Archbishop Sample's pastoral letter on sacred music
  • MarkB
    Posts: 258
    Today Archbishop Sample of Portland, Oregon issued a pastoral letter on sacred music.
    https://www.archdpdx.org/documents/2019/1/Sing to the Lord a New Song.pdf

    It is excellent.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,081
    All well and good. But is he willing to forego some of that OCP money to make real changes?
  • MarkB
    Posts: 258
    Well, there's this, which should be seen by OCP (and GIA) as a shot across the bow:

    One often gets the impression that, as long as the written text of the music or song speaks about God, then it qualifies as “sacred music.” Given what has been articulated here, this is clearly not the case. As an example, the Gloria of the Mass set to a Polka beat or in the style of rock music is not sacred music. Why not? Because such styles of music, as delightful as they might be for the dance hall or a concert, do not possess all three of the intrinsic qualities of sanctity, artistic goodness (beauty) and universality proper to sacred music. While Catholics rightly expect genuine sacred music in all its forms to have spiritual and emotional impact, there is a necessary divide between that and what generally we call entertainment. (p.6)


    and this:

    Hymn and song texts must conform to the teachings and doctrines of the Church, especially with regard to the Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Any texts which promote teachings which are ambiguous or contrary to the Faith must be retired from the parish repertoire. It must be sadly acknowledged that some hymns in approved hymnals, music issues and missalettes do not reflect Catholic theology and should not be used. Musicians should be attentive to this point and think carefully about the selection of hymns, seeking guidance from the pastors of the Church when needed. With this in mind it follows that just because a particular piece is published in a Catholic hymnal or worship aid does not necessarily mean that the piece was intended to be sung at Holy Mass. Many publications contain songs which are intended for other liturgical celebrations or private use. (p. 16)


    It might be that Archbishop Sample is signaling that it is time for a course correction by the popular and dominant hymnal publishers. Whether he will use his office and position on OCP's board of directors to mandate changes in their publications remains to be seen. But I don't think you can read those quotes (nor the entire letter) and conclude that AB Sample is pleased with OCP's offerings or direction.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,081
    I agree, and I wish him all the best. But OCP is powerful and rich.
  • Carol
    Posts: 475
    Thank you for calling attention to this letter. It is rather long, but it lays out very clearly what our goal, as church musicians, should be.
    Thanked by 3CharlesW MarkB CHGiffen
  • I'm very encouraged by those excerpts. But I won't be delighted (or believe that anything will actually change) until something permanent and costing is done.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW hilluminar
  • 2.b. Orations and Dialogues
    For the Sung Mass, the celebrant should learn to sing, without instrumental accompaniment, the celebrant’s chants for the orations and dialogues to the melodies given in the Roman Missal, with the responses sung by the faithful. There is the simple human reality that some priests are not gifted with the ability to sing, or at least to carry a melody. In these cases, it might be more desirable for the celebrant to chant recto tono (on the same note) the parts that belong to him.

  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,462
    A cleric of my acquaintance, now Bishop Emeritus, would chant when neccessary. But his gifts did not extend to recto tono, more peregrīnābātur
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,514
    One question that has come up in my discussions about this is: how is the D. of Marquette doing now? Bp. Sample didn't really have time to implement his program before he was transferred. I remember that his successor had intended to continue the policies, but that was quite some time ago. Does anyone here know about the state of sacred music in the diocese now?
  • I know their new diocesan hymnal is in use, but that’s the extent of what I know.
  • PolskaPiano
    Posts: 137
    Jeffrey: I should inquire with some old classmates of mine who are in the diocese of Marquette. Good question!

    I was recently on OCP's website and was quite frankly shocked at their apparent acquisition of the Meinrad psalms and offerings of many chant books. Reading this Abbp's letter and learning he on on OCP board leads to an "Ah ha" moment.
  • KyleM18
    Posts: 150
    OCP also publishes the "Trinitas" series, which has some good choral music. David Hurd recently released a collection of music through that series, some of which I hope to plan in the future. It's honestly a shame that they don't show it off, since that music is much more appropriate than what they seem to be pushing out.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,144
    It's honestly a shame that they don't show it off, since that music is much more appropriate than what they seem to be pushing out.

    Sounds a bit like the music publishing version of "catch and kill" journalism.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • toddevoss
    Posts: 97
    Archbishop Sample's letter has been the subject of some rather uncharitable comments in the comment section over at Pray Tell (one person saying because there is a significant homeless problem in Portland, this letter shows his priorities are wrong. Period.). The "official" response at Pray Tell will soon be published.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,076
    Every time someone brings up PTB, I have to remember the immortal words of Thumper
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen rich_enough
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,847
    Some kinds of pseudo-arguments look ridiculous already, on their face, and don't need rebuttal.
    Thanked by 1Jes
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,514
    In partial answer to my own question, this letter has just come out. It doesn't answer the question of how well implementation is going. But the push is still on.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen hilluminar
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,514
    I heard this was "not popular" at the forum of "the Catholic Music Org that had Fr. James Martin SJ as their keynote speaker" as well. But I don't have time to investigate such things.
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,575
    PrayTell habitually forgets that Jesus was an observant Jew (this includes proper liturgy) and that the saints cared greatly for the Mass.

    Lex orandi...
  • I would not characterize today's post by Paul Inwood at Pray Tell as uncharitable toward Bishop Sample. Inwood, despite his biases, does after all reveal some inconsistencies in Sample's pastoral letter. Those of us with more traditional liturgical preferences perhaps place too much hope in legislative edicts to resolve our concerns. The influence and power of OCP is formidable and one bishop's letter is not going to change ingrained habits. Anyway, compared to the present uproar between Dolan and Cuomo, there are more pressing issues commanding my attention.



  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,081
    Prey Tail has never interested me - may their house be turned into a dunghill. Wait, maybe it already has. At any rate, the good Archbishop certainly has his hands full and I wish him well. His heart is certainly in the right place and his priorities are on task. Prayers for him.
    Thanked by 1mattebery
  • Cantus67Cantus67
    Posts: 191
    The influence and power of OCP is formidable and one bishop's letter is not going to change ingrained habits.


    I agree, any time you threaten the money of an organization no matter how benevolent they pretend to be you will see where their God really does lie. OCP and GIA have only changed moderately because of the times and because they're smart enough to see the writing on the wall. I would surmise (probably incorrectly but the hunch is there) that they will eventually try and take possession of the Graduale itself and therefore have more of a monopoly on the music in the church. NO ONE let's go of power easily without the right virtue and I think we've seen plenty of example of their virtue. Power corrupts and let's be honest, THEY have the power still. I'm sure I'm wrong but it wouldn't be impossible nor even uncommon.
  • toddevoss
    Posts: 97
    Randolph Nichols- I didn't name anyone and I don't even see a comment by the individual you named in the comments section of this OP which is what I was referring to. So I definitely wasn't referring to the person you named. Not sure what you were looking at.
    https://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2019/01/25/archbishop-of-portland-releases-pastoral-letter-on-sacred-music-in-divine-worship/
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,083
    Yes, the good archbishop's letter may have its issues. But what we are seeing is a type of incrementalism. More and more things are being said in favor of tradition and recovery. This is just one more addition to the mix.Over time, the shifts are occurring. Be grateful for these statements. Let PrayTell have their fun. Even they know the tide is changing. I have been watching and waiting for 30 years. I can attest to the change. Bon courage Archbishop Sample.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 258
    Here is the second column and comments thread at PrayTellBlog, which started with Paul Inwood's criticisms. The comments are good to read, and Jared Ostermann is valiantly and deftly defending Archbishop Sample and his letter from detractors:
    https://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2019/01/29/instruments-during-the-triduum/

    Thanked by 2CHGiffen BruceL
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,006
    Dr. Ostermann is a good man of great virtue. You'd think it would be enough battle for him to take on the polar vortex this week, but now he also tries to evangelize at PTB!
  • toddevoss
    Posts: 97
    I have now read the column titled: Instruments During the Triduum authored by Paul Inwood. This was not the column I was referring to in my post above, nor was I referring to Paul Inwood who did not comment on that post (at the time I read it). I think Paul Inwood's criticisms in his own column are reasonable (from his perspective) and not uncharitable although I think they are adequately answered by Jared Ostermann. Since I share Dr. Ostermann's perspective, I naturally align with him.
  • mburrier
    Posts: 25
    The biggest problem with the good Archbishop's well-intended arguments lies within his quick movement from the ethereal to the specific. He leaps from broad-spectrum idealism to specific examples that are used not to support but to provide an antithesis to his original thesis without unpacking necessary terms.
    For example, leaping from "sanctity, beauty, and universality" to "the Gloria of the Mass set to a Polka beat or in the style of rock music is not sacred music."
    Such is unnecessarily hard and fast and smacks of disconnected and lazy aesthetics masquerading as holiness and musically astute.
    Although excellent points are made, it is obvious that the Most Reverend has never served as a Director of Sacred Music. While I appreciate his idealism, rooted firmly in church documents, and admirable in content, he has left too much to the imagination and to unquestioning authority.
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 763
    How is it "idealistic" to say that a polka Gloria is not sacred music? And why would serving as Music Director change this?
    Thanked by 3CharlesW dad29 eft94530
  • MBurrier,

    I think the Archbishop means to use such examples as the pre-emptive strike against the charge that he lives in an ivory tower somewhere. Polka beat and rock music not sacred music..... but we write stuff so it sounds like our modern society so..... Ah! The Archbishop intends us to change, without embarrassing us in front of our core constituency?
    Thanked by 1mburrier
  • I had a good chuckle at the people there who insisted the "no organ during the Triduum" rule was completely unworkable and then cited Dan Schutte and David Haas pieces as their defense. Perhaps consider something a little different and perhaps a little more appropriate at the same time?

    It seems like people there are visibly uncomfortable at being challenged in their current state and just want to rest on their laurels, whatever they may be. "There's no need to improve; we should just do sacro-pop forever and ignore this directive because it's mere clerical privilege!"

    Keep up the good fight, Dr. Ostermann.
  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 802
    All of arguments from the detractors of the Archbishop's letter can be summarized in one word: Protestantism.

    If they really think they have sung a new church into being, then they should call it such. But if they profess to be members of the Roman Catholic Church, then they should act accordingly.

    I am so sick of the argument "the people don't know it". Then teach them! No one knew any of the music we have been subjected to in recent decades before it was introduced. It was only though repetition that songs that are not even well written for congregational singing have become so well known and even regarded as "traditional".

    What is so difficult about abstaining from musical instruments for 3 days? Perhaps more fasting and mortifications are in order.

    Back in my parish days, we sang an eclectic mix of songs during the Triduum from Gather Comprehensive including "Jesus took a towel" by Waddell, the Spiritual "Calvary" along with several Taize refrains and traditional Gregorian Chant all unaccompanied. It was the only time of the year when no one complained about the music.

    The hardest thing was transitioning the cantors to a cappella psalms for the vigil. We started using Fr. Kelly's settings with Meinrad tones. The first year I accompanied softly with an acoustic guitar (unamplified). The second year I only strummed a single chord to establish the key. By the third year they knew them well enough to use no instruments.

    People aren't as stupid or incapable that some make them out to be.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,081
    In practice, there's a lot of ridiculous stuff going on. At my NO masses I follow the rules that the organ can only be used for accompaniment during Lent. That's allowed. At a TLM mass, the organist maintains that after final blessing and exit of the priest, it is allowed to play as people exit - the mass is over, you know. So many violate the spirit if not the letter of the law, both become meaningless in practice.
  • I don't see commenting at PTB as firing shots in battle with the reprobate; but rather as participating in a forum where my preconceptions are probably not generally shared. Anytime I do feel the need to push back in that forum, I try to craft comments that are constructive and non-incendiary. I've found it to be a respectful and valuable place at times when I set strict boundaries for myself.
    I am curious to see what the "official" PTB response will be. It is curious in the first place that when a bishop summarizes existing liturgical music guidelines and legislation there would be a perceived need for a "response piece." While I also wince, with mburrier, at a couple of ideal-to-specific leaps (while I agree with their sentiments, they make the prose and argument less effective IMO), I don't see much personal opinion in the document at all. It's not as if Sample is mandating a diocesan repertoire or hymnal, or male altar servers or something legislative like that - or banning any particular songs.
  • How dare he present an ideal for individual parishes to strive for!

    At the same time, we might as well get rid of the Catechism, since it's just not pastorally possible for most people to follow all of the Church's teaching and it was obviously written from an ivory tower by people that just don't understand the realities of being a modern Catholic.

    The Protestantism comment above is well-warranted, IMO. After all, that's exactly what some of these people seem to be calling for.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,144
    In addition to Jared Ostermann's commentary at PTB, I should mention that our own Liam also made some cogent comments (to both topics).
  • .
  • mburrier
    Posts: 25
    In Sing to the Lord (STL) 126-136, we have three judgments (one evaluation): liturgical, pastoral, and musical. ("This evaluation requires cooperation, consultation, collaboration, and mutual respect among those who are skilled in any of the three judgments, be they pastors, musicians, liturgists, or planners"

    Archbishop Sample offers a curious, additional map: sanctity, beauty, and universality, which are noble, albeit hopefully obvious.

    Yet he rushes to judgment, in my humble opinion, and thus, somewhat begrudgingly, I must defend a polka Gloria.

    1. It's not really a polka unless done in 2/2. I like the 3/4 settings of Glorias better, but that's me.
    2. There is nothing inherently right or wrong about a polka Gloria, in and of itself. Psalm 149 isn't picky about it. And STL 70 allows for cultural context. (I live in a community with a significant Czech-bred heritage, so there are at least two parishes that will incorporate their folk music into Mass regardless of what anyone else thinks).
    3. The existence of a musical style or instrumentation not wholly innate to the Church does not necessarily dismiss it from appropriate use during Mass. We all certainly understand the distinction between sacred and secular intent and execution, so whether it is a pipe organ (not innate nor unique to the Church) or autoharp is beside the point.
    4. Of all the parts of the sung Ordinary, the Gloria sung in a polka (or gigue, or allemande) style makes just as much sense as any other. Musical forms are outside of sacred/secular ownership. (I believe we already covered this in the Council of Trent).
    5. Finally, something doesn't have to be serious in order to be important. Some of these battles are so bloody because there is so little at stake. Our main tasks are to love the Lord and love our neighbor. Or in the words of Micah, "You have been told, O mortal, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God." Ergo, our jobs as Sacred Music Directors goes well beyond mere gatekeepers of select musical tastes.
    Thanked by 1Marc Cerisier
  • MBurrier,

    Is a Polka a dance, in Poland or in the collective imagination, or both or neither? If it is, the very fact that it is a secular dance rules it inappropriate for use at Mass.
    Thanked by 1KARU27
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,731
    Perhaps MBurrier is trolling this thread? There's no other excuse for his post.
    Thanked by 2MarkB irishtenor
  • mburrier makes a series of statements that are exactly what many others would make on this topic (so standard that they are almost what I would call boilerplate responses to the polka mass question). Rather than calling it trolling, do we have a convincing counter-argument? Top of my head:

    1 - not really relevant. The time signature is not what people object to in a polka (or waltz) gloria.

    Points 2 and 3 both rely on a misunderstanding of cultural context. While it is true in an absolute sense that musical styles are not inherently bad (in that they are real, and reality is created, sustained, and sanctified by an incarnate God), cultural context can make them suitable or unsuitable for the liturgy. So the argument is not that there is something inherently evil about the polka style (that's something an early calvinist, for example, might say because dancing itself and dance music was seen as sinful). Rather, because polka is so closely associated with secular dance, it is not a good fit for the sacred context.

    Similarly, there is nothing inherently good about the pipe organ in an absolute sense that renders it inherently suitable for liturgy. In fact, it started in a secular context and was used in the Colosseum, etc. However, in western culture the organ over time came to be associated almost exclusively with church and worship. So that NOW, TODAY, it does absolutely have associations that render it uniquely suitable for Christian worship.

    The problem with absolutist arguments is that they ignore present cultural reality. Because something is not inherently evil, and COULD theoretically be perceived as suitable for liturgy, THEREFORE it can never be called unsuitable for liturgy. This is illogical, and ironically, actually ignores the question of inculturation (ironic because this argument is often used by those arguing FOR inculturation.

    Point 4 is irrelevant. The problem with a polka Gloria is not that it is the Gloria, the problem is that it is a polka! Point 4b - musical forms are outside of sacred/secular ownership. I think this is a misuse of terms on mburriers part, but maybe I don't understand what he (or she - could we please use actual names on forums, everyone?) is saying. The polka is not a musical FORM, although a particular polka might have a form (song form, for example). Form refers to the structure of a piece, not its style.

    Point 5 is an irrelevant false dichotomy - also a classic boilerplate response by some to any question of musical style or taste. The fact that our first duty is to love God and our neighbor does not negate other secondary duties. Next time I'm on an airplane, I hope to have a pilot who cares deeply about the mechanical workings of his or her airplane, physics of flight, proper communication and navigation, etc. The fact that loving God and neighbor is of more ultimate importance than airplane mechanical structure is irrelevant in that context - the pilot's responsibility is to focus on a secondary, physical reality. The pilot would not show love of God or neighbor by doing a poor job of flying, and a music director does not show love of God or neighbor by ignoring technical points of musical style and liturgical suitability.

    The "why don't we just focus on loving God and our neighbor" argument could be used to negate ANY and ALL human activities if taken to an illogical extreme. It's the intellectual version of those wacky Christian fringe groups who would commit suicide after baptism. After all, what is this present life compared to eternity with God in heaven?

  • Liam
    Posts: 3,801
    Polka is, in origin, not a Polish dance but Czech. Mazurka is a (lovely) Polish dance*; the Polonaise might be said to be a Frenchified Polish dance or perhaps a Polish-inspired French dance.

    * https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2vfnA_1pjk
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,129
    "the rock drum kit is never appropriate."
    Wham bam....thank you man...
  • mburrier
    Posts: 25
    Very nice, everyone.
    No, I'm not trolling.
    I've been a DM for 25 years and consider my calling to be important.
    Though Jared, for example, enjoys the labels of "boilerplate" and "irrelevant", he makes the same mistake as the dear Archbishop (sc. blindly moving from general to specific) while ignoring the necessary aesthetic, liturgical, and theological steps.
    In other words, most arguments against a style or manner of executing a liturgical song are usually rooted in an academic preference-cum-a particular ax to grind.

    Those of us who are merely classically trained fail to realize the neuroses that have crept into our psyches, to the point of prioritizing style over content, education over edification, thus failing to do our jobs as musicians because (we think) the congregation isn't smart enough, dedicated enough, or such other nonsense.

    The final paragraph of JaredOstermann's response is of particular concern to his state of mind. Focusing on loving God and our neighbor is Christianity. There is no valid Catholic argument against it, no matter what your musical tastes may be. It is beyond question.
    How that leads to suicide is beyond me, since the Catholic Church, no matter how liberally interpreted, would ever come close to connecting such.


  • MarkB
    Posts: 258
    I think Archbishop Sample's example of a polka Gloria being inappropriate for Mass was a polite and indirect way of criticizing OCP's (and GIA's and WLP's) popular Mass settings. Similarly, his general lament and caution that just because a song appears in a "music issue" (hint, hint) doesn't mean it is appropriate for Mass was an implied criticism of the major publishers' editorial decisions. He charitably explained that publishers include songs in hymnals and other collections that are for devotional or other spiritual use, but not for Mass. We all know that's putting it mildly: the publishers intend and market and publish those inappropriate songs for use at Mass, and we know that parishes use them during Mass. Sample was trying to get people to evaluate the most widely used Mass settings and music at Mass for whether that music is appropriate for Mass. Hardly anyone would seriously defend a polka Gloria at Mass. But if that's not appropriate, then why is WLP's Mass of St. Ann appropriate or why is OCP's Mass of Restoration appropriate? (Or many of their other settings?) Both use the rock drum kit (another no-no, according to Sample), by the way, in promotional recordings. Based on Sample's letter, which summarizes the Church's own teaching and standards about sacred music, probably 90% of OCP's catalogue is unfit for use at Mass. He couldn't just come out and say that because he's OCP's figurehead. I would like to know what the people at OCP who make the editorial and publishing decisions have said to each other in confidence about Sample's letter. Want to see what OCP is promoting? Go here:
    https://www.youtube.com/user/OCPLive/videos

    It's all sacro-pop.
    Thanked by 2hilluminar KARU27
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,144
    It's all sacro-pop.
    Hardly that. More like sacrilegio-pop.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,847
    Style is content.

    As the communication theorist Marshall McLuhan (a Catholic!) famously wrote: "The medium is the message".

    In the Church's archetypal form of sacred music, Gregorian chant, the music for the Mass is non-metrical; it is not based on rhythmic patterns that express the steady passage of time. This is suited for music that is intended to foster a contemplative encounter with a timeless reality and a heavenly liturgy underway beyond this world.

    In contrast, the music for the Liturgy of the Hours includes metered hymns. These services are intended to sanctify the hours of the day, so that it is fitting to make reference to the passage of time in this world.

  • mburrier -

    First, I apologize if my response came across as overly brusque or dismissive of yours. I for one wish there could be more cross-fertilization on all forums online, rather than echo chambers. At the same time, if you want to argue your point you should be prepared to actually argue it, rather than simply stating it. Which means dealing with counterarguments, analyzing them, and then pushing back with counterarguments of your own.

    Sometimes to be concise I will just cut right to the chase, with a word like "irrelevant". This is a way, not of dismissing your thoughts, but of paring away those particular thoughts/arguments which do not truly address the subject at hand. For example, the question of time signature (2/2 vs 3/4) is not relevant because the time signature itself is not what people object to in a polka gloria (or in other styles seen as inappropriate). The question of which ordinary text is in use is not relevant, because Sample is objecting to a particular style (not to the fact that a style is used for one liturgical text vs. another). Loving God and our neighbor, while a true and fundamentally-binding duty, is not immediately relevant to the specific question of musical style. In other words, this duty does not, inherently, imply one style or another. However, in its implications, this duty could become relevant to the question. We cannot love God and dismiss His Church and her teachings. Therefore, the love of God would actually imply that we should be faithful to the teachings of the Church on sacred music. And Sample (who as a bishop is also a part of that hierarchical authority, especially on liturgical matters) roots his entire letter in Church documents and papal statements. Not on personal preference and not on academic points, as you assert. As far as I know, having earned a doctorate in church music, academia does not have much to say about which styles Catholics should use in worship.

    Also, I suppose "boilerplate" can be seen as dismissive, but I have just seen your points made so many times, with such assurance, that it seemed like a good description. Maybe "typical" would be a better word, although that seems a little dismissive as well. My point in using the word "boilerplate" is that advocates of traditional sacred music should expect your lines of argument, and formulate a good response rather than dismissing them as trolling.

    Chonak has already responded well to your style vs. content dichotomy (which is a false dichotomy, by the way). The medium is, indeed, the message. I will just add that, since traditional music almost always utilizes the core, official sacred texts of the church (which are in turn scriptural and patristic in origin), there is no need to prioritize style OVER content. It's not as if people are advocating that we sing poor sacred texts because Palestrina composed a setting. Education vs. edification is another false dichotomy. In fact, true education (formation of the human person, not distribution of data) is integral to true edification.

    Finally, you completely misunderstand my comments on loving God and neighbor. I nowhere dismissed this commandment - in fact, I pointed out that this commandment is of the highest ultimate importance. The problem is when you focus on the primary Christian concern, as if it negates all secondary concerns. Then every other secondary discussion and concern (how shall we eat? how shall we organize our society? how shall we worship God?) can be dismissed as "not as important" as the Greatest Commandment. In fact, if love is a choice for the good of the other, then love of neighbor REQUIRES secondary concerns. We love God and neighbor in specific, real ways (which we must discern), or we do not love them at all. One way a music director loves neighbor is by making choices for their good, in the particular realm of music.

    You misunderstand the suicide comments. One line of heresy in church history (exemplified by Manicheanism) is that the physical world is inherently inferior to the spiritual, and is irredeemably tainted by evil. This has led various individuals and group movements to a policy of suicide (sometimes directly after baptism, to ensure quick entry to heaven). After all, why linger in a fleshly prison when you could move to the spiritual realm? One logical conclusion of taking the highest spiritual good as a negation of all secondary goods is to commit physical suicide. We can also commit intellectual suicide, when we refuse to grapple with secondary questions because "the most important thing is just to love God and our neighbor." It's not an actual argument in favor of (or against) anything.


  • dad29
    Posts: 1,731
    musical styles are not inherently bad


    Then-Cdl. Ratzinger would disagree. His condemnation of rock music was total. To him, there is no 'good' in rock.

    Larger: the discussion about "God's will" and Islam is pertinent here; according to one priest, anyway, God's will has two parts: active and passive. The passive will allows that which is bad. Thus, at least one style: rock, exists, but is, in at least the opinion of Cdl. Ratzinger, bad.
    Thanked by 1KARU27
  • Dad,

    Will you help me start a thread, on how to define good music from everything else?
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,731
    I'm not nearly as smart or educated as is Jared; my remark above was only meant to point out that he may have erred--perhaps without thinking about it--in his post.

    "Good music" would prolly be beautiful and universal, lifting both the mind and heart toward God or at least toward "goodness and truth", and if it includes lyrics, then the music should illuminate the lyrics.

    Granted, that would eliminate a bunch of "classical" music written in the last century. So what?