Luke Hill at dotCommonweal makes a case for a very wide musical Advent/Christmas. I can’t refute it. At my house, there is considerable variety in listening tastes as well as film viewing (Christmases in Connecticut, Canaan, and lots of other places).
I thought I’d peruse my personal library and offer some listening suggestions for this month. My friends and readers know my tastes run pretty eclectic. But many of you might find many of these suggestions helpful to draw you in more deeply into the waiting of these weeks before Christmas.
Today’s suggestion is a more obscure symphony of the great American composer of the last century, Alan Hovhaness. Speaking in commentary of this work …
(M)usic is a sacred art, a pathway through a living universe, merging East and West, heaven and earth, addressed not to the snobbish few but to all people as an inspiration in their journey through the universe.
I loved listening to this piece in the dark, headphones on, laying on the bed or on the floor. Twenty-one minutes of pilgrimage through a universe where grace continues to break through our prisons, the skies open, and we are lifted into a place that, while a bit beyond the ordinary, seems to welcome us and bring us peace.
I hope you enjoy:
Symphony number 6, “Celestial Gate”
The liturgical consultant is a key professional, especially if the architect is less acquainted with the demands of liturgy. And sometimes, even if she or he is.
§ 199 § The construction of a church building cannot be undertaken without proper professionals in a variety of fields. When a parish begins to undertake the building or renovation of a liturgical space, the parish building committee should obtain the services of specialists in liturgical design. lt is the responsibility of the liturgical consultant to assist the pastor, the staff, and the entire parish with continuing education about the importance, role, and value of worship, and the impact of the church building upon worship.
§ 200 § The liturgical consultant also works with the architect. Some architects are liturgical architects. They possess, in addition to their architectural credentials, artistic insights and formal liturgical education that equip them to engage in liturgical design. However, this is not always the case. The liturgical consultant(s) selected by the parish work with the architect and other members of the design team from the earliest stages of the process to help them apply the principles and norms of liturgical design to the practical and liturgical needs of the parish being served. This includes an examination of the acoustics, the flow and movement for processions, appropriate styles for liturgical celebrations, the interrelationships within the Eucharist as well as the relationship of the Eucharist with the other sacraments, and all the elements required by the Church’s liturgy. In addition, the consultant may have expertise in design and can help to coordinate the design and fabrication of appropriate furniture and other objects to be used during liturgical services, as well as the liturgical art to be placed within the church.
Liturgical consultants, in some quarters, were among the most-hated of the liturgists about ten to twenty years ago. A few publications and web sites kept the fires burning on this for awhile. This has died down somewhat in my experience. But it would be a curiosity to me to know a parish that didn’t want good liturgical guidance on matters as important as the worship life of a community for the next century. I’m glad that the US bishops suggest here the importance of catechesis on worship, processions, interior design, and other artistic considerations.
All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Pope Benedict values the input of his predecessors.
5. In some respects, my venerable predecessor saw this Year as a “consequence and a necessity of the postconciliar period”,[Paul VI, General Audience (14 June 1967): Insegnamenti V (1967), 801] fully conscious of the grave difficulties of the time, especially with regard to the profession of the true faith and its correct interpretation. It seemed to me that timing the launch of the Year of Faith to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council would provide a good opportunity to help people understand that the texts bequeathed by the Council Fathers, in the words of Blessed John Paul II, “have lost nothing of their value or brilliance. They need to be read correctly, to be widely known and taken to heart as important and normative texts of the Magisterium, within the Church’s Tradition … I feel more than ever in duty bound to point to the Council as the great grace bestowed on the Church in the twentieth century: there we find a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning.”[Novo Millennio Ineunte 57] I would also like to emphasize strongly what I had occasion to say concerning the Council a few months after my election as Successor of Peter: “if we interpret and implement it guided by a right hermeneutic, it can be and can become increasingly powerful for the ever necessary renewal of the Church.”[Address to the Roman Curia (22 December 2005): AAS 98 (2006), 52.]
“Correct” is used twice here. This quality occurs when innumerable people discern spiritually and pastorally, the urgings of the Holy Spirit, and the needs of the people of the times. The Magisterium has a role, and a vital one, naturally. But at some point, pastors, catechists, parents, and regular believers must lead and live the life of faith in their own surroundings. Life is so complex; no institution can possibly hope to provide all the easy answers in all situations.
Ideally, believers are given tools to apply church teachings to their life. What would these be? Methods of prayer. Messages of encouragement. Aspects of culture that uplift the mind and heart.
This Advent I thought I’d highlight a few texts from the Lectionary. Maybe it will work out to be a daily visit. I’ll call upon the Scripture commentary of others from time to time. Maybe Neil will have a moment to bring an offering or two.
At the Mass for the first weekday of Advent, we get the prophet previewing a future of universal salvation and the triumph of peace over war. Thius is also the first reading for the first Advent Sunday Mass, but only in cycle A. Wait till next year. Or go to Mass today to hear …
This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz,
saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In days to come,
The mountain of the LORD’s house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.
All nations shall stream toward it;
many peoples shall come and say:
“Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
That he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths.”
For from Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and impose terms on many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
One nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.
O house of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the LORD!
Verses 2 through 5 serve as a canticle for Morning Prayer in the Roman Rite. It was covered by a series of commentaries by Pope John Paul II, His assessment:
At the heart of Isaiah’s “vision” rises Mount Zion, which speaking figuratively will rise above all the other mountains, since it is God’s dwelling place and so the place of contact with heaven (cf. I Kgs 8,22-53). From here according to Isaiah’s saying in 60, 1-6, a light will emanate that will rend and disperse the darkness and toward it will move processions of nations from every corner of the earth.
The power of attraction of Zion is based on two realities that emanate from the Holy Mountain of Jerusalem: the Law and the Word of the Lord. In truth, they constitute a single reality which is the source of life, light and peace, an expression of the mystery of the Lord and of his will. When the nations reach the summit of Zion where the temple of God rises, then the miracle will take place which humanity has always awaited and for which it longs. The peoples will drop their weapons which will then be collected and made into tools for peaceful work: swords will be beaten into ploughshares, spears into pruning hooks. Thus will dawn a horizon of peace, of shalôm in Hebrew (cf. Is 60,17), a word particularly cherished by Messianic theology. At last the curtain falls forever on war and hatred.
That mountain is also visited for God’s banquet celebrating the end of death in chapter 25.
Passages like Isaiah 2 are one reason why I’m glad the Roman Rite is not tied down exclusively to the psalms and antiphons for music at Mass. This passage needs a marvelous setting–not a strophic setting though. “Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord,” is a great refrain to which to return. Or that citation in 2:L3b, “Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, That he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.” A text like this needs more than spoken narration. It needs to sing.