Monday, July 02, 2007

more on Steubenville

I want to chime in on one other aspect of Steubenville of which I have heard that I find particularly damaging to the formation of young Catholics.

I have heard that their liturgical approach is basically to pander to all styles of liturgy able to be accommodated. While at first this may seem a laudable goal for making a diverse “liturgical cornucopia” available, what it actually accomplishes is quite the opposite for the individual Catholic.

College students, like parish families, develop an “equilibrium”—a ritual of life, if you will—with their environment, one example of which is Mass attendance. A typical college student will survey the different Masses, decide which fits his/her schedule and/or tastes best, and stick with that. This student, therefore, does not really experience liturgical diversity, either of the legitimate or questionable variety, but basically whatever they want.

“Whatever they want.” Think of those words.

Those of us charged with facilitating congregational singing know this problem well: congregation members who will just refuse to sing something that doesn’t please them aesthetically. It’s the liturgical participation equivalent of “cafeteria Catholicism”: “I participate only in the parts of the liturgy that appeal to me.”

The purpose of liturgy (or, at least, one purpose) is formational. We undermine that when we give people the “liturgical garden” of having, say, one Mass be the organ hymns Mass, the next being a chant Mass w/ Latin & ad orientem, the next being the Haugen/Haas, the next being Tom Booth, and finally Jim Cowan.

We should, rather, be exposing everyone to everything: anything that is good at one Mass is good at another. This is not necessarily to contradict unilaterally the principle in Music in Catholic Worship that different approaches to liturgy are appropriate in different environments and with different congregations. However, a parish Mass is a parish Mass, and there is no good reason to have people choosing the 10am Mass over the noon Mass because they like the music better. We owe our congregations more than a mere aesthetic judgement.


At Tuesday, July 17, 2007 12:36:00 PM, Blogger Dad29 said...

Perhaps the formation of a Sacred Music department happened because Steubenville decided that their real mission is to 'educate' rather than serve as a cafeteria, musically.


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