Polka Mass View: Culturally relevant music helps worshippers express faith
Several questions were raised about the validity of the polka Mass liturgy in the June 2 story, "Without younger fans, polka isfading." Early concerns regarding the use of polka and waltz music during the Mass liturgy prompted the American Bishop...
Several questions were raised about the validity of the polka Mass liturgy in the June 2 story, "Without younger fans, polka isfading."
Early concerns regarding the use of polka and waltz music during the Mass liturgy prompted the American Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy to issue this statement: "The pastoral effectiveness of a celebration depends in great measure on choosing readings, prayers and songs which correspond to the needs, spiritual preparation and attitudes of the participants."
In commenting on thispassage from Instructions on Music in the Liturgy, issued by the Sacred Congregation of Rites in Rome, the bishops' liturgy committee noted that music at Mass "should suit the age level, cultural background and level of faith of the worshippers. The needs of the faithful or of a particular age level may often be met by a music that can serve as a congenial, liturgical oriented expression of prayer."
Polka and waltz music form part of the cultural background of many groups of people who form a worshiping community. The use of this music, combined with appropriate works, can enrich a religious experience, making the liturgical celebration more personal and meaningful for those participating.
Musical instrumentsother than the organ maybe used at liturgical services. The Conference of American Bishops deliberately refrained from singlingout specific instruments. Their use depends oncircumstances, the natureof the congregation andso forth.
The polka Mass isn't intended to be a show or entertaining, but a religious celebration and an expression of faith made possible with the proper attitude.
"When everyone with one accord strives to make the Mass a prayer, a sharing and celebration of faith, then there will be unity," as the American Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy stated inits report. "Many styles of music, a broad choice of instruments, a variety of forms of celebration, but a single purpose: that people of faith may proclaim and share that faith in prayer and that Christ may grow among us."
I've been singing andpraying the polka Mass for35 years and still find each Mass as inspiring as the first Mass. People who pray with us want us to come again. The polka Mass still brings many people together to pray and receive the Lord.
As Jesus said, "When two or more are gathered in my name, I am with you."
Frank Erjavec is a member of a polka Mass singing group that started at Resurrection Catholic Church in Eveleth and that performs now at Ironworld and across the Iron Range.