RAVELING BY CAR and bored, I turned on a popular radio talk show. The host kept screaming: “The Republican debate got 24 million viewers; who cares? Big deal. It wasn’t run correctly.” He insisted that debates shouldn’t have moderators, and I don’t disagree. The only “moderator” should be an hour glass, just like the Lincoln–Douglas debates of 1858. 1
But I soon switched off the radio, because his approach annoyed me. 2 It’s easy to scream into a microphone all day, but when it comes to forming a coalition to remove all moderators, he wouldn’t lift a finger. Provoking people and getting them riled up is one thing; bringing forth something positive is quite another.
Many liturgical “pundits” fall into the same category. They tell everyone else what to do, yet are unwilling to do the hard work in their own parish. Let’s be honest: working to improve liturgy at the local level—teaching real singers, educating real parishioners—is immensely challenging. Richard Clark and Aurelio Porfiri often share their stories about such difficulties, and I suspect anyone involved in Church music can relate. 3 However, a new publication has come along which should make this very tough job a little easier.
A SPECIAL TEAM OF CATHOLICS came together 4 to produce what I would suggest is the easiest way to instantly improve your parish liturgy. You’ve heard me talk about this pew book before. It’s called the JOGUES ILLUMINATED MISSAL, LECTIONARY, & GRADUAL.
Even if your parish is nowhere near singing the Propers, this book will change lives. Rather than explain the Propers, it shows you the Propers each Sunday. Rather than explain how Catholics honor the Word of God, it shows you, by a unique & splendid formatting for the Readings. Complete keyboard accompaniments for the Gospel Acclamations & Responsorial Psalms are available online, and the book’s luscious artwork is a veritable catechism class. The formatting of the Order of Mass is unmatched, and includes ancient manuscripts demonstrating the astonishing antiquity of the Mass:
The Jogues Missal avoids a “cut and paste” feel. Look at these images and see if you can understand what I’m getting at:
Congregations will simply ignore blobs of text like that. Moreover, such formatting is monotonous for the eye. On the contrary, the Jogues directs the eye:
Let me repeat: even if your parish doesn’t sing a single Mass Proper—and most do not—your congregation will still see the Propers each Sunday. Pastors can even make reference to the Entrance Chant or Offertory, e.g. during the homily. With the passage of time, your congregation will begin to wonder why the Propers are not being sung; and it’s all downhill from there!
Until we are blue in the face, we could repeat what Vatican II said about Gregorian chant. The Council declared that chant must be given “first place” in the liturgy 5 but five decades later, less than 1% of our parishes sing even 1% of the Propers. The Jogues Missal is the easiest way to begin fixing this situation.
When discussing the sacred liturgy, always keep things on an adult level.
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 For the record, if this same radio host had been invited to ask the questions in front of 24 million viewers, he would have taken part (notwithstanding his objections). But that’s another story…involving sour grapes.
2 I’ve come to realize it’s unhealthy to spend time listening to those with unlimited energy to complain. Time is too precious a gift from God to spend it in such a way, in my humble opinion.
3 Learning to play an instrument is hard enough, but choirmasters must do so much more. Musicians are also very sensitive, so the smallest incidents cause us massive amounts of pain.
4 Our team included members of the Church Music Association of America, Corpus Christi Watershed, folks from Christendom College, experts in the Extraordinary Form, experts from the Anglican Ordinariate, and (of course) priests from the Ordinary Form.
5 Cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, §116.