L.A. Catholic’s latest post on a The Tidings article reports on the "Missa Gaia"
The print edition of the October 27 issue of The Tidings (the online edition is not posted on that paper’s site, but you can click on this post’s title tomorrow and presumably it will be) carries an article, "LMU Forum draws prominent environmentalists."
The article is about this year’s Bellarmine Forum, Oct. 29-Nov. 3, at Loyola Marymount U. in L.A. The theme is, "Earth to You: Do Something Now." The invitees include Bobby Kennedy Jr., Jean-Michel Cousteau and Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard.
St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), for whom the Forum is named, would want his name withdrawn this year. Listen to this Tidings paragraph:
"The Oct. 29 kick-off event is a Missa Gaia (Earth Mass), 8 p.m. at the Sacred Heart Chapel with Jesuit Father John Coleman presiding. The contemporary liturgy celebrates the whole earth as a sacred space by integrating recorded sounds such as the calls of wolves, whales, eagles and seals."
The "Missa Gaia" debuted at an Episcopalian cathedral, and Unitarian Universalists like it.
"Missa Gaia" composer Jim Scott has written, "When we began neither Paul [Winter] or I had ever been to a Mass…We took the name of the Greek goddess Gaia after the writings of James Lovelock, whose ‘Gaia hypothesis’ is that all of life on earth and the earth itself comprises a single living entity that is self-sustaining and, of course, evolving."
"Missa Gaia" writer Paul Winter has written, "The idea of writing a Mass seemed far-flung. I had never even been to a Mass!…Could a Mass celebrate a vision of the entire Earth as a cathedral? Dean Morton assured me it could. Could Mass music be based on themes from whales and wolves? ‘You can write a Mass on anything’, the Dean said. I did have a fine melody from a wolf that fit perfectly with the words ‘Kyrie Eleison.’"
I had at first assumed that the use of a term "Missa Gaia" was Quintero’s sharp-witted criticism of an environmental Mass only to be surprised to find it was the term they were actualy using. Instead of the New Order of Mass we get the New Age Order of Mass. Or would that be Novus Aevum Ordo? Though I am sure my that my Latin translation is way off and would appreciate a better translation from my readers.
“Missa Gaia” was composed in 1980 (26 years ago).
It has been performed every year since 1985 at the Episcopal Cathedral in New York City, the Catehdral of St. John the Divine, on the Feast of St. Francis (first Sunday in October), by the Paul Winter Consort (founded 1967). Paul Winter also performs at annual Winter and Summer Solstice Celebrations at the same Episcopal Cathedral. He seems like a fine American modern musician.
All this is fine, IMHO, as long as it is Episcopaleans doing their nature thing. Whatever.
So, what is it doing at LMU, a Jesuit-run, Catholic liberal arts college in Los Angeles?
If it is just a concert, I think that’s great.
But it seems that Fr. John Coleman, S.J., wants to make it something more. What, exactly, I’m not sure, since the schedule calls it “contemporary worship service” and “ceremony,” never using the word “liturgy.” But Coleman is listed as “celebrant”:
Sunday, October 29
Remember your Mother
Sacred Heart Chapel
Missa Gaia (“Earth Mass”)
The Missa Gaia , or Earth Mass, is a contemporary worship service that integrates world music with recorded sounds such as the calls of wolves, whales, eagles and seals. It celebrates the whole earth as a sacred space. The first Missa Gaia was celebrated in honor of Mother Earth on Mother�s Day, May 10, 1981. The unique and mesmerizing music is by Paul Winter, award-winning saxophonist, bandleader, composer and founder of Living Music and the Paul Winter Consort. Motivated by the vision of a musical-ecological community, Winter has developed his unique “Earth Music.” Come experience this unforgettable ceremony performed by John Coleman, S.J., John Flaherty, director of music and liturgy, and Campus Ministry.
* Celebrant: John Coleman, S.J., Casassa Chair of Social Values, LMU
Father Professor John Coleman is a social ethicist. I guess he is looking at this as an exercise in the spirit of ecology.
No need to wait for tomorrow. You can see all the sordid details right now at the Loyola Marymount website.
Miserere nobis! Kyrie eleison! Hospodi Pomilui! Lord Have Mercy!
It’s possible, however, that whale-calls will be a better melodic inspiration than Eagles’ Things…
Of course there are masses put out by Catholics who ignore Humanae Vitae: Missa Horny.
The mass of the Gungan community: Missa Jarjar.
The Laugh-In mass: Sockito Missa
The PBS mass: Missa Rogers
The 80’s pop band mass: Missa Missa (at least they have a version of Kyrie)
The Japanese robot mass: Missa Roboto
Speaking of Japanese, the Japanese soup mass: Missa Shiro
And of course the mass in honor of my favorite TV show: Missa Terysciencetheaterthreethousand (the name is long, the service is also long at about two hours — but you are supposed to talk throughout the whole thing).
The hot Latin dance mass: Besa Missa Mucho
And the mass for people who live their lives under assumed identities: Whosa Missa
What have I missa — er, missed?
That Whosa Missa would be for folks in the Witness Protection Program, right?
The Mass for the artificially beautiful—here it is—Missa Merica.
The Mass for those stuck in traffic on the way to the airport (or stuck in security, once there): the Missa da Flight.
And don’t forget the Mass for the spiritually clueless: the Missa da Point. Of course, in a Church composed of sinners, it seems a safe bet that at any given Mass a fair proportion of the folks present are actually attending a Missa da Point. I’m sure I’ve been to more than one myself.
Sorry; my sense of creative humor has eluded me at the moment so I couldn’t think of a catchy name for “Missa Gaia”. Will post one as soon as i could think of it.
I just can’t help but notice: The celebration of creation has a proper place even in traditional Catholic spirituality, but does the mass have to be “New Age-ified” for this? If I remember correctly, JP2 in “Ecclesia in Eucharistia” mentioned something about the mass being an act of worship of the entire creation, or something about the mass consecrating the entire creation to God. I don’t have the copy of the text now, but I’m sure there was something about the cosmic dimension of the mass. Therefore, a mass celebrated as it should be celebrated is, in itself, a celebration of the entire universe even without the “New Age-ifying” (in the same way that it is the common prayer of the church no matter how few people attend, so no need for holding hands and hugging people to create community spirit.).
A Mass for people who always come late: Missa Bus.
Since this presentation of the Mass seems to be about “social justice” of a certain dubious kind, what do you think of this as a norm for good vs. bad liturgical music?
Any hymn focused on apostolic activity among the poor should mention at least one of five goals of apostolic activity:
service to Christ who identified Himself with poor (Mt. 25)
the desire that others may see our good works and glorify the heavenly Father (Mt. 5:16, cf. SC 10)
the imago dei present in every human person,
the desire that God’s will be done on earth as in the heavenly kingdom, which is “not of this world”
the imitation of Christ who “came to preach good news to the poor” and “became poor though He was rich, to make you rich out of His poverty” and “took on the form of a slave.”
Some similar, explicit reference to a God-centered, theological reason for apostolic activity among the poor must accompany any hymns’s exhortation to that activity.
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