Liturgical Relativism

I spoke with a priest recently and the conversation moved to Liturgical music. He heard I played guitar and so he wanted to involve me in his gospel group.

I quickly declined the invitation in the nicest way possible. ”what you don’t lift the hand high?” as to infer I don’t like the whole ”praise the lawwwddddd” stuff at least in the context of the Liturgy.

Answer was no I don’t. He tried to explain to me that he has been reading books that talk about how we need to use the culture to try and help convert them. In other words using modern music and giving the lyrical application and theme of Jesus to it.

Furthermore there is a whole culture out there he explained where people love the somber Gregorian chant but not everyone is like that or likes this music. Sometimes it’s important to have joyful music he said.

It’s at this point I’m thinking these people don’t really and truly understand the public perception of what it is they’re doing and have a wrong perception of what joy is. Music does toy with our emotions but there’s a difference between feeling joyful and being joyful. True joy is found in the application of oneself to a particular discipline.

For example when we look at Islam it has all the discipline but it has no joy or love. When we look at the Catholic and protestant west we see all the joyful uplifting and praise and good emotions but no discipline, no real depth. In the Orthodox Church one can see both joy and discipline coming together nicely.

Anyway I explained that he said himself the architecture of the church all lends itself to the mystical and I continued that so when you stick a drum and a rock guitar in there it looks out of place with the whole scene and interior of the Church.

It’s not just my opinion but every soul that walks into that church can feel it in their gut that whilst the music in itself is nice, it doesn’t fit the actual dramatic scene of Calvary before them on the altar. It’s wishy washy and people don’t come to mass to experience the world again, they come to experience an other worldliness. They come to see, hear and smell there’s a fine line between US (the church, heaven, the kingdom, Jesus ) and THEM (the world, secularism, atheism, the playground of the demonic).

I understand the mystical side of it and I’ll get to my history as a musician/singer/songwriter in a minute. But if you want to be the pink floyd of Christianity God has given it to you, it’s called the Charismatic group. Go there but sadly the Charismatics have invaded the Parish church and now everything is upside down in there they’ve ruined the discipline that held it all together because their type of worship doesn’t suit the parish liturgical life.

Tonight I watched Lord of the Rings the two towers. I saw that the music fits the movie. If you were to put some indie folk music in there or even star wars music it wouldn’t fit. It just wouldn’t be the Lord of the rings would it? It’s the same with the Mass. When you insert that type of modern music it no longer looks or feels like the Mass, that something heavenly is taking place.

I understand that we need to use the culture and that this helps conversion. St.Paul VI said this in his encyclical and I’ll never forget what he said although I do forget the encyclical in which he said it. But he said that the use of the local culture is important and helps with conversion but to always remember that God is above the culture.

I hate to boast but there’s nobody who understands the liberal, secular culture like I do. I was immersed in the music, drugs and sex scene for years. I have smoke joints with Ian Browns musicians, I’ve supported acts like Rick the drummer of the Jam (He had his own band once and I forget the name of it already). I’d been involved and friends with Los Angeles biggest movies critics for film/tv later in life also.

I drank and puked in the darkest of places. I’d a different woman almost every other weekend.

I just know the mindset of this culture this priest thinks he’s converting and they think your music is absolutely horrible and horrible is not the word they’d use for it, it’s way too kind for a description of what they think.

I don’t think it’s horrible but it just doesn’t fit THE SCENE of what’s going on at Mass. I told him that I highly doubt that when I die, that Jesus is going to greet me on a cloud with a rock band behind him.

This music is great for a youth festival/retreat and works well in that setting but NOT at the Celebration of the Mass.

I’ve been having a discussion with atheists about this who used to be a part of the Church. They say that music is diabolical. They hate it. Is it any wonder people are leaving the church at an alarming rate. You may not think it but the Divine Liturgy is what keeps people coming to the church and it’s the divine Liturgy which helps them from youth to realize then that the teachings of the church are not to be taken lightly.

But for as long as they see you compromise with the world on the Liturgy they then don’t see any issue with Compromise also on the teachings of the church. Everything is connected, when you sever one thing and rupture the Liturgy you cut off everything else that the Liturgy gave meaning to which is the teachings of Christ.

Discipline and Love are not distant cousins but brother and sister. Without them both we have a broken family, a broken Church.

Sadly we live in a world of Liturgical Relativism. The Folk mass is not right for you, but it’s right for me. You may like incense and candles but ya know, I prefer the glow of an artificial light.

It’s really sad and so you can see why I don’t bother fighting it. I was glad to leave him at that because I really hate getting into a discussion with priests over it because I know that you cannot preach to someone whose already made their mind up. Never teach a pig how to sing, it only wastes your time and it irritates the pig.

I’ve given up teaching pigs how to sing and I’d rather just get on with my life. The Church will enter it’s dark period and there’s nothing I can do to stop that. But does it mean I must be a part of it? Perhaps so but very reluctantly.





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2 thoughts on “Liturgical Relativism

  1. I pretty much agree. “The method is the message.” I mean, we do more contemporary songs along with hymns, with just a piano and choir mostly, but whatever we’re doing, there’s never a mistake in our parish about what we’re all there at Mass for. It’s not for me. It’s not about me. Even the piano I play at when I or the music director is leading is situated so that we face the altar. Those small things make a difference.
    I do appreciate, however, that I live in a time when the Mass is available in English. I know I can learn a bit of Latin, so that’s probably a cop-out, but it makes the Mass more easily understandable and helps me enter into a more undistracted time of worship. I imagine someone coming in to Mass for the first time would want to know what’s being said. Then again, I have a friend over here who loves the Latin Mass and is like, “It’s not that hard, Jon.”

  2. No you’re wrong there Randomcatholicconvert. It is all about the Lord but it is about you too as the Lord specifically created music within the Church for His own glory but also for the purpose of lifting us into prayer. The only time it’s not about us is when we decide for ourselves how things should be over and above the discipline created by God. All that rock music and the eccentric charismatic music is all of the Lord. It’s called mysticism but I’m stressing the need here for discipline and right now in the roman Catholic Liturgy there is no discipline like there is in the Orthodox or Greek Catholic Liturgies.

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