Monday, October 22, 2007

some of the stuff I have been meaning to blog about for a long time.

I had a conversation with a lady at the church a week or two ago, and she gave me some negative feedback about something that I have been doing for music. She began by asking if anyone else had commented on this thing, and I told her that I had received many positive and glowing comments. She then proceeded to "go off" on how she does not appreciate this thing, and why do we have to go back to latin, etc.
I mean, she did it in a rather nice way, but, when all was said, I knew that she was just venting. I could have responded at any given point to all of her accusations, but that point of the whole thing was that I knew that was not what she needed. She just needed to vent! I don't believe it would have helped the situation for me to try and respond to her criticisms. What are we supposed to do as church musicians trying to educate congregations who won't listen?! But that brings me to another point. It's totally a generational thing...

...I read an interesting article in TIME mag soon after the motu proprio, and it was a girl talking about how she (as the younger generation,) wants the Mass in Latin because she is sick of being told what to do and how to vote, etc, and hearing priests' personal opinions at the novus ordo Mass.
I would agree...
I'm sick of hearing priests insert their own improvisations (political or not, holy or banal,) right into the middle of the Eucharistic prayer.
Guess what? no one can do that if the Mass is in Latin cuz hardly anyone conversationaly knows latin! And even if the priest did, I don't know Latin well enough to know what he is saying, and I am sick of hearing drivel that isn't even part of our poor translation! (made-up Mem. accl's, "keep in mind...", even just hearing the thoughts and reflections of the priest at 4 or 5 different times during the Liturgy
[let's leave it to one, the sermon, ok? can I just pray how I want to for the rest of the Mass?] although perhaps occasional reminders are beneficial, ok, that's a whole new post, let's leave it at that.)

On a different note, I had an interesting conversation over the weekend with a priest, in which, as we were having the conversation I realized (if I had not known this before...) that I will never work for this particular priest.
The point of the conversation that struck me was how differently we viewed the relationship between priest and music director. In his view, he would hire the music director what he tells them to do.
contrast that with my current situation (and, as I have conversations like this one, I realize how priceless it is!) in which my priest hired me to MAKE the musical decisions! I could count on one hand the number of times in over a year where he has come up to me and said, "you know, Mara, how about if you do this differently..." and I think I have almost always agreed.
In fact, I think a couple of times I have gone to him with a question, or even just looking for support if I make a particular decision, and he will say something like, "I trust your judgement. You decide on your own. This is what I hired you for!"


Mara Joy said...

I am aMAZED that no one has posted a comment yet! I thought this would be very discussion inspiring! Why is it that people post comments on stupid posts like what my song choices are, but no one writes anything on an entry as thought-provoking as this!
(which, btw, I got MORE than one comment after Mass last weekend-29OT-about how much people loved my choice of songs. woot. PTL.)

Cantor said...

Hah - I’ve made a few posts like that myself. :) My own excuse is that the last few days have been very hectic.

I think you acted well in allowing your parishioner to “vent”. I maybe need to do this kind of thing better, but my own approach has been to try to work with the venter to ascertain exactly what it is to which he/she objects. (Go through the list of music and find what does/doesn’t offend, etc.) That can be hard because people who express an opinion about music are almost always responding to their feelings, which are hard to “analyze”.

I think there has been copious commentary about the perspective that the young girl expressed in that TIME article. “Why Catholics Can’t Sing” talks at length about how the priest “takes over” the Mass - ironically enough, I sometimes wonder if that more prominent role given to clergy doesn’t discourage clerical vocations - though one might at first think that being “the star of the show” would be an incentive.

And YES to annoyance at “Keep in Mind” used as a Memorial Acclamation. Actually, annoyance at the song period. It’s just hokey - the first words after the very narrative of the institution of the Eucharist being “keep in mind”?!?

(We should pray for Fr. Deiss as for any departed non-beatified soul, but oh, I hope that and other such dreck of his was all in good conscience.)

Scarier than the priest who wants you to do it the way he tells you is the priest who wants it the way he doesn’t tell you. My last pastor was something like how you describe yours, but my current pastor is more like the one I just described. In either case, though, the sentiments and abilities of the volunteer music ministers are usually a major factor in the music director’s decisions. I had people in my last parish who were horribly conservative and brooked no change whatsoever to their 1980s-style liturgy. Several folks refused to lead the resp. psalm from the ambo - and OH THE HORRORS if I wanted to play the organ outside the one Mass where it was “allowed” by the music ministers. Honestly, it was hard to leave that parish, but I have NOT missed the small-mindedness of people there for 2 seconds.

priest said...

you are wise to listen to people go on and on. by doing so, you show them that you care and they may be more open to hearing you and maybe even learning from you. listening to people is the first step toward showing them you care about them. you are wise.
your current priest may wonder if he is included in your description of your annoyance at hearing "4 or 5" "thoughts and reflections" throughout the Holy Mass. In his defense, the GIRM does say that there are other times when he may offer such comments; did you know that? Check it out. He is allowed to give an introduction to the Mass, to speak again before the canon and to make announcements at the end. And also, he is human... and how priceless for your priest to have such a music director as YOU; as well intentioned, as gifted musically and as passionately in love with His Bride the Church and with His divinely revealed Self!