Sunday, May 26, 2013

Another Book: Zeal for Thy House

This is another collection of posts from this blog - this time on the Mass and liturgical abuses. I've organized the posts into sections on liturgical abuse; the Novus Ordo; the music at Mass; the extraordinary form of the Mass; and "dealing with it".

I'm hoping I'll be able to complete all the details and have it available by the end of the week.


  1. I am suffering so much at Mass, it is hurting me and making me very dry and angry the irreverence and neglect I see. Seeing liturgical abuse and the Mass being treated like entertainment or a social gathering has plunged me into deep sadness. Is there a way I can get this book? I really might need it.

  2. Knowing how much music is an important part of mass for you (and your frustration with it), you may find this interesting. Yesterday, I was compelled to search youtube for songs I remembered from the 70s from "guitar mass." I found this site: (there is an associated facebook page (

    I ended up spending (probably) too much time browsing through clips with audio of songs that were favorites from the past (e.g., Sons of God, I am the Resurrection, Happy the Man, Wake Up My People, They'll know we are Christians by our love, To Be Alive, Allelu, etc.). Although the description is "Folk" there is actually quite a diverse range of musical styles from folk, calypso, jazz, rock. Much of the folk music makes me think of Mitch Miller type music and the early 1960s popular folk music.

    Reflecting on the change from the Latin mass, the switch to these various "contemporary" types of music must have been revolutionary. So much youth and spirit and zeal.

    But then, apparently, the institutionalism took over and the egalitarianism was suppressed and the priest took center stage (virtually literally) and became the celebrity, the host of the service/mass. The musicians were pushed to the side and the music was toned down and slowed down (e.g., organ versions of Glory & Praise) and the congregation was pushed back to being an audience to the show put on by the priest. So within a decade or so, the spirit of V2 was snuffed and replaced with a Protestant lite version of the mass.

    I am not a supporter of V2 but in listening (again) to these songs of the 60s and 70s I am somewhat saddened by the lost opportunity. Nearly a decade after V2 another musical revolution was also snuffed when the enthusiasm and raw power of Punk Rock was swallowed up by the Establishment tempting the greed and ego of the participants to become commercial. I wonder if something similar happened to the Folk Mass Music of the church in the 60s. I suspect it so.

  3. Oh dear, fRED, surely you jest! I am at a loss for words! May God ever "snuff" such "opportunities"! Sorry...that kind of music is just plain wrong, and the Church has said so loud and clear!

  4. Angelo Cardinal I mentioned on another post where you commented, I don't know quite what to make of you! I like your profile description, and your blogs are interesting! ;-)
    Check back for info about the book next week! Or email me.

  5. No joke Jay. I am looking at this from primarily a sociological perspective. I don't know when you became an active Catholic.

    I grew up in the music of the church. As a pre-schooler I was at my Dad's feet in the choir loft with the Men's choir singing latin. As an adolescent, I sang in the boy's choir with my Dad's Men's choir as the Latin mass was shuffled out. During my high school years I enjoyed the youth guitar mass (hence the youtube reference above). During college, I sang with our Newman Ctr youth choir. That led me to sing with a motet choir at the diocesan cathedral.

    I suspect that many folks today are not very aware of what was going on with the music after V2; "Glory & Praise" on the organ is a disaster and not even close to what happened in the late 60s and early 70s.

    I am certainly NOT suggesting a return to the folk music of the 60s (ala the referenced web site). Rather, I invite people to take some time to study what went on, to listen to the diverse music of that time and contemplate its significance and trajectory and ponder why it quickly faded to the lukewarm music in today's RC churches.

    I am also NOT trying to be an apologist for V2. Again, my intent is to contemplate my experience and try to make sense of what happened and why we are were we are today. I remember a pride and zeal of being a Catholic (in the 60s) that does not exist today (except perhaps at the World Youth Rallies).

    I remember how we sulked and complained at having to go to one of those ordinary "boring" masses instead of a guitar mass. My parents frequent response was something along the lines of you get what you put in. Obviously, as young people we did not have a good grasp of what was actually happening at mass. But I wonder if a priest is saying a valid mass why anyone has to "suffer" through it if they are truly aware of what is going on at the altar.

    But we do suffer through "bad" masses. I'm not sure what that says about us. Theoretically, our "suffering" is due to lack of focus and a touch of the desire to be entertained or at least engaged. Some have claimed that engaging the congregation is what V2 intended. If so, what went wrong? Who stole the mass?

  6. Sorry IRED but the intentional abuses of what V2 did NOT intend are what "stole the Mass". I grew up much as you did and served at the Latin Mass and sang (Latin) in the choir for years. As a "catholic" college student in the '60s I too experienced the guitar Mass and all of its various gyrations. What changed was a shift from the focus being on the Sacrifice of the Mass to a focus on entertainment with the Priest not so much a celebrant as a wanna be celebrity. The focus changed from the altar to the priest as popular guy, entertainer, etc. Guitar Masses and their like add NOTHING positive to our history. They were and are a sad and completely lacking substitute for what the Mass is really about.

  7. I, too, am interested in your thome, Dr. Boyd. :)

    I had to laugh at a post over at Fr. Z's the other day. To lead into that...

    Anonymous, just above, says "What changed was a shift from the focus being on the Sacrifice of the Mass to a focus on entertainment with the Priest not so much a celebrant as a wanna be celebrity."

    Also, coupled with the "entertainment" aspect, is the fact that the Holy Sacrifice tended to focus more on the "meal" aspect.

    These two distortions, along with many other things (like the Mass totally in the vernacular, Altar rails bening removed [so one could receive in the hand... while standing], girl "Altar boys", etc.), but also the disastrous affect of going from Ad Orientem worship (facing east) to Versus Populum (facing the congregation) and having the "free standing Altar".

    This leads to the comment at Fr. Zs (paraphrasing):

    A person said the "free standing Altar" reminded them of a "kitchen island" and the priest as some kind of glorified "master chef".

    Tragically funny.


  8. Here's what really changed: the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is primarily offered for the DEAD. All 3 parts of the Communion of Saints participate in the offering of the Mass, but the principal beneficiaries are the members of the Church Suffering in Purgatory. The dead don't need or want music from "Godspell." They want the recreation of Christ's Passion on Calvary to cleanse them of their impurities.

    Folk music can't do that. It can't release their souls from suffering. Neither can any other kind of music, for that matter, except to this extent: to the extent that the music makes our silent, interior participation in the sacrifice on Calvary more efficacious then it can make the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass more efficacious in assisting the Poor Souls.

    We need to ask ourselves then, "What kind of liturgical action and what kind of liturgical music will assist us to be present on Calvary to share in Christ's Passion and to console Him in his sufferings and to offer these oblations to the Father on behalf of the Poor Souls in Purgatory and the poor souls on Earth who are in danger of eternal death?"

    Once the living hijack this action and make it into an entertainment for themselves, then the entire telos of the project is lost, and it no longer matters what kind of music they play, just as we don't really care very much whether the music of the plays on Broadway is Rogers & Hammerstein or Andrew Lloyd Webber, even though we may dimly recall that dramas were originally intended by the Greeks to be cathartic religious exercises.

    -John Galvin

  9. John,

    I am utterly flabergasted by your comment. I can't recall EVER hearing that the Mass is primarily offered for the DEAD. Not to project my thinking, but I would bet that 99% of the practicing Catholics would have no idea what you are talking about.

    That being said (and no offense intended), being of a technical mind, I reached for my CCC to find out more about this. In quickly browsing through several sections (Communion of Saints, Purgatory, Indulgences, Eucharist, Liturgy, etc.), I can start to grasp a bit of what you are talking about. However, despite the benefit of indulgences for the poor souls in Purgatory, I am not convinced (or understand) that this is the PRIMARY purpose of the "Holy Sacrifice of the Mass."

    I also cannot find a specific prohibition against folk music in the CCC (specifically CCC 1156-1158). The songs that I cited (above) appear to meet the criteria of the CCC for use during mass.

    I do note that CCC1156 cites "Address another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your hearts." (Eph 5:19) as well as St. Augustine ("He who sings prays twice" - this was a favorite saying of my father and is etched on his gravestone).

    I also note that one criterion listed in CCC1157 is "the unanimous participation of the assembly at the designated moments." Of course, the next criterion mention is "the solemn character of the celebration." I guess God gave King David a pass on that part. His wife, Michal, didn't find his dancing and singing quite dignified enough but look where that got her.

    In any case, my original point was not a call for more guitar masses. Rather, I hoped that people would take an objective moment to take a look back at the music that was at the cusp of V2, reflect on it, and compare it to what is present today. It seemed to me that the there was a tremendous spirit of enthusiasm and hope that was quickly swept aside and is no longer present.

    Nor do I intent to advocate on the entertainment value of mass. Far from it. Actually, I suspect that one of the things that went wrong with the V2 mass is that it became a battle between the priest and musicians on who is supposed to be the center of attention.

    One of the original concepts of the Punk Rock movement (and probably other genres too) was the intent to break down the barriers between the performer and the audience so that a unity was created. I think that some aspects of this can be observed in some of the pictures from early post-V2. This sense of unity certainly does meet the telos/purpose of the liturgy as described in the CCC.

    One purpose of my original comment was to get people thinking about what the purpose of mass is and how and why it is celebrated. Therefore, I thank you for your feedback.

    Your point about the relationship between the Mass and the Poor Souls in Purgatory (and our souls) is very unnerving to me (and I hope others). If accurate (regarding its magnitude), then an incredible ignorance exists which must be urgently resolved! May God have mercy on us.


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