In Praise of Honest Sentiment

June 2012By Lucy E. Carroll

Lucy E. Carroll, D.M.A., is the organist at the Carmelite Monastery of Philadelphia, and a former adjunct associate professor at Westminster Choir College, Princeton. She is the editor of The Monastery Hymnal, which is in use in a number of Carmelite monasteries. Her articles on sacred music have appeared in The Adoremus Bulletin, and her Churchmouse Squeaks cartoons appear there monthly. Her most recent publications are The Hymn Writers of Early Pennsylvania (Xulon Press, 2008) and The Music of Ephrata (Ephrata Cloister Associates Press, 2010).

The post-Vatican II Church hastened to rid our parishes of sentiment-filled art, texts, and music. In the aftermath of the Council, sterility became the new goal: walls once covered with art became blank canvases; music that tugged at one’s heart was replaced by pseudo-folk and bubble-gum pop tunes; hymn texts that elicited strong feelings toward the Creator, the Son, the Spirit, and the Virgin Mary were tossed out, along with vivid textual imagery and symbolism. It seems to have been forgotten that exterior signs serve to remind us of inner beliefs and feelings. Removing the externals too often erodes the internal. Overly trite and tawdry sentimentalism has no place in Catholic liturgy. But honest sentiment, born of genuine human emotions drawn through the senses, helps root one in faith and sincerity. Where to draw the line, however, can be difficult to determine.

The traditional Lourdes hymn “Immaculate Mary” has any number of text variants worldwide. In the English-speaking world, Jeremiah Cummings (1814-1866) wrote “Hail Virgin of Virgins,” which later morphed into texts for “Lourdes Hymn,” an early title given to “Immaculate Mary.” In 1905 Edmunds Tozer included some eleven verses in his hymnal. The Monastery Hymnal we use at the Carmelite Monastery where I am the organist retains the first verse from the original version:
Immaculate Mary, our hearts are on fire
That title so wondrous fills all our desire.
While our choir, nuns, and regular congregants sing out that emotional text, new visitors — before looking in our hymnal — often start to sing the current revised text:
Immaculate Mary, your praises we sing
You reign now in splendor with Jesus our King.
Within seconds, the heads of the visitors bend down to the hymnal, and the rest of the hymn text is sung more uniformly.

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Thank you Sister, your article is a beautiful reminder of so much we have lost since The Second Council hijackers robbed us of the beauties of our Catholic experience.
It truly seems the ones who had the power to take these things away had lost all love for the Faith as we knew it.
I miss it deeply.
I was pleased to hear about the priest who has replaced the altar rails.

In my opinion the Novus Ordo has been a disaster for the faith of Catholics. It’s more than just a question of the vernacular. The unspoken language of the Mass has changed because of our actions. If you believe that at every Mass a miracle occurs. The bread and wine becomes the body, blood, soul and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The way we received Holy Communion before the changes spoke much more easily to the soul that that was what we were receiving. On our knees, not in our hands, but being fed the Bread of Heaven.
The unspoken language of way we received the sacrament spoke much more clearly to our hearts and minds. Psychologically if you will, it was easier to believe in the miracle.
I fell out with my parish priest many years ago when I asked that my children and their cohorts making their first Holy Communion could at least be taught to receive the host both ways. He point-blank refused. Typical of the ‘liberal’ Catholics to be completely intolerant!
I have always resented that my children (incidentally not one of whom consider themselves Catholic any longer) were robbed of that experience.
I truly believe (although I am not saying the Novus Ordo is invalid) that much grace has been lost to Catholics ever since these changes were brought in. These changes were also brought in against the expressed wishes of the Pope. They were brought in through dissent. Through the excuse of ‘collegiality’, against the voice of Peter.

The heading of your article is a good one, 'In Praise of Honest sentiment'.
For what is wrong with feelings of sentiment in our hearts.
Most especially what about childern's hearts.

From the beginning of time God knew that as little children we Catholics would receive Communion and be with Him in a mystical way. Kneeling, eyes closed, fed by Christ, in guise of a priest. Staying there on our knees for a few seconds in so close and intimate a way. It was a very special and precious thing indeed.
I know as a child I truly had mystical experiences that have almost been forgotten. They seemed very natural of course at the time. What can be more natural for a created human child but to be close to the Creator who is holding him, his created child in his existence and being.
I believe Jesus misses this Communion with all of us and our children too.

I am sorry to say I don't see children looking as if they do experience the things we might have.
Now their experience is not so far removed from queuing up at a MacDonald’s counter.
I am mad at the ones who robbed my children of these things.
And I am certain the Devil has been so very pleased to have taken it all away.
The Devil most especially mocks the ones who destroyed it!
For much Grace has been lost to the world.

I just hope Bishops and those with the power to do something about it, respond with charity in this coming Year of Faith. Maybe they can reflect how, by restoring things that speak to children's hearts, can lead to an increase in faith for the future.

Posted by: Burt
June 19, 2012 04:42 AM EDT
" Beauty includes three conditions: integrity or perfection,since those things which are impaired are by the very fact ugly; due proportion or harmony ; and lastly,brightness ,or clarity,whence things are called beautiful which have an elegant co our"( Aquinas, Summa Theological,I,39,8) Posted by: laguerre12
July 13, 2012 11:18 AM EDT
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