"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Friday, July 12, 2013

'My Piano' by Mags: Wrong Place And Time [Revised]


Click the picture below to go to a You Tube video of an up and coming Canadian artist.  Mags has a great voice and potential to become a star.  'My Piano' is a song about a young lady's struggle with peer bullying and how she finds the strength to deal with them in playing her piano.  Based on the lyrics her piano is a place to get away from "stupid" people.

There are serious issues with this video.  The first is it may have been shot covertly.  When I asked the pastor of this church about the video he didn't know of its existence.  The pastor of this church said he did not give permission for this video to be made in it.  It's not reasonable to think the bishop gave permission without notifying the pastor.  If those involved with the production of this video can prove otherwise I await their notification.

Secondly, 'My Piano' may be a catchy tune but it is not a religious song.  It's not Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or any other religion.  It's certainly not sacred music thus in the context of appropriateness for playing in a Catholic church it is profane.  Furthermore, unless the proceeds from the sale of this song are being donated to charity it is a private commercial venture which is also not appropriate in a church.

Those involved with the production of this video have told me this is a religious song thus deserving to be played in a Catholic church.  It's Mag's 'testimony' that will inspire other young Catholics to embrace the Church.  I've listened to 'My Piano' a few times and didn't hear anything religious in the lyrics.  It's about her piano and 'stupid' people.  The words 'God', 'Jesus', 'Church', 'Savior', 'Our Lady', 'Salvation', etc, do not appear.  She does mention her soul, but hey, some people think trees have souls.  There is soul food, soul music, etc.  It's not an exclusively religious word. 

Johnny Cash wrote songs that do contain religious words and themes.  Would it have been ok for St. Peter's Basilica to have hosted a Johnny Cash concert?  At least he would have been dressed properly.


What about Neil Diamond's 'Thank The Lord For The Night Time'.  Would it be appropriate in a Catholic church?

If you think Mags singing "My Piano" is appropriate in a Catholic church then surely Elvis singing "How Great Thou Art" would have been too.

"Wait!", some will say.  "Those three artists weren't Catholic like Mags".  Ok, so as long as someone was baptized Catholic they can sneak into a church and shoot a profane music video? Really, is that what you're saying?

Sadly, many Catholics today don't know much about the Church.  They don't know the distinction between sacred and profane, don't know premarital sex and contraception  are mortal sins, don't know the precepts, the Spiritual Acts of Mercy, etc.  They don't know you can be an accessory to another's mortal sin through silence, defence, or flattery (among six others).  Too many clergy think their role is to be more of a social director than spiritual; to always be nice, not offend anyone, and generally let people get away with whatever they want.  Thus, their homilies don't teach the faith: Sin - Salvation - Saints are rarely mentioned.  Ontario's publicly funded Catholic schools have been infiltrated by the socialist/union mentality; religion classes are more New Age than Catholic.  The result is two generations of Catholics wandering aimlessly yet thinking they are on the sure path to Heaven - salvation guaranteed or your soul back.  

However, we have this thing called the Internet now.  Church teaching is readily accessible - all anyone has to do is look (check the side column on this blog).  Then one has to decide if all the rules apply to them or just some.  Are you faithful to all God's laws or do you pick and choose thus think you know better than He does?  Are you entitled to special treatment? 

Here's what Pope Pius XII wrote about sacred music.  No, Vatican II didn't over rule anything and create some super dogma to repress all the others nor was the New Catholic Church created in 1965.  Musicae Sacrae still applies.

It's the third issue with 'My Piano' that's even more disturbing.  Go to the 1:18 mark in the video - the Tabernacle doors are shut and the red candle is burning.  These two symbols mean the Blessed Sacrament was present.  I can't guarantee it was but does it seem reasonable that a priest, Extra Ordinary Minister of Communion, or anyone with basic Catholic knowledge would remove the Blessed Sacrament then shut the Tabernacle doors and not extinguish the candle?  I spoke with the secretary of the church; she said the Blessed Sacrament was present during the production of this video.

In total, four mistakes (that I'm aware of) were made: permission was probably not granted, it should not have used a Catholic church as a prop/setting, the Blessed Sacrament should not have been present, and a spaghetti strap sun dress is not appropriate attire in a church.  Mistakes happen.  We all make them.  That's why Jesus gave us the Sacrament of Confession.  What needs to happen now is for the video to be re-done somewhere other than inside a church.  Sometimes doing the right thing is difficult but necessary to maintain our credibility as faithful Catholics.

Maggie Wang (Mags) will be interviewed on CHCH's Morning Live on Tuesday, July 16.  Hopefully by then she and those involved with the video will have realized their mistakes and made the necessary correction.  

Here is an explanation of the applicable Canon Law in this matter.  Canon 1210 is quite clear: no secular/profane music in a church.  Period.  No exceptions or excuses.  "My Piano" does not promote worship, piety, or religion.  It is contrary to the sacred nature of the church.  It is a violation of Canon Law. 

Does the Catholic Church allow concerts in Church?

ROME, 19 SEPT. 2006 (ZENIT)

Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: In what circumstances can a cathedral be used for a non-liturgical purpose such as a concert of secular operatic arias? — B.N., Bunbury Australia

A: This theme was addressed in a declaration on "Concerts in Churches" published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments in November 1987 (Protocol No. 1251/87). The English version of the text appeared in Sacred Music, Volume 114, N. 4 (Winter) 1987. Among other sites it is available electronically at adoremus.org.

For brevity, we will limit ourselves to quoting its practical norms. It is also possible that individual bishops' conferences or even individual bishops publish norms that apply these principles to concrete situation:

"III. Practical Directives

"8. The regulation of the use of churches is stipulated by canon 1210 of the Code of Canon Law:

"In a sacred place only those things are to be permitted which serve to exercise or promote worship, piety and religion. Anything out of harmony with the holiness of the place is forbidden. The Ordinary may, however, for individual cases, permit other uses, provided they are not contrary to the sacred character of the place.

"The principle that the use of the church must not offend the sacredness of the place determines the criteria by which the doors of a church may be opened to a concert of sacred or religious music, as also the concomitant exclusion of every other type of music. The most beautiful symphonic music, for example, is not in itself of religious character. The definition of sacred or religious music depends explicitly on the original intended use of the musical pieces or songs, and likewise on their content. It is not legitimate to provide for the execution in the church of music which is not of religious inspiration and which was composed with a view to performance in a certain precise secular context, irrespective of whether the music would be judged classical or contemporary, of high quality or of a popular nature. On the one hand, such performances would not respect the sacred character of the church, and on the other, would result in the music being performed in an unfitting context ....

"9. Sacred music, that is to say music which was composed for the Liturgy, but which for various reasons can no longer be performed during a liturgical celebration, and religious music, that is to say music inspired by the text of sacred scripture or the Liturgy and which has reference to God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, to the saints or to the Church, may both find a place in the church building, but outside liturgical celebration. The playing of the organ or other musical performance, whether vocal or instrumental, may: 'serve to promote piety or religion.' In particular they may:

"a. prepare for the major liturgical feasts, or lend to these a more festive character beyond the moment of actual celebration; b. bring out the particular character of the different liturgical seasons; c. create in churches a setting of beauty conducive to meditation, so as to arouse even in those who are distant from the Church an openness to spiritual values; d. create a context which favors and makes accessible the proclamation of God's word, as for example, a sustained reading of the Gospel; e. keep alive the treasures of Church music which must not be lost; musical pieces and songs composed for the Liturgy but which cannot in any way be conveniently incorporated into liturgical celebrations in modern times; spiritual music, such as oratorios and religious cantatas which can still serve as vehicles for spiritual communication; f. assist visitors and tourists to grasp more fully the sacred character of a church, by means of organ concerts at prearranged times.

"10. When the proposal is made that there should be a concert in a church, the Ordinary is to grant the permission 'per modum actus.' These concerts should be occasional events. This excludes permission for a series of concerts, for example in the case of a festival or a cycle of concerts.

"When the Ordinary considers it to be necessary, he can, in the conditions foreseen in the Code of Canon Law (can. 1222, para. 2) designate a church that is no longer used for divine service, to be an 'auditorium' for the performance of sacred or religious music, and also of music not specifically religious but in keeping with the character of the place.

"In this task the bishop should be assisted by the diocesan commission for Liturgy and sacred music.

"In order that the sacred character of a church be conserved in the matter of concerts, the Ordinary can[emphasis mine] specify that:

"a. Requests are to be made in writing, in good time, indicating the date and time of the proposed concert, the program, giving the works and the names of the composers.

"b. After having received the authorization of the Ordinary, the rectors and parish priests of the churches should arrange details with the choir and orchestra so that the requisite norms are observed.

"c. Entrance to the church must be without payment and open to all.

"d. The performers and the audience must be dressed in a manner which is fitting to the sacred character of the place.

"e. The musicians and the singers should not be placed in the sanctuary. The greatest respect is to be shown to the altar, the president's chair and the ambo.

"f. The Blessed Sacrament should be, as far as possible, reserved in a side chapel or in another safe and suitably adorned place (Cf. C.I.C., can 928, par. 4).

"g. The concert should be presented or introduced not only with historical or technical details, but also in a way that fosters a deeper understanding and an interior participation on the part of the listeners.

"h. The organizer of the concert will declare in writing that he accepts legal responsibilities for expenses involved, for leaving the church in order and for any possible damage incurred.

"11. The above practical directives should be of assistance to the bishops and rectors of churches in their pastoral responsibility to maintain the sacred character of their churches, designed for sacred celebrations, prayer and silence." ZE06091921

Editors Note: N.B.
What it says under #10 is:

"In order that the sacred character of a church be conserved in the matter of concerts, the Ordinarycan specify that:

c. Entrance to the church must be without payment and open to all. "

It does not say that their can be no charges but that the bishop can specify that there can be no charges if he so chooses.


  1. You know what? Listening to Elvis or Johnny Cash singing these songs would be better than the crap that fills our ears at a typical parish Sunday Mass. At least these guys can sing.

    We had a Filipino cantor last week. I still remember the psalm:

    "Blessed be Gud, be-cuz he hub nut rejected my pray-yor or remoobed hiss steadpast lub por meeeeeeee!"

  2. "We had a Filipino cantor last week."

    I don't think this has anything to do with this post and is unkind. I have a traditional choir (we sing chant and polyphony) and would not have all the sections I have without the dear people of the Filipino culture. God bless them. I think that many more people are in heaven because of their prayers.

    On another note I am surprised the creators of this video haven't figured out the error of their ways. It is very unfortunate because this young lady is talented and is being led astray. We are all so poorly catechized if our parents didn't/don't catechize us at home. What is right and wrong, black and white, become a lovely shade of grey. Grey will not get us to heaven though.