21 May 2012

The Lost and the Lame

I have a terrible sense of humour. At times, it can be one of my greatest strengths, but at other times, it’s my greatest fault. I have a number of other faults that were much worse than my terrible sense of humour, but through prayer, hard work, spiritual direction, confession, and even some psychotherapy, they’ve improved considerably. So I’m hopeful that my sense of humour will become less terrible.

My sense of humour is usually quite sarcastic and usually so quick that it’s out of my mouth before I consider the consequences. What are these consequences? I sometimes appear insensitive, self-righteous, and harsh.

Sometimes (OK, a lot of the time) people don’t even know when I’m joking. Many times people get the impression I believe one thing when I really believe the exact opposite. This has been a good thing occasionally. I’ve made fun of people (I try not to do this anymore) without them knowing that I’m making fun of them.

When I was in high school, I went to a Robert Plant concert. He had Joan Jet open for him, and I thought she and her band were awful. The best thing her guitarist did was a lick he ripped off from Jimmy Page. The next day on the school bus, I talked to a girl that also went to the concert, but she loved Joan Jet. I derided Joan Jet and this fan of her’s the whole bus trip. Afterward, my sister said to me, “Your humour is too subtle. She had no idea you were making fun of her.”

I’ve gotten a little bit better since high school, but I’ve got a long way to go. This is why I found the following YouTube video absolutely hilarious:

When I read some of the comments, I actually laughed out loud when I got to this one:
Here in this place, a bad song is starting
Now will the altar turn into a stage
All that is holy is slowly departing
Making a way for the coming New Age
The first thing that came into my head was:
Gather us in with songs that are profane
Gather us in, the lost and the lame
Then my imagination ran away with me. I got the idea of taking my least favourite song that gets used at Mass and write a parody. I’d put in something about the “spirit of Vatican II” and how you better not read the actual councillor documents, something about Latin and Gregorian Chant, and of course something about non-liturgical music in Mass. I’d put my guitar out of tune, maybe overdub my congas and make another YouTube video.

I was getting really excited at this point, and never even remotely considered the legal copyright implications; however, I did start to consider how some people might receive this video. I’m sure some would think that it’s quite funny and true, but I’m also sure that many would find it offensive.

There are many faithful Catholics that have never experienced true liturgical music, also known as sacred music. Some don’t even know what the term Gregorian Chant means. (There are many other types of sacred music than just Gregorian Chant.) They may think that it doesn’t get any more sacred than John Michael Talbot. (I’ve got nothing against John Michael Talbot. I’ve got a lot of his CDs. It’s just that most of his music is not really liturgical.)

These people may not have any idea about what sacred music is, but can I call them “lost”? I started the last paragraph with, “There are many faithful Catholics…” The key word here is “faithful.” Through no fault of their own, they don’t know what sacred music is. However, they go to Mass every holy day of obligation, which includes every Sunday; they may not have read Humanae Vitae, but they practice natural family planning; they may not have read the Catechism from cover to cover, but they have a copy and they know how to use the index; they may not have read the latest papal encyclical, but they regularly pray for the pope; they may not know what sacred music is, but they are faithful Catholics.

Not only can I not call them “lost,” but what right do I have to call what might be a very spiritually important song to them “lame”? It may not be liturgical, but I can’t insult them by calling it lame.

This is the line that must not be crossed. I believe that reintroducing sacred music back into the Mass will  make the number of faithful Catholics increase. But, and this is a big “but,” it must be done very sensitively and pastorally. Something my sense of humour may not be the best vehicle for.

I’m going to work on my sense of humour. I’m also going to do whatever I can to expose others to sacred music. The Church may not look like she’s in very good shape right now, but if we get the liturgy right, everything else will fall into place.

Pray for the pope, pray for your bishop, pray for your priest, and please pray for me.