To My Partners in Evil, Patrick Coffin and Fr. Dwight Longenecker

To My Partners in Evil, Patrick Coffin and Fr. Dwight Longenecker August 7, 2013

Dear Patrick: What is the matter with you? Why didn’t you have your Liturgy Cop Police Scanner on this morning and catch this photo for immediate commentary and condemnation? Me and Longenecker were down at Dunkin Donuts getting breakfast and you were supposed to be monitoring the internet for all signs of liturgical abuse! Do I have to do everything around here?

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  • Hezekiah Garrett

    Is that a pan of Salisbury Steak in front of Padre’s altar?

    • D.T. McCameron

      Of a Swanson-y mircrowavable type origin?

    • Newp Ort

      I was thinking Italian Beef. would you like your Eucharist dry or dipped? I’m a big fan of the Christ and sausage combo with sweet peppers.

      Also: I bet the tabernacle is the shelf in the entertainment center where they used to have a VCR.

  • Jeffrey Liss

    Quick! To the Rubricmobile!

    • Jordan

      I laughed so hard at your comment, Jeff.

    • Patrick Coffin

      Best. Post. Today.

    • James H, London


      Just doesn’t have quite the right ring to it…

  • Andy

    Who are these people? I mean that in all seriousness. Where do they come from? More important why are they now here? I looked at the entire site – wow – talk about issues —
    I guess i Have lead a sheltered life or have missed some of the lowlights of the Catholic internet. I am not sure thanks for posting is what I want to say, but it works- I never realized the depth of people’s problems in this area before.

    • Rebecca Fuentes

      Oh, there’s nothing like internet Catholicism to make one realize what heretics we all are. I once thought that carpet was just a personal choice that helped keep the church floor from being too cold, but I’ve learned better. I’ve repented of ever enjoying piano music during the liturgy, and by golly, my kids will learn not to even crack a smile during the sign of peace, much less actually touch anyone!

      • Mary E.

        Piano music, sigh . . . . I learned recently that even Palestrina is considered “beyond the pale” in some quarters. Here, I was raised by my musician father to believe that Palestrina had written some of the greatest sacred music ever, but evidentally, it’s Gregorian chant or nothing.

        Just to eliminate any misunderstanding, I love Gregorian chant, but nothing but Gregorian chant? That prospect makes me sad. I guess I am shallow.

        • Rebecca Fuentes

          Some of the opinions I’ve run across, particularly about music, seem very Euro-centric. I always wonder what place the native music of new cultures has in the liturgy. Europe and the Church grew up together, so to speak, but as the Church moved further into Africa, Central and Latin America, and Asia and the Philippines, surely people didn’t have to eliminate their culture and music to convert or be faithful.

          • I’ve noticed an odd fixation on instruments, too. I understand how some music may not have lyrics appropriately sacred or appropriately orthodox, but instruments are just tools for making music. I get not liking the sound of some instruments because of personal taste or cultural bias, but to actually say that a particular instrument can never be used during Mass? I don’t understand that at all.

            • Rebecca Fuentes

              Well, I’d be worried if our music ministry showed up with electric guitars . . .

              • I admit it would sound very odd to me, because I am used to organs and bells (and pianos), but I can’t come up with a reason why electric guitars are *inherently* wrong.

                • Rebecca Fuentes

                  We need to plan a trip to the cathedral sometime. My kids have never had a chance to see it or hear the gorgeous pipe organ there. It’s worth an out-of-town trip.

            • ivan_the_mad

              That decision resides with the “competent territorial authority”. Sacrosanctum Concilium:

              120. In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man’s mind to God and to higher things.

              But other instruments also may be admitted for use in divine worship, with the knowledge and consent of the competent territorial authority, as laid down in Art. 22, 52, 37, and 40. This may be done, however, only on condition that the instruments are suitable, or can be made suitable, for sacred use, accord with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the

              • Ha ha, I should have known the Catholic Church would have a rule. But as worded, it does allow for “competent territorial authority” to approve of an electric guitar. Which gets back to the cultural issue — what the community is used to, and comes to expect.

                • ivan_the_mad

                  This amateur agrees with your assessment.

                • JS Frederick

                  One of the things that brought me back to Catholicism was that the music at the church I went to had a distinct “U2” ish sound to it. So… next Sunday I’ll have to see if there is an electric guitar involved. Awesome vocals. To be sure, the music augments the feelings I already had, not cheapens them.

                  • Rebecca Fuentes

                    I think your last sentence is really the most important thing. The music MUST point to God and the Eucharist, not detract or distract from it. Of course, different people find different things uplifting or distracting.

                • Stu

                  But…Musican Sacram which was a clarifying document after the Council went on to say:

                  63. In permitting and using musical instruments, the culture and traditions of individual peoples must be taken into account. However, those instruments which are, by common opinion and use, suitable for secular music only, are to be altogether prohibited from every liturgical celebration and from popular devotions.

                  Any musical instrument permitted in divine worship should be used in such a way that it meets the needs of the liturgical celebration, and is in the interests both of the beauty of worship and the edification of the faithful.

                  • “by common opinion and use” — which will vary by country, culture, and generation. That’s my only point. There was a time when organs weren’t used at all during Masses (and, if my quick and dirty research was accurate, apparently a time when instruments of any kind were a no-no).

                    • Stu

                      What’s interesting to ponder about that notion is in the current climate where Pope Francis is speaking much of simplicity, nothing is more simple than chant. No instruments needed and chant notation is very easy for lay people to pick up and read. It truly is beautiful in it’s simplicity and pure offering to God.

                      Perhaps those who went before us were on to something.

                    • I’d LOVE it if my parish were able to incorporate some chanting.

                    • Stu

                      They can. Does it take effort? Of course. But I can say that my parish has managed to grow it’s own schola and they sound great. The challenge in the beginning is finding someone who can mentor.

                      Folks at ccwatershed may be able to help.


                  • Andy, Bad Person

                    Everyone focuses on the “common opinion and use” for their exceptions, but no one pays attention to the clear statement being made here that, yes, there are instruments that are unsuitable for the liturgy. I challenge people to name one. The documents make it clear that they exist.

                    Furthermore, while “common opinion and use” throws the whole discussion into the purely subjective, “the beauty of worship” and “the needs of the liturgical celebration” are not so much so.

                    • Stu

                      I think you hit on the point that should make people think. When attempting to justify an instrument and making the case that it is not “suitable for secular music only”, the next question should be, “well, then let’s discuss what instruments are “suitable for secular music only”. Clearly the Church has something in mind, so what are they?

                    • Andy, Bad Person

                      The discussion needs to go deeper than that. Not only does the Church have something in mind, but we need to come to the agreement: What are those instruments that cannot be made suitable for liturgy? Why not? This discussion isn’t to start a musical witch hunt; it’s to find the mind of the Church on this matter. There is lots of room for freedom, but there are also some boundaries.

                      The problem is that there are people on one side that have nothing but very narrowly defined boundaries, and people on the other side that have no boundaries at all.

                    • Dan F.

                      Clearly the CHurch has something in mind, so what are they?

                      I’m not sure that is so. I think the language allows for the possibility but is deliberately vague leaving it up to the local bishop to make a decision fitting to his flock. It gives the background for a bishop to say “No Kazoos allowed during Mass.” but doesn’t require specifics.

                      I would suggest that in our current culture that there are very few to none instruments that couldn’t be baptized but that there are likely some which would be difficult to baptize. An electric guitar with devil horns perhaps might be difficult (but not necessarily all electric guitars); or perhaps any instrument playing “Gather Us In” or “Make of our hands a throne” or “Blest are They” (it being the music making the instruments unsuitable, not the other way around).

                    • Stu

                      So when the document was written in the 60s, which instruments were “secular” and what has changed to make then not “secular?”

                    • Dan F.

                      I’m not sure that there can be a definitive answer to that (and I’m certainly glad that I’m not the one who would have to make it.)

                      In general the complaint is usually that a ‘folk mass’ or ‘youth mass’ is using ‘secular’ instruments. I can say truthfully that I have heard electric guitars (and accompanying ensemble) “accord with the spirit of the liturgical action” as well as heard an organ which was incredibly distracting and grating.

                    • Stu

                      So be it. Yet Holy Mother Church has standards. And what I see unfortunately is people simply bypassing them based upon what they personally think sounds good.

                    • Dan F.

                      Indeed, and people attempting to enforce them in the same manner. Which is why I go back to my original statement – I’m glad I’m not the bishop. 😉

                    • Stu

                      Actually, I have seen attempt to educate using all manner of justification from the Church. CC Watershed lays out a very thorough explanation. I think trying to understand it is a better approach than simply ignoring it.

              • jcb

                I’ve always kind of hated the pipe organ. It makes me feel like I’m being stabbed in the eardrums. I guess my eardrums are not quite thinking with the mind of the Church, musically speaking.

                • ivan_the_mad

                  ANATHEMA SIT … or de gustibus, whichever 😉

            • said she

              This is so true!! I’ve even been blessed to hear guitar – played in Classical style – bringing us the beauty of wonderful sacred music in a new way. Performed with skill and reverence, any respectable instrument can be worthy of use in the liturgy. (Kazoos – never.)

            • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

              I guess Psalm 150 has fallen out of some people’s Bible.

          • ivan_the_mad

            They don’t, they can integrate their musical tradition. Sacrosanctum Concilium:

            119. In certain parts of the world, especially mission lands, there are peoples who have their own musical traditions, and these play a great part in their religious and social life. For this reason due importance is to be attached to their music, and a suitable place is to be given to it, not only in forming their attitude toward religion, but also in adapting worship to their native genius, as indicated in Art. 39 and 40.

            Therefore, when missionaries are being given training in music, every effort should be made to see that they become competent in promoting the traditional music of these peoples, both in schools and in sacred services, as far as may be practicable.

          • EMS

            I tried leaving a message a few weeks ago on another site when Disqus was being a pain and not working/loading on that point. People are freaking about black shoes vs red, ermine vs none, and wanting the pomp and circumstance of Renaissance Europe. Yet in Europe, the faith is disappearing and it’s growing in non-European cultures. Cultures that embrace things like liturgical dance, music that isn’t European, languages that aren’t Latin based, etc. and art that isn’t European. I guess the Church should force a European culture on them. Well, it’s been tried before and failed. I suspect those folks would be screaming at St. Paul about circumsion and Jewish food choices. On a historical note, Fr. Ricci back in the 17th c (I think) used Chinese dress and language when he went to China. He had a great deal of success until someone comnplained to the pope and he was told to switch to European clothes and Latin. Imagine if he had been allowed to continue – China could have been Catholic centuries ago.

          • Andy, Bad Person

            The “Euro-centric” label has definitely been the go-to argument for those arguing against the primacy of Gregorian Chant. Chant is not the exclusive music of the liturgy, but the documents are clear that it should be given pride of place.

            What “pride of place” looks like is certainly a matter for legitimate discussion, but let’s not pretend like that’s really the problem with liturgical music today. We don’t have throngs of parishes excluding everything but Gregorian Chant, but we do have an overwhelming majority that doesn’t hear a note (or neume) of chant, ever.

            We can discuss what “pride of place” means, but reasonable people should admit that Gregorian Chant doesn’t have it.

            • Rebecca Fuentes

              You’re right. I would guess that many Catholics have never had a chance to listen to Gregorian chant live, and that many don’t think of it as music for the liturgy. Actually, I would guess that most Catholics don’t think about the music in mass unless the cantor happens to pick a song they particularly love or hate.
              I don’t know, personally, how to start turning some attention back to chant (as I have great appreciation, but no talent, for music, especially singing on-key). It’s a much more do-able change for our small parish, as it doesn’t rely on certain instruments, but I also have no idea how many people it would take, or if our handful of music ministers would even consider it.
              I only get really bothered when “pride of place” seems to mean, “Nothing but”.

              • Andy, Bad Person

                I only get really bothered when “pride of place” seems to mean, “Nothing but”.

                Agreed, because while our liturgical documents do grant GC with pride of place, they also clearly allow for other forms of music. GC exclusivists are mostly an online phenomenon. I can count on one hand how many parishes I know of, nationwide, that do nothing but chant.

                And I’m pretty plugged in to the liturgical music world.

                • Rebecca Fuentes

                  I suppose the most sensible approach would be to suggest trying it for one of the more special masses or feast days, such as the Easter Vigil or Midnight Mass at Christmas, when we are more likely to have a few more people in the choir and a sense of musical adventure.

        • ivan_the_mad

          No, not just chant. Sacrosanctum Concilium:

          116. The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.

          But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action, as laid down in Art. 30.

          For reference, Art. 30:

          30. To promote active participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs, as well as by actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes. And at the proper times all should observe a reverent silence.

  • frdlongenecker

    I’m being stoned by the traddies and the trendies at the moment. This is confirmation that I am getting it just about right…

    • Newp Ort

      Don’t get ahead of yourself it means you’re doing at least one thing right.

    • Not really Father. The name-calling and labeling is uncharitable and rude and it needs to stop.

      • chezami

        *There’s* that combination of obnoxious accusation, spiriitual superiority and butthurt self-pity that makes Traddery so appealing!

        • Stu

          You are always talking about “butthurt”. Odd descriptor. Can’t relate to it myself.

        • Beefy Levinson

          “I give thanks to you, O Lord, that I am not like those awful, awful Trads,” eh Mark?

        • YouKnowWho

          What do you expect from such a hypocrite? Claims superiority then marries such a “good catholic” girl? Such a disgrace to society!!

  • Rebecca Fuentes

    Once in college, Patrick Coffin accidentally sent me Lenten greetings out of the blue. It was an amazing bit of brightness in a rather dark semester.

    • Patrick Coffin

      Awkward moment. That was supposed to have been intentional…wry grin.

      • Rebecca Fuentes

        I have never forgotten to specify FRANCISCAN University of Steubenville since. 😀

  • Patrick Coffin

    Why are you people laughing? It stinks to high heaven in here of people enjoying themselves. STOP it, and don’t stop stopping it until all gangsta rap everywhere is delivered in mellifluous Latin.

  • Faithr

    Those kids are reclining, just like you are supposed to do at a Passover meal! LOL. Actually if you look out the windows it is dark so I bet this happened either early in the a.m. or late at night and those kids are tired and some well meaning adult decided that Father should say an quick home mass in the family room. I actually find the picture kind of sweet. But I do find the pan of whatever it is rather disturbing!

  • Athelstane

    This isn’t a Mass, is it? Is it a pantomime of some kind?

    • chezami

      Hard to say. Could be some Episcopalian thing. The blog author isn’t real interested in accuracy. He just wanted to use the pic to land a punch in intense Christian charity.

      • Stu

        And you aided and abetted the effort Mark. With all of your digs at so-called “traditionalists”, you really seem to make an effort to go find this stuff on the Internet. You go looking for it and find it on obscure blogs that no one really reads. What’s worse? The person who does such things or the one who feels compelled to go looking for it all over the web. But hey, you just wanted to use the post to land a punch of your own.

        Mission Accomplished!

        • Ron Van Wegen

          I went to his site and I’ll be staying there. I don’t think you really get it Mark and I’ve been reading you for years.

      • bear

        And you have landed a second. You seem to believe you know this blogger’s heart, but do you remember your own from just two months ago?

        • chezami

          I don’t claim to read his heart. I claim to read his post.

          • bear

            Wrong. “He just wanted…” Is a statement of knowlledge of his intent and of what was in his heart when he wrote.

  • Thanks for the link, bud.

  • Rugratmd

    I don’t think this infighting amongst Catholics does anything to edify the body of Christ. What a shame when good people are reduced to tossing insults at people who don’t share their point of view.

    • Rugratmd

      Or better yet, I’ll let St. John Vianney speak:

      “All our religion is but a false religion, and all our virtues are mere illusions and we ourselves are only hypocrites in the sight of God, if we have not that universal charity for everyone–for the good, and for the bad, for the poor and for the rich, and for all those who do us harm as much as those who do us good.”

  • Loretta

    Okay, so I looked. Okay, so I was offended. Don’t feed the troll.

  • GK Student

    Being a fallen away catholic, though I toto mass asking God to deliver me from every peril of danger as literal as a tow truck lifted my car out of the side of the road, I do believe there’s a thing called justice. Gregorian chant is beauty and the slendor of the Church, the very bride of Christ. Gregorian chant holds a place in what manner sacred music should be held and to what manner worship extends to all people to love, to know, and serve God in the manner Mary is the model and image, and role for the Church,. Better, Mary magnifies Christ and His life to us to better enroll our lives in the Church. Mary is the prime example of to us what it means to love, to know, and serve God through His only begotten Son to be her firstborn in the same manner we are to be sons and daughters of Mary in being through her magnification of God’s grace worked by the Holy Spirit which Mary is born and conceived without sin as Christ fulfilled for us through baptism.

  • KW Traditional Catholic

    Maybe if professional NeoCaths like Mark Shea and Patrick Coffin (are you really a street magician?) would stop condoning liturgical abuse it would stop happening. The Vatican thinks liturgical abuse is a serious matter so why do you make light of it?

    • Stu

      You know, there is an ongoing discussion right now, limited to the very small world called the Catholic blogosphere, about using terms like “Rad Trad” and “Mad Trad” or such terms that are used to marginalize groups of Catholics into and “us” versus “them” paradigm. “Neo Catholic” (NeoCath) is another such term that should go to the dustbin with the previous two.

      I don’t think it is fair to say that either of the gentleman you mention condone liturgical abuse. While it might not be a priority of theirs, to say they condone it is an overstretch.

      The original post on the other blog was a dig at the host who unfortunately decided to return in kind. That’s all.

    • chezami

      I don’t make light of it. I make light of Phariseeism.

    • jcb

      The idea that some guys with blogs have it within their power to do anything at all that would cause liturgical abuse to “stop happening” seems a bit fanciful.

      By which I of course mean no offense to our immensely powerful host.

  • JPC

    All the infighting between Catholics is why I left the Latin Rite and moved to an Eastern Rite. Those who are entrenched in the new mass border on an outright refusal to see things that happen in the church that are not good(abuses in liturgy, watered down homilies, etc). And those entrenched in the EF refuse to believe anything good came from VII(cycle of readings, changeable parts in vernacular). All this shows is that it is problematic to have two separate liturgical rites within the latin church.

  • johnnyc

    Ah…the weekly advertisement for the cal ‘mad trad’ show. Be sure to tune in folks and listen as we promote division in the Church.