The Good is not the Enemy of the Better, it is its Foundation. As Seen in an Animated Video

041913Back when I was in seminary (24+ years ago), I was an organist, and Music Director of the Seminary. And in those years I learned an important, albeit, frustrating reality, namely that many did not always appreciate what I considered to be the finer things of Church Music.

I remember one November having the Seminary Choir Sing a rather elegant piece by Palestrina. It was a difficult piece to master, but oh how wonderful it was, sung in four parts, acapella. Yes! The high water mark of Catholic music. I was so sure the men would love to hear it sung. And we sang it beautifully. That same feast day of all saints we also happened to chant the Litany of Saints. We used the simple tone. We rehearsed it only once and sang it with little effort.

After the Mass I awaited the accolades that would certainly come! And sure enough they did. On the way over to dinner some of the seminarians walked up and said in different ways,

Wow, that piece you sang was really beautiful….so moving….We need to do more of that!
Ah, yes! I replied, Palestrina is the best!
To which they all responded, Pala..who? I was talking about the litany.
Oh! said I, Well what did you think of the piece we sang at offertory?
Looking puzzled, as if they were trying to remember it, came the answer,
Oh that was pretty good too…, What was it?


And thus I learned that sometimes the glory of finer things escapes the average listener. The Litany was beautiful, but, for a trained musician, its simplicity made it seem insignificant. And yet, sometimes, less is more, little things mean a lot, and the good is not the enemy of the better, it is its foundation.

At the end of the day, liturgists and Church musicians, do well to mix with simple and accessible with some of their more lofty offerings. While we might wish that everyone would appreciate the finer things instantly, frankly not everyone does. Some of the finer things are an acquired taste and require some background to appreciate.

I have found that certain types of music and art have grown on me over the years. I was not born appreciating Palestrina, or a Bach Fugue, or Gospel music for that matter. But over time I learned the intricate and internal moves of these sorts of music and came to appreciate them like fine wine.

That said, I still like a “good beer” every now and then too. My iPod has many offerings from 70s pop and rock, when I was in High School and College. Most of it is not high art, and lacks the intricacy of the Brandenburg Concertos, but I enjoy it. And frankly some of that music served as a foundation for my later appreciation of classical and Choral music.

One thing that Church liturgists and musicians should surely avoid is snobbery. Nothing can so slam the door on what they hope to inspire than snide remarks about what people clearly like. Snobbery is no way to inspire an openness to finer and more intricate things. Cheese snobs can sneer all they want at the rubbery plastic-wrapped Velveeta cheese all they want, but Americans eat it in abundance and with gusto. Sneering won’t get people to suddenly start liking Roquefort, or Gouda.

Once, I was drinking a glass of chillable red wine (the kind that comes from a box), and was rebuked by a wine connoisseur to the effect that what I was drinking was not even real wine. Frankly, I was less likely to try a “fine wine” with that sort of attitude. And my palate might not even be ready for some of the drier wines favored by connoisseur.

Work with me, don’t sneer at me. Perhaps my world of chillable red, boxed wine can be expanded. But my appreciation for it will likely grow in stages, rather than rushing to the dry red fine wine that, to me with my unrefined wine palate, currently tastes like liquid ashes going down.

It is the same with music and liturgy. Snobbery is highly to be avoided. I love the Traditional Latin Mass, but I do understand that appreciating it requires some history, some basic knowledge of Latin and so forth. I find that I can lead people in stages to it. But honestly, I wince every time on this blog or elsewhere, those who, like me appreciate the old, but sneer at those who like more modern forms, or simpler forms.

Snobbery wins few converts. I could listen to a Bach Fugue all day long, and enter deep prayer with Renaissance polyphony, but I do understand why not everyone is of the same mind, and I feel blessed to like what they like too. Perhaps, in stages and through friendship, rather than snobbery, I can open bigger worlds to others, and they to me.

Simple chanted Litanies are good! So is Victoria and Palestrina. Appreciation for fine things is built on an appreciation for other things. Life builds and expands, it need not narrow and become fussy. The Good is not the enemy of the better, it is its foundation.

This video illustrates these points well. A little girl sees in a baker’s window what she wants, a simple cherry. But the baker will have non of it! She must try this delicacy and that delicacy! But so fine is what he offers her that she barely recognizes it as food at all. It is really the simple red cherry she wants. At the end, the Baker finally meets her where she is, and presents her with the prettiest cherry she has ever seen! And thus, he builds on what she knows and likes. He shows her the finer things in stages, respecting the true and actual goodness of what she likes.

Pay attention liturgists and musicians, and all who appreciate the finer and more advanced things in many areas of life.

57 Replies to “The Good is not the Enemy of the Better, it is its Foundation. As Seen in an Animated Video”

  1. It’s true, Monsignor. Not every girl is cut out to be a Jane Austen fan, and not every guy wants to climb the corporate ladder. πŸ™‚

  2. The doing should be other-centric; the doing should not be self-centric. When we put ourselves in the middle and do things firstly because WE want or desire or like, then we have fallen short of the Way. We should ask instead of assuming; assuming someone will be or act as we do is an error – as I and others have learned repeatedly.

    I think that the best music has the Holy Spirit as its primary inspiration and love as its primary motivation. Who can discern?

    I think that simple food and drink are a blessing from God – because they are usually closest to what God gives to us for our own good. Can we argue the same to be true about music or sounds found in nature?

    1. Yes, it can be argued successfully, and has been. You prefer simplicity, others prefer things that lift their spirits to God in other ways. They are not wrong for wanting help in lifting their spirits. This reminds me of the iconoclast heresy that wanted to forbid the use of icons, etc., because wanted people to approach God in “simplicity”.

      1. I understand that Pam, but I am not the one that made any accusation here. Yours is a very interesting connection indeed, because it should not have been made. You don’t even know me.

        1. I didn’t accuse you. I merely said insistence on simplicity reminded me of that particular heresy. You are right, I don’t know you. Now – are we even? You accused me of accusing you…. :o)

      2. All the arguments for complex music, etc., that I remember were in pre-internet days and I don’t know where to look for them. But here’s something I just wrote, thanks be to God:

        God made trees, flowers, stars, etc. They are capable of lifting the soul to God. But anyone who has studied them (biologists, astronomers, etc.) can assure you that they are not simple. God also made Man. Not only is Man much more complex than trees, flowers, etc., even in just his physical being, but God made Man capable of creating things of tremendous complexity. God MADE Man capable of this. Even to clothe himself, to get sufficient food to eat, requires that Man use his intelligence in complex ways.

        I think God, too, is complex. He is mysterious, full of oxymorons (seeming contradictions). You may say that God is just Love. Have you not seen how wondrously complex love can be? Especially wonderful when it IS complex, and still REAL LOVE.

      3. I was amazed the other day to discover bulgur wheat and celery. The combination of these two ingredients really made me marvel at how something so simple can make me thank God so much. It fills my belly, tastes really good, and is very healthy – good for me. But, they are both EXTREMELY complex, yet simply good. This is what I mean by simple and close to God’s original creation. It’s like water. Pure water is very appealing to everyone. We even baptize little babies in this water.

      4. But quite honestly, I think that very few people really appreciate extremely complex music. We just don’t pray that way. God doesn’t communicate to us with extremely complex music. In nature, we find relatively simple tones and bird songs which are delightful, and we do not create them. That is what makes them so special. Recall the sound of the wind blowing over the piney tree tops on a coastal island and the breaking of the sea waves in the distance and the tree frogs in the local swamp singing in the night in a natural (however unintended) melody. These are all beautiful and they are not self-centric.

        1. How can you say “God doesn’t communicate to us with complex music”? Or are you referring only to the people who can’t appreciate complex music? Because He very evidently does communicate to some people via complex music. It seems sheer conjecture to say that God is not communicating to them through complex music, just because you can’t perceive Him communicating to you through it. Perhaps He DOESN”T communicate to you through it because you couldn’t be reached in that manner. Those who are drawn to love of God through complex music should be able to worship in ways that reach them – even if that involves something that doesn’t reach you. I’m not saying you should not also be allowed to worship in your way. Just because some people listen to complex music without referring it to God, doesn’t mean all people who listen to complex music are egocentric.

          1. Pam, you asked “How can you say β€œGod doesn’t communicate to us with complex music”? ”

            I did not. I stated “God doesn’t communicate to us with extremely complex music.” You left out the most important word which gives meaning to my statement: “extremely.” There’s a big difference between your perception and what I actually wrote and intended. πŸ™‚

        2. Birds make music according to their abilities, people make music according to their abilities, which are also God-given. You prefer simpler, others don’t. It is your PREFERENCE. I refer back to your original post: “When we …do things firstly because WE want or desire or like, then we have fallen short of the Way.”

          1. Well, birds do what God wants them to do; they have no free will – they don’t love – they don’t insert themselves into our lives – they can’t. But God loves through them. And so, a music director should approach music like God might do so (after the example of the birds – and I ask you to see this example with the eyes of faith) and ask:

            “What can I play which will lift up their hearts to God? Is it because I want to play this music or is it because I think this music will lift their hearts to God?”

            I’m making a suggestion here – as a person who has been subjected to sometimes distracting music during the Liturgy. Consider the word “sometimes” which does not mean “always.” Sometimes, music directors do insert themselves – their egos — their ambitions – their impatience – and this is not always good for the lay faithful. It should be avoided much like a doctor avoids prescribing a procedure which is unnecessary or which might do harm to a patient, but which he wishes to prescribe for his own purposes.

            That stated, there is a lot of music out there which is beautiful and appropriate, even while being a bit complex, but not so complex that it becomes a distraction.

            And so my hope is that music directors pray about their choices – and are inspired to provide music which God would want for the lay faithful – and not music which the director wants for the director’s purposes.

            Now, I’m not saying here that God may never wants complex music! Maybe He does! I don’t know. Maybe He does for the sake of the music director alone. Who knows? We all sacrifice for each other, and I accept that.

          2. OK, all your bits about the birds and the wind and the barley, etc., led me to believe you were a minimalist, which in my experience (in suburbia) leads almost inevitably to a very distracting ugliness. Thank you for clarifying.

      5. And we chant in the Gregorian style – this is preferred. This chanting, in my opinion, is relatively simple and natural.

        1. And there is music that heals and music that doe not. Chant has been shown to heal. . .

          1. Yes, I agree, but Christian contemporary music is also healing for many people. In matters like these there is great diversity manifest in what people find “healing” since we are dealing with spiritual realities, not merely chemical.

  3. Thank you for this well-considered post! I think many people are just not going to be able to appreciate the Latin Mass – their lives are not such that they are able to study it sufficiently, and their backgrounds give them no inclination. Also, I think certain temperaments are very much more inclined to like it: my dad and my daughter both love the TLM (both have Meyers-Briggs’ “NT” temperament), and I can see why they do, but I don’t have that kind of mind – it’s really hard for me to “HEAR in a second language”. I would really like more aspects of it incorporated into the Novus Ordo English Mass (priest with his back to the people?), but I would not like to lose what I enjoy about hearing Mass in English. (I love classical literature, and except for the NT daughter, I can’t get my kids interested!)

  4. A fine post. I think you hit a fine point on the Traditional Latin Mass. I think it is objectively a better liturgical expression of worshiping God than the Novus Ordo and the mental framework it takes to appreciate it is objectively more Catholic. However, the mistakes made in the Church over the last forty years and society at large have left most people poorly formed to appreciate this. That said, the attitude of many, if not most, adherents of the Latin Mass, which you capture quite well in this post, tends to keep a lot of people away. I think Benedict XVI fully grasped this and realized that we have to fix the liturgy in baby steps that won’t drive people away….a new, more accurate translation, more parishes using chant, granting Traditional Latin Masses where they are asked for by the laity, etc.. These are all baby steps needed to restoring the liturgy just as, to get the lifelong Bud Light drinker to switch over to high-quality adult beverages, you might be better off trying to get him to drink a Yuengling first instead getting all indignant when he doesn’t like his first taste of Scotch.

  5. Wonderful post – I couldn’t agree more. I think what turns many Catholics off about proponents of traditional music in Mass is the way they often start off by attacking or sneering at more humble forms of music. Your approach – “Some things are good, and we can build on that” – is much more attractive.

  6. For the blessed in heaven, the music of Palestrina will be like do-re-mi music compared to
    the heavenly music, though even more beautiful to them than it was when they were on earth.

    Sweet video.

  7. I am a BIG polyphony lover for the ethereal beauty and mystical/contemplative mood it brings to my spirit.

    At the same time one beauty can distract me from the greater beauty of consuming the Word of Life revealed in the liturgy.

    A far greater/refined taste needs to be developed. One must know the beauty of the Word of Life from a developed interior before other-worldly music (with words in Latin) can be fully entered into.

    Praise Jesus for His lovingkindness revealed to everyone from St Photini (Woman at the well) to Nicodemus.

    The simple to the most learned.

    Great message and video.

  8. Nothing says Gloria like Van Morrison and a three progrssion chord.

  9. Msgr. Pope, do you have advice for those of us who sometimes feel like the little girl in this video?

    My brother and his wife became big TLM advocates a few years ago. These days, they seem to believe the Latin mass would fix everything that ails the church if we would all just go back to it. I wondered what all this fuss was about, so I went to Latin mass. I was not particularly inspired. I don’t think of myself as a “happy clappy” Catholic, and I rather like “olde time religion,” but I think maybe I lack the background to really appreciate the older form?

    The TLM community also seemed insular and somewhat hostile to people like me – a mere “ordinary form” Catholic. I found the hostility rather stunning. I’m not really sure how to bridge the gap, or if it’s worth trying?

    1. Could I humbly suggest showing post and the video? πŸ™‚ Also explain, that sneering and looking down is a poor way to draw others to what he loves. I will say with few qualifications some of the worst publicity in the world for the TLM is TLMers themselves. What you describe is sadly common. It wins almost NO admiration for the Mass. People hate arrogance and can sniff it in a moment. Please fellow TLMers check the attitude stuff! I want to say too, I get some of this form other movements in the Church too, groupers who say that unless the whole Church buys into their program or way, the Church is doomed. Really? isn’t the Church big enough for some diverse approaches?

      1. I guess part of what I’m asking is also this:

        What kind of baby steps could I personally take to appreciate TLM more? One day I just showed up at a Latin mass. I wore a long skirt & veil, thinking I would blend into the background, and maybe I could just observe and “figure it out.” It wasn’t so straightforward as I assumed.

        I’ve been chided: “Mass is not a spectator sport.” Yes, that’s pretty darn snobby, but, I also considered that maybe I could personally do something to prepare myself better? “Learn Latin” is so daunting to someone like me who doesn’t know any of it.

        Thank you.

        1. I love the sound of the pipe organ.

          I love the sound of an all male gregorian chant done well.

          I can’t stand it when a priest messes around with the liturgy or when the choir sings from the song books that replace all of the gendered pronouns with ambiguous ones.

          I thought hey, the latin mass ought to be right up my alley……

          ….then I went……

          …..thoughts hit me like, What if a woman wanted to come but didn’t want to wear a veil? What if I make the wrong move or behave in a ritualistically impure manner without even knowing it?

          Then I realized that I was at Mass and that I need to be focused on Him rather than the procedures or mannerisms.

          I thanked God for Vatican II at that moment and I had a profound sense of the Holy Spirit working in the Church, trying to lead souls back.

          I realized that I must always view my brethren and sisteren with love and not with judgement. I don’t want to act like the brother of the prodigal son.

          As a father with several children, I came to realize that we are not interested in our children being better than the other – I want all of my children to be happy and to get along. That is what pleases me the most – not when one of my children, competing with the others, does better than one of their siblings – I am most pleased when my children help out and love their brothers and sisters.

          God the Father is the same way.

          All of the novus ordos and latin masses strung together, end on end, are not nearly as long as all of God’s children hand in hand.

          I still hate bad music though, but now I pray for sender and receiver to improve and not just the sender.

          1. Loved this comment. This whole conversation helped me reframe and analyze my experiences better. I’m pretty sure I was letting community stuff color my experience, and thus getting distracted from the actual point, which is worship, not pleasing those in attendance.

            I received some classical training in ballet. One time my instructor, a Russian prima ballerina who was keen on pristine technique and very critical of missteps, chastised me thus: “You are over-thinking it. Stop. That makes it ugly. Now, listen, feel the music, do the sequence again.” I think it applies to this situation also.

          2. That is a spurious argument. You can break the rubrics at a Novus Ordo Mass also…and many women don’t wear head coverings. The issues you worry about exist more in your own mind than reality.

    2. Hi Sarah,

      The TLM communities are often insular because for several decades they were forced into little indult communities that were often viewed with suspicion and disdain by much of the larger Church. This is slowly changing as TLMs become more commonplace in parishes, thanks to Benedict XVI. What will reduce that insularity is more Catholics, like yourself, who didn’t suffer through that isolation of previous decades embracing the TLM.

      However, I am not sure what you mean by inspiring. The TLM has a very contemplative, peaceful quality to it that flies in the face of modern life, which attracts people like myself who detest frenetic, American Protestant style worship. If that is also the case with you, I think you will find it worth your while to give the old Mass another look!

      1. What do I mean by not finding it “inspiring”… Hmm, how to explain that? I don’t have a vast sea of experience to pull on, but, going to TLM felt sort of like going to an art museum without knowing much about the period or artists on exhibition. You try to read the little placards to understand what you’re seeing, but, those placards aren’t in your language. You have this vague sense that the artists are quite talented, but you’re not sure exactly why. Your lack of knowledge is apparently obvious to everyone else at the exhibition. The entire time, you feel like other people are looking at you critically for even being there. You tried, but apparently you’re not dressed right. You’re embarrassed, but don’t know how else to learn other than by showing up, observing, and asking questions.

        Maybe I care too much about feeling welcomed by the community. I’m trying not to close my mind to TLM. Perhaps I should try again at a different church.

        1. Here is a set of videos to help explain what is going on.

          I was completely lost the first few times I went and the red books they often have as guides do more harm than good. You can buy a missal or, if you have a smartphone, follow along from one of many websites that make the Propers available for that day.

          If there is another parish offering it nearby, you can try that, as you considered. Another factor that could be in play is the ‘single girl walks into a comic books store’ effect that you also see at TLMs. There just aren’t that many who attend so they get some additional attention, although I wouldn’t take it as necessarily being negative.

          1. Thanks Nate. I’m going to give this another go sometime.

            “Single girl walks into a comic books store.” This made me laugh and recall my college experience. Basically: “single girl walks into an aerodynamics class….” These days though, if people are staring in mass, it’s because my kids are acting their ages (3 and new). πŸ˜€ I haven’t tried to take them both to a TLM. My baby son might like the music though. He voted NO rather vocally yesterday at mass when a retched guitar riff ruined his nap. To make it even better, my toddler loudly announced, “Mommy Mommy Mommy!! I don’t like it. Can I have different music?” My husband tried to suppress a laugh and whispered to me, “Yeah. Definitely my kids.”

  10. Msgr. Pope,
    When people first hear that I am apart of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, I get a mixed response, and most people will sneer that I must be one of those Anti-Latin Mass people because they believe we wave our hands in the air during the Mass and above all we listen to that modern music.

    So I clear up the fog about their misconceptions of the CCR movement, much comes from the misuse of some in the past, we are appreciated by the Vatican as a part of the body of the church, some think most likely to Evangelize in the street. We follow a strict adherence to the USCCB and the Vatican guidelines that direct the CCR.
    We all first most uphold the SANCTITY of the MASS, many would like to see the Alter Rail be mandatory, we will knee after the Eucharist and not stand, we would prefer the Priest face the EAST and those of us that may not would OBEY and celebrate the MASS as directed by the Pope. As we do go to the Latin Mass when offered. When you see someone raising their hands high during the MASS they are drawing attention to themselves and disrespect the MASS, yet many of us will do small gestures that are not to draw attention.

    The Evangelist in us will wave our hands in the air during our praise of GOD, we listen to contemporary music during ADORATION sometimes lasting two hours, we use contemporary music in our prayer and ask the HOLY SPIRIT to fill us with his light and many are freed of the chains that bind them to this earthly body. I know many dislike this music out of snobbery as they have not heard it this way before, the Gospels are sung with such PASSION. Lamb of God by Ike Ndolo, Bring the Rain by Mercy Me. We are not totally praying and swaying as I love the Gregorian as in SALVE REGINA by Marcel Peres and the Ensemble Organum, or an entrance Antiphon by Benedictan monks to a 1500 year old Irish Serentitatus Gregorian

    We do more than teach RF, RCIA and Engagement sponsoring we bring our faith into the streets, literally. We have members in the REC(residents encounter Christ) prison mission, Campus outreach, Catholic Work Camp ministry and we extend a hand to anyone we meet in the street so we can bring them into a closer relationship with Jesus. The contemporary music helps in freeing them to a fuller participation and we speak of the reverence of the Mass and the young love the Latin Mass so we do it in Baby steps.

    Amen I say to you my brothers and sisters, no matter what part of the Body of the Church you are from we ask God the Holy Spirit to give us all the gift of Fortitude, to give us the courage to step into the street and spread the GOOD WORD, for we are born to bring his message into the street.

    In the readings today, Jesus knew many of his followers would not be able to accept the sacrifice it would take to spread the word of his love for us and the salvation he brings, that is why he asked if they could follow him and spread the Good News.

    Msgr. Pope, I pray on day to meet you, as you are such a Witness to God’s Love, so I say keep spreading the word.

    1. Thanks I have have a lot of connections to the Catholic Charismatic community and great admiration for the zeal they shows and how the combine it with a different aesthetic – proving that the one Truth of the Faith is not bound by only one cultural expression. Truth transcends narrow human formulas, it is bigger than one culture, one form of music, or art form etc. I am willing to accept that there are some things in every culture, and in every art form, that do NOT fit the faith, but the Church’s instinct to to take up whatever is suited and apt in every culture and art form in order to magnify Christ. The Same Church that sings Tu es Petrus is the same Church that can sing: “Lord I lift your name on high…”

  11. Monsignor, what do we do about some of the musical disasters from the 1970s that everybody loves? Was I wrong to tell the organist that she may not schedule “Peace is Flowing Like A River” and “Companions on the Journey” because they are bad music and worse theology? What about persuading a family whose hearts are set on “In the Garden” at Grandpa’s funeral that there are better choices available. (We compromised and did “The Old Rugged Cross”.)

    1. There are better contemporary songs today that she might like, rather than the shock treatment of the having her accompany the Missa De Angelis, perhaps there are some contemporary things that are better. Another approach is to bring in an ocassioanl ensemble, to sing other music that might stir broader interest.

  12. Nothing is simpler or humbler than plainchant. Sadly, the case in most parishes is not a problem of ornate vs. simple, or snobs vs. regular Joes, but one of the music of secular sentimentalist therapeutic culture vs. music appropriate to worship. In many cases “trivial” is mistaken for “simple”. The classic mistake people make is that as long as the lyrics are theologically sound, then just about anything goes with the music underneath. A test I like is to remove the words, listen to the music on its own and ask the question, does this music sound like it belongs in a). A new age massage parlor, b). a campfire, c). a nursery room, d). a merry-go-round, e). a rock concert, or f). a church. If the answer is anything other than f, find something else.

    1. The problem you describe is real regarding our culture, but your application of it is too broad to my mind and you present judgements of taste as the premise to a conclusion, when they are simply de gustibus premises, they are demonstrated so that the argument can move forward. . Not everything written after the 13th Century is sentimentalist etc. If that is the case, what were we to make with the bouncy Mozart Church Music such as Regina Caeli etc? What of Vivaldi? What of the orchestral masses, what of polyphony sung in dance time? How about metrical hymns? Are they too parade like for you, too nursery rhymish? Many medieval plainsong melodies WERE sung in the local tavern. One of my favorite Medieval masses (Missa Carminum by Isaac) has tavern melodies as the Cantus Firmus of the polyphonic setting. Where do you draw the line?

      Finally, I have sung Gregorian Chant for over 25 years and most of it is NOT easy, not simple at all. Even after years of training, I find many of the melismatic strophes to be quite challenging still.

      1. I’d say that every music has it’s appropriate setting. Using my test, a group of nine-year olds could be given musical examples like my test and I’ll bet they can match its appropriate setting with regular reliability, so I don’t think it is mere taste.

  13. Ha ha – – I guess I feel like the girl in the video, only the plain treat I want is a little chant, some simple polyphony. Instead we get many singers each with his own mike (like a Merv Griffin act in 1977), drumset, etc.
    Also, a “kid in a candy store” is not necessarily a good analogy for Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, worship offered to God?
    I would argue that the phony liturgists of the 70s / 80s are the ones like the snobby chef.

  14. I guess it would be appropriate to say:

    [tongue-in-cheek on]
    There’s an interesting word in the title of this column. It’s spelled “Aninmated”. That’s not a bad spelling, but a good one. That’s right: it communicates, and it’s interesting and inventive.

    It can be, uh, the foundation for using the word again in some future column title. You might spell it the same way, or you might build on this experience and look for a more ordinary take on the word’s spelling. Good job!
    [tongue-in-cheek off]

  15. It is often forgotten that people that attend TLM and/or the New Mass are indeed Catholic. We are all on the same team. . . especially if we think continuity, not rupture.

    The really unfortunate part of the past forty or fifty years is that the TLM was “outlawed” by most Bishops. It was not until Pope Benedict that it became clear that the TLM was not abrogated and that Priests can use this form of Mass without the Bishop’s permission. Even so, there are clearly two camps which splits the Church even today. Worse yet, there is evidence that no meaningful theology has really been taught since this split. As for the finger pointing, well, I see examples of intolerance on both sides. . . this turf battle is, at times, not even remotely Christian.

    The Church has embarked on the New Evangelism to bring some new life to the obviously suffering Church. I think the first move should be to bring the more traditional groups back into the fold and seek their guidance on how to restore this true Church to the stature worthy of it’s founder. They are sincerely, after all, truly Catholic and most are extremely loyal to the Pope. It is time for the Church to put destructive internal politics aside and welcome and encourage these wonderful people. The Church would be stronger for it. They will enrich us all and, over time, be a vital part of the New Springtime.

    Said differently, as a young altar boy I used to serve at a cloistered convent/monastery in Yonkers, NY. The holy music of these dedicated and loving nuns was absolutely incredible. I recently came across on youtube the Benedictine Nuns doing the Gregorian Chant Ave Maria. The Chant brought me back to the peace and spiritual depth of the Tridentine Mass experienced with the nuns. Why would a Catholic not want access or exposure to this? For many, it probably would enhance their faith by reintroducing traditional spiritual prayer and devotion. How does this hurt? Go ahead, search it out on Youtube and tell me how this type of heavenly music/prayer is not vital to our Church, our Faith, especially for those that seek it out. You see, what makes the Church unique and true is that it is the Deposit of Faith. Why not let the Church shine in the full glory of the Holy Spirit by resolving this internal bickering.

    One more vital point . . . it may take hundreds of years for Vatican II to work itself out. To assume that there is something at risk by including more traditional views within the universal Church at this time makes the assumption that there is something to “protect” that is in rupture with the traditional past. I think that may be a false conclusion by modern man and we should lay all this anew at the feet of the Holy Spirit for his guidance.

    Remember, the only reason to belong to a Church is to obtain the means to achieve eternal salvation, right? The Catholic Church should be focused on it’s mission of saving souls. The more souls actually saved, the better the Church. It is that simple.

  16. A rule I learned in the fourth grade:
    To form the comparative of an adjective ending in -y, change the y to i and add -er
    Thus, “… loftier offerings”, not “… more lofty… “

    1. Also, re the title some rebuked me, Good better best. I used Better to signify not an absolute best. Sometimes good grammar doesn’t fully serve what needs to be said, methinks.

  17. That said, I love reading your reflections, and as a lifelong folk, classical, and church musician, I must accept some conviction on the subject of snobbery. (but I bet you already perceived that…)

    1. Sorry, Ed.

      Internet posting sometimes creates bad habits and grammatical liberties not accepted by the nuns in the fourth grade. I will try to do better in the future.

      Hmm, due to my time limitations, would you mind if I send you my next post for editing? I would love that.

      Best wishes,


  18. Never heard of Palestrina. Went to you tube. Clicked on O Magnum Mysterium. It must have been recorded in Heaven

  19. Snobbery? But snobbery is the hallmark of modern Catholicism, is it not ? Please, stop, you’re upsetting the fragile status quo!

    1. Well, if you want to be childish and do the sandbox flinging, I guess I’ll just say to you “Snobbery”

      Oh Yeah?!?! Takes one to know one…I’m rubber you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you ;-(

      At the end of the day, disagreement with your secular view does not equal snobbishness, it’s just a disagreement. So sticking your tongue out is not necessary.

  20. Great post, Msgr! I totally agree with you. I’m not sure I’d be so willing to hold up the TLM as the absolute end-all be-all perfect Mass though, although I do love it and often attend. In my parish the TLM is beautifully and reverently celebrated and so is the Novus Ordo and I love them both. I love that we hear more of the Psalms and celebrate more of the saints in the NO than in the TLM. I love that we sing more on a more regular basis, and not just when it’s a high mass. I love that my daughter gets to hear the Gospels proclaimed in a language easily understood by her so by the time she is in her teens they will be deeply, deeply ingrained in her heart. The Mass has always been through times of revision as the Lord has revealed more to us, and it’s a mistake to think that we humans have ever got it perfect, now or in the past. If I am not mistaken, one main purpose of Pope emeritus Benedict in deciding to allow for the wider celebration of the TLM was to help the whole church develop a deeper appreciation of both forms, and both congregations, by allowing that they both be celebrated. If he thought that the NO was a terrible thing he would have outlawed it, but clearly he did not. The Sacrifice itself is perfect, and that’s the main thing. It’s so silly to be divided over things of this nature. I know for certain that was not his intention.

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