hymns? How do you define "hippie fest" music? Most of us here know it when we hear it, but we'd need an objective standard that could be objectively judged and verified.

It's pretty much an all or nothing thing.  The Church could forbid all hymns and mandate only the text of Mass be chanted and issue one uniform book of settings, but the Church has never done this in history as far as I know (I could be wrong).    Other than doing this, it seems to me it has to ultimately left to the discretion and judgment of pastors.


Re: Liturgical Relativism? - Tim - 07-01-2013

If I was in charge I'd restrict it to Chant and only some small amount polyphony, all of which must be sacred music and I'd not allow any stringed instruments or piano forte type instruments. Horns for special occasion would need special permission from Rome. Specifically for the NO Mass this would set all of the singers and choirs to work translating the Latin Chant to the vernacular. That'd keep them busy for a few centuries. 

tim


Re: Liturgical Relativism? - RedCaves - 07-01-2013

(07-01-2013, 11:16 AM)SaintSebastian Wrote: The problem is it is difficult to establish a universal standard for music style, which is why general guidlelines are given, but it is ultimately left to the discretion of bishops and priests as to what fits those guidelines. That the music contain nothing heretical is an easy standard regarding content, but after that, what can you do? I guess you could restrict the instruments that are permissable, but I've heard "hippie fest' music played on an organ quite often.

RedCaves, how would you regulate liturgical music? What rules could one make that would get rid of such hymns? How do you define "hippie fest" music? Most of us here know it when we hear it, but we'd need an objective standard that could be objectively judged and verified.

It's pretty much an all or nothing thing.  The Church could forbid all hymns and mandate only the text of Mass be chanted and issue one uniform book of settings, but the Church has never done this in history as far as I know (I could be wrong).    Other than doing this, it seems to me it has to ultimately left to the discretion and judgment of pastors.

The thing is, taking the class has "proven" to me that there really is no objective when it comes to taste of music. I thought that if I had authority, I would only allow Gregorian chant and/or organ music, but I realized that history was not on my side.

With a few requirements, such as no heresy (if they pay attention to that), the music can be almost anything!

Comments on bashing guitar music at Mass, ethnic instrumentation, etc. which happen to be a Traditionalist past time, is no longer a valid form of criticism since it is sanctioned by priests and bishops, who apparently understand better than the average layman/laywoman about the documents on how liturgy should be.

Instead, we should all be part of it as something that is natural and normal in our day and age.


Re: Liturgical Relativism? - dark lancer - 07-01-2013

I always figured that people did not serve themselves at Mass, so it would be pointless to try to figure out how to use liturgical music to "serve" African-Americans, or Poles, or Irish, or Italians, or whatever.


Re: Liturgical Relativism? - lauermar - 07-02-2013

I once read a post by a priest on a FB page called S.L.A.P. (survivors of liturgical abuse in parishes). He is a pastor of a Spanish-speaking community. His parishioners asked him to allow Mariachi bands at mass and he vetoed it. He said it belongs outside of mass because it doesn't show the proper form or reverence to God to be included in mass. He told his parishioners that mass shouldn't feel the same as an ethnic street festival. I quite agree.