Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sing a Joyful Song

As most of you may know, two years ago I spent the summer in Kyrgyzstan. While there one night, I picked up the movie “August Rush”. It is a story about a child in foster care who is the son of two musicians who met one night. The child follows the music until he is reunited with his parents. The antagonist asks young Evan, later named August Rush, “Do you know what music is?” He continues, “It’s God’s little reminder that there is something else besides us in this universe.”

Oftentimes, we fail to appreciate all that music can bring into the world and into our community. It is said that Saint Augustine once said, “He who sings, prays twice.” This may not be the direct quote, but it gives a sense about his thought. Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, author of the blog, “What Does The Prayer Really Say?” offered some of his own research on the subject a few years ago which he details in his blog on February 20, 2006.

Having written my thesis on Augustine I decided to dig into this. I happen to have my trusty CCL 39 nearby. Looking up that reference we find what Augustine really said:

Qui enim cantat laudem, non solum laudat, sed etiam hilariter laudat; qui cantat laudem, non solum cantat, sed et amat eum quem cantat. In laude confitentis est praedicatio, in cantico amantis affectio. . . For he who sings praise, does not only praise, but also praises joyfully; he who sings praise, not only sings, but also loves Him whom he is singing about/to/for. There is a praise-filled public proclamation (praedicatio) in the praise of someone who is confessing/acknowledging (God), in the song of the lover (there is) love.

This is a very interesting passage. Augustine is saying that when the praise is of God, then something happens to the song of the praiser/love that makes it more than just any kind of song. The object of the song/love in a way becomes the subject. Something happens so that the song itself becomes Love in its manifestation of love of the one who truly is Love itself.

When one really thinks about our celebration of the Mass, we see the role that music plays. We have the hymns and psalms that we sing. The various parts of the Mass are also meant to be sung. I have found it sad, that some of those who questioned our singing of the Latin parts, and even refused to sing them, often don’t even attempt to sing the English parts. Our singing at Mass should reflect our praise and love of God who is the creator of all. As we join in song our minds and hearts should be directed heavenward and fill us with a sense of the wonder of God.

As we gather at Mass, whether you have been blessed with a beautiful voice, or one that is not so beautiful, please make the attempt to make a joyful sound unto the Lord. We are called to raise our voices to the God above, and the key word here is “we”.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Friday, June 4, 2010

Mass becomes 'perverted' when 'community celebrates itself,' laments Spanish cardinal

Here is another great article from Catholic News Agency

Lima, Peru, Jun 3, 2010 / 10:05 pm (CNA).- During a conference in Peru this week, a Spanish cardinal expressed sadness over the fact that often, the Mass is “reduced to a mere banquet, a celebration of the community,” instead of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. He noted that “Worship becomes perverted when we have a celebration in which the community celebrates itself.”

The prelate added that the primary focus of the Mass should be God.

Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, made his remarks at the Eucharistic and Marian Congress taking place in Lima, Peru, earlier this week.

Speaking to some 2,000 participants at the event organized by the Archdiocese of Lima, Cardinal Canizares first emphasized that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the life of every Christian and that “the Church is the living and efficacious sacrament of union with God and unity among the entire human race.” This union, he said, “is only possible through participation in the Body of Christ. This is what happens in the Eucharist.”

“The Eucharist is only possible through the priesthood,” he added. “Consequently, the Church can exist only with priests.”

“We priests are necessary not only so that the Church can function or be well organized or can teach doctrine,” the cardinal continued. “We are priests in order for there to be Eucharist. If we do not recover this, there will be no vocations. Consequently, what is at stake is the future.”

Cardinal Canizares also underscored the centrality of the sacrifice of Christ in the Eucharist, saying that oftentimes, the Mass is “reduced to a mere banquet, a celebration of the community, a commemoration, but not the very sacrifice of Christ who gives himself up for us on the Cross.”

“Without this we can understand nothing about the Eucharist and we celebrate nothing more than ourselves,” he said.

“We have become secularized and convinced that everything has been the result of our own creativity,” the prelate remarked. However, what truly matters is that “we recognize the mystery, that the mystery be celebrated. We must remember God’s right. God tells us how the mystery, how the celebration should be carried out.”

After underscoring the spirit of renewal proposed by Vatican II, Cardinal Canizares noted that the council fathers placed a priority on liturgical renewal because “we cannot understand (the Vatican II document) Gaudium et Spes if our understanding is not based on the foundation for everything: the Eucharist.”

“There will not be a Gaudium et Spes Church if it is not a Sacrosantum Concilium Church,” he added. For this reason, the Pope has a great interest in the liturgy. For this reason, when renewal is understood merely in terms of changes to the rite, we do not understand anything that the Holy Father is telling us,” he added.

“Renewal does not mean a different puppet show every day,” the cardinal underscored. “It means making it possible to celebrate the mystery of faith that occurs. This renewal must express the entire reality of the mystery. Worship becomes perverted when we have a celebration in which the community celebrates itself. The principle should be that God occupies the central place.”

The Spanish prelate noted that in Communion, it is not we who assimilate Christ, “but rather He who assimilates us unto himself,” and consequently we are pulled out of our individuality. “Thus the Eucharist takes on a social nature.”

“To celebrate the Eucharist is to bring about the renewal of society,” he said. “For this reason, renewing the sense of the Eucharist is what guarantees a future for the Church. This is the true danger for a humanity that does not acknowledge God.”

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