Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"call to worship" ...

... more like "call to drive me bat shit crazy".

A follow up from this post:

I just got off the phone with my parish's music director. Having abnegated all his authority, my parish priest had me contact her directly to discuss my concerns.

We got no where. Shocker.

I explained to her how distracting I thought having us "warm up" before mass was. I told her it was patronizing to rehearse the songs for that mass because the congregation is capable of using the hymnal provided. I went on to say that many are trying to prepare themselves for the Holy Sacrifice of the mass by praying and her demands for a pre-mass sing-a-long take away any semblance of reverence from the environment.

Her reply; it is in the GIRM that the music director must perform the "Call to Worship" five minutes before mass starts. Her responsibility as the music director, as instructed by Fr., is to make sure the congregation is fully prepared to celebrate mass.

I retorted that prayer is preparation. She disagreed that the act of prayer was active participation as called for in the GIRM. She said the GIRM requires active participation from the entire congregation, not individual prayer preparation.

Though the conversation ended remarkably civil, we got no where.

I am debating my next course of action.


Adrienne said...

There is no such thing in the GIRM about "call to worship." As a matter of fact the first thing our new Liturgical Committee did was institute Sacred Silence. Now we ring the outside bell 15 minutes before Mass and the choir and laity must maintain silence. In just two weeks the fruits of this new practice are evident.

Active participation does NOT mean an outward sign of "doing something." Prayer and quiet reflection is probably the most important active participation.

It is obvious this woman has an agenda and has not read any documents with a true understanding of liturgy.

My sympathies are with you since your chance of getting anything done are zero and none.

The most positive thing I can say is that I think there is so much unrest because the "forces of darkness" see us coming and are frightened.

Thom said...

Kat, do you own a GIRM? If not, you can go to EWTN's website, and go under either library or documents, I can't remember, and save it as a .pdf file to read or print it out.

That way, you can back yourself up when you talk to people who make silly claims thinking that you won't have read the GIRM.

Carolina Cannonball said...

I do not see anything on the USSCB website or the ODW website about a "call to action".

I called the music director back and forwarded the information in the GIRM about sacred silence to the pastor.

She said she would look into it and get back with me.

Carolina Cannonball said...

I meant a "call to worship"

Charles said...

Wow, CC, your blog is a hoot!
The above posts are correct. However, you and your fellow congregants are obviously subject to the predisposed whims of two personalities who simply by virtue of their "office" at liturgies maintain high profiles they purport to be authentic and authoritative. Short answer: they might listen to a factual-bassed GIRM retort, but they won't give a proverbial _____.
I think what might work would be:
First: a kiss and make up session.
(Not literally) But you know that is the gospel clarion call to conciliation and consensus about what the heck approaching the altar and worshipping together is about.
Second: Provide your DM with a very subtle alternative to the "Call to Worship" (I gotta admit, that is so pretentious and bogus it's laughable from afar, but probably not for you on Sunday.) If the DM wants to "plant the musical seeds" before Mass, suggest that s/he have the organist/pianist/ensemble/whatever people discreetly play the Introit hymn/song, and perhaps one or two other selections instrumentally. If she balks at that, then offer one little concession, the song leader or choir can enjoin the melody of each "prelude" on the neutral vowel "ooh" without text, without the cheerleading, without the smarmy "Y'all get ready."
Even with bouncy, sing-songy music, a subdued instrumental rendering might just enable everyone to prepare for worship, each in their own way. The presence of instrumental music (such as the traditional organ prelude) does, in practicum/fact, fulfill a sort of call to worship.
Some people won't be comfortable even with such a change, but that works much better than the warmup act ala Ed McMahon.
I have frequently visited NC in the last few years, all my cousins are in Cumberland County, Fayetteville, and I've gone to Masses in RDT that were conducted much as you described. Yikes.
Give her that option in charity. See if it helps.

Roman Sacristan said...

CC said: "I meant a 'call to worship'"

Sure ya did ;)

I'd worry about a music director who is rather ignorant about the GIRM and liturgy. Either that or someone who interprets the GIRM in such a odd manner.

The problem is that, in general, priests are not formed properly in the liturgy. Even many sincere and "conservative" priests just make stuff up. The problem is that priests pawn this stuff off onto the laity. They aren't being formed well either. It's just a mess.

My only suggestion is to just state your argument by going somewhere else. Sort of like what is happening in religious orders. The bad ones are dying off and the good ones are thriving. I think we should start supporting the parishes that do liturgy and faith right, and abandoning the ones which don't.

I've tried many times to work for change in parishes to no avail. I've tried many different ways. All end up the same. It all just comes down to how the priest wants it or allows it to be.

It often just ends up being Father's Mass instead of the Church's Mass.

Adrienne said...

The other documents to print out is Redemptionis Sacramentum as well as Ecclesia de Eucharistia. I have been buried in these documents (as well as about 20 other texts and documents) for about 6 months now and when I hear such nonsense I just want to scream.

" The Instruction (Redemptionis Sacramentum) stresses that this does not mean that everybody has to be doing something. Rather it is a question of being fully alive to the great privilege that God has given them in calling them to participate with mind and heart and their entire life in the Liturgy and through it to receive God's grace. It is important to understand this properly and not to suppose that the Instruction is somehow biased against laypeople."

"These norms are a concrete expression of the authentically ecclesial nature of the Eucharist; this is their deepest meaning. Liturgy is never anyone's private property, be it of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries are celebrated." (Ecclesia de Eucharistia. no. 52)

Canon Law states that the laity has a right to proper liturgy.

Accordingly, individual Bishops and their Conferences do not have the faculty to permit experimentation with liturgical texts or the other matters that are prescribed in the liturgical books. Cf. Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Instruction, Varietates legitimae: AAS 87 (1995) pp 288-314

Jeff Miller said...

This nails exactly is wrong with so many liturgists and music directors. When you don't think that prayer is active participation you are going to go off the rails. They make the liturgy into a form of liturgical aerobics where every action must be a physical one. This is reverse-Gnosticism and a denial of the spiritual life.

LarryD said...

I agree with Roman Sacristan. "Call to Action" was no mere slip of the finger..;-)

And if plain logic and appealing to Church teaching fails, using the resources that so many of the other posters have listed, I suggest you talk to the pastor again and ask him when the music director plans on returning to him his...er, manhood.

Novalis said...

Let's name names, so that we can avoid these parishes. What parishes are having this "warm up"? Then let's don't go there. Benedict Groeschel said it right: If you don't like your parish, move on.

Carolina Cannonball said...

Charles, thank you for the very diplomatic advice. I am trying to keep things civil and your route will probably yield the best results.

I am waiting for a rply from the MD and my priest.

Adrienne, thank you SO much for the supporting documentation that will absolutely come in handy.

Carolina Cannonball said...


I do not like to name names for several reasons:

1) the whole internet will know where I worship and my fans will stalk me!

2) I think its uncharitable to try and embarrass a man of the cloth.

Jeffrey Smith said...

The GIRM's HERE. I keep a link in my sidebar.

babs said...

I, too, suffer through abomidable music each Saturday evening. Our female music director, singing in her imitation tenor voice, drowns out her choir. We have to endure practices before Mass, and cantors who make themselves the center of attention during the psalm response, flinging their arms out to indicate that we should sing. Of course we know when to sing and don't need this sweeping direction.

I used to be a music director at this parish under a different regime. There were complaints that I was too old-fashioned. Now I am music director at a Lutheran parish, hence my Saturday evening Mass attendance. They seem to like me just fine, perhaps because I don't treat them like musical imbiciles or throw in musical drivel for them to sing. Your run-in with the music director sounds all too familiar. Occasionally, the music director asks my advice, and I am honest. But nothing will ever change, and I have to say that going to Mass is increasingly difficult. Ours is a semi-rural parish and the closest one is thirty miles away; the next, fifty.

Good luck, but don't expect much.


David L Alexander said...


I think I see your problem here. Let's go over your conventional wisdom point by point, shall we?

1) the whole internet will know where I worship and my fans will stalk me!

I'm sure you've dreamed of the day when you have fans who stalk you, but that day isn't here yet. Look at me. People already know where I live, and you don't see me being stalked, do you?

2) I think its uncharitable to try and embarrass a man of the cloth.

Depending on the circumstances, it is uncharitable to try and embarrass ANYBODY. A "man of the cloth" is no different. Now, we do ask a lot of our priests. That is why we often overlook certain human weaknesses of theirs. A few of them learn to exploit that. Some have done so at the expense of our childrens' innocence. How do you think that's working out so far?

Nah, didn't think so!

Have you considered the prospect that your pastor could well afford a good dose of humiliation? Any dim bulb with a sixth-grade vocabulary can learn to say things like "G-I-R-M" with a straight face. But can they cite what it actually says and where it says it? Do they know what "actuosa participatio" actually means? Of course not.

And I'll tell you something else. The people who do that, they think you're stupid. That's right, girlfriend, dumber than a bag of rocks. They know that they can just whip off a good cliche, and you'll go home wagging your tail behind you.

Now, do you think YOU deserve that?

Sounds like you do, and it sounds like that's more of what's in store for you, unless you send the message to whomever it is, that your mama didn't raise no fool.

If nothing else, do it for Mama.

Donna said...


I go to Mass where you go, so I know exactly what you're talking about. She is truly awful, and the music is not even music as far as I'm concerned. I don't have the guts you have--perhaps because I've tried to confront things (not liturgical) in my past 14 years as a Catholic, and I'm just tired. I have other burdens in life, and piling this one on top of everything else is just too much. But, I do understand.

Thom said...


I think that one needs to exercise caution when dealing with things like this, lest a group of roving liturgical pirates begin undermining serious progress with their "shiver me timbers, walk the plank" liturgical absolutism (which, when examined closely, is usually little more than an unholy marriage of ego and hubris.)

Sanctus Belle said...

Well, I can't tell you what to do of course, but I can tell you what I'd do - in fact have done in the past. I vote with my feet and my bank account. You have a RIGHT to correct, reverent and solemn Mass, also correct catechesis. If there is a parish within driving distance that provides that - what are you waiting for??

We took the kids out of our parish's religious ed. and drive them a half hour to a nearby town where the curriculum is strong. I have never apologized for this. We are under no obligation to tolerate Catholiclite.

Christine the Soccer Mom said...

I feel your pain. I'm in the doghouse at my parish for complaining about something to my bishop (after trying to resolve it here first, to no avail).

We personally know three different families who have left our parish over similar things, but my husband and I feel as though if we leave our parish, and everyone who wants to be assenting Catholics also do so (which seems to be the trend), then what happens? Bad faith formation, things just keep on going as they have been. Mind you, we've got some really excellent people here, and our CCD classes tend to be taught well (even if the textbooks are not the greatest). But if no one stands up about things, how will they change?

(Sidenote: We homeschool and use Seton for our girls. And I actually taught second graders this year and supplimented heavily with Seton materials.)

You and I both know that I'm discussing changing dissent to assent. ;)

Music at my parish tends to be very heavy on the new stuff (often with a pre-Mass song that is a praise and worship type) with usually one or two old, traditional hymns. But the music is, quite frankly, the least of my worries.

And I think you're right not to say where you attend Mass. Detraction, even if some people think it's deserved, is wrong. We should be very wary of criticizing our priests. As a confessor once told me, "Even a dirty spoon will get food to your mouth." (I had confessed that I was struggling with anger directed at a priest.)

David L Alexander said...

Yo, Soccer Mom: If your parish is in the Diocese of Arlington, I'm dying to know which it is. If it's the one in Sterling, for example, I'd run, not walk, away from that place. They're gonna be a dump as long as it's run by that religious order. If it's one of the two in Chantilly, I don't believe you. If it's the one in Burke, I'd kidnap the guy in charge and leave him somewhere they can't find him, until science finds a cure.

Fr Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. said...

CC, vote with your feet. No Catholic has to put up with that crap. The only way things will change is when Catholic stop supporiting heterodox parishes, dioceses and religious orders. Think of it this way: If you are putting money in the basket then you are supporting the practices that take place. If the practices are contrary to the mind and teaching of the Church they should not be supported, no matter how much good they appear to do.

steve said...

I have been to this parish a few times when visiting Kat and she is not exaggerating. When the deacon gives the homily, he walks up and down the aisles like he's guest hosting a tv talk show. The band *sigh* treats the altar area like a performance stage. The priest, after spending the entire Mass looking bored out of his mind, is mobbed by his fan base of middle-aged women. And yes, when I was there, we were encouraged to practice the hymns beforehand.

David L Alexander said...

"The priest, after spending the entire Mass looking bored out of his mind, is mobbed by his fan base of middle-aged women."

Alright, I've had enough.

Kat, you've taken the easy way out so far, putting up lots of nice fancy pictures of monks and nuns and icons and stuff in an attempt to get cheap thrills for your audience, and making up your own award ceremony so you can walk away with the imaginary fame and glory. It's time to stop this charade and do the hard work now.

You mean to tell me you've got a liturgica-polooza going on in Carolina, and we haven't seen anything on YouTube? This is the age of the internet, sweetheart! Nothing says "GOTCHA!" like having the general public peek behind the curtain and seeing what's really there. It's time to get devious, get clever, as in "clever as snakes and meek as lambs," or so the Good Book says.

Besides, they warn priests about gals like this in the seminary. They're called "chalice chippers."

steve said...

If it's the one in Sterling, for example, I'd run, not walk, away from that place.

I would second that recommendation.

Carolina Cannonball said...

David, my visual approach to this blog is for my benefit. I enjoy looking at beauty, especially in a culture that honors the ugly & mundane as beauty. I post beautiful churches bc I have none to worship in, I post nuns & monks bc the habit is from a by gone era. These are things I like to look at, and from the replies I receive, others enjoy them too.

The awards were for fun, a praody of the big blogger awards that regular bloggers never get a nod in. It was nice to discover new blogs like Adrienne's.

I have no enflated ego about this blogs popularity. My comment about people stalking me was an attempt at humor with the precaution that safety about revealing locations needs to be practiced, especially for single woman such as myself. Its a real concern.

Now, just purchase me a video camera and I'll promplty and HAPPILY make you tube videos of the said offenses.

Anonymous said...

there is something wrong when you have to "practice" music for the Mass.

Thom said...

So this is getting weird.

GJ Walberg said...

If you don't get anywhere with your MD or your pastor, you might consider going to the Diocese Liturgy office for a little guidance. They may not be an enforcement arm of the diocese, but they can give a ruling or direction as necessary.

In D. of Charlotte: Dr. Larry Stratemeyer (704) 334-2283

In D of Raleigh: Rev. Msgr. John F. O'Connor, V.F.919-782-1973, extension 111.

Hope that helps.

Christine the Soccer Mom said...


I'm not in your diocese, but in the Richmond Diocese.

My girls wish we used the consecration bells, and I'm encouraging them to ask, explaining that I have already made a complaint recently and so anything I mention might be taken as more hostility. ;) They insist they feel "too shy" to ask Father about why we can't have them. (I don't blame them - they're only 9 and 6!)

I still have great reservation about detracting from priests, no matter how bad they might seem. I cringe at some comments directed towards bishops and priests on some blogs, and even if they are sinful (and who of us isn't?), we ought to be very, very careful not to slam them. Detraction is a bad thing to participate in, and I try very hard (personally) not to even complain to people who know our parish about things that have gone on there. I just don't think it's something our Lord would appreciate. He called them all, even the ones who go astray.

ignorant redneck said...

We've been ageing a low grade guerilla war against stupid stuff in our Archdiocese.

I posted about the new Archbishop asking for my address a few months (last summer) back.

Today I saw the letter he has sent to evry priest deacon and "parish administrator" in the Archdiocese, explaining clearly and tightly the basisc diocesan norms for Louisville. In it he mentions that the Cathedral Church (which under Abp Kelly was kinda zoolike) will lead the way, and the whole of the Archdiocese is to be in compliance by Corpus Christi.

We can make a difference. You can make a difference. One thing--when they say something directly in opposition to the normative documents, or not in them, ask for the paragraph number.

David L Alexander said...


A couple of things...

* In the reformed liturgy, the ringing of the bells at the consecration is an approved option, but an option nonetheless. A priest is free to dispense with the practice (although, in my experience, a dislike of them does betray a certain sensibility toward iconoclasm).

* It is not your reluctance to speak ill of clergy that concerns me, but the idea that we are obliged to ingratiate ourselves to them regardless of their conduct.

People write books, and give lectures, to come up with all manner of fancy-pants explanations for the scandal of clerical sexual abuse. I can explain it in two minutes. When a priest or bishop is surrounded by people who worship the ground they walk on, and who think they can do no wrong, eventually they begin to believe that, and act upon it. (Keep in mind that this only applies to a minority, but one that draws a lot of attention to itself.) By all means, we should support our priests, and encourage the good ones. But I've seen too many instances where a pastor got away with deplorable conduct because some milquetoast didn't want to "go against one of God's holy priests."

That's how a few of them get away with being... well, not so holy. To read about one of them, click here.

a thorn in the pew said...

"Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops, like bishops, and your religious act like religious.” Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, before the Knights of Columbus, June of 1972.

I take his words to heart. There was meaning when he spoke them and probably more so in 2008.

Carolina Cannonball said...

walberg- thank you for the contact info. I am sure it will come in handy in this particular issue I'm handling.

Donna said...

I notice some are suggesting that Ms. Cannonball leave her parish for greener pastures. If I am wrongly suggesting some respondents of quasi-accusing her of not taking advantage of other opportunities, please forgive me. I am in the same diocese, and in fact, the same parish. Believe me, other opportunities are between slim and none. This is not her fault. Remember, the price of gasoline is now $3.50 and promises to go higher. Driving all over the country is a closing option.

Having said that, I will say that it may be hard to make a knife-sharp case that some of these practices in this parish are literally heterodox, but, my heavens, are they tacky, and they are not conducive to worship. In fact, the pastor, with whom I know Ms. Cannonball has had some honest conflict, appears to me to be a decent curator of souls, but he is no theological sophisticate. He is a bread and butter priest, who is trying in his own way to provide opportunities for spiritual life in the parish. In fact, I have heard him mention his "former" life and that in fact, he went through a conversion. His parents divorced when he was a child, and I'm sure he had some rough years. I have no reason to doubt him. I also know of a situation in the parish in which a young mother was dying of a swiftly-moving cancer, and he was very generous with her and her family. As far as liturgy goes, he has a tin ear. Maybe he cannot help it.

The answer? Ms. Cannonball is trying to bring change to the liturgy in this parish the best way she knows how. Who knows? I may walk into that ugly church one Sunday morning and realize the liturgy is a lot different from the way it used to be--and all for the better--and all because Ms. Cannonball did what she felt called to do. If it happens, I will be most grateful.

David L Alexander said...

Donna et al:

Depending on the age of the priest, his liturgical formation may have occurred at the worst possible time, when everything was up for grabs. That would have been roughly the late 60s or early 70s. That is to say, it is a likely explanation, not inevitable.

And historically, most priests are of the "bread-and-butter" variety. One of the advantages of the Traditional form of the Roman liturgy, was that it left very little to the imagination, and so could still be conducted with reverence, regardless of who was celebrating. Given time and careful consideration, a man of such sensibilities might be persuaded as such. Until then, he's too busy dealing with the here-and-now, as you suggest.

In the long run, it may not matter. The English translation is being revised. The liturgy at your parish WILL change by 2010 or 2012, and no amount of posturing or dancing around the goddess tree by the parish staff or their precious Committee will change that. They will either deal with the material approved for liturgical use, or go into schism and lose that captive audience that is roughly one-fifth of the American population.

You can also expect a significant turnover in bishops over the next decade. Numerous sees in the USA that have been absent are being filled, and numerous others have bishops whose retirement will occur before decade's end. The next generation of bishops will not be cut in the cloth of Bernardin. They will be more like Chaput, Dolan, and Finn.

That is poor consolation for the present. But if, once a month, one makes a trek into the city where there is at least one decent place, one may find a periodic spiritual solace.

"Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on."

LarryD said...

A thorn in the pew - great quote from Archbp Sheen. That was made after he had been bishop of the diocese of Rochester NY. He was quite distraught by the confusion caused by the rushed and improper interpretation of VCII, and I'm sure that had bearing on his comment you quoted.

And yes, 36 years later, it still holds true.

Christine the Soccer Mom said...


I know you didn't mean me specifically, and forgive me if I'm harsh or anything (it's late and I'm tired, but I'll forget by tomorrow to answer).

I am certainly working to improve things, and some things have improved. I want my children to understand that we are supposed to be obedient to priests in the heirarchy. At the same time, we are also discussing the Fourth Commandment with Big Girl (fourth grade) and have recently discussed that obedience stops when you are asked to do something sinful. So our ultimate obedience is to the Magisterium. I floated the idea to them, "What if you heard a priest say XYZ in a homily?" and they said, "Well, we'd have to tell the bishop on him!' and "We wouldn't listen to that, it's not true!!" So they do understand that, while we are obedient, we also must not be obedient to dissent.

As far as going to other parishes, besides the fact that gas is $3.50/gallon and we'd pay that much for a round-trip to another parish in our area, it's just not all that different in many of the other parishes. A couple have lovely priests, but the worship space is just not conducive for our prayer life. (As in tabernacles in another room or the seating rising up from the altar area.) One place that would be really wonderful is the Maronite parish nearby. But, then again, we are Roman Rite, and have no desire to change rites. And then there's still the cost of driving to and fro for all parish activities.

Alas, we are here, trying to make a difference and help change the things that should be changed.

Oh, and the bells - I know they aren't necessary, but I miss them. I remember the day my pastor (as a girl) told us that we wouldn't be using them. I forever heard them in my head. And I remember the day when the parish I attended in Florida brought them back! I was interpreting in our new church building, and was in front of the sanctuary, to the side of the altar and in front of the altar servers, when there was a large BELL sound (strokes, not tinkling) behind me, making me jump. I had to explain to the Deaf parishioners that they had rung a bell! They were actually pretty happy to hear that, and I incorporated the bell tolls into when I was interpreting.

Anyway, at our parish, they only get used as enhancement for the Gloria, but I miss them still. I hear them in my head every time the priest raises Jesus for us all to see. Like I said, I'd ask for them, but I'm still in the doghouse for that letter to the bishop.

Old Bob said...

I was the song leader at my old parish from about 1982 till 1986. The rules I worked out for the congregation - which had been totally without music for about two years - were:
1, Mass music (psalm, alleluia, sanctus, acclamation, Agnus Dei) is first in importance. (Use same melody if possible.)
2, Hymns (if any) must echo the readings of the day.
3, I always gave Father the hymn list (2 choices for each if possible) before Mass began so he could make the final decision.
4, I would lead the congregation through the psalm response before Mass began.
5, I would lead the congregation once through a new hymn we had never used before. And would use it for a month after that.
6, I used a guitar only because that was the only instrument I could play.
7, I did not use G&P.
That's my two cents' worth.

Chris Whittle said...

I thought you are supposed to be quiet until the bell rings?