Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Cool, man.

October 3rd, 2014, Promulgated by Bernie
In one of Rochester’s parish bulletins this weekend.
Jazz Mass?
Well, it may not be all “jazz”, but we  are delighted to have a number of Eastman students & others to help us “kick it up a notch” at the 5pm Mass on Sat, Oct 18. Be one of the “saints that come marching in”.  Come, enjoy & participate. It’s also not too late to add your instrument or voice to the richness of the musicians.

18 Responses to “Cool, man.”

  1. Bernie says:

    How about a barbershop quartet Sunday? The Agnus Dei rendered by a barbershop quartet!

  2. Bernie says:

    Oh, boy! We’re going to “kick it up a notch” on the 18th!
    This is this parish’s answer to “Renewed Love for the Sacraments”.

  3. Ron says:

    Well-played and tasteful jazz can be reverential, so I don’t object to it in a Mass out of hand. I’ve heard some traditional music that was so badly done I wished for silence.

  4. Bernie says:

    I, too, have often wished for silence. Jazz, however, is secular music and has no place in Catholic liturgy. It is antithetical to the purpose of the liturgy. Jazz stresses an individual’s personal vision and creativity. That is fine for private prayer but not for the public liturgy of the Church which is communal and oriented toward God. In the Roman rite especially, music and everything else should be sober and deliberate. By its very nature, Jazz is spontaneous, emotional and improvisational. It celebrates individual expression for itself which which is antithetical to Catholic (and Orthodox) belief and worship. This is not an indictment of Jazz but rather a judgment on its use in the sacred liturgy. I like Jazz. I’ve played Jazz. Jazz can indeed be spiritual and profound on its own but in the sacred liturgy it can only distract and detract. Furthermore, Jazz cannot be shown to have any connection to the musical tradition of the Church. Our contemporary liturgical art and music must develop from –and not break with– tradition. We should observe rules for liturgical art or it will all come down to mere likes and dislikes.

  5. christian says:

    Bernie-what do you think/feel about Gospel music and a Gospel Choir? I like sacred liturgy also, but also like a variety of music as long as it is done with reverence in church.

  6. Ron says:

    I do think that jazz, done well and in the right spirit, could be used in liturgies. Remember that some of the classic music came out of styles of “performance” – even secular – music and was turned to sacred purposes. But I do agree it can’t be done as a performance. with the musician showing off. I have heard classical hymns played in a show-offy style – hey look at how well I play the organ, or, ooo, listen to the vocal tricks I can do. As for Gospel, again, it can be done well and appropriately, but too often ends up being show offy. One has to be careful.

  7. Bernie says:

    Christian: “Gospel Music” does not have a secular association but being a spiritual song with spiritual lyrics does not, in my opinion, necessarily qualify a music piece as appropriate to the Catholic liturgy. Like the visual liturgical arts, I believe liturgical music should suggest transcendence. The less music sounds transcendent, the less appropriate it is for sacred liturgy. Gregorian chant, traditional Anglican chant, Orthodox chant all suggest a redeemed, transcendent realm -they naturally sound heavenly and not just because they are in the great tradition of liturgical music that has conditioned us to understand them as such. There is something about human chanting that has made it central to nearly all religions no matter how monotheistic, polytheistic, pagan or natural. Vernacular hymns are difficult to adjudicate. The high church Anglican and Lutheran ones seem perfectly acceptable to us but “On Eagles Wings” and “The Wreck of The Edmond Fitzgerald”, not so much and I am not sure why. I have a very strict standard, I admit. I don’t expect most people to agree with me.

  8. Bernie says:

    Ron: you make a very good point regarding classical music.

  9. Bernie says:

    Classical music as having secular origins, that is.

  10. gaudium says:

    There are some very fine lines here. I have heard showing off even in plain song and very reverent singing of some rather recent songs. The internal attitude of the schola or the cantor is of paramount importance.

  11. Scott W. says:

    The very fact that they are advertising jazz as (opposed to the Mass) should be the first sign of trouble. The whole thing screams Reverend Lovejoy “Well, uh, before you make any rash decisions, let me just remind you that the church is changing to meet the needs of today’s young Christians.”

  12. Bernie says:

    Such catering to the secular culture should be suppressed at a time when we are trying to restore or renew respect or love for the Sacraments.

  13. annonymouse says:

    I agree with Bernie’s and Gaudium’s points. Is the music self-glorifying performance, or does it point the mind, heart and soul at glorifying God through His Son, Jesus Christ?

    I’m having difficulty seeing (or hearing) Jazz as anything but self-glorifying performance.

  14. Bernie says:

    The reason why most people like Jazz is because it breaks rules and it surprises and delights in personal interpretations. It’s offbeat. But the sacred liturgy makes us participants in the transcendent, which humankind normally understands as serene. Liturgical art and music should predispose us and aid us in that participation, in that serenity, that peace. Ever since at least Saint Augustine of Hippo the role of music (geometry/architecture) has been to lead the faithful in the liturgy to the contemplation of the Divine Order. The Divine Order is beautiful, proportional, harmonious. That is why chant appeals to us; it places us –together, as a community– in heaven. Jazz, Rock, etc. are earthbound and played and experienced as individuals. They exhibit harmony but it is a confused harmony, totally inappropriate to the sacred liturgy. Think of the difference between a Mozart or Bach Mass and Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’.

  15. Diane Harris says:

    I commend Bernie for having brought up the subject of a Jazz Mass in the Diocese, yet not revealing the name of the parish or pastor. That was most charitable, and indeed is the right way to go during this new episcopcy. That doesn’t stop him or anyone from writing separately to the Bishop to try to end an abuse.

    However, I do think that Cleansing Fire has historically had a role of making people aware of problems, and thus of caring for souls. If someone sees in their bulletin that there is a Jazz Mass, he or she might wonder “Is that OK?” The pastor certainly isn’t the source for an answer in the parish sponsoring the Jazz Mass. Or one might even say to oneself: “Oh, it must be okay since we now have such a diligent and faithful bishop and this couldn’t happen without his approval.” Yet, we also know, regarding changes already completed and those pending, that there has been and will be disobedience and attempts to undermine his accomplishments. I’d rather have people note on Cleansing Fire our opinions that a Jazz Mass is highly questionable, than just attend thinking it must have Bishop Matano’s endorsement.

    There is a right way and a wrong way to go about bringing up these issues and we ALL are struggling with how best to do it, as an honoring of our good bishop’s intentions, not to undermine them. It is going to be a tough slog through the New Evangelization if we can’t discuss issues close to home, and affecting our neighbors and friends.

  16. gaudium says:


    It’s amazing how many people think the bishop or the pope would know about and have to pre-approve everything. The catholic Church basically runs on the honor system. The hierarchy would need a massive secret police if every abuse or problem were to be prevented. Every Catholic has the right to bring these concerns — in charity — to their pastors or to their bishop. It usually doesn’t work immediately but it eventually does have an effect.

  17. Ben Anderson says:

    I’ll concur that there is nothing inappropriate about this discussion. Having keyboard conversations means that it makes it easy/dangerous to think out loud. I have deleted my previous comment.

  18. Sid says:

    I think Bernie’s post is fine, excellent even. Furthermore, I would not have had any problem with him identifying the parish. This is an announcement in their *public* bulletin, not some behind-the-scenes scuttlebutt being whispered at behind the immersion fount over at Parish X. If it’s in their bulletin, they are proud of it and WANT people to see it. There is no need to tiptoe around hiding their identity.

    Bernie’s music analysis and opinions are well-considered, as well. For a very recent example of wonderfully reverent liturgical music, I can report that this past Sunday, Our Lady of Victory had a Mass celebrated by Bishop Matano himself that employed the music from Mozart’s Sparrow Mass, a beautiful composition from the late 18th century especially written as a Catholic Mass, the six parts being the Kyrie (in Greek of course), followed by the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei (all in Latin). There were a bunch of additional musicians and vocalists from the Eastman School brought in as well as the regular (i.e. excellent) OLV organ and vocals. I’m sure it was a ton of work for the many involved, but they should be proud as it was sooooo well done and very moving. Mozart and many other composers of the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras (Haydn is fabulous as well) wrote these pieces to be played/sung as liturgical Masses, not in a concert hall. It is wonderful to see them performed in the way they were intended.

    Anyone who has never heard Mozart’s Sparrow Mass is encouraged to look it up and listen. If you don’t know the Latin, just look up those prayers I mentioned above and follow along. There are a number of nice recordings of it on YouTube listed under both “Sparrow Mass” or “Spatzenmesse”, its German name. I’m not sure if anyone recorded the OLV Mass, but I hope so. How blessed we are to have a few (OK, very few) parishes around that play something other than the GIA-supplied drivel from Marty Haugen, Dan Schutte, and David Hass!

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