About this blogger:
Renowned as composer, conductor, theorist, author, pedagogue, and organist, Aurelio Porfiri has served the Church on multiple continents at the highest levels. Born and raised in Italy, he currently serves as Director of Choral Activities and Composer in Residence for Santa Rosa de Lima School (Macao, China).
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“Sacred music, being a complementary part of the solemn liturgy, participates in the general scope of the liturgy, which is the glory of God and the sanctification and edification of the faithful. It contributes to the decorum and the splendor of the ecclesiastical ceremonies, and since its principal office is to clothe with suitable melody the liturgical text proposed for the understanding of the faithful, its proper aim is to add greater efficacy to the text, in order that through it the faithful may be the more easily moved to devotion and better disposed for the reception of the fruits of grace belonging to the celebration of the most holy mysteries.”
— Pope Saint Pius X

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Understanding
published 27 January 2015 by Aurelio Porfiri

418 Traditional Latin Mass NE OF THE MORE SERIOUS problems for church musicians is dealing with those who demand that the liturgy be understood by everyone. Now, this is a tricky concept and must be handled with care.

Of course we want everyone to be able to participate in the liturgy in the most proper way, and so we aim for a spiritual understanding of the same liturgy. But the demands of these people are often of a different nature. They believe that participation means understanding word-for-word, and doing as much as possible. But by requiring this, they condemn the liturgy to a dramatic immanentism.

Immanentism means that there is no reality beyond what we know, so God and the world are the same thing. But if God is not outside the world how He can possibly save it?

Reducing the understanding of the liturgy to a pragmatic dimension avoids taking into account the biggest dimension of the liturgy: the invisible one. In the antiphon for the Epiphany—VENITE OMNES POPULI—we observe that we are asked to glorify the invisibile mysterium (“invisible mystery”). The spiritual and invisible dimension cannot be understood except through the eyes of faith, and calling for this sort of total understanding of everything happening in the liturgy would be a betrayal of what the liturgy is.

After the consecration the priest asks us to proclaim the mystery of faith. We have listened to the words of consecration, but the mystery happening there goes much beyond the simple understanding of the words said. Music—when it is good liturgical music—helps create a reverent atmosphere that allows us to penetrate, a little bit, this incomprehensible abyss.