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Liturgy & Liturgical Law Forum: Cantoring complaints-Ref. made to Pope Pius X

by Catherine Frakas 01 Mar 2001

Cantoring complaints-Ref. made to Pope Pius X QUESTION from Mary Cantor September 20, 2001
I don't know if this is proper, but I have a question about the mass and I was reading through your website and links to find my answer but was unable to....
I have been cantoring at mass for 20 years, at the three different parishes I have belonged to during that time. I am not there to perform, but rather to enable the congregation to praise our Lord in song. After mass this past Sunday, I was scolded severely and told that was the most God-Awful music this man had ever heard. He went on to say that when a wayward feminist takes a microphone and takes over the music during a Catholic Mass it is a sin against the church. I told him everyone had a right to their opinion (and held my husband down, who wanted to deck him) and we left the church. He followed us out to our car and again berated me in front of others, citing that it says in the teachings of Pope Pius X, that no person (this time he didn't refer to a female) shall take a microphone and proceed to take over the music as to perform at a Catholic Mass. I honestly have never been one to take over the mass in fact, the last time I cantored, I was told that I had a beautiful voice, it was just
Could you enlighten me as to what this man was referring to, speaking of the teachings of Pope Pius X, I have done quite a bit of research on the internet, and while I have found a lot of his teachings, I find nothing relating to music....I know we are not supposed to be performing, and don't feel any of our cantors do. I am quite upset, and really need to learn more about where this fellow is coming from - so that if he attacks me again I might better understand his position.
Thanks for any help you may be able give me!
God Bless You!
ANSWER by Mr. Jacob Slavek on September 16, 2001
Dear Mrs. Cantor,
Although difficult to be sure without a better reference, this man was probably speaking of Pope Saint Pius X 1903 instruction on sacred music, Tra Le Sollecitudini, which prohibited women from singing in liturgical choirs. No mention is made of a microphone or attempting to take over the music.
He seems to be either forgetting or disregarding the later instruction, Musicam Sacram:

22. Depending on the established customs of peoples and on other circumstances, a choir may be made up of men and boys, of all men or all boys, of both men and women, and, where the situation really requires, even of all women. Or, our current General Instruction:

At the discretion of the rector of the church, women may be appointed to ministries that are performed outside the sanctuary. (n. 70) It sounds as if this man was blowing off steam. Perhaps he was frustrated with liturgical abuses happening in your parish. I would encourage you to go back and look at the hymns you sang last Sunday, and see if there is anything in the text that is not Catholic. At a chapel I go to we use a supposedly catholic hymnal that contains theologically horrible hymns, the worst being attacks on the Eucharist, such as denying the Real Presence. Sometimes they are hard to spot, and maybe you sang one that the man picked up on.
When I was receiving my liturgical training, I attended a talk that warned us from jumping to conclusions when we see something that may be odd at Mass. I think that the man assumed that because you are a woman, that you are a feminist, and attempting to take over the Mass. I hope that this helps you to understand where he may be coming from. You may have to deal with him again, but PLEASE try not be upset if he is not acting as a Christian should. If you do speak with him again, ask him to provide (perhaps not immediately) document names and paragraph numbers so that we can take a closer look.
May God richly bless you in your important ministry.
Mr. Slavek
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