I don’t really perceive the magnitude of the fuss of yesterday. Maybe it was a big deal for Jesus being found in the Temple. But probably not, eh?
I lived through the 12:34:56 moment on 7-8-90. It was an okay lunch hour. I remember where I was that day, but not what I ate.
For number people, consider next week’s big triple. 20:12 (that’s 8:12pm for you non-Europeans) on 20-12 (that’s December 20th, again, for you non-Europeans) in our beloved year of 2012.
2012, 2012, 2012
Lucy is the only (major, canonized) martyr of Advent. Her feast lands in the middle of the season, which may be a caution to us believers accustomed to quiet waiting and economic frivolity. At the heart of waiting and preparation is sacrifice. At the center of a season’s royal purple is a drop of red blood.
Today we are still a week away from solstice. But because of the drift of the Julian calendar, late medieval Europe endured December 13th as the shortest day of the year. It’s still a pretty brief nine hours of daylight at my latitude.
Lucy featured prominently in our parish’s Advent pageant a few years back.
(Lucy is praying in her room when she hears her mother calling her.)
MOTHER: Lucy! (Lucy finishes praying and comes to her mother and father.)
FATHER: Lucy, we have good news for you. Your mother and I have found you a husband. You are getting married.
LUCY: Married? But I want to dedicate my life to God and help the poor.
FATHER: But Lucy, we have already made these plans. I have the dowry for the wedding here.
MOTHER: He is not a Christian, but he is rich and he will take care of you. (Lucy nods, but not with enthusiasm. Her parents leave and she kneels to pray. She opens her Bible and reads.)
Narrator: You are the light of the world. A city built on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to everybody in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.
LUCY: My light WILL shine before others, to give glory to God! (Lucy takes the dowry money and gives it away to a poor person. Then she kneels down to pray again. Her family and suitor return.)
MOTHER Lucy, here is your husband.
SUITOR: (Noting the Bible) She is a Christian?
FATHER: But she is a good girl.
SUITOR: She is a Christian?
MOTHER: Where is the money we left here? The dowry?
LUCY: I gave it to the poor.
SUITOR: She is a crazy Christian!
The scene ended with an arrest and a modern Saint Lucy procession. But we had the girls hold the candles, not wear them as crowns.
Thomas Merton was more poetic about it:
Lucy, whose day is our darkest season,
(Although your name is full of light,)
We walkers in the murk and rain of flesh and sense,
Lost in the midnight of our dead world’s winter solstice
Look for the fogs to open on your friendly star.
Merton’s Kentucky fields in December were chilled and misty. Likely not yet snow-laden with those piercing and brisk and clear winter nights. Before the romance of Christmas sets in, we often have days of gray. Those mists can indeed fog and clog our vision. Lucy is a great saint for Advent. And not just because she is a very friendly star.
Acoustics–probably the very first physical concern for a church.
§ 221 § Silence is the ground of all prayer. From contemplative silence emerge the sung and spoken prayer of the entire assembly and the prayers and proclamations of the various ministers. Liturgical celebrations call for the clear transmission of the sung and spoken responses of the liturgical assembly, as well as of the words of the individual ministers such as the priest celebrant, the deacon, the readers, and the cantor and leader of song. In addition, the space should provide an environment for instrumental music that supports the assembly’s song and worship.
Note that the “transmission” of the song and speech of the assembly is given first priority. People need the reinforcement of their sisters and brothers at worship that inspires their own opening up to God.
Start with the acoustical properties of the building’s interior:
§ 222 § The first consideration in providing quality sound transmission is the acoustic design of the building. The interior surfaces such as the walls, the floor, and the ceiling affect the transmission of sound, as do design features like the ceiling height, the shape and construction of rooms, and the mechanical systems such as heating and cooling units and lighting fixtures. The sound-deadening tiles so vital to noise reduction in gymnasiums and other public buildings will be used rarely in a church and only with professional advice to reduce or eliminate outside noise. Soft surfaces such as carpets, rugs, and large fabric wall hangings absorb sound, while hard surfaces such as stone, tile, glass, and metals reflect it. A combination of sound-absorbing and sound-reflecting surfaces properly applied and used in correct proportion provides the kind of system needed for a worship space.
§ 223 § Acoustical engineers can help parishes design a building capable of the natural transmission of sound; they also can be of great assistance in the renovation of existing buildings.
… and only then attend to what many prefer to speak of as “sound reinforcement.”
§ 224 § Another aspect of an effective audio environment is the electronic amplification system, which can augment the natural acoustics and can help to remedy problems that cannot be solved in other ways. Planners also should consider provisions for sound in the nave, in the sanctuary, and in adjacent spaces such as the gathering area and the space around the baptismal font. Accommodations should be made for people with special hearing needs.
§ 225 § Providing for the amplification of the proclaimed and sung word and for instrumental and choral music is a complex task that demands the skills and experience of experts in the field of acoustical design. Choosing local vendors who do not possess the requisite skills to understand the complex needs of the liturgical assembly may prove to be a serious, even costly liability.
Liability? That’s not overstating the situation.
All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
In observing the Year of Faith, the pope urges believers to put their faith into action.
14. The Year of Faith will also be a good opportunity to intensify the witness of charity. As Saint Paul reminds us: “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13). With even stronger words – which have always placed Christians under obligation – Saint James said: “What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled’, without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But some one will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith” (Jas 2:14-18).
Faith without charity bears no fruit, while charity without faith would be a sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt. Faith and charity each require the other, in such a way that each allows the other to set out along its respective path. Indeed, many Christians dedicate their lives with love to those who are lonely, marginalized or excluded, as to those who are the first with a claim on our attention and the most important for us to support, because it is in them that the reflection of Christ’s own face is seen. Through faith, we can recognize the face of the risen Lord in those who ask for our love. “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). These words are a warning that must not be forgotten and a perennial invitation to return the love by which he takes care of us. It is faith that enables us to recognize Christ and it is his love that impels us to assist him whenever he becomes our neighbour along the journey of life. Supported by faith, let us look with hope at our commitment in the world, as we await “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet 3:13; cf. Rev 21:1).
Given that faith, for many, begins with the intellect, how do you suppose parishes should best make this connection to intensify their outreach of charity? What about the institutional church?