Tuesday 20 October 2009


Vernacular words, in fact.

Before Berenike expends too much time finding excellent translations of the Good Book and commentaries all entirely sound and Catholic, I'd better quickly put my case.

Words, spoken language are great for conveying facts, intellectual discourse and humour for me, but don't really touch me that deeply. I enjoy writing, up to a point. I admire and enjoy the writing of others and language is good for marshalling certain types of thoughts, but they just don't do it for me in the end.

I could provide a very short list of novels that I have found overpowering, I could provide a very long list of music. Music touches me everyday, writing occasionally.

With the new opportunities to attend the Old Mass, I now realise why for the first twenty years of my adult life, I have been dutifully going to Mass and I have to say not being radically altered alas. I just presumed that it was a deficiency on my part. Try harder, Leutgeb! But now I know it is not so. That's why I will never be a Prod. It's not just the lack of Sacraments and Authority (which let's face it are deal breakers - No forgiveness, no Blessed Sacrament and who are you to define truth and which one of you anyway or do I have to work everything out myself?) I can't be doing with too many words. The NO is tipped very heavily in favour of words at the expense of music, gesture, the visually beautiful, incense, silence, routine and anything else that you think makes up the Liturgy.

The idea of Bach Chorales is beginning to annoy me too. That they pack in so much harmonically in so short a time and whilst holding in balance the four contrapuntal voices is an amazing exercise in musical suduko, but why the rush to get through the text so fast? Why so many words? Musically, vowels are where the beauty is and why the melismas of plainsong or polyphony weave their magic. I don't like syllabic text setting in this context. I was talking to a pupil the other day about the need of Lutherans (and indeed Anglicans) to provide a new musical repertoire for the new ideas and indeed metrical, vernacular psalms apparently were very attractive to some people, and he said,' So they did that to may the text easier to understand?' Subtext: Catholic bad, Protestant good. Miss Leutgeb subtext Catholic truth, Protestant heretic. But does making everything as plain as plain can be make it more understandable? More affecting? More likely to convert you? For me NO!

Interestingly, (to me and this is my blog!) just as I have never watched Star Wars all the way through, because I just get bored, I find the Bach B minor Mass boring and have never listened to it in one go. Heart not in the text? Interesting, because I love the Matthew Passion with a passion and when I first heard it, the first chord it caused a bolt of electricity to go through me. Just the first E minor Chord. Now that's genius. No written language has ever come even faintly close to that. Not even getting a static teading!

So Bible study at the mo. No thanks.

And so to work.


berenike said...

I had no intention of looking for translations or commentaries.

have branched into pondering the neocats (or the neons, as a friend of mine calls them). This is relevant. Honest.


And I am not out to Teach you, or tell you what you *should* be doing! good thing about being Catholic - whatever floats your boat, spiritual life wise. :-)

Patrick Sheridan said...

I think that the chief argument against the Novus Ordo, from an aesthetic perspective, is that it is just plain boring. It's like being talked at for 45 minutes!

The Old Rite, by comparison, is not so verbose. There is a plethora of meaningful Psalms and prayers etc, but they are said silently or chanted, and sometimes while other ceremonies are happening. The effect of all this is beyond description but at least one isn't left feeling bored! Understanding in the literal sense is just transcended in Liturgy, because God best reveals Himself through veiling and mystery. In fact, some things about the Novus Ordo are quite uncomfortable in the hearing - like the Canon of the Mass.

leutgeb said...

I'm sorry if my post sounded petulent Berenike, that was certainly not my intention and no, I didn't think you was telling me what to do, because yup there are as many ways of being Catholic as there are folks, I think.

I know nothing about the neocats or neons (are they very bright and energy saving, whilst being a noble gas?)

I'm very hesitant about saying anything negative about the NO, because, well if it's valid surely I am the one who has to make the effort, it's just that 20 years is a long time to make an effort and the EF seems to do so much more.

As Berenike says, whatever floats your spiritual boat (barque?)