Monday, September 3, 2012

Illicit Concert at St. Francis in Bend, OR

From the Bend Bulletin, I’ve garnered this announcement for this coming Friday:

St. Francis of Assisi, Bend, OR
...the new church
“GREGORIAN, GOSPEL AND GERSHWIN": Mark Oglesby presents an organ concert; donations accepted; 7 p.m.; St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church & School, 2450 N.E. 27th St., Bend; 541-382-3631

I guess it is fair to assume that the concert will include musical compositions of each of the genres mentioned.

Now, it seems that a parishioner – before the new church was even built – supposedly donated $100,000 for a quality pipe organ. The one that's currently installed there is a combination pipe/electronic organ, and is of reasonable quality, I’m told.

Well, yes, there would have to be an organ for the guest organist to play; hard to imagine him bringing his own!

But the organ, of course, is in the church.

Houston, we have a problem…

In 1987, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments issued a declaration on “Concerts in Churches”. According to that document (my emphases throughout):

5. According to tradition as expressed in the rite for the dedication of a church and altar, churches are primarily places where the people of God gather, and are "made one as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one, and are the Church, the temple of God built with living stones, in which the Father is worshipped in spirit and in truth."…

Churches, however, cannot be considered simply as public places for any kind of meeting. They are sacred places, that is, "set apart" in a permanent way for divine worship by their dedication and blessing.

In other words, it ain’t just a music hall!

In Section III of the document, entitled “Practical Directives”, we are told that

8. The regulation of the use of churches is stipulated by canon 1210 of the Code of Canon Law:

“In a sacred place only those things are to be permitted which serve to exercise or promote worship, piety and religion. Anything out of harmony with the holiness of the place is forbidden. The Ordinary may, however, for individual cases, permit other uses, provided they are not contrary to the sacred character of the place”.

The principle that the use of the church must not offend the sacredness of the place determines the criteria by which the doors of a church may be opened to a concert of sacred or religious music, as also the concomitant exclusion of every other type of music. The most beautiful symphonic music, for example, is not in itself of religious character. The definition of sacred or religious music depends explicitly on the original intended use of the musical pieces or songs, and likewise on their content…

The “Gregorian” pieces would likely qualify, but Gershwin would decidedly NOT fit the bill. And “Gospel”? Well…it’s almost hard exclude “Gospel” music when you consider some of the musical ditties most parishes sing on Sunday morning if they use the OCP song books.

We also find further along in the document that:

10.d. The performers and the audience must be dressed in a manner which is fitting to the sacred character of the place. [Hmmm. Well, I have it on good authority that many parishioners at St. Francis don’t dress in such a manner for Mass, let alone for a concert!]

e. The musicians and the singers should not be placed in the sanctuary. The greatest
 respect is to be shown to the altar, the president's chair and the ambo. ['s a photo of the current pastor's dog seated in the president's chair in another church...and there wasn't even a concert going on at the time.]

Besides the sacrilege of the dog sitting in the presider's chair,
why is the human drinking a beverage in the sanctuary?
Is that not a sacred space whether or not Mass is going on?
f. The Blessed Sacrament should be, as far as possible, reserved in a side chapel or in another safe and suitably adorned place (Cf. C.I.C., can 928, par. 4).

g. The concert should be presented or introduced not only with historical or technical details, but also in a way that fosters a deeper understanding and an interior participation on the part of the listeners. [That’s gonna be difficult with the Gospel and Gershwin stuff.]

I shudder to think what sacrilege this event might entail. Is it so hard to understand that the church is for the worship of God? Do we really need rules and regs to tell us not to play inappropriate music in a church? Or not to plop a dog in the presider's chair for a cute photo op? 

This is the same parish, by the way, that has the problem with light bulbs. Due to the design of the church, changing the ceiling light bulbs requires the services of a contractor who can bring in a “cherry-picker” to reach them. And of course, bringing in a piece of equipment like that requires unbolting and moving a large number of pews to make room for it. Cost? $12,000.  The church is now three years old, and the 10-year bulbs are already starting to burn out.

But there is a plus side, says a correspondent from that parish: 

Time passes very quickly here in Bend; three of our ten-year light bulbs have burnt out, and yet none of us look a day older, let alone 10 years. I think we have found the "fountain of youth”, right here in the Armadillo. (I refuse to call it the "new" Church because after all, in light bulb years it's over ten).

I still think “Aztec handball court” is an apt description for the place, from the photos I’ve seen. 


  1. What does the new Bishop have to say or has he taken a stand? Now that he has been there a few months are there any thoughts about the direction he is taking the faithful?

  2. Bill, I don't know whether Bishop Cary is even aware of this event. Even though he's in Bend, he is not the pastor of that parish, of course; so things that get arranged and scheduled don't necessarily pass across his desk for approval.

    I'm not sure he's had enough time, really, to discern his vision for the diocese, though he's certainly done his share of traveling to the various far ends of the territory!

    Time will tell...

  3. I'm sorry, but the light bulb story is hilarious! I really needed a laugh today! I have an even brighter idea for changing the light bulbs. . . once they move the pews, have one person hold the light bulb and then have two turn the "cherry-picker".

    Off topic, but the Institute of Christ the King (ICKSP) was welcomed into our diocese to say Mass at a very modern looking Church with the typical one-dimensional altar. I said to the ICKSP Priest, "Father! How can we fix the altar to say the TLM?" He responded quite frankly, "Dynamite."

  4. HSE - and I needed YOUR story about "dynamite"! LOL! The correspondent who keeps me updated on the light bulb situation comes up with some very funny stuff!

  5. You really are an angry person. The parish church is part of community life. Been that way for centuries. I feel sorry for you. So little time so much hate. Jesus weeps for you. He knows of those in whited sepulchrals

  6. I hope you'll keep reading this blog, Pat.


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