About this blogger:
Andrew Leung is a seminarian for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Steubenville, Ohio. He has served as Director of Music at St. Pius X Church (Atlanta) and taught Gregorian chant at the Cistercian Monastery of the Holy Spirit (Georgia). For two years, he will be studying in Macau, China.
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“In spite of what it is currently called, the music of these songs is not modern: this musical style is not new, but has been played in the most profane places and surroundings (cabarets, music halls, often for more or less lascivious dances with foreign names). The people are led on to rock or swing. They all feel an urge to dance about. That sort of “body language” is certainly alien to our Western culture, unfavorable to contemplation and its origins are rather suspect. Most of the time our congregations, which already find it hard not to confuse the crochets and the quavers in a 6/8 bar, do not respect the rhythm; then one no longer feels like dancing, but with the rhythm gone to pieces, the habitual poorness of the melodic line becomes all the more noticeable.”
— Unnamed choirmaster (Northern France) circa 1986

“Battles” in the Church (Part 1 of 2)
published 11 June 2015 by Andrew Leung

CTL Battles in the Church AST WEEK, one of the big news in the World of Sacred Music and Liturgy was the Resignation of Mr. John Romeri. According to reports, the resignation was due to different views on liturgical music between him and the Archbishop Chaput. While it was very sad to hear this new, I realize that tensions like this one are very common in the Church nowadays. There are people being labeled as “traditional” and others are accused of being “progressive”. I would like to share some of my observations and humble opinions on these “battles”. But before that, I want to be clear about my intention of this post. I am not trying to divide the Church, nor to start fights. I just want to point out these tensions and we can all work on solving the problems.

From my observation, tensions over the Liturgy can be summarize into these three “battles”:

(1) Theocentric Vs. Anthropocentric — Jeff Ostrowski shared a video the other day. In the video, we can see that the action of the priest was anthropocentric, regarding human being as the central. The Catholic Liturgy is supposed to be the exactly opposite, the Mass is a Sacred Mystery. It is not the work of man that has primacy in the celebration but the work of God, the Lord’s Death and Resurrection. We, the Christian faithful, are invited to participate in this mystery, the anticipation of the heavenly banquet. Therefore, God must be the center of the Liturgy and entertainment, whether it is in the form of music, speech/homily or dancing, should not be brought into the Liturgy.

(2) Liturgy Vs. Devotions — Since the Liturgy is the Sacred Mystery, the Church gave us some liturgical norms to help us enter into the Sacrifice of the Mass. These rubrics for the public Worship are not external appendices, but they express the reality of the Mystery and reveal our faith. In order to celebrate the Mass well, we must humble ourselves and follow these instructions even though we might prefer to pray in some other ways. To be faithful to the Liturgy is a practice of humility and obedience. There are many beautiful devotions that help people deepen their relationships with Christ and devotions definitely have their place in the Church, but not necessarily in the Liturgy. For example, there are Christian music, like This Little Light of Mine, that are not meant to be sung in the Liturgy but can be good for devotional purpose. To avoid this battle, we need to learn more about the Liturgy by reading Church documents and other books about the theology of the Mass.

(3) Reformation Vs. Revolution — The Liturgical Movement started in the beginning of the last century and the Vatican II both called for reformation of the Liturgy. “Tradition” is a term that appears a lot with the term “reformation”. The Church always talks about reforming or renewing the Liturgy in light of tradition. A revolution is to overthrow and destroy the old things and a reformation is to modify and renew, but preserving the tradition. A lot of modern church art, architecture and music were created with the idea of “revolution”, but not “reformation”. Unfortunately, the chapel of my alma mater is one of those examples. As Catholic, we need to understand the difference between these two terms and reform the Liturgy in light of tradition.

Again, I am not proposing fights here. In order to end these “battles”, dialogues, debates and discussions need to happen. On the other hand, there are some “battles” that should be stopped and I will be posting about them next week.

“Battles” in the Church (Part 2 of 2)