Benedictines have done so much for Church music, with the restoration of chant and much more. And a small but growing remnant have preserved the liturgical and other traditions of the Order in the face of considerable persecution. A couple of stories this week illustrate just what the traditional monasteries are up against.
First, the Musica Sacra forum carried an alert to this peculiar item: the Liturgical Press of St John's (Benedictine) Abbey, Minnesota are sponsoring a blog called Rock and Theology.
The blog 'explores the relationship between ’secular’ rock and ’sacred’ theology, and related matters of faith and culture today', and was apparently inspired by the example of the Benedictine Abbot Primate, Notker Wolf, who has his own rock band, called 'feedback'.
A commenter on the forum drew attention to a quote from the Pope's The Spirit of the Liturgy:
'“Rock”, on the other hand, is the expression of elemental passions, and at rock festivals it assumes a cultic character, a form of worship, in fact, in opposition to Christian worship. People are, so to speak, released from themselves by the experience of being part of a crowd and by the emotional shock of rhythm, noise, and special lighting effects. However, in the ecstasy of having all their defenses torn down, the participants sink, as it were, beneath the elemental force of the universe. The music of the Holy Spirit’s sober inebriation seems to have little chance when self has become a prison, the mind is a shackle, and breaking out from both appears as a true promise of redemption that can be tasted at least for a few moments.'
And the damage caused by one of Dom Notker's immediate predecessors, Archbishop Rembert Weakland (Abbot Primate from 1967-1977) has also been in the news recently, with his public admission that he is a homosexual and promise of a tell-all book. It was during his reign as Abbot Primate that, inter alia, the Benedictines rejected the Divine Office as laid out in the Benedictine Rule in favour of assorted anaemic versions thereof. Aristotle of the Recovering Choir Director blog has a couple of posts up on his attacks on the liturgy in his time as a member of Vatican II liturgical committees, as an advisor to the American bishops, and as Archbishop (until his resignation in the context of a sex payment scandal), including his rejection of Gregorian chant as the product of a 'flawed theology' - do go have a read.