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Saturday, November 16, 2013

And the Debate Continues

I regret that Mr. Feduccia, the general manager for OCP's Spirit and Song division, was upset because of my previous post.  My posting his email was not meant to cause him embarrassment; however, if one is involved in publishing music that is meant for use in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, there is a demand for accountability.  The "emperor's new clothes" are not necessarily new.  In fact, as the boy in the fable pointed out, they aren't even clothes at all.

The reason why I chose to make this a public discourse is precisely because, at some point, OCP needs to be held accountable for what is produces.  It seems to me that we are more concerned about the "trans fat" affecting our diets than about the issues affecting the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which should be our greater worry.  This debate needs to be out in the open.  I apologize if this forum offended him; it was certainly not my intention.

In fairness to Mr. Feduccia, here is my own response to him. It is lengthy because I have quoted the appropriate sources to answer the points that he made in his email.


Dear Mr. Feduccia:

I regret that my posting your remarks on my blog upset you; however, the response that you gave me is similar to previous conversations that I have had with OCP.

You did not address the concerns that I had, which, interestingly enough, are being shared by bishops who responded to the Lineamenta that the Holy See sent out in preparation for the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist.  The Synod Fathers and the bishop-respondents clearly noted that there were issues with the kinds of music used at “Youth Masses”.  The genre that both they and I referenced, seems to me, is one and the same with that of Spirit and Song.

You noted that you were "befuddled" that the priests who have come into their vocation through LifeTeen are now rejecting the music (e.g. Spirit and Song) that they encountered while part of that movement.  Perhaps it could be because, in their studies in the seminary, these priests realized that this particular genre is not conducive to the sacred nature of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  It may work well for settings outside of the sacred liturgy, but, not for the Mass itself.  Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI made this point in Sacramentum Caritatis, No. 42, which I quoted in my initial correspondence to you.

With all due respect, even the citations from the GIRM and Sacrosanctum Concilium do not make your point.  I believe that the inculturation that SC refers to is more applicable to the scenario that you presented from your visit to Africa than it would for youth.   Even Blessed John Paul II, who founded World Youth Day, voice caution in citing inculturation.  In his Chirograph on Sacred Music, issued two years before his death, the Supreme Pontiff wrote that:

6. The music and song requested by the liturgical reform - it is right to stress this point - must comply with the legitimate demands of adaptation and inculturation. It is clear, however, that any innovation in this sensitive matter must respect specific criteria such as the search for musical expressions which respond to the necessary involvement of the entire assembly in the celebration and which, at the same time, avoid any concessions to frivolity or superficiality. Likewise, on the whole, those elitist forms of "inculturation" which introduce into the Liturgy ancient or contemporary compositions of possible artistic value, but that indulge in a language that is incomprehensible to the majority, should be avoided. 
In this regard St Pius X pointed out - using the term universal - a further prerequisite of music destined for worship: "...while every nation", he noted, "is permitted to admit into its ecclesiastical compositions those special forms which may be said to constitute its native music, still these forms must be subordinate in such a manner to the general character of sacred music, that nobody of any nation may receive an impression other than good on hearing them"[16]. In other words, the sacred context of the celebration must never become a laboratory for experimentation or permit forms of composition and performance to be introduced without careful review.

Regarding musicality, Blessed John Paul II also made some very strong observations, along the same vein as both his successor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and his predecessors, Pope St. Pius X and Pope Paul VI, when he noted that:

4. In continuity with the teachings of St Pius X and the Second Vatican Council, it is necessary first of all to emphasize that music destined for sacred rites must have holiness as its reference point:  indeed, "sacred music increases in holiness to the degree that it is intimately linked with liturgical action"[11]. For this very reason, "not all without distinction that is outside the temple (profanum) is fit to cross its threshold", my venerable Predecessor Paul VI wisely said, commenting on a Decree of the Council of Trent[12]. And he explained that "if music - instrumental and vocal - does not possess at the same time the sense of prayer, dignity and beauty, it precludes the entry into the sphere of the sacred and the religious"[13]. Today, moreover, the meaning of the category "sacred music" has been broadened to include repertoires that cannot be part of the celebration without violating the spirit and norms of the Liturgy itself. 
St Pius X's reform aimed specifically at purifying Church music from the contamination of profane theatrical music that in many countries had polluted the repertoire and musical praxis of the Liturgy. In our day too, careful thought, as I emphasized in the Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, should be given to the fact that not all the expressions of figurative art or of music are able "to express adequately the mystery grasped in the fullness of the Church's faith"[14]. Consequently, not all forms of music can be considered suitable for liturgical celebrations. 
5. Another principle, affirmed by St Pius X in the Motu Proprio Tra le Sollecitudini and which is closely connected with the previous one, is that of sound form. There can be no music composed for the celebration of sacred rites which is not first of all "true art" or which does not have that efficacy "which the Church aims at obtaining in admitting into her Liturgy the art of musical sounds"[15].

Furthermore, the citation from the GIRM clearly states that the default music for the Church is found in the Introit and the Antiphons, something that OCP has never taken into consideration.  There is no need to have a book featuring 200 songs when the Church has already given us the Gradual Roman, which OCP, in my opinion, continues to ignore.

You indicated that the USCCB document, Sing to the Lord, served as the reference point for Spirit and Song.  However, the document seems to be more suggestive than regulatory in nature.  Even that document, which was never sent to the Holy See for the necessary recognitio, had to be corrected because it encouraged adding additional tropes to the Agnus Dei, even though Sacrosanctum Concilium, which you yourself quoted in your correspondence to me, prohibits anyone from making additions to the sacred texts of the liturgy. Certainly, Sing to the Lord is binding when it quotes and emphasizes existing law; however, to base one's liturgical programming simply on that document, while ignoring what the Holy See has extensively written (including what Popes have officially stated) is to fail to perform due diligence.

With regard to active participation, I believe that there seems to be a well-meaning, but, misguided, interpretation on your part.  I was privileged to hear Malcolm Cardinal Ranjinth address the Gateway Liturgical Conference in 2008 when I was in St. Louis, Missouri.  At the time, he was an archbishop and Secretary to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.  He noted that there is a false perception of what "actuosa participatio" means.

The pope (Benedict XVI), in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy, defines actuosa participatio as a call to a total assimilation in the very action of Christ the High Priest. It is in no way a call to activism, a misunderstanding that spread widely in the aftermath of Sacrosanctum Concilium. Stated Cardinal Ratzinger: “what does it [active participation] mean...? Unfortunately the word was very quickly misunderstood to mean something external, entailing a need for general activity, as if as many people as possible, as often as possible, should be visibly engaged in action” (The Spirit of the Liturgy, 2000, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, p. 171). 
We know that in many places this led to the amalgamation of the sanctuary with the assembly, the clericalization of the laity and the filling up of the sanctuary with the noisy and distracting presence of a large number of people. One could say that virtually Wall Street moved into the sanctuary. But was that really what the Council Fathers advocated? Cardinal Ratzinger does not think so. For him, “the real ‘action’ in the liturgy in which we are all supposed to participate is the action of God Himself. This is what is new and distinctive about Christian liturgy: God Himself acts and does what is essential” (ibid, p. 173). 
This kind of participation in the very action of Christ, the High Priest, requires from us nothing less than an attitude of being totally absorbed in Him. Says the cardinal “the point is that, ultimately, the difference between the actio Christi and our own action is done away with. There is only one action, which is at the same time His and ours — ours because we have become ‘one body and one spirit ‘with Him” (ibid p. 174).
Active participation, thus, is not a giving way to any activism but an integral and total assimilation into the person of Christ who is truly the High Priest of that eternal and uninterrupted celebration of the heavenly liturgy. 
The Council’s Constitution on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, too, as we know, spoke of this when it defined liturgy further as a foretaste of the “heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the Holy City of Jerusalem towards which we journey as pilgrims, and in which Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, a minister of the sanctuary and of the true Tabernacle” (cf. Rev. 21:2; Col. 3:1; Heb. 8:2)-(SC 8). 
Hence, everything we do should help us to achieve that and that alone is the true meaning of the “participatio”: a taking part in a bigger actio. Participatio itself is, I would say, in this sense, an ars [art] where we ourselves are not the artists; neither do we follow an art taught or handed down to us by others, but allow the Lord to be the artist through us, becoming part of what He does. As far as we are concerned, it is participatio in the order of “esse” — being. All that we do in liturgy makes us achieve that union with the eternal high priest, Christ and His sanctifying offering. The more we become part of the oratio of Christ, His eternal self-offering to God as the expiatory Sacrificial Lamb (Rev. 14:1-5), so much more would it be able to transform us into the Logos and make us experience the redeeming effects of such a transformation. Without that, as Cardinal Ratzinger wrote, we would radically misunderstand the “theo-drama” of the liturgy, lapsing into mere parody (cf. ibid p. 175).

In other words, one can actively participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by uniting oneself with the prayers that are chanted (Introits and Antiphons).  Actuosa Participatio is not confined to vocal nor physical activity. I have experienced this first hand whenever I have been at a Mass where the Propers are chanted.  I may not know the melody, but, I can unite myself to these prayers.  In fact, even when I have gone to Masses at Our Lady of Walsingham Church, the Oridinariate Parish in Houston, the chants used are quite conducive to prayer that they foster a sense of the divine, encouraging interior prayer.  This is also quite true in the chanting of the Propers in Latin during the Papal Masses. These chants, regardless of the language, set a sacred tone to the Mass because they signal to us that Something, Someone greater than ourselves is present. Spirit and Song, in my opinion, fails, lamentably, to do this.  This is perhaps why the priests who were formally a part of LifeTeen when they were adolescents are now rejecting this particular genre of music.

I realize that this is a lengthy response; however, in charity, I am compelled to point out these things that I believe OCP fails to take into account, not only in Spirit and Song, but in its other collections, most notably, Flor y Canto.  OCP carries an obligation to adhere to the Church documents and to produce sacred music that "respects the meaning of the liturgy (Sacramentum Caritatis 42)" so that such "correspond(s) to the meaning of the mystery celebrated, the structure of the rite and the liturgical seasons."

With all due respect, Spirit and Song does not live up to this test.  In the end, both the liturgy and the youth are cheated out of proper liturgical music.

Respectfully submitted,
Michelle Marie Romani

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