Well here we go again. At least the snarkyness is becoming more easily recognizable and almost predicable. (Or is it snakiness?) Okay, sure, I'll add two more products to my don't-touch-with-a-ten-foot-pole-until-they-change-their-marketing-strategy list. But I digress. what I think we're really talking about here are those Transcendentals of Truth, Goodness and Beauty again and I ALWAYS love this topic. It showed up over on the Chant Cafe here and the dialogue that ensued was rather exciting. To summarize: Does the music at Mass over the last generation meet us where we are and elevate us or meet us where we are and leave us there? I have a few opinions.
A. The mass music of the past generation was well-intentioned I think. Who knows...only God can judge motive, but I think there were many kind-hearted individuals plying their gifts in the service of the church who meant well and helped many people define and deepen their faith. As a Catholic of 14 years and having never known Palestrina, I am a child of this era and I am grateful for having my unique experience of growing in the faith through music. The Haas, Maher, Cooney, Herd music was where I cut my Catholic teeth and I have gratitude in my heart for having this introduction. God does meet us where we are.
B. I think what has happened is that the modernists, subjectivists and relativists have achieved a comfort level with a few of the standards that comprise parts of the transcendental virtue of beauty - radiance of form, unity, harmony and proportion. Unity is the big kahuna here, (or should I say a false sense of unity). since we fell dismally short of adhering to all 4 elements, what resulted was the fruit of self-worship. God meets us where we are and realizes that we need help.
C. "The average musician can't sing chant." That statement is simply not true. Is there a suggestion that we have devolved as a society into an unteachable lot? In the post conciliar era, no one has tried (c'mon...really tried) yet and now with the new technology, there should be a groundswell of people trying it, liking it and carrying on with it. It reminds me of the pro-choice manipulators that tell us that humans simply can't achieve a pure lifestyle - they are too stupid - so they give us birth control and contraception. Average choristers simply can't sing beautiful music - they are too stupid - so we sing a dumbed-down version of muzak at the Mass. This is an elitist defense and keeps people locked down and devalued rather than freeing them to their greater potentials. God meets us where we are; loves us with an everlasting love and refuses to leave us in the mire.
Which leads me to my final point: If God actually thought the post-conciliar muzak way, it would sound something like this: "Humans cannot be redeemed - they are far too lost, and stupid - therefore let's play "Let's Pretend" and eat doritos and pepsi at mass.
The fact of the Matter (and that pun was intended!) is that God loves us so much that he brings heaven to earth and changes simple substances of bread and wine into His Very Body and Blood. He knows we are desperately in need of Him and are utterly and totally lost without Him. He set our feet on a rocky fastness; he bore us up on eagle pinions and brought us to himself. If he refuses to leave us in our own evil devices then we should expect that God has greater plans for us than to just fumble around like fools.
As we start a new year and on this most Marian of days...I think it's time to take a good, hard look at the year ahead with the following challenge...this quote by Williams Law is a terrifying indictment of the way things really are. And if we are serious about sainthood (and I would hope that you would be because it is how we will change the world) then situate your minds around this:
“If you will look into your own heart in utter honesty, you must admit that there is one and only one reason why you are not even now a saint. You do not wholly want to be.”
This is my indictment to. This year I will resolve to wholly want to be a saint. Care to join me?