Sunday, June 15, 2014

Memo: "Catholic Organ Music"

This is a memo to begin looking into what constitutes "Catholic organ music" or even "Catholic music" although I think "Catholic organ music" is less well defined prima facie. 

Part of me suspects that most of this will require historical and scholarly study of a vast amount, examining both Church "published" discipline and Church "practiced" discipline over the different European countries.

First place to look will be papal documents for the "published discipline."

Perhaps becoming familiar with what different authors were writing in treatises on organ playing and chant accompaniment may shed light on what was both being practiced and theorized.

Prompted by this article that I had read a long time ago and, upon rereading, remembered that it wasn't satire or a joke but actually quite serious:

If I had to comment at all about it, I would simply say that most of my peers find organ music to be the distinguishing mark of the Catholic liturgy (this being among people who are not much versed in liturgy, even among seminarians). Even atheist friends, musicians and not, in college would be found in a Catholic church only to hear the organ, say at a concert. Of course, this matter cannot be argued by means of anecdotes.

It's actually a very simple matter: Graham as most Christians do today views the supernatural through a naturalistic lens (distinguishing here between naturalistic and natural; natural pertains to nature as is whereas naturalistic pertains to the secular materialism that is part of the collective consciousness of present Western culture) and thus applies the standards of materialists not only to the ways of grace but also to the ways of the Church. Unfortunately, and I suspect this has almost always been the case throughout time and space, most Christians don't really understand much or anything about liturgy or God or their own religion, even ostensibly devout ones. The result of this ignorance has been very unfortunate. In the present age, otherwise completely unqualified people are now able to opine about matters which they can bring only their own experiences and reflections to—not to say that these are completely irrelevant, but the tendency of our day is to think that individual and collective experience and sentiment have a say in matters that actually they do not or in a way that they do not or cannot. E.g. no matter what people feel or say or think, only one man and one woman may be married to each other in a natural marriage or in the Sacrament of Matrimony; women cannot become priests; God is a Trinity of Persons, unity of nature; etc.

The response to people like Graham (I say that not in any derogatory way) is twofold: 1) educational and 2) evangelical. The educational component requires a study of: the faith itself and gaining the perspective of faith; Church teaching on liturgy and music. The evangelical aspect is a witnessing of the faith that is the only authentic and guaranteed method of bringing people into a living faith, informed by the mind of the Church. The music played at Church is incidental and only symptomatic of the deeper spiritual emptiness experienced throughout most of the present Church, even the organ music. Graham's post, far from being incorrect, rather reveals the unconscious truth of the present Church's state: a state of desolation and emptiness and a profound ignorance and lack of self identity.

This matter of self identity is also to be found in related matters, such as the meaning of clerical vestments and garb, the authority and symbolism of the papacy, the relation between clergy and laity, etc.

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