Sunday, April 19, 2009

Easter and Holy Week: reaction

Last week I was pleasantly surprised by how many people in the parish came forward and said how much they enjoyed the music at the Easter Masses. This week a very nice lady in the nicest possible way told me she though it was terrible and why couldn`t there have been a Gloria and Sanctus that everyone could join in, like today when we had the Salazar Gloria? Apparently 80% of people in the parish agree with her. (Given that `Chant Sunday` is one Sunday a month that means that the 20% who do like it get 25% of the available Sunday Masses so that seems ok.)
I sighed. Why can there not be some give and take? Why can people not be tolerant of the likes of others and try to accommodate them rather than seek to eliminate anything that is not to their liking. As parish priest I give the green light to all kinds of things I don`t find to my taste but which I recognise are important to others. We have plenty of music with guitar but once a month we have some chant, which, as yet, people don`t join in. Previous to my appointment here this wasn`t a problem as I had a weekly Latin Mass and left the OF Masses alone. That made me happy and those who didn`t want to go to the Latin Mass had the OF Masses to go to. (Although it should be said I had constant pressure from those who regarded the presence of the EF Mass in their parish as a grave embarrassment and they did their best to stop it. However while it was decided to move me, the EF Mass continues in the parish and last Sunday even replaced the 9am English Mass, which if I`d done would have produced a deluge of letters to bishop`s house.)
However it does get rather wearing but I`m afraid I won`t be put off and hope that one day ears and hearts may be opened to the beauty of Gregorian chant.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about this lady's comment. Has she surveyed the parish to come up with the figure of 80%?
I had a similar problem with the children when I started at my last school. A large number of them were in the habit of moaning and groaning loudly when a hymn or song was announced that they did not happen to like. I used to find myself saying at least once in every singing lesson or hymn practice, "If you don't like one of the hymns, please do not make those complaining noises. It could be someone else's favourite and imagine how disappointed they would be if they did not have a chance to sing it. The very next hymn may be one that you really like so if you don't like something, please think of other people and sing along so that they can enjoy their singing lesson too". It took a term, but eventually they stopped the complaining.
Unfortunately, there are always people who have to make statements on behalf of themselves and an undefined "large group of other people". Most people would just have the attitude that I tried to instill into the children: if something isn't to your particular taste, put up with it for the benefit of others who do like it and appreciate that there will be plenty of opportunities for you to enjoy your particular style of music.
I absolutely cannot bear Vaughan Williams for example and have sat through many orchestra rehearsals with gritted teeth. Conversely, I know of lots of people who can't abide Dvorak which I adore!

1569 Rising said...

Plough your own furrow, Father, you never know, people may come around. After all, your principal opponent in your old parish comes occasionally to the 12.00 Latin Mass, and said to me that she found it "lovely".
I agree completely with "Anonymous", except on one point.. I quite like Vaughan Williams, and Handel, which she (he?) probably doesn't.

Supporter said...

I too agree with the first anonymous comment. I note that you sighed when the lady spoke to you. Did you go on to explain to her so eloquently the thoughts you expressed in your blog post? I hope so because not everyone may look at your blog or even have the means by which to do so. I hope you feel you can maybe even stand up in front of them one day and say this to the whole parish.
I would also question her survey. She has probably only spoken to her like-minded pals and fitted the result to the point she wanted to make.
Father, you are being more than fair. I think you should definitely carry on as you are doing and not give up. I have heard it said by some clergymen that you can never please everyone so the best thing is not to even try. Conversely, you are very admirably and very obviously trying very hard all the time.
Believe that you are doing the right thing for everybody. These people should think themselves lucky they have such a sensitive priest who does take on board their views and tastes. Many wouldn't. I am also shocked at the lack of respect. I am not of your parish, but where I go, we are certainly not happy all the time with what our clergyman does but tere are never complaints and confrontations. We have to all consider everyone else's tastes. I suspect the first commenter is a primary school teacher and it really says something when to enlighten a community of Christian adults in tolerance we have to revert to lessons which should have been learned in primary school.
Don't give up, Father.

Shocked said...

Whaaaaat?!! A deluge of letters to bishop's house about a priest quite legitimately doing what he is there to do? That's incredible. I wonder if they complained to the bishop on the Sunday you speak of and what his reaction was, or maybe they have given up and accepted that the EF is part of their lives. Even though you have left that parish, from what 1569 Rising said, it must help you to know that your large efforts have paid off.
But where is people's respect? Why do they feel they have to complain when the priest decides to try something different? What do they expect? Nothing in life ever stays the same. They shouldn't expect things to centre around them. It's not as if you completely replaced English Mass. They always had the choice of which to attend. They also had the choice of going to Mass elsewhere if your choice was really so offensive to them, which it can't have been because they stayed, in which case they should just try being quiet for a change, get things into perspective and try to see others' point of view.