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Fr. Chuck’s Guitar Homily


The Very Reverend Charles Cimpl, also known as Fr. Chuck, is the pastor of Saint Michael’s in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Saint Michael’s is the largest parish in the diocese and many consider Fr. Chuck as the pastor par excellance in Sioux Falls. This month marks the 37th anniversary of Father’s ordination to the priesthood. It is also worth noting that Fr. Chuck is the Vicar General for the Diocese of Sioux Falls, second only to Bishop Paul J Swain in this capacity.

All of this is why the recent video below is so disturbing. Watching Fr. Chuck’s “performance” one might be tempted to quip: “I went to a school Mass and a Wiggles concert broke out.” However, since this sing-along homily falls right in the middle of the Holy Sacrifice, laughing it off is not an acceptable response. As a priest in the diocese said to me after recently viewing Fr. Chuck’s homily: “This is right out of 1970’s and has no place in the liturgy.” Of course, many will view the clip with little to no surprise as the lines between the Holy Mass and a school pep rally were blurred long ago (think Life Teen).

In his modern classic “The Spirit of the Liturgy” Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger describes the essence of an anthropocentric liturgy. Remember this quote as you watch Fr. Chuck’s sing-along. From Cardinal Ratzinger:

“The worship of the golden calf is a self-generated cult…Worship becomes a feast that the community gives itself, a festival of self-affirmation. Instead of being worship of God, it becomes a circle closed in on itself: eating, drinking, and making merry. The dance around the golden calf is an image of this self-seeking worship. It is a kind of banal self-gratification…

“Ultimately, it is no longer concerned with God but with giving oneself a nice little alternative world, manufactured from one’s own resources. Then liturgy really does become pointless, just fooling around. Or still worse, it becomes an apostasy from the living God, an apostasy in sacral disguise.”

59 thoughts on “Fr. Chuck’s Guitar Homily”

  1. Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.
    Please also forgive the “drooping crucifix” which mocks Your willful sacrifice.
    Your servant,

      • Dear “Snow Rose”,
        It is the visible crucifix hanging just above the “guitar mass”.
        The horizontal wood is heavily bent down towards earth, characterizing “Christ’s position” on The Cross as an unwanted, pathetic one.
        The Cross is indeed a scandal; however, it is a Noble sacrifice, willfully “offered up” to Our Father in Heaven.
        God bless.

        • Or perhaps it emphasizes His horrible agony and the terrible weight of our sins that He bears, causing the very cross itself to bend earthwards as all created things weep in sorrow at the humiliation and death of their Creator.

          • Or…
            Perhaps Lucifer would like to portray The Holy Cross as a symbol of “God’s weakness”, and not as a symbol of His true strength?

        • Hmm. I’ve always understood that cross, the one JPII accepted, signified the weight of the sins of the world that Christ carried.

          • Catholics are being told such things?
            Is God, in the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, not capable of bearing our sins?
            Must He appear to be defeated by them?
            By whose “artistic inspiration”?

          • Well that is how you view this, but I don’t view it that way. Jesus was fully Man and suffered every bit as much as we do..and then on top of that, He carried the weight of the sins of the whole world on His shoulders, shown by the bowing of the cross. Why this bothers you – I don’t know. Seems to diminish His suffering which was horrible and real. He suffered fully as a man. He suffered as God in His desire to save us.
            Jesus asked if it were possible, this cup be removed from Him, but that God’s will be done. He showed us by this that it’s ok to be weak and afraid and that if we put our trust in Him, he will bring us through our suffering. Jesus became so weak He fell three times and the Romans forced Simon to help Him carry the cross..He cried out several times. He showed us that when we fall under the weight of our crosses He will help us get back up…and continue on accomplishing God’s will for us. He also cried out because of thirst..for both water as a man and souls as the Savior. There’s always different ways to see things..and God is so gracious and merciful, He meets people where they are at and gives them what they need there at that moment. This is how I see it.
            I don’t find anything offensive about trying to show this by the bow in the cross…just saying.

          • Broadly speaking, iconography in the west has focused on Christ’s humanity and suffering, while in the east his divinity and glorification are emphasized in art. Both are true representations as our Lord was both God and man. Perhaps, Curtis, you have a more eastern aesthetic sensibility than others do. If you want to see the price that was paid to redeem us, look at the Isenheim altarpiece. If you want to see Christ victorious, look at the “Christ in Majesty” mosaic at the Basilica in Washington, D.C.

          • Consider that at one time, not too long ago, that the Church used to manage very strictly what art was acceptable. Sacred art must depict theology correctly. The bowed crucifix, with a despairing Christ can be seen depicted as the Jansenist Crucifx, condemned by the Church.

            The proper disposition of a crucifix is the wide arms of Christ, depicting Him as giving His all willingly. Not defeated by death in despair. Christ, our God was ‘there’ the whole time with every fiber of His being.

      • This sinister-looking gem was introduced by Paul VI, designed by Lello Scorzelli. It resembles the heretical Jansenist crucifix where His arms are not outstretched to encompass mankind. His legs are open in a shameful manner. It’s just a nasty representation.

      • Yes, the “drooping crucifix” appears to be very similar.
        However, the title of Saint does not belong to John Paul II, nor to John XXIII.
        In truth, [which is both physical AND SPIRITUAL reality] the title belongs to Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and to Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer. They were the TRUE Prophets & Shepherds of Jesus Christ the King.
        May God’s will be done!!!

        God bless,

        • oh…so now you have decided who should and should not be a saint?? Starting your own church? Glad I belong to the REAL Catholic church.

          • “Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it! Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them. Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.”

            Jesus Christ the King (Matthew VII, 13-24)

        • Curtis, I believe in allowing our readers the freedom to discuss ideas, concepts, and concerns, but blatant assertions such as this undermine the Magisterial authority of the Church and cause discord in the larger context of discussion.

          This is your warning.

          • Dear Mr. Skojec,

            I desire TRUTH & JUSTICE at all costs.
            I also desire God’s will to be done in ALL things.
            You do what you must, and I will do likewise…

            Your servant,

            “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” St. Paul

          • Yes…Boundaries can be worthy & excellent; IF they are in place TO DEFEND the Truth.
            Protecting false paradigm’s that protect false apostles are not worthy & excellent. However, proclaiming CHRIST CRUCIFIED and the power of His resurrection IS! (1 Corinthians 2:1-5, Philippians Ch. 2 & 3)
            (The “daily meditations” of Francis on the Holy See website ARE INDEED doing just this! At least for those with “eyes to see” and “ears to hear”.)
            Godspeed Mr. Skojec

  2. In their actions, men reveal what it is in their hearts when it comes to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

    When the revolutionaries destroyed the Roman Rite that revolution became permanent and we are just witnessing the consequences of a revolution and with all of the options available, who is to say what he is doing is wrong?

    Sure, it makes no more sense than to have chosen the Benny Hill Theme to use as the opening to The Sopranos, but what are ya gonna do?

  3. How sad… yet, timely this article is. Recently, my pastor (who wears the fiddle-back & has done away with altar girls in our parish) decided to re-permit the guitar to be played during the mass. He actually laughed at me when I vocalized my sorrow with his decision, saying, “stringed instruments have always been permitted in the Mass. As a matter of fact, stringed instruments were used in Solomon’s temple!” God help us!!

  4. To be honest, this doesn’t very high on my outrage scale. It’s during the homily (which in my mind is like a break in Mass between the Mass of the catechumen and that of the faithful. I don’t think the clapping and children’s songs are the best for engendering the sort of sense of the sacred that one ought to have in Church, but at the same time, techniques to try to reach people during the sermon are ancient. I remember the account of one Church before the council that had two priests, one acting the part of the priest, and the other acting the part of an unbeliever, who stood in opposing pulpits and argued with each other (carefully scripted, of course). This apparently brought in many non-believers and even resulted in conversions. If playing guitar during the homily worked (–and therein I have my doubts–) I would not forbid it prima facie.

  5. What is the deal with priests and guitars at homilies? The same thing recently happened at a church near us, and not during a “school Mass.”

  6. Didn’t get a chance to see the video since it was removed.

    However, all Priests and all Laity are required to adhere to GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal) for the Ordinary Form of the Mass.
    GIRM can be found on the USCCB web site.

    V II document, “Sacrosanctum Concilium” “22.3 – Therefore no other persons, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.”

    All abuses should be reported to the Diocese Bishop.

  7. I know for a fact that there are boys in that crowd who are like me, when I was a boy in the 1970s and was made to sit through that kind of horse shite : they will not know Christ as the ideal man who gives Himself – all of Himself – in heroic Love, which every man deeply desires to do, and they will walk out of that effete geekfest perhaps lost forever. By the grace of God I made it back. I shudder to imagine where my life would’ve headed had I walked back into that folksy mess 25 years later, nearly beaten to death by sin and meaninglessness already because I’d have made an about face and walked straight out into the night.

    That is a video of an awful sin in an ugly place : let me guess, nobody bothers to kneel in there, either. Who designed those places? They’re all over the place. Is there, like, an architect in hell who was hired by the Catholic church, like, forty years ago?

    I feel like punching a hole in the wall when I see that stuff.

    • My thoughts exactly Sean. My experience appears to correspond in a large degree with yours. Well said!

      How many of our generation is lost?

      Catholic Apologetics shows that the Catholic Faith is the most reasonable thing to believe in the world. However, I am finding that one way that seems to bear some fruit among family and friends, (fallen or lukewarm Catholics), is to garner interest for the Latin Mass.
      My thinking is that perhaps the orientation that the old Rite provides us regarding God and man may be a key.
      I wonder if I had had the opportunity to see the old Liturgy before I walked away in my youth, I might have seen and experienced something which lined up with what the Church said it believed and taught.

  8. As a charter member of the parish in question, I am outraged by this post and the subsequent comments. Your opinion of this video is taken completely out of context. The video depicts the children of the church’s school actively engaged in the daily Mass. They sing “I’ve got the joy joy joy down in my heart” and “this little light of mine”. This was Fr. Cimpl’s final Mass at the school, having been assigned to a new parish. It is not his common practice.
    You would be hard pressed to find a priest who actively engages the youth of the parish like Fr. Chuck does. How often do you see the kids in your parish at Mass doing anything but coloring or eating Cheerios out of a baggie?

    • So this priest teaches the children complete and total reverence of the Blessed Sacrament? He avoids performances in the sanctuary, the Holy of Holies? He has Eucharistic Hours of Adoration with the Children, where they observe prayerful silence, perhaps with a brief reflection on something spiritually nourishing? He celebrates Mass ad orientem, ensures that his parishioners received the Eucharist kneeling and on the tongue so as to avoid the accidental loss of consecrated fragments and to demonstrate the obeisance we owe our Divine King?

      Is this how he engages the youth? Because strumming the guitar and singing banal campfire songs while blotting out everyone’s view of the tabernacle is what led many of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s to abandon the Church, or to come very close.

      If he’s truly pastoral, he should be teaching these children Whom we worship, and how to do so appropriately.

        • But that’s precisely my point. What is shown in this video is a wilful diminution by replacement of the Eucharistic presence of Christ by the personality of the priest.

          It is a form of idolatry.

          The tabernacle belongs at the center of the church, united to the altar where its divine guest is made mystically present.

          The altar is the foot of the cross. When it is treated this way, it signals to children that we do not believe – not just in what it signifies, but in what it *is*.

          • There are several churches that have separate chapels which house the tabernacle. Just because you believe it’s wrong, doesn’t make it so.
            It is people like you who are driving people away from the church today.
            You are making a lot of assumptions about a man you don’t know based on a two minute video of something that happened after the Mass concluded. Who gave you the right to judge?

          • “This condemnation of Pope Pius XII was aimed at an influential faction within the hitherto papally approved liturgical movement. Pope Pius did not hesitate to denounce in the strongest possible terms certain theories and practices promoted by this faction: “false, dangerous, pernicious, a wicked movement, a false doctrine that distorts the Catholic notion of faith itself.” One of the pernicious theses it promoted was that the impact of the Sacrifice of the Mass was lessened if Our Lord were already present in a tabernacle upon the altar. But in an address to a liturgical congress in Assisi in 1956, this great Pope warned that their true motivation was to lessen esteem “for the presence and action of Christ in the tabernacle.” He insisted, correctly, that “To separate tabernacle from altar is to separate two things which by their origin and nature should remain united.” If this was true in 1956, it is still true today. It is to be regretted that one of the post-conciliar documents has actually suggested that “it is more in keeping with the nature of the celebration” not to have the Blessed Sacrament reserved on the altar from the beginning of Mass. [Eucharisticum Mysterium, Instruction of the Sacred Congregation of Rites on the Eucharistic Mystery, May 25, 1967, par. 55.]

            There is not one word requiring the demoting of the tabernacle in any document of the Second Vatican Council. The tabernacle is referred to in a passage of Article 128 which says that ecclesiastical laws governing liturgical externals should be revised as soon as possible, in accord with the revised liturgy. Such laws were to be amended, abolished, retained, or introduced if lacking. These laws included those relating to “the nobility, placing, and security of the Eucharistic tabernacle.”

            As noted earlier, this passage provides a typical example of what Cardinal Heenan warned against, that is, the manner in which the liturgical experts inserted phrases into the Liturgy Constitution which they could interpret after the Council in a manner that neither Pope John nor the Council Fathers suspected could possibly happen. Every Catholic must be concerned with “the nobility, placing, and security” of the tabernacle. The bishops could not possibly have suspected the demotion of our Eucharistic Saviour to a little box perched on a pillar in an out-of-the-way corner of the church, or literally in an obscure hole in the wall. How correct Msgr. Gamber was in insisting that the reform that has emerged “would not have been endorsed by the majority of the Council Fathers.”


          • “…It is people like you who are driving people away from the church today.”

            Just because one is in the Church doesn’t mean they have the Catholic Faith, Carrie. So while we do jigs and sing songs in an attempt to keep the kids in the pews, the Faith fades away. Why else might Our Lord have questioned openly whether or not he would actually find the Faith upon His return?

            As to the right to judge, Our Lord has told us to judge the fruits – and again, people sitting in the Church and donating is no proof of Faith.

  9. A few things – 1. This was NOT Fr Cimpl’s entire homily. He ended with the singing because it was a common practice of his when visiting their classroom’s to do a teaching and then to finish off with a song. This video only shows the end of his homily after he had preached and said “goodbye, I’ll miss you” to the kids. 2. In response to another comment – the Tabernacle IS in the Nave right behind the altar against the wall. 3. Currently in the US Catholic Church most (some stats say as high as 90%) kids don’t come back to Church after their Confirmation. At St Michael Parish our stats are abysmal as well but better than the average (we keep about 30% of them coming). Fr Cimpl has a lot to do with that as he relates very well to high school and young college aged kids. 4. I think to comment on Fr Cimpl’s homily without understanding it was only a part of the homily is incredibly irresponsible. We should expect much better of Catholic journalism.

    • Deacon Devlin,

      Thanks for taking the time to respond. I’d like to address several things, beginning with your last comment.

      We are not, properly speaking, Catholic journalists. This is an opinion and analysis publication. We do have the ability to make liturgical or theological assessments based upon observable data. Among our authors on the topic of liturgy are one bishop, two professors of theology at the doctoral level, several well-qualified priests, and a number of laymen who have studied theology and the liturgy rather extensively at a bachelor’s or master’s degree level. Much of our focus in these topics, by various authors, is on the fact that this sort of behavior is an abuse and must be eliminated.

      In fact, this video was brought to our attention by a priest aware of the situation, who was concerned about what it depicted.

      To your other points:

      1. It doesn’t matter if it was the entire homily, or what is typically done in the classroom. This happened *during* a homily, and *not* in the classroom – it happened in the sanctuary of a Catholic Church, which is not an appropriate place for this sort of “entertainment,” whether it’s substance is religious or otherwise.

      Consider this comment from then-Cardinal Ratzinger in his Spirit of the Liturgy:

      “Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment. ” (Spirit of the Liturgy p. 198)

      What distinction would you make between a back-and-forth singalong between a priest and the children attending Mass and this critique? Is this what liturgy is about? Is the essence of the Mass thereby retained?

      2. I have gotten a number of conflicting statements from parishioners at St. Michael’s. Some say this took place during the homily; some say it was after Mass. Some say there is a Eucharistic chapel (an odd choice for a parish smaller than a major shrine or basilica, and in any case largely at odds with liturgical tradition) and now you say the tabernacle is in the nave. I find it extremely disturbing that the location of the tabernacle is not sufficiently well-known as to be universally agreed upon by parishioners.

      If I am to assume, however, that since you are a member of the clergy at St. Michael’s, you are most likely the most authoritative commenter, then you only confirm by your affirmation of the placement of the tabernacle that a concert atmosphere within the sanctuary is an impediment to appropriate Eucharistic reverence before that tabernacle, in which Our Lord is reserved.

      I’ve also been told by sources within your diocese that there are no kneelers in the parish. Is this true? If so, it would seem consistent with an overall lack of Eucharistic reverence.

      3. It’s fantastic that you have higher-than-usual statistics on retention of children beyond confirmation. What would be more informative, however, would be a survey of those retained on fundamental beliefs: do they know the reason for which they were created and the means of salvation, are they following the Church’s teachings on sexual morality, do they believe in the Real Presence, do they frequent confession, do they know and observe the precepts of the Church, the four ends of the Mass, etc.?

      4. One needn’t understand the larger context of the homily to understand that within the context of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, such a display is deeply inappropriate. Would Fr. Cimpl stand before the foot of the cross on Calvary as Jesus suffered and died there, singing “This Little Light of Mine” or other banal songs that fail to teach children the awesome majesty of what is happening before them? Every Mass makes present the same Sacrifice of Calvary; every Mass should seek, therefore, to show fitting and due reverence

      My wife and I are expecting our seventh child. You’d be surprised what they are capable of if you simply give them substance instead of spiritual cotton candy.

      To your assertion that this post should be taken down, I flatly refuse. This is the behavior that has decimated the faith. This is the kind of activity within the context of the Mass that caused my generation to apostatize. It must be confronted, not merely tolerated. The dictatorship of emotion has had its day in the Church; it’s time to return to theology, anthropology, and first principles.

      This was a public video, and it has garnered public commentary. We didn’t produce it, we merely analyzed what we saw in it. If there’s nothing wrong with it, why was it taken down?

      • Well, well. Deacon Devlin wants not only the blog entry, but all of the comments as well taken down. How Saul Alinsky of him. And Carrie W is playing the “Judge Not” card. There is enough Modernist heresy fluid in that parish to float a battleship.

      • “…This is the kind of activity within the context of the Mass that caused my generation to apostatize. It must be confronted, not merely tolerated. The dictatorship of emotion has had its day in the Church; it’s time to return to theology, anthropology, and first principles.”

        Absolutely true, Steve. The only thing I would add is the seeming reality that many of those who did not apostatize by leaving physically, traded the Faith for some emotional novelty. Another reason why behaviors such as those exhibited on the video are so hotly defended by some. And “faithfulness” is now measured not by maintaining the Faith, but rather by attendance, even if it is had at the expense of having to perpetually alter religious offerings.

        • Hello my friend. I didn’t want to post this on the other article about the archbishop, for all to see. I think you would love my twitter acct! If you are on twitter, I am @awakedeborah. God bless!

    • Deacon John, thank you for reading the post and taking the time to leave a comment. I do not find my post to be irresponsible in any way. First, I never contended that this was all of his homily. It is clear from the video that the homily neither begins, nor ends, with the available footage. However, the sing-along atmosphere, in the sanctuary and during the Mass indeed what we witness in the clip. The very fact that so many wish to defend such behavior in the sanctuary, before the altar & tabernacle, reinforces my purpose for posting this once it had been brought to my attention by a priest.
      A charter member of the parish who has also commented on this post states that the tabernacle is elsewhere; yet you state it is in the Nave. The question is: Where is Our Lord and why is there any doubt about His location? This might be the clearest illustration of an anthropocentric liturgy that we will ever find.
      I keep hearing that Fr. Chuck is great with kids & loved by them. I never attack Father in my post, nor do I dispute his popularity. I do not judge or condemn him. I believe the video speaks for itself. I do challenge the idea of holding a school rally/sing along in the middle of Mass. The sing along would have been great in the school or parish center following the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This would have given Father and the children extra time to fellowship. The Holy Mass, however, is when we participate in the Son’s sacrifice of Himself to the Father through the Holy Spirit. We are at the Cross on Calvary. We have far more Catholic children today in need of a true catechesis on the beautiful Catholic Mass than we have kids in need of more campfire songs. Blurring the lines.
      Finally, the removal of the initial video also speaks volumes. This isn’t about context or not understanding the context. No part of the Holy Mass, homily included, should require an extensive explanation as to why something that looks irreverent & out of place “really” isn’t.
      Thank you for entering this discussion Deacon John. We will only restore the sacred to the liturgy by having these conversations.

    • Deacon Devlin,

      You offer this statement as part of your defense of Fr. Cimpl’s actions:

      “At St Michael Parish our stats are abysmal as well but better than the average (we keep about 30% of them coming). Fr Cimpl has a lot to do with that as he relates very well to high school and young college aged kids.”

      To the contrary, I would argue that this is actually a significant part of the problem. Regrettably, in the post-Vatican II liturgical paradigm – where the priest must become presider, showman, and emcee – the dynamism of a given personality takes on an unhealthy and disproportionate prominence.

      To this point, as St. Michael’s appears to demonstrate, mass attendance becomes less about the necessity of fulfilling one’s first commandment obligation to worship Almighty God, and more about whether one “relates well” to a given personality.

      When the profane intrudes upon the mass – or is welcomed into it – the detrimental effect is two-fold: first it robs the mass of it’s unique and sacred character, and second (and consequently) it communicates to the faithful that the mass is much the same as any other profane activity and should therefore be prioritized accordingly.

  10. One more quick thing. (I wasn’t able to finish the comment below???) Anyway, if you understand this in its proper context and wish to be known as a responsible journalist you should take this blog entry down and all of these comments.

  11. One more thing. In the interest of full disclosure – I am a Permanent Deacon at St Michael Parish.

  12. There is a subsequent Statement Regarding LGBT Activist and World Meeting of Families, by Michael Hichborn dd. 2015-06-02 on the Lepanto Institute wesbsite and he says this:

    Out of both Justice and Charity, I owed Archbishop Chaput the courtesy of contact prior to publication, and I failed to do that.

    I would say what is where his error was and he acknowledges it, and I hope he and we can all learn from it. It is not only what we say or do, but how we say it and go about it. Not paying attention to this and the good we may have hoped to do gets derailed and perhaps we more likely or not offend and perhaps sin in the process.


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