What about a polka band at Mass?

Our parish is planning on having a polka band for the fall festival. Our pastor thought it would be a good idea to have them play at the Masses on Sunday. I have serious reservations about this. I could not find parameters for litugical music in either the GIRM or Redemptionis Sacramentum. What is your opinion?

To judge the appropriateness of a Polka Mass (or “Clown” Mass), one should simply gaze at a crucifix and ask the question: Could I do this at the foot of Golgotha?

Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum says the following on Polka Masses:

“This (the Holy Mass) is the Church’s greatest offering to God and any addition to the Mass itself – such as “Polka,” “Clown,” “Disco” (yes, there have been cases) or any similar extraneous element – reduces its scope and attempts to press it into service for some cause other than the worship of God”. He goes on to say that “music usually associated with dancing or other profane activities (at least in a Western context) should not be admitted into the Mass.”

“Not every kind of music can have a place in Christian worship.”
Pope Benedict XVI

Below are a few Church guidelines for suitable liturgical music:

  1. Music at Mass (especially Sunday) should “be true and suitable sacred music”. Musicae sacrae disciplina

  2. Keep anything profane and alien to divine worship from creeping into sacred music and corrupting it. (ibid)

  3. Instruments for divine worship must be suitable for sacred use, accord with the dignity of the temple and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful. Sacrosanctum Concilium

  4. “….music used for sacred rites must have sanctity as its point of reference….not all musical forms are appropriate for liturgical celebrations.” Apostolic letter on the liturgy

  5. Avoid any concession to frivolity and superficiality. (ibid)

  6. The sacred environment of liturgical celebration must never become a laboratory for experimentation or trial compositions and performances. (ibid)

  7. Respect liturgical norms. “Lack of respect for the liturgical norms can sometimes even lead to grave forms of abuse that obscure the truth of the mystery and give rise to dismay and stress in the People of God.” Spiritus et Sponsa

  8. “Holy Mass must be…celebrated in a dignified manner….and…singing and liturgical music be suitably “sacred”.
    Mane Nobiscum Domine

Further reading:

Pope Benedict XVI on sacred music

God bless you!

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