Here is the complete Eastern Oklahoma Catholic in .pdf form (edition 3/6/06). Scroll to page 3 of 19 of the .pdf for the article that is being quoted in Catholic blogosphere. His latest article is titled Parishes must recover sense of the sacredness in the sanctuary. Here are some more snippets, with some of my own commentary added. (emphasis my own)
"I do not consider fidelity to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal as a legalistic imposition, nor as simply “following the rubrics.”Rather, our obedience here is an open, public profession that the Eucharist is something which we have received and not something which we ourselves make. It is something which we must hand on in its entirety to our children and grandchildren."
"Our fidelity to the General Instruction is also a daily reminder that the Eucharist is not a “thing” which can be manipulated or played with. The Eucharist is not subject to the whims of those who celebrate it nor those who derive their life from it. The Eucharist is a Person, Jesus Christ, who gives Himself to us that we might participate in His selfsurrender."
The last sentence in the above paragraph is one I deliberately emphasized. I had quite the ongoing argument with one person on a certain message board (who was seeking to abolish Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament) that the Eucharist that we receive in Holy Communion IS, of course, Jesus Christ. Should we adore him? Absolutely! He's not just any old piece of food. He needs to be adored and received with the utmost care and love.
"The Church has always been quite insistent that when we celebrate the Eucharist we neither invent it nor do we make it as if from nothing. Rather, it is something we have received, and that “something” is Christ’s own being handed over, so that we can say that every individual celebration of the saving action of the Mass - whether in Holy Family Cathedral or one of our storefront missions - is a participation in the full Paschal Mystery of Christ who is the same “yesterday, today, and always.”"
This re-iterates something that the iPadre has mentioned time and time again in homilies and other talks and columns - that we don't give God the liturgy. We receive it from him.
"It is Christ who allows us to receive this liturgical action and through it to participate in His obediential worship of the Father. The Mass is not something that we do, but something that we receive, and all those who celebrate the Mass, both the celebrant and the congregation, must be conscious that what we have received must in turn be handed over in its entirety to those who come after us."
"...it is absolutely essential that our liturgies be characterized by the kind of openness which can only be created by a deep and genuine silence which will allow the recreating Word of God to be heard in its fullness. By silence, I do not mean the mere avoidance of noise, but a much more profound silence, that deep silence of the heart which promotes an attitude of openness and receptivity to the Word spoken by the Father and proclaimed in the Scriptures. This is the silence which we experienced during Pope John Paul II’s Year of the Eucharist, when we rested in silent adoration each Sunday after Communion."
And for that reason:
"Don’t fill reflective space with music for music’s sake." (- Subtitle of next paragraph)
"There are periods in the liturgy into which silence naturally fits, periods in which silence allows the worshipper to dispose himself or herself to participate in the saving action of the Mass by listening for the voice of God Who speaks to the heart in silence. These periods are specified in the GIRM, and I am asking our pastors and priests to respect the congregation’s need for reflective space in the penitential rite, in the Liturgy of the Word after the first reading and again after the homily and, finally, after Communion."
As a personal practice, this is why I let any visiting priests know (my pastor already knows this) that I deliberately wait for the celebrant to stand before I start intoning the Alleluia (or Lenten replacement thereof). This is my duty in keeping in accord with what the good Bishop has stated above, for priests, and below, for music ministers:
"At the same time, I am asking choir directors, musicians, and liturgy coordinators not to fill those open spaces with music for music’s sake. Let there be silence so that God’s creative and redeeming Word can be heard. Let the Word penetrate the heart and the mind of the pray-er."
God wasn't in a hurry. Why should we be. Silence doesn't necessarily constitute a "dead spot" in the liturgy, unless we've stopped abruptly during incensing at the Offertory. We can make some cool excuses to bring on some sort of silence. We don't have to "intone something" right away. Like the Alleluia, as I mentioned above. Wait for Father to get up. You've created the silence. After the First Reading, wait for the lector to sit down before you start the Psalm. The lector won't sing it for you, don't worry. Many a lector I've met will claim that he/she can't sing in the first place. And a trained lector on Sunday will NOT just READ the Psalm on you. Don't worry. He/she will park his/her tookus. Silence! Nice silence! Shhhhhhhhhhh! Sit! Start Psalm. Let Father sit down in silence after Communion while the server, sacristan, or deacon is "cleaning up the Supper mess", that is, purifying vessels and putting everything back into place. Ahhhhhhhh! Sweet silence! Let us pray.
"I am also asking our people to recover their sense of the sacredness of the sanctuary by refraining from idle conversation in Church before and after Mass. How is it that Christ, the Host of this Sacred Banquet, can invite us as guests to share communion with Him and yet we do not respond? He speaks to us, yet we do not hear Him since we prefer to engage in unnecessary and trivial conversations with those around us. Is there any topic of greater value or of more pressing urgency than His love for us? Let us then be mindful of Who it is who calls us so that we might direct our conversation to Him, in gratitude for his love and with sorrow for our sins."
Some of the biggest pet peeves of mine - those few people who can't even shut their pieholes for two minutes. I have times when I no sooner announce Please join in singing our recessional hymn.... and you have people right around you chit-chatting, in an outdoor voice, mind you! It's like their chit-chat HAS TO OUTBLAST those who are actually trying to sing that last hymn. Another instance that really got me peeved was when one gentleman approached me after the postlude because "the people in the narthex couldn't hear themselves talk". Of course they can't. The narthex at that particular parish was right underneath the gallery pipe case. And, again, it was a postlude. Not exactly something that normally gets limited to strings and celestes, mind you. Ya wanna shoot the breeze, go outside.
"Since it is important to guard this sense of silence, this sense of the sacred, even at times of great joy and after celebrations involving the whole parish, I am asking that pastors exercise reasonable caution after baptisms, confirmations and weddings to ensure that a family’s desire for keepsake photographs does not give way to an attitude which disregards the sacredness of our churches and the Presence - after Mass as well as during Communion - of Him who is the Author of the Sacraments we celebrate."
Yes, and shut the dang cell phones off, too! Matter of fact, take them off "vibrate" while you're at it. Better still, lock it in the glove box of your motor vehicle, and do not take it out until you leave church! The next paragraph or two can be read here. But more follows:
"At this point, too, some mention must be made of the great dis-ease I feel when I see the celebrant at the altar while the cantor or the choir stands arrayed either to his right or to his left. I am uncomfortable when I watch the congregation forced to shift their focus from the celebrant to the singers, and from the singers back to the celebrant, over and over again during the course of the liturgy. This greatly upsets the balance of the Mass between proclamation and response (when our song is our response to what has been proclaimed) by making the response itself something that we have to respond to."
This makes me ask the musical question: What on earth were pastors, musicians, and other wreck-o-vators thinking??? Yes, I'm referring to those who either had new churches built where the music ministry somehow shares the stage with the celebrant, or existing churches where the organ console, piano (why piano?), and choir suddenly get moved downstairs in a new stage, only for a resounding choir loft be left to deteriorate. And that cathedral in Milwaukee --- what happened in there is a crying shame!
"If we have built our churches in such a way that the only place for the choir, the cantor and the musicians is beside or behind the sanctuary, then we face an architectural difficulty which will have to be addressed eventually by architects and designers. But we should be honest enough to acknowledge that the placement of the choir, the cantor and the musicians has proven to be a terrible distraction in many parishes."
The solution at Holy Ghost was an easy one. You see, Holy Ghost was one of those poorly-built churches. A 1987 ediface replacing a nicer one that burned down completely, the choir and musicians, accompanied by only a Kurzweil 250 keyboard (which the director often programmed instead of played live - NOT GOOD), were up front. Our pastor made a very simple solution - trade places with the cry room. So, now the choir is in back (or out west) (the windows to the old cry room, of course, were removed), and the cry room is now a closed room on the south side of the building. Of course, my predecessor gave her notice over it. So, when I came down to audition, the transferral of areas (cry and choir) were still a work in progress. I marvelled at the finished product, which was complete before I started work there. Kurzweil was also removed, replaced by a Rodgers ORGAN.
Music at Mass is simply "sung prayer". Music by the choir is "enhanced sung prayer". What it should NOT be is "concert performance", classical, rock, pop, or otherwise. My predecessor, according to some sources, insisted that when her choir sang at Mass, it was to be thought a "performance". All the more reason to deep-six the "stage". The liturgy documents mention that the choir should be situated in a prominent place, and should be part of the "assembly", or the congregation. The choir is just as much part of the congregation in the loft, and probably more a part of the congregation in the loft, than on stage. In the loft, the choir is facing the altar like everyone else. On stage, they often (not always) face the congregation, thus attracting attention to themselves, many times not realizing such.
Again - why wasn't Bishop Slattery head of the BCL? I'd like to hear more from him.