Saturday, February 14, 2009
There's been something I've been turning over in my mind for a few days, and it disturbs me greatly, because it's not something I can do much to fix.
We know that every great gift God gives us can be twisted and used for evil. Sexuality, internet...and music, for example.
This week one of my catechists brought in some Gregorian Chant for his students. In the fall, we'd had an event for all the religious ed. kids, and in it we played Chant. Many of them enjoyed the music, or inquired about it, and this catechist's class wanted to know more.
I stopped in at his class at the end of the session, although I'd missed the music portion, he turned it back on for me while the boys were leaving.
One of them expressed his opinion as only a middle school boy can: "I hate it. I can't stand it!"
It doesn't bother me that he doesn't like the music; whether it is liked or not is not a factor in the fact that it is proper liturgical music, and his personal preferences doesn't change that.
But what DOES bother me was his qualifier, for he gave the clear reason for his dislike: "It's creepy. It sounds like it's from a horror movie. Scary music."
Right there, in a nutshell; there's the problem.
Gregorian chant has been corrupted by media, and now, in a traditional Pavlovian way, our younger generations now think it's creepy.
I've written before on the use of Catholic symbols and music in movies or television shows that portray a Catholic Church or anything related to Catholicism. Even though one rarely enters a church these days to the prayerful chanting of a schola, EVERY. SINGLE. PRODUCTION uses this music to cue us in to the religion being attacked...uh...portrayed. Catholic.
The horror genre is especially gleeful in its use of Gregorian Chant in scary sequences, say, when introducing a vampire or a corrupt priest. Or maybe the priest is fine, but we know that when we hear Chant, a demon-infested child is about to appear and screech in writhing agony, terrifying everyone...with the chant sedately playing in the background, human voices apparently disinterested at the intense suffering taking place in their presence.
The use of this music in media venues has quite literally caused our younger generations to look at the horrible things going on in the picture, while the music plays, and voila! They now associate evil and Gregorian Chant.
It's not surprising.
And what about every freaking show that has a corrupt priest in it? A Pedophile priest? A faithful priest who has maybe heard the confession of an abuser (either clergy or lay) and (RIGHTLY!) refuses to break the seal of the confessional? What's playing in the background? Gregorian Chant.
I would suggest that although individuals in Hollywood might not have been consciously considering the Pavlovian training they've been providing to their lab subjects (i.e. us), the One they serve knew exactly what he was doing.
Oh, yes, the smoke of Satan, as St. Pius X called it. (Was it St. Pius X?).
And when something pure and beautiful, something that is prayer and praise and thanksgiving to God becomes associated with something evil, that can send a very strong message. It's not subliminal; it's obvious. And odious.
That's what the middle school boy observed, and it's how he's been indoctrinated.
So when we, or his catechist, in doing something good, brings Gregorian Chant into an event or classroom, rather than being calming, it's natural that some students are going to have a violent dislike of what they're hearing.
And how the Evil One must be gleefully rejoicing in his eternal damnation.
So. Now we realize the problem. Now we have to combat it. And the ONLY way to do that is to use it more, to associate it with good things, with fun things, with HOLY things. The answer isn't to take it away just because it's been warped by our cultural corruption; the answer is to bring it back, gently, persistently, prayerfully, and let God do the rest.
Thankfully, not every child had that reaction, and that likely speaks more about what the parents are allowing their children to see at home (which concerns me more than the child's reaction). We need to realize that this beauty, Gregorian Chant, this great gift of the Church, which Vatican II said specifically must maintain a high place in the liturgy, NEEDS to be used! If it's never heard at Mass, guess where the kids are getting it, and with what they are associating it!?
We wouldn't have this problem if parishes were obedient to the directives of Vatican II.
Our fallen nature corrupts everything we touch; but the good news is that God created us to be directed towards Him. To elevate our wills, our intellect, everything...to Him. And that means we can still turn this ship around and point it back in His direction. We can save our symbols, we can save our music, we can save our children through being holy, through using what has always been holy...for the proper purpose.
And that will make ALL the difference in the world.
If we don't use what we've been given, it will be commandeered for evil. That's a fact, and it's happened, and continues to happen. We NEED to bring back Chant; it belongs to OUR tradition, it is part of OUR patrimony, and its misuse is affecting OUR children in a very negative way!
I look forward to the discussion in the combox.