Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sancta Cecilia, ora pro nobis

Our quartet sang at a lovely mass this Saturday morning for the feast of St. Cecilia, patroness of musicians. We sang A Hymn For St. Cecilia by Herbert Howells as best we could. Here is an mp3 of the piece recorded by the Musica Sacra Choir of Auckland, New Zealand.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The splendor of truth in liturgy

Shawn Tribe at The New Liturgical Movement expresses what is becoming more apparent to me: liturgical worship is not about about entertainment, feel-good emotions, or personal preference. The liturgy has an objective quality that communicates the faith. How we pray will shape how we believe. He quotes the following:

... people are instructed in the truths of faith, and brought to appreciate the inner joys of religion far more effectually by the annual celebration of our sacred mysteries than by any official pronouncement of the teaching of the Church. Such pronouncements usually reach only a few and the more learned among the faithful; feasts reach them all; the former speak but once, the latter speak every year - in fact, forever.
-Pope Pius XI Quas Primas

And later from Four Benefits of the Liturgy by Dom Gerard Calvet:

Take a group of Japanese tourists visiting Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. They look at the height of the stained-glass windows, the harmony of the proportions. Suppose that at that moment, sacred ministers dressed in orphried velvet copes enter in process for solemn Vespers. The visitors watch in silence; they are entranced: beauty has opened its doors to them. Now the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas and Notre Dame in Paris are products of the same era. They say the same thing. But who among the visitors has read the Summa of St. Thomas? The same phenomenon is found at all levels. The tourists who visit the Acropolis in Athens are confronted with a civilisation of beauty. But who among them can understand Aristotle?

And so it is with the beauty of the liturgy. More than anything else it deserves to be called the splendour of the truth. It opens to the small and the great alike the treasures of its magnificence: the beauty of psalmody, sacred chants and texts, candles, harmony of movement and dignity of bearing. With sovereign art the liturgy exercises a truly seductive influence on souls, who it touches directly, even before the spirit perceives its influence.

Sacred liturgy is the body language of the Church - the people of God and the Body of Christ.