Pope Benedict XVI on Sacred Music, Part 2

Spontaneity and Creativity

The great­ness of the liturgy depends—we shall have to repeat this frequently—on its unspontaneity (Unbeliebigkeit)…. Only respect for the liturgy’s fundamental unspontaneity and pre-existing identity can give us what we hope for: the feast in which the great reality comes to us that we ourselves do not manufacture but receive as a gift. This means that “creativity” cannot be an authentic category for matters liturgical. In any case, this is a word that developed within the Marxist world view. Creativity means that in a universe that in itself is meaningless and came into existence through blind evolution, man can creatively fashion a new and better world. Modern theo­ries of art think in terms of a nihilistic kind of creativity. Art is not meant to copy anything. Artistic creativity is under the free mastery of man, without being bound by norms or goals and subject to no questions of meaning. It may be that in such visions a cry for freedom is to be heard, a cry that in a world totally in the control of technology becomes a cry for help. Seen in this way, art appears as the final refuge of freedom. True, art has something to do with freedom, but freedom understood in the way we have been describing is empty. It is not redemptive, but makes despair sound like the last word of human existence. This kind of creativity has no place within the liturgy. The life of the liturgy does not come from what dawns upon the minds of individuals and plan­ning groups. On the contrary, it is God’s descent upon our world, the source of real liberation. He alone can open the door to freedom. The more priests and faithful humbly surrender themselves to this descent of God, the more “new” the liturgy will constantly be, and the more true and personal it becomes. Yes, the liturgy becomes personal, true, and new, not through tomfoolery and ba­nal experiments with the words, but through a coura­geous entry into the great reality that through the rite is always ahead of us and can never quite be overtaken. [The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), p. 170]

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2 Responses to Pope Benedict XVI on Sacred Music, Part 2

  1. Jeanne says:

    This was an excellent article. Thank you.
    I’m writing from Tampa.
    I went to Mass in Tampa on Sunday in a spectacularly beautiful church. The first person inside the church was a greeter and was similar to the person who greets you when you walk into a restaurant-hey-how ya doin-and this church was right away church-no narthex. Not how you start sacred silence. And people were visiting in the pews. Mass started with greet-the-person around you, which was just a circus without the animals. Now a beautiful church like this was built for sacred music, i.e., organ at least, choir if possible. Nope-it was guitar. It was so out of place, and it was Barry Manilow-ish. The three Scripture readings were read from the way up high place with steps, but the homily was given down in front. You could clearly hear the Scriptures, but the homily from down below was muffled. Why not give the homily from above where you can see and hear the priest better?
    Yesterday and today, I went to Mass nearer to my hotel. Apparently, on Mondays they intermix Shortened Liturgy of the Hours throughout the Mass, but today, Tuesday, Mass was regular. However, the church is basically three sections with partitions, more like a large dining room, and there are no pews or kneelers, just connected chairs. So, most of the people stand when it’s time to kneel, including the benediction after Mass yesterday, before transposing the Blessed Sacrament to the Adoration Chapel. I just remembered-I was relieved that this church had holy water. The church on Sunday had colored clear rocks instead of holy water. We need the sacramentals always available, just as we need the sacraments always available. Another thing-the fellow next to me on Sunday kept looking at his cell phone. I would say it distracted me, and might have been distracting others.
    So, I am grateful for all of the opportunities for Mass, and don’t want to detract from that, but there’s so much that doesn’t seem right.

  2. mercyknight says:

    Dear Jeanne … Dear, Dear Jeanne,

    I am sooo sorry. Please keep hope alive and continue praying. Pray especially for those priests who are following Pope Benedict’s direction. We are getting hammered by the “don’t-want-to-return-to-before-Vatican II” crowd. In reality, this is not about going to a pre-Vatican II Mass, but a “REAL” Vatican II Mass.

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