Fr. Fessio homily on sacred music

Posted with his permission. Enjoy!

I’m ready!

Total nonsense. There is nothing wrong with appropriate folk/contemporay music at mass. This guy wants to reverse Vatican 2. Why not ban organ music as well.

Actually he’s a very strong supporter of Vatican II, and does not even say the Tridentine Mass. Facts can be so inconvenient.

How does a homily on liturgical music help the faithful to grow in Christ? It seems to me like he was using this to promote his own agenda instead of speak the word of God. That being said, I will not judge his motive, but I just am worried that he is using this to promote his own agenda on liturgical reform. Sure its good to talk about keeping God’s house holy, but I just have my doubts about this. Plus, we should never let ourselves think we have the just anger that God has. We are humans, and our anger can be easily misdirected and destructive…God’s anger is perfect and just though. I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong, but that’s how I see it for now.

I would invite you to listen again. The point is that personal agendas, which ignore the teachings of the Church, are the problem. The Church has consistently made statements about the characteristics of sacred music which make it more or less suitable for liturgy. Pope John Paul II called Gregorian chant the “supreme model” for liturgical music, and Pope Benedict XVI calls it the “permanent standard”. Thus all other music for the liturgy must be compared to that supreme model, that permanent standard, and must be rejected if found wanting.

As to how good liturgy helps the faithful grow in Christ: lex orandi, lex credendi. Just look at the tremendous damage that bad liturgy has done to the faithful over the past few decades.

Pax tecum!

Are you kidding me??? Do you know anything about Fr. Fessio? He is a very strong supporter of VII, as VociMike said, and says only the NO Mass. He wrote an article titled “The Mass of Vatican II” and goes through all the points that the council makes on the liturgy and explains how that Mass is supposed to be celebrated. And yes, there IS something wrong with contemporary and folk music at Mass. Vatican II is VERY clear that chant and polyphony is to be used at Mass, as is our current pope.

In Christ,

Ah, but who “defines” appropriate? GIA? Oregon Press? Haugen? Haas? Joncas et al? We have over a thousand years of liturgical music from which to draw - Gregorian chant onward. The point is that VII never intended to do away with our profound sacred music traditions…and we have them out the proverbial “wazoo”.

Oh, and BTW the organ goes back to Roman times. When our cathedral’s electronic organ - “state of the art” for one of the first renovations after VII in1965 bellied up and died during a cathedral choir member’s wedding in 1989, we used a wooden portativ organ constructed by our organist and choir director for a year before we were loaned a harpsichord and a baby grand. (I really LIKED the harpsichord from a chorister’s point of view - the baby grand wasn’t bad either).

And, oh, BTW, the pipe organ and choir loft of our cathedral which were ripped out during the late 60s when our cathedral was renovated in the spirit of VII, are now back.

I think Father Fessio is right on the mark.

Wiloww creek , a mega church outside chigago has over 20000 members 50% are ex catholics, {see the journey home program with Steve Smith as the guest on ewtn} . When interviewed these catholics sited the stale music and homilies at the catholic mass as some of their reasons for leaving. My parish has contemporary music at mass and is booming. We have been adding at least 100 mew converts each year for the past 5years. The music has been well received by even the older parishoners.

Gregorian Chant and polyphony is hardly stale and Fr. Fessio is hardly anti-VII or promoting his own agenda. If you think that chant/polyphony are for the grey-haired, you should come meet my kids’ choir. 40+ kids from 9-18 and they always attract a crowd. You seem to assume “stale music” and homilies means chant and Fr. Fessio homilies. Have you seen the EWTN Masses? No carousel music or rock bands in site. Is there anyone that isn’t moved by songs like Faith of Our Fathers, Ecce Panis Angelorum or the songs in the Adoremus Hymnal?:eek: BTW, Fr. Fessio is NEVER stale.:thumbsup:

I suggest you have a look at what Vatican II actually says on the matter. The document you want is *Sacrosanctum Concilium


When the martyrs were dying for Christ in the Colleseum, the organ was played. The organ according to the Vatican Council documents is the queen of all instruments. Pianos and guitars are profane instruments. Bars and common entertainment were their origin.

Stale music is the contemporary Haugen, et al, praise and worship, and Glory and Praise music. So what if people are initially attracted by it! Soon they will tire of it. Also they will only be able to superficially participate in the Holy Mass. Music goes to the soul. If the music is kitschy, then only shallow sentiment will be communicated, not the richness of union with God.

Read Sacrosanctum Concilium and Musicam Sacram and learn for yourself how Vatican II WANTS Gregorian Chant, organ, and sacred music.

My generation was fed this idea that any music from pre-vatican II was “bad” and the folk, contemporary music was “good”. They didn’t think we’d like or appreciate higher forms of music. I’ve always felt we were robbed of a full education of our sacred music heritage. I’ve had to do it on my own when I got older and fortunately had some wonderful music teachers and colleagues to mentor me along the way. Ever since I’ve attended masses that do the higher forms of music, there is a loss of sacredness during the mass for me, when I’ve had to attend mass with the other genre of music. I’ve found the newer “music” too saccharine and dumbed-down.

If parishes want to do the contemporary music, at least make it a mix. Let the music players do their thing at a couple of masses, but then hire some competent musicians who can play the organ well and do Gregorian chant or polyphony at the high masses. Also, start using music by intellectual contemporary composers who still follow along the tradition of Catholic church music. We know one who composes absolutely sublime choral sacred music that evoke our history of music. It’s not cheesy and does not dumb down. His music actually does get perform in secular venues, but also at one of the Tridentine Rite parishes around us.

The problem with the higher form of music is that you need competent musicians to perform it well, without it sounding bad. You can have mediocre musicians and singers perform contemporary/folk music and still sound half-way decent. Although I’m the kind of person who believes in giving the best of your talents that God bestowed upon you. If a parish has extremely talented musician who can perform 4, 6, 8 part polyphony, chant, organum, etc., but elects to never use that talent and opts for only mediocrity, then there is something wrong. If mediocrity is all they can give based on the talents within the parish, then that’s fine, because it is their best.

We have lost a tradition of teaching the younger Catholics our long musical history and getting well-trained musicians to teach them. If you have someone who can only use a fake book or strum chords on a guitar (I’m not talking about classically-trained guitarists - they’re incredible and wonderful musicians) how can we ever expect the youth to learn how to chant or read music? You need to get well-trained musicians who fully understands the history of music - especially sacred music and who takes the complexities and beauty of music seriously for the glory of God. Once you get that in the parishes things can change, but it has to start from the beginning, not when a Catholic is in his/her teens, 20s, 30s, etc. When I was teaching music at a little Catholic school, I got my kids choir to learn how to pronounce Latin and sing the simple chants. They loved it. It can be done.

I kind of got lost where I was going on this, (very late and drove home 2 hours from a music rehearsal) but those are my thoughts on the subject. Thanks :slight_smile:

I think this homily is right on the mark.
He is not presenting his own agenda, he is presenting the agenda of Holy Mother Church.

An excellent book to read on contemporary music:

*Gods of Wasteland * by Michael J. Matt.

Dr. David White also has some good audio tapes on the subject.

We will have to agree to disagree. I love contemporary music at mass and will fight to keep it. I will agree that having the right musicians is the key.

They can cite whatever they want. If the only reason they were going to Mass was for entertainment, then I am relieved that they are gone. And before anyone accuses me of lack of charity, consider the harm done by folks remaining in the Church but openly supporting doctrines against Church teaching. There is a link in my signature to Karl Keating’s views on the matter.

Steve Smith did not leave the church because of lack of enertainment. Quatemala is now 50% catholic. 20 years ago it was 90%. Only 30% of europeans believe in a higher power. You should listen to his interview on the coming home network. Catholics leaving the church is not a good thing . When I talk to lapsed Catholics or converts to other denominations they never say the reason was doctrine. The word boring is always part of the conversation. I respect your opinion and I hope you respect mine. Very few leave the church because of doctrine etc. You can get the interview on the journey home archives. When it comes to music the church should be a big tent with limits.

Is it simply a numbers game? What good is a full Church if folks are there for the wrong reason? If the “pull” to mass is happy clappy effete music and emotionalism then the problem is much deeper.

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