Our National Anthem's Missing Verse
I admit I had no idea this was part of our national anthem. However, I'm not altogether surprised it's gone "missing" during our various celebrations and sporting events.
Kudos to this marine. Kudos to those who stood up to join him with their hands over their hearts.
Well done Francis Scott Key. Well done.
Here I go again.
I'm about to gush about Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish for the billionth time. A quick search pulled the following entries:
Those are just the ones I found doing a quick search. I know I've written about this parish and its pastor plenty of times. In fact, should MY pastor ever figure out I've got a blog, he might be inclined to think I'm playing favorites. *Grin*
Truth be told, you guys know I love my priests - all of them. And I view each of them as gifts. I adore my pastor, but I try not to write about my actual home parish for privacy reasons.
That being said, I LOVE this priest, and I love the community he has built up in Collingswood. If you're ever lucky enough to find yourself in S. Jersey and in need of an evening Mass, stop on by. Fr. John will welcome you with open arms and an educational homily that stirs both your intellect and your heart.
God bless him, he's a true pastor in this regard. He takes time to teach his parishioners, and he teaches straight from his super-sized heart.
He doesn't just teach during the homily, either. He pointed out the liturgical colors of the 4th Sunday at the beginning of Mass, and also touched on why the readings and music were thematically different from those we hear the rest of Lent.
After all, we've now reached the midway point. Though we still face the night, we see dawn on the horizon. The light of the Resurrection - Christ's triumph over sin and death - is awaiting us should we persevere in His Way just a little longer.
The music director chose an entrance song I'd never heard before. I snapped a photo of the missal after Mass so I wouldn't forget it. Have any of you (barring Frank K. or his wife who, I feel, have a terribly unfair advantage - ha!) ever heard of it?
I thought it was a great balance between the solemness of Lent and the hopeful supplication we offer for the promise of the Resurrection. I absolutely BUTCHERED the music (sorry, Congregation), but I was appreciative of the thoughtfulness put into the selection.
The Recessional Hymn was a favorite from childhood - Lead Me, Lord. All you trads out there, try not to roll your eyes too much at me. I enjoy uplifting songs at the end of Mass, especially when they are warranted and flow with the message of Mass. This was perfect.
Offertory / Communion songs were also fitting. Kudos to the music director - really. In truth, he always does a great job, but last night's selections were just so spot on that I couldn't help but say a prayer of thanks for his subtle highlighting of theme.
But back to the pastor. His homily was STELLAR. He's a homilist who can happily run on for 20 minutes. Best part? He's a homilist you don't mind listening to if he does stretch his time. I love that he's not worried about keeping within a restrictive time limit. He's not afraid to expound or share anecdotes that color God's movements in his life. He shares what's in his heart and what's in his heart is a complete reflection of the Gospel message.
He made a great point about "the poor" last night. So often we talk about "the poor" during Lent, offering prayers and alms for "the poor." We need to shift our view and recognize them as "our poor." These people belong to us. They are our responsibility and God gifted them to us as ways to act in the name of Divine Providence. We can and must reach out with love to these brothers and sisters. I just found that reflection to be beautiful.
Alright, I'm gonna stop now because I'll just wax poetic for another mindless 10 paragraphs. I'll spare you, but be warned... I'll likely be bringing up BTC in the future. BTC and Mary, Mother of the Church (St. Rita's Parish) are my two buddies. If I'm not at my home parish (which I also love), I'm hanging out with one of them.
Bahemian Mass - Part II: Traditions
Sorry it’s taken me so long to write this follow up post. With the start of school, things have been super hectic!
However, I’ve been absolutely itching for this entry, so I’m sneaking a few moments in so I can jot down my thoughts.
For the most part, Mass in the Nassau Cathedral of St. Francis Xavier was exactly what you’d expect to find in a Mass up in the States. There were a few marked differences, though, and I chuckle to myself as I recollect them. Some of you more conservative folks might turn your nose up, but please try to keep in mind that this is an entirely separate culture from what we’re used to.
One of the first things I noticed about the parishioners of this parish was their style of dress. I really felt like I was witnessing Southern Baptists on their way to Easter Sunday Mass. The men were in suits (or really nice slacks and shirts) and all the women wore colorful dresses or dress suits. More than a few had the big, colorful hats (which is probably why I was immediately reminded of Easter).
I, myself, was in a long maxi dress with a shawl, but I felt a bit underdressed given the beautiful outfits of everyone else!
Anyway, at the open of Mass, the cathedral was probably just over half full. People were sorta scattered all throughout the nave. However, as the Mass progressed, more and more people entered the church and found a spot in the pews. They continued coming in long past the homily. It wasn’t until the Sign of Peace that I think everyone had finally gotten to their seats.
It was strange, because I had started out towards the end of one pew and was slowly “pushed” inward as more and more people joined the pews.
The homily was given by the deacon and lasted a good 20+ minutes. I was very surprised by the length of his homily, and I began to wonder if that was why folks tended to push off coming into the church for such long periods of time. I didn’t mind his homily at all. He spoke on virtue and why it is important to know true virtue stems from humility. The way he explained things (and how repetitive he was) at first irritated me. Then I began to get a sense that he was really breaking things down as best he could because he wanted so much to educate everyone. Once I got the stick out of my butt, I softened up and didn’t mind the pains he took explaining the Gospel story.
The next surprising thing to happen was during the Sign of Peace. I kid you not, this particular experience legitimately swept me off my feet.
When the priest asked us to share Christ’s peace, it was as if the entire congregation sprang to life. It was CHAOS. People started swarming the aisles as they got out of their pews to greet parishioners from the other side of the church. Folks were coming downstairs from the 2nd floor (there is seating upstairs, too) to greet folks on the 1st floor. I saw a man make his way from one side of the church to the other to greet a choir member. In the wave of people moving in and out of the pews, I was sorta forced to “go with the flow” which landed me off my feet at one moment. Ha ha.
At first I was put off. I was half expecting a mini-coffee hour to be set up because I saw no end to the loud chatter and movement. Did these people not realize the Sign of Peace is not a time for saying “Hi” to everyone you know?
Then I realized I was witnessing a very Bahemian tradition. These folks obviously all knew one another intimately. I really did feel as though I had stumbled into a family gathering. When they hugged one another, kissed, or otherwise “gave the sign of peace” you could tell that a real light of love existed between them. Who am I to judge their signs of love? Who am I to judge their wishes for peace?
So I refrained and kept to myself beyond the customary handshake I’m familiar with (though a kiss on the cheek is customary for me if I am with family). I simply enjoyed watching this massive spiritual family erupt joy after joy as they blessed one another with a sign of Christian love.
Eventually (about three minutes or so later), the choir took up the Agnus Dei and by the end of the prayer, folks had settled back into their seats.
During the Eucharistic prayer, I noticed a gorgeous little boy of about 10 months waddling up the center aisle. It was obvious he’d just learned to walk, and I was smiling at his cubby little face. His parents saw him leave and did nothing to stop him. I kept my eyes trained on him in case he fell, not sure why his parents would just let him slip away like that.
Finally, the baby made his way back to my area of the cathedral. He sorta looked around, trying to decide who he wanted to go to. He waddled up to an usher and raised his hands, the universal plea for “Pick me up!”
The usher happily obliged without thought. He walked around with the baby for a few minutes, bouncing him and showing him the statues and windows. The baby, for his part, was happy to have such a nice man to play with. Finally, however, the usher brought the child back to his parents.
It made sense, then, why the parents didn’t mind that their son had wandered off like that. They really did see everyone in the parish as family. They trusted all of us implicitly. Given I grew up in Philly where you didn’t trust anyone with anything (parishioner or not), this concept was so different for me. It absolutely threw me, but I relished the idea that a Catholic community existed like this. It was such a “family vibe” that I just can’t put my feelings into words. I was readily accepted into this family because of my faith in Christ.
All Catholic communities are supposed to make you feel as welcome – as united. We’re all family in Christ, after all. But of all the parishes I’ve ever been to (and I’ve been to a lot, people), this one takes the cake.
That’s not saying that I feel unwelcome at other parishes. I loved my previous and current parishes. It’s hard to explain, I guess. This parish just had a very vibrant, living movement of the Spirit that unequivocally united everyone present. It was pretty incredible.
During the Intercessions, the priest had all the children present come up for a blessing. He and the deacon handed out marble copybooks (since their school year began the next day). As the children were coming up, the choir sang Whitney Houston’s Greatest Love song.
I seriously almost fell out of my seat.
I love the song. It’s a beautiful song! The cantor did a great job singing it. However, it’s NOT a song for Mass! Plus, the lyrics went directly against everything the readings and homily spoke of!
Ah well. I guess they figured the first few lines were worth the rest of the song negating the message of the deacon. *Sigh* At least the children had a nice blessing that also reaffirmed the importance they should place on education.
During the Eucharistic Procession, a super talented musician played Amazing Grace… on his SAXAPHONE. I could’ve sworn it was Kenny G playing until I spotted the musician breathing out the melody.
Musically, these folks were super, super talented. I just felt that some of it was a little out of place given the circumstances of, ya know… the Mass.
None of these are huge issues, though. Truth be told, their Kyrie was beautiful. I’d never heard one like it. Most of their music reminded me of the Spanish Masses I’d set up for when I worked as a sacristan.
Finally, at the very end of Mass, the pastor called forward those with birthdays or wedding anniversaries in September. I guess they celebrate these as a parish on the 1st Sunday of each month. They had roses to give away to the women which I thought was sweet.
At the end of Mass, many of the parishioners stayed long past the procession to sing or pray. Yes, I said sing or pray. Some folks continued singing after the choir had completed their musical services. Not everyone was singing the same thing, either. Some folks stayed in their pew to pray and others made the usual bee-line for the door. Everyone was talking excitedly, and at the main entrance / exit of the cathedral, there was a gentleman holding up a very large Catholic Charities Appeal sign. I almost snapped a photo to take back to my coworkers (who work on the CCA here in Philly), but thought better of it. Heh.
As I walked down the hill to get back to the bus stop, I saw the Greek Orthodox Church to my right. I couldn’t resist. Stay tuned for my first experience inside a Greek Orthodox Church!
Stumbled upon this today and wanted to share it. This wonderful little video brought back a lot of sweet memories. Plus, the beat isn't half bad! Ha ha!
Shake It Off
***Some viewers may find the content in the video to be offensive due to occult imagery as the female character battles emotional demons. Please view at your discretion.***
For the record, after a while, even the most thick-skinned among us start to bruise.
Some Links for You!
Just a quick tally of a few links I found particularly interesting / edifying today. Hope you enjoy! :)
Canonical info regarding Father Guarnizo and Barbara Johnson by Edward Peters, an actual Canonical lawyer.
***NEW*** Here's an awesome response from Phil Lawler to the horrible letter written to appease Johnson from the Archdiocese. Spot on. Evil has permeated our ranks. May God save us.
A great "advice" letter written by Supertradmum that was originally meant for seminarians, but can really be utilized by anyone looking to advance in holiness and charity.
A super nerdy look into the size and scope of the universe both big and small, and how we fit into it. Our God is an incredible God!
Incredible music / art video with extraordinarily powerful lyrics that young women everywhere need to hear.
Here's the video so you don't even have to go clicking anywhere! :)
We've Seen His Face
I was listening to the song We Have Been Told in the car this morning. This is one of those songs that I can listen to a million times and still feel emotionally tackled!
The lyrics of the chorus, for those of you unfamiliar, are:
We have been told, we've seen His Face and heard His Voice alive in our hearts. "Live in My love, with all your heart. As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you."
I always feel a flood of gratitude hearing these words. I'm so thankful to have been given the blessing of knowing Jesus and being a part of the Catholic faith. I'm so happy to know and feel the active love of God in my life - to know that He's not just a guy in the sky sitting on a cloud somewhere uncaring about the adventures of humanity. No - I know and feel His Presence surrounding everything I do. I really do.
Anyway, as I was listening to the song this morning, something my friend had said about a year and a half ago came to mind. She and I were discussing her 'falling away' from Catholicism and my steadfast adherence to it.
Both of us attended the same grade school from kinder through 8th. Both of her parents are staunch Catholics and are highly active in parish ministries. My mother, too, fits that description. We both attended Catholic high schools and universities (hers being more Catholic than either of mine, I think). So we found it interesting that we took such different paths considering our similar foundations.
Anyway, as I've always said, though I left the Catholic Church for a while, I never "left the faith." I've always believed in Catholic dogma, I've always felt the active Presence of God in my life, and I've always relied on the Blessed Mother and saints to guide me in whatever trials I faced. I've never once gone, "Well what if Jesus didn't really exist? What if Heaven is a lie and after death nothing happens?"
Nope - even in my "New Age" phase (8th grade through HS, I guess?), while I was reading books on Buddhism, psychics and past-life experiences, I would attempt to make sense of them through Catholicism.
I would think, "Oh, maybe reincarnation IS what Catholics mean by Purgatory. After all, Earth, itself, could be the place of cleansing since it's where a soul perfects itself through life lessons, right?"
Or, "Well of COURSE God grants some people special gifts like clairvoyance or fortune telling. Maybe it's His way of reaching others who need "proof" of His existence in one form or another."
Seriously - when presented with a radically different theology or new-age theory, I'd immediately attempt to fit it into my Catholic paradigm because I fully understood and believed Catholicism to be the surpreme theology of God, Himself. Catholicism is Truth, and though I may not have fully understood all its Truths, I trusted that if given enough time and grace, I could make sense of it all. (I still do, truthfully - ha!).
She, on the other hand, doesn't have that same intrinsic "certainty" I do. She commented on this and suggested it was the reason we took such different paths. Honestly, that was the moment I really understood what a gift my faith was. When she spoke aloud the echo of the thoughts in my heart, I knew my love for and faith in Catholicism was, indeed, a true gift.
So as I was thinking about that this morning, another thought popped into my mind. I should say "prayer" really. It was more a prayer than a thought.
Anyway, the prayer-thought was:
Thank you, God, for the blessing of seeing Your Face and feeling Your Love in my life. I understand that this gift is not only meant for me - it is meant to be a vehicle for Your Divine Providence. Make me a reflection of Yourself so that I can bear Your Face to others that they, too, might see You, love You and feel Your Love in their lives.
Just as I completed that thought I pulled into work and scribbled down the above thought-prayer because I truly wanted to share it with others. I especially wanted to post it on my wall so I could be reminded of my duty as a Catholic Christian. My calling is to bear the Face of God to all people, regardless of who they are or what they believe. My directive is to be charitable, patient, merciful and kind. I fail miserably at these things on a regular basis, so to have a prayer calling this mission to mind is important.
May all of us who have come to see the Face of God be true reflections of His Mercy and Love.
Josh Groban and Toys for Tots
Stop, already, Gina!!!
I'm going to keep posting these smile-making videos until I can't find 'em anymore! It's Christmas, gosh darn it, and I'm determined to spread the happy!
I've always been a huge Groban fan. This just makes me love him even more! Enjoy!
Merry Early Christmas
I love finding new things, and it seems I got THREE fun things to share with you folks today... my previous post, this music video, and the book I found because of the video! The above is from a musician by the name of Matt Wertz. I've heard some of his stuff before, but I was totally blown away by this one. I can't get it out of my head and the video has been on constant repeat here on my computer. It's so sweet.
I was also entertained by the Scratch-n-Sniff book he was "reading" and went online to Amazon to find it for my own son (who loves that sorta stuff). Score all around. Enjoy!
So I turned on the radio this morning for the first time in months. I had accidentally left my iPod at work charging, and I'd finished off my collection of CDs. Since I was sitting in traffic for the next 20 minutes, I thought, "Why not?"
Within seconds, I remembered.
The first station I turned on was an old favorite. My mother used to listen to it (probably still does) on the way to and from work in the mornings. It's a "soft-rock" station that is supposedly family friendly.
Well, one of the hosts was offering "parenting advice" and I cannot stress enough how horrible it was. He was complaining that his daughter never listened to him or his wife (regarding getting up in the mornings for school) and that it'd been on-going for months. A caller chimed in that she, too, had difficulties getting her child out of bed and into school on-time... so much so that a truancy officer had to step in.
HOW DOES IT GET THAT FAR?! I can make a pretty good guess considering the "advice" this host was freely giving (and he was the one with the 'problem child' to boot). *Face palm*
So I skipped over to an old stand-by of mine. It's more akin to edgier, alternative music than the first. Unfortunately, they, too, had their morning show going and the host was interviewing a young musician. The first quote I heard when I shifted stations was "Ew. Children are disgusting. Why would anyone EVER want to have them? They're awful."
I was dumbfounded for a quick second which is how I learned he was interviewing a younger musician who confusedly asked, "Where is this conversation going?"
I didn't stick around to find out. I swapped out to the third preset on my radio and hit commercials.
That's it - I'm done. I yet again am reminded why I'm part of a Religious CD of the Month Club and why I cling to my iPod. So long as I'm in control of what I listen to (and, in effect, what Vince listens to), I dont' have to worry about that sort of trash cluttering my airways.
I've had Mumford & Sons "The Cave" on repeat in my mind since writing about it in "Secular Music as Prayer? Yes, Please." My title for today's entry is taken from the song.
When I first began listening to this song, Father Z kept popping into my head. For those who read WDTPRS (and for those who don't, I highly recommend it!) you know how often Fr. Z acknowledges his own humanity. He stresses the importance of Confession not only for the laity, but for EVERYONE, himself included. He's constantly acknowledging his faults and amazement at having been called to the priesthood.
So I guess this line brings that to mind. Priests know their calling despite their humanity. I, too, know mine now and despite my inability to always follow it, I'm going to keep reaching out to the Hand Christ always extends. And let me tell you... there are very definite fears surrounding that.
I wonder, then, about our priests. I have no doubt the attacks they must endure on the road towards ordination. The devil probably places such doubts into their minds. "What if this religion stuff really IS all made up? What if I'm throwing away my chance for a wife and children only to wake up one day and realize it's for nothing?" Then, when you couple those natural fears with the scandals, negativity towards Christianity, and the secular desire to stamp out anything religious, it's a miracle we have ANY priests.
And yet we do. We have great ones. We need to remind ourselves of this on a regular basis. Sure, there are bad apples here or there, but who are we to speak out against those chosen by Christ, Himself? Do we know what is written in their hearts? On their souls?
A friend of mine was (once again) decrying a priest in her parish. It was all I could do to hold my tongue. I don't know the priest in question very well, so I couldn't speak out against the allegations. Instead, I tried offering logical reasons as to why he was doing the things she took issue with. It was getting me nowhere. The best I could do was immediately change the subject, so I did. I started talking about my son abruptly because I wanted her to understand that I didn't approve of the direction she was taking our conversation, but I also didn't want to completely bust out my "reprimand stick" and shake it at her. She's an elder, so to do so would have been rude.
I dunno. It just really, really bothers me when folks talk negatively about priests. Again, who are we to judge when we're face down in the mud ourselves? All of us need a helping hand as we struggle onwards towards Heaven. Let's not go kicking others as we stumble our way through this life - especially not our priests who act most concretely as the Hand of God, pulling us up and away from sin through the Sacraments which would otherwise be impossible for us.
So I wanted to split my last blog entry into two parts as it was getting really, really long. However, they are connected, so if you're interested, please check out Songs, Prayer and Snobbery.
Anyway, I truly believe that prayer can be taken advantage of even in the most surprising situations. Let's take secular music, for example.
For those of your familiar with my Hidden Letter to Jesus, you'll note that there have been times that, while away from the Church, I've thrown myself into an outpouring of misery before God. This period of spiritual misery lasted several years, and I remember hearing an uber-popular Evanescence song titled "Bring Me to Life." (This link brings you to the video, so if you don't wanna see suicidal melodrama, I'd suggest not clicking).
When I'd sing this song, I'd sing it to Jesus. I'm not kidding. I'd pour my entire being into belting out that song. I have no doubt I probably looked like a lunatic in the car, but who cares? That song was my most heart-felt prayer in my period of spiritual desolation.
The woman (and supporting male) singer(s) is begging her beloved to reach through the darkness... the numbness... the pain... and pull her back from the brink of complete despair. She's begging him to breathe new life into her - to "lead [her soul] back home."
I, too, was begging this of God. "Call my name and save me from the dark... save me from the nothing I've become!" Just as the singer understood her past and current way of living was a lie, I understood that I needed to "open my eyes to everything... there must be something more." That more, I fully understood, was God. So that song, for me, became a prayer. I needed God to forcibly remove me from the life I was leading because I was simply too weak to do it myself. There was no life, no joy, no happiness within my heart and He was the only one who could once again breathe that life back into me. So yes, that pop-rock song was my prayer.
Mind you, I certainly wouldn't want to hear it at a Mass, but my point still stands.
A more current example is "The Cave" by Mumford and Sons. (Again, may I warn you that the video is horrible - not offensive, just horrible). I'm curious if they based this song off Aristotle's Allegory of the Cave since their last stanza always reminds me of it.
Anyway, this song hits home for me as a prayer on an entirely different level. In my endeavours for evangelization, this song is my prayer for strength, mercy and courage.
The lead singer starts with an empathic verse to someone who is currently struggling with an issue (in my mind) of faith. He then relays his own journey (past and present) along the path of faith, hope and freedom in understanding truth. He acknowledges that he still stumbles, but holds onto the hope that each stumble brings him further along the path towards truth. As a result of understanding the importance of this truth (of changing his "ways" and knowing his "name") he throws himself into helping others learn the truth... to fight against the pressures that work against our most basic nature.
I, too, have "come out of the cave walking on [my] hands, and [saw] the world hanging upside down." And though a million lyric places have the next line as "you'll understand dependence when you know the maker's hand" I truly believe it's "you'll understand dependence when you know they're makers none."
This is an important distinction. In the Allegory of the Cave, "coming out of the cave" was an extremely traumatic event. Being kept in the "dark" of ignorance for so long, the body had to fight to climb up and out of the cave. When a person finally did stumble out of the darkness, his eyes were forced to look away repeatedly from the bright light of truth. Slowly, timidly, the person could begin blinking his eyes open, looking around and seeing everything he once thought he understood in a wholly new light. Everything was, in short, upside down. Yet upon seeing things in the proper light, the first thing the person wants to do is go back for those left behind in the darkness - to educate them and pull them from the abyss. That is exactly what the lead singer attempts to do throughout his song. He takes the listener under his wing in an attempt to bring him along the path towards truth.
Thus, the importance of "You'll understand dependence when you know they're makers none."
If we all could stop for a moment and look at the folks in our lives that we place upon pedestals... how honest are we being with ourselves? How rosy are the glasses we tend to wear? We're obsessed with celebrities, we're hooked onto reality shows, we fawn over gossip magazines and sports broadcasts. If we were to see them "out of the cave" and understand who they were in truth, would we be so willing to devote so much time to them? None of these folks, in all honesty, are deserving of our time because none of them - not ONE of them - is the Maker. They are all dependent upon image and keeping us ignorant of who they are. They are dependent upon their own ignorance of themselves. None of them are the independent demi-gods we've turned them into. That is vital to our understanding of Truth.
So yes, "I will hold on[to] hope and I won't let you choke on the noose around your neck" speaks volumes about evangelization to me. I, equipped with the Truth of Christ, want to run my way back into the cave of ignorance and yank out as many souls as I can. "I'll find strength in pain and I will change my ways" speaks to me of the redemptive suffering we are each blessed with and the lessons we can learn through it. Finally, "I'll know my name as its called again" almost makes me cry (especially my repeated prayer for God to "Call my name" above). I have finally heeded the call of Christ. I know who I am once more. I am a child of God and I rejoice in the truth, satisfied with a peace and love inexpressable to those still content to remain in the shadows.
So in conclusion, I believe that God is happy to hear from us regardless of how we sent that message to Him so long as its with the right intention. If we're looking to honor Him, ask for His help or just say "Hey, You're Awesome and I love You!" I doubt He'd look upon our childish offerings with a scowl. He knows what's in our hearts, and if some folks choose to send up their prayers in a Gregoriant chant, awesome! If others feel a true connection with a Britney Spears song, who am I to say that the Holy Spirit can't work through the radio?
It's all in the state of our heart, and who are we to judge what we cannot see or understand? :)
Songs, Prayer and Snobbery
You're opinion? It's wrong.
So a friend of mine was complaining about the new "Gloria." I'm not its biggest fan yet, either. I feel like there are WAY too many ups and downs for no other purpose than to amuse the cantor. Granted, that could very well be my horrible singing talking, but still...
I don't believe (as my friend) that the new Gloria has ruined the liturgy in any way. I tried to mention that, but was immediately presented with several other "horrible" hymns that apparently destroy the Sacrifice of the Mass. One of the songs presented to me was "Gift of Finest Wheat."
Hey now! Gift of Finest Wheat? C'mon!
I asked what problem she could POSSIBLY have with a song selected by Archbishop Chaput for his Installation in Philly. She had no response. She simply told me my taste in music was too "modern."
So I asked her to give me another example of a hymn that could possibly overshadow the Mass. She offered "Anthem" by Tom Conry. I honestly didn't remember that song, but once I did a quick Google search for it, I came upon a recording that jostled my memory. Not exactly the best song ever [in fact, I'd even go so far as to agree it's one of the worst based on the author's over-dedication to (and subsequent misunderstanding of) juxtaposition], but I still wouldn't say it'd ruin Mass.
Finally, almost exasperated by my lack of music refinement, she said, "'Gather Us In.' You can't possibly think 'Gather Us In' is a good song."
Okay, seriously? That's *almost* as bad as attempting to drop kick "Gift of Finest Wheat" out of the hymnal. I grew up singing "Gather Us In" during our school Masses. I never once thought the lyrics were inappropriate, though I admit to thinking, as a child, "Why would I want to be gathered in with the rich and the haughty? Isn't that a bad thing?"
Ha ha... gotta love the mindset of a child.
Anyway, I pulled up the lyrics to the song (to double check myself that there wasn't anything doctrinally wrong with them). I reiterated my stance that, yes, I still liked the song and didn't think that it's "poppy beat" did anything to detract from the Sacrifice of the Mass. I then reaffirmed my position that she was being snotty for no purpose. The Mass is the Mass regardless of what is sung or which priest is presiding. Why? Because Jesus is the Sacrifice, and no one can detract from that which He has done (and continues to do) through the Mass.
Anyway, I brought this up with a Catholic group I frequent and found myself on the receiving end of some very angry suggestions (one person retorted that I should consider myself excommunicated on the basis of accepting such "trash" as music). I couldn't help but laugh. I couldn't understand the venom behind such an innocuous thing! So I went to my buddy, Frank, for his opinion.
You see, Frank is the Music Man for his (and several other) parishes / schools. He runs choir, writes music, puts together the programs for weekly Mass, etc. So off I went to track him down to ask him for his thoughts on this whole ridiculousness. He held the same opinion I did. Some folks were snobby for the sake of being snobby, as if their self-proclaimed "Mass-worthy" songs are holier, more respectful and more pleasing to God than others.
Crazy! I've seen some folks lament "rock-n-roll" style music during Mass, and I get that. Some folks don't want bubble-gum pop being played when they're attempting to solemnly remember the Sacrifice which gained Salvation for us. However, it's been my experience that those complaining about the many facets of the Mass (The Tabernacle curtain isn't the right color! Did you see the altar boy wearing sneakers? I cannot BELIEVE Maude had the audacity to wear THAT to a Church!) are the same folks who think nothing of chatting with their friends - loudly - before / after Mass begins. These are the same folks who crowd around in the middle aisle after Mass, completely oblivious to the Divine Presence, as they cackle loudly and shout to others in an attempt to hammer out brunch dates.
I still stand by my original belief that you'd have to REALLY be trying to make the Mass illicit in order to somehow nullify the Sacrifice, ya know? I don't like every single Church song out there (there are plenty I don't like), but I'd never go so far as to say they would ruin a Mass for me. That's absolutely ludicrous in my mind.
I mean, I'm the type of person who listens to secular music and turns it into a prayer to God. Seriously. If these folks knew how I spun rock and alternative (and yes, even pop!) songs, they would probably call the nearest Jesuit for an exorcism of my demon-gripped soul. LoL.
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