Friday, February 29, 2008

In Muro Scriptumst

As I was reading my March 2008 issue of The American Organist, my eyes fell across the short blurb in the "Pipings" column recounding an article reported by the Catholic News Service. On September 3 of last year there was an ecumentical evening prayer service at the church of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome to mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of Charles Wesley. Cardinal Walter Kaspar presided at the vespers service, saying, "...through these hymns...Roman Catholics have come to know and apprecite him." Methodist minister Rev. John Barrett also took part in the service. Here's a direct quote from the TAO article, which incorporates quotes from Rev. Barrett:

But unfortunately today, even in Methodist congregations, his (Charels Wesley's) hymns are increasingly replaced by "praise hymns long on emotion but short on theology." The Rev. Barrett, commenting in an interview following the service, said he believes too many Chrsitians of all denominations are turning to "easy, undemanding worship songs."

So, I'm confused. It seems that if one is in Rome, one sees what the problems are and speaks openly about them. However, the farther one gets from the Eternal City, the thicker the scabs on the eyes become, and the cozier it feels for the head to be buried in the sand -- I'm not talking necessarily about music directors here, who so frequently see the writing on the wall, read it off to their pastors and find themselves scraping together uneaten pizza rinds behind Deano's the next day. More and more being a pastoral musician means being a pastoral yes-man: "Yes Father, let us embark on a new campaign of liturigcal abuse and scorn the Church's music tradition." It makes no sense to me how a clerical spine can regress in such resplent Darwinian fashion into amorphous jelly as soon as its black-cassocked owner skims the Papal comments and edicts. We see here the common notion that we have a Pope in Rome who mumbles instructions from the throne of Peter into a paper bag. He's great to watch on TV, and pro forma, we publically support him, but really what he has to say is nothing more than suggestion. We choose to take it or leave it -- and since the old fart sits beneath his gilt murals thousands of miles away, we can just leave it.


Motherhen said...

You aren't really eating pizza crusts behind Deano's are you? (LOL)If you are, please come to dinner at my house!

Why don't the priests obey the Pope? Is it because they know nothing will happen if they thumb their noses at Pope Benedict? Is the reason because they've lost all respect for the Chair of Peter?

Personally I believe, since no kind of discipline has been handed down for things like "the Barney Mass" or whatever, the priests think they have carte blanche to do what they feel like doing. The Vatican knows of these abuses, but no actions are taken. Why then should the priests act like they are in obedience to Rome? If my kids are having sassy mouths and I tell them they are punished and have to clean their rooms, but then I don't actually make them clean their rooms....what is that telling my kids? It's telling them that they can sassy-mouth me and get away with it!

I keep hearing off all these "young, traditional minded priests" that are coming from the Seminaries, but it'll be years and years before these men get their own parishes. In the meantime, how many people are going to leave their Catholic faith? Heck, how many Catholics are not going to even know their Faith while these priests ad-lib the Consecration and perform other such abuses? We've already had 40 years of bad Catechesis, how many more years will it take before Rome takes action?

Jason Pennington said...

No, I'm not scraping around for plate discards behind Deano's. Everyone knows Ruth's Chris is the place for the best dumpster eats. Just kidding.

Why don't they obey the Pope? Because, he's far away and in the local church, the higher up's would rather pass the buck. If you voice a complaint, the best you can hope for is "he's the priest, and he's in charge." It's a chronic outbreak of "that's not our problem." This is my opinion: there are so few priests, that the church is to some extent happy to scrape the bottom of the barrel, even if it means cutting off the nose despite the face. Actually stepping up to the plate and disciplining a priest might mean losing a black cassock with a pulse. Think how long it took to get the church to admit that some of its priests had a hankering for little boys -- and what did they do when they denied it? Shuffle 'em. Pass the buck. It would make sense that discipline is in order, however, but who wants to rock the boat? It's much easier to pretend everything is in perfect order.

HAHAHAHA! The "young traditionally minded priests". Are these really traditionally minded guys or are they like so many -- the neo-traditiaonlist minded priests who look at the pictures in the old St. Joseph's missals of the happy 1950's families and think, if only the women in my parish dressed like the women in these pictures! The traditionalists are steeped in World History and Church History. They know how we got where we are. The Neo-trads look at the past and make a facade for themselves to shield their own insecurity. These are the ones who use Latin in the Mass simply because it sounds like tradition, not because it is the natural language for the Roman Rite. They are seldom aware of any traditional or historical context, and terribly underschooled in liturgy and music. They are also the ones who have no real Latin skills. I've witnessed such a priest a number of years ago who was called upon to bless some religious objects. He tried it in Latin -- to impress the woman who had brought him the objects. The result was a mish-mash of Latin words, English words and jumbled Latin endings. Something like "In Name Patribus, et Filio, et Spiritui Sanctis". The parishioner was impressed, but I rolled my eyes at the good father. This was the same guy who later complained to me that he shouldn't have to drag his own garbage can to the street on trash day, since he had studied 7 years to earn ordination. I told him that I had attended university for the same number of years, but it doesn't faze me at all to schlep the can to the street. Big deal. Seven years. And after seven friggin years, the poor sot still couldn't decline a simple Latin noun. It's all show for these guys. Hand them a copy of the Latin Vulgate Bible, and they might mistake it for a Roman cook book...and forget trying to ask them to navigate through a Roman Gradual. You'll have more luck asking them to read a Japanese newspaper.