Letters to the Editor

Respect for the Liturgy

Dear Editor: I believe Thomas C. Cullinane’s letter (Nov. 8) misapplies the point of Father Benedict Groeschel’s story about the Protestant minister stating he would “get down on his knees and never get up” if he believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the tabernacle.

The point is about reverence in church and not taking lightly our Catholic beliefs. Similarly with the minister’s comments about reverence to the Blessed Sacrament, sacred music, whether being carried out by volunteers or paid musicians, must comport with proper reverence. Equally important is that sacred music must be in accordance with the Church’s guidance on music.

Many Catholics have concerns with inappropriate music at Mass which is not based on the quality of the musician, or whether they are volunteers or paid, but rather with reverence and respect for the Mass and the Church’s instructions. Specifically, the documents of Vatican II speak directly to this point, see paragraph 116 from Sacrosanctum Concilium (1963) which discuss the primacy of Gregorian Chant in the Latin Rite, and other sections of the document concerning the use of the pipe organ.

For popular sacred music, Vatican II also speaks to its appropriate use and its importance to the Mass – although it does not seem to be contemplated by Vatican II that Catholic sacred music would only be popular music in the vernacular without any Latin (see the Instructions on Music for the Liturgy, Musican Sacram. 1967 – “the use of the Latin language, with due respect to particular law, is to be preserved in the Latin rites.”).

Thus, I think it is appropriate for Catholics to point out when such abuses occur, or when music is has a more “popular” feel rather than sacred, because such abuses are harmful to faith formation and more importantly respect to the Blessed Sacrament.

James C. Gange


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