Cleansing Fire

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The Extraordinary Form (of Priestly Petulance)

February 27th, 2012, Promulgated by Gen

Sometimes I wonder how and why some people loathe the Traditional Latin Mass with such vehemence. And then I read things like this. This priest from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter might mean well, but his actions and words undoubtedly wound souls and turn countless others away from the beauty of the Extraordinary Form. The fellow actually equates singing at Mass with liturgical abuse! If only we had the luxury of complaining about singing congregants, rather than heretical she-priests and a lack-lustre bishop.

Evidently, this priest, as well-intentioned as he might be, would rather devote time to ostracizing his parishioners than foster a sense of active participation on their part. We mustn’t act like the Council didn’t happen – it said, quite explicitly, that Gregorian Chant is a treasure which must be opened up to and sung by the laity. Sacrosanctum Concillium clearly states in Chapter VI, “The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.  Religious singing by the people is to be intelligently fostered so that in devotions and sacred exercises, as also during liturgical services, the voices of the faithful may ring out according to the norms and requirements of the rubrics.”

The following presentation of the matter, and its accompanying commentary, come from the Chant Cafe, penned by Jeffrey Tucker. A nod of the miter to him.

I never imagined that I would find a Catholic parish where the pastor actually discourages the people from singing. But here we have it happening at a parish that offer the extraordinary form exclusive. It strikes as almost as a caricature of traditionalism.

While there is no reason anyone cannot joyfully sing along in their pew in a subdued and harmonious fashion the Ordinary parts of the Mass, they must take care [in charity] not to project their voices over the choir [or noticeably above the rest of the congregation] and become a distraction for their pewmates or the ministers in the sanctuary, all trying to authentically pray the living liturgy unfolding before them – Eternity manifest in Time. The Entrance and Recessional Hymns are usually meant for the congregation properly, led by the choir.
Contrast with the Popes, as nicely presented by The Cross Reference:

Special efforts are to be made to restore the use of the Gregorian Chant by the people, so that the faithful may again take a more active part in the ecclesiastical offices, as was the case in ancient times. (Tra le sollecitudini, Pius X, 1903)

In order that the faithful may more actively participate in divine worship, let them be made once more to sing the Gregorian Chant, so far as it belongs to them to take part in it. It is most important that when the faithful assist at the sacred ceremonies, or when pious sodalities take part with the clergy in a procession, they should not be merely detached and silent spectators, but, filled with a deep sense of the beauty of the Liturgy, they should sing alternately with the clergy or the choir, as it is prescribed. If this is done, then it will no longer happen that the people either make no answer at all to the public prayers — whether in the language of the Liturgy or in the vernacular — or at best utter the responses in a low and subdued manner. (Divini Cultus, Pius XI, 1928)

Therefore, they are to be praised who, with the idea of getting the Christian people to take part more easily and more fruitfully in the Mass, strive to make them familiar with the “Roman Missal,” so that the faithful, united with the priest, may pray together in the very words and sentiments of the Church. They also are to be commended who strive to make the liturgy even in an external way a sacred act in which all who are present may share. This can be done [...] in high Masses when they answer the prayers of the minister of Jesus Christ and also sing the liturgical chant. (Mediator Dei, Pius XII, 1947)

It is the duty of all those to whom Christ the Lord has entrusted the task of guarding and dispensing the Church’s riches to preserve this precious treasure of Gregorian chant diligently and to impart it generously to the Christian people. [...] May it thus come about that the Christian people begin even on this earth to sing that song of praise it will sing forever in heaven. (Musicae Sacrae, Pius XII, 1955)

In solemn Mass there are three degrees of the participation of the faithful: a) First, the congregation can sing the liturgical responses. These are: Amen; Et cum spiritu tuo; Gloria tibi, Domine; Habemus ad Dominum; Dignum et justum est; Sed libera nos a malo; Deo gratias. Every effort must be made that the faithful of the entire world learn to sing these responses. b) Secondly, the congregation can sing the parts of the Ordinary of the Mass: Kyrie, eleison; Gloria in excelsis Deo; Credo; Sanctus-Benedictus; Agnus Dei. Every effort must be made that the faithful learn to sing these parts, particularly according to the simpler Gregorian melodies. But if they are unable to sing all these parts, there is no reason why they cannot sing the easier ones: Kyrie, eleison; Sanctus-Benedictus; Agnus Dei; the choir, then, can sing the Gloria, and Credo. In connection with this, the following Gregorian melodies, because of their simplicity, should be learned by the faithful throughout the world: the Kyrie, eleison; Sanctus-Benedictus; Agnus Dei of Mass XVI from the Roman Gradual; the Gloria in excelsis Deo, and Ite, missa est-Deo gratias of Mass XV; and either Credo I or Credo III. In this way it will be possible to achieve that most highly desirable goal of having the Christian faithful throughout the world manifest their common faith by active participation in the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and by common and joyful song. c) Thirdly, if those present are well trained in Gregorian chant, they can sing the parts of the Proper of the Mass. This form of participation should be carried out particularly in religious congregations and seminaries. (De Musica Sacra, Sacred Congregation for Rites (during Pius XII), 1958)

Perhaps Fr. Parrinello ought to realize that, as a priest, he has a duty to minister to all of his congregation, and not just the boys’ club that occupies his choir loft.

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5 Responses to “The Extraordinary Form (of Priestly Petulance)”

  1. avatar Pietro says:

    Justifying people’s distaste for the traditional mass because of the occasional priest who says something that might possibly offend people is kind of ridiculous. Is it okay for me to say that I vehemently hate post VII services citing a case of a effeminate priest who supports gay marriage as if to suggest all Norvus Ordo priests are the same?

    By the way, I think you are taking this way out of context. Choirs spend a lot of time trying to produce a sound that enhances the beauty of the mass. If you have a couple of individuals who are bellowing out, singing out of tune and distracting people than something should be said. What’s more important a person’s need to actively participate in an external fashion by singing or a person’s need to actively participate internally by focusing entirely on the sacrifice of the mass? The choir’s job is to to help the latter form of active partcipation.

    Examing Sacrosanctum Concillium closer it states “Religious singing by the people is to be intelligently fostered so that in devotions and sacred exercises, as also during liturgical services, the voices of the faithful may ring out according to the norms and requirements of the rubrics.” That says INTELLIGENTLY FOSTERED. It doesn’t say just start belting out a tune to your hearts content.

    By the way, some of the worst singing I have ever heard has been at Traditional Masses where a small band of parishioners is in way over their heads trying to make father happy for the holidays by singing a Victoria Mass with full propers. So to suggest that it’s the norm for Traditional parishes to discourage bad singing is a little off base.

  2. avatar Gen says:

    I had been hearing of the lack of pastoral care afforded by this priest, and I felt the same way you did for a while. However, I visited this parish once, a few months back, and I couldn’t believe the degree to which Fr. Parrinello has become the object of some type of personality cult. It comes down to this – the way he handles minor issues makes them flare up into tremendously disproportionate ones. As you point out, V2 states that congregational singing must be “intelligently fostered.” Equating it with liturgical abuse shows no evidence of intelligence.

    And you’re putting words in my mouth about this being “the norm for Traditional parishes.” I never made that claim; you did. All this post illustrates is why many (if not most) Catholics might feel that Latin Mass communities are too uptight, pushy, or pharisaical. One need only go to the Latin Mass in Rochester to see this disproved!

  3. avatar Scott W. says:

    Gotta go with Gen on this one. Us people without access to a nearby EF have had to pretend to sing the sentimentalist bilge water for years. The feeling is palpable: I hate it, the congregation hates it, the choir loft hates it, the priest hates it, and is it me, or is that stained glass of St. Andrew scowling where he wasn’t before?

    Then one makes it to the EF, hears music that doesn’t make you reach for a bottle of Emetrol and what’s that? We’re not allowed to sing it?!

  4. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    Regarding the ex form or standard form, in my opinion, the best approach is to have the parish council, choir, priest, etc, deveop a large loose leaf hymnal of about the 200 most popular hymns in the Catholic Church. At the end of the Mass, the lector will get up and have a show of hands vote as to whether they keep particular hymns or not. If the vote is no, they get torn out of the book and get trashed. If they pass, they stay. However, imho, a lot of the post-V II unsingables will go.

  5. avatar snowshoes says:

    One hopes that Father Chaplain is simply regrouping, preparing for a period of instruction of the congregation in the ordinary chant parts of the Mass. We must remember that, as all appear to agree, in the past decades there hasn’t been a need to be told how to sing because of the awful stuff that’s been proffered, oh, and the cantor-nazi with the mike. So I’m going with Pietro and giving Father a pass, for now…

    Now, the principle which Gen presents is important tho, and I agree with her. Whether it’s EF or OF, actions must be taken with the greatest of respect and charity, so that each parishioner and congregant knows that Father Pastor intends his personal good and the corporate good in each action he takes, whatever the matter at hand. This may take Father a little more time, but it’s always doable.

    In the example here, who knows, there may be stealth screamers from the local feminazi polizei disrupting the works, to cite an extreme example. Father would need to confront them and kindly tell them to tone it down or find another place to attend Mass.

    If indeed it’s the local tone-deaf group, Father probably needs to invite them to tea and engage them. Most tone-deaf people CAN learn their notes, as they learned their colors, shapes, letters, and numbers.

    Ditto if the choir thinks it’s a performance and the chapel is the Eastman Theater. Father needs to get them on board with the fact that they are there to serve God AND His People, part of which includes “leading” the congregation in the ordinary parts of the Mass. I agree that if this directive is meant to be the end of the conversation, Father hasn’t quite done his job. Ah, that all parishes were having this problem!! God bless and Happy Leap Day.

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