Is the Mass a celebration?


The song sung at the end of Mass today was “Soon and Very Soon.” One of the members of the choir started to clap, the girl in the pew behind me starting clapping and laughing as she moved side to side, another woman was clapping with hand movements remeniscent of the 50s.

Add that to the priest, rector of the cathedral parish, standing in front of the altar and not at the ambo for his homily and I was quite disappointed.

I wrote an email to the music director and cc’d the rector about the music choice. I indicated a preference for the organ and more sacred music. The music director said that “… there is a diversity of people who form our assembly each Sunday, our music should in turn reflect that diversity,” and the rector responded, “Mass is about celebrating God’s love for us and there is nothing wrong with enjoying Mass, in fact, praising him.”

Am I that wrong? I always thought that the Mass was meant to be a time of reverent worship with sacred music. When did it turn into a celebration that includes music worthy of a revival meeting?


I am not as bothered by your music director’s concern for “diversity” in music as I am by your rector’s explanation of the Mass, in which he said:

Mass is about celebrating God’s love for us and there is nothing wrong with enjoying Mass, in fact, praising him.

The Mass is, first and foremost, the sacramental re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary. While it is true that this sacramental re-presentation includes joyous moments, since it includes re-presentation of the Resurrection, it is a solemn occasion.

Unfortunately, in our culture, joy has been reduced to mere “enjoyment” and solemnity has been stigmatized as “grim,” “alien,” and “forbidding.” As a society, we seem incapable of finding joy in solemnity. Until we recapture a proper attitude toward joy and solemnity, it will be difficult to get others to understand why Mass does not have to be entertaining in order to be awe-inspiring.

Recommended reading:

Catholics and the Cult of Fun by Mark P. Shea

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