As Catholics Are We Allowed to Debate This


#1

Are Catholics allowed to debate whether or not the Church forbids guitars at Mass? I, personally, am inclined to believe that Church documents and papal statements forbid them. Is this an okay position for me to take? I have a tendency to want to show support for things that defend my view. By doing this am I able to stay in line with Church teaching. If not I'd happily change my opinion.


#2

There is no prohibition in the church documents. Organs might get a preference but other instruments are also allowed. Instruments can be used based on local custom.

Dcn. Frank


#3

Agreed with the above. Also, I feel the level of reverence when it comes to music largely has to do with application as opposed to strictly the instrument itself. [For an Eastern relevant example] I find it inappropriate if someone is going to play a guitar as the main instrument because mass is not a country concert, but if they're simply setting the rhythm for a chant I find less issue with it.


#4

[quote="C794, post:1, topic:333329"]
Are Catholics allowed to debate whether or not the Church forbids guitars at Mass? I, personally, am inclined to believe that Church documents and papal statements forbid them. Is this an okay position for me to take? I have a tendency to want to show support for things that defend my view. By doing this am I able to stay in line with Church teaching. If not I'd happily change my opinion.

[/quote]

I am not against VII at all. But, why is that guitars were never heard at Mass before VII but, after VII in most churches, unfortunetly; they are common practice.


#5

The use of pianos was once banned in Catholic churches. Pius X once published a Motu Proprio on that very subject. I'm not sure how widely that was followed, even in his time.

This really seems like a local taste and preference issue. I've seen guitars done very well and reverently and organs played very poorly. I do enjoy very well-performed organ music.


#6

[quote="holyfamily1, post:4, topic:333329"]
I am not against VII at all. But, why is that guitars were never heard at Mass before VII but, after VII in most churches, unfortunetly; they are common practice.

[/quote]

The council encouraged the laity to bring their gifts in service to God. Since more people know how to play guitar than organ, it follows that there should be an influx of the new type of instrument. The organ itself was once a novelty.


#7

There isn't a ban on guitars, however, I think the guitar can be played in a way that is reverent and beautiful. Whether or not the guitarist knows that is another story.


#8

[quote="C794, post:1, topic:333329"]
Are Catholics allowed to debate whether or not the Church forbids guitars at Mass? I, personally, am inclined to believe that Church documents and papal statements forbid them. Is this an okay position for me to take? I have a tendency to want to show support for things that defend my view. By doing this am I able to stay in line with Church teaching. If not I'd happily change my opinion.

[/quote]

There is no document forbidding them, but it is not a matter of faith or morals, so you can certainly debate about whether they should be used or not.

I personally don't consider this an issue of vital importance compared to some serious things going on in the Church (the increased martyrdom of Christians, the continuing uncovering of sexual abuse scandals, the financial scandals in the Vatican, abortion, contraception, etc.) I would rather get upset over more serious things that are undermining the Church as a whole and an offense to God.


#9

[quote="MorEphrem, post:3, topic:333329"]
Agreed with the above. Also, I feel the level of reverence when it comes to music largely has to do with application as opposed to strictly the instrument itself. [For an Eastern relevant example] I find it inappropriate if someone is going to play a guitar as the main instrument because mass is not a country concert, but if they're simply setting the rhythm for a chant I find less issue with it.

[/quote]

A country concert? Your knowledge of the guitar is rather limited. I am pretty sure you can use a guitar to play much more than just "country music" and as a guitarist I find this pretty insulting. To some of us classical guitar sounds more beautiful than any piano or organ and I am pretty sure guitars existed before organs did, meaning stringed instruments, of some sort, were played at Mass far before organs ever were.


#10

You can debate any custom, as these change. Before you do, please consider the argument about string instruments. They were definitely around a lot longer than the organs were generally hear played in our day. For that matter, why debate? Simply find a Mass that has the style of music you prefer in a worship service. Heck, lots of days, there is no music at Mass, especially during the week. We sing a capella, and sometimes it even sounds good.;):harp:


#11

[quote="SonCatcher, post:6, topic:333329"]
The council encouraged the laity to bring their gifts in service to God. Since more people know how to play guitar than organ, it follows that there should be an influx of the new type of instrument. The organ itself was once a novelty.

[/quote]

Not necessarily. I think when people see and hear something that is normal and common at Mass like the guitar it tries to convince them to think that Holy Mass is normal. But, when you see and hear an organ at Holy Mass, are organs common and normal? No. I think this just helps a tiny bit to reassure people that Mass isn't normal, it isn't common, it is not a concert. :thumbsup:

Ban the guitars at Mass! :blush:


#12

[quote="Boulder257, post:9, topic:333329"]
... To some of us classical guitar sounds more beautiful than any piano or organ ....

[/quote]

count me in.


#13

I searched the internet and found this discussion on a classical guitar forum:
delcamp.org discussion: Sacred Music for Guitar
The funny thing is, these guitarists argue just like you do here in Catholic Answers about whether guitar music can be sacred. I see also their discussion of whether "liturgical" and "sacred" mean the same thing.

My opinion: Instrumental guitar music in the classical style can be compatible with liturgy. However, I can barely stand to hear strumming guitar accompaniment to songs in the Mass.


#14

[quote="Boulder257, post:9, topic:333329"]
A country concert? Your knowledge of the guitar is rather limited. I am pretty sure you can use a guitar to play much more than just "country music" and as a guitarist I find this pretty insulting. To some of us classical guitar sounds more beautiful than any piano or organ and I am pretty sure guitars existed before organs did, meaning stringed instruments, of some sort, were played at Mass far before organs ever were.

[/quote]

Well you've misconstrued what I've said, and quite frankly my knowledge of guitar is perhaps not as limited as you claim since I in fact play the guitar. I said it should not be the main instrument (inclusive of vocals); mass is not a performance to begin with. I did not say guitar was inappropriate for use at mass but when it (or any instrument for that matter, in my opinion) becomes more prevalent/a greater focus than the voice of the choir and/or people I find that antithetical to its purpose.


#15

Are Catholics allowed to debate whether or not the Church forbids guitars at Mass?

You can debate it all you want, but I don't see the point in it. Either guitars are forbidden at Mass, or they are not. From what I've read on the subject, after I offered to play bass at Mass a few years ago, I don't recall reading anything about specific instruments being forbidden. It's more or less what the instrument is mostly known for. An electric guitar with distortion and a wah pedal....that's a safe no. And apparently electric bass is too. Irish whistle on the other hand...the priest has mentioned having me play it at Mass.

Acoustic guitar(s) can sound very nice at Mass. It all depends on the musician.

IMO the people that want to ban guitars and hear nothing but organs or classical (orchestral) instruments need to get off their duffs and learn how to play 'em.


#16

Dear C794,

Cordial greetings and a very good day.

Whilst Holy Mother Church has not expressly forbidden the use of guitars (or other modern musical instruments) in divine worship, many men are of the opinion that singing repetitive ditties and rousing ‘worship songs’, accompanied by drums and/or guitars, is not conducive to a spirit of reverence and a sense of the numinous. Unfortunately, dear friend, a want of due reverence in divine worship is all too common nowadays in our churches and has resulted in Holy Mass resembling more a Protestant Pentecostal style service, complete with hand-clapping and even swaying in the pews. The Jews under the old economy were enjoined by God to “reverence my sanctuary” (Lev. 19: 30) and we Christians should likewise see that we carry ourselves with a due decorum when at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Modern day Catholics have, I fear, forgotten that Mass is a very solemn occasion and that the Holy Eucharist is Christ Himself present in the consecrated Host, whether on the altar or in the tabernacle. Let us therefore behave accordingly and worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness and not after the manner of the world.

The new free and easy approach to public worship undoubtedly suits many contemporary Catholics, especially the youth, as it is much less formal and demanding than the older style of worship, with its Gregorian Chant and traditional hymn singing with organ. However, this new approach to worship has sadly driven many older conservative people away from the their beloved parish because it has made them feel so uncomfortable and unhappy. This, dear friend, is surely a monumental tragedy, as many of them have been associated with their parish church for a good many years, but now no longer recognize it owing to the swift pace of change and many innovations. To be told that one must move with the times is very small comfort to someone in their seventies or eighties and only further adds to their sadness and sense of alienation.

Along with the guitars and new worship styles has come an inordinate emphasis on being joyful and smiling, which is something that seems to have been imported from Protestant Evangelicalism. It is usually said by way of response to this reasonable observation that Catholics have much to be joyful about and that each Lord’s Day is supposed to be a minor celebration of Easter. Be that as it may, the fact is that prior to the 1960’s Holy Mass was always a most solemn occasion and very dignified affair, with men and women dressing very formally and duly reverencing the House of God. Moreover, there is, I think, a complete misunderstanding today as to what authentic Christian joy actually is. True joy is something deep within a man’s soul and is often not even expressed in the countenance, nevertheless, it is still very real all the same. This sort of joy is not about singing along with guitars and clapping hands, but about getting a man through his darkest affliction filled hours and giving him the necessary fortitude to deal with his divers trials and tribulations. It is truly the ‘joy of the Lord’ which is his strength. Modern Catholics need to realize that not everyone who has a smile on their face at Holy Mass necessarily has a smile on their hearts - carnal joy can be very superficial no matter how noisy it is.

God bless.

Warmest good wishes,

Portrait

Pax


#17

A bit of a side note, the carol Silent Night was first played at a Christmas Eve Midnight mass on a guitar. :) :harp:


#18

[quote="tabycat, post:17, topic:333329"]
A bit of a side note, the carol Silent Night was first played at a Christmas Eve Midnight mass on a guitar. :) :harp:

[/quote]

You beat me to it! ;)

It's such an obvious example I'm surprised nobody brought it up sooner!


#19

[quote="Portrait, post:16, topic:333329"]
...
Along with the guitars and new worship styles has come an inordinate emphasis on being joyful and smiling, ...

[/quote]

dig it: we're never joyful and no one smiles until the drummer breaks out this Dave Black-style hi-hat solo. ten minutes of pure Cool.


#20

In addition, I've been to many Spanish-language Masses where ONLY guitars are played, sometimes with electronic keyboard for time-keeping. Most Spanish-language liturgical music is guitar-based, and has been since well before Vatican II. Seriously, in the psalms and OT, many musical instruments (such as trumpets, horns, lyres, harps, tamborines, etc.) are mentioned as being used in worship. If God considered these instruments to be proper for the Jews to worship with, why should they be improper for Christians? The important point is for our music to be complementing the worship, not detracting from it. Finally, guitars are great for large processions (such as the ones done on Palm Sunday) because they can be carried - I haven't seen people process with an organ!


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