"All are welcome" — or are they?

Discussing notions of what is beautiful in liturgy, Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin used his newspaper column recently to take aim at one popular church hymn:

Beautiful can never be mistaken as an indicator of what pleases some majority of people somewhere. The fact that our parish likes to sing a particular song at the liturgy cannot, of itself, make that song beautiful. To be beautiful, indeed, is to be good and is to be true. As much as some people may enjoy the musical antics of Lady Gaga, these cannot honestly be described as beautiful.

Beautiful means, in the first place, embodying the truth. Some of the songs that we sing at liturgy contain lyrics which clearly are not true — for example, the song “All Are Welcome.” As a matter of fact, the liturgy takes place mystically in the heavenly sanctuary. All are welcome at the liturgy who truly seek salvation in and through Jesus Christ, by following God’s Will, as spelled out through His Son’s very Body, the Church. People who have little interest in doing God’s Will don’t fit at the liturgy. And certainly, by their own choosing, the poor souls who suffer in Hell for all eternity are not welcome. Those are simple, but true facts. Thus the song, “All Are Welcome,” gives an impression that the choice for the Will of Jesus Christ, as it comes to us through the Church, makes no difference; and nothing could be further from the truth. It could therefore be concluded that the song, “All are Welcome,” is not beautiful so as to be appropriate-for-liturgical-use. Being true is necessary before anything can be beautiful.

Read the lyrics for yourself, or give the song a listen.  I think a few people might reasonably disagree with his conclusion.

He has more to say on the topic at the link.

This discussion is starting to go in circles.  Comments closed.

Comments

  1. Are you saying that the people who are to be in hell for all eternity are welcome. Abraham seemed to say to the rich man who did not even offer a scrap of food to the poor begger that he was not welcome and could never cross over or return to warn his relatives. Jesus said many are called, but few are chosen and also that the gate to heaven was narrow.

    From what I read, this seems to be what the Bishop is trying to get across to the people, that we will have to follow and pick up our cross and that following Christ will not see all chose to follow or to attend a liturgical mass focused not on us, but on Christ and the Trinity.

    If I remember right, when the king finally got down to the bottom and invited the street folks or poor to the feast, one was not dressed properly. Thus the invitation also contains a warning for those who refuse it or who approach the wedding feast unworthily. Grace is a free gift, but it is also an awesome responsibility. Dieterich Bonhoeffer contrasts “cheap grace” and “costly grace”. “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves ..the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance ..grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. ..Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.” God invites each of us to his banquet that we may share in his joy. Are you ready to feast at the Lord’s banquet table?

    All might be welcome, but those who come unwilling to pick up the cross and follow Christ and who are looking for cheap grace should find the same reception as given to the man off the street who came not properly dressed or prepared.

  2. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Greta…

    If you have a list with the names of those who will be in hell for all eternity, please share it.

    It will simplify my Christmas shopping.

    Dcn. G.

  4. I’m very concerned about “the man off the street who came not properly dressed”.

    What if he doesn’t own the right clothes? What if he can’t afford them. What if he’s doing the best that he can with what he knows?

    All Are Welcome has moved me to tears on more than one occasion and sometimes those tears are because that song sounds like wishful thinking (see Greta’s comment above)

  5. naturgesetz says:

    The bishop points out some ambiguitiy in the text. If one wants to, one can read it as he does. But let’s get real, folks. The song was written to be sung at the earthly liturgy. I can’t imagine that it is a real possibility that anybody singing it would think, “Oh, this means that people can come here from hell and be welcome.”

    Realistically, then, is the song true with respect to those who dwell on earth? I don’t know if there is still a category of excommunication vitandus which would exclude the excommunicated person from coming into the church at Mass. That could be a category of people who are not welcome. How about someone who comes with a bomb or a gun, intending to kill as many people as possible?

    Okay, there are limited exceptions, but as a general statement, I believe it is true that all are welcome to be with us at Mass.

    OTOH, clearly it is not true that all are welcome to partake of the Eucharistic Banquet. Those in the state of mortal sin are not welcome at the table of the Lord while in that state; those who are not members of the Catholic Church are usually not welcome to receive the sacrament.

    So I think the bishop has a point, which he expresses rather ineffectively — the real problem is more with the ambiguity of the word “welcome” than with a hypertechnical interpretation of the word “all.”

  6. naturgesetz says:

    Actually, Bishop Morlino should have gone after “Build a New Church.” That’s one that should give any faithful Catholic the willies. Building a new Church implies that the current one is inadequate and must be replaced, i.e., done away with. That’s far worse than saying all are welcome.

  7. I wonder about any bishop or priest who tallks about the “frequently mistaken implementation of Vatican II .”

    Some apparently will be satistified when the only Mass is the Tridentine Mass with Gregorian Chant.

  8. Actually naturgesetz the Bishop’s point is quite clearly made- All are NOT welcome in his church. The message I hear is if it intrudes on some self defined truth and beauty of the liturgy, perhaps you don’t belong here.

    Yet who really needs the liturgy most? This bishop and his clan of followers chanting “veni” and cheering the latest bull eliminating of the distribution of the Cup at mass to the unwashed faithful? Or the poor broken soul, who is depressed, a sinner who is not sure he can stop sinning, who doesn’t believe he is worthy to follow gods will or even come to mass, yet for reasons known only to God feels a call to come bak to mass?

    If one really wants to understand the mystery of Christ and find the real truth and beauty of the liturgy, the answer is obvious to me.

    For this reason I am glad our pastor posts the message year round “All Are Welcome” plus the mass times on the busy highway past our church.

  9. Deacon Steve says:

    Mhari in the parable about the wedding feast and the man that came and was improperly dressed it isn’t that he wasn’t prepared for the feast, but that he had no answer for why he wasn’t prepared. Had he replied that he was homeless, or poor he would not have been thrown out. It was because he was unprepared for the feast and had no answer and made no effort to defend himself. That is why he was “kicked out”. The bishop does have a point in that we must accept the gifts of grace offered to us through the Liturgy and the other Sacraments. If we are will to accept them and work to use the graces for the benefit of all, then we are indeed most welcome. If we have no inclination to take the graces and then use them for others then we are in the position of the man in the wedding feast parable. What I think that is missed in saying it the way he has is that we forget that for some they will have to hear the message many times before it sinks into their heart and they can change. We must be welcoming to all who come, because we do not know which ones need to be welcomed the most.

  10. Let’s face it: Christ is the host at the banquet of every Mass. I would suggest we realize that HE IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN DETERMINE WHO IS WELCOME OR NOT! For me, I would like to err on the side of charity and Christian hospitality and not to pretend to know the mind of the HOST. I’m glad I don’t belong to the Diocese of Madison with a bishop who thinks he knows the mind of Christ! Actually, he’s just trying to make an orthodox name for himself so he can get to wear a red hat one day! God save us all from career clerics like this! But, even he is welcome at the feast at which he has determined others unworthy to attend. I’m one of those unworthy to attend, which is why I pray sincerely from my heart, “Lord, I am NOT WORTHY to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” Thank God he says “the word” so that I can be healed. But, if I’m not welcome will I ever hear those words? According to Bishop Morlino, I won’t. I certainly hope this is NOT the face of the New Evangelization, because if it is, I’ll be ashamed to call myself a Catholic! God loves us all, whether we deserve it or not…even the clerical careerists looking for promotions!

  11. Deacon Den says:

    “Are you saying that the people who are to be in hell for all eternity are welcome.”
    Many are on the altar.

  12. Henry Karlson says:

    There is considerable theological opinion — even from saints — which points out that hell is self-chosen, self-made, and that indeed all are welcome, but those who choose to be away from God get their choice reinforced. Indeed, some saints even say all are given the same resurrection, the same God, but for some, the experience of the living flame of love — because of their rejection of love — is what hell is all about.

  13. In fact that song does not happen to be one of my favorites. However every time one of these liturgical purists start spouting off, it pushes my buttons and makes me want to take the exact opposite position.

  14. Part of the problem may be that the composer of the song is not Catholic. While it may reflect his own beliefs, it doesn’t necessarily reflect the beliefs of the Church. Perhaps the publishers of liturgical music should consider that more when compiling hymnals.

  15. I can’t comment, my head is exploding. I truly dislike the talk-is-cheap blasts of clergy and leadership that we just don’t like, but this is poor shepherding no matter how you slice it.

    Favorite comments: Deacon Greg on easier Christmas shopping and Paul Moses, who is and remains one of my favorite writers. He even makes multiple exclamation points speak volumes.

  16. well if the Church would use fitting Sacred Music one would not have to worry about who is gathered or not, now would we.

  17. Henry Karlson says:

    Have we not learned from the filioque? Sure, one can talk about liturgical hymns or additions and give it a heretical slant; the question is, does it have a possible non-heretical meaning as well? Why force heresy into something?

  18. I tend to think about this song as a song of hospitality – a song that says all are we will meet all with a warm and friendly disposition – Christ certainly did not turn people away – He ate and drank with sinners and the like – he welcomed all to His ways – the Bishop seems to be substituting his judgement for that of Christ – if only “All are welcome at the liturgy who truly seek salvation in and through Jesus Christ, by following God’s Will, as spelled out through His Son’s very Body, the Church. People who have little interest in doing God’s Will don’t fit at the liturgy” how will the other learn.
    Perhaps the Bishop is upset that the lyrics: ” Here the love of God, through Jesus, Is revealed in time and space; As we share in Christ the feast that frees us:” suggest the removal of the clerical stranglehold on how we as people encounter Christ. IMHO it is how we encounter Christ that is important, not how the Bishop says we should.
    To return to hospitality – and I paraphrase What you do for the least of these you do for me. I guess the least are not welcome in the Bishops church.

  19. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Good point, Henry.

    From my reading of the lyrics, it’s about creating a truly Christian community, a hospitable place of worship, one in which all who seek God’s grace are welcomed. I see nothing heretical in that.

    Indeed, it’s something we evidently need to be hear more. Surveys have shown repeatedly that one of the main reasons people are turned off by Catholic parishes is that they do not feel a welcoming spirit. It’s a pervasive problem.

    Except in the Diocese of Madison, of course.

    Dcn. G.

  20. Henry Karlson says:

    I’ve also thought that with the hymn — and how we are to go out into the whole world and seek to bring the whole world into the Church.

    I fear in Madison, the idea of “a pure, small church,” is gaining strength. I fear this is the real reason for this interpretation of the hymn. I also fear, there are only a few who would ever merit being in it — Jesus, Mary, St John the Baptist, maybe Job…

  21. Deacon Norb says:

    Henry #12

    “There is considerable theological opinion — even from saints — which points out that hell is self-chosen, self-made, and that indeed all are welcome, but those who choose to be away from God get their choice reinforced. Indeed, some saints even say all are given the same resurrection, the same God, but for some, the experience of the living flame of love — because of their rejection of love — is what hell is all about”

    That’s fascinating. I have always thought — and taught — that this insight is true but had no idea that there were a long line of saints who also accepted that theory.

    Also look at it this way: Here you are, in the middle of nowhere, and you see God in the distance. You shake your first at God and say something like: “Get out of my life! I do not need you!” And God replies: “As you wish.” And there you are — for all eternity — stuck with your own ego; a cosmic equivalent of a “Super-Max” prison where you still exist but in eternal isolation constantly feeding on your own evil.

  22. Henry Karlson says:

    Deacon Norb

    One prominent saint who discusses this in the patristic era is St Isaac of Syria. There are many others, sometimes found piecemeal, in saints like Gregory of Nyssa, Maximus the Confessor (both often claimed by critics to be Origenist), etc.

    Hans urs Von Balthasar in the modern era also discusses this (in better detail in his Theo-Drama than in any other work). He also brings aspects of the psychology of hell into his work from the writings of the saints.

  23. #17 Henry Karlson, thank you for “Why force heresy into something?” It’s a game way too many people are playing these days. There must be an app for it.

    I believe we will see more of this singling out of contemporary hymn texts as the contrast becomes more apparent between the vision of Church they portray (inclusive, horizontal, egalitarian, communal, relaxed) and that which the revised Roman Missal is intended to shape (exclusive, vertical, hierarchical, God-and-me, formal). We are riding the pendulum of lex orandi, lex credendi, and I’m not sure there’s much to be done about it other than to pray that God keep us sweet, sane, and gracious toward one another wherever we find ourselves in the arc. The truth is, there is treasure to be mined from both these extremes, which we will miss if we give in to the tendency to name it heresy.

  24. A blind squirrel stumbles over an acorn, not knowing how he got there.

    The song is of poor quality, but not for the reason the bishop says. A sing-song melody, an unpoetic text, yes. There are better hymns and songs expressing the sentiment — I’m sure of it. (I’ll do some digging and find them)

    But if we don’t open the doors to everyone, we’ll wither like the Shakers.

    The real problem is that the principal force that is suppressing art and artistry in English-language Catholic worship is not the about-to-expire translation, nor the disappearance of Gregorian chant. It is the popularity of Haugen’s junior-high musical oeuvre among those many liturgists and untrained music ministers who do not know enough about music for worship to distinguish good from bad.

  25. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    RP:

    Agreed. Speaking for myself: you won’t find this tune on my iPod, and it’s not really my cuppa. But a lot of folks seem to appreciate the sentiment behind it, and I see no reason to discourage it.

    Dcn. G.

  26. Deacon Mike says:

    Thank goodness we have people like Bishop Molino taking on the real problems that plague our church today. I’m all in favor of making the Church more exclusionary, less welcoming….when I’m at at mass, I want to be sure that those who’ve failed the religious righteousness test are outside the doors, where they belong! The bad people, the socialists, communists, pro-choice people, femnists, Jews, Muslims, etc….everyone knows who they are! One reason I remain Catholic is the vision I have of Jesus driving people from the table, only welcoming those who were “pure” and ritually clean; you know, the Pharisees and Sadducees….the lepers, sinners, tax collectors and Roman pagans certainly weren’t welcome! Good heavens! We need more guardians of the faith like Bishop Molino, men who will keep us on the straight and narrow and remind the rest of the world who it is that has the TRUTH!!
    I weep.

  27. Don from NH says:

    What’s next ban the him “We are one body”

    There is more important work in the church, this bishop should get off his throne and mix with his flock.

    He might find out that not all have cake to eat, if he even cares.

  28. Is Bishop Morlino still a Jesuit? Just curious.

  29. Henry Karlson’s Post #12 bears repeating:

    “There is considerable theological opinion — even from saints — which points out that hell is self-chosen, self-made, and that indeed all are welcome, but those who choose to be away from God get their choice reinforced. Indeed, some saints even say all are given the same resurrection, the same God, but for some, the experience of the living flame of love — because of their rejection of love — is what hell is all about.”

    Many of the Eastern Saints affirm that everyone will be in the presence of God in eternity. Some will experience God’s love in theosis. Some will experience God’s love in hatred.

  30. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    HMS…

    Tellingly, his biography on Wikipedia doesn’t list any specific parish assignments after his ordination. His Madison biography notes:

    Father Morlino taught Philosophy at Loyola College in Baltimore, St. Joseph University in Philadelphia, Boston College, the University of Notre Dame and St. Mary’s College, in Indiana. He also served as an instructor in continuing education for priests, religious and laity and as director of parish renewal programs.

    In 1981, Father Morlino became a priest of the Diocese of Kalamazoo and served there as Vicar for Spiritual Development, Executive Assistant and Theological Consultant to the Bishop, as Moderator of the Curia, and as the Promoter of Justice in the Diocesan Tribunal. He served as administrator of a number of parishes, and as rector of St. Augustine Cathedral in Kalamazoo.

    Was he ever an ordinary parish priest? Handling the usual round of weddings, baptisms, funerals, confessions, sick calls? Supervising the altar servers? Teaching RCIA? Organizing the annual parish picnic? Counting the collection and changing light bulbs and using a mop in the rectory basement when a water pipe burst? That experience might have been instructive.

    Dcn. G.

  31. Mhari Dubh said:

    “I’m very concerned about ‘the man off the street who came not properly dressed.’

    What if he doesn’t own the right clothes? What if he can’t afford them. What if he’s doing the best that he can with what he knows?”

    From what I understand, in Jesus’ day those who were invited to a wedding feast were offered special clothing to wear at it. In the case of the man who wasn’t wearing it, it would appear that he refused the gift offered to him.

    It’s the same with us when we refuse the grace that will lead to eternal life.

  32. Fr. Brian Stanley says:

    Yes, he was pastor of a parish. He served as rector of St. Augustine Cathedral in Kalamazoo for ten years, while also serving as moderator of the curia for the diocese.

  33. The whole “beauty is objective so we know that it looks like this” argument has always seemed so profoundly one-dimensional. Anyone who has really spent time in non-western cultures knows that they have profound sense of “classical beauty” that don’t fit those of the west: complete different scales and tones and timing for their great “classical” music, profoundly different understanding of dance, etc. Try listening to Persian classical music sometime. 2/3 of Catholics live outside the west now but we keep insisting that only a very narrow bit of western classical music is really beautiful and worthy of our worship. (And I speak as someone who loves chant, polyphony, Palestrina, Mozart, Bach in the liturgy and outside of it.)

    But even in strictly western discussions, I’m astonished at highly educated people of taste who are genuinely, profoundly moved by music that leaves me unmoved at best. One of our teachers is profoundly moved by hearing “On Eagles Wings” sung. I know this is one of those songs that traditionally oriented Catholics love to hate but he genuinely find this song profoundly moving and spiritually nourishing in the Mass and I’m supposed to tell him to stop it because someone somewhere has determined that it isn’t “objectively beautiful”? Sure there is a real difference between the beautiful and the non-beautiful but the western tradition has also always known that the eye of the beholder has a great deal to do with it.

  34. “Here the love of God, through Jesus,
    Is revealed in time and space;
    As we share in Christ the feast that frees us:

    All are welcome, all are welcome,
    All are welcome in this place. ”

    This is indeed a Lutheran thought. I have a husband going through RCIA this year. We’ve will have been married 25 years this coming summer. He attends church every Sunday – making a spiritual communion.

    A lot of the people singing this are from that generation from whence it came. My mother – who “converted” before marrying my father – never recalls having gone to confession, and never learned even so much as a Hail Mary. And doesn’t see any reason why everyone shouldn’t come to the communion table, in fact, apologizes about it. My father isn’t far from it….

    In my own opinion – aside from the schmaltziness of the tune it encourages that same focus on self vs. God. Not my cuppa either.

    I’m not sure why someone’s favorite comment, however, was the smirky and snarky one that I hope was made without serious thought of “If you have a list with the names of those who will be in hell for all eternity, please share it. It will simplify my Christmas shopping.” Not helpful, except to the writer’s ego. I did not sense this in Greta’s comments. And barely a single person that I could see chose to listen to them in the charitable manner they apparently felt she lacked. Clergy in particular should be careful how they express themselves to the general laity.

    As for myself, I am happy that at my church, we have an entrance hymn and a recessional hymn, as well as the appropriately sung/chanted parts of the mass. When I am praying – both before and after reception of the Host – I appreciate the calm music of the choir behind me which facilitates my prayer, not distracts from it. Silence could be golden, but the beautiful gentle hymns sung to God, not myself, are a peaceful backdrop to my especially close time with God.

    Peace….

  35. Bishop Morlino was a Jesuit for 15-20 years before becoming a diocesan priest, so he certainly would have gotten some pastoral experience during his formation and early years of priesthood. Still, this is not the first time he’s said or done things that might cause some to question his pastoral skills. I met him once, and found him to be friendly and seemingly down-to-earth. As with all of us, he seems to have his good and bad qualities, and opinions.

    Nevertheless, I’m just grateful that Jesus didn’t apply this same standard to those he invited to his table.

    “All are welcome at the liturgy who truly seek salvation in and through Jesus Christ, by following God’s Will, as spelled out through His Son’s very Body, the Church.”

    I daresay that many if not most of us have found ourselves at liturgy at times in our lives when we were not meeting this standard. It is for those times that we often find ourselves most grateful for God’s mercy, and for the welcoming love of the Christian community. I know that I did when I was there; and I pray that I can be the mercy and love of Christ welcoming those who find themselves in a similar place, seeking but unsure of what–or who–they are looking for.

    “You shall not molest or oppress an alien,
    for you were once aliens yourselves . . . “

  36. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Speaking on the subject of beauty …

    I’ll never forget a story told by Fred Rodgers (aka “Mr. Rodgers”) when he was a young Presbyterian minister. He attended a service and sat through what he thought was a truly dreadful sermon — making mental notes to himself of all the blunders, mistakes and rhetorical inadequacies he heard. Terrible sermon, he thought. Just terrible. But then he gathered his coat and prepared to leave the pew and heard the woman behind him sobbing. “That was the most beautiful preaching I’ve ever heard,” she whispered to a friend.

    It taught Fred Rodgers that you can never know what will stir another’s heart, or how the Holy Spirit will work.

    Who are we to decide that God can only work through the music or preaching that we ourselves find particularly edifying?

    Dcn. G.

  37. I think we need to separate the idea that “all are welcome” as opposed to “all are saved” We built a house of God, the Church and are commanded to take the Gospel to all. WE welcome all to hear his word, that is after all our mission.
    It is implied in the song that all are welcome to come hear the word experience His love. The invitation is always open, it os up to the individual to accept it for their own salvation.

  38. The bishop may be somewhat puritanical in his interpretation of the lyrics, but accusations against him seem harsh to me as well.

    The discussion of “what is beauty” is an important one.

  39. friscoeddie says:

    My parish would ‘laugh’ at such a position.
    Here’s how we welcome.. 7 minute welcome video. Bishop Morlino please copy.

    http://thegubbioproject.org/video
    Watch rhe ‘ days and hours’

  40. “Here the love of God, through Jesus,
    Is revealed in time and space;
    As we share in Christ the feast that frees us:

    All are welcome, all are welcome,
    All are welcome in this place. ”

    I think the problem here is the distinction between being present at the liturgy, where all are welcome, and sharing in “Christ the feast”, which for their own sake, shouldn’t be done by those with serious sins on their souls without prior confession.
    The wording is fuzzy, and open to misinterpretation, which could actually be harmful to some.
    We don’t put a ‘fence’ around Holy Communion to be ugly, but for the protection of those who for whatever reason shouldn’t receive.
    (Yes, yes, no one is ‘worthy’ – but some have swept their houses better than others.)

  41. David J. White says:

    It is the popularity of Haugen’s junior-high musical oeuvre among those many liturgists and untrained music ministers who do not know enough about music for worship to distinguish good from bad.

    Or the “songs of the St. Louis Jesuits”. Barf.

    I seldom find myself in agreement with Fr. Andrew Greeley, but I remember reading a column of his some years ago in which he remarked, “When the ‘songs of the St. Louis Jesuits’ are considered great or even good church music, then standards have clearly sunk into the sub-basement.” Hear, hear!

    One of the reasons I read this blog is for the contrast with Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s “What does the prayer really say?” blog. It’s like visiting a completely different Catholic planet. (For the record, I’m much more at home there than here.)

    But my question for those of you who disagree with Bp. Morlino’s critique of this particular song: isn’t it refreshing that a bishop is at least taking an interest in the music used at Mass, and is willing to state publicly that some music may not be appropriate? Whether you agree with his take on this particular song, isn’t the fact that is at least willing to draw some kind of line in the sand refreshing? Or do you really believe that “anything goes” as long as “someone” gets “something” out of it?

    Please read Thomas Day’s wonderful book, “Why Catholics Can’t Sing.”

  42. Bill McGeveran says:

    Lots of good comments about why the bishop is on the wrong track; I side with them. All should be welcome; this is not Judgment Day! As for the hymn, though, I would like to see it cast into the darkness outside.

  43. Deacon Mike says:

    #41 David
    It’s true that the Bishop may indeed have a point about the music, though I tend to believe that beautiful music is in the ear of the beholder. However, in choosing the song he chose to critque, as well as the actual critique itself, Bishop Molino went way past just talking about how appropriate certain types of music might or might not be. As with his earlier comments and directives about Communion under both species (once again, an issue he is choosing to highlight), it appears to me that the Bishop has a certain world view or agenda that I personally do not believe is healthy for our (and I emphasize “our”) Church.

  44. “But my question for those of you who disagree with Bp. Morlino’s critique of this particular song: isn’t it refreshing that a bishop is at least taking an interest in the music used at Mass, and is willing to state publicly that some music may not be appropriate? Whether you agree with his take on this particular song, isn’t the fact that is at least willing to draw some kind of line in the sand refreshing? Or do you really believe that “anything goes” as long as “someone” gets “something” out of it?”

    I do not find the bishop’s remark refreshing. It is not important that he says something. It is more important what he says.

  45. David J. White says:

    I disagree, Will. Given the “anything goes” attitude that too many bishops have taken for too long towards the liturgy in their dioceses (unless, heaven forfend! someone has the temerity to request the traditional Latin Mass), I think it is encouraging that bishop is finally taking an active interest in and expressing an opinion regarding the music used in the liturgy in his diocese. I think this engagement on the part of Bishop Morlino — the fact that he is willing to speak out about the music used at Mass — is more important than the substance of what he said, and whether he happens to like or dislike any one particular hymn. I also think, Dean Mike, that much the same applies to his directives concerning Holy Communion. I do recognize, though that many might legitimately disagree with the specifics of his remarks on that issue as well.

    The only think worse than having a set of standards that some dislike is having (or appearing to have) no standards at all, which unfortunately has been an all-too-common situation in too many of our dioceses and parishes for too long.

  46. Henry Karlson says:

    The idea that some bishop is exercising authority for the sake of authority contradicts the reason for that authority. To say it’s good he is being forceful and it doesn’t matter what he is being forceful for is a dangerous and anti-Christian understanding of the bishop. The bishop is not there for their own desire.

  47. Win Nelson says:

    I learn so much here.

    All this time, I thought that the hymn meant that as Catholics, we don’t decide on who should or shouldn’t be with us in the Mass based on identity but based on our actions (going forward, as we are all sinners) and faith. Now I learn that it’s much more complicated. ;)

    This is progress as usually I find that I make things more complicated than they need to be. :D

  48. Deacon Greg, I notice you made zero attempt to actually address what I wrote, but went for a snarky comment about Christmas list and then later seemed to be questioning the creditials of a Bishop of the Catholic Church as if he should not be a Bishop unless he met criteria of being a parish priest first. I could name a number of bishops who did not serve in this way first, many of them became very popular liberal bishops.

    How about addressing the points written..

    Remember I close with “All might be welcome, but those who come unwilling to pick up the cross and follow Christ and who are looking for cheap grace should find the same reception as given to the man off the street who came not properly dressed or prepared.”

    What part of all are welcome didn’t you understand. I think the Bishop is making the point that when we come in the door, Catholic teaching also states that before going to receive communion, we should be in the state of grace. In other words, it is simply not being there like some kind of a community organizer function, but to worship God and to recieve (if in the state of grace) the Body of our Lord.

    How about addressing what Bonhoffer wrote on the topic of cheap grace I quoted.

    “Dieterich Bonhoeffer contrasts “cheap grace” and “costly grace”. “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves ..the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance ..grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. ..Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.” God invites each of us to his banquet that we may share in his joy. Are you ready to feast at the Lord’s banquet table?”

    My comment about scripture seemed to be fairly clear and Jesus seemed to say if you come into the feast, you need to be ready. Some have said that the king had him bound and thrown out because he did not explain he was poor or offer some other excuse. Remember, the king was down by this point to the street folks or the poor so this makes little sense. How about addressing what Jesus meant with this parable and the person bound and thrown out of the feast? Where all not welcome at the feast or was there some requirement for his “christmas list”.

    I found this comment offensive and not worthy of one who calls himself an Deacon of the Catholic Church. I also found that a Deacon who attacks and questions a Bishops background to be something of interest in view of the solid backing of the Bishop in the fight with Father Pavone.

    So you can edit this and say what you want or you could seriously address the points made. You could also attack Bonhoffer comment as well. Maybe he also was not welcoming enough to everyone and too strident in his talk of cheap grace…

    Up to you..

  49. Joe Cleary says:

    Greta

    Dcn Greg is more then capable to speak for himself but let me try to answer your closing statement as I see it. In fairness, to me it sounds like you are saying ” all are welcome – sorta ” or “except for those who are not true Catholics” (or Christians as you reference Bonhoeffer)

    You, and in my mind also Bishop Morlino are making the welcome conditional – which for me ( and I think other posters here) defuses the very power ( and mystery- and dare I even say even truth and beauty) of the phrase “all are welcome”.

    I believe John Allen @ NCR and others have written about the broad issue of a Church in the 21st Century trying to determine if it will be more invitational or more exclusionary.
    The spirited dialogue on this issue here I think reflects that split.

    Let me, a simple layperson, try to make one more point I believe strongly. You do not have to dilute the phrase “all are welcome” by watering down the message of Christ, the challenge of christian witness or the need for fidelity to the Church.

    In fact, to me it is because we stumble and do not live up to what Christ asks of us, because even those of us who are inside the Church will too often quickly grab the cup of ‘Cheap Grace’ avoiding the more frightening and courageous cup of “Costly Grace”, that the words ” all are welcome” resonate and bear repeating. And yes even singing.

  50. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Thanks, Joe. You said it better than I could.

    Jesus said “Come and see.” He did not say, “If you are the sort of person I want, then come and see.”

    The fact is: all are welcome. The lyrics to the hymn — which I’m not wild about, but do not find offensive, either — indicate that grace does not come cheap, but comes through the blood of the cross:

    Here the cross shall stand as witness
    And a symbol of God’s grace;
    Here as one we claim the faith of Jesus:
    All are welcome, all are welcome,
    All are welcome in this place.

    In short, the bishop got it wrong. (And, unless I missed it, I saw no mention of worthiness for the reception of communion in either the lyrics or in the bishop’s response. That is a side issue, and a clever distraction.)

    Love the hymn, or hate it, it reassures those who may be seeking, doubting, wondering, or second-guessing that “all are welcome in this place.” That means those who are broken, wounded, angry, spiteful, vengeful, bitter, snarky, judgmental, petty, gossipy, shrill, impatient, childish or prideful. You know, sort of like bloggers and people who read them and comment.

    In other words, the Church is for mundane sinners like all of us. By God’s grace, and with hopeful hearts, we pray to leave through the front door in a better condition than when we entered.

    As someone wiser than I once put it: the Church isn’t a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners.

    A hospital will not turn away someone who is bleeding and desperately in need of care. And neither will the Church.

    All are welcome. And that’s all I’m going to have to say on the matter.

    Dcn. G.

  51. A few weeks ago, when I attended the first Mass I can remember where a lector wore a tee shirt on the altar, I began to question once again this “everyone is welcome” meme. Certainly we must be welcoming to those searching for the truth the Church proclaims, but we demean the Lord and the Church He instituted when we adopt a “whatevah” attitude to the liturgy, the music, and participation in the Eucharist.

    If all Catholicism requires is a comfy, homey, welcoming community – come as you are, anyone is welcome, nothing to commit to, no demands here – how do we differ from the Unitarian/Universalists? Or the Rotary? Pretty weak tea IMHO.

    There’s a priest around here who, at the Confiteor, asks God to forgive us for the “mistakes” of our lives. If I add 7 + 5 and get 13 by accident, that’s a mistake. If I consciously do the same in order to defraud someone, that’s a sin. And while I haven’t committed fraud, I am under no illusions as to my sinful nature and my need for confession, penance and reconciliation with the Lord.

  52. If it doesn’t reference communion, then “All Are Welcome” might make a better entrance hymn than a communion hymn. “All Are Welcome” might, might, might make sense as a way of calling people into church. I say might because my tendency is closer to agreeing with the bishop. As a communion hymn, the message can be misunderstood, at best, as an invitation to come to the table. And in Catholicism, as we all know, there are conditions to our worthiness to received. THROUGH the Church, we can be helped and aided, we can heal and equip, so that, as we pray, one day all WILL be one at the table. And when we recognize our snarky (or broken, wounded, angry, spiteful, vengeful, bitter, judgmental, petty, gossipy, shrill, impatient, childish or prideful) behavior, we are called to do more than fall on the “but we’re all sinners” sword. We’re called to humility and repentance. I hope I am just clarifying some of the reasons why I don’t agree with the hymn and not belittling the opinions of others. I think there has been quite enough of a less than charitable view of others opinions on both sides of this issue. And that is definitely not Catholic.

    [Excellent points, Ellen. FWIW: "All Are Welcome" is sung almost exclusively as a gathering or entrance hymn. I've never heard it sung at another point in the Mass. Dcn. G.]

  53. Deacon Norb says:

    Following up on what Ellen(#52) just said:

    “I think there has been quite enough of a less than charitable view of others opinions on both sides of this issue. And that is definitely not Catholic”

    The truth here is that we are a “catholic” church — in the lower case meaning of “universal.” The Church itself welcomes diversity in unity: “all are welcome” in the sense that really doesn’t matter if you are an “uber-conservative” or a “flaming liberal.” All are welcome by the church.

    The problem is that we are not welcoming to each other.

    We are wonderfully gracious to the Lutherans down the street (in fact, I was there in Rome when Benedict XVI publicly embraced a Lutheran Bishop from here in the mid-west); we cooperate fully in many of the social agendas of the United Church folk; we welcome disenchanted Church of England people with their own ordinariate.

    BUT, at the same time: active long-time Catholics who are genuine mystics often detest noisy charismatic long-time Catholics; parishioners who are alumni of Jesuit institutions are often publicly detested by those who never had that experience; religious educators who are graduates of Steubenvillle or Ave Maria are accused of looking down their noses on the “unwashed.” The list can go on.

    I really REALLY wish we could get our own house in order first.

    Back to that gospel passage so heavily quoted above. You will note that it is NOT the servants who decide that someone has to be rejected — it is the Lord of the banquet.

    We are the servants of the Lord of the Banquet; we have to welcome everyone since the Lord of the Banquet has issued the invitation.

  54. So when we go to Church which is for the mass in the vast majority of cases..yes we go for other sacraments and go for Eucharistic Adoration, etc. but most go to Church for the mass.

    So the answer is all are welcome to walk through the door. But Deacon and Joe and ellen seem to agree that all are not welcome to that part of the mass we call the Eucharist. (even is an amazing number of people at every mass get up and go forth showing that each considers themself in the state of grace which is hard to believe and another topic)

    Am I correct on this interpretation…you are all separting the Eucharist out like it is a time when the all who were welcome are no longer welcome to the table…correct? Deacon edit comment is that this song is only used to get them in the door “as a gathering or entrance hymn” and not at other parts of the mass like the Eucharist.

    Some party you guys give. Lets get the folks in the door, but when it comes time for the meal, what do you sing to them? You are no longer welcome?

    I think your responses in fact make the point I was trying to make along with the Bishop. We do have things that you are supposed to believe and accept to be Catholic and to be part of the entire Church experience in Mass.

    When Jesus told the crowd that they must eat his Body, and some said it was too hard a saying and walked away, He did not run aftern them singing all are welcome. He turned to His disciples and asked if they too wanted to leave. Where would we go??

    I know that many want to see the Catholic Church as welcoming and sing songs about all are welcome, but frankly Jesus did not sing a song like this. When he did meet with others, he welcomed them to hear and to accept and surrender themselves to His teaching. He said we must take up the cross and surrender to Him with our entire hearts, mind, and soul. He taught that we must pass through a narrow gate, not the wide more travelled road paved all the way to hell.

    I would like nothing more than to see everyone accept the hard teachings of Christ. I work every day to try to take up my cross and to accept the fact that very soon I will no longer be counted amoung the living and will face my Lord and my God. Time and again Jesus invited everyone in and as I said above in the very first comment…”All might be welcome, but those who come unwilling to pick up the cross and follow Christ and who are looking for cheap grace should find the same reception as given to the man off the street who came not properly dressed or prepared.”

    As far as I see, in the end most seem to be in agreement that at the Mass, all are not welcome if one truly believes what the Church teaches us about the Hard Teaching of Christ and the Eucharist. Too many think the answer is to change the teaching of the Church to be more inclusive. Jesus did not seem to agree with this and let them walk away. He also did this with the Rich young man who would not give up everything and follow him. Jesus told Peter that his future held a time when they would come and lead him to a place he did not want to go. That is why the Pope has predicted a smaller Catholic Church which so many seem to be fighting. I think he expects some to walk away from Church teaching as being too hard the same way they did long ago. I hope my faith is stronger than my human fraility and I cling to the Rock of the Church which I know is my only hope of salvation.

  55. At various points in history, church leaders (and others) have commissioned musical works that reflect their own tastes and their own interpretations of what is most important from scripture. I’d like to suggest to Bishop Morlino that he find someone to turn the following passage from Luke’s gospel (Luke 18:11) into a hymn:

    “The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector!’”

    Oh. Wait a moment. Jesus was **condemning** that attitude? Well, then. Hmm. Never mind.

    Then there’s that other passage in Luke’s gospel, this one in chapter 15. “Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to [Jesus]. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’”

    No, we certainly don’t want to welcome people who are separated from God through sin into God’s house. No, no, THAT’S certainly not why Christ came to earth…Right?

  56. [Comment deleted for restating what was in previous comments. -- Ed.]


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