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Veritatis Splendor

"Keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith" --Hebrews 12:2


Pope Benedict XVI before our Lord

And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution.
Each of us is the result of a thought of God.
Each of us is willed,
each of us is loved,
each of us is necessary.
There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.
~Pope Benedict XVI, Homily April 24th, 2005



Saturday, November 17, 2007

Affectiveness in liturgy

As usual, the blog Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex gives us some great commentary.

Check out his post, Two Cents Worth, in response to a letter on Zenit which was itself a response to a recent article on liturgical music (whew). His main argument is that if we see liturgical music in the way the letter writer does, as making us feel transformed etc, we are in danger of missing the point. Music in this vein is, he considers, an "affectation" (Merriam-Webster defines "affectation" as: 1 a: the act of taking on or displaying an attitude or mode of behavior not natural to oneself or not genuinely felt b: speech or conduct not natural to oneself : artificiality).

To "affect" the liturgy this way, by this mentality of needing affectation (particularly in the area of liturgical music) to really be worshipping, is to, ironically, decrease the liturgy's real effect on us, to decrease the effectiveness of liturgy! That's a pretty strong statement, but one that I think merits our attention.

Some snips (with my emphasis):

...The affectivities were created to be subordinated to reason and to follow its direction, this now is a challenge because they often do not do so readily. This presents us with the problem of concupiscence. We are drawn most compellingly to the affectively good. With this background, we can see how the admonition from the Church that sacred music is meant to adorn the words and not drown them out follows from this. The words in the liturgy should first move our minds to God. The music should then have the capacity to draw our whole selves from this earth up to God. In this way, the structure of the music and word relationship allows our affectivities [to] follow the intellect. The liturgy can actually help us train them. When we start with our affectivities, which is the effect of praise and worship music, we reverse this action. In other words, we do not subordinate the affectivities to the intellect, but interpret the intellect in terms of our emotions. This is why so many who acclimate themselves to praise and worship mistake the lack of affective experience for the lack of the “anointing” of the Holy Spirit.

Moreover, the heightened affectivities inhibit the silent contemplation of God in His Word and in the Word’s Eucharistic action. Ironically, we are drawn away from active participation in the liturgy and we don’t realize it because the affective experience is masquerading as active involvement when it is really passive reception of the experience. Praise and worship music is antithetical to the liturgical grammar because it works at cross purposes with fallen human nature. Thus a good musical form (I have said before that I do listen to praise and worship…though I will admit that I have been told by those better musically formed that I have no musical taste) can become an evil in the wrong context. Therefore, we must not allow the “consumer” mentality to drive our liturgy. We must give people what they need, not what they think they want.

1 Comments:

Blogger Michael Hallman said...

To "affect" the liturgy this way, by this mentality of needing affectation (particularly in the area of liturgical music) to really be worshipping, is to, ironically, decrease the liturgy's real effect on us, to decrease the effectiveness of liturgy! That's a pretty strong statement, but one that I think merits our attention

That was really well said. This is what is really supposed to separate a proper, orthodox Catholic liturgy from the various Protestant liturgical traditions - the lack of an artificial stirring up of emotions. When the liturgy is carried out properly, and with its rightful and proper focus on the Eucharist, the soul is naturally stirred in a way that no human intervention or "affection" could hope to induce.

November 17, 2007 6:41 PM  

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