Keep Calm, and Save the Liturgy

Well these sure have been an interesting 24 hours on the Chant Cafe. Jack Bauer, take note.

For a year or so now, I’ve been mulling over an idea that I believe would help this particular, wonderful movement to keep moving forward in peace. The idea is this.

  • Focus on the mission
  • Agree to disagree about everything else

For each of us, the revival of sacred music in the liturgical life of the Church is part and parcel of many other things. But let’s face it: these are different things.

I wholeheartedly believe that the revival of the liturgical life of the Church will cause Catholics to reclaim their moral and spiritual identity. Personal prayer will become more widespread and fervent. People will obey the natural law in their marriages, at table, and in their lives generally. People will seek true teaching, even when it costs.

Others who agree with me about sacred music will disagree with me about the desirablity of these effects. Some probably seek to implement a “justice” in moral matters that flouts the natural law–and yet love beautiful liturgical music.

Still others who agree with me about prayer and morality will be at odds with me regarding liturgical reform’s power to change these things. Some will, not completely unreasonably, fear that liturgical reform will empty our parishes, making the Church’s teaching even more invincibly irrelevant to people’s lives.

Others who agree with the CMAA mission are perhaps less concerned about sacred music’s effects on people, and most concerned with the rights of God to true worship. Cardinal Burke has been lecturing on just this point for some time.

Here at the Chant Cafe, as at Colloquium and on the MusicaSacra forum, I believe that the agreed-upon points, the things we all buy into, should be quite narrowly defined. Truth should be valued, and thus scholarship, and straightforward, honest speaking. Excellence in all the disciplines associated with liturgical music should be valued, from the ars celebrandi to composition. And popularization of best practices should be highly valued.

I think if everyone buys into these things, this could be a long-lasting, mostly drama- and schism-free ecclesial movement.