What do you think of a guitar Mass?

When I go on youth retreats, the songs at Mass are always accompanied by a guitar, whereas at any other Mass, it’s an organ or a piano. I’ve met several youth ministers, but only one has had a problem with a guitar Mass. She says that an instrument like a guitar “brings God down to our level,” and that the human voice is the most beautiful instrument because God gave it to us, so we should use the best materials for God. What’s your opinion?

I think there are times a guitar mass is appropriate, especially on youth retreats or in other more intimate settings for mass, such as a side chapel or a smaller parish.

A guitar is just a musical instrument, as is our own voice. It can be used for good or for ill, and it can be played well or poorly. It all depends on context.

I agree, but also that it’s a matter of taste. For some people, it works. For me, it doesn’t, and nothing beats the pipe organ. I find the guitar too sentimental, detached from the sober way that the Mass is structured. It’s more vertical than horizontal in the way it makes me feel.

I dislike "guitar "Masses. Why should “God be brought down to our level”? We should strive to elevate ourselves. Human nature is base enough without having to make it more so.
Just my opinion.

Back in the 1960’s the guitar was a symbol of the popular culture of the time. Folk style music abounded even in the popular music realm. Guitar music was heavily featured in variety shows on TV back in those days and also in nightclubs and bars.

But now, we are living in the 2010’s. And the guitar is not nearly as popular of an instrument as it was back in the 1960’s. The guitar music played at the average Sunday Catholic Mass seems very dated, not timeless. Like it belongs with bell bottom jeans, long sideburns, and leisure suits.

My best analogy is it’s kind of like the old round multipurpose sports stadiums that cropped up in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. At the time they seemed modern and hip. As the years went by, their drawbacks started to show. And by now, they’ve pretty much all been torn down and replaced by retro looking ballparks and stadiums. But these new stadiums also incorporate modern features that were not available back then.

IMHO, that’s exactly what we need to do with the Mass. Get rid of those dated elements. Not only guitars, but ugly abstract art and felt banners etc. And replace them with timeless ideas that will look contemporary but can withstand the test of time.

I disagree about the comment that guitars “bring God down to our level”. God went down to our level when Jesus was incarnated as man. I don’t think guitars do that, ever.

But man has been given talents, why can’t one who have been gifted with the talent in guitars be able to use his talent for praising and worshiping God? Also many cultures are attached to the use of the guitar, so I don’t see why we cannot use guitars for Mass.

I agree with this. We shouldn’t use a guitar for an ordinary congregation, and especially not Christmas, Easter, or the Assumption. However, a Mass at a youth retreat is obviously different; it’s meant to be up close and personal. Plus, the chapels at retreats are pretty small. At that proximity, a pipe organ would blow out your eardrums :wink:

Because God brought Himself to our level in the Incarnation, i.e. Jesus Christ.

Not all parishes have pipe organs. Especially the newer ones, the cost is just too much nowadays.

I am most grateful for all the liturgical work planned and performed each week by the army of choralists and musicians and decorators and cleaners and lectors and servers and ministers. It’s always amazing to contemplate God’s family coming together to worship.

I agree very much especially with the art.
One question, why do people think that all young people love guitars? I mean when I was a teen I always felt offended when they would use guitars and cheesy music! Guitars belong in country music, concerts, private devotions, or even to whoo a girl, but they don’t belong at Mass, atleast not in the Western civilization. Nothing beats the pipe organ for Mass and I don’t care if that’s your taste or not, time has proven this over and over again.

When done as a genuinely devotional folk music (as opposed to 60’s soft rock) in a culture where the guitar is prevalent, I would even enjoy it. Picture a small rural parish in Latin America.

I agree with the pipe organ. Growing up, my church had an electric organ that sounded just fine. But I went to a concert once at a Baptist Church, and the organ blew me away. At college, we had a real organ, barely comparable to the massive 100+ year old Baptist organ, but still miles above the electric.

My most moving experience at college was going to to the Holy Thursday Mass this year, my senior year. It was neither a Sunday Mass or a Holy Day of Obligation, but the chapel was packed, and EVERYONE sang, and the organ bellowed, and I could feel the music resonating. Truly the most holy and reverent mass I’d ever been too.

What about my electric guitar? If I choose the right pickup, it sound just like an organ :smiley:

We have guitars used at Sunday evening Mass. I’ve got to say, I really like it. The singers sound so good our priest joked that they should be on X Factor. It’s not as heart stopping as Morning Mass when we have the Organ playing but, even so, it’s different.

We had a guitar at our Vigil Mass tonight. I didn’t mind to much but the guitar was over powering the organ. :smiley:

  1. Many churches, including larger Catholic churches, do not have a pipe organ due to the expense of the organ itself and the maintenance costs.

  2. There are very few persons around today who know how to play a pipe organ.

  3. Those who do know how to play will usually charge a fee, and youth retreats generally have a budget.

  4. Guitars are easier to play, cheap, and they don’t overpower a small group of people (a few dozen or a few hundred). People cannot drown themselves in the sheer sound of a massive pipe organ (it’s easy to do, isn’t it?). They are instead forced to listen to the words of the songs used in the Mass. This allow the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts and get them to a place where they are ready to repent of a sin or make a commitment to a calling.

  5. Those who attend a retreat should not expect that their personal preferences will be catered to. Often at an overnight retreat, people sleep on thin mattresses, cots, or even the floor, and the bedtimes are late and the waking times are early. They share a bathroom and shower, they eat from a menu that someone has planned for them (and there often isn’t a choice), they adhere to a schedule that may or may not include a lot of time for recreation, and they listen to speakers that may or may not be interesting. They do all this with a group of people that may or may not be their best friends or family. Retreats help us all to learn the discipline of detachment from this world and from our personal preferences. Retreats help us to learn to live in community and to be selfless.

  6. If a teenager knows that they dislike or even hate guitars and folk/rock music, they should avoid most youth retreats. I’m sure that there are youth retreats in the U.S. that cater to the more tradition-minded teenager. Go to those, and stay away from retreats that cause you to resent your fellow teenagers and their leaders. Although there are teens who dislike “modern” music, most teens DO like guitars. And at this time in history, there is no dictum from the Vatican that forbids the use of guitars in Mass.

The pipe organ is definitely the ideal but try finding an organist in the average parish… Heck we can’t even find a pianist to play at Mass and most of most of the liturgical music that has been composed in the last few decades was composed for that instrument. I have no problem with a well played guitar but most often what we hear is just strumming – not what I consider ‘good playing’.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.