Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Theology of Smashing Liturgical Guitars

Any guitars and other instruments improperly used for liturgical purposes should be smashed. And those who perform such meritorious acts should be granted an indulgence for their zealous and holy work.
Musical instruments during liturgy should reflect the divine element in the Mass. In his 1903 encyclical Tra le Sollecitudini, St. Pius X writes concerning Church music: “It contributes to the decorum and the splendor of the ecclesiastical ceremonies, and since its principal office is to clothe with suitable melody the liturgical text proposed for the understanding of the faithful, its proper aim is to add greater efficacy to the text, in order that through it the faithful may be the more easily moved to devotion and better disposed for the reception of the fruits of grace belonging to the celebration of the most holy mysteries.”
In other words, Church music must reflect the reality of what actually occurs during Mass. Liturgical guitars detract from the aura of the divinity and majesty surrounding the Mass, and replace it with a more homely, community feeling.
But the Mass is not a mere community gathering. The Mass is quite literally the re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary. During this sacrifice, we are present at the Last Supper and the Crucifixion of Christ, where He offered himself to His Father to save us from our sins. He gives Himself to us to eat at this sacrifice. At this sacrfice, Heaven touches Earth. 
With this in mind, musical instruments at Mass should reflect this spirit of awesome majesty in the Mass. Organs, chant, High Mass music – all of these forms of music reflect and convey this sense of the divine. But a guitar does not and cannot reflect the presence of the divine. And as such, it has no place during the Mass.
I have no deep-seated hatred for the guitar. In fact, I like country music, and will happilly listen to a guitar around a campfire or at an informal gathering. But the informality of a guitar has no place in the formal setting of an orchestra. Why, then, do Catholics allow such instruments to be present at the glorious ceremony of Calvary, represented in the Sacrifice of the Mass? 
Christ’s parable of the wedding guest who was thrown out a wedding party for not wearing a proper garment, is instructive. (Matt 22:11-14) Dress, speech, and music not conducive to the wedding feast of the Lamb of God should be forbidden at Mass. Musical instruments that do not reflect the divine element of the Mass should be cast back into the outer darkness of the secular world, where they belong.


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