What are these guys thinking?
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Just today, two colleagues whom many of you personally know were dismissed for no just cause from positions for which they were eminently qualified and had been at for some time. In one case, I'm sure it's simply due to the ubiquitous "change of pastors." That makes about six top drawer folks who've been subject to the autocratic whims that will always prevail in our professions that are now jobless. Experts. Christians true. NICE PEOPLE. PROVEN PEOPLE.
    These are not folks that make new album collections for the big three, who congregate in watering holes celebrating how great they are and how many tunes they have currently in print and coming on line soon.
    I am angry, saddened and disheartened because from my perch it seems like TPTB seem to have returned to some sort of "Party on, Wayne" status quo in terms of how they conduct real pastoral business, minimally. Is this the effect HHFrancis envisioned when he asked our clerics to get into it, get their hands dirty with the sheep?
    Yeah, I know. This goes on everyday, everywhere all the time. But without many of us covering some serious derriere at service, the PIPs would soon realize a lot of guys are just dialing it in.
    End of rant.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,279
    As I have said before, I thought much more highly of the church before I started working for it.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,713
    As a priest acquaintance likes to put it, being one of the Lord's sheep means getting shorn and eventually slaughtered.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,382
    What is pathetic is that there is no lack of professionalism to blame in any way, shape, or form... :(
    Thanked by 1Ben Yanke
  • We can all remember being told in music and history classes how that the patronage system of ancien regime times was a yoke about the necks of artists, musical and otherwise, how that they were required to create only what their titled patrons wanted and were considered mere servants, and so on and on....
    Then came the wonderful age in which the arts were free and artists were able to create without reference to the whims of this or that cardinal-archbishop or duke, or whomever.

    Except that the church has not caught up with this sociological-intellectual-artistic-philosophical-etc development. If your priest or bishop likes junk, that is what you will do or get fired. It happens every day in parish church and cathedral. Principle? An historical musical continuum? Quality? Taste? Sacrality? Respect for your knowledge and integrity?... none of these matter. Only the whim of the culturally illiterate clerics, the products of seminaries which are hotbeds of anticulturalism.... One could go on in this vein, but the point has been made. The modern priest and bishop are no different from the titled patrons of a bygone age. They are little dictators in their little kingdoms, and they rule without reference to anything but their own whims, what they decide people want (or what they decide people are are going to get), and can back it up with the cultural lacuna in their seminary formation. These men have a very, very, low opinion of people.

    (At least the titled patrons of old knew good music when they heard it!)
    .
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    I don't know how it works. But it would be nice to have some sort of union for church musicians, like teachers, grocery workers. It would be nice to have some sort of protection from a sudden dismissal especially when the family depends on the income.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,668
    The AGO tried to do such a thing, but it never really worked since not all musicians were a part of it (and not all of those who were a part of the AGO followed their code of ethics). This is far to broad of a field of work to have a union like teachers.

    I do feel very bad for those Melo mentions who have lost work.. I knew one of them and they are very talented and kind. I will keep them both, and other unemployed church musicians, in my prayers.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,279
    The modern priest and bishop are no different from the titled patrons of a bygone age. They are little dictators in their little kingdoms, and they rule without reference to anything but their own whims, what they decide people want (or what they decide people are are going to get), and can back it up with the cultural lacuna in their seminary formation. These men have a very, very, low opinion of people.


    Yes, and the unfortunate thing is that the civil authorities protect them. We can't take tar, feathers, and the pitchforks to the worst of the lot and drive them out of town like our ancestors could.

    The AGO tried to do such a thing, but it never really worked since not all musicians were a part of it (and not all of those who were a part of the AGO followed their code of ethics). This is far to broad of a field of work to have a union like teachers.


    Unfortunately, the AGO code of ethics is mired in political correctness, likely originating from the more liberal member's "churches," if you can even call some of them by that term. I write on my membership form that while I don't discriminate against anyone, my employer may not share my views.
  • donr
    Posts: 969
    Unfortunately Unions only work if you have a large amount of people who are willing to walk off of a job so that the employer feels the pain of them not being there.
    If all organist, DoM and Leaders walk off the job. The church will just do Low mass without singing until a volunteer steps in.
    It can't work until someone in authority (Popes and/or Bishops) make it happen.

    Good Luck
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    The church will just do Low mass without singing until a volunteer steps in.


    Sometimes they push for that even with paid musicians in the loft.

    "No we will just speak the mass parts"

    The real meaning behind one priest's decision on that was "I'd rather speak them in English than you sing that old chant stuff in Latin"

    My paycheck was the same either way but it still saddened me that a celebrant at the altar would willingly desolemnify mass like that.

    Of course, wasn't the first and won't be the last. I know two handfuls who would do whatever is in their means to make the Mass as reverent and beautiful as possible; many more of them, if threatened with a musicians' strike, would shrug and carry on. More time for clever jokes in the sermons now.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,279
    More time for clever jokes in the sermons now.


    They only THINK they are clever. Most would starve if they did comedy for a living.
  • doneill
    Posts: 199
    The former AGO policy is unrealistic, but we would all do well to campaign for contracts in dioceses that would protect all lay employees. Many dioceses operate on at "at will" basis. As much as we would like to think that churches would treat us more fairly than the "secular" world, we all know that is not always the case. After reading my diocesan personnel handbook, I noticed several clauses that could potentially be used against an employee in any kind of dispute, but not nearly that much protection for the employee. As long as pastors can dismiss employees for any or no reason at all, this kind of thing will happen.
    Thanked by 1Caleferink
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    I happened to be listening to Mother Miriam on IMH Radio last night and she was decrying the forfeiture of leadership with the USCCB, yet not in such terms. She implied there were only a handful of true, faithful shepherds (I was quite taken with her candor) and that we all needed to pray for, as well as support our bishops and priests. I thought to myself "Haven't we been doing that all along, we musicians who've run the race?" My point, and I do have one, is that USCCB plenum after plenum, no one, no one, not ex-Sec'ty. Hilgartner, now NPM president, nor any bishop with sand has put anything on a agenda about the state of worship, much less that of musical praxis or philosophy to my knowledge.
    It therefore seems to me that if our clerical and lay leaders in our various "guilds" haven't recognized a simple need to formally lobby our overseers, all of whom when they're not politicking are CELEBRANTS of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, on the reality that it is apathy at the altar and in the parish office, clericalism at the altar and office, and absence of informed leadership at the chanceries that is losing the war to the "nones." This isn't the liturgy/music wars anymore. This is the lack of backbone and courage to speak truth with one voice from every ambo and every bishopric. Firing musicians or housekeepers willy nilly without attempted reconciliation or redress will be seen for what it is, authoritarian monarchy, not a celestial hierarchy.
    Rant over.
    Thanked by 2doneill Jenny
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,713
    But it would be nice to have some sort of union for church musicians, like teachers, grocery workers.
    Unfortunately Unions only work if you have a large amount of people who are willing to walk off of a job so that the employer feels the pain of them not being there.
    If all organist, DoM and Leaders walk off the job. The church will just do Low mass without singing until a volunteer steps in.
    It can't work until someone in authority (Popes and/or Bishops) make it happen.
    As long as pastors can dismiss employees for any or no reason at all, this kind of thing will happen.
    Just to be sure, there is always Scott Walker, governor of my fair state and now pretender to the Republican nomination for the presidency of our nation, who will gladly trample any and every union he can.
    Thanked by 1JulieColl
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,079
    Umnnhhhh....he's my Governor, too. And the public employee unions deserved exactly what they got, CH.
    Thanked by 1ZacPB189
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,079
    This is the lack of backbone and courage to speak truth with one voice from every ambo and every bishopric. Firing musicians or housekeepers willy nilly without attempted reconciliation or redress will be seen for what it is, authoritarian monarchy, not a celestial hierarchy.


    The Stoics were right, ya'know.
  • cum exarserit in brevi ira eius
    beati omnes qui confidunt in eo
    — Ps 2:13
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    My dear friend,
    We are to bow before whose anger and then trust in him?
  • One is inclined to wonder if God's ira isn't less hateful than the ira of clerks who fire musicians who aren't grateful to be required to be musical prostitutes (I could have used another word). As the psalmist has said: 'With the Lord there is mercy'. With priest and prelate there is none.

    .
    Thanked by 1melofluent
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,911
    The musically illiterate like to think that there aren't any rules for music: you just make it up as you go. There's no right nor wrong: you just pick stuff you like. This goes beyond the Church. Our culture as a whole has a disrespect for music and musicians. We are, after all, just for entertainment, right? Music is a just-for-fun activity, yes? If that's the case, then why does it matter if we do chant or P&W? If "the people" like P&W, then shouldn't we give it to them?

    The above are examples of the type of thinking that many of us have encountered numerous times, especially the more experienced of us on this forum. It is ignorance and illiteracy, and the powers that be think that they understand enough to know what their flock needs, but they really don't. (Well, some do, but most don't). They accuse us musicians of not seeing the bigger picture: not having "pastoral" considerations as our first priority.

    The reality is that the powers that be have the authority over us, and we essentially have to ask ourselves one question: what are you going to do? You can't control what another person does, but you can control your own actions. You may have to be prepared to change jobs, as sad as that reality is, in order to stand up for what you believe in. You can explain the spiritual benefits of singing the Propers and of chant until you're blue in the face, but if the pastor doesn't see it your way, you won't be able to do those things at your parish. It is worth, however, asking the priest what he thinks music is for at Mass. This is a direct, but non-confrontational way to not only find out what your pastor wants from the music, but also to open a dialogue that allows you to put in your two cents. Realize, however, that the pastor doesn't have to listen to what you say at all. That is the worst part of it, and I think it is a sign of disrespect.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Jenny
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,713
    You can explain the spiritual benefits of singing the Propers and of chant until you're blue in the face, but if the pastor doesn't see it your the Church's way, you won't be able to do those things at your parish.
    Fixed.
    Realize, however, that the pastor doesn't have to listen to what you say at all. That is the worst part of it, and I think it is a sign of disrespect.
    This.
    Thanked by 1Ben Yanke
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,911
    Thank you for the correction, Charles. That is a more correct way to phrase it.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • mahrt
    Posts: 514
    It reminds me of my first church job. I played the organ at a local parish, but then took on directing the choir at a different time at another church. I soon learned that I could not do both, and so went to the pastor and told him i would have to resign. "O Good, now we can use the money to paint the church."

    We need to work hard for the improvement of the musical literacy of the clergy, even though it may not be completely effective.
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,911
    What are some effective ways we can do this from our positions as DMs etc?
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,334
    I think there are some points to this... T. Day pointed out that music and even more, artistic people like musicians are threatening. Music can cause a loss of control for someone who has a strong need control the environment. It's just too emotional and messy.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,334
    And...the more competent and confident someone is, the more threatening they are. As Day notes: second rate leaders hire mediocre people because they are comfortable with that. Really fine folks such as the ones thst MF mentions above make second rate people very uncomfortable.
    Just my 02.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    1. Through whatever convenient means, constitute a panel of active DMM's clearly respected (ala John Romeri) by a majority of peers, and not solely limited to scholars or cathedral/diocesan DMM's. Composers may be considered for nomination, but only if they are first and foremost DMM's. Active national advocacy groups may establish their criteria for submission. This will not be Snowbird II, or the Milwaukee Group II. Publishers, self/boutique/industrial, ought to have ex-officio status, with no privilege to articulate policies, but offer commentaries after ratified decisions. I personally would advocate as chair of this "congress" Dr. Peter Latona for reasons that don't require explanation here.
    2. This congress of DMM's could articulate general and specific concerns and goals, problems and solutions, and other circumstances (such as clergy/lay protocols) all under the aegis of a recognitio of the prevailing documents that articulate magisterially approved documents and their legislative provisions. (For example, SttL, would not enjoy such status, but could be used in discussion for edification.) The legislative documents could themselves be debated in terms of what outcomes and recommendations the congress endorses for presentation to the USCCB authorities.
    3. Concurrently, the chair or his/her representative(s) could formally approach any prelate, bishop, archbishop, cardinal archbishop, with an entreaty to observe at will, or otherwise review the progress and goings-on of the congress, and offer "friend of the congress" advice and consent that would not necessarily be binding unto the congress, but taken with utmost respect and consideration.
    4. At the point of some sort of prioritized consensus as to the agenda of the congress, said prelates would review the outcome document, edit or ratify it, and send it back to the congress (or its designated committees) for the final draft and document.
    5. Said prelates would, after complete ratification, place clear and unambiguous agenda items on the nearest convenient plenum meeting of the USCCB, present (with officers of the DMM congress as advocate aides as needed) those prioritized goals to the plenum of bishops. Said prelates could designate their own spokesperson(s) but only with the collaboration and consent of the "president" or other officers designated at the congress.
    6. Work like H*ll so that this doesn't end up being tabled or shuffled off to Buffalo, Chicago or Portland.

    How's that sound?
  • Sounds good melofluent. However, one must face a possible reality. If there is a concerted effort by many liberal authorities to remove conservative traditionalists DMMs from their positions via no reason, and I believe there is, then perhaps the work and efforts of such a congress might be in vain. Such a congress could have great influence if a Cardinal(s) and a few other authorities were major supporting patrons. Then again their influence would perhaps be only within their sphere of authority. Just a thought to consider.

    Additionally, such a congress should seek as much coverage as possible in articles with conservative traditionalist church news media whereby like minded Catholics can be well informed on this and other musically related issues and why this is so important! Its well and good to preach to one another via this site and the CMAA publication. However, such a congress needs to preach to a greater choir - the people in the pews!

    Bottom line is that I believe there needs to be permanent ongoing edifying informative, but down to earth practical quasi non-academic articles, etc. on music in churches, in all national Catholic media such as the Catholic Register et al.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Abbot, my most gracious thanks for your candor. That you believe there is a reflexive move by "liberal authorities," or what I call "the other Francis effect," then I'm most happy to have turned 64 and witnessed both personal growth in my own understanding of the joy and beauty of right/fit worship, and that of many other enclave quarters in the Church. But it is nonetheless sad to see the cinctures of discipline loosen and the discarding of the trappings of fine worship. Who would know better than you that the trappings of discipline are the seeds of true freedom.
  • janetgorbitzjanetgorbitz
    Posts: 932
    I think it would be a wonderful thing to get more information into such Catholic media as Catholic Register, etc. Perhaps there are those among us who could write a series of articles about the use of sacred music and a sung liturgy that might be submitted for publication. I think those might, indeed, do a great deal of good in educating the people in the pews. I truly do think it is a matter of education for a great many of the faithful, rather than a willful disregard (it was certainly so in my own case before I learned from CMAA programs). Especially if the articles were educational and enlightening (showing the way), I think people would read and learn from them.

    Shrill criticism never does any good...


  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160

    Shrill criticism never does any good...

    Janet, could you point out any such shrill criticism in this thread? Thanks,
    C
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,279
    Shrill criticism never does any good...


    Us shrill? Is outrage!
  • PhatFlute
    Posts: 219
    Is it outrage ! That was sassy, mellifluous. O shall I call you, maleficent! Joking,
    Ph
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,334
    Seems to me that this has been done before at some level. Even if we we were able to assemble a group like this, it can just be given lip service and then everyone would move on. THERE'S NO TEETH. The only thing that would work to change the situation for job securify is a union. One that all would strike for better conditions. I don't think that is going to happen but the only power that we have is collectively agree nationwide not to work. Why would we think that our situation would be different from autoworkers or plumbers or any other trade. Because we work for the Church?
    Thanked by 2CharlesW miacoyne
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,911
    Ecclesial law works as well.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,334
    I don't know what you mean...is there ecclesial law having to do with musicians employed by the church...by all means lets see it. I am aware of various enyclicals touching the topic of labor and fairness in work...though the church often doses't seem to practice what it preaches - only for others!
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,911
    I'm getting at the idea of legalistic liturgical minimalism (it's been coined on this forum before, but I can't remember exactly where, or from who: I think it was Fr. Vogel): doing whatever is minimally required under Church law and nothing more. As far as I'm aware, there's no actual Church law governing the treatment of parish staff. It just seems to be that Church law is the only thing some priests respond to.
  • Code of Canon Law:

    Can. 231 §1. Lay persons who permanently or temporarily devote themselves to special service of the Church are obliged to acquire the appropriate formation required to fulfill their function properly and to carry out this function conscientiously, eagerly, and diligently.

    §2. Without prejudice to the prescript of ⇒ can. 230, §1 and with the prescripts of civil law having been observed, lay persons have the right to decent remuneration appropriate to their condition so that they are able to provide decently for their own needs and those of their family. They also have a right for their social provision, social security, and health benefits to be duly provided.

    Now, I'm not 100% sure what "social provision and social security" mean here. Surely social security does not refer to the American system of that name? If not, then you could argue for a more general sense of security through contracts and job security. You can also make that case that people are not able to provide decently for their own family unless they have at least some protection from whimsical dismissal.
    Thanked by 1miacoyne
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,911
    So it appears that Ecclesial law does protect Church employees, at least in the sense provided for in JO's post above. Interesting: I didn't know about that particular law.
  • kenstb
    Posts: 364
    I completely agree with ClergetKubisz. I would go further and say that I don't think most pastors are aware of that law. What is most unfortunate to me is that I am witnessing more and more in my own parish a spirit of mediocrity in which professionals need not apply for church employment. In my experience, being well trained in music and liturgy can place a bullseye firmly on your back. If we choose to serve as musicians, we often find ourselves persecuted by the very people we are trying to serve.
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,911
    Yup, I had my bi-monthly brow-beating just earlier today.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Don't ask me what I really think, Ian.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,079
    In my parish (the territorial one to which I send money) the MD has an earned Ph.D. in organ performance but not a 2nd-grader's knowledge of liturgico/musical matters. As an example, since Pentecost fell on Memorial Day weekend, 3 of the 4 hymn-sandwich offerings were "America-centric." There was no sequence, and the Holy Spirit got only 1 hymn-offering.

    I left Mass quite early before I started throwing things.

    All this was approved by the (now) ex-pastor about whom I shall not write, bearing in mind my mother's advice....
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,577
    has an earned Ph.D. in organ performance but not a 2nd-grader's knowledge of liturgico/musical matters
    more common than not