Monday, October 24, 2011

Beauty, Truth, and the Mass

Over at V-For-Victory, Anita has made some valuable comments on Bishop Morlino's recent statement about true beauty, and the beauty of Truth. Be sure to read the entire post, as well as Bishop Morlino's column.  Here are a few excerpts from Anita:

Beauty Is Truth, And Truth Beauty -- No, Really!

Any time I argue in favor of Gregorian chant at Mass, there always seems to be somebody around -- somebody, that is, of the Haugen-Haas mindset -- to inform me that my preference for chant is purely a matter of taste, and that other people have different tastes and opinions.  What never gets explained is why, if liturgical music is purely a matter of taste and opinion, their opinion always deserves to prevail over mine.  The answer, of course, is that where no one acknowledges universal standards, the party that prevails is always the one with the most power.  Thus, the ultimate end of relativism masquerading as "liberalism" or "tolerance" or "progressivism" is that might makes right.

Fortunately, however, there are universal standards; and even more fortunately, there are some in authority who stand up for them.  Bishop Robert C. Morlino of the Diocese of Madison in Wisconsin is one such, and his recent column in the diocesan organ, the Catholic Herald, addresses precisely the question of beauty and the liturgy.  The liturgy, he declares, "always requires beauty in its celebrations."

We must never forget that, being wounded by original sin, it is possible for us to take as good that which is not good.  We are not only capable of loving what is unworthy but also of rationalizing it.  Consider, for example, the ancient Roman taste for gladiatorial games, under the guise of admiring the combatants' skill and prowess.  Of course, the need to rationalize a taste for violence, or overt sexual displays, or low company, or other forms of spiritual trash, at least shows that the person caught in those snares still realizes, deep in his core, that these things are wrong.  Eventually, however, if we wallow long enough in baseness, that spark of conscience will be smothered and we will no longer see a need to rationalize.
When I enter a church built during the last century, do I feel as though I am in the portico of heaven?  Or do I feel like I'm in an airplane hangar?  Does the music make me feel as though I am at the foot of the Cross, or in the audience at a Broadway musical?  If I were an alien from the Andromeda Galaxy observing the sacred liturgy, would I guess by the vessels used at Mass that they contain Something precious?...

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