Acclamation or Call/Response?

After three months of assessing my new parish’s musical repertoire–mostly once through each song or hymn to see how people sing–we’re implementing new music, a Mass setting.

My predecessor had a plan to implement the Lopezes’ Misa Santa Cecilia. But when she pulled back from full parish service earlier this year, the expansion from the Spanish-language liturgy was set aside. Having experienced this music at the parish’s 4pm liturgy, I thought the English version would fit well for a community that sings a fair bit of contemporary music in the Spirit & Song catalogue.

An interesting experience at my parish this past weekend in connection with this. I planted some observers at the Saturday night Mass who reported the people sang well at the rehearsal two minutes before Mass. “Deer in headlights” was how one person described the people at the acclamation at the Mystery of Faith.

I shortened the rehearsal time and had a songleader work the piece this way on Sunday: Save us, Savior of the World (then repeat); for by your cross and resurrection (then repeat); you have set us free (then repeat). I don’t like using this style, but it’s better than pews full of deer.

I like the music for this setting, but the syncopations have taken awhile to take root with the choir members. As for the assembly, it will probably take some weeks to get a good comfort level with this.

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Laudato Si 163: Chapter Five Begins

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. This section through number 201 deal with “Lines of Approach and Action.” Up through the end of the year, we’ll look at possible suggested plans from Pope Francis.

163. So far I have attempted to take stock of our present situation, pointing to the cracks in the planet that we inhabit as well as to the profoundly human causes of environmental degradation. Although the contemplation of this reality in itself has already shown the need for a change of direction and other courses of action, now we shall try to outline the major paths of dialogue which can help us escape the spiral of self-destruction which currently engulfs us.

In typically Ignatian fashion, dialogue is prominent in what is to come.

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The Coming Mercy

The Jubilee of Mercy is half-a-month away. I have a few ideas for intermittent posts, but nothing regular. Certainly not daily, as I had envisioned some months ago. Pope Francis has a better grasp on mercy, and will undoubtedly keep preaching it. Your diocese and parish should be going things, and those are better places than the blogosphere to experience and reflect on mercy.

I’ve been reading the occasional recent caution on “fake” mercy. I agree in theory. Any good thing can be corrupted if taken to extremes, or just misunderstood. But it seems more likely that canon law, rubrics, and other such elements are as likely to impart a “fake” religiosity if the heart is not truly touched by morality or liturgy.

I’ve also been experimenting with commenting on other people’s blogs the past month or so. It’s what got me started with my own twelve years ago. I think I can safely say it has sparked no desire in me for an energetic restart here. A month is a good period of testing. And as I’ve alienated a good friend in the bargain, I think I’ll have mercy on all considered and retire permanently from comboxing.

There’s a chance I might pull the plug on Laudato Si’ before I finish. The posts are all lined up, but as I review them and pop them into the schedule queue, I don’t find it as thrilling/fulfilling an enterprise as I once did.

There are only 16 readings and psalms to go, and then the Reconciliation project will be done. I don’t anticipate adding more non-Lectionary readings to any of the efforts on funerals or weddings. As those constitute most of the traffic these days, they will stay up.

Otherwise, time for mercy. Family members here and far are dealing with issues. It’s not that I don’t care about my internet friends, but I’m committed to a better mindfulness when it comes to the people closer to me.

Meanwhile, the posts will continue at a pace of about sixty, seventy a month. Then in Lent it might ramp down to twenty. Or possibly none. We shall see.

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Laudato Si 162: Decline in Ethics and Culture

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Pope Francis places the environmental crisis as an ethical fault:

162. Our difficulty in taking up this challenge seriously has much to do with an ethical and cultural decline which has accompanied the deterioration of the environment.

Individualism is cited. A badge some wear proudly, and many conservative Christians must surely wonder about, as certain secular conservative values are at odds with a moral lifestyle:

Men and women of our postmodern world run the risk of rampant individualism, and many problems of society are connected with today’s self-centered culture of instant gratification.

Instant gratification sabotages the best of human culture:

We see this in the crisis of family and social ties and the difficulties of recognizing the other. Parents can be prone to impulsive and wasteful consumption, which then affects their children who find it increasingly difficult to acquire a home of their own and build a family. Furthermore, our inability to think seriously about future generations is linked to our inability to broaden the scope of our present interests and to give consideration to those who remain excluded from development. Let us not only keep the poor of the future in mind, but also today’s poor, whose life on this earth is brief and who cannot keep on waiting. Hence, “in addition to a fairer sense of intergenerational solidarity there is also an urgent moral need for a renewed sense of intragenerational solidarity”.[Benedict XVI, Message for the 2010 World Day of Peace, 8: AAS 102 (2010), 45]

Today’s last word in chapter four comes from our previous pope. Have you any comment to add atop that?

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Reconciliation Lectionary: Psalm 146:5-10

mary-the-penitent.jpgThis psalm, with the Penance refrain, “Lord, come and save us” is utilized for the third Sunday of Advent, cycle A. Most of these verses, 5-10, also appear four other times in the Sunday Lectionary over three years. A mid-December Sunday should perk one’s liturgical sensibility: John the Baptist and his call to repent for the Lord’s coming is near at hand.

It contains an echo, or perhaps a preformulation of the mission of Jesus as he proclaimed in Isaiah 61 in the synagogue. Why would we sing of Christ in the Psalm for a penance service? I would think it is about the inspiration of inviting people to imitate the Lord. That seems to be the intent of the rite. Rather than just attend to a laundry list (however good or complete that might be) the disciple of Jesus aspires to positive actions. How else can we be attractive to those who seek the Lord and have only us to watch?

At any rate, are these words familiar on anyone’s lips?

Blessed the one whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD, his God,
The maker of heaven and earth,
the seas and all that is in them.

The LORD keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free;

The LORD gives sight to the blind.
The LORD raises up those who were bowed down;
the LORD loves the just.
The LORD protects strangers,

The fatherless and the widow he sustains,
but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
The LORD shall reign forever,
your God, Zion, through all generations! Alleluia!

This psalm is yoked with 1 John 1:5-9 and the Matthew 5:1-10 in Appendix II of the Rite, under the theme of “The Beatitudes.”

The first stanza is unique to the celebration of Reconciliation, and sets the tone: God is our hope; not merely human action in the world. The psalmist offers a beatitude: those who rely on and hope in God. The following verses remind us of God’s priorities, as Jesus does in the Sermon on the Mount. Verse ten gives us a reprise of the theme of God’s omniscence and his eternal rule over the universe.

I would think an examination of conscience that includes sins of omission would dovetail nicely with this psalm and the suggested readings that go with it. And as for a time of year, Advent would be good, or during some stretch of Ordinary Time. Or any time when the preacher or confessor wishes to emphasize discipleship as a positive way of life for a Christian.


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Laudato Si 161: Taking Doomsday Seriously

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website.

161. Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain. We may well be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation and filth. The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes, such as those which even now periodically occur in different areas of the world. The effects of the present imbalance can only be reduced by our decisive action, here and now. We need to reflect on our accountability before those who will have to endure the dire consequences.

The last century has certainly prepared the human race for the possibility of worldwide disaster. First world wars, then a cold war with nuclear overtones. I remember how scornfully the concept of nuclear winter was dismissed in some quarters in the 80’s. A minority are invested in maintaining the status quo: profits and power with no regard for the world’s children and generations beyond that.

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Laudato Si 160: Questions

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Pope Francis starts out with a question.

160. What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up? This question not only concerns the environment in isolation; the issue cannot be approached piecemeal. When we ask ourselves what kind of world we want to leave behind, we think in the first place of its general direction, its meaning and its values.

The question given strikes me as a good one for discerning a lot of contemporary issues involving family, children, and heritage. Some conservative pro-lifers fail this question, as do many liberals who focus on the immediacy of the present.

Regarding ecology, more questions come:

Unless we struggle with these deeper issues, I do not believe that our concern for ecology will produce significant results. But if these issues are courageously faced, we are led inexorably to ask other pointed questions:

  • What is the purpose of our life in this world?
  • Why are we here?
  • What is the goal of our work and all our efforts?
  • What need does the earth have of us?

It is no longer enough, then, simply to state that we should be concerned for future generations. We need to see that what is at stake is our own dignity. Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is, first and foremost, up to us. The issue is one which dramatically affects us, for it has to do with the ultimate meaning of our earthly sojourn.

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