Monday, July 03, 2006

MCW 10-18

I’m noticing quite a number of typos in the online edition. Hm.

Pastoral Planning for Celebration

10. The responsibility for effective pastoral celebration in a parish community falls upon all those who exercise major roles in the liturgy. "The practical preparation for each liturgical celebration should tee done in a spirit of cooperation by all parties concerned, under the guidance of the rector of the church, whether it be ritual, pastoral, or musical matters."2 In practice this ordinarily means an organized "planning team" or committee which meets regularly to achieve creative and coordinated worship and a good use of the liturgical and musical options of a flexible liturgy.

Sounds good to me - we keep one person from making all the decisions, and more input can be offered for how best to work with tricky situations.

11. The power of a liturgical celebration to share faith will frequently depend upon its unity—a unity drawn from the liturgical feast or season or from the readings appointed in the lectionary as well as artistic unity flowing from the skillful and sensitive selection of options, music, and related arts. The sacred scriptures ought to be the source and inspiration of sound planning for it is of the very nature of celebration that people hear the saving words and works of the Lord and then respond in meaningful signs and symbols. Where the readings of the lectionary possess a thematic unity, the other elements ought to be so arranged as to constitute a setting for and response to the message of the Word.

Here we have, implicitly stated, the idea that the texts to be sung are to be chosen in accordance with the readings. True enough, the Gradual does reflect this, with many instances of particular chants matched to particular days because they quote the Gospel. Still, there is a justification for having just another psalm - in a way, it is a separate piece of Scripture in and of itself.

If Adoremus is right, that the thinking that went into MCW and its forerunner, “The Place of Music in Eucharistic Celebrations”, was the fruit of far-left types, this would explain things: obviously if your ideal parish Mass is a “hootenanny” Mass, the idea of a Proper, even adapted for easy congregational singing, doesn’t square easily with “being meaningful”.

12. The planning team or committee is headed by the priest (Celebrant and homilist) for no congregation can experience the richness of a unified celebration if that unity is not grasped by the one who presides, as well as by those who have special roles. The planning group should include those with the knowledge and artistic skills needed in celebration: men and women trained in music, poetry, and art, and familiar with current resources in these areas; men and women sensitive also to the present day thirst of so many for the riches of scripture, theology, and prayer. It is always good to include some members of the congregation who have not taken special roles in the celebrations so that honest evaluations can be made.

Interesting that there is no mention of lay liturgists. Either the priest is the liturgy go-to person, or the document wants everyone to be a liturgy enthusiast.

But yes, we definitely need trained specialists in the arts for good liturgy.

13. The planning should go beyond the choosing of options, songs, and ministers to the composition of such texts as the brief introduction, general intercessions, and other appropriate comments as provided for in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. How people are invited to join in a particular song may be as important as the choice of the song itself.

I am definitely experiencing the truth of this last sentence lately: announcing the song versus asking people to open the hymnal to number blah-de-blah and sing hi-dee-ho.

I go back and forth on the merits of the general intercessions in the Mass. ISTM this is a vulnerable spot for some iffy ideas to creep into the liturgy: emphasizing, for example, social justice issues in intercessions without giving regard to praying for an end to abortion, respect for dignity of sex, etc. But yes, if we are to have intercessions, they should be decided upon with input from a committee.

This paragraph suggests that songs/chants be chosen by this committee. I can’t say as I’m a big fan of this; in my own experience, John Q. Catholic doesn’t pay as much attention to what music is easiest for him to sing as he does to which songs he likes to hear. Or, maybe I’m just selfishly reluctant to abdicate control over the musical choices for Mass in my parish.

14. In planning pastoral celebrations the congregation, the occasion, and the celebrant must be taken into consideration.

What does this mean??? Take them into account....and do what with that taking into account?

It’s not as bad as all that, I think - of course, congregational music should be easy to sing, and so forth. BUT, while one person thinks taking the congregation into consideration means doing only two or three OT readings at Easter Vigil, I would contend that taking the congregation into consideration means giving the people the fullness of the liturgy, not depriving of it. Sort of a “it’s for their own good” mentality, so to speak.

The Congregation

15. "The pastoral effectiveness of a celebration will be heightened if the texts of readings, prayers, and songs correspond as closely as possible to the needs, religious dispositions, and aptitude of the participants."3 A type of celebration suitable for a youth group may not fit in a retirement home; a more formal style effective in a parish church may be inappropriate in a home liturgy. The music used should be within the competence of most of the worshipers. It should suit their age.level, cultural background, and level of faith.

Ah, here it is. My first reeeally big beef with this document. Being pastoral means, among other things, helping people to grow. The liturgy is formational, and not everyone likes to be formed! If we take the GIRM and the CSL at face value, then part of the liturgy is indeed Gregorian Chant; people will only acquire “competence” with this music if they are exposed to it.

Supposing a necessity of accommodating people’s current conditions eschews the idea that the liturgy has its own culture. If the kids only heard Children’s Lectionary speak, they would never learn to understand the “grown-up” Biblical vocabulary. Granted, kids hopefully get that elsewhere in their formation.

16. Variations in level of faith raise special problems. Liturgical celebration presupposes a minimum of biblical knowledge and a deep commitment of living faith. If these are lacking, there might arise the tendency to use the liturgy as a tool of evangelization. Greater liberty in the choice of music and style of celebration may be required as the participants are led toward that day when they can share their growing faith as members of the Christian community. Songs like the psalms may create rather than solve problems where faith is weak. Music, chosen with care, can serve as a bridge to faith as well as an expression of it.

The liturgy is a pretty awful tool for evangelization of non-Catholics. My atheist friends are going not going to convert to Christianity because they hear a priest recite Eucharistic Prayer II. Evangelization requires answering questions and a more personal interaction than the liturgy, a communal act of the entire Church, allows. I mean, “Catholic aerobics”.....this is not appealing to non-Catholics!

Different tools for different purposes: to nourish the faith of the catechized, the liturgy is crucial. To bring new people into the faith, personal interaction is needed.

17. The diversity of people present at a parish liturgy gives rise to a further problem. Can the same parish liturgy be an authentic expression for a grade school girl, her college.age brother, their married sister with her young family, their parents and grandparents? Can it satisfy the theologically and musically educated along with those lacking in training? Can it please those who seek a more informal style of celebration? The planning team must consider the general makeup of the total community. Each Christian must keep in mind that to live and worship in community often demands a personal sacrifice. All must be willing to share likes and dislikes with others whose ideas and experiences may be quite unlike their own.

Again we presuppose that there is no intrinsic culture to the liturgy, instead asserting that the liturgical culture should come about as some kind of melting-pot of the gathered assembly’s likes and dislikes.

It’s easy to see, though, why so many are reticent about using Latin; if this document is their formation, then of course, Latin doesn’t “meet anyone at their level” except maybe a Classics scholar. Meanwhile it solves exactly the problem of various nationalities gathering to which MCW here makes reference.

18. Often the problem of diversity can be mitigated by supplementing the parish Sunday celebration with special celebrations for smaller homogeneous groups. "The needs of the faithful of a particular cultural background or of a particular age level may often be met by a music that can serve as a congenial, liturgically oriented expression of prayer.4 The music and other options may then be more easily suited to the particular group celebrating. Celebration in such groups, "in which the genuine sense of community is more readily experienced, can contribute significantly to growth in awareness of the parish as community, especially when all the faithful participate in the parish Mass on the Lord's day."5 Nevertheless, it would be out of harmony with the Lord's wish for unity in his Church if believers were to worship only in such homogeneous groupings.6

Oh boy. B16 has some interesting thoughts on “community” in Feast of Faith: basically that the more important sense of community is the communion with the whole Church, not the local gathering. Don’t take my summary, though - read the Pope’s writing. Pretty hardcore.

So, an all-English parish has 1,000 English-speaking families, 50 Hispanic families, and 1 Polish family. The number of Hispanic families soon triples, so the parish makes provision for a Mass in Spanish every first Sunday of a month. More Hispanic families come, and eventually there’s a regular Spanish Mass on Sunday. All the time the Polish family is subjected to the majority-rules mindset: their ethnicity and native tongue doesn’t matter as much as the Hispanics’ because the latter are more numerous and politically influential.

This is exactly the justification for Latin, even for readings: the more inculturated the liturgy becomes, the more uniquely it becomes the propriety of a particular group of people, and the less effectively it portrays the Church’s universality and inclusion of all peoples. We really need to rethink the insistence on vernaculars to the complete banishment of Latin.


At Wednesday, July 05, 2006 11:34:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey Tucker said...

It's funny that I had noticed those very typos this past weekend when reading through it. It is particularly ironic since, before this went online, I had suggested to the webmaster that they release copyright so that others could put up this text. No way, they said. People might introduce inaccuracies and typos.

I've already emailed the webmaster.

Reading through it, I was struck by how disconnected from history this document really is. It has nothing do with any authoritative teaching. It wasn't even voted on by the US Bishops. And yet thousands of directors of music have used it as the blueprint for their parish liturgies.

The are passages in here that are just egregiously contradictory to what the Church asks us to do, e.g. "[T]he musical settings of the past are usually not helpful models for composing truly liturgical pieces today."

At Wednesday, July 05, 2006 12:52:00 PM, Blogger Cantor said...

Jeff, man, you’re stealing my fire here! :)


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