great article

Here’s a quote:

In his seminal work The Spirit of the Liturgy, then–Cardinal Ratzinger argued that the purpose of liturgy is not primarily to develop human relationships, be creative in worship, or promote humanitarian agendas. Rather, the liturgy is the worship of God. The forms and styles are given to us by the Church of the ages; similarly, bishops and clergy are not innovators but stewards of the inheritance they have been given.

Read the whole thing on I’ve got to quote some more from Father Dwight Longenecker’s excellent article (hat tip to Toni for sending me the link):

Similar reasoning explains Benedict’s wish for Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony to be used more widely. No one expects that every parish will suddenly switch to Gregorian chant and polyphony but rather that a wider use of traditional music will influence the positive development of Catholic sacred music.


The reasoning for these developments is one thing, but why have more formal music, a more traditional celebration of the Mass, more elaborate vestments, and a more ornate liturgy to begin with? What’s the point?


Here we’re brought back to a central question that has confused Catholics for 40 years: What is liturgy? The answer is related to the questions “What is the Church?” and “What are the sacraments?” If the sacraments are mere symbols—things at the service of religious people gathered together to promote good deeds—then the church building, vestments, music, and liturgy should be practical. Thus, utilitarian concerns should reign: the vestments, architecture, and furniture should be bare, useful, and inexpensive. The liturgy should be folksy, down to earth, and plain.


If, however, the Church is the mystical Body of Christ, while the sacraments are the supernatural presence of His saving grace in our midst and the liturgy points to the marriage feast of the Lamb, then when we attend Mass we are entering the very throne room of the King. Like Jacob when he dreamed of the ladder into heaven, we are at the doorstep of glory itself.


If this is so, then the whole perspective shifts; we must bring the finest gifts to the King of kings. The liturgy, as befitting a throne room, must be ceremonial, splendid, and regal. The music must be fit for the King; the vestments, too, must reflect the glory of the One we worship.

So well expressed. The finest music is not elitist—it is worthy. Why should the lowest common denominator rule?