Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Incoming Missal, from US Catholic

This morning the US Catholic posts a large piece by J. Peter Nixon ("Incoming Missal") that will be of intense interest to all readers of NLM. It begins with a portrait of one parish in California that has been completely reformed by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, and then moves on to a larger discussion of music and solemnity in Mass and the direction of change.

While few parishes have gone as far as St. Edward's, the movement to recover a more traditional approach to liturgy appears to be gaining ground. Some advocates of this approach are radicals who reject the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council and prefer to celebrate the Mass according to the pre-reform liturgical books. Others accept the reforms of the council but criticize the way they have been implemented.

One of the most prominent advocates of a "reform of the reform" is Pope Benedict XVI. Prior to his election, his book The Spirit of the Liturgy (Ignatius) compared the liturgy prior to Vatican II to a beautiful fresco that had been whitewashed. The council had removed the whitewash and allowed the colors to be seen. Since then, however, "the fresco has been endangered by climatic conditions as well as by various restorations and reconstructions. In fact, it is threatened with destruction."


I'm generally pleased with the article, and the way the author quotes me, though I'm not entirely sure I can recall the interview itself. I have a vague memory of being in the cheese section of grocery store and talking to a reporter on my cell phone about this subject. If I had passing comments on how import tariffs have unjustly raised the price of gorgonzola, I'm glad he cut those out. The thoughts he attributed to me are good ones: the need to replace hymns with propers, the loss of our vast musical heritage, etc. One correction though: I'm not the chant director of my parish schola. I only conduct polyphony.

I do think that the article could have better captured the spectacular success that Fr. Keyes has enjoyed at his parish. His program is actually very moderate overall, and the childrens choirs are doing very well. Musicians, real ones, are being attracted to the parish and the pastor has emerged as a great leader in the cause of good liturgy. Again, it is not quite right to say that he is reforming the reform. All he is doing is what books themselves ask for us to do.

Please read this piece, which will reach a large audience.