Salvatore Cordileone, archbishop of San Francisco has created an endowed chair in sacred music at St. Patrick’s Seminary and University, which forms clergy for the San Francisco archdiocese and for other dioceses throughout the West and the Pacific Rim. With the establishment of this new William P. Mahrt Chair in Sacred Music, many courses in the history and practice of the Church’s sacred music will be available to seminarians and to others who are interested.
The overall quality of music at the seminary liturgies will be enhanced by the musical direction and example of the new holder of the chair, Professor Jennifer Donelson-Nowicka. In her new role as associate professor of music and director of sacred music at the seminary, she will serve as the director of sacred music, overseeing all the musical activities in the seminary chapel, and accompanying liturgies at the organ, while developing and directing a schola cantorum, which will sing Gregorian chant (in Latin), chant in English and Spanish, and sacred polyphony.
Here are some quotations from her paper “Emotion, Intellect, and Will: The Fruits of Sacred Music in the Spiritual Life,” which was given on June 29 at the Sacra Liturgia 2022 Conference in San Francisco:
“The Church has long been the greatest patron of beauty, feeding Christ’s sheep. Beauty is food for the soul. The world needs the material charity of the Church, but also Her spiritual charity.”
“It is possible to get to heaven without understanding much of anything about music, thanks be to God. But to willfully cling to ignorance or even an anti-knowledge which prizes ugliness or mediocrity is to choose to be deaf to one mode through which God makes known His glory.”
“Mediocre music, banal music is not spiritually neutral. It has a numbing effect on the soul, feeding the senses with the mere shadow of the glory of God’s love, but never really piquing our interest or helping us see God clearly. … Bad music is a sort of spiritual junk food—food that looks like food, but makes us fat and lethargic. Musical junk food has no place in the sacred liturgy….”
Professor Donelson-Nowicka is also organizing an international sacred music conference to be held at St. Patrick’s seminary in November of 2023 celebrating the work of Dr. Mahrt.
“The choice of Professor Mahrt is particularly exciting to me because I have been writing for years about his achievement of keeping chant and polyphony alive while it was out of favor. I sang with the St. Ann Choir that he directs at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Palo Alto for a few years beginning in 2005, and was very impressed when I learned that he had persisted in directing that choir in the singing of Gregorian chant and motets at Sunday Masses, and polyphonic Masses on feast days, in liturgies where that kind of music belongs, even during the long decades when that kind of music was virtually banned in the Church after Vatican II.”
The above comes from a Nov. 17 article by Roseanne Sullivan in the New Liturgical Movement.
This is wonderful! A tremendous blessing for the Church!
Gaudete in Domino Semper!
When will this filter down to parishes that have rock bands and sing contemporary Christian music at Mass so that they are gotten rid of? I mean, if the seminarians take the classes and learn that CCM is not appropriate music for liturgy, it will be twenty years before they are pastors and kick the rock bands out of church. That needs to be done now, not in twenty years. Now. Get rid of the mediocre and banal and inappropriate music now. It’s harming the church now. People are leaving now. Do it now.
What do you mean by “rock band?” Is the use of acoustic guitar a “rock band?” I’ve been at Masses with contemporary Christian music that was appropriate and appropriately chosen and some where it was horrendous. I’ve been at Masses where traditional Catholic music was done so badly no one could sing along. I think appropriateness and quality in giving glory the God are the primary issues. I applaud what the archbishop is doing, helping create and promote beautiful Mass music. As Vatican II notes, Latin and the organ have pride of place. But, that doesn’t mean they’re the only ways to worship appropriately. Wouldn’t it be better to promote the good, the true and the beautiful, without a broad brush condemnation of music you don’t prefer, yet others may? I think there’s room in the Catholic Church for a legitimate diversity of reverent music at Mass. My thoughts.
Is this appropriate?
Music that resembles popular secular music has no place at Mass. No place. It’s not sacred.
Yet that sort of music is ubiquitous in mainstream Catholic parishes.
As I noted, I’ve been at Masses where music has been horrendous and inappropriate. There are far too many examples of such. Of course there should be no secular music at Mass. But, not all sacred music must be Gregorian chant or any one specific other type of sacred music. That is my point. Music should be appropriate, reverent, done well and composed for sacred settings.
So, no Amazing Grace then? Even at the funeral of a Catholic police officer, firefighter or member of the armed services?
It was written by an Anglican clergyman, and former slave trader, and put to the music of a British folk song.
Is there anything contrary to Catholic faith in that or one of Charles Wesley’s Christmas hymns?
You love Protestant worship and liturgical music? Go join them, then. Our Catholic heritage deserves to be loved, honored, and proudly upheld. It is all centered around a unique religious belief and purpose– let’s start with the Catechism, the Holy Mass, and holy Sacraments… Of course, I, too, love the great sacred music of the Anglicans, Lutherans, and the beautiful Methodist hymns of Charles Wesley. And they all have rejected our holy Faith. Especially, the Mass, and Doctrine of the Eucharist. They do not honor Our Blessed Mother the unique way that we do, as Catholics– they reject this part of our Faith. I do not know of any Protestant churches that would accept Marian hymns, like “Hail, Holy Queen,” or “Immaculate Mary.” It is best, for the director of music to fit a Protestant hymn or sacred musical work, just occasionally, when appropriate, around his planning for the Catholic liturgical schedule for the Sunday or Feast Day Mass.
There is one emotion I experience when I hear this music—anger! And I vow to never return to that church. I can stomach daily Mass at some of these churches, because there is no music then. If there is hand holding and peace signs, I kneel down and put my head in my hands and ignore this craziness. But Sunday Mass is at my home parish (St. Margaret’s in Oceanside) where there is only organ music (fabulous) and beautiful chant.
That is sinful.
Peggy, the sign or kiss of peace, in various forms, has been a part of Mass since ancient times. Why do you find it so troublesome?
I meant anger is sinful and making a vow to never return to a Catholic Church (where Christ resides)-that has got to be offensive to God. It might fall under idolatry but I am not sure.
Peggy is correct. The Kiss of Peace is not meant to be ABUSED, turned into a vulgar, degenerate, drunken, “hug and mug” party at a local pub– as is so often the tragic case, in the Vatican II Mass. The Kiss of Peace should be quiet and respectful, and the focus should be on GOD Who is Present at the altar! Everyone should be preparing prayerfully, for reception of Our Lord, in Holy Communion. If you are not going to Communion, you should quietly kneel and pray, mindful that Our Lord is Truly Present, on the altar.
I also meant that grumbling is a sin.
To anger and grumbling– Your anger and grumbling is very, very misplaced! It should be directed correctly at the liturgical abuses. And be sure to make a report of these liturgical abuses to the pastor and bishop.
Secular, popular music? Really? No it is not at all like secular popular music.
It is worship music and it is kinda lame but it ain’t rap, pop, rock, country, techno, etc.
And I have never heard any of those songs at my parish.
There is a huge difference between worldly music, and everything in the secular world– and the sacred realm of God, Heaven, and the Church. People in former eras had much more understanding and sensitivity to the differences between the sacred and the profane. The sense of God and holiness has nearly been lost, in the modern world. In past eras, there have been times in which naughty, bawdy musicians have snuck risque drinking and love songs from local bars and pubs of the day, into the music for Mass. They might disguise it a little– but everyone knew what they were doing– it was a blasphemous mockery, very corrupt. Finally, Church authorities would purge these inappropriate evils from the Mass. Today’s post-Conciliar Church will have to do the same thing, someday. Too many liturgical abuses of priests will likewise have to be expelled– such as that crazy priest who makes the Sign of the Cross with his guitar, at the end of Mass.
All adults must make good judgements every day of their lives. It is a responsibility. Christ and His predecessor, St. John the Baptist, made excellent judgements all the time.
Yes. I’ve had the good fortune to listen to the Uilleann pipes during Mass in Ireland and Mariachi trumpets at Mass in Mexico. The music was sacred and reverent. Some might say that pipes, trumpets and guitars are secular instruments, and that those instruments have no place at Mass. However, if those instruments are played fervently and within a sacred frame of reference, then let us rejoice in this glorious music.
I sympathize. There is often little respect for God, in our churches, today. Many Catholic clerical leaders have no respect at all for our uniquely beautiful and holy sacred Catholic Tradition, heritage, and religious identity, centuries old. Many just want to throw it all away, and modernize everything, degrading the Church into crass, lowly, earthly humanism, almost to the point of making humanity into unholy, crass little profane gods. Many have no sensitivity to Sacred Music, Sacred Art, or Sacred Architecture, in a beautiful church, with a beautiful Mass, very holy and close to God. Christ comes to us from the extremely beautiful sacred realm of Heaven, in Holy Communion. A holy, wondrous gift.
many in the Modernist wasteland of today, have forgotten this — and many have completely lost their faith in the Eucharistic miracle. Modernism– so banal, profane, crass, degraded, ugly, irreverent, ungodly, and dehumanizing, is highly destructive to the souls of all mankind– and drives people away from all recognition of the absolutely exquisite, extremely refined, glorious, sacred celestial beauty and goodness of God. The realm of Heaven is exquisitely beautiful and holy, far beyond anything we can imagine on earth, so poor and lowly. The Vatican II Mass is often a disordered, unholy, tragic mess. The Pope and Vatican are the only ones who can correct the situation. All we can do, is find one or two special churches to attend, until the situation is fixed by the Vatican.
Recently, I went to a Sat. Vigil Mass (Novus Ordo), that was very reverent. The beautifully-trained cantor sang the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus/Benedictus, and Agnus Dei, in Latin Gregorian chant, arranged with a simple, lovely organ accompaniment. The priest led us in a recitation of the Credo. The priest had several young altar boys, who did a nice job with him. There were lovely, traditional Catholic sacred hymns, and St. Thomas Aquinas’ lovely, prayerful “Adoro Te Devote” (Humbly We Adore Thee) at Communion. A simple, lovely, reverent, prayerful Novus Ordo Missae– a Sat. Vigil Mass, done well. I know the cantor and organist– both are professional church musicians, and best of all, they are both devout Catholic believers, with lovely wives and families at Mass! I later talked to several ladies and their husbands, who said they returned to Mass, after being lapsed Catholics for some years, after losing a beloved family member, or a similar loss– and this prayerful, quiet, reverent Mass gave them peace, solace, and comfort for grief and pain, and closeness to God– so, they kept coming back to church.
The assembly should be singing the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei — not a cantor by himself. Those are part of the ordinary of the Mass, and those sung responses belong to the people.
You see, sacred music can be done incorrectly too. I’m afraid that’s the direction that Archbishop Cordileone is going in. He’s commissioned Mass settings whose ordinary — Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei — are unsingable by the assembly. Those parts of the Mass should be sung by all.
Do not present yourself as an armchair “expert” on the Vatican II Mass. The congregation is always invited to sing along with the Cantor at the Vatican II Mass, unless he is offering a beautiful solo. Some peopke like to join in– but others like to quietly pray. At this particular Mass, many older Catholics grew up knowing the parts of the Mass in Latin, and Gregorian Chant melodies. Very easy to sing along, if you like! And some did join in. However, many Catholics like prayerfulness and quiet, in church– that is a part of our unique, centuries-old Catholic Tradition. You can choose to sing, at the Vatican II Mass, with the Cantor, if you want. Your choice. The Vatican II Mass is still new, not yet “centuries old.” And note– the novel concept of “assenbly” has to do with a sociological group– a sort of 1960s idea. Theologians may someday change such ideas, as time goes along. Please note– nothing in the Mass “belongs” to the people… this is a foolish assumption! The current Vatican clerical leaders of the day, in every era, decide on everything. The Mass is belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, and the ordained clergy are given permission and faculties to offer Holy Mass and the Sacraments. Laymen do not go to Mass for “social” reasons. They go to Mass to quietly, prayerfully worship God– Who ACTUALLY IS PRESENT in the Tabernacle, and Holy Communion! Only in Catholic churches do we find this unique, wondrous miracle!
There is no such thing as a Vatican II Mass.
I assume you mean the ordinary form of the Roman Rite.
Do not be a troll. Everyone knows that the Novus Ordo Missae of Pope St. Paul VI is commonly referred to as the post-Conciliar, or Vatican II Mass. Regardless, Our Lord is truly Present.
Catholics call it Mass.
“there is very little respect for God in our churches today.” How negatively judgmental is that statement of yours? How do you know what is in people’s hearts? Very judgmental. Presumptuous statement. It is devoid of any charity.
There you go again.
This is where “jon” is once again wrong. Respect is not merely a matter of internal disposition. Respect necessarily requires outward expression. It is nonsense to claim that a lack of outward respectful actions veils inward attitudes of respect, just as it is nonsense to claim that a lack of outward loving expressions veils an interior love. Both respect and love must be expressed in order to be genuine.
Therefore, since “by their fruits you shall know them”, we can judge whether there is respect for God in our churches today based on outward expressions that signify respect or disrespect. Wearing shorts and t-shirts to Mass? Disrespect. Chewing gum during Mass? Disrespect. Rock music at Mass? Disrespect. Genuflecting before entering a pew? Respect. Arriving on time instead of late? Respect. Being attentive during Mass? Respect.
Priest says Mass casually and tells jokes? Disrespect.
You don’t need to see into people’s hearts to judge their level of respect since respect, by its nature, must be demonstrated by outward action if it is truly present.
We have had at least two generations of Catholics who have been “conditioned” to respect and worship God at Mass in the way you now typically see in parishes. If you go to a typical parish and tell the people in the pews while waiting for the priest to begin the Mass that what they are about to do is an “outward disrespect” to God, they will look at you with a blank stare (at best) or laugh at you or boot you out of the Church for your words. What is the use of worshipping God in the most “reverent” and “beautiful” way if you just end up believing that your fellow Catholics are disrespecting God when most of them do not know any other way to do so? Again, where is the charity in your heart? Why not give our fellow Catholics the benefit of the doubt?
Yet those same people would never think of “respecting” the President of the United States the same way that they “respect” our Lord at Mass.
It would be more accurately phrased “I do not see behavior that indicates respect in the Masses I have attended at such and such parish.”
It is faulty thinking to generalize what you see in one parish as universal.
It is faulty thinking to mind read or to guess what someone is feeling.
You are not supposed to judge them anyway.
Does anybody confess being distracted at Mass anymore?
I once went to confession during a LifeTeen adoration event at which Praise and Worship music was being played. Mostly I went to confession to get away from the music. I told the priest that I didn’t really have any sins to confess; I just wanted to get away from the cringey P&W music for a little bit. His reply to me: “Jesus is with us in our suffering.” Some priests get it. Some priests realize that kind of music does more harm than good. Time for the musicians to realize it. Time for bishops to prohibit it.
Then it is God’s gift to someone else.
These songs have millions of streams on Spotify and views on YouTube.
“The songs have millions of streams.” So does porn. Be careful about the appeal to popularity.
Spotify and YouTube have nothing to do with the Catholic Church. They are secular companies. Loud music is vulgar, degenerate, and inappropriate in church– it is very babyish, banging around, in church. You can praise God with lovely, sweet, harmonious, angelic music, with beautiful words. The priest in the Confessional at that LifeTeen Mass should have apologized for the liturgical abuses. He should have reported the abuses to his Bishop. It’s not good, either, to go to Confession, in a noisy, degenerate, chaotic, disrespectful church. What a mess. The priest won’t be able to hear a word you say.
There is both Chant and Catholic Hymns on Spotify and also on Youtube.
It’s all God’s music.
As a life-long Protestant, who was received into the Catholic.Church 4yrs ago, I am VERY grateful to hear a move to more classical style of music in the Mass! I was instrumental in bringing Contemporary Christian music into the denomination I was with for over 70 yrs! Sadly, it has NOT brought deeper commitments to CHRIST, as we had hoped! I was wooed by the music of the Masters into the Catholic sphere, only to discover many music directors were following the ‘shallow lyrics and contemporary music’ of the Protestants! I thought I was entering the GREAT historic music of Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, etc. instead I found the most elementary music constructions by well-meaning volunteers…IT WAS DISAPPOINTING! But the Catholic Church moves slowly, and I’ve discovered many wonderfully talented musicians with a a deep love for CHRIST and a love of the liturgy!! THANKS be to GOD!!