Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Zeal For Thy House

My new book Zeal For Thy House: Suffering Through Mass is available now at CreateSpace. The retail price is $12.99, and you can receive a 15% discount by using this code: 4UUKR7CA (only at CreateSpace).  

It's also available on Amazon and Kindle.

From the back cover:

In this book, Dr. Boyd hopes that those who experience pain and suffering at the Masses offered at their parishes will find some solace in knowing that they are not the only ones! It is helpful to recognize that we are not alone in the battle to have liturgies properly celebrated.  The pain and suffering is real, and it is justified by the fact that the Church has shown us clearly how the Mass – whether the old form or the new form – should be celebrated. We are not wrong or “divisive" if we voice objections and concern when the rubrics of the Mass are ignored or altered to suit the personality of the celebrant or, in some cases, the “liturgy committee”. Whether the abuses and missteps are intentional or made through ignorance, the pain and suffering of those who desire good liturgy is legitimate, and deserves to be heeded.

Dr. Boyd also wants to encourage those who suffer through Mass to cling to the hope that brighter liturgical days are ahead. To that end, included at the end of each section of the book are a few “Glimmers of Hope”. All is not lost! The gates of Hell will not prevail! Hope springs eternal!

Here is the “Epilogue”:

Hope Springs Eternal

I am not a Bible scholar by any means, but it seems to me that we may find a source of solace and hope in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, where the story is told of the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem. In a sense, those who are struggling against “bad liturgy” and fighting to reinstate the extraordinary form of the Mass are attempting to rebuild the “temple” that is our Faith. The Eucharist is, after all, the source and summit of our faith (Lumen Gentium, 11), and when the celebration of Mass is deficient, it can only lead to a deficient faith. Many writers and speakers have noted the truth of this statement: the increase in abuses of the liturgy, especially in the Novus Ordo, certainly seems to correlate with a decline in the markers of a robust faith, such as vocations to the priesthood and religious life, attendance at Mass by the lay faithful, and fidelity to the teachings of the Church by bishops, priests, and laity.

In the book of Ezra, we see the beginning of the account of the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem. The reigning non-Jewish monarch, King Cyrus, actually commanded it, and the Israelites began the work in good faith. Soon, however, naysayers undermined the project; first, they offered to join in and help, saying “for we seek your God just as you do” (Ezra 4:2). They were only seeking to undermine the project from within, though; and when the Israelites declined their help, the Samaritans then “set out to intimidate and dishearten the people of Judah so as to keep them from building. They also suborned counselors to work against them and thwart their plans” (Ezra 4:5). Finally, the enemies of the Jews succeeded in persuading a later king to put a halt to the rebuilding.

Years went by with no work being done, but it would seem that the Israelites did not give up hope; they finally began to build again when some bold Israelites listened to the words of their prophets. When questioned by the local authorities, they insisted on their right to rebuild, and noted that a previous king had given permission; after a review of the past documents, the reigning monarch allowed them to proceed. Then, in the book of Nehemiah, we are told of the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls. Still the naysayers were fighting against the completion of the work; Nehemiah himself cries out, “Take note, O our God, how we were mocked! Turn back their derision on their own heads and let them be carried away to a land of captivity! Hide not their crime and let not their sin be blotted out in your sight, for they insulted the builders to their face!” (Nehemiah 3:36-37)

The opposition grew to the point of physical attacks on the workers, at which point Nehemiah tells us, “From that time on, however, only half my able men took a hand in the work, while the other half, armed with spears, bucklers, bows, and breastplates, stood guard behind the whole house of Judah as they rebuilt the wall” (Nehemiah 4:10). There were plots against Nehemiah’s life as well.

If you have been one of the faithful who is trying to “rebuild the temple” of our faith through  fidelity to the liturgical rubrics, I’m sure you see the similarities between your own battle and the battle fought by the Jews as they rebuilt the temple at Jerusalem! Not only are we rebuilding the temple, but we are rebuilding the wall – the wall that separates our faith from the secular influences that lead away from the truths of the Faith and down the slippery slope of moral relativism, which a number of popes have warned against. Indeed, the physical rebuilding of the temple was not the only “rebuilding” that took place. Chapter 8 of Nehemiah describes how Ezra was called upon by the people to “bring forth the book of the law of Moses which the Lord prescribed for Israel” (Nehemiah 8:1). And far from complaining about a long service, the people stood and listened as Ezra read “from daybreak till midday”!

The book of Ezra also recounts that the people had not been faithful to the laws of the faith: “…they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and thus they have desecrated the holy race with the peoples of the land. Furthermore, the leaders and rulers have taken a leading part in this apostasy!" (Ezra 9:2). I think we can see parallels here with our own culture – not necessarily with regard to the specific issue of Catholics marrying outside the Church, but with the “marriage” of our Faith to the errors of our secular society. Our Catholic Faith has been desecrated by this, and indeed, even some of our shepherds have taken a part in the watering down of Catholic precepts.

The battle for the rebuilding of Jerusalem was long and hard, and fraught with peril, but the people did not lose hope. Nor should we! The Israelites persevered in their mission and task, and so should we. It can be daunting to face the criticisms and sometimes even calumny of one’s fellow parishioners, but it is important that each one of us continue to respectfully request correction of liturgical abuse. We have documents to support our endeavor, just as the Jewish people had the document of a former monarch to justify their rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem – for instance, there is the instruction Redeptionis Sacramentum (On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist). And we must also insist on the proper implementation of the changes mandated by Vatican II – and point out the changes that have occurred that were not mandated and have perhaps been harmful to the Church.

It is true that we may not witness the changes we’d like to see in our own life times, but we should find hope in noting that progress is being made…or at least, not hindered. For instance, though many of the tradition-minded feared that Pope Francis would turn his back on the EF Mass, that fear seems unfounded at this point. In a recent report, the Holy Father declined to heed the advice of a group of bishops who wanted to squelch the traditional Latin Mass.

We have the favor of the Holy Father, and so must press on with the rebuilding. There is reason for hope!

[In the book, I also gave the example of Archbishop Luigi Negri, who recently told the faithful at an EF Mass, “…[Y]ou must try to get as many people as possible to walk down this path of yours”; as well as Archbishop Alexander Sample, who, as the bishop of the Diocese of Marquette, who worked hard at improving the quality of liturgical music in his diocese via an article in the Diocesan newspaper and in a pastoral letter.]

17 comments:

  1. I read Archbishop Sample's article and "pastoral" letter regarding liturgical music. Recognizing your admiration for Archbishop Sample, nonetheless I have to admit I have mixed feelings about his direction on liturgical music.

    On one hand, I applaud the movement towards "singing the mass" as well as tapping the rich heritage of Gregorian Chant and latin masses. This has been a resource neglected for too long.

    As I write this, I am listening to excerpts from DeBruyn's "Mass of the Resurrection."[http://www.ocp.org/products/30102337#tab:contents] It sounds pleasant, sober, & dignified. I can see how it meets Bishop Sample's criteria.

    On the other hand, I wish the pastoral letter would've been more advisory and less authoritarian. Such top down direction will not increase attendance expect by those who are looking to "escape from freedom." Bland english/vernacular music and obscure chants are also not likely to improve things either. The "pastoral" letter is subjective and authoritarian because (despite claims to the contrary) it applies subjective criteria for quantifying sanctity, beauty, and universality.

    I am troubled by the current revisionist approach to the post V2 liturgy that claims it was largely a mistake, a misapplication, and was never the intent of V2. Really? If so, why has it taken almost 50 years to realize this? If so, why where Pope Paul VI, JP2, & B16 so silent? Something is out of kilter about this direction. Don't misunderstand-I'm not opposed to the direction but the reasoning/justification is suspect and that raises questions.

    I think the whole process (including the recent "new" roman missal) could have gone smoother had it been preceded by educating the people. The clergy seems more intent on imposing change rather than guiding believers along the way.

    The Church leadership appears frightened of teaching the Catechism. If so, how do they expect people to follow with confidence? If there is so much struggle in dealing with the liturgy, it is no wonder that there is such confusion about birth control, abortion, marriage/divorce, capital punishment, materialism, end-of-life, just war/peace, illegal aliens, etc.

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  2. Well, fRED your last paragraph makes sense!

    As for your take on the Archbishop's approach...I disagree with you there. We need bishops who will actually look at what the Church says about music - even what Vatican II said, for heaven's sake! - and apply it. Abp Sample is willing to do that. His letter is authoritative, not authoritarian.

    I don't want a bishop who just makes suggestions about music; I want one who will teach us what the Church expects. And I don't care whether Gregorian chant will increase attendance at Mass. The idea is not to increase attendance, but to offer worthy worship to God, in the way He Himself has told us it is to be done. There are too many Catholics in the pews right now who aren't really Catholic. And seriously, they can't be there for the trite musical numbers that are played, anyway.

    There ARE problems with the NO - especially with the way it has been implemented and abused. As for Vatican II in general, have you read Iota Unum by Romano Amerio? It's an eye opener. Why the silence from the Popes? Well...the more you dig into this stuff, the more frightening it can be. The whole modernist movement in the Church has been very powerful, I think. Pope Benedict XVI did his best to "reinstate" the TLM, and look at the resistance encountered! This resistance is not on the part of the laity, but on the part of the bishops. That says something.

    And btw, the USCCB practically begged bishops and priests to engage in catechesis and training regarding the "new translation". Many failed to do anything other than issue some pew cards with the new words. There are still priests/bishops saying they don't want the new translation. What's up with that? one might wonder.

    "The clergy seems more intent on imposing change rather than guiding believers along the way." Ha! I think the clergy who most wanted to implement change were those who willy-nilly turned altars around and made other unauthorized changes to the Mass after the NO was promulgated. Right now, the clergy in general doesn't want to make changes, as far as I can see. But you are right in that many parish priests seem to have little interest in "guiding" believers. And many are not at all open to actually examining the documents and following the rubrics, regulations, and instructions of the Church.

    But a bishop like Archbishop Sample can change that. We need more like him, and like Bishop Paprocki, and a few others who are emerging.

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  3. I am willing to admit that I am confused about this issue. Is there some sort of algorithm that determines the quantity of grace received from attending a mass? Obviously more points if one also receives the Holy Eucharist (except, if they are not in the proper state of worthiness, then there would be some sort of negative grace per 1 Cor 11:27-30).

    I couldn't find anything in the scriptures about the folk music or any definition of profane music. I am again assuming that any sort of unworthy music would also reduce the amount of grace earned by attending a Mass.

    Assuming problems with the mass since V2, have we been earning less grace because of these deficiencies? More grace for women wearing veils. Would wearing a woman wearing a veil during the summer offset any loss for wearing shorts to mass? Can more grace be available by being at a Mass with more worthy attendees? The combinations and possibilities are mind boggling.

    Is there a downside to graces available to worshipers during Mass if the priest is in a grumpy mood or something? Is there at least a minimum amount of grace that one can receive by merely attending Mass?

    I am not trying to be flippant (but I apologize if it seems like it). I really am trying to understand how this works. Previously, it never occurred to me that a certain type of music at mass was MORE acceptable to the Godhead (or is it more beneficial to the congregants?).

    I had been aware of indulgences but not paid much attention. Now it seems like this is something to be more aware of.

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    Replies
    1. Fred asked: "Is there some sort of algorithm that determines the quantity of grace received from attending a mass?"
      Yes, there is an infinite ratio of grace that can be received at one Mass versus another. We may not be able to write down a formula in algebraic notation, but the reality is there that one Mass produces infinitely more grace than other Masses, while some are actually negative because they are offenses against God.

      "I couldn't find anything in the scriptures about the folk music or any definition of profane music. I am again assuming that any sort of unworthy music would also reduce the amount of grace earned by attending a Mass."
      In Scripture you will find St. Paul being extremely harsh with the Corinthians because of the unworthy way they were celebrating their Mass. More primary even than Scripture, however, is Tradition. 2,000 years of Christian Tradition helped to create the Mass that existed at the time of Vatican II. We also have the Magisterium dealing with this issue. You can read Pope Pius X's famous letter on Sacred Music "Tra le Sollecitudini" here:
      http://www.adoremus.org/MotuProprio.html
      Here is a more recent Papal pronouncement "On Sacred Music" issued by Pope Pius XII in 1955. He describes the development of sacred music from the time of the early Christians in the Roman Empire.
      http://www.ewtn.com/library/encyc/p12music.htm

      "Assuming problems with the mass since V2, have we been earning less grace because of these deficiencies?"
      Absolutely, yes, much less grace.

      "More grace for women wearing veils."
      Yes, without any doubt.

      "Would a woman wearing a veil during the summer offset any loss for wearing shorts to mass?"
      While your question has a facetious tone, the reality is that this is a very serious matter. The veil would be a good thing, but it would not by itself be able to offset the offense against God which is committed by wearing immodest clothing to Mass. At this website you can read several Papal Decrees on Modesty in Dress. You may also want to click on the link there to read the letter of Cardinal Siri:
      http://www.national-coalition.org/modesty/moddecre.html

      "Can more grace be available by being at a Mass with more worthy attendees?"
      Yes, definitely. I believe that one should strive to find a location for Mass where the people are better than I am. Then I won't waste my time criticizing fellow parishioners. The devout, reverent participation of fellow Mass attendees is a wonderful inducement to recollection. On the other hand, if one experiences noise and distraction and disrespectful behavior towards the holy sacrifice of the Mass, then that makes it very difficult if not impossible to participate properly.

      "Is there a downside to graces available to worshipers during Mass if the priest is in a grumpy mood or something?"
      Yes, the priest can lift up the hearts of of his parishioners or he can cast them down. There is a saying,
      "A saintly priest will have holy parishioners.
      A holy priest will have devout parishioners.
      A devout priest will have lukewarm parishioners.
      A lukewarm priest will have bad parishioners.
      A bad priest will have devilish parishioners."

      "Is there at least a minimum amount of grace that one can receive by merely attending Mass?"
      No, there is an infinite amount of negative possibilities. St. Paul warns that those who participate unworthily receive condemnation and not salvation. You mentioned already the example of receiving communion unworthily. This is a terrible mortal sin and a sacrilege. And it happens every Sunday by the millions.

      "Previously, it never occurred to me that a certain type of music at mass was MORE acceptable to the Godhead (or is it more beneficial to the congregants?)."
      It is both. We are trying to participate worthily in the act of "Adoration" of God. This is a terrible and awesome thing. Anyone who undertakes it lightly will regret it.

      -John Galvin

      Delete
  4. I don't think that the amount of grace "earned" by going to Mass is undermined by the type of music or liturgical abuses or whatever. The grace a person can receive depends more on the person. A woman doesn't get more grace for wearing a veil just by the fact of wearing a veil. What's her motivation for wearing it?

    The Church settled long ago that the moral state and the state of grace a priest is in does not affect the validity of any sacrament he administers.

    Liturgical abuses and bad music, though, may inhibit a person's ability to respond to the grace offered by participating at Mass. If I could go to Mass at our local parish and not allow myself to be sucked into uncharitable thoughts about the priest, then I'm pretty sure I could receive as much grace there as I could at an EF Mass said by my favorite, most reverent priest. My own sinful human nature interferes, though. The priest who abuses the liturgy bears responsibility for offending God and misleading the faithful, but the grace each individual receives from that Mass is not *completely* reliant on the priest. (At least, I'm pretty sure that what I'm saying is true!)

    ReplyDelete
  5. John,

    I appreciate your thoughtful, patient, and detailed reply. It was worth the wait. Several reactions jumped into my head but I want to let them simmer before deciding to comment. Overall, I am grateful for your remarks.

    As I mentioned, I am very interested in understanding the Mass and its relation to being a Catholic Christian. This is a subject worth so much more study and reflection.

    Jay - I found it almost impossible to read the text in the Reply box because of the dark background. If there is anyway to change that to a lighter color, I think that would be very beneficial.

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  6. Fred, I've tried and tried to change the color of the reply box, and can't seem to find a way to do it. I recommend not using it - just enter another comment and make sure to note if you are addressing a particular person. One way to render the reply box more readable is simply to highlight it with your cursor - that's what I do.

    ReplyDelete
  7. To avoid the Reply box problem:

    Fred asked: "Is there some sort of algorithm that determines the quantity of grace received from attending a mass?"
    Yes, there is an infinite ratio of grace that can be received at one Mass versus another. We may not be able to write down a formula in algebraic notation, but the reality is there that one Mass produces infinitely more grace than other Masses, while some are actually negative because they are offenses against God.

    "I couldn't find anything in the scriptures about the folk music or any definition of profane music. I am again assuming that any sort of unworthy music would also reduce the amount of grace earned by attending a Mass."
    In Scripture you will find St. Paul being extremely harsh with the Corinthians because of the unworthy way they were celebrating their Mass. More primary even than Scripture, however, is Tradition. 2,000 years of Christian Tradition helped to create the Mass that existed at the time of Vatican II. We also have the Magisterium dealing with this issue. You can read Pope Pius X's famous letter on Sacred Music "Tra le Sollecitudini" here:
    http://www.adoremus.org/MotuProprio.html
    Here is a more recent Papal pronouncement "On Sacred Music" issued by Pope Pius XII in 1955. He describes the development of sacred music from the time of the early Christians in the Roman Empire.
    http://www.ewtn.com/library/encyc/p12music.htm

    "Assuming problems with the mass since V2, have we been earning less grace because of these deficiencies?"
    Absolutely, yes, much less grace.

    "More grace for women wearing veils."
    Yes, without any doubt.

    "Would a woman wearing a veil during the summer offset any loss for wearing shorts to mass?"
    While your question has a facetious tone, the reality is that this is a very serious matter. The veil would be a good thing, but it would not by itself be able to offset the offense against God which is committed by wearing immodest clothing to Mass. At this website you can read several Papal Decrees on Modesty in Dress. You may also want to click on the link there to read the letter of Cardinal Siri:
    http://www.national-coalition.org/modesty/moddecre.html

    "Can more grace be available by being at a Mass with more worthy attendees?"
    Yes, definitely. I believe that one should strive to find a location for Mass where the people are better than I am. Then I won't waste my time criticizing fellow parishioners. The devout, reverent participation of fellow Mass attendees is a wonderful inducement to recollection. On the other hand, if one experiences noise and distraction and disrespectful behavior towards the holy sacrifice of the Mass, then that makes it very difficult if not impossible to participate properly.

    "Is there a downside to graces available to worshipers during Mass if the priest is in a grumpy mood or something?"
    Yes, the priest can lift up the hearts of of his parishioners or he can cast them down. There is a saying,
    "A saintly priest will have holy parishioners.
    A holy priest will have devout parishioners.
    A devout priest will have lukewarm parishioners.
    A lukewarm priest will have bad parishioners.
    A bad priest will have devilish parishioners."

    "Is there at least a minimum amount of grace that one can receive by merely attending Mass?"
    No, there is an infinite amount of negative possibilities. St. Paul warns that those who participate unworthily receive condemnation and not salvation. You mentioned already the example of receiving communion unworthily. This is a terrible mortal sin and a sacrilege. And it happens every Sunday by the millions.

    "Previously, it never occurred to me that a certain type of music at mass was MORE acceptable to the Godhead (or is it more beneficial to the congregants?)."
    It is both. We are trying to participate worthily in the act of "Adoration" of God. This is a terrible and awesome thing. Anyone who undertakes it lightly will regret it.

    -John Galvin

    ReplyDelete
  8. John-Thank you for copying your comments into a "new" entry. It is a lot easier to read.

    Jay-Highlighting the text in the "Reply" box is a good trick! I tried it and it is VERY easy to read. Good tip.

    ReplyDelete
  9. OK. I've been pondering John's information (posted above) and here are my thoughts.

    I made my First Holy Communion when I was 10 years old (2nd grade). Back then, all the kids participated as an entire class (versus what happens at many places today - individually with their families). The boys were blue suits, white shirts, and tie. Girls had white dresses & veils.

    We processed from the school to the church, then around the inside of the church. I remember being very aware of the awesomeness of the occasion-receiving the Body of Christ. I solemnly bowed my head and folded my hands attempting to be reverent. I was annoyed that many of my classmates didn't share my approach but had their heads up, wore big proud smiles. In my mind, such frivolity veered toward sacrilege.

    I understand the value of a dignified approach to Mass and the Holy Communion. I appreciate the beauty of Latin chants well performed and the majesty of a grace-filled Mass.

    But after a while, "vanilla" gets old. Even a rainbow seems less dazzling after frequent viewing. And so one learns to appreciate that variety is the spice of life, but also with moderation.

    So for me, some heartfelt folk music with Mass can be just as grace filled as a motet.

    I browsed through Pope Pius XXII's encyclical on sacred music (per the reference above). I don't intend to get into a debate about it but it seems centered on the understanding that the context is the Latin rite rather than post-V2.

    As I read encyclicals on mass music and the pieces in the CCC about the liturgy and the sacraments (etc), I am struck with a sense of disconnect between these lofty writings and the message of the gospels (and many of the Letters). In my opinion, one should not be required to be a theological scholar in order to be "saved." Conversely, one should also not be required to yield our supposed "free will" and become an automaton and just do what we are told (without question or hesitation).

    No disrespect but when I read/hear about the proper behavior/action/approach of people at mass, one of the first things that comes into my mind is the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Lk 18:9-14) as well as whitewashed tombs (Mt 23: 27-28; might as well throw in all Mt 23). I think of people going through the motions in order to follow the "holier" way ("This people draws near with words only and honors [God] with their lips alone, though their hearts are far [from God]." Is 29:13).

    In reading about the more holy manners of Mass and the way grace can be obtained or lost despite the reasonable intentions, I am filled with despair and hopelessness. "Woe is me, I am doomed! For am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips." (Is 6:5) Just about everything one might do to obtain grace can be quickly undone by our inherent sinfulness. I'm in a Catch-22 situation because if I say I believe and have faith in Jesus, I am lying because I am a doubting Thomas. What I/we need is a savior.

    Jesus is supposedly that savior but it is not clear to me how because virtually everything supposedly depends on our works. The CCC is filled with "fine print" that reveals that grace is granted proportionately to one's being open to it. It goes on and on and on. And has been for centuries. Someone save me! I am in a boat in a stormy sea.

    Many times I have looked for answers and been told to just put aside my doubts and come back to the church. But look at the "Church" today. It is a mess, full of chaos about the rubrics of mass, ignorance of the sacraments, vastly different opinions about birth control, abortion, homosexuality, divorce, war/peace, etc. Where can a sinner go for salvation? The Church? I don't think so. Jesus said if a blind person leads a blind person, both fall into a pit. [Mt 15:14]

    I am sure that my comments here will have annoyed some and I am sorry for that but I am earnestly seeking to follow the right path, the straight and narrow road to God.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Faith and works go hand in hand.

    The Church is full of sinners, no doubt - including the shepherds. But the TEACHINGS of the Church are true. A sinner turns to Jesus for salvation, and Jesus founded the one true faith. In these times, a lot of discernment is needed. Do you need to be a scholar? No. But sadly, there are many wolves out there seeking to lead us astray.

    I think that what Fr. Z says is true: "Save the liturgy, save the world." A person who regularly and "prayerfully" attends the EF Mass (even if it's a low Mass with no singing at all) will, I think, find the strength that Jesus intends us to gain from the Church. A faithfully celebrated "old" Mass can heal a lot of wounds...but it does require the cooperation of the person.

    Grace abounds. Sin abounds. God's mercy triumphs.

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  11. This may be of interest: "Mass is our great prayer" by Dr Susan Timoney published in the April/May/June 2013 issue of "Let's Talk!" (A Catholic Ministry to prisoners-Paulist). Dr. Timiney is assistant secretary for parish ministry and social concerns in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC. She shares a blog page with Msgr Charles Pope at: http://blog.adw.org/author/stimoney/

    http://www.livingtheeucharist.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/LTAPRIL2013.pdf

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  12. fRED, here's some food for thought:
    http://linenonthehedgerow.blogspot.com/2013/06/which-mass-does-jesus-christ-want.html

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  13. And another good one: http://www.taylormarshall.com/2013/01/was-mass-of-padre-pio-equal-to-mass-of.html

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  14. "But after a while, "vanilla" gets old. Even a rainbow seems less dazzling after frequent viewing. And so one learns to appreciate that variety is the spice of life, but also with moderation. So for me, some heartfelt folk music with Mass can be just as grace filled as a motet."
    Experience is inherently enervating. Even climbing Mt Everest becomes boring for Sherpas. As long as we are seeking experience we will become jaded with any kind of liturgy, whether it is Masses by Palestrina and Mozart, or whether it is "Jesus Christ Superstar."

    "I browsed through Pope Pius XXII's encyclical on sacred music. I don't intend to get into a debate about it but it seems centered on the understanding that the context is the Latin rite rather than post-V2."
    Yes, of course it is. There was no New Mass in 1955. Still one notices how he addresses the music of the liturgy of all ages from the days of the Roman Empire until the time of WWII. It is only our own time which is out of place, which doesn't fit in with 2,000 years of tradition.

    "As I read encyclicals on mass music and the pieces in the CCC about the liturgy and the sacraments (etc), I am struck with a sense of disconnect between these lofty writings and the message of the gospels (and many of the Letters). In my opinion, one should not be required to be a theological scholar in order to be "saved."
    Yes, this is a valid point that one needn't be a theological scholar. And one never did need to be a theological scholar in the past. One participated in the Mass with one's heart, even if one had never gone beyond 4th grade. At the time of Vatican II, the argument for the New Mass was that there were too many simple people who prayed silently, maybe with their rosaries, instead of using their missals and reading the Latin. The claim was that more people would become theological scholars once they had a vernacular Mass.

    "Conversely, one should also not be required to yield our supposed "free will" and become an automaton and just do what we are told (without question or hesitation)."
    The relationship between obedience and free will is an important subject, but not one that should be addressed here this since it is taking the discussion too far afield.

    "No disrespect but when I read/hear about the proper behavior/action/approach of people at mass, one of the first things that comes into my mind is the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Lk 18:9-14) as well as whitewashed tombs (Mt 23: 27-28; might as well throw in all Mt 23). I think of people going through the motions in order to follow the "holier" way ("This people draws near with words only and honors [God] with their lips alone, though their hearts are far [from God]." Is 29:13)."
    Look at the moral of the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee -- Jesus says that our behavior and our intentions in church constitute the difference between success and failure in our relationship with God. "One went away justified while the other did not." So our posture and our demeanor and our emotions towards God are vitally important in the question of our salvation. The difference between the Pharisee and the Publican is their sense of presumption. One presumed that he would be saved. The other beat his breast and repented his sins. One demonstrated the pride of the human spirit. The other demonstrated the humility of a converted soul. Associating good music with self-righteousness is a false correlation. Where does one find self-righteousness? Not in the traditional Latin Mass where the prayers are all about sinners seeking the mercy of God. In contrast, the prayers of the New Mass are all about proclaiming our own righteousness -- accompanied by very bad music, yes, but the self-righteousness is there no matter what kind of music you play.

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  15. "In reading about the more holy manners of Mass and the way grace can be obtained or lost despite the reasonable intentions, I am filled with despair and hopelessness. "Woe is me, I am doomed! For am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips." (Is 6:5) Just about everything one might do to obtain grace can be quickly undone by our inherent sinfulness. I'm in a Catch-22 situation because if I say I believe and have faith in Jesus, I am lying because I am a doubting Thomas. What I/we need is a savior."
    Yes, this is a good place to start. Until I come to realize the inherent hopelessness of my present situation, I can never truly seek and appreciate the value of salvation. One might compare it to the Zen koan of the man with his hands tied behind his back who is holding on with his teeth to the branch of a tree over the edge of a cliff, when a man comes up with a sword who will kill him if he does not tell the meaning of Buddhism. As Jesus said, "If even the pagans can do this much .." as to realize the nature of our human existence.

    "Jesus is supposedly that savior but it is not clear to me how because virtually everything supposedly depends on our works. The CCC is filled with "fine print" that reveals that grace is granted proportionately to one's being open to it."
    Grace comes first from God, but then we must cooperate with grace. This is the essence of the role played by free will in our own salvation.

    Imagine that you are a girl, a fat, ugly, stupid girl who realistically has no hope of love. But then against all reason a handsome prince comes along and declares his love. He is rich, brilliant, dazzling, and there is no logical reason why he should fall in love with you. His declaration of love was entirely gratuitous. Now how do you react? In real life these situations most often turn out very badly because the girl is incapable of returning the love of the prince. She will be sarcastic, ungrateful, defensive, self-conscious, the ugliness of her inner nature will be matched by the ugliness of her demeanor (cf. Proust). But if, by a one-in-a-million chance she were able to return the love of the prince, to be appropriately humble, grateful, devoted and self-sacrificing, then she will be saved from her misery and granted the opportunity to live a life far beyond what she could previously have ever imagined.

    This is the story of our soul and the relationship between God's gratuitious gift of grace and our actions.

    "It goes on and on and on. And has been for centuries. Someone save me! I am in a boat in a stormy sea."
    You say that, but do you really believe it? If you really believe this, then you will do what it takes to save yourself.

    "Many times I have looked for answers and been told to just put aside my doubts and come back to the church. But look at the "Church" today. It is a mess, full of chaos about the rubrics of mass, ignorance of the sacraments, vastly different opinions about birth control, abortion, homosexuality, divorce, war/peace, etc. Where can a sinner go for salvation? The Church? I don't think so. Jesus said if a blind person leads a blind person, both fall into a pit. [Mt 15:14]"
    Yes, this is a valid point. It cannot be denied that the church today is in a state of chaos. No one else will save our souls without our own efforts. Perhaps there was a time when some Catholics believed that they could be saved by the church without any efforts on their own part. Those days are gone.

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  16. There is a positive side to these issues which I couldn't address in the above answers to your specific questions. What we are undertaking is to establish a relationship between 2 things, those things being ourselves and God. Each of these 2 things has an interior and an exterior. We have an exterior which is our words and action, and we have an interior which is our heart. God has an exterior which is the performance of the rituals which make Him present among us, and He has an interior which is His true nature. We want our relationship to progress by steps from the exterior meeting the exterior to the interior meeting the interior. But we can't do it all at once.

    So the poor, ugly, vulgar peasant girl who is affianced to the prince is totally bewildered. She doesn't have a clue as to how she should act in the social circles of the prince. But she starts by putting on her best dress. It's not much compared to the women in the royal court, but it's the best that she has. Then she reads up in Emily Post about the proper etiquette for addressing royalty. These are only exterior actions, but they symbolize a desire to learn to please the one who loves her. If instead she were to continue to wear her rags, to speak in her vulgar slang, to associate with low friends, then the ardor of the prince will quickly cool. Eventually, however, her behavior towards the prince ceases to be something that she has read about in a book, and instead it becomes a reflection of the true love that she bears towards the one towards whom she has such a debt of gratitude. Her behavior doesn't become less refined, but instead it moves from the simulation of refinement towards the reality of a delicate regard for her beloved which is expressed not merely in the prepared phrases which she has memorized but in the actuality of a thousand little tokens of esteem.

    If the girl has chosen the path of love, then the relationship which is growing and developing on her side so that she is becoming capable of expressing her inner feelings of devotion is likewise developing on the other side. Previously the prince had only showed her his formal self. She was overwhelmed by his uniform, his medals of valor, his status in the royal citadel. Those exterior tokens were enough for her, and she could not imagine that the reality of the prince could encompass even more. But eventually the prince feels sufficiently confident of her love that he can begin to reveal to her his true self. The prince is not just a scarecrow covered with a handsome uniform and impressive medals. Inside that imposing exterior there lies an interior reality.

    The relationship began with externals. The girl made the effort to insure that her appearance and actions were appropriate for her presence in the court of the prince. If she does not take this first step, then nothing more will happen. The relationship will cool and die, and she will be cast outside like the guest at the wedding feast who was not wearing a nuptial garment. But at the same time she cannot stop with externals. She must move on to insuring that the inner reality of her heart conforms to the outer reality of her actions. Only then will she receive in return the priceless gift of the real love which comes from the heart of the prince.

    To return to where we began in the first of these 3 posts, this relationship of love is very different from "experiences." Some people engage in love affairs in order to have experiences, in the same way that others drive fast cars or visit foreign lands. But while those things in time will all sicken and pale, and so will the experience of good music at Mass just as much as bad music, if one attends Mass for the experience of the music, one never tires of true love, because it does not come through our senses, and it does not feed the same part of our soul.

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