Skip to comments."While We're At It": What can we do to show that the Eucharist is a communal activity?
Posted on 10/29/2004 2:41:11 AM PDT by AncientAirs
What can we do to show that the Eucharist is a communal activity? Greeting people at the door is a start. It alerts us to the fact that we are going to do something with others. . . . I have found some Catholics who think this whole welcoming business is destroying our traditional sense of reverence and replacing it with some folksy, feel-good experience. This is a false conclusion. If you wish to invite a guest into your home, you must have space. To invite others into our hearts and our worship, we must make room for them. The enemy of reverence is not hospitality but arrogance. Despite my being intimidated by the flat assertion, This is a false conclusion, I dare to wonder if the author, a professor of theology writing in America, might tolerate a modest dissent. Note the language: we are going to do something; our traditional sense of reverence; your home; our worship. Is there not something to be said for reverence for what God is doing in His house through the liturgy of the Church, the saints in heaven and pilgrims on earth? There are many conversion stories in which the narrator describes quietly entering a Catholic church, maybe even sneaking in, and being struck by the statues and candles, and, most of all, by the people kneeling in rapt devotion as the priest at the altar lifts the consecrated host and declares, Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. There may be one, but I have never read a conversion story in which a person was drawn to the Catholic Church by the kind of chumminess that one might encounter at a birthday party or around the water cooler at the office. This is a false conclusion, rumbles our liturgist. Im sorry, sir, but since Ive had the temerity to go so far, Ill go a step further and, at the risk of your wrath, suggest that it is really not so important to show that the Eucharist is a communal activity. Thats not the point. The point is what God has done, and is doing in the Mass, reconciling the world to Himself through the sacrifice of Christ. The eucharistic community is created precisely by our turning away from ourselves and toward Christ. The wonderful friendliness of our wonderful selves is really quite beside the point. And to think otherwise is, well, arrogance.
"Objecting to a friendly greeting in the narthex brings you closer to God?"
It distracts my contemplation, and that takes me further from God.
I shouldn't have to object, because no one should be forcing himself on me.
"Leave the socializing for after-Mass coffee for those who have the time and inclination."
Tell it, bubba. Don't mess with me during Mass; I'm otherwise occupied.
"Leave the socializing for after-Mass coffee for those who have the time and inclination."
Tell it, bubba. Don't mess with me during Mass; I'm otherwise occupied.
"Indeed, daily celebration is earnestly recommended, because, even if it should not be possible to have the faithful present, it is an action of Christ and of the Church in which priests fulfil their principal role.
Can. 906 A priest may not celebrate the eucharistic Sacrifice without the participation of at least one of the faithful, unless there is a good and reasonable cause for doing so"
A good reason like there's nobody else who can attend.
That's about what I said.
So, what's the point of us having this confab, really? You don't find singing during Administration of the Holy Eucharist distracting, I have no problem with your difference of opinion.
As for me, I seek the quietude I find condusive to Conversation with the Lord. And I don't think the Lord is going to say, 'Oh puhleeze, get off your knees, will you, for goodness sake? You're offending me and most of all the Council.'
"Isn't singing a hymn to God a way of conversing with God?"
For many, it is not a satisfactory way, or is a much less satisfactory way than prayer or silent contemplation.
Why do you insist on forcing your tastes on us all?
"And the voice which I heard was as the voice of harpers, harping on their harps."
You're comparing the voice of God and the Holy Chorus of Angels with the tripe that is (poorly) sung in Catholic Churches today?
"*sounds to me that God might enjoy the singing ..."
And that sounds like anthropomorphism to me. I don't see any reason to suppose that God has bad taste.
Given that God can produce music infinitely superior to anything man might devise, it seems to me that the only thing that might please him about our music would be that we were offering our best; nothing I've heard in Church recently comes close to fulfilling that condition.
"The Eucharistic assembly (synaxis), because the Eucharist is celebrated amid the assembly of the faithful, the visible expression of the Church."
"Priests are supposed to celebrate mass every day, even if nobody's there."
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass does require a congregation for validity or licitness. The efficacy of the representation of the sacrifice of Calvary in an unbloody manner is dependant upon the mass in and of itself - offered by a priest validly in Holy Orders, correct matter (unleavened bread and wine), and the correct sacramental intention of the priest.
The continual efforts of some liturgists to turn it into some sort of communal pagan meal, happy-slappy celebration of "community" goes against all Catholic notions of sacramental theology, the writisngs of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and of Sacred tradition itself.
A priest is to say mass everyday. If there is no mass with a congregation for him to say - or that is scheduled, then he says a private mass. He also may choose to offer a private mass for a special intention.
....all modernist ravings to the contrary!
Prior to vatican II, there was no congregational singing - required nor encouraged. However, it was unoffical custom in some locales (particularly in non-Irish "ethnic" parishes) to sing hymns in English (or German, French, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Slovak, etc.) during mass.
At that time, if there was a hymn sung during communion, it would usually have been toward the end, to allow most people to pryaer privately in peace.
That is the point of Holy Communion: Communion itself, with God. not with each other......not by singing modernistic songs of personal ego renewal, which in all too many cases, blaspheme, espouse heresy, etc.
The mass does not need, nor does it require music - at all. Not A Catholic one , at any rate. Music is a "decoration: - an "add on". The mass is better without music, as then one must concentrate wholly and completely upon the mystical sacrifice and all too real miracle taking place in front of you, under the appearance of bread and wine.
To conclude: "can cite for me the history of eucharistic celebrations where no hymns were ever sung during or after communion?"
Sure - its called a low mass. And it was for the most part said silently for centuries. Music, by and large, was reserved for the high mass.
191. As regards music, let the clear and guiding norms of the Apostolic See be scrupulously observed. Gregorian chant, which the Roman Church considers her own as handed down from antiquity and kept under her close tutelage, is proposed to the faithful as belonging to them also. In certain parts of the liturgy the Church definitely prescribes it; it makes the celebration of the sacred mysteries not only more dignified and solemn but helps very much to increase the faith and devotion of the congregation. For this reason, Our predecessors of immortal memory, Pius X and Pius XI, decree - and We are happy to confirm with Our authority the norms laid down by them - that in seminaries and religious institutes, Gregorian chant be diligently and zealously promoted, and moreover that the old Scholae Cantorum be restored, at least in the principal churches. This has already been done with happy results in not a few places.
192. Besides, "so that the faithful take a more active part in divine worship, let Gregorian chant be restored to popular use in the parts proper to the people. Indeed it is very necessary that the faithful attend the sacred ceremonies not as if they were outsiders or mute onlookers, but let them fully appreciate the beauty of the liturgy and take part in the sacred ceremonies, alternating their voices with the priest and the choir, according to the prescribed norms. If, please God, this is done, it will not happen that the congregation hardly ever or only in a low murmur answer the prayers in Latin or in the vernacular." A congregation that is devoutly present at the sacrifice, in which our Savior together with His children redeemed with His sacred blood sings the nuptial hymn of His immense love, cannot keep silent, for "song befits the lover" and, as the ancient saying has it, "he who sings well prays twice." Thus the Church militant, faithful as well as clergy, joins in the hymns of the Church triumphant and with the choirs of angels, and, all together, sing a wondrous and eternal hymn of praise to the most Holy Trinity in keeping with words of the preface, "with whom our voices, too, thou wouldst bid to be admitted."
193. It cannot be said that modem music and singing should be entirely excluded from Catholic worship. For, if they are not profane nor unbecoming to the sacredness of the place and function, and do not spring from a desire of achieving extraordinary and unusual effects, then our churches must admit them since they can contribute in no small way to the splendor of the sacred ceremonies, can lift the mind to higher things and foster true devotion of soul.
194. We also exhort you, Venerable Brethren, to promote with care congregational singing, and to see to its accurate execution with all due dignity, since it easily stirs up and arouses the faith and piety of large gatherings of the faithful. Let the full harmonious singing of our people rise to heaven like the bursting of a thunderous sea and let them testify by the melody of their song to the unity of their hearts and minds, as becomes brothers and the children of the same Father. (Pius XII, Mediator Dei)
You have quoted from an encyclical of Pius XII, where he is suggesting that congregational singing would be a good thing. This is not a legislative document on the mass. Such singing was not required - and certainly not by what Pius said in your quote.
In terms of time, Pius was the last of the old popes - the one of the Tridentine mass. So regardless of what resulted on diocesan or parish levels from his writing (which in fact was very little), it was anything but a long established, and widely followed tradition. There were however local variations in the use and extent of music in low masses. From place to place.
So, I will repeat my statement, as it is correct in light of mystical spirituality, and of the writing and reflections of many saints, beati and scholars:
"The mass is better without music, as then one must concentrate wholly and completely upon the mystical sacrifice and all too real miracle taking place in front of you, under the appearance of bread and wine."
The person who wrote those words - myself - is one who has had much study and training in the field of Sacred Music. So I think I know whereof I speak.
You said the Mass was better without music - Pius says that:
A congregation that is devoutly present at the sacrifice, in which our Savior together with His children redeemed with His sacred blood sings the nuptial hymn of His immense love, cannot keep silent, for "song befits the lover" and, as the ancient saying has it, "he who sings well prays twice."
And if you want some saints and scholars, here are two:
Hence the use of music in the divine praises is a salutary institution, that the souls of the faint-hearted may be the more incited to devotion. Wherefore Augustine say (Confess. x, 33): "I am inclined to approve of the usage of singing in the church, that so by the delight of the ears the faint-hearted may rise to the feeling of devotion": and he says of himself (Confess. ix, 6): "I wept in Thy hymns and canticles, touched to the quick by the voices of Thy sweet-attuned Church." (ST II-II q. 91 a. 2)
I have lived long enough to realize that sometimes spiritual wisdom is wasted on those whose souls are behind locked doors
Sacred music, being a complementary part of the solemn liturgy, participates in the general scope of the liturgy, which is the glory of God and the sanctification and edification of the faithful. It contributes to the decorum and the splendor of the ecclesiastical ceremonies, and since its principal office is to clothe with suitable melody the liturgical text proposed for the understanding of the faithful, its proper aim is to add greater efficacy to the text, in order that through it the faithful may be the more easily moved to devotion and better disposed for the reception of the fruits of grace belonging to the celebration of the most holy mysteries ... The ancient traditional Gregorian Chant must, therefore, in a large measure be restored to the functions of public worship, and the fact must be accepted by all that an ecclesiastical function loses none of its solemnity when accompanied by this music alone. (Inter Sollicitudines)
Kindly remove the blinders from your eyes, mind , and soul and LISTEN to what I am saying. Read with comprehension!
I am in now way disagreeing with the popes, nor with Aquinas or Augustine on the value and virtue of music in the sacred liturgy.
But music is NOT necessary to the validity or spiritual effectiveness of the mass. As other posters have indicated sometimes music (especially bad music - or music insensitively chosen) is a distraction from what is important and central to the mass. Music is a "decoration", not a necessity.
What the things which you posted indicated are desired norms for what is appropriate in sacred music.
but I clearly realize that you are not going to grasp the logistical not spiritual ramifications of what I am saying and come back again & again with more quotes in and out of context.
...."banging head against wall"
certainly we agree that the Mass is better without BAD music. But it is better with good music: Gregorian chant or polyphony. True sacred music is not a distraction from the worship of God or the Sacrifice. If you just meant "bad music" when you said "music", then we are in agreement.
"*sounds to me that God might enjoy the singing ..."
Yes, the Great C minor Mass of Mozart or even (if you were lucky) either Beethoven's Mass in C or Missa Solemnis.
As a classicaly trained musician, which makes me somewhat knowledgable on the subject, I feel that the music of the new Mass, in general, is like that of a Protestant service (I know, I was one): It more for entertainment than inspiring religious thoughts and sentaments and trying to glorify God.
How refreshing to come across a musical director who isn't so full of themself that they think the Mass is about them instead of what it is.
There is something to be said though about raising a song to the Lord from a heart that feels moved to do so out of an abundance of love.
Communion isn't arm pumping, small talk, and songs to make us feel better about ourselves. The Eucharist iself puts us in Communion with God and all the Catholics in the world. The handholding and the handshake are just our own affectations. And lets face it, those affectations are bleedovers from protestant influences introduced into the Church. It's amazing how almost complete the influence is.
It's all about the Mass and the Eucharist, not the size of your grin.
In his Instruction on sacred music, commonly referred to as the Motu Proprio (22 Nov., 1903), Pius X says (no. 3): "Special efforts are to be made to restore the use of Gregorian chant by the people, so that the faithful may again take a more active part in ecclesiastical offices, as was the case in ancient times". These words suggest a brief treatment of congregational singing with respect to (a) its ancient use, (b) its formal prohibition and gradual decay, (c) its present-day revival, (d) the character which that revival may assume.
(a) The first testimony is found in the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians (v, 19): "Speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord". Cardinal Bona finds in these words a witness to the fact that "from the very beginnings of the Church, psalms and hymns were sung in the assembly of the faithful", and understands them to refer to an alternated chant (mutuo et alterno cantu). McEvilly in his "Commentary" applies them to public and private meetings. St Augustine (Ep. cxix, ch. xviii) says: "As to the singing of psalms and hymns, we have the proofs, the examples, and the instructions of the Lord Himself, and of the Apostles". (Cf. also Col., iii, 16; I Cor., xiv, 26.) In the ancient congregational singing both sexes took part; the words of St. Paul imposing silence on women in church being interpreted to refer only to exhorting or instructing. Duchesne describes how the earliest worship of the Christians was parallel to that, not of the Temple of the Jews at Jerusalem, but of the local synagogues, the Christians borrowing thence their four elements of Divine service-the lections, the chants (of the Psalter), the homilies, and the prayers. In treating of the Syrian Liturgy of the fourth century, he makes up a composite picture from the 23rd catechetical discourse of St. Cyril of Jerusalem (about the year 347), the Apostolic Constitutions (II, 57; VIII, 5-15), and the homilies of St. John Chrysostom, and describes the Divine service (Christian Worship: Its Origin and Evolution, London, 1903, p. 57-64), and incidentally shows the part the congregation took in the singing.
(b) A council held at Laodicea in the fourth century decreed (can. xv), that "besides the appointed singers who mount the ambo and sing from the book, others shall not sing in the Church". Cardinal Bona (Rerum Liturg., Bk. I, ch. xxv, sec. 19) explains that this canon was issued because the unskillful singing of the people interfered with the decorous performance of the chant. The decree was not accepted everywhere, as Bona shows. With respect to France, he also remarks that the custom of popular (congregational) song ceased a few years after Caesarius; for the Second Synod of Tours decreed "that the laity, whether in vigils or at Masses, should not presume to stand with the clergy near the altar whereon the Sacred Mysteries are celebrated, and that the chancel should be reserved to the choirs of singing clerics". Hereupon Sala notes (no. 4) that "this custom still obtains, nevertheless, in the Eastern Church; and in many places in the Western Church, very remote from cities, and therefore tenacious of older customs and less influenced by newer ones, the people learn the ecclesiastical chant and sing it together with the clergy". Many causes, doubtless, combined to bring about the present lamentable silence of our congregations, amongst which the most prominent was probably the one mentioned by Bona as having occasioned the decree of the Council of Laodicea. That the cause was not, as Dickinson thinks, "the steady progress of ritualism and the growth of sacerdotal ideas", which "inevitably deprived the people of all initiative in the worship, and concentrated the offices of public devotion, including that of song, in the hands of the clergy" (Music in the History of the Western Church, New York, 1902, p. 48), may be inferred from the efforts of ecclesiastical authority to revive the older custom of congregational singing, as well be seen under (c).
(c) The Second Plenary Council of Baltimore (1866) expressed (no. 380) its earnest wish that the rudiments of Gregorian chant should be taught in the parish schools, in order that "the number of those who can sing the chant well having increased more and more, gradually the greater part, at least, of the people should, after the fashion still existing in some places of the Primitive Church, learn to sing Vespers and the like together with the sacred ministers and the choir". The Third Plenary Council of Baltimore (1884) repeats (no. 119) the words of the Second Council, prefacing them with denuo confirmemus.
(d) The words of the quoted councils and of the pope imply a restoration of congregational singing through instruction in Gregorian chant, and therefore clearly refer to the strictly liturgical offices such as solemn or high Mass, Vespers, Benediction (after the Tantum Ergo has begun). Congregational singing at low Mass and at other services in the church, not strictly "liturgical" in ceremonial character, has always obtained, more or less, in our churches. With respect to the strictly liturgical services, it is to be hoped that the congregation may be instructed sufficiently to sing, besides the responses to the celebrant (especially those of the Preface), the ordinary (i.e. the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus, Agnus Dei) of the Mass in plain chant; leaving the Introit, Gradual or Tract, sequence (if there be one), Offertory, and Communion to the choir; the Psalms and hymns at Vespers, leaving the antiphons to the choir. The singing might well be made to alternate between congregation and choir. Perosi made a strong plea to the musical congress of Padua (June, 1907) for such congregational singing of the Credo (cf. Civilta Cattolica, 6 July, 1907). (See CHOIR; MUSIC; SINGING, CHORAL.) Let's repeat the Tradition -
Many causes, doubtless, combined to bring about the present lamentable silence of our congregations, amongst which the most prominent was probably the one mentioned by Bona as having occasioned the decree of the Council of Laodicea.
*Maybe if some stopped beating their heads against the walls and read some history, the histrionics would cease
LOL Oh yes, that mean old prot St. Pius XTH, following in the footsteps of the even meaner prots Augustine and St. Paul :)