Cantate Domino: Musicam Sacram, 50 years later

So yesterday, I had the pleasure of singing at my Diocese’s Rite of Election, where we welcomed all of the Diocese’s candidates as neophytes preparing for full reception into the Catholic Church. I love singing when I can, and this was one of the opportunities to do so.

However, I did not expect to be in a Gothic style Cathedral with drum set, guitar, and electric bass. I understand that half of the catechumens were of Hispanic origin and some did not understand English, but that does not mean we should use unsuitable music. The whole event felt more anthropocentric and not theocentric.

I will admit that I walked away somewhat perturbed. I mean, just a couple days before, I chanted my first Ash Wednesday in the Extraordinary Form and it was a great way to start Lent.

As some of you may know from previous blog posts, I am a lover of Tradition, especially in sacred music. I’m all for making Gregorian Chant and Polyphony great again.

It was especially fitting when I got home to my computer and immediately discovered that it was 50th Anniversary of Musicam Sacram, the Instruction of Music in Liturgy.

Musicam Sacram (Second Vatican Council,  05 March 1967) stated the following:

  • Gregorian chant, as proper to the Roman liturgy, should be given pride of place, other things being equal. Its melodies, contained in the “typical” editions, should be used, to the extent that this is possible.
  • In order to preserve the heritage of sacred music and genuinely promote the new forms of sacred singing, “great importance is to be attached to the teaching and practice of music in seminaries, in the novitiates and houses of study of religious of both sexes, and also in other Catholic institutes and schools,” especially in those higher institutes intended specially for this. Above all, the study and practice of Gregorian chant is to be promoted, because, with its special characteristics, it is a basis of great importance for the development of sacred music.

I then stumbled upon a statement signed by over 200 clergy, musicians, and others, regarding the state of Sacred Music today.

Some highlights:

  • There has been a loss of understanding of the “musical shape of the liturgy,” that is, that music is an inherent part of the very essence of liturgy as public, formal, solemn worship of God.
  • It is an exhibition of the vice of “liturgical sloth” to refuse to sing the liturgy, to use “utility music” rather than sacred music, to refuse to educate oneself or others about the Church’s tradition and wishes, and to put little or no effort and resources into the building up of a sacred music program.
  • The secularism of popular musical styles has contributed to a desacralization of the liturgy, while the secularism of profit-based commercialism has reinforced the imposition of mediocre collections of music upon parishes.
  • If children are to appreciate the beauty of music and art, if they are to understand the importance of the liturgy as fons et culmen of the life of the Church, we must have a strong laity who will follow the Magisterium.
  • Higher standards for musical repertoire and skill should be insisted on for cathedrals and basilicas.

It is a really short document at only 5 pages, and I urge you to read it and perhaps tell me what you think about it

Here is the link:

“Among the musical expressions that correspond best with the qualities demanded by the notion of sacred music, especially liturgical music, Gregorian chant has a special place. The Second Vatican Council recognized that “being specially suited to the Roman Liturgy”it should be given, other things being equal, pride of place in liturgical services sung in Latin. St Pius X pointed out that the Church had “inherited it from the Fathers of the Church”, that she has “jealously guarded [it] for centuries in her liturgical codices” and still “proposes it to the faithful” as her own, considering it “the supreme model of sacred music”. Thus, Gregorian chant continues also today to be an element of unity in the Roman Liturgy.” ~Pope St. John Paul II



Amoris Laetitia, The Joy of Love

Just finished Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’s Post-Synodal Exhortation to the Family. I’ll have to reread it to get more detail, but now I’ll take the time to read the commentary.
Some takeaways:
We start out with an introduction to love, and the first chapter is dedicated to how marriage mirrors God’s love for us.
Chapter 2 then points out the challenges of the family today.
Chapters 3-5 (Looking to Jesus: The Vocation of the Family, Love in Marriage, Love Made Fruitful) is where the passion can be felt. It is an eloquent defense of love and family. Chapters 3-5 might as well be a pre-Cana course. Chapter 4 spends 50 pages elaborating on St. Paul’s famous verses on love. In the end, this was 104 pages on love and family.
Combining Chapters 3-5 with Chapter 7 (Towards a Better Education of Children) and Chapter 9 (The Spirituality of Marriage and the Family), we get 137 pages elaborating on what we are called to do as members of a family.
Chapter 6 (Some Pastoral Perspectives) is where we see how to accompany those preparing for marriage and those experiencing the difficulties of the marriage.
This chapter, along with Chapter 8 (Accompanying, Discerning, and Integrating Weakness) shows the challenges pastors have today in leading their flocks to Christ.
In the end however, what matters most of love, especially considering that pastoral considerations only took up 64 pages.
These challenges however, cannot be fixed by clergy alone. This requires a concerted effort by everyone involved. We should learn to love more fully. Those of us called to marriage should develop that love for their spouses and for their children, and priests and those called to the priesthood should learn how to accompany those who need to know that God is with them and is always there for them.
This is difficult, but we need to act upon it.
And I suppose it is now time to reread Humanae Vitae.

On CCD and the State of the Family

So today, I attended a mini-retreat for my parish’s CCD teachers. I currently teach 8th grade and prepare kids of Confirmation.

Perhaps one of the common things us teachers lamented together is the poor state of the domestic church, simply meaning that the faith is not given the support it needs at home. For example, my students want to go to Mass, but their parents do not take them to church.

This only makes me wonder why they are bringing their children to CCD in the first place.

Catechists can only do so much, but if what we teach is not fostered in the home, what fruit can it bear?

Family is a vocation; it is the only vocation that physically lends to the future. And like all vocations, Christ has to be the center of that. Parents have the awe-inspiring calling to prepare the future, for the Church starts in the family.

I can only hope that those of us called to family life do our best to teach the faith, even in the little things. You do not have to have a degree in theology to teach the faith. All we need to do is embody Christ’s love with our spouse and continually show it to our children.

In the meantime, us catechists will do our best.

And if you may, please pray for us and our students.

Cool Stuff: Russia and Rome Meet

So if you like keeping track of Church current events, today was quite a historic day.

For the first time in history, the Roman Pope met with the Orthodox Patriarch of Russia.

This is important because one of the things we must pray for as Catholics is unity among the Apostolic Churches. The Apostolic Churches all have real and valid Sacraments, and can all trace themselves back to the Apostles, but we are all separated from each other, due to unfortunate circumstances.

Russia is important because they are the largest of the Orthodox Churches, and therefore the 2nd largest of the Apostolic Churches.

While unity will probably not happen in my lifetime, I do sincerely hope for unity relatively soon. 2054 will mark 1000 years since the Great Schism.

1000 years of separation is too long, especially when Jesus himself commanded that “They may all be one.”

The Orthodox are the Eastern lung of the Church. We are the Western lung. For over 1000 years we were together expressing the truth in our own unique ways.

For over 1000 years we were the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

And so I urge us Latins to learn of our Eastern brethren. Experience the other Divine Liturgies that can trace themselves to Church Fathers and Apostles.

Learn the fullness of the faith and the many ancient ways it can be expressed.

Learn all of this so that one day, we may all be one.


Litany for the Conversion of Internet Thugs

Taken from the very best, Father Z, of What Does the Prayer Really Say?, probably the best Catholic blog out there.

Litany for the conversion of internet thugs (2.0)
(For private use only, when truly irritated, and when the alternative is foul language.)

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the World, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Lest internet thugs be eternally tormented by all the fiends of hell, convert them, O Lord.
Lest they pass eternity in utter despair, convert them, O Lord.
Lest they come to be damned for the harm they cause, convert them, O Lord.
Lest they roast forever in the deepest cinders of hell, convert them, O Lord.
Lest they suffer the unceasing pain of loss, convert them, O Lord.

Lest devils endlessly increase their physical agony, convert them, O Lord.
Lest devils twist their bowels and boil their blood in hell, convert them, O Lord.
Lest devils use them as toys and tools, convert them, O Lord.
Lest devils forever gnaw upon their skulls, convert them, O Lord.

Lest the innocent be harmed by the sins of thugs, convert them, O Lord.
Lest the innocent yield to thugs in weakness, convert them, O Lord.
Lest the innocent be drawn into thuggish traps, convert them, O Lord.

From faceless Facebook admin drones, spare us O Lord.
From tweeting Twitter idiots, spare us O Lord.
From loony Wikipedia liars, spare us O Lord.
From from heart-hardened spammers, spare us O Lord.
From liberal nut-case smear-blogging hacks, spare us O Lord.
From thread-dominating combox trolls, spare us, O Lord.
From sophomoric drive-by commentators, spare us, O Lord.

From server memory resource difficulties, spare us O Lord.
From rss feed problems, spare us O Lord.
From DOS attacks, spare us O Lord.
From power outages and surges, spare us O Lord.
From viruses, trojan horses, and all manner of snares, Lord save us.
From wasting our time, Lord save us.
From our own stupidity, Lord save us.

St. Michael, defend us.
St. Gabriel, defend us.
Holy Guardian Angels, defend us.
St. Isidore of Seville, defend us.
St. Francis de Sales, defend us.
St. Maximilian Kolbe, defend us.
All ye angels and saints….. GRRRRR.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord,
Lamb of God who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

V. Christ, Jesus who died for our sins.
R. Please return, and return swiftly.

Let us pray.

Almighty and merciful God, who according to Thy ineffable plan hast called us into existence to do Thy will amid the vicissitudes and contagion of this world grant, we beseech Thee, both protection for Thy servants who use the tools of this digital age and confusion for evil-doers who abuse their neighbors and Thy gifts.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.