Saturday, April 08, 2006

Once More Lost Amongst the Back Issues

. . .this time The Wanderer's. Having fast-forwarded a post or two ago all the way up to today, if you would now rewind all the way back to March 16, you'll find Fr Zuhlsdorf's WDTPRS Wanderer column for that day, in which he reprints some of Bishop Slattery's astonishing liturgical requirements for the Diocese of Tulsa. We have seen nothing like this here in the Archdiocese of Hollywood, nor in our neighbouring Diocese of Disneyland. Why, you could get excommunicated for this kind of stuff around here. Or at least "invited to leave". Herewith, Fr Zuhlsdorf presents the best of Bishop Slattery:

Bishop Edward J. Slattery has been calling for a serious retooling of the liturgy in the Diocese of Tulsa (USA), where he has been bishop since 1994. He is writing a series of columns in his diocesan paper, the Eastern Oklahoma Catholic. After the last Synod of Bishops His Excellency has asked clergy, liturgists and musicians to review Sacrosanctum Concilium. Here is a sample (my emphasis added): “I ask them to pay special attention to the sections devoted to Sacred Music (Chapter 6, 112 – 121) that those who share responsibility in a parish for the implementation of the Council’s liturgical norms might reacquaint themselves with what the Council Fathers actually wrote concerning the requirements of proper liturgical music, and in particular the principle which places the text in importance over the melody, thus acknowledging the primacy of Gregorian Chant among the Church’s musical traditions, not merely from the position of its great venerability and beauty, but also because chant, having no rhythm, never forces the text to be rewritten to fit a specific meter. Chant allows us a certain sacred space within which that Word which God spoke in ancient times can be heard today with greater clarity and fidelity. I understand that this review of music must lead to changes and that changes will often be irksome and problematic. For this reason I would caution that this gradual, but definite, reintroduction of Gregorian chant into our parishes and communities be done with careful study, deliberate consultation and much prayer. However, as a sign of the seriousness with which I approach this topic, I am asking that pastors move with some dispatch to introduce their congregations to the simpler chants of the Kyriale, including the Gloria, Sanctus, Pater Noster and the Agnus Dei.” (Eastern Oklahoma Catholic March 6, 2006).

Bishop Slattery gives his flock a whole lot more beside. For example: “I am also asking our people to recover their sense of the sacredness of the sanctuary by refraining from idle conversation in Church before and after Mass.” Or, how about this: “If… our attention is repeatedly pulled away from the altar to the presence of the cantor or the choir, then our participation at Mass can become a kind of tennis match, and our response in prayer remains shallow and disjointed. … (W)e should be honest enough to acknowledge that the placement of the choir, cantor and the musicians (in the front of the church) has proven to be a terrible distraction in many parishes.”

The rest of Father's column, from which I have just stolen with joyous abandon, can be found here. The full text of Bishop Slattery's articles are on the web, too. Start with the Eastern Oklahoma Catholic page here. You can then click on the various back issues which will appear complete in pdf format. The Bishop's music article, for instance, is on page 3 of the March 6 issue.

One can't help wondering how much of this insistence on the value of Gregorian Chant is due to the presence of Clear Creek in Bishop Slattery's diocese. Any pastor seriously interested in implementing the bishop's directives doesn't have to travel outside of his own diocese to see how it's done.