Dear Editor: I find the recent letters on the music for liturgy very interesting. I remember as a young boy going to Rockefeller Center and there was always a segment of organ music played live. I remember when the organ was the only instrument in churches and I did survive.
But the question of what is appropriate music for Mass is really a question of what is the Mass. I will dare to say that a whole lot of people have no true understanding. I do a presentation called “Is He really there?” in which I trace the history of the Eucharist from Old Testament times to the present.
There are many recent video presentations attempting to explain the Mass, especially for young people. The awe and wonder seems to have disappeared. Most Catholics sit in the back for a fast getaway. I ask them if a rock star was playing would they fight for the front seat?
It’s only God! I guess God’s life is a bit boring compared to some of the lives of our entertainers. The idea of Mass goes back to the Last Supper. Yes, there have been changes in style, language and the building of churches. In the early Church, there was tremendous respect and honor given to the Eucharist. I knew the Mass as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Now we call it Mass. The Orthodox Churches still call it the Divine Liturgy. I think their name is a better description.
Today the idea that the Mass is a meal is popular. Yes, it was a meal, but not like a Thanksgiving turkey dinner where everyone gets sleepy, nor a picnic with loud music and too much to eat and drink. No, it has elements of a meal, but it is Divine Meal Worship, the Eucharist.
This is the question that we need to answer truthfully. Are we there to worship or be entertained, saying the show was great and I’ll come back next week for a repeat performance.
Church music must reflect what the Mass is, not what is popular. The music is not entertainment but helps us to understand the true event that is about to happen. What is appropriate to God’s ear? I fear that the new generation, when they get to Heaven, will probably tell God He is boring; He will say the other place I hear is real hot, maybe you will be more alert as the fire burns your behinds.