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 lives with his wife and two children.
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"Amid all these old liturgical books, I find that I am happy and at ease; I feel at home."
— Dom André Mocquereau (1884)

A Church Music Issue Nobody Will Touch
published 21 March 2016 by Jeff Ostrowski

650 Footwashing OR A THOUSAND excellent reasons, we never delve into politics on this blog. The issue of abortion, however, is different because it’s a human rights issue, not a political one. On 7 March 2016, Senator Bernie Sanders was asked if abortion at any stage during pregnancy—even the moment of birth—should be prohibited. Sanders replied that an unborn child is part of a woman’s anatomy, and women can do as they please with their bodies. The moderator then continued to another subject.

In my view, more questions should have been asked, such as:

(1) You’ve said that children in the third trimester—even though they possess their own DNA and can live independently of the mother—are “part of the woman’s body.” At what specific point do these unborn children become human? Are they still part of the mother’s body when partially delivered?

(2) Based on your answer, is it correct to say that you believe the rights of innocent (unborn) boys and girls can be ignored once another human being decides to end their life?

(3) You say an unborn child has no rights, but others disagree with you and believe every human life matters. They feel the government should protect ALL innocent humans from violence, even those not strong enough to defend themselves. How would you feel if things were reversed, and your views were discounted?

As far as I know, Senator Sanders has never had to answer questions like these. The subject of “questions never asked” always calls to mind a certain liturgical abuse…

MUCH HAS BEEN WRITTEN about Cardinal Sarah’s recent “foot washing” documents. Yet, this tiny (optional) ceremony is insignificant compared to another liturgical issue, about which questions are never asked. I speak of an abuse that touches every single Ordinary Form Mass in the United States. Specifically, on 12 November 2012 the Bishops’ Liturgy Committee said that certain sections of the GIRM can be ignored. 1 But if that’s true, what other sections of the GIRM can be ignored? And what was so unacceptable about the Propers, which are ancient antiphons from Sacred Scripture? Was not the whole point of the liturgical movement to help people “sing the Mass” instead of singing during Mass?

We can ask these questions all day, but they’ll never be answered. That is why we have a situation where 99% of parishes replace the Propers with texts lacking the approval required by the GIRM. I’m at a loss to know why journals, blogs, and institutions claiming to care deeply about the liturgy refuse to address this so-called “tacit” approval. A more accurate description would be “imaginary” approval. 2


1   The GIRM requires that substitute texts must first be approved by the local bishop.

2   The Bishops’ Liturgy Committee has also made additions & modifications to the GIRM. For example, they claim that whenever a bishop approves a song for his diocese, that permission automatically extends to every other diocese in the USA; whereas the GIRM says a bishop’s approval only holds good inside his diocese. If only the FSSP had known how to bend the rules! During the 1990s, our priests visited each bishop, asking permission to start an Apostolate. Imagine if the FSSP had simply said, “The bishop of Kansas City has approved us, so his permission automatically extends to every other diocese in the United States.”