Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Music can drive you far from God!
Ti-tee-tum-tee tum ti... or tum ti-ti ti-ti tum..., it gives me a head ache, I hate the music at World Youth Day liturgies, it is entertainment, show tunes, it drives prayer out of my head or reduces it "Lord, stop, please", It is what I imagine Americans troops play to torture inmates at their unsavoury prison at Guantanamo.
If I was present in Rio I would tear my vestments off and run naked screaming from the basilica, clawing at my bloody ears and have to be restrained and shut in a dark room by burly nuns, most probably for months, if not years, possibly even until death, which could or could not be in a state of Grace. I will read what the Bishop of Rome has to say, it is probably going to be quite exciting.
The dreadful thing is some you will agree with me. We could fill a whole locked ward to ourselves and even have matching straight-jackets. Others might wisely counsel me to pull myself together, and stop behaving like a silly adolescent and accept the stuff as penance for the common good, and others less wisely simply assure me next time round there might be something that pleases me. Yet others might suggest that they know of a little church hidden away somewhere where not just the music but the action and indeed the whole liturgy might be more to my taste, which is equally worrying.
The great problem is that music in church has become something that actually is a matter of taste and if one doesn't share that taste it actually can drive people out and the great problem is that they can be driven so far away that the actually die far from the sacraments and the mercy of Our Mother the Church. Church music has always been controlled and frequently reformed because some music be so destructive.
To be evangelised is one thing, that is an act of Grace but to like or even be tolerant of a particular musical genre is another thing. God can draw someone into a deep and profound desire for Him but the man with the tambourine or even sackbut or organ can drive out any desire for Communion with God in a particular community, such people can be hated even by the most pious, often by the most pious. One can switch off an irritating, even heretical, priest's homily, one of parishioners often turns on her ipod when I preach. You close your eyes to shenanigans on the sanctuary but music touches the soul, even if you try to ignore it you can't. The medieval Church and universities took up Pythagoras and the Greeks who understood music to speak directly to the soul and could either inflame passions or to bring healing and concord to the soul. Music should be healing and therapeutic but being adolescent again, in Church, it is so often torture!
That is obviously not so here where we tend to do our best to use that great corpus of Catholic music that has been tried and tested down the ages to soothe the savage breast and draw us closer to God, that music which is designed to speak at the same time to those who want to dance and those who wanted to mourn, it is designed to support the relationship with God, not to take over from it but the problem is that most people think we use the Church's music because it is music I like. It has become a matter of taste, which is presumably why VII's intention to have some music at all liturgical celebrations has been ignored and most people prefer the 'music lovers Mass', the Missa Lecta, read Mass, with no music.
Personally I much prefer this, which I have been listening to tonight but obviously it is meant for theatre and not church:
Posted by Fr Ray Blake