Amoris Laetitia 119: Love That Never Gives Up

amoris laetitia memeLove doesn’t give up:

119. In family life, we need to cultivate that strength of love which can help us fight every evil threatening it. Love does not yield to resentment, scorn for others or the desire to hurt or to gain some advantage. The Christian ideal, especially in families, is a love that never gives up. I am sometimes amazed to see men or women who have had to separate from their spouse for their own protection, yet, because of their enduring conjugal love, still try to help them, even by enlisting others, in their moments of illness, suffering or trial. Here too we see a love that never gives up.

Sometimes that necessary protection doesn’t involve putting oneself back into danger. Sadly, I’ve known more families that have broken apart because of unresolved addiction. Love is one thing. Harmful dysfunction is another.

For your reference, Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Cantors And Their Arms

cantor at STA MassJerry Galipeau asked “Why do cantors at Mass extend their arm/s or hand/s when it is time for the assembly to sing?

From the blogger:

I simply memorize the first few lines of whatever it is that the assembly is supposed to sing, I look out at the assembly, I breathe, and I think by my body language and eyes, that I am giving them the signal to begin.

A good amount of agreement in his combox questioning the practice. I tend to come down on 90% of arm gestures are not needed.

I like Jerry’s emphasis on breathing. As I’ve gotten more comfortable conducting this past year, I’ve come to realize the power of example (even when singers don’t always look for it). My singers and I have spent this past year breathing. And I’ve been amazed that they respond to this. I’ve striven to minimize my conducting gestures. Maybe ninety percent of these are not needed.

All that said, many cantors are comfortable with gestures. And being “up front.” A few parishes ago, there was a choir in the loft, and many cantors complained about “missing” the music with the rest. I asked, “Why do you go down?” I don’t think they thought I was serious that, except for the Psalm, I wouldn’t mind if all “performances” and announcements were from the loft. There was too much of a “tradition” in place, and I wasn’t expending energy to buck it.

I observe many cantors feel awkward about their gestures. If there’s one thing worse than too much arm waving it is unnatural gestures from self-conscious or nervous singers. I told one nervous songleader earlier this year to focus on the music and the eye contact and forget the wave.

I might gently move people in my new parish, however. They’ve already gotten the lingo of “psalmist.” Since we have at least a small choir at every Sunday Mass, at some point that role might devolve a bit further to two or more people.

Any thoughts from the church musicians in the audience?

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Amoris Laetitia 118: Love Endures All Things

amoris laetitia memeWhen I read of endurance in this context, I think of sport. Not necessarily in the contest with others, but the demands placed on the self for distance running. Pope Francis suggests also a readiness for challenges as they approach or envelop us.

118. Panta hypoménei. This means that love bears every trial with a positive attitude. It stands firm in hostile surroundings. This “endurance” involves not only the ability to tolerate certain aggravations, but something greater: a constant readiness to confront any challenge. It is a love that never gives up, even in the darkest hour. It shows a certain dogged heroism, a power to resist every negative current, an irrepressible commitment to goodness.

The heroism our culture knows, or at least views, through the devotion of many to superheroes. One need not be “super” in the sense of personal powers, but turning to saints, one can discern what is often needed:

Here I think of the words of Martin Luther King, who met every kind of trial and tribulation with fraternal love: “The person who hates you most has some good in him; even the nation that hates you most has some good in it; even the race that hates you most has some good in it. And when you come to the point that you look in the face of every man and see deep down within him what religion calls ‘the image of God’, you begin to love him in spite of [everything]. No matter what he does, you see God’s image there. There is an element of goodness that he can never sluff off… Another way that you love your enemy is this: when the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it… When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system… Hate for hate only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. If I hit you and you hit me and I hit you back and you hit me back and so on, you see, that goes on ad infinitum. It just never ends. Somewhere somebody must have a little sense, and that’s the strong person. The strong person is the person who can cut off the chain of hate, the chain of evil… Somebody must have religion enough and morality enough to cut it off and inject within the very structure of the universe that strong and powerful element of love”.(Martin Luther King Jr., Sermon delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama, 17 November 1957)

Surprised by this reference? Any comments on it, or on the notion of endurance in love?

For your reference, Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Ignatius of Loyola and His Stars

st ignatius with starsReceived an email from the Vatican Observatory Foundation observing today’s feast. It included this quote from his autobiography:

The greatest consolation that he received at this time was from gazing at the sky and stars, and this he often did and for quite a long time.

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On My Bookshelf: Something Old, Something New

Not a book title, but just a reference to two books that have been on my desktop at work for the past few months.

The One ThingA staff colleague gave me a copy of Matthew Kelly’s 2011 book The One Thing. Sixty pages of baby pictures and Mr Kelly’s reflection on the “one thing” he would like to pass on to his son: belief in Christ’s presence in the Eucharist.

You can read the book in about a half-hour and look at the pictures. This is a personal and heartfelt essay. Mr Kelly describes personal events that led him to and intensified his belief in the Real Presence. There’s a nod to liturgy: poor preaching and poor music notwithstanding, God’s grace continues to work for people.

How does it hold up as a book? My edition needed an editor. Subtitle: Passing faith onto children. That’s “on to.” A few typos in the book. As a parent’s memoir, I’d think a book-length work would have several essays. The Eucharist is no doubt important, nothing more so. But saints, baptism, marriage relationship, and other topics might cover the matter of “passing faith” a little more thoroughly.

the music of eternityAdrian Van Kaam’s The Music Of Eternity has been out for a quarter-century. I brought it with me on retreat last month and nearly finished it. This is a book that invites or suggests thoughtful relfection. Shorter essays here, but sixteen of them that explore fidelity in a number of religious contexts. Original poetry ends each chapter.

I found the essays to be thoughtful. Three of them deal with the theme of conflict and fidelity. These I found particularly enlightening. But that could be that they are the freshest in my mind.

Fidelity is an important topic, if not virtue for the 21st century Church. An overlooked volume like this, short (117 pages) as it is, doesn’t have the marketing machine of Matthew Kelly behind it. But I found it more widely applicable both to my role as a father, as well as how I conduct myself in ministry and in life.

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Amoris Laetitia 117: Hope Inspires a Supernatural Perspective

amoris laetitia memeOur hope is for an eventual settlement in heaven. One perspective on our attitude toward our spouse:

117. Here hope comes most fully into its own, for it embraces the certainty of life after death. Each person, with all his or her failings, is called to the fullness of life in heaven. There, fully transformed by Christ’s resurrection, every weakness, darkness and infirmity will pass away. There the person’s true being will shine forth in all its goodness and beauty. This realization helps us, amid the aggravations of this present life, to see each person from a supernatural perspective, in the light of hope, and await the fullness that he or she will receive in the heavenly kingdom, even if it is not yet visible.

For your reference, Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Sunday Mass Without Music

cantor at STA MassPondering that (usually early) Sunday Mass without music, I was thinking back to the parishes I’ve served over the years. My first parish had music at the 8AM Mass, even the Gloria. But the repertoire was basic, and generally different from the other Masses. That was 1983-84.

For my first full-time position, the 8AM had music year-round. A small ensemble twice a month, a quartet of singers from the big choir once. The other one to two posts were taken by cantors with accompanists–the only time cantors were scheduled, as every other Mass had choirs of various sizes, a dozen to thirty-ish.

Clicking off the boxes of the next parishes: music at all of the Sunday Masses. Then I was hired by a priest who was a nationally-regarded organist, composer, and liturgist. He explained the difficulty  in making headway against the expectations of the 8AM community. One year, my third I think, we had a particularly brief spell between Baptism of the Lord and the First Sunday of Lent. I thought, why not take a stab at it. People noticed, and not in a good way. We got critical communication for those four Sundays, because of the music.

I know there are yet a few Catholics from around the world who still visit here regularly. What’s the practice in your parish now?

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