Contemporary Contemplative Mass

We’re trying something new and different at Our Lady of the Rosary. I’m rather tired of the “Formal-Informal” divide in liturgical circles. It seems there are two styles–Happy Clappy Campfire Liturgy or Strict and Formal Solemn High Maahhss”.

While I’m temperamentally biased toward the second I can see that there are lots of Catholics who are turned off by it and tootle off to the Campfire Songs and homely homilies because, while they don’t like that too much, it’s better than the Palestrina and Pergolesi and Mozart and Monteverdi with which they do not connect, and which they perceive to be highbrow and hifalutin.

So I’ve been wondering why there can’t be a middle way. Why there can’t be good music that is reverent, simple and accessible to all without being tacky, trite and sentimental?

I have been very much influenced by monastic spirituality so we’ve started a 5:00pm Mass on Sundays which I call ‘contemporary contemplative’. The Mass is said very simply and reverently with much use of silence and very simple chant–some Taize music and simple, old fashioned American gospel tunes, simple Anglican hymns as well as some 16th century English liturgical music and Gregorian chant.

We’ll see how it goes. If you’re in the Greenville area, come by some Sunday at 5:00 and see what you think.

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  • Christine Ereiser, OSB

    Father, Thank you for your measured approach on the Contemporary Contemplative Liturgy. Please post again on how this is received.

  • jedesto

    If all goes well, this will be the beginning of the end of all of the “noise” that is so distracting during the distribution of Holy Communion at a typical parish in my diocese. IMHO, the so-called Communion Hymn is a disaster in the current liturgy!

  • Diane

    Father, it sounds beautiful-I would most certainly be there except for the 1000 mile difference between us! God Bless and yes please do keep us posted about the response and feedback that you get-but don’t put too much “stock” in popular opinion-just keep spreading the word.

  • JennE

    If I were there I would come.

  • Seamus Gallagher

    Father, I think this is a step in the right direction. However, music that accompanies the holy sacrifice of the Mass should elevate the soul and turn our minds and hearts to God. Not to say that there is not good modern musics, but as you have noted in several of your previous posts, modern music tends to emphasize the “horizontal” over the “vertical.” Perhaps you should look at the Contemporary Contemplative Mass as something temporary… as a vehicle to re-acquaint people in the pews with the musical heritage of the Catholic Church. I think the reason why so many people are turned off by traditional music is because they have never experienced it. When all you know is Marty Haugen, being thrown into the middle of Palestrina and Mozart can be quite jarring. You can start with some good contemporary music, and then slowly work your way up to the great classics.

  • Papabile

    You might try the St. Michael’s Hymnal….. not nearly well known as the Adoremus one, but a great one nonetheless, and can be adapted for the liturgies you reference.

  • flyingvic

    Not quite ready for the guitars and drum-kit, then?