Sacred Music is the indispensable instrument of the Holy Spirit in leading souls in their march toward Heaven…Fr. John A. Perricone
Authentic sacred music isn’t a luxury or a mere affectation—it is a necessary element in right worship. As Fr. John Perricone sets out in the article linked below (h/t Crisis Magazine), our souls are moved in profound ways by the music we encounter, and this is especially true in the liturgy. He writes:
This music transforms him and pierces man’s soul to the core of his being. Often, it produces a contrition so profound that a man’s life can take a wholly different course.
This basic understanding is what guides our music program at St. Mark. Music for Mass isn’t about “filling in the gaps” or giving people something to do. It is an expression of our love for God, which in turn lifts and transforms our souls. But for this dynamic to truly work, the music must be fitting. Not necessarily complicated or expensive to produce, but fitting.
Happily, we have available to us a long tradition of music that is well-suited to the worship of the Most Holy Trinity. Some of this music ornate and difficult, and some is quite simple and accessible, but all of it has been proved over the course of centuries to both render right praise to God as well as “pierce man’s soul.”
Read the entire article below:
When it comes to art, especially sacred art, we don’t know what we don’t know.
In the article linked below, Catholic artist and author David Clayton writes about the collapse in art education and the resulting fruits we see around us every day, even in our churches. He also provides a detailed description of how sacred art “works,” and what we need to do to recover a genuinely Christian approach to art.
It is no accident that much of the most beautiful art and music in the Western tradition has been religious, and that a good deal of that has been produced for use in the sacred liturgy.William Schaefer
Evangelization isn’t just giving people a set of propositions, or a rulebook to follow. It’s inviting them into a relationship with the living God. But first we must get their attention. Human beings are by nature drawn to beauty. If we want people to fall in love with God, we must give them a glimpse of His loveliness.
Of course, love is the primary way we do this. But it’s a mistake to think that the outward forms of the Faith—liturgy, music, art, architecture—are superfluous. Nothing could be farther from the truth. These outward manifestations of beauty reveal something of the great love of God for us. They are also a sign of our love for Him.
There’s so much ugliness and banality all around us—it’s the hallmark of our post-Christian age. The Church must provide a refuge from all that.
The article linked below describes the connection between beauty and right worship, and explains why “there are no box stores… in the City of God.”
The Ancient architecture was always using material things as signs of something spiritual. But today our architecture is flat, nothing but steel and glass, almost like a cracker box. Why? Well, because our architects have no spiritual message to convey.Venerable Fulton J. Sheen
Archbishop Fulton Sheen was not an architect, but he knew a thing or two about theology and philosophy, and so could diagnose the spiritual sickness lurking behind modernist architecture. Moreover, he knew what architecture—sacred architecture in particular—is supposed to be: a kind of sacrament.
This is not what we council fathers decided; this is against the decisions of the council. I cannot understand how the Holy Father could give his consent to such a thing.Josef Cardinal Frings, 1969
The short article linked below gives us a little insight into how the Mass of Paul VI (aka the Ordinary Form) came to be.
The point of sharing this is not to shock our readers (though it might indeed raise some eyebrows). Rather, we just want to reaffirm why we are so concerned with conforming our liturgical celebrations to the authentic vision of Vatican II, as revealed in the document Sacrosanctum concilium.
It’s not about mere aesthetics or nostalgia: it’s simply about being faithful and giving God what is due Him.
For your weekend viewing pleasure, here’s a tour of 10 amazing Catholic churches in the American South. There’s a surprising amount of notable Catholic heritage in our Protestant country (link below).
Here’s some food for thought: Throughout much of American history, Catholics (with some exceptions) tended to be an out-of-favor minority. They also tended to be working-class immigrants. Yet, they managed to fund and build many beautiful churches like the ones in this article, giving glory to God and visually propagating the Catholic Faith. How did they manage that? Is there something we can learn from our Catholic forebears?
Unless you happen to be an architecture buff, you may not know the name Pugin, though you’ve certainly seen some of his work. The Houses of Parliament and St. Stephen’s clock tower (known colloquially as “Big Ben,” which is actually the name of the bell inside) in London are two of the 19th century architect’s most famous contributions. But they’re not his most important contribution.
Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin was born in 1842 and died a mere 40 years later. During his short life, his work inspired an architectural movement that changed the British landscape and gave us many of the structures that today we so readily identify as British.
Pugin had a powerful moral vision for Britain, which was at that time experiencing the disruption of the industrial revolution and the decadence of the Georgian monarchy. A convert to the Catholic faith at a time when being Catholic was still a risky career move, he believed that architecture was the key to bringing about a renewed Christian society. For him, this Christian architecture was Gothic. The Gothic style represented a pure, medieval Christian faith and morality: precisely what the country had lost after the Protestant revolution. His Gothic revival churches in particular, such as St. Giles in Cheadle, Staffordshire, are testaments to his Catholic faith and medievalist vision.
Why is Pugin important for us today? We’ve talked a lot at St. Mark about the concept of lex orandi, lex credendi. That is, the way we worship both influences, and is influenced by, what we believe. There’s a similar idea in Pugin’s thought. For him, “bad” architecture is a sign of a spiritually sick society. But he also proposed that creating better, spiritually uplifting architecture would help cure society’s ills. He believed in the power of beauty to change souls.
Take an hour sometime to watch the video linked below. Not only is it a superb presentation, but it tells the deeply moving story of the young man whose heart burned to restore a more moral, a more Catholic, Britain.
There’s a lot of weird stuff on YouTube, but every once in a while you stumble across something that makes you think, “Wow—why have I never seen this before?” That’s what I thought when I came across this video (below) by the Catholic musical group Harpa Dei.Continue reading