About this blogger:
A theorist, organist, and conductor, Jeff Ostrowski holds his B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Kansas (2004), and did graduate work in Musicology. He serves as choirmaster for the new FSSP parish in Los Angeles, where he resides with his wife and children.
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I want to say one thing to you strongly, especially today: virginity for the Kingdom of God is not a “no,” it is a “yes!”
— Pope Francis (10/4/2013)

Does the Mass Demand a Certain Level of Dignity?
published 18 June 2016 by Jeff Ostrowski

Recently, a blog called “Byzantine Texas” posted a photograph which some have wrongly claimed is a Byzantine Mass in a pool:

438 Byzantine Mass

Sadly, we have seen Roman Catholic “Pool Masses” captured in photos. Such instances relate to a church music topic.

UPDATE: According to an email I just received, this was from the “Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio.” As I said when I initially posted, I have no doubt the full details will be revealed eventually.

I CAME ACROSS an article attempting to justify folk music at Mass with the following arguments:

“We make Mass accessible to everyone.”

“Our responsibility at the Roman Catholic liturgy is to share Christian joy.”

“We bring to the liturgy music for the folk.” [sic]

I started to ask myself how anyone—myself included—could argue against such motives. After all, isn’t sharing joy a good thing? One could certainly cite official Church documents from Vatican II which mandate that Gregorian chant be given first place in liturgical services (followed closely by classical polyphony). However, let’s be honest: nobody seems to care what Vatican II said.

A more fruitful result might be achieved by a different path:

“For the purposes of this discussion, let’s assume your argument is correct. Let’s assume the purpose of liturgical music is making people feel happy. If that’s true, is there any music you would prohibit? After all, rap music makes some people happy. Polka makes other people happy. Other people feel happy when they listen to acid jazz, while others prefer bluegrass.”

Once you’ve taken them down that road, you can suggest that music for Mass should possess a certain level of DIGNITY. However, exercise caution here. 1

When I took my children to a water park, one child kept being rude. Rather than waiting his turn, he pushed the other children out of his way. I was appalled by his behavior, and wondered what kind of parents raised him. I renewed in my heart a desire to bring up polite children, in spite of what others might do. This is our situation with church music, I believe. Anyone can find examples of priests allowing inappropriate music in church. (Indeed, even some cathedrals allow scandalous music.) However, we must do what’s right—no matter what others do.


1   Certain people—especially “professional” liturgists—become extremely angry when you start down this path. They especially loathe being asked whether any musical style is inappropriate for Mass. And they can become irate when you demand specific reasons why such-and-such a style of music is inappropriate for Mass. If they were honest, they would admit that any musical style is suitable for Mass in their view.