S A CHILD GROWING UP, when someone said something rather obvious, the other kids would say, “Nothing gets by you, does it?” As President of Watershed, this phrase often comes to mind. We have so many wonderful people in every corner of the world who write to us and keep us informed, almost nothing happens in the “Sacred music world” without my knowing about it (with a few notable exceptions).
Believe it or not, this is a source of great suffering for me. There is an incredible amount of false information being spread via the internet. That being said, the falsehoods are nothing new. Decades before the internet, unbelievable damage was being done to the Holy Catholic Church by people distorting her teachings on Sacred music, and Msgr. Richard J. Schuler documented a fair amount of this.
Sometimes there are outright lies, but more often, people with bad intentions distort the truth in subtle ways. Sometimes—in a patronizing, supercilious tone—they make dismissive comments about heroes of the Sacred music movement. At other times, they will “equate” things. What does it mean to equate? That means treating certain movements or ideas by unqualified amateurs as if they were on equal footing with those put forward by musicians and historians who actually know something.
But the thing that really drives me nuts is when certain self-proclaimed “authorities” treat the schlock that has been passed off as Sacred music in a serious, scholarly way. My degree is in music theory, and when I look at most of this goofy schlock (and we all know the common titles) I can hardly refrain from laughing out loud. It’s totally uninspired, predictable, and frequently poorly crafted. To put such music (forget about the texts for a minute) on the same level as masterpieces by authentic composers is something I never thought would be tolerated, yet it happens all the time.
I mentioned earlier this causes me great suffering. In my heart, I strongly desire to respond to this nonsense, setting the record straight and “proving for all to see” the arrogance and genuine evil of certain people who continue to do tremendous harm to the Catholic Church. My spiritual director has made it clear, however, that this is not God’s Will. God’s Will for me is to do everything I can to build up the positive developments. But my nature recoils against this. Some may not realize I have an extremely hot temper, especially when it comes to self-proclaimed “scholars” doing harm to the Catholic Church.
Our Lord recently sent me a reminder to listen to my spiritual director.
I took my daughter with me to attend my brother’s Ordination to the Transitional Diaconate (which was amazing, by the way, and I hope to share more details soon). It’s hard to travel with a 2-year-old, and American Airlines delayed our first two flights by five hours because “the planes are broken.” The third flight went as scheduled, but during our layover, they delayed us an hour, because American Airlines said they forgot to schedule a pilot. Then, they said the plane was “broken.” Finally, they canceled our 3pm flight because “we don’t have anymore airplanes.” For purposes of comparison, this airport is three times the size of O’Hare in Chicago. So, we were trapped at the biggest hub in the United States because American Airlines said they “don’t have any more airplanes.” They told us to go to a hotel and come back tomorrow. The attendants were extremely rude, treating us as if we were prisoners in a concentration camp, as opposed to customers who paid more than $900 for two tickets several months in advance. When I asked to speak to somebody in authority, the representative was incredibly rude. I took out my iPhone to record his exact words for posterity (“we don’t have any more airplanes”) and he called security on me. Classy. So, I ended up carrying my luggage and daughter to a hotel where we had to wake up at 5:30am the next day. I called my uncle, who has flown more than 2 million miles on American, and he explained that this type of thing happens all the time (even to him!) and usually has nothing to do with a “broken plane.” But that’s another story.
NYWAY, THE POINT IS, I began to realize that there was absolutely nothing I could do. American Airlines decided to cancel the flight and they couldn’t care less about treating me or my daughter in a decent way. I felt helpless, and when I tried to hold them accountable, all they did was call security on me.
This is similar to the lies and falsehoods on the internet about Sacred music. When all is said and done, there is very little I can do to stop evil people from harming the Church in this way. Therefore, I will continue to strive to follow the advice of my spiritual director, trust MORE in God, and be at peace. It won’t be easy, but I will try.
On the other hand, if I feel strongly called by God to respond to a particular falsehood online in order to help good Catholics along the right path, I may do this from time to time. I don’t think this would be necessarily contrary to my spiritual advisor’s words, if done infrequently.
Normally when you exit the plane, your luggage is at the baggage claim. For some reason, American Airlines decided to “throw us a curve ball.” After waiting 40 minutes, we finally found out the truth. They didn’t send the luggage the normal way, so each one of us had to go to a different location and (one by one) have a person retrieve each piece of luggage. Totally bizarre, but this was American Airlines way off “adding insult to injury.”