Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Guest Post “Partisan Political Activity” : CCHD California Style

“Partisan Political Activity”
HOW Strictly D0
We Define It?
by William Snear

While doing research for a ZOGS article on ACORN. l became aware of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development`s operational design. Most of the approximately $9 million it collects every 
year is dispensed to community organizations.

 Not community organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs, but community organizations like ACORN. CCHD gave over $7 million to ACORN organizations before declaring it ìneligble for in 2008.
I have continued to be concerned that in the parishes I attend, there is no straightforward disclosure on Collection Sunday of CCHD`S modus operandi. So most of the congregation thinks that
CCHD is a conventional Catholic charity.

My concern recently spiked when I accidentally discovered the role that PICO California played in the campaign to pass California's Proposition 30 which raised the top state income tax rate on high earners to 12.3 percent. 

PICO California is a member of the PICO National Network, one of the largest networks of community organizations. The California unit comprises 19 faith-based affiliates.

ln the 2011-2012 grant year, CCHD gave 115,470,130 in grants to 12 of those 19 organizations. The affiliate in my diocese, San Bernardino's Inland Congregations United Change (ICUC) received $50.000.

I was surprised to learn that PICO California was teamed up with the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE). the successor group to ACORN, in a massive effort
to pass Proposition 30. 

Even more surprising PICO Califomìa. which depends on offerings from good hearted worshipers. had contributed $259,000 to the campaign for Proposition 30.

Naturally. l wondered if any of that money was contributed to PICO California by lCUC. SO. I called Verne Schweiger. the staffer at the Diocese of San Bernardino's Office of Social Concerns
who manages CCHD matters and asked him to investigate. 

When we spoke again. he declined to disclose whether ICUC had contributed to the Proposition 30 campaign, but he did tell me that any such contributions would be a matter of public record.

l said that it would be unethical for the CCHD to collect funds under the guise of helping the poor if some of that money is going to political efforts. particularly something like Proposition 30.

He replied that there was no problem. because lCUC was not involved in partisan political activity. which would disqualify them from CCHD funding. Further his review of the ICUC audit had shown
that the $50.000 grant was spent tirely for the purpose described in its grant application` and ICUC does not support any initiative contrary to Catholic teaching.

After some intensive inquiry. I located the pertinent public records. PICO California established its own Proposition 30 campaign committee. ICUC did not contribute to the $259.90() that PICO California contributed. Worse`ICUC made an individual contribution of $54.000 to the PICO California Committee for Proposition 30 - $4,000 more than the grant it received from CCHD. The Orange County Congregation Community Organization contributed $90,000... $50,000 more than its CCHD grant.

Total 2012 contributions to the committee were $671,516. In addition to PICO Califomia's $259,000, 11 of the19 affiliated community organizations contributed $357,492 (which includes$206,992 from 5 of the 12 groups that received recent CCHD grants). The balance of $55,124 was contributed by others.

For many. the argument that campaigning for Proposition 30 did not constìtute partisan political activity is a hair-splìtting hedge. lt's true that it involved a ballot measure, not only sponsored
candidates, but Proposition 30 was Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown`s initiative. and support and opposition were more clearly divided along party lines than for most ballot measures.

The elephant in the grant office is why Catholics never should have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to organizations that had hundreds of thousands of dollars available for Proposition 30: Catholic schools would have been better recipients.

It is the undeniable right of these groups and their supporters to contribute and campaign. though perhaps not at the same time they are receiving CCHD money. But it is certainly the right of people in the pews to know that their sacrificial giving supported an organization that spent almost $0.7 mil-
lion campaigning against the preference that many of the givers expressed on their own ballots. 

Honesty remains the best policy even in church.

Bill Snear is a dentist who lives in California. 
Contact him at billsnaer@verizon.net,)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hearing Update from Bill Diss

Dear Brothers and Sisters for Life, Purity and Healing,

Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
(James 1:17, RSV, Courtesy of Harmony Media)
Hearing Details:
I wanted to thank everyone who came to the hearing on Thursday, November 14, 2013.  I wish I could say it better but thank you so much.  There were probably 150 people.  They configured the room with some very big chairs and extra tables.  The room had a capacity of over 90, but they only let 47 people into the room.

I wanted to thank my son and daughter who were so helpful.  My son called every day last week and many times, "Dad how can I help you?"  My daughter made up the nice big posters that were in the hearing room.

I suspect there will be more hearings both with the district and in the courts.  I do encourage all to keep praying and please bring cameras, video cameras and recorders if the event is public.  It would be nice to have a recording or pictures from last Thursday.  The district did make a recording and hopefully we will get a copy.  Most meetings and hearings at public schools are public and thus can be recorded.

The district placed a policeman at the door and then the head lawyer from the district stood by the door to prevent more people from coming in the room or from standing by the room.  She was joined by another school attorney who spoke against me and yet another school attorney who sat by the hearing officer.

The district also blocked the elevators so that more people could not stand by the room.  All of the people then went back to main floor and prayed.  I think the magnitude of people praying at the headquarters from the district was yet again God outdoing the devil.  I thought of the following incidents through history.

Devil's Act God's Act
Adam and Eve fall to sin. The world is sent a savior.
Joseph thrown in well. Joseph saves his brothers.
Woman caught up with sin. A pharisee gets a lesson in true love.

If any of you who were stopped by the head lawyer, Jollee Patterson, you may want to email her at jpatters@pps.net.  It would be interesting to hear her response on why they picked that room and why it was configured so that so few people were allowed in the room.

I want to thank all who were praying around the world.  It was very hard to sit through the statements by Stephanie Harper, an attorney for the district, and then the statements by Frank Scotto, regional director, Carol Campbell, the past principal of Benson, and Jeandre Carbone and Barry Phillips vice principals of Benson.  District contact information is found at on the front page of the website http://www.pps.k12.or.us/ and clicking on Directory on the top left by News | Directory.

The Oregonian repeated some of Mr. Scotto's remarks that when he observed me he found that I was militaristic.  His observation notes certainly did not indicate this.  He mentioned how I thanked students for their work and his only negative comment was when I exclaimed, "Listen Up."

A vice principal from Benson also came and testified against me for some warnings I gave to a student in 2009.  When this same administrator found himself unassigned in 2011, I wrote a letter of recommendation for him.  Such is life.  I have heard that many who were chanting "Hosanna in the Highest" when Jesus came to Jerusalem were also there a few days later to chant, "Crucify him!"

Special thanks to Mr. Davis a fellow teacher and Ms. Koenig the union representative who testified on my behalf.  Ms. McKanna, the lawyer hired by the district, also did a fine job.  She questioned many of the district actions especially all of the times that they have stopped me from working with children on basic math facts.  She questioned me on the effectiveness of time tables and I read the following from a student.

In fact when I started I didn't know much but with the extra help you provided me I can now say my multiplication tables as fast as my name and much more.  For once I'm proud of myself.
The crowd clapped and was reprimanded from Sascha Perrins.  He works for the district and was the hearing officer.

The next step is for Sascha Perrins to make a decision.  Next week I will also be working on the grievances that we filed.

I did make a closing statement and that is at the end of the email.

Again and again thank you all for your prayers and for all who came last week.  There were many friends, students, parents and many I did not know.

Please continue to pray and especially for those working in the school district.  There is an old saying, "When you go to bed with the dogs, you wake up with the fleas."  When one goes to bed with Planned Parenthood, as the schools in Portland and Salem have done, I do not know what you wake up with.

I wanted to thank all at Christ the King Church in the Clackamas area for their nice donation to help our outreach.  I think many of you know that Therese and others give out baby supplies, funds and information to many people going into Planned Parenthood.  We have tried to put on the heart of Christ and now mothers are holding babies near their hearts and not uncontrollable anguish.

Our Hispanic ministry is doing very well and we have spoken at six churches in the area.  We could sure use a laptop so that our group can display videos.  Maybe someone out there is thinking of buying a new laptop and now you have a good place to donate your old laptop.  I also got a request from one of our helpers who was recently in a car wreck.  Does anyone have an older car they would like to donate or a contact for us?

remarksClosing Remarks at the Hearing: 
I wanted to thank you all for being here this evening.  I looked at the thousands of students at Benson as my own children.  
I loved them, I prayed for them, I laughed with them, I cried with them, I sang with them, I danced with them, I cheered with them, I cheered for them and yes I pushed them to levels that they thought they were insurmountable and uncomfortable.
I had some motivational signs in the classroom and one stated:
Did you bring your A game today?
Some had their A game every day and some struggled every day.
In 2007 a proud young man wrote me:
I'm not to sure if you'll remember me but I was in you algebra class your first year at Benson and well I'm finally going to continue my education with Math being the foundation of my career in Finance and economics at UCLA.
You may know all ready but You are without a doubt the best teacher Many have come across. I sit and review my notes which always state your quote "write out the original problem" which I often laugh at thinking back to your class.
 The reason I'm writing you is because I wanted to say thank you for leaving "call-la-rada" (your home state) to in the end teach many like myself.  I have more fun with math than ever and that I will always remember you as my favorite teacher and your class. Thank you Mr. Diss
In 2003 that young man had trouble finding his A game, but we worked together.
Four years later he found his A Game.
That folks is what it is all about!
Again thank you and God Bless all of you.

God Bless you,

Bill Diss
Precious Children of Portland



Saturday, November 16, 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

Guest Post from Pro-Life Action of Oregon

Here is a guest post.  N.B. (note well) that the Archdiocese of Portland's Office of "Life", Justice and Peace needs to represent a true understanding that it is a lack of promoting Divine Justice to save unborn babies and not economic justice that is the answer. This office gives monies to pro-abortion groups and that works against the the ultimate justice to succeed: Divine. VOCAL


Dear Pro-Life Friends,

Pro-Life Action of Oregon is dedicated to ending all abortion, no exceptions, no compromises.  In this context, I'm calling your attention to two recent developments.

Inline image 1


'This year his pitch to the religious is a little more tricky in light of the HHS mandate and other overtly secularist policies of his administration. Still, he could pull it off.  Recent polling suggests that he is on track to win the Catholic vote again.'
Search result for "Obama's Abortion Reduction Strategy".  This strategy is still in play. For those of you who are new to my alerts, back in 2008 I posted an analysis of Obama and the Catholic vote.  It may be a good time to read it again.

(2)  Matt Cato's Liberal Views Exposed
Inline image 2 Matt Cato - photo op.  (article link below)

Matt Cato, the Archdiocesan Director of Life, Justice and Peace, has some "abortion reduction" nuanced things to say:
  • Matt Cato on the government ending abortion - "...the church has an obligation to advocate for government aid [to end abortion].  If society can remove financial pressures, that will end the reason cited for 7 in 10 abortions." (In other words, he is dedicated to Obama's "abortion reduction strategy.")
  • In same article, Cato apologizes to liberal readers for being pro-life:   "I don't want anyone to think I want to limit legitimate rights, but where do we get to the point where we make individual choices for the good of a baby, for the good of the community?" Cato asks. (What is he saying, exactly??)
  • "He envisions a strong Catholic-led pro-life movement, in which people are inspired to protect all life not because of politics, but because of faith."  (He is unsure of the motivation of pro-lifers!)
Keep in mind that Matt Cato is in charge of your pocketbook (CCHD).
After reading the article, you can send an email to Matt Cato mcato@archdpdx.org .
Send a letter to the Sentinel sentinel@catholicsentinel.org .


Nina Rhea, Director
Prolife Action of Oregon

Dedicated to exposing the Culture of Death

P.S.  I've sent a message to Mr. Cato pointing out his lack of citations for his claims.  I also call him out as an Obama Catholic and ask for his correction if I'm wrong.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

"The Hidden Hand Behind Bad Catholic Music" - Great insight.

  J. A. Tucker

It usually starts with the missalettes — those lightweight booklets scattered around the pews of your parish church. They contain all the readings of the Sunday Masses, plus some hymns and responses in the back. There's nothing between the covers that would offend an orthodox sense of the faith, and most of the songs are traditional by today's standards.

So, what's the problem?

Well, if your missalettes are like those issued in more than half of American parishes, they're copyrighted by the Oregon Catholic Press (OCP) — the leading Catholic purveyor of bad music in the United States. Four times a year, it prints and distributes 4.3 million copies of the seemingly unobjectionable booklets (which OCP doesn't call missalettes).

But that's just the beginning of its massive product line, where each item is integrated perfectly with the others to make liturgical planning quick and easy. To instruct and guide parish musicians and liturgy teams, the OCP prints hymnals, choral scores, children's songbooks, Mass settings, liturgy magazines (with detailed instructions that are slavishly followed by parishes around the country), and CDs for planning liturgies and previewing the newest music.

This collection of products, however, does not include a hymnal — or anything else — designed to appeal to traditional sensibilities (its Heritage Hymnal is deceptively misnamed). The OCP's experts never tire of promoting the new, rewriting the old, and inviting you to join them in their quest to "sing a new church into being" (as one of their hit songs urges). The one kind of "new" that the OCP systematically avoids is the new vogue of traditional music that has proved so appealing to young Catholics.

The bread and butter of the OCP are the 10,000 music copyrights it owns. It employs a staff of 150, runs year-round liturgy workshops all over the United States, sponsors affiliates in England and Australia, and keeps song-writers all over the English-speaking world on its payroll. In fact, it's the preferred institutional home of those now-aging "St. Louis Jesuits" who swept out the old in 1969 and, by the mid-1970s, had parishes across the country clapping and strumming and tapping to the beat.

The OCP also sails under the flags of companies it has acquired, established, or represented along the way: New Dawn Music, Pastoral Press, North American Liturgy Resources, Trinitas, TEAM Publications, White Dove Productions, and Cooperative Ministries. Every time it purchases — or assumes the distribution of — another publisher, its assets and influence grow. 

Power Without Authority
But while the OCP dictates the liturgies of most U.S. parishes, it has no ecclesiastical authority. It's a large nonprofit corporation — a publishing wing of the Diocese of Portland (VOCAL correction, Archdiocese of Portland) — and nothing else. It has never been empowered by the U.S. bishops, much less Rome, to oversee music or liturgy in American parishes.

The OCP's power over Catholic liturgy is derived entirely from its copyrights, phenomenal sales, and marketing genius. Nonetheless, it wields the decisive power in determining the musical culture of most public Masses in the United States. 

And once a parish dips into the product line of the OCP, it is very difficult to avoid full immersion. So complete and integrated is their program that it actually reconstructs the sense that the liturgy team has about what Catholicism is supposed to feel and sound like.

But few of those subject to the power of the OCP understand that it's the reason why Catholic liturgy so often seems like something else entirely. For example, pastors who try to control the problem by getting a grip on their liturgies quite often sense that they're dealing with an amorphous power without a name or face. That's because very few bother to examine the lay-directed materials that are shaping the liturgies. Too many priests are willing to leave music to the musicians, fearing that they lack the competence to intervene.

Meanwhile, the nature of the OCP is completely unknown to most laypeople. Many Catholics shudder, for example, when they hear the words Glory & Praise, the prototypical assortment of musical candy that was already stale about 15 years ago but which mysteriously continues to be repackaged and rechewed in parish after parish. "Here I am, Lord," "Be Not Afraid," "City of God," "One Bread, One Body," "Celtic Alleluia," and (wait for it) "On Eagle's Wings" — these all come courtesy of the OCP.

But at the publisher itself, this moldy repertoire is not an embarrassment. On the contrary, the publisher brags that Glory & Praise, whose copyright it acquired in 1994, continues to be the best-selling Catholic hymnal of all time. And what about those prayers of the faithful that seem far more politically than doctrinally correct? They're probably from the OCP, too. A new edition of its Prayer of the Faithful is printed every year. (In what is surely great news for the unrepentant, the OCP brags that the volume helpfully includes "creative alternatives to the Penitential Rite.")

Hijacking Of Catholic Truth
It wasn't always like this. Before 1980, the OCP was called the Oregon Catholic Truth Society. It was founded in 1922 in response to a compulsory school-education law that forced Catholics to attend public schools. Archbishop Alexander Christie got together with his priests to found the society. Its aim: to fight bigotry and stand up for truth and Catholic rights. 

In 1934, the Oregon Catholic Truth Society released a missal called My Sunday Missal. It was good-looking, inexpensive, and easy to use. It became the most popular missal ever (you can still run across it in used bookstores). 

But the rest of the story is as familiar as it is troubling. Sometime in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Oregon Catholic Truth Society began to lose its moorings. Catholic truth had to make room for the Age of Aquarius. Thus, in the course of a single decade, a once-reliable representative of Catholic teaching became reliably unreliable. Money given to the organization to promote truth was now being used to advance a revolutionary approach to Catholic life, one that repudiated traditional forms of the faith. The only thing that did not change was the breadth of its influence: Under the new dispensation, it was still a powerhouse of Catholic publishing.

De Profundis
If you've been keeping up with the OCP's latest offerings, you know that the songs from the mid-1970s don't begin to plumb the depths. The newest OCP hymnals are jam-packed with music from the 1980s and 1990s, with styles meant to reflect the popular music trends of the time. (Actually, they're about five years behind the times.)

They sail under different names (Music Issue, Journeysongs, Heritage Hymnal, Glory & Praise), but the content is similar in all of them: an eclectic, hit-and-miss bag with an emphasis on new popular styles massaged for liturgical use. (Worst choice: Spirit & Song, which "encourages the youth and young adults of today to praise God in their own style")

Some of the newer songs sound like variations on the musical themes you hear at the beginning of TV sitcoms. Some sound like Broadway-style love songs. Others have a vague Hawaiian, calypso, or blues feel. You never know what's going to pop up next.

Not all of it is terrible. In fact, there are real toe-tappers among the songs. The question to ask, however, is whether it's right for liturgy. The answer from the Church has been the same from the second century to the present day: The Mass requires special music, which is different from secular music and popular religious music. It must have its own unique voice — one that works, like the liturgy itself, to bring together time and eternity. It's a style perfectly embodied in chant, polyphony, and traditional hymnody.

The OCP revels in its ability to conflate these categories; indeed, that's the sum total of its purpose and effect. And judging from its newest new line of songs and CDs — "we just couldn't wait until our next General Catalog to tell you about it" — your parish can look forward to a variety of ska and reggae songs adapted for congregational purposes.

How It Hooks You
But let's go back to that innocent, floppy missalette. The OCP claims it has many advantages. Missalettes "make it easy for you to introduce the latest music to your parish, and changes in Church rituals are easy to implement." Thus the missalette is "always up-to-date."

It's also quite a bargain. If you buy more than 50 subscriptions to the quarterly missalette, you receive other goodies bundled inside. You'll get a Music Issue (the main OCP hymnal) to supplement the thin selection in the missalette. In addition, you'll receive a keyboard accompaniment book, a guitar book, the Choral Praise Comprehensive, a handy service binder, two annual copies of Respond & Acclaim for the psalm and the gospel acclamation, biannual copies of Prayer of the Faithful, two subscriptions to Today's Liturgy (which tells liturgy teams what to sing and say, when and how), and one master index. And the more you buy, the more you get. 

Why would you want all this stuff? Well, if you're in parish music, you'll quickly discover that the missalette has too few hymns to cover the whole season. The Music Issue seems like an economical purchase. But there's something odd about the OCP's most popular music book: There's no scriptural index. How do you know what hymns fit with what gospel reading?

No problem. Just buy a copy of Today's Liturgy, which spells it all out for you. If you want a broader selection of possible hymns, you can also order the OCP's LitPlan software or its monthly Choral Resources, which is visually more complicated than the Federal Register (but still contains no scriptural index).

If you follow the free liturgical planner closely, you'll notice you can purchase a variety of choral arrangements and special new music (copyright OCP) that match perfectly with the response, the hymnal, and the missalette (copyright OCP), which is itself integrated with the prayers of the faithful (copyright OCP) and the gospel (not yet OCP copyright). And so it goes, until you follow the complete OCP plan for each Mass, from the first "Good morning, Father!" to the last "Go in peace to love and serve others!" By making each element dependent on the next, the OCP has ensured a steady — if trapped — clientele.
Musical Gnosticism
But why should the liturgy team go along with this program? The average parish musical team is made up of non-professionals. Its poorly paid members are untrained in music history; they have no particular craving for chant or polyphony, which often seems quite remote to them. Most musicians in average Catholic parishes would have no idea how to plug into the rite an extended musical setting from, say, the high Renaissance, even if they had the desire to do so.

The OCP understands this point better than most publishers. In an interview, Michael Prendergast, editor of Today's Liturgy, pointed again and again to the limited resources of typical parishes. The OCP sees serving such needs as a core part of its publishing strategy; its materials keep reminding us that we don't need to know Church music to get involved.

Lack of familiarity with the Church's musical tradition would not be a grave problem if there were a staple of standard hymns and Mass settings to fall back on. But it has been at least 30 years since such a setting was available in most parishes. The average parish musician wants to use his talents to serve the parish in whatever way possible, but he's at a complete loss as to how to do it without outside guidance. The OCP fills that vacuum.

Under its tutelage, you can aspire to be a real liturgical expert, which means you have attended a few workshops run by OCP-connected guitarists and songwriters (who explain that your job as a musician is to whip people into a musical frenzy: loud microphones, drum tracks, over-the-top enthusiasm when announcing the latest hymn). These "experts" love the OCP's material because it allows them to keep up the pretense that they have some special knowledge about what hymns should be used for what occasions and how the Mass ought to proceed.

Real Catholic musicians who have worked with the OCP material tell horror stories of incredible liturgical malpractice. The music arrangements are often muddled and busy, making it all but impossible for regular parishioners to sing. This is especially true of arrangements for traditional songs, where popular chords give old hymns a gauzy cast that reminds you of the 1970s group Chicago.

The liturgical planning guides are a ghastly embarrassment. Two years ago, for example, the liturgical planner recommended "Seek Ye First" for the first Sunday in Lent ("Al-le-lu-, Al-le-lu-yah"). In numerous slots during the liturgy, OCP offers no alternative to debuting its new tunes. When traditional hymns are offered, they're often drawn from the Protestant tradition, or else the words are changed in odd ways (see, for example, its strange version of "Ubi Caritas"). The liturgical instructions are equally pathetic. On July 8 this year, the liturgical columnist passes on this profound summary of the gospel of the day: "Live and let live."
The Middle Way?
Nevertheless, the OCP seems to have solved a major liturgical rift affecting today's local churches. Just as every parish used to have a low-Mass crowd and a high-Mass crowd, there are now two factions in parishes: One wants more "contemporary" music of the sort seen in Life-Teen Masses— loud, rhythmic, and rockish. Another wants traditional music and sensibly asks whatever happened to the hymns of the old days. These two groups are forever at loggerheads and have been so for decades. In fact, most pastors are so sick of the dispute that they'll do anything to avoid talking about music at Mass.

This is where OCP steps in and serves as the peacekeeping moderate. After all, it's an established music publisher, and thanks to the missalette, it doesn't appear (at first) to be particularly partisan. Its literature contains enough traditional material to allow the liturgical team to claim they're sensitive to the needs of both the contemporary and traditional factions. Indeed, the OCP eschews the most extreme forms of grunge-metal Life-Teen music (though its Spirit & Song comes close). At first sight, it does appear to take the middle ground between two extremes. In truth, however, it's only slightly behind the curve of the most radical liturgical innovators — as it's always behind the curve in the popular styles it tries to imitate.

What about the other option of splitting up the Masses according to style, so that those who like traditional music can have their own Mass and the people who compose for the OCP can have theirs? Prendergast rejects this. Whether the style is traditional, contemporary, folk, or even "rock," Prendergast says, "everyone in the parish has to be exposed to it." And what if a pastor just doesn't like rock and other contemporary styles? Prendergast says, "I would talk to the [chancery's] Office of Worship about him." I asked whether that means he would turn this poor priest in to the bishop. His response: "I would try to arrange for him to attend a workshop on liturgy." 

With a great deal of knowledge, careful planning, and conscious intent, it is possible to manufacture decent liturgies even if the OCP music is all you have. You'll have to dig to find the good hymns (10 to 20 percent in the typical OCP publications), but it can be done. It's also true that not everyone involved with the OCP wants to destroy all that has gone before. There are probably many people on its middle-aged staff who from time to time cringe at the music, just as the people in the pews do. For his part, Prendergast is sure that he thinks with the mind of the Church, and there's no reason to doubt his sincerity. 

In fact, there are periodic signs of hope. Regular readers of Today's Liturgy might have been astounded to see the recent one-page article buried in its pages that urged children be taught Latin hymns and chant. "The Second Vatican Council did not destroy the tradition of chant," said the writer, who was a student of the excellent English composer John Rutter. "We can still claim our chant heritage as part of the living Church's journey into the future." Indeed we can! But the news seems to be slow in getting around the OCP office. (The same issue contained a blast against a poor old lady who read a prayer book during Mass instead of singing goodness knows what.)

What's completely amazing about the entire OCP family is how lacking it is in self-awareness. The poor quality of contemporary Catholic music is a cultural cliché that turns up in late-night shows, Woody Allen movies, and Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion. It is legendary among real musicians. Ask an organist what he thinks about today's Catholic music, and you will receive a raised eyebrow or a knowing laugh.
What You Can Do Right Now
The truth is that no one is happy with the state of Catholic liturgical music — least of all musicians — and the OCP is a big part of the problem. So, what can you do?

Step 1 is to get rid of the liturgical planning guides and use an old Scripture index to select good hymns that have stood the test of time (if you absolutely must continue to use the OCP's materials).

Step 2 is to rein in the liturgical managers and explain to them that the Eucharist, and not music, is the reason people show up to Mass Sunday after Sunday.

Step 3 is to get rid of the OCP hymnals and replace them with Adoremus or Collegeville or something from GIA (no, none of these is perfect, but they are all an oasis by comparison).

Update 2013  St. Joseph's Salem has St. Michael Hymnal.  A step towards Sacred Music.  It is beautiful and does not include changes in wording to have a static gender neutral meaning.

Finally, reconsider those innocuous little missalettes. These harmless-looking booklets may be the source of the trouble. Parishes can unsubscribe — accept no OCP handouts or volume discounts. There are plenty of passable missalettes and hymnals out there, and all the choral music you'll ever need is now public domain and easily downloadable for free (www.cpdl.org).

In his book, The Spirit of the Liturgy (Ignatius Press, 2000), Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger states clearly that popular music does not belong at Mass. Indeed, it's part of "a cult of the banal," and "rock" plainly stands "in opposition to Christian worship."

This is very strong language from the cardinal. And yet we know that many liturgy teams in American parishes will continue to do what they've been doing for decades — systematically reconstructing the liturgy to accommodate pop aesthetic sensibilities. The liturgy is treated not as something sublimely different but as a well-organized social hour revolving around religious themes.

It's up to you to decide the future course of your parish's liturgy: reverent worship or hootenanny. 

Despite what the OCP might tell you, you can't have both. 

J. A. Turner is the choral director of a schola cantorum and writes frequently for Crisis.
© 2002 The Morley Institute